Give me a T… Give Me an M… Give me an I!

Disclaimer: This post is graphic and most likely not for people of the male persuasion. Unless they’re the overly-curious type. But I recommend they close this window and run screaming like a boy.

Secondary Husband Disclaimer: I let Rachel blog about my vasectomy, and this post is sort of similar, but girly. Seriously, this blog is chock full of uncensored period talk, blood and everything. Its just biology, but YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


If God had hired me as a creation consultant, (which He did not, for the record,) I would have highly recommended – insisted upon even – a Lady Switch.

Ladies can turn the switch on at, say, 25 years old, or whenever they’re ready to have children. And they can turn the switch off at, say, 36 years old when they’re totally DONE with producing progeny.

It’d be even better if the switch could be used more than once. Switch it on at 25, off at 27, turn it back on at 29, and off for good at 32. Let a woman suffer through an average of 20 periods in her life. I promise, God, Sir, 20 of those things is plenty enough to Keep The Curse Alive.

But maybe that’s asking too much.

Since God did not ask me for my opinions regarding such matters, we all must work with what we were given. And what we have been given is entirely too much of our life spent bleeding like an executed swine hung up to drain.

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My particular situation is made more perilous, as Dysautonomia makes periods worse, and periods make Dysautonomia worse. One of the main problems with my particular stupid illness is low blood volume, and any change to that can cause dehydration and sudden onset faintness (I had to offer up two vials of blood at the doctor the other day and felt light-headed and nauseous until I was able to speed to Chick-Fil-A and buy a biscuit.) Also, a side effect of Dysautonomia can be extreme periods – in all the ways.

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2017 began a downward spiral in my well-being due to every month being worse than the last, and not recovering from last month before this month arrived. It was getting dire. I was spending 1-2 days in bed a month. And everything was suffering because of it.

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A couple of years ago, my doctor had offered to give me an ablation. At the time, though, he gave a pretty awful sales pitch for it. “It only works about 90% of the time, and even for those it does work for, it may not be complete.”

I turned him down. Since then, ablations have become The Thing, and many of my friends have partaken, followed by glowing reports of the easy procedure and its magical results.

So after yet another crushingly awful month, I called and made an appointment. I chided my Gynecologist for being such a horrid salesman the first go ‘round, and signed up right away to give this life-changing activity a try.

So. What is an ablation?

Well, in my gynecologist’s literary description, it’s the process of “turning your garden into a desert.”

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In more technical terms, they stick a magic wand up there, and the wand spits out a mesh net. The net expands to the size of your uterus, then “emits a radio frequency”, which is code for “it burns the freakin’ house down.” Or at least it toasts the inside of the house into a nice char-broil.

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The procedure, which I had at the beginning of October, seemed to go well.

The recovery room was a bit dicey, because my blood pressure dropped out and, according to the squealing nurses, I was turning green, whatever that means. And because of my unusual color, they wouldn’t give me any pain meds.

Pretty sure that was discriminatory.

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But after I shed my green patina and they drugged me up, I was fine, and had zero pain once I got home. I was rewarded with a day to lie around the house and read while Chris carefully watched over me, and then immediately got back to normal life.

However.

This supposedly blessed procedure that promised to be the simple access to The Lady Switch that I so desired…turned out to have opposite-worked.

Now, instead of just having bad periods, I was bleeding every day AND continuing to have bad periods.

For the first couple weeks, I chalked it up to recovery.

At my two week post-op visit, my doctor, upon sticking his telescope up into things, proclaimed excitedly “I see the end of your bleeding!!”

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He assured me things were almost done, that yes I’d bled longer than most (you’re only supposed to bleed for a couple days), but he definitely saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

(Wait what?? There’s not supposed to be a light up there!! Did you leave something behind, doc?)

Then things really ramped up.

Whatever light he’d seen up there most definitely got drowned out. My uterus was now eternally going to be a Stephen King sewer system in which Pennywise was inhabiting and killing his victims inside it. There was no other reasonable explanation.

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What followed was me calling in,
The nurse checking with my doctor,
Then reporting back that he said “You need to go on the birth control pill.”,
Me taking a deep breath and using that overly-calm voice to let the nurse know that I had surgery to avoid such torture and WOULD NOT be doing any such thing,

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The nurse quickly finding me an appointment,

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The doctor examining me,

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And surmising “This is super unusual and I have absolutely no idea why you’re bleeding, but it could be one of these two things, so let’s take both these pills here and see if one of ‘em will plug the leak.”

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Shockingly, neither worked.

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After 60 days of my Lady Switch being completely jammed, my doctor announced that it was time to move to plan C: Goodbye, Uterus.

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After all she’s put me through lately, I know it seems like it should be more of one of these goodbyes,

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But we also created humans together. So I won’t deny a bit of sentimental attachment.

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I never wanted to have a Hysterectomy. I’ve been pretty against the idea for, like, forever. I’ve let go of a lot of body parts (a foot bone, a gall bladder, both tonsils, and two parasites now known as children), and was open to the idea of dismissing my appendix if it ever went rogue.

But my uterus – I really planned on us going out together.

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But after three days of being confined to bed due to the havoc my not-so-Cuterus was playing on my Dysautonomia, I was finally ready to break up the band. And resign myself to being a hollow shell of a human with nothing left but a lonely appendix.

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And so my doctor explained to me what would go down.

He would enter my body through my belly button (I guess my Dad was right after all – belly buttons do unbutton if you’re not careful,)

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(But my Dad’s horror stories about what would happen if you unbuttoned your belly button pale in comparison to reality…)

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Because he (the doctor, not Dad) would then use a very special tool with a very special name – A Morcellator – to grind up my uterus into hamburger steak,

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To make it easily removable through aforementioned belly button.

…Which brings me to wonder: does ground Uterus fry up as well as Placenta? And would you use ketchup or ranch to bring out its natural flavorings? Also, is mine a tastier variety since it’s no longer utero sashimi, but a nice medium-rare, compliments of my prior ablation?

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After removing all my newly formed uterine morsels, he promised that I would be a new woman, finally healed of all that ails me.

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And so I’ll be taking part in this groundbreaking Uterine Rave on Thursday. And it’s guaranteed to be the trendiest way to spend Early December.

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There will be a night in the hospital, two weeks of recovery, Uterus Sloppy Joes for everyone, and then I will hopefully never feel anything in my Uterus ever, ever again.

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Now Accepting: Book, Netflix, and Amazon Prime recommendations, Sarcastic wishes of “Merry Christmas to YOU!”, gifs and Memes, chocolate, and tacos.

No Longer Accepting: Secondhand Hysterectomy Horror Stories, Firsthand Hysterectomy Horror Stories, preventative Essential Oil recommendations, and raw ground beef anonymously mailed to my doorstep.

Origin Stories.

Every year about this time, I write a post similar to this one. Then I don’t publish it, out of concern that my words would be misread or misunderstood. This year I decided to go ahead and hit that publish button.

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For the past ten years, the constants of my life have been that I am a writer, a mom, a wife, an accountant, a homeschooler. But four years ago, that shifted dramatically. Very suddenly I found myself sure I was going to die, dealing with daily chest pains and blacking out and heart racing. Four months of every medical test imaginable and I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia. Since that point my life has consisted of working every day at being able to minimize my symptoms. Drinking obscene amounts of water, running nearly every day, abstaining partially or wholly from the delicious parts of life like caffeine and chocolate and sugar, IV treatments, and tracking everything imaginable to see what helps or hurts my situation.

For clarification, I actually do live a fairly normal life, but I work seriously hard at being able to do so.

There are some things I can’t fix, however. I have tried countless things to make my brain work as quickly and as wittily as it used to, and nothing seems to help. Writing takes infinitely longer, and I have shrunk my writing schedule down from 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, times a week to the current 2 and sometimes only 1 time a week. If I happen to go back and read something that I wrote more than four years ago, I end up in a funk for a couple of days because it makes me so mad at how well my mind formerly functioned. And then it frightens me that my brain is in a continuing state of decline, and it’s going to get even worse.

Every year about this time, when my Dysautonomia gets especially rough (thanks, summer) and my brain gets unendingly fuzzy, I struggle with whether I should continue writing, or if I should take that pressure off of myself and quit while I’m ahead. Other times I glance at my blog’s dwindling visitor numbers and ponder whether I’m like a sitcom that’s gone three seasons too long.

But then I remember that the real reason I’m writing is for my children to read. They have 2,100+ posts over nearly ten years, many documenting their lives, and they already enjoy reading and hearing the stories I’ve captured here. Although Ali has reached the age where I don’t write about her as much because she deserves her privacy, Noah still has a lot of childhood left to document. And so I convince myself to keep writing – to not care if I’m boring people or losing readers with my diminished ability to craft words in a captivating manner. I write for the reason I started writing – to record our own personal history book.

(It really is hard to remember that because I love you all so much, and the hundreds of relationships I’ve birthed out of writing are precious to me. But at the end of the day, I try (but often fail) not to stress about my writing.)

So if I don’t write as often as I used to, or if you also notice that my writing style has drastically shifted, or if I take a long quiet break, please know that I’m probably somewhere, racking my brain for words and original thought, frustrated that I can’t remember how to think creatively.

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But as hard as the writing loss has been, from the journey of dysautonomia came my love for photography. Because when my brain was too foggy to form words, I could still tell stories in picture. And since I was now forced to exercise to stay lucid, I was seeing (and appreciating) more of my surrounding world on the daily.

From that birthed Picture Birmingham, my photography business where I sell my prints, note cards, and other photo art products so that I can donate all the profits to The WellHouse, a ministry that helps rescue and care for victims of human trafficking. In the three years of Picture Birmingham’s existence, it has raised over $15,000 for The WellHouse – and zero dollars of that would have existed if I hadn’t gotten dysautonomia.

So although my daily life is affected in annoying and constant ways, and although my ability to craft words and love for writing has been decimated, and although I have to work every day to live normally, dysautonomia has forced me to LIVE to be able to live – and therefore, to help my children also live a life full of seeing our beautiful world. It has forced me to appreciate my state, to explore, to engage in nature, and to do crazy things like go in a wet cave and climb on a slippery pedestal above a 50 foot drop.

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It has changed who I am and what I value. It has given me an appreciation for this spectacular world and an ability to go explore it. It has given me the opportunity to use those explorations to help women that are suffering in ways that I cannot imagine.

So yes, I have an incurable illness. And yes, that’s really stupid and annoying. But as illnesses go, this one does have its blessings. And I am, (at least some of the time,) okay with that.

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What You Hear While Getting Needled.

I don’t talk about Dysautonomia at length here very often, because frankly, I find it annoying. Same for running – I run nearly every day, but I just don’t find running a very interesting subject to talk about. I like running a huge deal. It makes me feel better. I put one foot in front of the other thousands of times in a row. What more is there to say?

(A LOT, according to all the running groups I’m in. I should really work on being more interesting.)

Dysautonomia is also something that is a part of every single day for me. This June will mark four years since I very suddenly began experiencing this very stupid disease, and I’ve come to look at it as something that I have to just work on, every single day. I can’t just leave it as is, or it will get worse. I can’t just keep doing what I’ve been doing to help it, because things quit working. I have to constantly tweak, analyze, research, try new things, and WORK at feeling decent enough to function.

A few things I’ve found in the past year that help are:

1. Tailwind (less weird than it sounds)
2. Cutting out sugar
3. Very controlled moderation of caffeine (one dose in the morning, one in the afternoon, not allowing them to be too close together)
4. IVs of saline and vitamins.

Yes, Dysautonomia is so fantastically annoying that I’m willing to voluntarily get large, straw-like needles jabbed into me twice a month. And I’d do it every day if I could.

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I’ve known for a long time that IV fluids can significantly aid Dysautonomia sufferers, but I wasn’t into paying a $150 ER co-pay to try it out for myself. And you can’t just walk into CVS and ask them to hook you up. However, we have recently acquired a clinic in Birmingham that provides much-less-expensive-than-the-ER private pay IV treatments with a full menu of groovy vitamin choices to add to your IV bag.

This is amazing.

I went once, then immediately signed up for their 12 month package to achieve discounted rates and two treatments a month.

The IV makes me immediately feel like Wonder Woman after a long weekend and lots of sleep (I usually try to go run immediately afterwards because I have the BEST runs of my life that are almost worth writing about.) The saline ecstasy lasts for a few days.

But the real ecstasy comes from what you might get to overhear at the clinic.

The rooms are are outfitted with giant, cushy, recliners and have the privacy of a curtain over the doorway. So if someone else happens in around the same time, you might get the privilege of hearing their life story.

Usually they’re boring, like mine. “I have dysautonomia. I was feeling very blacky-outy.” And the occasional man bringing in his great-great-great-granddad. “He was sick, and now he’s really weak.”

But the other day, we all finally got something to talk about.

I was halfway through my treatment when someone else came in. He sounded brusque, businesslike, and commanding. He spelled his first and last name at least three times while they were trying to pull up his account. He had no patience for how long it took to type his name.

As he was walking past my curtain, I heard him begin, voluntarily and quite casually, to explain why he was there.

“I do a LOT of drugs. I travel for work, and you gotta do what you gotta do, you know? When I’m at the clinic in Atlanta, they’ll give me three IV bags at once. Is that something you can do?”

“Uh…no…the most we’ve ever done for one person is two bags at a time.”

Two bags at a time? I did not know this was a possibility. Isn’t one enough? Apparently not if you’ve done a LOT of drugs.

They put him in the room across the hall from me – I can only assume for my entertainment. He proceeded to explain that he’d traveled a lot this week, then partied for three days straight. And also…he couldn’t pee.

“If I came back tomorrow, could I get two more bags of fluid?”

Holy cow this guy wants four bags of fluids in two days. AND HE CANNOT PEE. And to think I was feeling bad getting two bags a month.

Nurse sounded skeptical again. “Well…I mean…I guess you could…but you really need to give the vitamins and minerals a chance to work their way through your body. If you still can’t urinate after these two bags of fluid…maybe come back tomorrow.”

Wait a minute.

No.

If you still can’t pee after getting 2000ml of saline and vitamins pumped into your body, I think you might need to go to an actual hospital. The body can only hold so much fluid, right?? I mean. RIGHT??

But he seemed unconcerned. This whole organ-failure-by-three-day-party seemed like something he was accustomed to experiencing. He casually explained that he was pretty sure four bags of IV fluids would definitely jump start his bodily functions again.

The nurse came back in my room to unhook me. My single little IV bag was done, and so I mourned the ending of my audio entertainment.

I whispered to the nurse. “Sounds like I’m the boring patient today.”

She giggled. “I know, right??” She told me that she hoped I felt better. I told her I was thankful for guys that do a lot of drugs. Because there aren’t enough Dysautonomia sufferers in Birmingham to justify the existence of this clinic, so they’re totally subsidizing the demand for my legitimate medical needs. And keeping me entertained while I receive it.