Friday, January 22, 2010

Female Trouble

Warning:  Yes, I am about to blog in detail about THAT, so take your "TMI" complaints elsewhere.

Up until about four years ago, my cycles were so regular the Mayans could have constructed a calendar around them.  I went on low-dose estrogen birth control on my doctor's recommendation to deal with breast tenderness.  It did the job and also enabled me to schedule my cycles.  It didn't make them any lighter or less painful, but they were nice and predictable.

The paranoid part of me suspects that some religious-conservative type was working behind the scenes at the insurance company's mail-order pharmacy division, because on several occasions, my pills didn't arrive as expected, even though I'd paid for them.  This threw the cycle off repeatedly.  When I moved and changed jobs, the insurance coverage was gone anyway, so I gave up on oral contraceptives and went back to barrier methods. 
It was then that I noticed how irregular the cycles had become.  It got worse as the months went by, and a couple of years ago (after I once again had insurance and a PCP I liked), it had gotten to where I was scared.  I was thinking all the predictable stuff -- various anatomical adjectives followed by the word "cancer." 

My doctor is not the excitable type.  He's also an acquaintance, and has counseled and prescribed over the phone at no charge more than once.  He recommended progesterone cream that comes in a pump bottle; during a portion of your cycle you rub it on a leg or buttock or arm and it calms things down.  Yes, it worked.  It kept me from having maddening cramps for two weeks with nothing to show for it, followed by enough "output" to inspire envy in Wes Craven's SFX team. 

Progesterone cream kept things sane for a year or so, but then the cash-flow situation kind of went south and progesterone cream was moved over into the column labeled "Luxuries."  Gradually, I went back to the krazy kramps, 70+ days between cycles and/or 2 cycles a month, and dem ol' buckets o' blood.  But -- in spite of the obvious inconvenience and aggravation, I adopted the Scarlett (no pun intended) O'Hara attitude of "I'll think about it tomorrow; tomorrow is another day," because in the midst of all this I had also been diagnosed with a mild case of diabetes and was making the adjustment to metformin.  Count me among those who were delighted to kick 2009 to the curb...

December had to have been the ultimate in menstrual misery.  The fun started December 3rd, and continued all through the festive holiday season and beyond.  There were occasions when everything stopped.  I breathed a sigh of relief and thought "Finally.  It's run its course.  It will be interesting to see when it starts up again."  I was keeping a running Excel spreadsheet with start dates, intervals, and symptoms.  December-January most certainly broke all my previous records.  The respites were brief and all too soon, my body started its Sunday Bloody Sunday-Monday-Tuesday etc. routine.

This past week, things came to a head.  Monday and Tuesday at the office, I spent more time in the bathroom than the Service Manager whose claim to fame is irritable bowel syndrome.  I gave serious thought to buying stock in Hanes and Kimberly-Clark. 

I couldn't even sleep properly Tuesday night; upon waking at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, after my daily routine of washing my sleepwear, I reached for the insurance company's Nurse Hotline, who put me in touch with a nice, patient person who listened to all my symptoms and understood my situation.  She transferred me to Member Services, who gave me the numbers of local gynecologists.  This proved to be a more successful endeavor than a few weeks before when I'd called about the same thing and got half a dozen out-of-date, disconnected numbers.  On the first try Wednesday, I found a practice that could see me right away.  Although I brought a book just in case, as well as a good supply of good old Kimberly-Clark accessories, my wait wasn't long.  I was probed, physically and verbally, and a reassuring array of tests was run.  They were very nice, and seemed unconcerned that I was bleeding all over the furniture in several rooms.

The treatment plan:  Progesterone.  Pills this time, rather than cream.  Yes, I have fibroids, but this has been part of my life since before Wally was born.  The doctor said "We'll keep up with the refills, and this should carry you through to menopause."  Of course, there were plenty of tests, and I don't have the results yet, but I had honestly expected medical transport and a hospital bed to round out my Wednesday.  All I ended up with was a fairly expensive pharmacy bill (deductibles, dontcha know) and some surprising dizziness after taking the Prometrium. 

So my week ended on a much saner note than it started with.  I'm hoping this blog entry will offer some comfort and reassurance to any fellow femmes who are fraught with a frustrating flow.

May your cup not runneth over.


Wandering Coyote said...

Wow. What a saga. And just plain brutal, too. I really feel for you and I hope the pills help you and that the test results come back with nothing alarming!

Kay Dennison said...

After decades of fighting that sort of thing, I finally hit menopause and went through it relatively easily. Hallelujah!!!!!

I'm glad you got some relief!!!!

Modern Girl said...

Wow, you're tough. I had my first ever UTI in September 09, it lasted 5 weeks, and I thought I was going to die. Problems down there are just ... disturbing. You feel like you can't control them, because you can't really get at what's doing it.

Glad to hear you might be on the mend. :)

Liberality said...

I'm taking those little pink pills too. I take them before bed because they tend to make me drowsy and they can also sometimes cause dizziness.

I have a huge fibroid that causes lots of bleeding but I wouldn't have a hysterectomy as suggested (more like commanded but that's another post) and I cope the best with it I suppose. Even taking those pills every day does not stop my bleeding but it isn't as terrible as it used to be.