No, the title isn’t clickbait. Nor is it a pleasant memory.
TW: mentions of blood/excessive bleeding & hospital visits
May 31, 2021
To say the day had started off normal is a lie. I woke up with the same dizziness I had been experiencing that entire month. I felt foggy and lethargic with the recently familiar sound of my heartbeat pulsating in my ears.
Okay, wait. How did we get here? Let’s start from the very beginning. Let’s go back to April 6, 2021.
While my dad was transferring me so I could use the restroom, the change in position had me push out a massive blood clot. Doing this is something relatively normal for me because one, my periods have always been heavy due to genetics and two, I’m constantly sitting in my wheelchair. But this clot that I essentially gave birth to was the largest I’d ever produced in my life.
For obvious reasons, I’m not showing pictures because it’s gross. Just know that it was a pivotal point in all this because I’d already been bleeding for some time. As the month progressed, I’d be having clots of similar sizes (but not as big as that) up until the end of May. I bled for a long time.
I wasn’t too worried at first because my periods have always been long and heavy, it’s just how it was. But my parents and caregivers were concerned because they were witnessing what was happening.
So as time went on, things started diminishing in May. Besides the excessive bleeding and birthing multiple large clots, I started to hear my own heartbeat in my ears. Thought it was temporary until it wouldn’t stop. After a week of that, shortness of breath was added to the list and that further prodded me to schedule an appointment with my OB/GYN.
In the last couple of days before this would soon boil over, nausea and headaches would also follow. The former I simply thought was the result of drinking too much one day with the latter just happening suddenly over the weekend.
This brings us back to that fateful Monday afternoon.
All this had been going on for quite some time and I wasn’t getting better. There was exactly one week left until my OB/GYN appointment. And I was hanging on by a thread.
After trying to get through the morning, I decided a bean and cheese taco would be my lunch because I thought protein would help give me energy. While my parents, caregiver/best friend, and I sat eating, dad suddenly pointed out that my lips were blue under the kitchen lamp. This caused me to immediately purse my lips in an attempt to hide them, yet everyone was now looking at me suspiciously.
They asked if I was okay, and my immediate answer was to reassure them I was. Going to the hospital was brought up again and I didn’t automatically deny it, silence filling the space instead. I’m scrutinized even more before I hesitatingly admit I might need to go.
So we all finished lunch, packed everything we needed to before getting in the van. On the drive there, it was sunny outside, but the road ahead was entirely white to me. Metaphorical white light or not, and no I wasn’t ever unconscious, my eyes were having a hard time focusing. Another new symptom that I’ve never experienced before.
At the hospital, they check us in extremely quickly and only one person was allowed to stay with me in the emergency room. I chose my friend, of course.
We sit in the room while nurses and technicians are coming in and out for the next six or seven hours. They’re drawing blood, doing x-rays, amongst other things. Apparently, my hemoglobin level was about two something. The average hemoglobin level for women is about eleven. And eight is considered low.
The technician did say that tests weren’t always accurate, and he’d only seen one other person with levels this low. Usually, one loses consciousness after a certain point in those cases. I mean, I certainly felt close at times.
This concerns my friend even more, and they’d already been anxious the moment we’d pulled into the parking lot. On the other hand, I felt fine, well, as fine as one gets when they’re bleeding out for unknown reasons. I didn’t want my friend to worry, so I tried keeping the atmosphere, as well as my mood, light. In that moment, I wasn’t nervous because I felt almost at home there and knew I would be well taken care of.
At some point, my friend left when they announced I would need five transfusions and would be moved to ICU. I also received a Depo-Provera (birth control) shot because the bleeding needed to be stopped immediately. Makes sense.
For the next two days, my parents would take shifts staying with me while the other went home for a little. Once I got the transfusions, I immediately started feeling better and so much more energized.
When I finally came home, I took it easy that night. That is, until I woke up to my alarm at 5:45am because the live finale of Kingdom: Legendary War was airing in South Korea. I wanted to see all the groups’ final performances for the show, specifically Stray Kid’s because I’m a Stay (major fan of theirs). Am I considered ridiculous for doing it? Sure, but I am a K-Pop stan, so this is nothing new for me. This paragraph has nothing to do with the subject matter, but it was a fantastic episode to watch, and I consider this important information. Ahem, moving on!
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding.
So I had actually assumed this was what I had when doing google searches online. It seemed to fit the bill at the time. All the symptoms I mention above here were listed on several webpages with a note saying contact your doctor immediately. Yeah, I just bypassed those warnings like the oh so smart person I am. (Not really!)
As for the cause, they said my estrogen levels were high and my period just didn’t know how to stop. Once my uterus had finished shedding, I was supposed to start the ovulating phase but with all the estrogen, my body got confused.
What was the cause of the high estrogen? Who knows? Stress is a big factor, especially since we were one year into a pandemic that was sweeping across the world. Plus, my depression really drained me mentally, so that definitely didn’t help either.
Once my doctor’s appointment came around I felt back to normal. Pretty energized actually! Gee, probably because I had blood in me after so long. Anyway, my doctor wasn’t too concerned because DUB is pretty common.
She recommended I try an IUD (intrauterine device) instead of the pill since I’m at high risk for blood clots due to being in my wheelchair. The procedure happened that same day and it wasn’t painful but rather extremely uncomfortable.
I didn’t know it’s also suggested that you take Tylenol or some other painkillers beforehand. I highly agree with that sentiment! Later that day I felt like I was experiencing light contractions as a result of my uterus trying to shove this foreign object out of my body.
Constant pain wouldn’t be going away for exactly one month. Everything below my ribs and down wouldn’t be happy at all. But the absolute worst was the back pain. My scoliosis is already a problem, but with what I believe to be a swollen uterus shoving up against my spine was hell!
Please note as a disclaimer that everyone will experience things differently because everybody’s different. I’ve seriously heard that phrase too many times, not because it’s not true, but rather that’s the go-to response for when people can’t explain a body’s abnormalities or the cause behind it. The phrase is absolutely valid and there isn’t anything wrong with it.
Fast forward six months later or so, and after doing an ultrasound they couldn’t locate the IUD simply because it had slid down. Therefore, because it lost its place my doctor just removed it and said if the excessive bleeding starts again then we’ll try a different brand.
As of one year, things have been going much better thankfully. My period seems to be under control and actually normal than it’s ever been before. Whether that’s because of the IUD or the Depo shot, who knows!
On a side note, I just found out recently from other people online that Depo doesn’t typically do what it’s supposed to, rather it made most people bleed more heavily. By some miracle it worked in my favor, which is great, but I just thought it was interesting that that’s not always the case. And for all you other menstruators I’m so sorry! The fact that we have so much trouble and anomalies with our periods is just ridiculous. Reading everyone’s comments and personal experiences was certainly eye-opening and also extremely validating because hey I’m not the only way with crazy ass periods!
Now, why am I telling this story in particular anyway?
What’s the point? There’s no big mystery or suspenseful cliffhanger. We know what happened and I’m clearly alive and well. Why mention any of this at all?
Well, it’s because I want this to serve as a learning experience for others where they don’t make the same mistakes I did. I chose to ignore it, partially because I didn’t want to deal with it but also because I believed that if I hoped enough I could will it to stop. Mind over matter.
It didn’t work, so please just aware of what your body is telling you.
Listen to your body.
And I know, truly I do, know confusing it can be sometimes when your body seems to be giving mixed signals that you can’t quite understand. You can’t always be 100% certain, but usually you’ll feel deep down when something is very wrong.
Obviously, take care of your mental health, we get it. Don’t ignore the warning signs and be smart, case closed. Yes, yes, I hear you but let me at least say this.
I’m not a social butterfly, more of a wallflower, and while I did my own personal research, I didn’t reach out nor look for other disabled people who might very well have gone through something similar. Or at least, have learned how to handle their periods. I’m not the greatest at approaching others but I could’ve saved myself the trouble on multiple occasions. Plus, like I said earlier, reading that Twitter thread online about the Depo shot was helpful and comforting to me even after the fact because I could see that I clearly wasn’t alone in this.
So, if anything, maybe this post will appear to someone that needs to hear it. Any part of it. That’s the whole point of this blog, to share my experiences.
As I come to the end of this post, I do want to note that this is technically considered a Maniacal Monday since this happened on Memorial Day no less. Hmm, a Maniacal Memorial Monday. It’s quite the mouthful. But those types of posts are meant to be more lighthearted and fun, so this will stay just as a modest post depicting one point in time out of many where my periods have gone array though none have ever been to this extent.
I’d like to think that my experience can help other menstruators out there who might also be dealing with a broken period. If you’re reading this and feel comfortable enough to share your own experiences, please be sure to comment down below, I’d love to hear it!
Remember to listen to your bodies and take care my friends. ~So Says The Disabled Dryad~
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