the girl who bled through everything
By: Fela M'tima
I remember in elementary school it was almost like a competition on who would get their period first and of course, I became that first person in 6th grade. I remember pulling aside my friend Jackie and telling her. Her face lit up and she said, “Well that means I should be getting mine soon then!” I definitely didn’t feel like a *woman* when I started bleeding. I don’t remember really feeling much other than embarrassed when I would bleed through clothes in class and pain that I couldn’t handle at all. The first bad bleeding experience was the first year of my period, I was in science class. I walked into the classroom and I felt the feeling. We all know the feeling, the gush of warmth that you know no pad or tampon will control. My heart instantly sank and immediately thought, “I need to sit the fuck down.” I did just that, not realizing we had wooden stools, I peeked underneath me and the stool was completely stained. My heart actually aches for this 12-year-old me. The fact that I was so traumatized over something that should be accepted and normal (Because IT IS). I should have been able to go up to my *MALE* science teacher and tell him that I accidentally bled through my clothes and needed to go home and rest for the day. Instead, I had a panic attack and cried to him telling him “I’m just so nauseous I might puke on the floor.” Still dramatic enough to go home, right?
Thankfully, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt over my t-shirt so I wrapped that around me as I cried all the way to the principles office to sob even more while crying to my dad to pick me up. I shouldn’t have felt the shame that I did to even have to cover up, but I did. And I know that every woman, with or without a reproductive illness has felt that shame before, and that is just unacceptable.
That year my bleeding became out of control, I bled through super tampons and pads, ruined so many clothes, and bled so much on my mattress once that it had to be replaced. When the pain started later that year, probably 7th grade, I didn’t even know how to survive a *period*. I woke up one morning in so much pain, I was dry heaving over the toilet, my dad was confused, and I wanted to die.
I remember screaming and crying on the couch in the fetal position and my dad gave me the heating pad he used for his back. Little did I know, that was the beginning of a long, long friendship with that thing. One night around age 16, I was sleeping at my grandmas house and woke up in so much pain, similar to the pains I usually got but definitely a lot worse. I curled up in her bed screaming and she looked at me and asked, “Do you think you could be having a miscarriage?” Almost as if she knew this pain was NOT just a period pain. She ran downstairs and filled a bunch of water bottles with super hot water and put them in a large ziplock. These traumatic days and nights continued to happen every period.
Some people bleed more than others, have worse pain then others and you deal because you’re a woman and that’s just what we do. And that’s just what I did, I dealt with it. I continued to dry heave monthly, stay glued to a heating pad, eat motrin like candy on countless empty stomachs, cry when I felt my thighs being cut by a million knives down to my toes, because that was my period and it was normal.
When I was a teen, an OBGYN at planned parenthood put me on birth control and said because my periods were “bad” I could just take it continuously. So I did and my periods eventually stopped, which was great. But I didn’t know that I had a disease that needed birth control to regulate it so I eventually got off of it. I remember the summer I did because I bled everyday for three months. You do actually get used to these type of dreadful periods and you do get used to bleeding like a gunshot victim. Of course, I can say how upset I am that no OBGYN ever even suggested that I could have a disease let alone the two or three I actually have. But, like Dylan says “It’s all over now, baby blue”
To be honest, I always felt like something was wrong with me with the continuous dreadful periods, constant colds, random abdominal problems, chronic infections, chronic headaches. I mean c’mon, I’ve definitely been sick for a while. Sometimes I think, Hey maybe it’s nice that I didn’t know for a while. I have done some traveling that I’m really grateful for, I got to experience some life without these diseases. Although they were always there, I will never be able to go back to the times where they were hidden in plain sight. I can’t say I miss those times because there is a peace of mind when you know what’s going on inside of you. I believe that one day, my puzzle piece of a body will be put back together, and all these horrid memories will just become more evidence in solving my case. Endo and Adeno are huge parts of me, they always have been, but they didn’t make who I was back then, and they won’t make who I am now.