Actually, no one ever asked to bleed every month, but you get the idea.
I was fortunate in my teenage years in that I didn’t experience much problems associated with having my period apart from the monthly mess that I’d have to clean up. I watched my friends suffer excruciating pain to the extent that taking painkillers was necessary.
My biggest mistake was not realising that this would eventually happen to me. All girls are told that period will begin to self-regulate as they get older. Mine began to be erratic. There was one whole semester I didn’t have it at all. I also began experiencing pain. However, I was told that it’s normal when one is under great deals of stress, and let’s be real, I’m not exactly the calmest person around.
My pains were easily dealt with with paracetamol, that drug of countless wonders. However, I also recently began having migraines and nausea before D-day. Last month, I was generally functioning. I could walk about and get through my daily routines, albeit a little uncomfortably, but this time… Oh mother. The pain struck me so suddenly and intensely that I was rendered helpless and all I could do was curse. I tried to force some pasta down my throat because it was lunch time, but I had zero appetite.
I went for class as usual, thinking that the headache could be due to the heat and the air-conditioning might do the trick, but no. I was clutching my temples like a ripped-off Professor X while my actual professor was waxing on about Samuel Beckett. I really wanted to listen, but the pain was so distracting. Eventually, I realised that I wasn’t going to get anything out of the class anyway, so I left.
I made it to the campus clinic and got myself some headache pills. “Please, if you think Panadol is enough, just take Panadol,” the pharmacist told me. Apparently, Naproxen causes gastric pain. That’s a little too much to deal with in my humble opinion.
Still moving around feeling like my brain was about to burst out of my head, I called a cab, silently waving goodbye to my $8.50. The driver was trying to make conversation, but I couldn’t manage, really. I actually fell asleep a couple of times only to force myself up to guide the driver to my place.
It seems I made the right choice to part with my money, because as soon as the lift arrived at my floor, I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline and saliva filling my mouth. It was a sure sign I was about to throw up. I fumbled with my keys, praying that I could at least make it to the bathroom, but nope. I threw down my bag and books and made it to the nearest drain outside my flat. It was then I could finally let go. Let’s just say what came out still vaguely resembled my lunch. There was, unfortunately, no one to hold my hair back, and I’m fairly tall, so I got some splatter everywhere. The cleanup took an additional hour because the drain was clogged. If anyone needs a graduate plumber in the future, you know who to call.
I’d thought I was stressing myself out in school, but it turns out what was happening was just hormonal fluctuations, as I would learn the following day when I found that I was bleeding again. I was extremely upset to have missed class, but if I hadn’t, I’d probably have puked all over the carpeted room. However, having one’s period isn’t an excuse for missing class or work no matter how terrible your pain is, because it is your responsibility to seek treatment for it before it recurs. I actually sought to do a little research about this and found out that most men do not condone anything related to having your period as an excuse to missing class, because the working world doesn’t let you get away with it. Strange that one of them said vomitting was an okay excuse but cramps aren’t (*whispers* they could be related).
I’m ashamed to say that I used to think this way, because I never understood how crippling the symptoms can be, and more importantly, how unpredictable. I’d always thought being a strong woman means being able to deal with your period problems without anyone ever knowing they exist. But I know it’s not so simple. Every cycle is different, and every woman is different. I sure hope more medical research can be done to show just how unpredictable and distressing some of this can be. I would never skip class if I were in the right mental and physical capacity for it, and I think most women wouldn’t want to either.