Sometimes I worry that I’ve lost the plot…

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Y’all know how I feel about the healthcare services afforded to women in this country. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me rant about the way women are treated, the way our problems and complaints are written off and ignored. The advice we get- find another doctor, keep talking and eventually someone will listen to you- those things are really only reasonable if a woman has extra time and money. And coming from that place, I can tell you that it gets exhausting to keep telling different people over and over about a problem you’re having- a very personal problem- and have them tell you it’s all in your head. You begin to believe you’re crazy. It doesn’t take much anymore. We’re bombarded with images of how women should be, and act, and feel and you can claim that things are better for women now than they’ve ever been and I’ll just come right back and say they’re nowhere near good enough.
I have major reproductive issues. I haven’t been coy about that on this blog- I have had major problems and absolutely horrible medical care. I don’t believe in the system because the system doesn’t work for me. If I could go somewhere that I knew could help me, I would go there. It was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move to Australia- it seems, to an outsider, that they have a much better healthcare system than America does. And they do, to an extent.
Both my parents were diagnosed with cancer shortly after I turned 18. My mother, ovarian; my father, prostate. Brushing aside all you know about those two different kinds of cancer, the survival rate for ovarian cancer is pretty low compared to the survival rate for prostate cancer. Usually patients with prostate cancer are told to “wait and see” how things progress, because it is usually a slow-moving cancer that causes no real problems during the patient’s lifetime.
The difference between my mother and my father was that my father’s cancer was caught early and treated early. My mother, even though she was complaining for over a year of various problems, didn’t receive a correct diagnosis until her cancer had progressed to stage III. After complaining for over a year.
The difference between my mother and my father is that my father received competent medical care. My mother was ignored. My mother’s cancer, had it been caught when she first reported it, could’ve been treated more successfully. My mother, in all likelihood, would still be alive today.
My father’s cancer just happens to be a rare mutation that would’ve progressed in the same manner, despite his excellent healthcare. My father has had amazing doctors and experimental treatments that have without a doubt prolonged his life and enhanced the quality.
My mother had an incompetent gynecologist who didn’t give a shit and is still practicing medicine.
It is my experience that most OBGYNs are completely horrible at their jobs. (Here’s looking at you, Dr. Tow.) I don’t know why. I don’t know what about the field attracts people who seem to dislike their patients so much. If I went to work with the same attitude most of the OBGYNs I’ve seen, I’d be fired. When I wanted a second surgery to help with my endo pain before my insurance ran out and I asked Dr. Tow to, among other things, flush out my fallopian tubes and check for scarring, I assumed that she would, indeed, be doing that. When I asked her to see just how bad my uterus was malformed, I assumed that she would do that, as well. Instead I ended up with a massive allergic reaction, MRSA, bleeding for three months and absolutely no results at all. When I asked why she didn’t do any of the things I’d asked, she said that I wasn’t ready to have children so it wasn’t a priority.
Not a priority. Maybe not to her. Maybe not to any of the other OBGYNs I’ve seen over the years. But the fact remains that I am almost 27, and if I want to have children tomorrow that is my choice. I am not too young. And I want to know if it’s even a possibility, something that Dr. Tow, in her infinite wisdom, has denied me, because now I don’t have health insurance and to be honest, I don’t want to have another major surgery.
Which brings me to Planned Parenthood. The haven for women. An island of hope in a sea of incompetence. A beacon of light.
I hate to generalize because I know there are exceptions to every rule, but let me tell you this- in my years of going to PP, I’ve had only care, consideration, kindness, and competence. (And alliteration, apparently.) Empathy, reassurance, helpfulness- they’ve got it. For an organization that comes under fire every single day, you’d think they’d be doing something more controversial than providing women with essential services they need to lead healthy lives. I’ll spare you the statistics- that less than 5% of all services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortions. That means 95% of what they do is help women like me. Like you. They help women without health insurance get annual exams. Birth control. STD testing. Help.
Most of all, they provide a safe place where women can go and feel like they’re not being judged. They can be honest, and no one is going to make them feel like less of a human being.
I once had a gynecologist throw a package of birth control pills at me after grilling me about my sexual history. I was 15. I didn’t have a sexual history, I had debilitating periods that made me so sick and caused me so much pain that I literally curled up on the floor of whatever room I was in and rocked myself from side to side, wishing I was dead.
I’ve had doctors tell me I can’t get pregnant. I had medical professional after medical professional tell me to suck it up, that the pain was all in my head. I felt for years like I was broken, defective, like there was something wrong with me.
Planned Parenthood didn’t judge me. Instead, they welcomed me. My last visit showed just how incredible the women who work there are. Instead of judging me, they provided me with all the information I could want or need. They expressed their indignation when they heard my stories, and the nurse who performed my exam told me her own stories about the vile woman practicing medicine over at HERA Medical Group. (*cough* Dr. Tow *cough*) The nurse who took my vitals and confirmed my medical history gave me stacks of information on different kinds of aid I might qualify for since I don’t have any health insurance and can’t get any through my job. When I burst into tears after a seemingly innocuous question about my mental health history, she waited quietly and asked “Do you have a support network? Who is there for you?”
I guess what I want to say is this- it’s already hard enough, being a woman. It’s already hard enough to find good doctors and competent medical care. It’s hard enough to get someone to take us seriously, to listen to our complaints, to hear what we’re saying.
The men and women who go into the field of gynecology do so for a multitude of reasons. I know that it pays exceptionally well. But we need to start expecting more from our doctors. So I’m going to say this again, for what I think is the millionth time on this blog- please, pass the word around. If you know a good OBGYN (Dr. Low, NP Susan Ways), tell everyone you know. Tell your mother and sister and best friend and worst enemy. Tell the newspaper. Put it on Facebook. If you know a great doctor, shout his or her name from the mountain tops! Sing it out! Tell the world!
And if you know a bad one- if you’ve been shamed or treated poorly or made to feel bad about anything, if you feel uncomfortable or weird or ignored or brushed aside- scream it from the mountain tops. Make signs. Write reviews. Write letters. But, most importantly, tell your mother and your sister and your best friend and your worst enemy. The worst feeling I’ve ever had is hearing that my cousin ended up at the same doctor (Dr. Tow) who treated me so poorly. To hear that other women I knew were going to this doctor because they didn’t feel they had a choice. That what she was doing to her patients was normal and the status quo and nothing they did would change it.
We can change the quality of the healthcare we receive in this country. We can change it if we share our information. We can control what happens to us.
And if you don’t have health insurance, please don’t let that stop you from seeking good medical care. Planned Parenthood is an amazing resource with amazing women to help you.
My mother’s death might’ve been inevitable. Maybe she would’ve died in 2011 even if her cancer had been caught when she first reported her symptoms. Maybe the gross negligence of her OBGYN didn’t change anything. But I can’t help but think that there is a chance my mother might still be alive if that doctor had done her job properly. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

Everything that keeps me together is falling apart…

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What a lovely fucking welcome home.
I was thinking I need some new coping mechanisms, but really what I need are some new friends.
Alright, and new coping mechanisms. The old ones require a lot of things I don’t really have access to anymore, like meaningless sexual relationships and drugs that may or may not be legal. For the record, the drugs aren’t the problem. But maybe they should be?
The friends are the problem. I realize that people have started families, had babies, gotten jobs, and changed. I realize that time has passed since I was last home and that is great. But I didn’t expect to come home to… this. I feel like shit.
Did no one care that I was gone? Did no one miss me? The only people I talk to are people who live in Australia. I was talking to them the same amount when I was actually IN AUSTRALIA. I could literally be dead, and no one in California would know the difference.
I have not seen a single person I’m not related to since I’ve been home. Not even on accident. Not only that, but I’ve barely spoken to a single person I’m not related to since I’ve been home. Look, I know people are busy but seriously? Am I that bad to be around?
Things were really bad, and they’re only going to get worse from here. It would be a really great time to have some friends. Is all I’m saying.

For once, in eight years, could I please catch a break? I am so exhausted.

I’m so tired of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears…

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I hate being home. Being home gives me a bad attitude. I turn into a teenager before anyone gets a chance to prove that home can change and it’s just a sick cycle that feeds on itself and my inappropriate angst. I should be cutting myself and writing bad poetry, but instead I sulk and shower infrequently and eat crappy food.
Honestly, though, being back here makes me feel so… inadequate. Sad. Pathetic. So many expectations, Jennifer, and you’ve lived up to exactly *none* of them. It all comes from such a well-meaning place, these little chats about how much potential I have, the promise I hold, the talent that is barely contained by my petite frame and thick glasses. I am a brilliant writer, a gifted mind, a sight to behold. I am full of passion for so many different things, anyone would be glad to have me around. Why don’t I go back and finish school? Why don’t I travel- really travel this time, maybe do some journalism on the side? Why don’t I do this, or that, or anything- ANYTHING but squander the brilliance and potential built up inside me?
The implication being, of course, that I am squandering my life away. Every return home is another opportunity to be reminded of the option of school, a mere thirty minutes away. Every failed attempt at escape is another reason to talk about all the classes available and how it really is the only option that will work. Every time the subject comes up, I hate my life and my family just a little bit more.
Every trip home I turn into more and more of a shitty person, and every moment I’m here I hate myself even more than I hate hearing about all that unbridled talent and potential floating around inside me.
I am a shitty person. I know that, and after a twenty minute talk with a stuffed cat tonight I realize it even more. I am an asshole. I am a dick. I am the worst kind of daughter, the inner-circle-of-hell kind of person. I should be beaten and strung up by my toes and spat on, I should be tarred and feathered and yelled at and made to feel like shit every moment of every day.
Wait, someone else has that last part covered for you, so you’re all good there. Carry on with the whipping, though, no one’s done that yet.
But hear me out. Please.
My father is antagonistic. My mother was antagonistic. Granted, they towed the party line and did what they were told professionally, at least until they had secure sources of income and could rebel a bit, but holy shit, were they antagonistic. So listen, I don’t think I should be held entirely responsible for all this nonsense.
Sometimes the idea of going back to school sounds brilliant, and I fall in love with it all over again. The idea of learning, of doing, of talking about ideas and thoughts and books and science is so appealing. And then I remember- I hate- absolutely HATE- being told what to do. I hate menial, boring, everyday tasks. I hate jumping through hoops. I hate school. I am not good at “school”. I am not good at doing something for the sake of doing it. I’m not good at long-term goals and I’m not good at delayed gratification. I’m really, I swear to Christ, not good at any of those things that make successful people successful.
I am so unhappy here. It drives me insane- I should be grateful to be so lucky. I have a place to go and a family that loves me. I have friends here, at least, I used to. Whether I still do remains to be seen, I guess. But my family is here and they take me in when no one else wants me, and that’s something to be grateful for. A lot of people don’t have that.
All I’ve heard about every time I’ve been home is my goddamn potential. All that goddamn promise I have, all that fucking talent. You know what? It has gotten me almost nowhere, and I’m starting to be a little bit resentful. Not of my talent, because I love writing and it feels good to do it. But hey, listen, hearing about it all the damn time is a little exhausting.
I am not a drug addict. I didn’t get pregnant as a teenager. I am, for all intents and purposes, a good daughter. I took care of my mother and I try to take care of my father. I haven’t killed anyone, and I try to do the right thing. I feel like an immense failure enough of the time, but there are a few basic things I’ve done right.
I’m not going back to school. There was a time, a really brief time, when I wanted to change the world. I was fired up and I wanted to make a difference. And then I thought about it for more than the five seconds it took me to get fired up and it all became so exhausting. Because there is so much else to care about, you know? It’s never just the one thing. Changing the world isn’t easy. Being talented is just a stroke of genetic luck, one I hope I can pass on to my children, so I have something to torture them about when they’re still screwing up at 26.
Life, for me, has rarely been anything more than exhausting. It has been enjoyable, sure, but not very often and almost never when I’m doing something with my “talents”. Please don’t think I’m ungrateful, like I said before, I’m glad I can write. I love it. If I couldn’t do it I would explode and then kill myself because there is way too much going on in here for me to not have this as an outlet. But caring with as much passion as is required for change… I just can’t. I’m too… empty, still.
There is one thing in the world I’ve wanted pretty much my entire life, one thing I still want, one thing I’m willing to be passionate about because it’s the one thing I have consistently thought would be a part of my life.
Dinosaurs.
Children.
Yeah, look at me, all evolved and shit.
I want kids. I always have.
And with my luck, as soon as they’re old enough to talk, they’ll ask me about all my wasted potential and I’ll have to start drinking before noon.
Cheers to my wasted potential. Let us have a drink in its honor, but let’s not feel too bad. It never really had a chance.

‘Cause there’s this switch that gets hit and it all stops making sense…

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I have been feeling sad lately. And a little bit depressed. Would I call it depressed? I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t care what I call it, except I have definitely not been feeling anywhere near 100% lately and it’s starting to wear me out.
It’s definitely a combination of so many different things- I’m homesick, for sure, and frustrated, and a little bit disillusioned, and stressed, and lonely, and tired. I can’t write. I haven’t been writing. I am sure I still can write, but I haven’t been, and that is frustrating as hell to me.
I am frustrated.
My life is not what I expected.
And all of that would be fine but I feel like literally everyone I know is disappointed in me. I feel, every day, like I am letting someone else down and all that makes me do is stop trying completely.
I miss being home for so many reasons but most of all- right now, if I was home, I would take a vic and start over tomorrow. Or take a vic and get up off my ass and do something. Or not. It wouldn’t matter because I would be HIGH, and that would be good.
What I’m saying is, yes, definitely, I took more painkillers than I should’ve the last couple of years. I don’t think that’s news to anyone who knows me. Just like I smoked more than I should’ve and I occasionally (but not so much because hangover) drank more than I should’ve. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it, because yes, guys, believe it or not it really sucks to have a parent die. And yes, becoming numb to the world completely actually helped. A lot.
So yes, right now, I’m saying I would like to be high. I would like to be free of whatever is happening to me right now and NOT GIVE A SHIT. I would feel better, and I know this because of personal experience. I have no idea if it would help in the long run but I’m not looking for a long-term cure, just a temporary fix.
I would like to pick up the bottle from my nightstand, the bottle that is less than a foot away from me right now, and dump one of the tiny handful of pills in there out into my hand, and swallow it. I would like to sit here and feel it kick in, and then…
But instead I’m going to get up. And do my makeup. Maybe do something with my hair, and find some clothes for the weekend. Because I have no more excuses, I have no more reasons why I think it is legitimately OK for a person who is in no physical pain whatsoever to take painkillers. I can keep telling myself how unfair it is to allow other people’s opinions to rule my life and say what do they know? They can’t judge me. But it does matter. It matters to me. And the truth is, no one wants to date someone as completely and utterly broken as I feel right now, and if I do this, I feel like I’ll be crossing some sort of invisible line.
So no. No, I won’t be taking anything tonight. I would feel better, I know that I would. There wouldn’t be this ridiculously huge ache in my chest that tells me just how disappointed my mother would be by my life.
But then I would wake up, and I’d have to do it all again, and honestly, I just can’t imagine living that way anymore.

Well something’s lost, but something’s gained in living everyday…

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I’m proud of being 26 years old. I’ve done a lot of hard work to get here, I deserve every single year I’ve earned. So when someone has such a profound effect on me that it brings me back to the mentality of a 15 year old, even just for a night, I get a little pissed off.
I know better than to let myself be antagonized by someone younger than I am. I know better. (In my head, “A wizard should know better!”) Hell, I shouldn’t let myself by antagonized by anyone at all. I should be zen as fuck, because I’ve dealt with a ton of crap in the last ten or so years of my life, and also, I used to be a lot calmer like six months ago.
Apparently weed has that effect on people. Who knew?
Anyway, my patience for people trying to get a rise out of me is non-existant now, and whether that’s attributable to the lack of marijuana in my current diet, or my ever-changing hormones, or the people I have been surrounded by, or just the fact that it was Mother’s Day weekend and I was DONE, I don’t care. I’m a little mad at myself for, well, getting so damn pissed off.
Dude. I am 26 years old. I have seen things, you know? I have done things. And even with all that to consider, I will still rise to the bait of someone who is just trying to make me jealous FOR FUN.
I need to be that person who just does not get jealous. I need to be emotionally invested in making a relationship work without all the crappy emotional baggage that seems to come along with it. I am freaking exhausted thinking about being a better person all the damn time. But jealousy is supposed to be about trust- in your relationship, your partner, and yourself. Without it, I think we can all pretty much agree that the relationship is pointless and you might as well just give up now. And I don’t have a single reason to think that I can’t trust the person I’m with.
So what the fuck was I doing all jealous and pissed off?
I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. I could go all Psych-101 on my ass and think about how insecure I feel in large groups of people, even people I know. I can blah-blah about past relationships not working or being cheated on, I can talk about not being the prettiest girl in the room, I can make excuses about my fragile emotional state since it was my second Mother’s Day without my mom. I can say all these things and more, and I’m sure they’re all true to some extent. But a big part of growing up and getting older is acknowledging your weaknesses and trying to fix them. It’s about being a stronger person, a smarter person, a better person. It’s about knowing that you’re super uncomfortable and shining anyway, because you are a motherfucking ADULT now and that is what adults do. It’s putting on your big girl panties and stepping up. More often than not, it’s walking away from the situations you know will drag you down.
So I’m still learning. It’s a work in progress, this adult self I’m trying to create. I am 26 and yes, I still fail at so many different things at so many different times it will absolutely send your head spinning. I don’t particularly want to get old, but I’m happy to because I know it’s not something a ton of people get to do. And there are a lot of days when I’m much happier to be an adult than a kid. I like to think each year is going to get a little better- at least since my mom died. I’d say they can’t get much worse, but that seems to invite all kinds of trouble. So hopefully they will continue to get better, with as little backsliding as humanly possible.

And besides the intense and immature fit of jealousy I experienced this weekend, how am I doing?
Eh. Weekend before last was harder than Mother’s Day. I went with D (haha, initials) to the bookstore to get a book or two and they had a huge display of those Nut Brown Hares (“Guess How Much I Love You”) and they made me think of my mom, since she loved that book and we used to read it a lot. And they had a copy of “Runaway Bunny”, which I totally got as a present, but at least I knew better than to open it because that would have been HORRIBLE. And of course I started crying and it was super embarrassing, because no one wants to be THAT girl, crying and snotting all over herself in the middle of a bookstore, holding a picture book and a stuffed rabbit, trying not to make eye contact with the poor guy who decided he wanted to be in a relationship with her, because he is so totally regretting that right now. But I’m still that girl, reverently touching the spines of the picture books and letting myself remember all the damn time, because it’s what I’ve got. I feel ridiculous, crying over things like pine trees and picture books and camping gear; hyperventilating when I read someone else’s account of watching a parent die of cancer, but I wouldn’t trade the memories I have of my mother for the sanity that would come with fewer tears at less embarrassing times.
My mom rocked. I didn’t think about her on Sunday any more or less than any other day, because I had my little emotional breakdown the week before. I didn’t worry about what I would’ve been doing if she was still alive, because if she was still alive I would still be in Modesto, trudging along through that life. If you believe in alternate universes, then that Jennifer exists out there somewhere, and I’m sure she’s happy in ways that this Jennifer cannot even begin to comprehend. But this Jennifer has jumped off a bridge, has been pushed out of airplanes and has touched her feet to the ground in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. This Jennifer has a million reasons every day to be happy, and only a few to be sad.
So yes, it’s a struggle for me. It has been for years and it will continue to be for the rest of my (hopefully very long) life. But I am so in love with the person I’m becoming and the people around me that it’s getting harder to say I’d give it all up to go back.

That’s what I wanted to say. Yes, I backslide into petty fits of jealousy that are totally ridiculous (I’m sorry, D) and stupid and silly, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to walk through the children’s section of a bookstore without tearing up, but oh God. I’ve been to FIVE continents and I’ve seen so many things and I’ve done so much in the last two years. And I’m so happy here, so exceptionally happy here that it would be really, really stupid for me to think I would just go back. My mother made this whole life possible for me, my father encouraged it. I’m the person they raised and as much as I keep looking back over my shoulder, I cannot imagine actually trading this life for that one.
And the most comforting part of all? I know my mom would more than understand. She’d be so pleased.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

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Sweet Jesus, pimples. They’re popping up on my chest (WTF???) and my chin (ugh) and my neck (whhhyyyyy?) and my forehead (goddammit). They’re popping up everywhere, like I’m heading through puberty again, and I am pissed. Couple that with skin so oily I’m afraid the US Government is going to call and ask me to return home so they can mine my face, weird boob pain, a super-keen awareness of EXACTLY where my uterus is at all times, and a massive increase in anxiety, and you’ve got my life, right now, woo-hoo.
So I spend a lot of time reminding myself why this weird post-adolescent puberty-like phase is preferable to what I had going before, because it totally is. Way preferable. You know why? Oh, please. Let me tell you.
So I was put on birth control pills when I was 15 because my periods were ridiculously irregular (we’re talking maybe once every 8 months or so) and extremely painful (curl up in a ball on the floor of my classrooms at school, unable to get out of bed, crying like a baby) and that was (and still is) the medically accepted solution to irregular periods and other bits of pubescent crazy that past generations just dealt with and grew out of.
Needless to say, I didn’t take them very much. Because they made me BATSHIT CRAZY. I don’t have to tell you that being on the widely prescribed and most common form of the pill (this is more than ten years ago, there was like ONE kind of pill) did not work for me, because there are people lining up to tell you how absolutely nuts I was. I cried, I screamed, I picked fights, I yelled, I ripped an $85 pair of pants for dramatic effect while I was fighting with my boyfriend who promptly broke up with me, because even he could see I was LOSING MY MIND.
They did not work. On to the next medical cure.
So I started Yaz in 2006 because clearly the previous pill didn’t work for me. It must’ve been fairly new, because the doctor I saw had samples in her office and- this is not exaggeration- as I was leaving my appointment in tears because she made me feel like the worst kind of pathetic slut on earth, she threw them at me saying “Take these.” Seriously. It was my first experience with doctors offering free samples, and let me just say, free samples are a poor college kid’s dream. (I have never had to pay for an inhaler. I mean, I’ve only needed 4 over my entire lifetime, but still. Never paid. All free.)
Still, I was vaguely aware that this was bad medical practice, and I didn’t go back to see the mean, bitchy doctor. Until I had to. (More on that in a bit.) I saw my GP for all things reproductive for the next five years, where they convinced me that the massive pain I was experiencing more frequently than my periods was all in my head, but just in case, I should only have four periods a year. Don’t take the sugar pills, they advised, just take the active pills. Fine by me, I was still irritated that being on birth control meant more than one or two periods a year, but I was glad that I could predict (sort-of) them, and they didn’t just show up with some short (extremely painful) warning in the middle of English class.
But my pain was immense, and no longer limited to period times. I had a fairly active job (bakery) that required me to be on my feet for a solid 8-hour shift, and suddenly my abdominal pain was always around. It was ridiculous. It hurt really bad. I was super pissed, but there was nothing I could do. Take more Ibuprofen. Take it more often. Take as many of them a day as you want, because it won’t kill you. Take lots. Take Aleve and Ibuprofen. Take all those and Tylenol. You’re not taking them enough. Take them more often. Well, there’s nothing else we can do. This pain is clearly a physical manifestation of psychological problems. (That’s the doctor way of saying “It’s all in your head.”) Let’s schedule you an appointment with a psychologist. (Fine, until I realized I was on my way to see the mom of the guy I’d been dating. That was funny. She recognized my last name and wouldn’t have treated me anyway, but I’m so glad I didn’t even make it in the door of that one. Never mind, she’s an amazing woman and I’m glad I know her socially.)
Blah-de-blah, this went on until 2011, when I’d finally had it. My mom was doing well with whatever treatment she was on at the time (I’m not sure but it was only a little bit before things went downhill) and I started doing research myself on things that could cause severe and unending abdominal pain. I knew I didn’t have PCOS, mainly because I didn’t have any symptoms of it besides pain but also because I’d had one (extremely painful) abdominal ultrasound every year since I started puberty. My doctors were thorough. I know exactly how big my ovaries are and where they sit, in case you were wondering. And they were absolutely positive that there were no growths, cysts, or problems. Clearly this was all in my head. I was told to “toughen up”, that everyone goes through this and that I was being a baby. Relationships ended, my work suffered. I went from being amazing at my job to the bottom of the shit-list very quickly.
But I kept reading about endometriosis. It kept popping up in all my web searches and finally, finally, I asked my doctor if there was a reason he hadn’t suggested it as a potential problem I might have. It would explain literally every symptom I was experiencing. It would be a logical answer. His response? “Yeah, that’s probably the case. I can refer you to a specialist if you want.”
I was pissed. I was so mad that I almost walked out without the referral, just out of spite. But I didn’t, I got the referral, and I said I wanted any doctor but the one I had seen before. Dr. Tow.
Let me take a moment to say that my GP is an awesome doctor, and that this was basically my only complaint against him. But it was a big complaint. I had been seeing the man for an exceptional amount of time and he didn’t even bother to suggest endo, let alone offer to send me to someone to treat it. I know he isn’t a gyno, but he was clearly out of his area of expertise and he needed to admit that rather than allow me to suffer for years without any relief.
Cue the entrance of Dr. Le, gynecologist who seemed to know what she was doing, but really was just pulling shit out of her ass. Oh, and “forgot” to tell me that I have a bicornuate uterus. Seriously, she was inside my body, poking around for two hours. I think she could’ve remembered to share that bit of info. But I digress.
With my laparoscopy, I found out I had endo. It had wrapped around my intestines and bowels, pulling them up and back towards my hipbones. It had embedded in my muscles, but the most important news- the happiest moment I had had for a long while- was the knowledge that it was THERE. I had endometriosis, and I was not crazy.
Thank God.
The treatment for endo, I was told, was to take birth control pills and manage the pain with whatever works. For me, because my stomach was absolutely destroyed from the years of taking so damn much Ibuprofen and because it hadn’t helped anyway, that meant Percocet or Vicodin. I started at 2.5mg, and gradually worked my way up until I was taking 10mg every single day. To manage my abdominal pain, I was taking a hardcore dose of narcotic pain meds and birth control pills.
I decided to have another surgery in 2012, just before my health insurance ran out. It was such a bad idea, not least of all because I had to see the evil Dr. Tow (Dr. Le had dropped off the map completely) and she was disinclined to perform the procedure. It showed in the results; I ended up with a misdiagnosed MRSA infection, MASSIVE scars all over my abdomen, and near-constant bleeding that wouldn’t let up. I ruined A TON of underwear. I spent a few hundred dollars at Victoria’s Secret, and then gave up.
And then I turned 26. I lost my health insurance and moved to Australia. That meant no more pain meds. I worried, I panicked. It also meant that when my supply from Planned Parenthood ran out, I would no longer have birth control pills either.
I would be drug free for the first time since I was 15.
But the bleeding hadn’t stopped. For three months I could never predict what my body would do, or when it would do it. I had to cancel a flight to Brisbane because I couldn’t walk, I was in so much pain. I woke up soaked in blood. It was awful. I was miserable, I was devastated, I was worried that moving to Australia was a huge mistake because I was so far from home without any health insurance to speak of.
And then I ran out of birth control. I had my period (it was super weird, but I don’t want to freak everyone out when I talk about discharge, so… It was SUPER weird), it lasted for about a week, and then bam.
It was over.
I didn’t say anything for days, I didn’t want to jinx myself. It’s been almost a month now and I’m just now writing it down, because I don’t want to ruin what has been so, so good.
But after that “period”, I never had a lick of pain again. I haven’t had any weird bleeding. I am in, quite literally, no pain at all. I can run around after the kids, I can do my job, I can ignore the last few Vics and Percs in the bottom of my pill bottle because seriously, I do not need them. I can take Tylenol for a headache because IT WORKS FOR THAT NOW. I have never felt better in all my life.
Except… ugh, my boobs are sore. And my face is like the underside of a Middle Eastern desert. There are pimples (which I almost NEVER had during puberty, lucky me) and my hair is doing weird things and my scalp itches ALL THE TIME. I’ve had a ton of general anxiety which hasn’t been a problem for quite a while over here, and GODDAMMIT MY FACE IS OILY!
And now I never know when to expect my period. But if all the doctors and online medical sites are correct, it will go back to happening every now and then- about every 8 months- and I could not be happier about that.
We don’t talk enough about what happens when a girl wants to STOP taking hormonal birth control. It seems like the medical community thinks you either need to be taking the Pill or trying to get pregnant- there can be no in-between. But no one ever told me that I should try something other than hormonal pills to try to relieve my symptoms from endo. And it turns out that what helped me in the end was NOT having health insurance. We don’t talk enough about alternatives to the Pill. It’s not a cure-all. It won’t solve every problem. And it’s worth telling girls out there that hey, not only are they NOT crazy, but there’s another way to live. You’re not out of solutions, you’re not out of hope.
Personally, I am way happier without birth control pills in my life. Yes, even with the crazy oily skin and the odd neck pimples and the ridiculously itchy scalp and the HEAVY AS FUCK breasts. I am so, so much happier, I could run a marathon.
Except seriously? Condoms suck.

You can’t always get what you want…

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If you buy into the idea that dreams show us our deepest hopes and fears, then it’s pretty obvious what I’m thinking about underneath all the day-to-day minutiae. Marriage. Families. It’s like suddenly, I woke up one day and all my friends, the people I know, are married and starting families. They’re settling down and buying houses and doing all the things I thought I wanted when I was younger. And before you stop and apply your Psych-101 head-shrinking techniques on me, I haven’t had any horrific, traumatic experiences that have led me to fear commitment or babies or whatever. It’s just… It’s so hard to believe I’m 26, sometimes. And that doesn’t sound old to me, but it’s older than I thought I would be when I got married. It’s not so bad, and I’m really glad I haven’t settled down yet, because how I would have time to do all the things I want to do if I’m busy changing nappies or making dinner every night? But those things aside, it was only a matter of time before I started to freak out about being the last single girl I know.
Minus the wild exaggeration (I know plenty of single women, just give me a minute to think of them), I’ve been having the strangest dreams that people I know, and hardly think about anymore, are getting engaged. Couple that with the insane number of Facebook announcements telling me someone is engaged or someone is married or someone else is having a baby, and it feels like my life is progressing at a far slower rate than everyone else’s. That would be fine if I wasn’t so hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing in the world, but that weird high-school girl need is ever-present in me, even if I don’t say it. There is still a part of me that wants to be like everyone else.
And there’s a larger part of me that is disgusted with that need and does everything it can to squash it. Planning trips around the world, thinking about all the things a pregnant woman can’t do (deep-sea diving, swimming with sharks, bungee jumping, skydiving, wild nights at dance clubs getting insanely drunk- the usual), and internal pep talks when things get especially rough. When I think about all the things that could have been, I remind myself how ridiculous it would have been to take care of my mother and a child at the same time. I think about how silly it would be to try to hop around the world with a child and yes, I am grateful to not have one of my own. In those moments and at those times, I am glad that the only person I really have to worry about is me. I’m glad that I don’t need to think about someone else above myself, because I am still a ridiculously selfish person. But I already know that won’t change until there is an apparent need.
But I’m 26. Maybe I know a few women who are happily single, but that doesn’t make it easier to see my friends get engaged one right after the other, dominoes falling all around me. Maybe it’s only a matter of time and patience before it’s my turn, but anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly a model of patience.
I’m not in a hurry to settle down. If I wasn’t bombarded every single day with updates of the lives of my friends (and their friends) then I don’t think it would bother me as much. But I am. I see, every day, people I’ve known for a long time settle down and tie the knot and have babies, and suddenly I can’t measure up. Sure, I’ve been to Egypt, but that doesn’t seem to be nearly as wonderful as getting married and having a family. Besides, everyone else seems way happier than I am.
The problem is this grass-is-always-greener attitude. No matter what situation I was in I’d be jealous. Not because I’m not happy with what I have, or who I am (for the record, I think what I’ve got is pretty good and I’m generally an awesome person) but because everyone else looks happier with what they have. Facebook allows us to see only the best (or funniest, or most remarkable) points of someone’s life, but it doesn’t give us any perspective on those things. All we can see is what we’re missing out on, and for me, that’s marriage and kids. Do the married ones occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy when looking through the pictures of us nomads? I have no idea, but I would think they do. Only because that’s the culture we live in. That is the situation we put ourselves in.
I know what you’re thinking. I could avoid this whole mess if I removed myself from social media, if I just focused on myself and didn’t worry about anyone else. But in a society like ours, I don’t think that’s at all possible. And it’s easy to be happy if you don’t know any different. That’s why we say “Ignorance is bliss.” But we also really hate stupid people. No one likes stupid people. And ultimately it brings me more joy to see my friends- near and far, young and old, single or married- happy in their lives.
So occasionally (like a couple of times a week) I dream (nightmares!) about people I’ve known over the years getting engaged, getting married, having babies, laughing at me. And I feel kind of down about myself, fumbling through the beginning of a relationship that I really want to work, watching kids and helping them grow into their own, unique people, and trying to figure out exactly what I want from this life. But if my only other option is to ignore the world around me, then I’ll take the worry and wondering. And someday, someday I’ll get this whole “life” thing figured out.