Warning, oversharing ahead...
I lay on the floor, behind our orange velvet couch. Curled up like an infant, I gripped my belly in pain. My only thoughts, "I'm dying, I don't want my mom to worry. I'll just die here behind the couch." Melodramatic much?
My mom found me. And it turned out I wasn't dying. I was just having my first period. Oh!
Now, before you judge me, my mom, or the California school system, just know I had already read and reread the menstruation pamphlets from my pediatrician's office at least 10 times. My mother had already had "the talk" with me. And my teacher had already walked us through the wonders of puberty.
But somehow, everyone forgot to tell me how much it might hurt. And I failed to connect the dots. Blood in cotton bloomers and cramps = period, not death. Good to know.
After our first meeting, I was afraid of my period. I dreaded its arrival. Excruciating pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting certainly didn't fill me with the warm fuzzies.
Unable to use tampons, I had to wear bulky pads. Which may have been ok if I wasn't an active kid. In the SoCal heat, a bulky pad was far from comfortable.
It wasn't until I was 19 that I was able to successfully insert a tampon. While the menstrual product problem was solved, the painful cramps and tummy upset continued to kick my butt.
My PCP offered me the usual: birth control pills and NSAIDs. Though I turned down the BCPs, I happily accepted the suggestion to pop painkillers at the first sign of my period.
First I tried Midol. Total waste of time and money. Then Tylenol. A little better but I needed more. Finally, I tried Aleve. It worked like a charm... until it didn't.
After years of bliss, Aleve turned against me. Suddenly, it stopped alleviating my pain. Worse yet, I would vomit nearly immediately after I popped that once magical little powder blue pill.
I was 26. I had suffered for 15 years. And I was over it.
Tired of the pain, tired of missing work, and tired of assuring people I wasn't pregnant when I inevitably upchucked at work, I finally took matters into my own hands. I turned to the three things that never fail me in a crisis: prayer, Google, and PubMed.