Leggi questo post in: Italiano
This was the view outside the balcony where I spent four nights a couple of weeks ago. Pretty, right? The bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, the classic Mediterranean pine tree. Except I didn’t really get to enjoy it very much because I spent most of the time laying in my hospital bed.
Yep. You may or may not have noticed that I had dropped off the map for the past month. No new posts or tutorials, no newsletters, very few erratic social media posts. Basically I spent three weeks in bed with an extremely heavy and long period that made me lose so much blood that I couldn’t stand up without blacking out. In the hospital I got a D&C, two blood transfusions and a bunch of IV treatments. And, even though I felt much better when I got back home, I continued to feel very weak and tired, and my hospital souvenir, phlebitis, had left my arm swollen, in pain and basically useless.
I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this post, but I decided to in order to potentially help other ladies out. First of all because I’ve never written a post about how incredibly amazing the menstrual cup is, and it really helped me deal with the hemorrhaging and also allowed me to know just how much blood I was losing, which was important information to give to my doctor. And second, because it is so, SO important to listen to your body and not just believe blindly what a doctor tells you if your instinct tells you otherwise.
If you don’t like reading or thinking about blood and/or women’s gynecological health, please just skip this post and come back next week for one of my non-body-related DIY tutorials. If you would like to hear my story and why I decided to write this post, keep on reading!
I’ve always had long, heavy and painful menstrual periods, right from the start. So I didn’t really think much about this period when it started. Then I got the flu with acute stomach pains and I couldn’t eat for three days. Because my period was so heavy, I had to get up from bed every hour to empty out my overflowing XL MeLuna menstrual cup and change my Mega-sized cloth menstrual pad, despite having a fever, nausea and trembling. During one of my frequent bathroom visits, my husband heard a noise and came running to find me on the floor. It was the first time for the next three weeks that I nearly fainted when standing up.
At first I just assumed that I felt so light-headed because of not having eaten for three days because of my stomach bug. Even after I was able to start eating again, I still had no appetite and had to force myself to eat. But a couple days later I was still bleeding like crazy and still feeling very weak, so I got a blood test done, went to my gynecologist, and got confirmation that this was no ordinary heavy period and that my chronic anemia had gotten worse.
I spent the next week on different medications. I’d start feeling dizzy when I sat up, so I took the Sweater Doll free embroidery course and worked up the two free samplers using twelve different stitches, as well as the above embroidery kit from Tiger, while lying flat on my back.
I started to feel better. And then I started to feel worse… a LOT worse. And so after two weeks of heavy bleeding and upon my doctor’s recommendation, I went to the ER. And, much to my surprise, I was told to go back home.
I really hesitate to tell this part of the story because I am very faithful to this hospital and have always recommended it to others. I gave birth twice and had a D&C after a miscarriage there, and it’s also the structure where my private gynecologist works. However, sometimes things just don’t go right, and the doctor in the ER pretty much didn’t take my situation seriously and didn’t give me a blood test to find out just how low my hemoglobin had gotten. I don’t really want to get into the details publicly, so I’ll just leave it at the fact that he sent me home thinking that my situation wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.
A few days later I suddenly felt better. I managed to sit up in bed and finish this crochet top pattern by Drops. I summoned up the energy to take this quick picture of how bad it looked before finishing it off differently. Obviously I don’t intend to wear it with pajama pants. (Thank goodness I’d sewn up a lot of my Evening Primrose pajama pants when preparing the pattern, because I lived in them for three weeks!) I know that I look like crap here, but consider that this was a relatively good day!
And another couple of days later, I was a wreck. I almost constantly heard my heartbeat and ringing in my ears. My nights were miserable because my hands and feet would go numb and my legs would cramp up, I assume from three weeks of inactivity. I realize in hindsight that I was starting to have trouble understanding things. And not only did I feel like crap, I was starting to get really fucking depressed.
Passing time in the hospital (when I don’t have IVs in) knitting swatches for my next yarn project. I love this cotton/linen yarn! #knitting #yarnlove #iknit Una foto pubblicata da Eco Sewing & Crafting (@cucicucicoo) in data:
I went back to the hospital when I knew that my own gynecologist would be there to do everything that needed to be done, thinking that I’d go back home that evening as with a routine D&C. Instead, I left four days later, thankful to no longer be in danger and, a bit more irrationally, thankful that nobody would be coming near me for a while with another needle.
This was my second blood transfusion. The next day, after the nth iron treatment in the same catheter, I was overwhelmed with pain as my arm swelled up with phelbitis. Two weeks later, I can almost extend my arm all the way.
So, one point made: if you feel like total crap and a doctor tells you that you have no reason to feel like total crap, don’t just take his word for it. He might be right, but nobody knows your body like yourself, so stand up for yourself when your gut instinct tells you that there is indeed some problem. I would’ve been spared a good amount of misery if I had done that.
Second point? The menstrual cup is amazing. I started using the Diva Cup 9 years ago. I had some trouble at first because childbirth had really loosened things up down there and I’d suffered uterine prolapse with all the pushing, but after a couple of months of pelvic exercises I was able to use it regularly. And I haven’t stopped using menstrual cups since.
The menstrual cup is basically a silicone cup that is inserted in the vagina. You fold it as seen above, insert it, and give it a little turn so that it pops open. As it collects, rather than absorbs, menstrual material, there is much less risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) than there is with tampons. You also can see exactly how much blood you are losing because it’s all right there in the cup when you take it out. The Diva Cup has lines up the side with the capacity marked so that you know exactly how much is in it if it isn’t completely filled up. If you tend to get blood clots, the cup collects them too. (I have some nasty memories of blood clots making tampons slip out… ew!)
The menstrual cup can be used for many years so, as with cloth menstrual pads, you save money by not having to buy them every month and you save waste from the landfill. There is no little string dangling from your dainty parts, so you don’t have to worry about peeing on it or accidentally leaving it hanging out of your bathing suit.
And when you go out, you don’t need to bring 50 extra tampons with you. Just remove the cup, empty it into the toilet, rinse it off if there’s a sink available, and put it back in. If there isn’t a sink to use, just insert it again. I’ll admit that what I usually do in these cases is pee on it and then put it back in. I’m not sure if that’s really very hygienic, but that’s what I do.
Just make sure that you empty the cup out at least every 12 hours, washing it off with soap. Sterilize it for just a few minutes in boiling water at the beginning and at the end of your period, and that’s all there is to it!
As they don’t have the string that tampons have for removal, most menstrual cups have a little stem, ring or ball at the base to hold on to while pulling it out of the vagina. Like I mentioned before, my uterus slipped down considerably after my first childbirth, so I have to wear my menstrual cup quite low down. The Diva Cup would sometimes move around and its stem would dig into my skin, which as you may imagine was not particularly comfortable. I cut the stem off as suggested, but even that little bit left over bothered me.
So about five years ago I did some research and discovered the German brand MeLuna. MeLuna offers quite a few sizes, and the XL size is the largest cup I’ve found so far, which is perfect for my heavy periods. And even better, there is a model without any handle for removal, making it much more comfortable for women with uterine prolapse. And it’s even purple, my favorite color!
I’ve been using the MeLuna XL cup since then and am very, very happy with it. The one shown in these pictures is brand new. I had to buy a new one because, in the confusion while I was being carted off to the operating room, my husband accidentally threw away my old one that I’d quickly removed, wrapped in toilet paper, and handed to him.
So, why am I going on about menstrual cups right now? Because when you use them, you know how much blood you’re losing. I remember reading back when I was a teenager that during a period you only lose two or three tablespoons of blood, even though it seems like much more. I always had a heavy period and I suspected that I was losing much more than that, but using disposable tampons and pads I had no way of quantifying how much blood there really was. My suspicion that I suffered from unusally abundant menstrual flows was verified only when I started using a menstrual cup.
This was incredibly useful for me during this past month because I was able to tell my gynecologist exactly how much blood I was losing during the different phases of this disturbance. I could also therefore keep track over time of how much bleeding there had been. I had to try to remember more or less how often I’d emptied the cup every day of the first week, before I really was paying much attention, and a lot of blood overflowed into my cloth pads, so I’m not perfectly sure exactly how much it was, but it was at least 2.5 liters of blood and clots.
So, how am I feeling now? Much better, though I have my good days and my bad days. My hemoglobin is going up and I am getting stronger, though I still have a ways to go. I was so thankful during this illness for my incredibly supportive husband (who deserves a medal for doing EVERYTHING for kids, sick wife, home and — oh yeah — his own work and things for over a month) and for all the people who helped us out and offered support during this hard time. And obviously also for my fantastic gynecologist, who I harrassed constantly with panicked phone calls and pretty much saved me from bleeding to death!
Wow, this ended up being a much longer post than I’d planned on! I promise that next time I will be back on track with a nice spanking brand new tutorial for you! Have a great week!