lost in menstruation

i have a small white scar on my left arm, near the crease of my elbow. i got it a few years ago during my period.

i remember i didn’t go to school that day. i mostly stayed in bed and drank hot broths and chamomile teas. during this time, i hadn’t discovered ibuprofen—my doctor never mentioned it to me. she told my mother and i that the only way to get rid of my cramps were by taking birth control pills. my mother, who had heard about the possible significant change in hormone levels, acne, weight gain, and potential blood clots through her favorite radio nutritionist, told the doctor that we would find another way, a more natural way. since then, during my period cycle, my mother would warm up tortillas and place them on my lower abdomen to ease the pain, give me warm liquids, and administer calcium and msm vitamins. she also did this for me on the day i got the scar.

it was late afternoon, and i was covered in a thick blanket, the breeze of a mini fan caressing my face. my body temperature felt both hot and cold, but more cold than hot; i figured that if i kept the fan on, it would cool my body down and i can just warm myself up. although my plan was successful, my lower abdominal area still ached terribly. i rose my knees to my chest, laying on my right side and then on my left, my body unable to determine which side felt better. “I Love Lucy” reruns murmured in the background, and as much as i tried to laugh with Lucy and Ricky, the pain was too distracting. i whimpered to myself. the cramps were too sharp and lasting too long, like the months before. i prayed, begging the virgin mary to let me fall asleep so that the pain would be gone for just a little while.

i finally fell asleep. i felt much better when i woke up, and by this time it was late evening. i needed to use the restroom, so i headed there confidently, pleased with my body, thanking it and the virgin mary for stopping the pain. as i shut the door to the restroom, i collapsed on the full length mirror that was propped up against the wall.

i don’t know how long i was laying there before i regained consciousness, but i wasn’t there for too long because i was still bleeding. pieces of the mirror were scattered across the restroom linoleum floor, my legs and thighs poked with shards of varying sizes. strangely, it didn’t hurt.

i got up, swept the floor with a broom, and questioning what had just happened. i had never fainted before. as i was putting the broom away, i noticed a piece of the mirror stuck near the crease of my elbow.

note: i tell this story because i’ve encountered girls and women who feel that their menstrual pain is only unique to them. i felt this way at one point in my life because at the time, i didn’t know anyone close to me who suffered from severe menstrual cramps. once i met others who also experienced awful cramps—some worse than mine—i realized that i wasn’t alone and that they weren’t alone. women and young girls who experience severe menstrual cramps and those who don’t experience cramps at all, you aren’t alone. none of us are.

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4 thoughts on “lost in menstruation

  1. My first day is usually the worst. I find myself unable to function and lying down becomes a task. Every few months I ease the pain by taking ibuprofen although most times I just fight it out using natural means like your mum because I don’t like the thought of depending too much on drugs. When it gets really bad even my eyesight is affected, mostly thanks to these awful migraines that kindly decide to show up during my time of the month. So when it comes to this pain, I totally agree with you, a lot of girls feel it too.
    Ooh–I wrote something similar to this a few months back which maybe you can check out? http://writergirlsdiary.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/the-first-time/

    • I just read it! I think you did a great time describing your first time. It’s true, we await the experience thinking that it’ll be a big deal when it happens so casually (like for you at the movies, for me when i got back from school). My first day is the worst too. It use to drag on for a few days but ever since i’ve stopped eating many dairy products and spices before it’s about to come, the pain hasn’t lasted as long. I’ve also only taken the ibuprofen when necessary but that’s every month 😦 if not i would miss exams and tests…which sucks. I’m also still looking for a more natural way to fight cramps.

  2. I loved the title of this piece! My husband is Japanese, and they rely more on old world remedies for illness then American do. When I’m in a lot of pain then I can’t even focus on TV shows, and I think that said a lot about how bad your pain was. I have been on birth control since I was 15, not for sexual reasons but because I had amenorrhea. You were able to capture the difficulties of menstration. And it had a satisfying ending. I’ve been in several health groups for my illnesses, and it definitely helped knowing that I wasn’t alone and there were other women in their twenties struggling with chronic pain and hip problems. Great piece 😀 I’m impressed that you can write creative nonfiction as well because I can’t.

    • Aww thank you, the title was inspired by the movie “Lost in Translation” although I’ve never seen it. I usually have a real hard time coming up with titles so I’m really glad this one was good 🙂 And have you tried any of your husband’s natural remedies (if he knows any)? Have they helped? I know it’s bad, but I rely on ibuprofen because it’s quick and easy and gets the job done. I’ve tried remedies but they aren’t as effective as the drug. Thank you for your kindness 🙂 Lately I’ve been writing creative nonfiction because I was looking for ideas to write about. But as I’m easing back into writing, it’s been easier to write fictional pieces 🙂

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