Tag Archives: blood and gore

If you could change one thing about your body…

Hold up.

This is not an attack on body image, it’s an answer to a question that comes up too often, even now when we should know better.

If you could change ONE thing about your body, what would it be?

I would have my nose hairs altered.

Why nose hairs?

On a biological level, I understand them. They filter things out so we don’t inhale rocks into our lungs. They are like little fur coats, helping to keep our mucous linings warm so we don’t freeze our brains while sucking in cold air (that is not a scientific explanation, by the way; don’t quote that on a test) Yet, I wonder why we have not evolved beyond such rudimentary protection methods. I know my life would be a lot better without the need for these dark strands of evil.

I loathe my nose hairs to such a degree that they represent the ultimate agitation in life, they are the the symbol of all things miserable. I can tell how stressed I am based on my dreams; when I begin to dream of nose hair, I know it is time to go to the hospital.

Here’s what I mean:

Mild Stress Indicator Dream: The standard going to class naked, forgetting the locker combo, getting lost in school and being late fare. This dream shows me I am under some stress but it’s generally superfluous and my brain will work it out on its own.

Medium Stress Indicator Dream: The ex-boyfriend who should have cancer based solely on the amount of ill-will I bear him starts showing up and trying to get my attention or assumes nothing has changed between us an can’t figure out why I won’t talk to him. This dream lets me know that my stress level is now noticeable and is something I should keep an eye on.

Strong Stress Indicator Dream: I find myself needing to poop but there’s some reason I can’t use the toilet or I’ll find a toilet in the middle of a giant, empty room and just as I start stinkin’ up the joint, all these people come in and want to talk to me and I’m pretending nothing is happening but I’m desperate to finish my business and I really want them to leave but they mill around and ask me to do stuff and I need to discreetly wipe before I stand up and there is panic. You can imagine my horror at the Poo-pourri commercial. Sometimes the toilet isn’t even a working toilet; it is there as a piece of art or because it needs to be installed in another room and then I have to figure out how to get rid of my horribly smelly evidence once I sneakily clean myself, pull up trow, and make it look like I was never evacuating wastes there in the first place. Now we are in serious dream territory. My stress levels are high and I need to manage them or else there will be problems. At the very least, I will get sick. At the worst, I will turn into Godzilla and kill the entire city of Tokyo.

Maximum Stress Indicator Dream: I feel a tickle on my upper lip. I am usually talking to someone important like my boss or the president of a country who could make war on us or sometimes even to Jenny Lawson. The tickle worsens and I stealthily brush it away with the back of my hand. The tickle continues and as it grows stronger, I begin to sweat, to worry, to freak out. There’s something on or hanging out of my nose and I need to rectify this immediately but can’t think of a graceful way to break from the person to whom I am speaking. Also, I can no longer let that terribly important person see my face so I am trying to have a conversation while averting everything under my eyes from their gaze. Things get awkward as I surreptitiously attempt to assess the damage. As I lightly, quickly brush the nostril area with curious fingers, I feel fur. Like a mouse. I think there is a mouse hanging out of my nose. On the next swipe, I search for a tail. I find none. As my stress levels rise and I continue to find a way to disengage from the conversation in the hopes of finding a private bathroom with good lighting and a clean mirror, I become more neurotic in my ninja-like fumblings around my nose holes and finally, horrifically, it becomes clear: I have an entire handlebar mustachio emerging from both nostrils made entirely of tickling nose hairs. I cover my nose and mouth and run away crying in shame. My life is terrible, bad things are happening, and I’m probably five seconds away from a heart attack. This is the end. It’s time to take down Tokyo.

This is what I think my nose hair looks like.

How my nose hair feels – and probably looks – in my dream.

Yes. Nose hairs are the pinnacle of awful personal worries, worse than showing up to class sans vestments, worse than being hounded by a hated ex, worse than pooping smellily in front of a crowd. No worry tops the  worry of nose hair.

The most terrible part is that my Maximum Stress dream all too often borders on reality. I’ll be driving to work, breathing, like people do, and I’ll feel a tickle just on the inside of my nostril. I always have reason to believe that I’ve inhaled a cat hair since I tend to smoosh my face into my cats’ bellies or backs, breathing deeply, on a regular basis. I often find cat hair on my person, in my billfold, in my underwear…it’s everywhere, including up my nose. So I’ll lightly pinch my nostrils together and gently pull downward, hoping to catch the tip of a feline fur and guide it to freedom. I would guess that 1 time out of 10, there really is a cat hair and it’s usually one that has wormed so far up that the other end is wrapped around my eyeball and pulling it free is a terrible and strange sensation, resulting in watering eyes and squeaky shrieks of something like pain that’s not actually pain.

Those other 9 times? It’s a nose hair. It’s an errant nose hair that has grown its way to sunlight and is blowing in the breeze of my breath, softly bouncing against the skin around my nostril. Why is this allowed to happen? Why don’t they just stop growing at .1 cm? WHY?

I try to ignore it. I try so hard. But I can feel it, wafting in and out on the tide of breath. Before long, it’s all I feel. There is no autumn sunset on my face, there are no fingertips thawing from scraping winter ice from the windshield, there is no wind in my hair on a beautiful summer morning. There is only the exquisite torture of a nose hair licking my tender skin with every intake and exhalation of oxygen through my nasal passages. Even breathing through my mouth sets the follicle a-quiver.

I lose all sense of sanity and decorum; I attack my face…in the car where other motorists can see me. Making tweezers of my thumbnail and the pad of my forefinger, I attempt to locate and dislodge the offending piece of hair. Often, I find it but lose it after my swift tug yields no result. I drive down the road, pecking at face with my own fingers, shrieking like a banshee as I fly at 75 MPH. There is nothing in the world but this battle.

Inevitably, I win, but success comes with a price. My fingerpad is sore and throbbing from having my pointy little thumbnail jammed into it for minutes on end. And when the root of the hair finally pulls free, it hurts. It’s always a deep root, one that goes straight to the bone of my nose, a bone most people don’t have but I know I do because I can feel the hair coming from there. It is such a sharp, swift pain, worse than a needle, worse than a burn. The pain brings tears. And yet, these minor miseries are nothing in comparison to the hair, itself. I roll it between my swollen fingerpad and thumb, relishing my victory. Then I look upon it with triumph and see that the little bastard is half an inch long.

HOW THE HELL WAS THAT IN MY NOSE?

If you are not alarmed, go get a ruler and look at the length of half an inch. Nothing that long should be up inside anyone’s nose.

Ever.

I scream. I scream for minutes, in pain, in terror, in horrified fascination, and in complete disappointment that my body would let this happen. Again.

My fellow road-passengers hurry to pass me, wondering if I am an escapee from some asylum who will undoubtedly be on the news tonight, in the center of a multi-vehicle pile-up.

It doesn’t end there.

When I get home that night, I wage war. Me, the tweezers, and the bathroom mirror, we are the Allies. I pull out every damned hair in my nostrils, every single one I can see, feel, or whose presence I merely suspect. They all come out. I do not care that it hurts, I do not care if I make my nose bleed. I do not care that this results in minutes-long sneezing fits. Furthermore, I do not care if I start inhaling boulders into my lungs or if the air I breathe turns to ice when it passes my brain resulting in permanent neurological damage.

I. Do. Not. CARE.

The nose hairs have to go.

Do you know what my brother told me recently? He told me that he had this blemish on his nose that hurt like nothing he’d ever felt before. It lasted for weeks and would never come to a head. It was just a big, red, sore spot that persisted despite all his attempts to rid himself of said blight. The pain became unbearable and he was left with only one option: dig at the spot until something happened.

It runs in the family, ok? We’re all still alive, so just shut up.

Anyway, do you know what he found?

An ingrown nose hair. A nostril hair that he’d pulled months before had grown back on the inside of his nose, all curled up and evil. He said it was a good half inch long when he straightened it but that it would’t stay straight and kept springing back to its mutant form.

When he told me this, I passed out.

The only thing worse than a half-inch nose hair is the half inch nose hair you pulled out but that returned INGROWN.

Now that I know this, I suspect my Maximum Stress dreams are about to become that much more horrifying.

I hate nose hairs. 

And that is the one thing I would change about my body if I could.

**This post is lovingly dedicated to Sam from Normal For Norfolk as she is my sister in nose-hair hatred.

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When you’re sure, you’re NovaSure!

New and Improved with updates at the end! 3/28

Now with even MORE fabulous updates at the end! 4/17

Ok, so this is not about underarmpit deodorant.

This post is about my very own reproductive organs and it is full of Too Much Personal Information and it’s going to be gory. There are pictures and there is blood. If you’re uncomfortable knowing really personal stuff about me, about lady parts, about medical procedures, about the way a woman’s body functions, or about alien probes, then you should not read this post.

This is your last chance to get out. This is not a fun, lighthearted romp through my normal craziness. I am being serious. (No, really. I am honestly being serious)

Alright. So.
You know how I got my first mammogram? I did that so I’d be ready for my annual well-woman exam (everything is fine with my breasts, by the way). It’s been three years since my last well-woman exam because I don’t understand the meaning of “annual.” Some things have changed in the doctor’s office since 2009. One of those things: there are giant Apple monitors in the examining rooms and while you wait for the doctor, you can scroll through stuff and learn about all the things you didn’t know you wanted to know at a gynecologist’s office. It’s pretty cool, really. One of the things I learned about was a new type of ablation called NovaSure. It doesn’t require burning or freezing or scraping  to kill off the endometrial lining. It uses radio frequency waves so, pretty much,  it really is an alien probe!
What the NovaSure-trained doctor does, according to the infomercial, is sticks a hollow tube into the vagina and then shoves a little mesh thingamajig through the tube and it pops out into the uterus where it opens like a triangular-shaped flower. Then she turns the mesh on,  radio frequency waves go bzzzzzzz for about 90 seconds, she unplugs the whole thing , pulls it all back out and doneover. This is supposed to kill the lining of the uterus which falls out over the next few weeks to months, depending on how fussy your uterus is.
The point of this procedure is to reduce or even eliminate menstrual periods. This only works for women who won’t be having children and who have a definite source of birth control because it is still possible to get pregnant after this procedure and that would just be bad because without a lining, there’d be nothing for the baby to stick to and feed off of and so it would become an alien, eating the innards of the mother before bursting forth from her stomach.
That last part isn’t true, I made it up. But it sounds like a good reason not to have a pregnancy if you have no uterine lining. So to repeat: THIS IS NOT BIRTH CONTROL.
I have horrible, raging periods that are violent, bloody, and full of misery for everyone involved, which happens to be not just me. Gabe hates them because I become even meaner than usual and try to kill him for real or at least kick him out of bed and maybe out of the house simply because he’s breathing. The cats hate it because they can’t massage/stand on my boobs and I only want them around if they’re going to curl up on my abdomen, acting as furry little heat sources and since they don’t want to do that unless they can also punch me in the breast, well, there is no cuddling. For anyone.
I’ve got cysts on my ovaries and something like endometriosis and probably an alien growth around my uterus. When my period approaches, my boobs swell and become so sore, it hurts to walk. Then the small of my back begins to ache like maybe it’s broken. Then the cramps come. They’re not always bad but they’re almost always there. Every other month, or so, though, they’re horrible, so severe that I can’t stand up because being not-curled-up on my side makes me cry. I have to take muscle relaxants and they knock me out all day. I miss work, I can’t go to parties, all I do is lie there sadly and bleed. And bleed. Then I bleed some more while my guts are squished in a vice full of broken plates and knives.
The blood has become grosser than gross, just like those “What’s grosser than gross” baby jokes from childhood. What’s grosser than gross is that I bleed like a broken fire hydrant for three days but it’s no longer flowy. Now it comes in the form of clots, or slugs, as I like to call them. Giant blood blobs that are all goopy and make a mess. I go through so many tampons those first three days and I have to always wear a giant pad because there will be leaking. Then I bleed normally for the next 3, or so, days and then I spot for another 3-5 days. I average about ten days before my vagina is open for business again and you can see why Gabe would take issue with this.
So when I found out there’s a period-killing procedure, I asked the doctor about it. She said I was probably a great candidate – I have permanent birth control (Essure, also from this particular doctor), I’ve got violent periods, and it would probably relieve the pain my nasty little cysts give me every month. In addition, according to the literature, it can possibly diminish PMS so that I won’t want to cry or kill Gabe or eat entire cakes full of whipped cream when Aunt Flo(w) comes to visit. I said, “Oh, hell yes!” so right there and then, she signed me up for all the tests I needed to take to make sure  this would be safe for me. They sucked out some blood, they gave me pelvic ultrasound (the one where they stick the wand that looks like a marital aid up inside and take a million pictures. My tech was super nice and chatty so it was actually fun) and before I left the office, they were able to determine that I could benefit from NovaSure and it could easily be done on me. We made the appointment for March 7th (last Thursday) and I was excited.
Because my body hates me, my period started the day before my procedure was scheduled. I called in and they said it wouldn’t be a problem, I could “come in with or without my period” I chose with because I really didn’t have another option.
Here are all the things I had to do beforehand:

Here is the list of things I needed to do before I arrived for my appointment.

My appointment was scheduled for 12:30 pm and I had chosen NOT to eat a piece of toast that morning. Unfortunately for me and my blood sugar levels, they were running behind and I didn’t actually get onto the pseudo-operating table until 2:30 pm and was in a state of delirious starvation despite the camel-like hump of extra nutrition I like to keep on my body. Most people call it a “belly” but I like to call it my anti-starvation kit. ANYway I kept notes from the time I went into the exam room until I passed out at home hours later. Because I am a journalist at heart, you see.

Apparently, this is how it went down:

-I made sure to wear comfy clothes – leggings, shapeless dress, flats. I look pregnant so fit right in in the waiting room

-I have had only tea and am starving

-Procedure is scheduled for 12:30, I’m supposed to arrive at 11:30 so I got here at 11:15 but am still waiting

-Urine sample: complete. They want to make sure I’m not pregnant. If I am, it means it’s the end of days.

-I got a tampon full of numbing goo and am supposed to sit and let it take effect. How will I know when it’s working? Is there a test to see if my cervix is numb enough?

– 2:00 pm – I got my IV with in-the-vein ibuprofen (said the professional drug-giver), some anti-nausea liquid and other stuff. Maybe Seda-gives? They said I could bring an iPod/headphones for relaxation. I wish I’d have brought my Playaway

Ok. I know why this is labeled like this but it is not heartening to see this in the examining room. How scary is this going to be?

While I understand the purpose behind the label, it is not heartening to see in the examining room. How scary is this going to be?

I'm all ready to go. I've got an IV port and everything. I've already been filled with something like liquid ibuprofen and some other thing and...saline, but only to wash and prime the pokey hole.

I’m all ready to go. I’ve got an IV port and everything. I’ve already been filled with toradol ( I think) and some other thing and…saline, but only to wash and prime the pokey hole.

-My IV hand is cold. Will probably get hypothermia.

-Signed a bunch of release forms. Am beginning to feel strange. Hard to sign things with IV port in hand.

Here is the apparatus that will go inside me. It's just been hermetically unsealed and is ready for insertion.

Here is the apparatus that will go inside me. It’s just been hermetically unsealed and is ready for insertion.

That's my leg, there. Yes, I'm taking pictures while under the influence. I think they said I could. If they don't want people taking pictures of their own procedures, they really shouldn't allow under-the-influence patients to smuggle cameras into the room. Only, I think they knew I was just trying to help other women who want to know more about this. Or men.

That’s my leg, there. Yes, I’m taking pictures while under the influence. I think they said I could. If they don’t want people taking pictures of their own procedures, they really shouldn’t allow under-the-influence patients to smuggle cameras into the room. Only, I think they knew I was just trying to help other women who want to know more about this. Or maybe I’m helping pre-med students. I’m not sure, really.

-I’ve had a bunch of stuff put into my IV. More anti-nausea stuff. Apparently, there’s a throw-up button in my vagina and they don’t want me puking if they hit it.

-The wand thing was FREEZING COLD!

-The ceiling is moving even though my eyes are not moving. I have to look up because looking down my nose or around the room makes me too dizzy.

-Once they turned on the mesh, it hurt like hell. They said it was a contraction. If I’d have woken with cramping like that, I’d have called in sick for the day and taken my muscle relaxant. It was like SUPER BAD cramp day but it lasted 45 seconds. I guess others last up to 90. The machine starts out with a high-pitched, quick beeping but as the lining gets closer and closer to being dead, the beeping slows down and gets deeper and I guess that’s how they know when you’re done. Water spilled out. I got to watch the whole thing on a TV screen and they gave me Before and After pics.

I TOLD YOU it would be gory. This is what it looked like up inside me. She's holding it up like that, all extended, because I asked her to, not because she's wielding the probe in triumph. I have a very good doctor. She keeps her triumph on the inside.

I TOLD YOU it would be gory. This is what it looked like up inside me. She’s holding it up like that, all extended, because I asked her to, not because she’s wielding the probe in triumph. I have a very good doctor. She keeps her triumph on the inside.

The pink circles are two sides of my uterus with healthy, living, happy tissue. The white circles are the aftermath picture. There is crying and fire and stuff in there and it’s all dead tissue that can’t make menstrual blood anymore. Take THAT, body! Cramp me for 27 years, will you?

-The toradol, or whatever it was, gave me awful cotton mouth. And then the back of my throat got all raspy and dry and it started molting like a snake, or so it felt.

-They said the sedatives or whatever evil thing was in my blood, would last 20 minutes and things would be weird. Things were weird but that lasted less than ten minutes, according to the time keeper. I just felt super tired and thick tongued afterward.

-My uterus is molting

-OMG, I am so thirsty.

-Also, I am very VERY cold. I might be freezing to death.

And then, in my loopy haze, I noticed all the rest of the implements on the table. Holy hell! What were they doing down there? I don't remember any of those things!

And then, in my loopy haze, I noticed all the rest of the implements on the table. Holy hell! What were they doing down there? I don’t remember any of those things!

-They kept me there until they felt I could walk out.

-Left office at 3:30. I walked out of the office just fine, no dizziness, no acid flashbacks, nothing weird. I had very mild cramping in the car on the ride home and could barely keep my eyes open, but was starving so had to stop for soup and salad which all tasted gross, thanks to my IV fluids. Back of throat is absolutely raw.

-Have a terrible time making fingers work. Can’t spell.

And then I got home and passed out and slept until 9:30 that evening. I got up to eat, to pee, to drink some fluids and I was out again. It took another full day to wash the sedatives out of my system – and I hate feeling like that, I just hate it! – but I was otherwise fine. I rested for the 24 hours they said I had to and then I was up and around with no problems.

I read this over and over and it made sense until I stopped looking at the paper and then I forgot everything. But I double checked the next day to make sure I was aware of all this stuff and it turns out I did just fine trying to manage under the influence of liquid evil. I didn’t let them give me Vicodin because that stuff makes me hurl. I just took a lot of ibuprofen and was fine.

It’s been almost a week and I’m doing fine. Every once in a while, I feel a little twinge of not-really-pain in my uterus region, like a muscle that was stretched too far and is sore when it moves for the next several days. The only real annoyance is that I’m still bloated like a dead hippo and it’s all hard. However, because there’s no pain and there’s no blood leaking from anyplace, I’m just going to assume it’s nothing to be worried about. I’ll see what happens in the next few months; I’ve got a 6-week check-up and the literature says it takes about 3 months to heal completely. I’ll post any thoughts or findings here. Well, unless it really was an alien probe and I wind up far away in space. Or dead.

Before I sign off, I want to mention that I have the world’s best gynecologist. I adore her and wish she could be my doctor for everything because I have never met a medical professional so concerned about my well-being before. Her staff are amazing, they always take phenomenal care of me and this time was no exception. I may be one of the few women who look forward to the annual well-woman exam. Even if I don’t understand “annual.”

March 28th Update: So, it’s been, what? 3 weeks on the nose since I had my ablation. It took 2 weeks for the bloating to stop being so hard and giving me pregnancy belly. It softened up (the hard, round belly) and started receding and now, on week 3, I’m still a little gooey but it’s what it would be normally a week before my period, so I’m not too concerned. Sad, yes,. Because, though I knew it wouldn’t happen, I’d hoped my uterus would put out a message to the rest of my body saying, “Hey, we’re dead in here so don’t any of the rest of you bother.” No such luck.

I had the promised scab-colored discharge and it got really bad this past week. I was finding these…um…well….ok, pretend you wadded up some toilet paper and dunked it in coffee and then squeezed it out and tried to peel off layers but wound up with ragged clumps? I had those in my pantyliners. Some were small, some were HUGE, and I always resented not having my camera with me because I honestly would have taken a picture of the more scary ones and posted them here for all of you so everyone would know that large, jagged lumps of uterine lining are totally normal and would be able to have a visual. Because who doesn’t want to see that, right?

Other than that, there have been no complications, no problems, no oddities, no pain. I’m a week out from my next period and can’t wait to see what happens. Honestly, I’ve never been this excited to find out what’s going to happen in my undies. It’s a sad life I lead.

April 17th Update: Eight or so days ago, I had my first period since the ablation. It was like this: I broke out a bit on my face and chest, which is normal. I had sore breasts but it wasn’t excruciating so that was nice. The night of, I felt like I was gassy or had to poop and I kept going to the bathroom but nothing happened and I thought that was weird. It wasn’t enough to keep me awake in the night, though. When I got up the next day, I had two larger slug-like globs of dead uterus in my underwear and I realized the gut aches the night before had been my cramps! How cute is that? They were these tiny-little things and I didn’t even recognize them! And that was it. That was my entire period. The war that has raged between my uterus and my underwear for the past 25+ years = gone. I won. No more war.  It was AWESOME.

I finally had sex. Yes, TMI, but not in this case. I was supposed to avoid any sexual activity for 2 weeks but we gave it a month+ due to the flow of dead uterus falling out of me. Gabe was still pretty leery when I said, “Let’s just try this, shall we?” I think he didn’t want to get dead tissue on him. Or he was afraid he’d puncture something and I’d die. Actually, I don’t know what he thought, I only know he was all, “Are you SUUUURE? Positive? Because we can wait. I’ll be fine. I have video games to keep me occupied” (I made that last part up; he didn’t say that)(he probably just thought it). But it was fine. I was a little tender up around the cervical area so no deep penetration and nothing rough, but normal sex worked out just fine. I felt a little bruisey afterward and could feel it for the next day, or so, but it wasn’t anything alarming. I am assuming it will be a bit tender up there for awhile so we’ll just take it easy until everything’s healed all the way.

I went in for my 6-week evaluation today. I told my doctor I had blogged about all of this and asked if I could use her name (yeah, you’d think I’d have covered that question weeks ago, but…I didn’t) and she said as long as I’m not saying anything mean about her or her staff, all’s fair. Since I would never say anything mean about my favorite doctor or her amazing clinic, I think we’re safe. So I had this all done at the Center for Women’s Health in Englewood/Denver by Dr. Russell. I think I mentioned before that she’s the best doctor I’ve ever had. In addition, I got to have the same nurse, Steph, throughout this whole thing and I cannot tell you how helpful that’s been. Seriously, I love going to this place.  Anyhow, today, Dr. Russell gave me a quick pelvic exam, told me I’m healing up nicely and am an A+ patient, asked if I had any questions and we talked about my overall health for a little bit. And then I was done! It was that simple.

If it’s really going to be this easy from here on out, this procedure (along with my Essure) is going to be a life-changer. I won’t have to worry about travel, I won’t have to worry about missing work…it’s like I have a normal body all of a sudden and it is wonderful.

Thank you, inventors of NovaSure and thank you, Dr. Russell, Steph, and everyone else who has had to take care of me during my uterus-killing time! You guys have all made me so incredibly happy!

You can find the six-month update here.

 

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