Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lady Issues

 This is a long post, filled with more icky information than anyone probably ever wanted to know.  You've been warned.

When I was young, I was fairly regular, although a little longer cycle than most, at 32 days.  I've always been heavy the first couple days, and experienced flooding in the morning, or after sitting for long periods.  Cramps were always in my lower back.  Migraines through my late teens.

I delivered two healthy boys with a bit of laughing gas, and then had #3 at home, au naturel.  Back in hospital for #4, midwife was booked up, husband was in South Carolina, and I caved and took a shot of demerol.  All back labour pains.

It took about 8 months to recover from #4.  My hips just didn't seem to want to go back into place.  Contractions with every period.

He stopped breastfeeding at 16 months.  I didn't quite stop lactating.  Just a little, only noticeable before my period, a drop or two in the shower.

About 4 years ago, the breast swelling pre period was getting ridiculous.  I was sore and swollen two weeks before my cycle, and a week afterwards.  Cramping in my back was up to two weeks, and I was just a miserable person to be around.  And then those couple of drops in the shower took on a greenish tinge.

I didn't tell anyone at first.  And it got worse.  I had sharp stabbing pains in my milk ducts.  Like while breast feeding, how you feel your milk let down, but with an almost burning sensation.  And the 'milk' was dark green.  I started expressing up to a week before my period to relieve the swelling.

My periods got longer, 7-9 days.  Heavier, flooding all the time.  Closer together, sometimes within three weeks.  Clotting.  Cramping.  Bloating.  (I'd go from a size 10 to a 16 every month).  Days that my hips and back hurt so bad I could barely walk from my room, across the hall, to the bathroom.  And then I started having contractions.

Two years ago I saw a doctor.  He sent me for x-rays, ultrasounds, mammogram, CT scan, MRI of my pituitary gland.

I have some small cysts, both breast and uterus.  I have some 'spots' on my pituitary, but not enough to be concerned about.  I have a cyst on my kidney (unrelated and probably nothing to worry about, they just happened to notice it while they were poking around).  But no cancer, no endometriosis, nothing they could pinpoint and blame.

That took about 8 months, getting through all of the procedures.  And in that time, things kind of settled down for me.  Not great, but much better than it had been.  Less swelling, breast and hips, less bloating, less frequent periods.  By the time I got in to see the gynecologist, it wasn't too bad.

I'd never been good about keeping track of my cycles, had nothing written down, had no 'proof' of my condition.  He did a pap smear (normal) and told me to come back in three months, and track my periods.

The following three months were very mild.  Normal.  Not bad at all.  So, you know, I was 'fine'.  He told me my clots were just coagulated blood.  I was too young for menopause, so he wouldn't do a hysterectomy.

Two months later, I spent 8 hours on my hands and knees waiting for the contractions to stop.  When I finally passed the clots, they were hard little gobs.  I can't believe that's just coagulated blood. 

Since then, it kind of comes and goes.  Some months are ok, just a bit of cramping and bloating.  Some months I'm a wreck.  One month I missed, and I swear I wanted to throw a party.  Bring on the menopause!!!  The bad months are always accompanied by clots.  This month, a lump about two inches long, attached to a smaller gob by a tube about two inches long.  It looked like a tiny placenta.  (Husband had a vasectomy 9 years ago).

I never did get an answer from anyone about the green slime coming out of my milk ducts.  I did have a bladder infection a few months after the gyno visit though, and some heavy antibiotics.  It's returned to an occasional drop of creamy white 'milk'.  Internet research leads me to believe it's that same tonsilitus/sinusitus bacterium that's haunted me all my life.

I made some other changes.  For one thing, I started tracking my periods, almost fanatically.  I downloaded period calendar deluxe for my phone, and I swear it's the handiest thing ever. 

I started watching what I ate, and how I reacted to it.  MSG, which never seemed to bother me when I was younger, seemed to be smacking me upside the head, or rather, making me swell up like a beached whale.  Not too hard to pinpoint the culprit at home- I never denied my period cravings for salt and chocolate, and my salt of choice has always been sour cream and onion potato chips.  MSG to go.  I switched to plain chips for awhile, then cut out chips completely for about 6 months.  (It had been a bag a day habit every two weeks).  I fulfilled my salt cravings with home made pretzels, and once even just licked salt out of my hand, with no ill effects.  Summer came, too hot to bake, and I gave in to the potato chips again.  Now one bag will get me through my period salt cravings, always plain.  I just eat enough to calm the cravings and then put them away.

I started paying attention to bathroom issues.  I've always had bathroom issues, especially if I'm not at home.  But I started noticing that I get constipated every month when the swelling starts.  The back pain subsides when things start moving again after my period starts.  If I take a laxative, clean things out just before my period, I have less pain.

Dad suggested I start taking aspirin (blood thinner).  Just one.  The first few months I took two or three, and then I thought I was going to bleed to death from a cut on my finger.  Oops.  So just one, on the first day of my period, and it seems to be helping with the clots.

So probably now, 3 out of 4 periods are ok.  And then there's a bad one.  I just need to get through the bad ones.


  1. Well, my periods were always every 26 days. I was so regular! Lucky me--about 14 a year and ten days from beginning to end. The few years before menopause I passed clots the size of my palm, thick and clotted. "Severe pain" does not do justice to my condition. Some days, I could not get out of the bathroom for 30 minutes while I passed clot after clot, changing pads, standing up, and then rushing the three feet back to the commode. Finally, at age 44, I quit. Hallelujah!

    I had milk for 9 months, full gushes all day after my bottle-fed baby came. But, it was never green.

    The only definitive way to determine if there is endometriosis is to operate. So, no go there. I lived for five years taking aspirin for the pain, only to find out that aspirin was part of the problem. It makes the flow heavier. I may not have felt the pain, but I bled more. because of aspirin, I had to have an emergency D&C. They wanted to do a hysterectomy. No!

    Bloating is why I switched to elastic waistbands and stretchy fabrics when I was 35. I don't care what anyone thinks about it/ It is a health issue. "Old lady" pants comments did not faze me!

    Vasectomies fail. I passed something similar that was a miscarriage before a missed period. Have him checked. A baby would not be conducive to gardening.

    Constipation--start on a high fiber, higher even than usual diet. That helps. It sounds silly, but lot of chocolate seems to get things moving, too. No, it is not just an excuse to eat more So, turnip greens, an apple, and lots of chocolate help and I felt better.

    Cure for heavy bleeding and clots according to my doctor--surgery, pregnancy and hormones after, or male hormones. I passed since all will leave a woman in a masculinized state.

    At the end, I would start as soon as I took my last semester exam on the way home from class.

    Premarin works for me. Yes, I am sorry for the poor horses, but I am even sorrier for me.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Linda. It's funny, the similarities. Maybe that's why the doc seems to think it's normal. Normal to be miserable. Get over it. :(

    2. Wendy,
      I did not mean to make it about me. Yes, I just wanted you to know that abnormal can be normal. It is all part of periods and menopause for some women. That part of my life has never been easy. I could not have been a pioneer woman in my state!

      The doctor could at least have told you that your problems were normal for SOME women, not all women. Knowing that I was singled out for an amazing amount of physical and mental discomfort was strangely comforting. Normal is not nice, but at least I was not just being a hypochrondiac or exaggerating, as some friends said.

      During the menopause part where I stopped, I forgot to stop at several stop lights in a row, forgot most things except my name, was irritable, snappy, impatient. In short, I was a shrew and knew it as things came out of my mouth. Taking premarin solved that problem. My memory has returned, I am more tolerant or don't get all worked up.

      The sexual part of me never left, but who would want to chance getting that close to a woman who was just angry, sad, or critical.

      The one bright spot--as I sat in the doctor's office after the exam and told him all about everything, he asked me, "Now, hold old are you?" "45" He looked at me a long time and said, "You are a VERY young-looking 45." Of course, I walked out on a cloud. I needed that silver lining and did nothing to fish for a compliment. Maybe that was the tradeoff for living in hell.

      Just say "no" until he is checked! Or, take other precautions.

    3. Yeah, it does help, to know I'm not alone. I can definitely relate to the shrew-like behavior, lol.

  2. My word, what a terrible time you have each month, I am so feeling for you.. I was lucky in that my periods came every month on the same day and then when it all went pear shaped and I was gushing, I needed to speak to doc and he said it was fibroids after all tests., so I did have an op to do hysterectomy... did sort it out, and made life a lot easier.. if you are young still and fertile, do have your husband checked as sometimes it does stop affectiveness.. good luck in trying to get it sorted, keep going back to your docs until he gets to the bottom of this all... good luck, hugs from across the pond J

    1. Thanks, janzi, and nice to meet you.

      I will start nagging Husband to go get checked, just to be safe.

  3. I have no medical advice to offer. I will be praying though that things get better and that even if the doctors never manage to figure it out, your body will heal itself in time.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. S. I appreciate that.

  4. Wendy,as a fellow woman,I appreciate your honesty in being so open about your "female issues". I hope that someone reads your post who has experienced,or is currently going through,these problems and knows that they are not the only ones. That can be very reassuring.I must say,you have certainly had your share and then some,and I am glad to read that things are least getting better for you more so than not.
    I have always had long periods-7-9 days,and they were never on schedule,except for the few years when I was on the pill during my first marriage in my twenties. Since I hit forty (almost 5 years ago) my periods are still not on schedule,and still run for at least 7 days,but some months I have real heavy flow ( I can go through a super plus tampon every two hours),with terrible clotting (though not as bad as what you describe) and my lower back pain and frontal cramping can be terrible.Some months I get migraines.I feel exhausted. When I spoke to my Dr she said I was too young for menopause,but was probably in perimenopause,which can last up to 7 years before the real menopause kicks in. Have you ever read any of Dr Christiane Northrup's books? I have her "The Wisdom of Menopause" and there is fabulous info on that as well as perimenopause. Her other book,"Women's Bodies,Women's Wisdom" is as equally wonderful.Kudos to you for paying attention to what you eat and seeing how that could affect your body and it's monthly reaction.
    Thanks for the honest post!

    1. Thanks, Donna. I will look up the books. It does help to know that I'm not alone.

  5. Wendy - i read this post and then did some searching on the net and i think that Donna is might be experiencing perimenopause. i had really crappy periods for about 20yrs...i am talking passing out, spontaneous projectile vomiting, non-stop diarrhea, migraines - but when i got to about age 34 (6 yrs ago), things started to calm down to where now i get some bloating and cramping and i am almost on schedule every month. but enough about me - i just wanted to share with you since you were so open....i am coming up blank with what to recommend.

    this site seems helpful - have a look around and see if any of the info is hepful:

    and here is a link to their hormonal imbalance quiz:

    i took the quiz and the results that they gave me are pretty astounding. i think that you are suffering from severe hormone imbalance. give the quiz a try and then come back here and let us know what it said.

    your friend,

    1. Thanks, kymber. Your situation sounds so much worse than mine! At least I don't pass out!

      I took the quiz, and got
      " significant, long-standing hormonal imbalance".

      Their recommendations are interesting. I'll have to do some reading on perimenopause.