[If you don’t like talk about female cycles, consider this a warning.]
I can still see those pants.
They were a deep, bright pink, capri length even on my short tween legs, and adorned with big white polka dots. I remember them so well because they are forever scarred into my memory. I tied the dusty rose spring jacket around my waist and hung my head low as I got off the bus that day; the teasing on the way home had been merciless. Once again, I had bled through two pads. I was eleven years old.
I was one of those “lucky” girls who started her period early. Still in the fifth grade, elementary school, I wasn’t prepared for everything that was about to begin for me. All of the books made for teens in the late 80’s and early 90’s made getting your period sound like a great thing. Not one of them talked about heavy periods, claiming that young girls would most likely have light, irregular periods until things evened out. I had the irregular part down, and would get to keep that forever, but they were anything but light.
Doctors told me over the years that my periods would change. They were supposed to calm down as puberty calmed down. They didn’t. Pregnancy and child birth were supposed to make things even better. If possible, my periods got more irregular and even heavier. Oh, and more painful to boot. Lucky me!
In January of this year, I finally went to my doctor — anemic, tired, in pain, and searching for some kind of help. My gynecologist told me my only options was to go on hormonal birth control. Indefinitely. Even though my mother, grandmother and aunt have all had breast cancer. No thanks.
And so I resigned myself to years of pain and agony and waking up to gushes of blood and a general hatred of my cycle.
Then I went to BlogHer ’12.
One of the sponsors in the Expo Hall just so happened to be NovaSure, a thermal endometrial ablation. I talked briefly with a nice lady, took a brochure, and thought nothing more of it. I mean, yes, I have heavy periods, but I had been told that nothing could help me, that I was doomed. Once home from the conference, I put the brochure in the bathroom reading basket and ignored it for awhile.
One day I read it.
I mentioned it to my husband the next day. He had not only read it in the bathroom, but had looked up the website and found three doctors in our general driving area. I researched some more — the process, the reviews from women who had gone this route, and the doctors in question. I finally decided on a doctor and made a call to schedule the consultation. Oh, and I actually went!
My doctor is quite awesome. He asked a bunch of questions about my cycle and my life — one important question relating to whether or not I’m done having children. (We are.) You can get pregnant after a NovaSure procedure, but it’s rare and if it happens, it is not all that safe for the mother and the fetus. We talked risks, we talked benefits. He told me his wife’s story, how his office’s statistics compared to the company’s reports. I asked if he knew whether it was cheaper to have the procedure done in office or to do it in the hospital. He let me know that my insurance covers it the same in both places, but there are more copays with the hospital version of the procedure. (Checking with my insurance later that day, he was right.) He said that if I could withstand the biopsy in the office, I could probably handle the discomfort of the 90-second procedure. If the biopsy felt too painful, we could then schedule the hospital procedure.
All of that takes place tomorrow.
I’m in some weird kind of panic as my bedtime nears. I’ve been writing this post all day and my anxiety has only been building. I don’t imagine, given my bad luck, that I’ll be one of the four women out of ten that stops having periods all together. If I can go to the beach on vacation with my family and not sit with my legs crossed the entire time, I’ll be happy. If I don’t double over in pain every 21 to 48 days (oh, hi, irregular!), I’ll be joyous! If my PMS symptoms are a little less severe, I’m pretty sure my husband will throw a party in honor of HOLOGIC. The boys too. Possibly my mom.
I chose to tell you about this because I know that I thought I was stuck with heavy, irregular periods for life. My own gynecologist gave me no hope. So maybe you’re Googling and trying to figure out what to do, how to talk to your own doctor — or if talking to your own doctor is worth it. If your doctor is a NovaSure provider, then yes, by all means, go talk. If not, find one who is. I am talking about it here because I’m going to share what my experience is like now (the before/decision making process), the day of, one week out, two weeks out, one month out, three months out and six months after the endometrial ablation procedure. I’m doing this because in my Googling, no bloggers seem to have followed through with how the procedure worked for them, what it feels like, what changed, what didn’t, and what they would recommend for others.
Right now, I have hope. I have to have hope because being told that there’s no other option for you feels kind of awful. Maybe it will be the best health decision I’ve ever made, like some others have claimed. Maybe it will be kind of “meh.” Maybe it won’t work at all, and I’ll be one of those horror stories that scares you when you Google it. I don’t know yet, but I will share it with you.