If menstruation gives you the jeeblies, this is your single warning that this post may be TMI for you. There may be details.
Everytime I’m told to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10 I’m torn. I’m told to rate pain with “10 being your worst”. I was curious about this, so I’ve asked around to other people to see what their “10” rated at.
My husband’s was a bad bruise. Which, fair, can definitely hurt! I’ve had some nasty ones. Many others said stubbing their toes, charlie horses, breaking a bone. A few said labour pains.
It’s not a game of “who has it worse” – it’s trying to figure out what’s normal. So when I feel a bad pain, should I rate it according to my worst?
The worst of my worst have been two experiences, until recently. The first was an infected tooth. There was a cavity that opened up to the nerve, and I could feel every breath, bite, drink and temperature change like a hot needle searing my eye. The pain radiated throughout my jaw, into my ears and eyes. The percocet and demerol I was given until I could get into an appointment didn’t touch the pain – but it made me not care about it. If that wasn’t bad enough, the infection meant that the local anaesthetic didn’t work, so I could feel the drill. It was agony, but there were limited options. I survived.
The next was after I broke my leg, but before the repair surgery. The break itself put my body into shock before I could feel the pain. However, after I had my senses about me again I tried to move, and that tiny action sent ripples of heat everywhere and turned my vision white. The bone had shattered, and the pain from those shards rubbing was as bad as the infected tooth. So every time my knee even shifted was a full-body solar eruption. The morphine made me loopy – but it did nothing to relieve the pain. Just take my focus off of it.
Some people’s 10s would be more of a 4 for me, or maybe a 6 at most. So I’ve learned to ignore my 10s when given this scale of reference. My 10s I’ll rate as 20 so that when I go in and they ask, they know it’s not a small deal anymore. Otherwise, my 6 isn’t viewed nearly as bad of a pain as most people would experience.
Funny, how scales change with different experiences.
People think it’s odd when I don’t know my pain, but how could I possibly know what’s “normal” compared to anyone else? I remember when I went in to see my doctor about bad period pain, and I was told it was normal and to take Midol. I never did, because it didn’t help. So I just lived with it since about 2004, because I figured that’s what all women experienced. It has sucked, and I’ve always wondered how more people didn’t complain more about it, yet they’d complain about such other little pains. I never quite understood that.
The internet has really evolved into a thing where you can find out more and more, and it really wasn’t until this year that I found out that the pain I experience every day is NOT normal, nor is my menstruation. Apparently it’s not normal to have to change a heavy night time pad or tampon every 30 minutes or risk spilling over. Who knew?
I didn’t – because those who I did ask all told me it was normal, so I stopped asking, and didn’t really think more of it until this year. I will always remember my first gyne literally rolling his eyes at me when I mentioned I have a high pain tolerance. It makes me wonder what he has felt that’s comparable.
I have asked a few people what labour pains feel like, since it’s not something I’ve experienced. I’ve been told it’s about 5x worse than menstrual pains, but I was actually trying to figure out what “normal” menstruation pains feel like by asking.
Whooo boy, when I finally found out I was actually mad. The mild, annoying but ignorable cramp and pull in the gut that was described to me isn’t at all what I feel. What I feel is more burning and tearing, like someone is slicing my uterus with razor blades, which makes me stop what I’m doing in order for me to catch my breath until that wave passes over. I also feel like I have an infected appendix, every single time. I’ve nearly gone in so many times because I was worried my appendix was going to burst, but it would last for a day and then fade again. Oh, and that’s just PMSing (not to mention the hormonal fluxes at this time, as well). It doesn’t stop during menses, so ontop of the ripping and burning, there’s more of an internal scrape which causes a constant trickle and clumpy discharge onto oversized pads, which leaves me exhausted and adequately spent by the end of my moon cycle which takes nearly a week to recover from. But apparently this was normal, so I’ve been putting up with it for what I now know is far too long.
This has been slowly getting worse over the years, and this year it’s the worst it’s ever been. I’ve been dreading every month, knowing what’s coming, and it’s had me curled up on the couch hopped up on pain meds and heat packs that barely help. “Exercise” people say… not realizing that exercise has actually made it so much worse. “Push through it” they say, not realizing that it feels like I’m going to internally combust. It’s an easy thing to say when you see someone up and walking around, but we can’t always know what’s going on inside.
I didn’t. Finding Hurty Gerty the ovarian cyst in July explained so much.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Edmonton for appointments, and when I was done I did my normal routine of hitting up Southgate for a book for me, chocolate for my hunny that houses me during my city visits, and LEGO for the husband. It’s become a fun routine. There was alot more wandering around than my normal day to day, and by the time I got to N’s I was hurting pretty badly. First thing I did was unzip my jeans (we’ve known each other for a LONG time – pants are not necessary around each other). I massaged Gerty, and BOOM – she moved from sticking out of my hip in a fast action-packed acrobatic salutation into a solar-radiant heat charged ball of electromagnetic energy that pulled all the forks in existence into my abdomen. It lasted about 10 seconds of excruciating kill-me-now agony, and then subsided into a low burning pull as long as I stretched out on the couch. And didn’t move. At all.
The next day it didn’t change, so I decided to head to emerg and get it checked. It was definitely not comfortable. Before I went in, however, I received my phone call that I’d been given a surgery date of October 11th. I was ecstatic! That’s so much better than having to wait for 8 months. But…. there was this thing happening in me that I needed to take care of.
The waiting room chairs are not comfortable, and without being able to stretch out, the pain got worse. And worse. And eventually it turned into pretty much the same feeling as my tooth pain, except radiating from my groin. Every breath hurt. Every movement. And I would have been happy to die right there in order to get away from it. Eventually they got me a bed and morphine, right before I laid my bad on the floor and used it as a pillow, and I ended up staying for a night of morphine and waiting.
Everyone was so good to me, and nice. I think I was in shock when I first got in, as I was freezing and couldn’t stop shaking. It was cold, but not so cold I should have been shaking that hard.
After a long night, more tests and alot of morphine, they discharged me with pain management until my surgery date. I was devastated. This thing needs to come out. I was mad, too…..
But…. I get it. Emergency surgery is for life or death situations. I wasn’t dying. I COULD have been, since my ovary twisted, but not enough to completely block off all blood flow to it. It sucked, and it still does – but I’m far from dying. The ultrasound showed that my dermoid cyst great from 4.7cm to 5.cm – a 3 mm change from July. This may not seem like alot to worry about, however dermoid cysts are typically known to only grow 1.8mm per YEAR – we have some concerns, for sure. Ones that can wait. We’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure.
So I’m now home, resting as much as possible to avoid full ovarian torsion again and high on drugs, more drugs, ontop of even more drugs. For someone who tries to avoid drugs so much, I certainly am not succeeding. But desperation wears a person down, and that is what I am.
I was initially scheduled for a right oophorectomy and endometrial ablation, but after reading up on it, I quickly decided that the ablation was definitely not for me. I expected to have a harder time convincing my gynecologist to give me a full hysterectomy, but after explaining my reasoning he actually quickly agreed. I couldn’t have been more relieved. So in two weeks, hopefully I’ll be waking up a few organs lighter, and never having to dread my monthly shark week ever again. We’re hoping that the POTS and MCAS symptoms will also be alleviated, but chances are that will still be a thing we’ll have to deal with later. It’s a nice thought, at least, but at least there won’t be interference from hormonal imbalances, and it’s possible that my endometriosis is dealt with at the same time if it’s isolated to my uterus. I can hope.
Spirits are high that the end of this part, at the very least, is nearly over.