Friday, April 20, 2007

"Tonight, Thou Shalt Have Cramps!"

The above quote is from Shakespeare, a fellow who was around a little while before I started having menstrual cramps. But not much before.

From the time I got my period, I suffered monthly, agonizing, debilitating cramps. They impacted my social life, my job, any plans I might make, vacations (we had to leave the beach one time when I was in pain); actually, just my entire life. That's all. If I started my period at school, my mother had to come get me. There was no way I could make it through the day. I couldn't even stand up straight.

I will never forget one time when I started in the middle of a class in high school. Being shy and quiet (those of you who know me now, shut UP), there was no way I was going to raise my hand and ask to leave the room. I just sat there in silent agony, screaming in my mind and watching the hand of the clock creep slowly around until it was time for everyone to leave. It was the single most agonizing experience of my life. Including childbirth. Because I had to sit there and act normal while my stomach felt like a rabid gopher was trying to claw his way out. By the time class was over, I had been sitting in such a cramped and contorted position, they had to get the school nurse to help me up. I literally could not stand up.

My mother did her best. She made me hot drinks, gave me aspirin, put on a heating pad. Nothing helped in the slightest. She even took me to the doctor but this was back in the late 60's when most doctors were men and they told me to EXERCISE. Please. Like that would help. I was slim, healthy and athletic. I just needed some pain medication. They didn't do that kind of thing for cramps back then.

It wasn't until I got to college and one of my sorority sisters offered me a pill from her bottle of prescription Equagesic that I experienced any relief. And I can't believe that I can remember the name of that medicine over 30 years later. It was like a miracle drug for me. I immediately got a prescription and years of suffering were over. Then, after having my children, I had no more cramps. One of the many blessings they brought me.

When I think about the days and days and days that were wasted suffering in pain, it infuriates me. I will never forget walking up the aisle as a bridesmaid for my best friend's wedding in excruciating pain. I don't think she ever knew that.

They had flag twirler tryouts at band camp when I was a sophomore in high school. I didn't go to band camp because I had cramps. I couldn't try out, so I wasn't a flag twirler that year when all my friends made it. They stayed friends with me. I made it the next year. But it's more than thirty years later and it still bothers me.

It's more than the memory of the cramps. What really bothers me is the memory of what they stole from me.


Elizabeth said...

I wonder if you had the endo like Sarah? Especially since the cramps stopped after you ME.
My cramps are exactly the same since the birth of the Moose. If not worse.
That sucks.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly relate. An emergency visit for cramps during a Flordia spring break cost my mother 200.00. I would have to get a pain shot to get any relief.I missed a lot of events due to cramps. Prescription Naproxen 500mg is my wonder med and I still take it today.
Raggedy Ann

sarah said...

I thought the same thing as liz...I bet you did have endo, but they didn't know it. Sounds VERY similar to what I deal with every month. Without my pain medication I would not be able to function at all...