Bloody Mary (English)

Just to get things clear, I’m NOT talking about Super Woman (although she may believe she is some sort of super hero)…

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… It’s bleeds-under-an-hour-through-a-SUPER-plus-tampon-WOMAN, I’m referring to …

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But it’s only fair to admit that Bloody Mary does have some uncanny powers. She can leave permanent stains on ANY surface, to mention but an example…

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… Also, she can bleed so heavily, she ‘pees’ out tampons (I had no idea this was even possible, before she visited) …

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… She regularly bleeds her brain out. But still manages to stand up …Time … and time…and time again

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… And no one can fly faster than she can (into a bathroom, that is).

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…and no one ‘flows’ longer (47 days! after a pause of nine days, after the initial 24 bloody days!!)

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So her motto “Normal is for sissies”couldn’t have been more aptly chosen.

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I suspected I owed Bloody Mary’s visit to the menopause. I thought it was a bit early for that – I’m only 44 years old and had always believed The Change happened to women over fifty – but it was the most logical explanation for my heavy bleeding. So I did what every modern woman with certain medical suspicions does…I consulted the Internet.

It took me a little while, but once I scrolled passed all generic information and advertorials, I found some websites and fora which dealt with ‘my problems’. I discovered there was something called the ‘perimenopause, a term I was unfamiliar with. I only knew about menopause which happened to women in their 50s (= not me), which could cause hot flashes and a ‘ short fuse behaviour’. Perimenopause, means ‘around menopause’ (=me) and refers to the time during which a woman’s body makes the transition to menopause. Women start perimenopause at different ages, some in their 40s, some as early as mid-30s. The perimenopause is marked by a change in estrogen (the main female hormone) level. This can cause a variety of entirely different symptoms. And suddenly a lot more made sense to me… Until my 40st I was completely healthy (aside from a stroke, ten years ago). In any case, I never saw my GP.  But around the time that I turned 40 I got all these different, minor complaints, like dry eyes, thirst, blather and feet problems, etc. Also I had painful breasts, and the fatigue which is a side effect of my stroke became more unpredictable. The complaints in themselves made my life a little less pleasant, but were not life threatening. But a combination of some could point to a serious disease (dry eyes, thirst, blather and feet problems are also symptoms of diabetes or a serious kidney problems) so I decided to visit my GP. She agreed with my amateur self diagnosis and I took a blood test. I tested negative for diabetes and my kidneys worked fine as well (which was a relief) But the complaints remained…a while. They disapeared, and returned. And I got new ones: dry vagina, mood swings, tinnitus, tingling in my legs. My blood was tested a number of times but all blood values were good (apart from my iron, I suffer from chronic iron deficiency, which doesn’t relate to any of the symptoms apart from my fatigue.) All symptoms however could be related to the perimenopause. And that list of a-typical symptoms is extremely long and many of them do not have an ‘official’ status because more research has to be done on this issue. And this should be set right as soon as possible.

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While searching the Web for perimonausal symptoms, I stumbled upon an English website about eufemismes for menstruation. My inner Anglist was interested immediately. The site cited a study among 90.000 people from 190 different countries which had yielded 5000 (!) different ways to refer to having your period (which is a eufemism also, apparantly). My visual thinker teamed up with my inner Anglist and they had a field day visualizing the normal and perimenopausal versions of some of these. For example: the blob, (riding) the crimson wave and moon time ….

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. another eufemisme my inner Anglist and visual thinker liked a lot is ‘shark week’ … (with which they had some post-production fun in the layout booth…

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… and Mother Nature’s gift (spoiler alert NOT!)…

But I’m getting off topic. 🩸🩸🩸

Back to Bloody Mary. Having her around can actually be a big plus when you’re trying to convince your GP your complaints are Menopause related. Because up and till her visit, those conversations always felt like playing Bingo with two different sets of cards ; my extended version, and my doctors Limited GP edition.

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And indeed, one day, when my bleeding was so heavy I could hardly get out of bed, and my HGB was extremely low, my GP was almost convinced this was the menopause. Almost! First I had to do an ultrasound* to rule out fibroids**.Which I didn’t have.So I finally got diagnosed with being perimenopausal.

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On the day of the ultrasound my bleeding stopped. Which was nice. The ultrasound specialist told me she didn’t see any fibroids. What she didn’t tell me was that my uterine lining (the inner layer of my womb) was still thick, which means that there still some blood left. My GP informed me of this the next day, (my birthday) a Friday just before 5 p.m. … and by then I felt that was exactly the case. She told me to get some hormones quick because it was crucial that I wouldn’t lose any more blood.I didn’t know what to say, because ten years ago I had a stroke and was told that using hormonal anticonception could be fatal for me. My GP, however, said these hormones were fine. She even advised me to take a double dose. Worried I checked again at the chemist, who said that if my doctor said it was OK, this probably was the case. But I wasn’t reassured. At home I read medicine details in the consumer medicine information leaflet. The first thing I read was “do not take this medication when you have suffered a heart attack or STROKE!”. I nearly lost it. Luckily, I had the wits enough to call the chemist (the GP’s office had already closed). The female chemist took the time to look all relevant information up, I heard a lot of numbers and percentages. She concluded there was, indeed a very slight risk of negative complications and that the pharmaceutical company who produced the drug was obliged to mention this. I asked her what she would do in my case. She admitted that was a tough question but said she would take a normal dose of the drug.Which is what I did that night.

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The pills worked their magic and I suffered from relatively few side effects; I was a little headachy the first days, my breasts were swollen (whch as kinda nice becuse their actual size is sort of humble), but they were also sore (“Just watching, no touching!”) and my entire body was retaining fluid. I felt like a human super plus tampon…with enormous boobs.

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I promissed my GP to visit the ‘in house’ gynaecologist of their practice after my bleeding had stopped, to discuss what to do next. (Once a month, my GP practice offers a special gyneacologist consulation session for which they invite gyneacologists from a local hospital. One of the GP sits in on the session, makes notes and passes on the information to the other docters to broaden their knowledge on this subject. A wonderful initiative I think!) Anyway, when I arrived for my consultation I was told the gyneacologist was late. I sat in the waiting room and after half an hour I heard a male voice stating he was late, but had arrived, and was ready to start his consultations. I sighed, my gyneacologist was a man! It might be sexist of me, but I do prefer female doctors, especially with regard to menstrual problems, even though I do know there are very friendly and competent male gyneacologists. This, however, wasn’t the case for the boorish character which slumped in the chair behind the desk of the consulting room; his voice matached his arrogant and bored attitude. He listened to me without relinterest and pushed his opinion without properly explaining why I should follow his advice (even though I explicitly asked for it a number of times). Needless to say this was a frustrating and useless exercise. I was glad I didn’t need his advice urgently and felt sorry for all women who were refered to this blunt yokel who did.

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