Monday, May 02, 2005

And it Occurred to Me, Lying There on the Table...

It took three clinicians and nearly an hour on the table to get me fitted with an IUD. The trouble was, I wasn't menstrating (though I was supposed to be - last week's breakthrough bleeding threw me off), and I've never had a child, so I've got a very small cervix, and you've gotta be pretty aggressive to get anything up there.

After forty minutes or so, they brought in the aggressive clinician.

So after forty minutes of being asked "Do you feel anything?" and replying, "Just pressure," and thinking, "What the hell is it, exactly, I'm supposed to be feeling? Some menstrual cramps? Some --"


And my initial clinician turned to the midwife who was in there to observe and learn, and said, "That's how you know it's in."

Jesus fucking christ.

It would have been nice if somebody'd told me, "If you haven't had a kid, you'll get two short bursts of the absolute worst pain you've ever felt in your entire life... once, when they put the tube up through your cervix and again when they push the IUD through the tube."

You get this amazing white-hot burning stabbing pain in your gut that clenches every muscle in your entire body. Your whole body jerks on the table and you find yourself clutching for the nearest thing you can grab hold of so you can crush the life out of it while your uterus (the strongest muscle in the human body - male or female) engages every other muscle in your body to scream NO!

I wish somebody would have told me about that part. I would have been better prepared. I now have even more respect for women who have children. I don't know how women survive it. Being in that kind of pain, experiencing those kinds of contractions, for hours or days or... sweet fuck. Have every lawmaker in Washington experience that pain for five minutes, and then have them deliberate about a woman's right to choose pregnancy and labor. You'll get a quick vote.

It actually ended up being really nice to have that many people in there, though you feel a bit like a circus freak because it's like there's something wrong with your body because it's taking so long. In fact, all it took was getting a more experienced clinician to come in and go POP! and it was all over (painfully so, but over) in a few minutes. But having people in there to bullshit with while the clinician is poking away at you, and having someone stroke your arm afterward and tell you it's all over was actually really nice; particularly there at the end, because that sort of jolting pain is a real shock to your system, and I felt a lot like a deer-in-headlights. It's nice to have lots of people around saying everything's normal: it eases some of that back-brain fear that cloaks you when you feel that kind of pain.

Being the stubborn bitch I am, I didn't have B or Jenn come with me, so I tromped home, ate Tylenol like candy, and situated myself on the couch with a heating pad until I started drifting off around 10pm. Took a couple Tylenol PM, and spent Saturday relaxing as well. After that initial freak-out pain, the pain was pretty much what they said it was going to be - for 24-48 hours, it felt like menstrual cramps, and I took Tylenol every 3-4 hours the first day and every 4-5 hours on Sunday.

Looking back on it, I should have asked Jenn or B to be there, so somebody could get up and get me something to drink, or get me more Tylenol, or just be there to cuddle with and talk to afterward. I suppose it was a kind of shock I felt afterward, because your body carries around the memory of that pain, and it's a fucker.

Today, I've just got the occasional twinges of pain, kept in check by Tylenol, and I'm waiting for the blood/iodine discharge to abate, which will hopefully happen sometime this week.

If this works out, I can honestly say that it'll have been totally worth it. Sitting on the train today, not depressed, not hysterical, not experiencing a weird increased appetite or feeling too low to go to MA class tonight... *and* not having to worry about getting pregnant. Hot damn. I don't mind a little blood and pain if it means I can get back to my old self and have sex without worrying about it all the time. It's worth it.

And as I was lying on the table, recovering from that second bout of intense pain, I thought of all the things women have done to control their fertility, all the wacky shit we'll put up with, the shit we'll go through, because we enjoy sex and enjoy being closer to our partners, and because whatever risk we take to control our fertility doesn't outweigh the risk to our lives if we get pregnant, if we're perpetually pregnant or nursing. I'll do any number of wacky things in order to live the sort of life I want. And I do view controlling my own fertility as a basic human right.

We'll see how the next few months go.

14 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Hm. I tried to get an IUD this year and two doctors separately refused me. Why? Because I'm sexually active but unmarried. Apparently long-term partners don't count. 

Posted by Lauren

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of one, but no one said they hurt. That sucks. Hope you feel better.  

Posted by Ismone

Anonymous said...

And now we know the rest of the story, why sterilization is the fastest growing and now most common method of BC overall. Glad you made it through OK Kameron.

And goodness Lauren, there's no damn reason why a Doctor should refuse to fit an IUD, other than the fact that they were ill-trained, unknowledgeable, or just against them as a matter of personal preference. Any Planned Parenthood should be able to do it. At any given time at least 1/3 of the adult population is unmarried but sexually active. This includes upwards of 1/2 of all priests, according to surveys. (That's a tale for another day perhaps!)

But that entire thought process; 'I will deny you a needed medical treatment due to my feelings about your activities (legal, adult, careful though they may be)', is just unethical as hell, if this is what it came down to in the end.

It and the recent Pharmacists' dodge on the issue of BC have been covered well some weeks back by Lindsay Beyerstein on her blog:

Posted by VJ

Anonymous said...

Ismone - yea, it hurts. Probably more so if you do it at PP and not a doctor's office, because PP isn't going to drug you up with anything other than ibuprofen. It also, I'm told, really depends on the person. If you haven't had a child, it's probably going to hurt more.

Lauren - yea, really, really weird that a doctor wouldn't fit you with one. The biggest worry is that you'll be crazy-wild and have unprotected sex and get an STD. Infections of any kind are majorly bad with this thing in, but the women at PP didn't give me an interview or anything, they just really, really stressed that it was important I was in a monogamous relationship and trusted my partner. They have a little more respect for a woman's intelligence and agency.

After that, it was reading over all the Bad Shit that could happen if I got chlamydia and signing a waiver that said that if any Bad Shit happened, PP wasn't responsible.

Yea, I think if you went to PP, you wouldn't have any trouble getting an IUD, so long as your pap came back good, you don't have a history of PID, the tests for bacterial infections came back negative, and etc. They're pretty good with the privacy issue.  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

Kameron: YIKES!!!! Reading your story made me double up just imagining it. I shall refer all those guys who think women's methods of birth control are all a snap compared to rubbers to your story in future.

Hope you're feeling okay by now.

Lauren: I've heard too many stories like yours about stupid doctors to be actually shocked any more, but they still enrage me every time. What the hell business is it of theirs if you're choosing one of a number of legal, deemed-safe methods of birth control or another? 

Posted by Crys T

Anonymous said...

Kameron, I'm sorry to hear about how painful it is. Is it that bad coming out as well?

Lauren, If you want to come to Chicago to get the medical services you need, you can stay in our spare room. Also, my bethrothed is a nurse who started at a women's health clinic and now works as a post-parnun nurse, so she'll know what you're going through. I'll even babysit Ethan if I can. I'm serious, because those doctors just suck. If you email me I'll send you my name, address, phone, etc.  

Posted by Ron O

Anonymous said...

Their assertion is that because I am not married that I am at greater risk for an STD which would be complicated by having an IUD. This is certainly true, but it is still my right to demand legal birth control. Essentially they pulled a conscience clause on me, both saying that they could not do so without grave resrvations. And both of these are liberal health services, one of which being Planned Parenthood.

Thanks, Ron. I'll keep that in mind. xoxo 

Posted by Lauren

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, Lauren. Red states are fuckers. Holy shit.

That's fucked up. 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I'm just waiting to hear back from the doc's office to set up an appt for an IUD installation. Now I'm not so sure...I have, however, had a couple of endometrial biopsies which are no picnic, and look pretty similar to the procedure for inserting an IUD. I'm pretty highly motivated not to mess with any more pregnancy scares, and I'm at an age where any pregnancy is automatically "high risk." Plus the hormone-releasing IUD will take the place of the progesterone I take every month. I had never considered an IUD previously, but now the more I learn about it, the more surprised I am that more women don't use them.

One reason might be the marketing materials I got: "Birth Control For Busy Moms!"


Posted by alphabitch

Anonymous said...

Just got the call - they'll let me have an IUD even though I'm unmarried. There was some controversy about that, but apparently I fall into some kind of 'old enough to know better' category or something. You've inspired me to blog about the whole thing, though, Kameron. I sure hope you're feeling better.

I was just reading your post about going off the pill. I loved being on the pill in my twenties, back when they gave you extremely large doses of hormones compared to what you get nowadays -- until I realized that all those migraines were totally optional. When I stopped taking them, the migraines got less frequent, but then I got hideous zits, and gained about 30 pounds. I tried taking a lower-dose version in my thirties a couple of times, but didn't even last a month. Great birth control: depressed, swollen, hostile, and bleeding ALL the time. No wonder it's so effective, LOL.

But I'm not really into this whole 'fertility awareness method' thing we've been more or less using, either. And I'm allergic to latex and get itchy and rashy from all those goos and gels and things. Plus I could never remember where my diaphragm was, when I had one.

I'm very much looking forward to the IUD.

It was so much easier, being a lesbian. I just checked to make sure I have enough money in my checking account for the co-pays on this thing, singing in my head that great song by 2 Nice Girls: "I spent my last ten dollars on birth control and beer/ life was so much simpler when I was sober and queer/ but the love of a strong hairy man has turned my head I fear/ and made me spend my last ten bucks on birth control & beer." 

Posted by alphabitch

Anonymous said...

Alpha - OMG, I've *got* to find that damn song... frickin' hilarious.

I've gotta say, now that my body's settling down, I really do feel even more like the IUD's the way to go. This is the first day I've gone totally without tylenol, without problem. There's a bit of dull aching, but the pain twinges are pretty much done. And, I think, if you're better prepared for your body to cramp up on the table, I think you might be able to handle it better (keep in mind that I'd been up there for 40 minutes already, so I was pretty stressed. It should only take about 5min, but I had a small cervix, and wasn't menstruating when I was supposed to be). I've also been told that they can swab/inject your cervix with something to numb or relax you just beforehand, if you're too worried about pain.

But like I said, the pain didn't last long - two sharp bursts, breathe through the cramps, and you're done. Then 24-48 hours of what feels like menstrual cramps, then for the rest of the month it should just be like it is now - a bit of occasional achiness, some twinges, and then that should all go away within three months.

I'm told there's going to be increased pain/cramping/blood when I menstruate the first 1-3 months, but I'm hoping it's not enought to take me down for the count. I'll just keep popping tylenol or motrin.

Hey, good luck with the procedure! I'll definately be checking your blog for reports..

Apparently, the IUD is the contraceptive of choice for pretty much most of the rest of the world - the US just had that huge problem with the Dalkon Sheild, and all IUDs have been really tarnished by it - it's been over 25 years since then, and the tech. has *definately* improved.

So far, so good, for me.  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

The pain you describe reminds me of the abortion I had (i was on the pill). I am also considering an IUD, I guess the same amount of pain is more tolerable if it will save you from the other amount of pain :(

Get well soon. 

Posted by Amayita

Anonymous said...

Glad commenting is back up -- tried to post something in support earlier and couldn't get through.

Short version: Damn, wish I'd known, I could have forwarded you some of the stuff that Karin and I did for her labor. It sounds, from Karin's description, like the same kind of thing, and while it does fundamentally amount to Breathing Through It, which you already knew to do, they had some other good advice -- at least, stuff that seemed to help Karin.

Glad you're feeling better now, and glad that it wasn't a big nasty political mess to get that done. 

Posted by Patrick

Anonymous said...

yeah!! for you. hope you feel better.. 

Posted by madame butterfly