Saturday, August 25, 2012

FAQs: #1 Most Frequently Asked Q

Today I'm making another post about another FAQ. In fact, this is the question that I've been asked more often than any other question in my nine years of paralysis (and always by females). The question is do I still have menstrual periods, and the answer is yes.

I actually didn't have a period for a few months after my accident (probably because of the shock/trauma that my body was experiencing) and I myself wondered if I would still have periods. About two months after my accident while in the rehab hospital I got a period which was a rather humiliating experience, as you can imagine. Especially when Vershawn, the tech doing my morning bath acted rather disgusted and put out. "Did you know that you were expecting your period?!" she questioned me. Her statement was so abrupt, like I was really putting a damper in her morning schedule. My mom still hadn't made it to the hospital that morning so I was all alone. In my quiet whisper of a voice (remember, I could barely speak above a whisper at this time) I tried to explain that no, I didn't know that I was expecting my period. After all, I hadn't had a period since my accident and I didn't even know if  I would still have periods.

The way periods were handled at the rehab hospital really left something to be desired in a major way, and I seriously hope they've improved their methods since I was a patient there. They basically made a makeshift pad with a pillowcase and a chuck (I don't know if chuck is the actual brand name of the pad or the technical term or what, but a chuck is one of the super thin waterproof pads (about 18" x 24") that are used in hospitals to protect regular sheets from bodily fluids and are used a lot in the labor and delivery department, or for bowel programs, etc.). They'd fold the chuck into a long, narrow strip and wrap a pillowcase around it so that it would be softer on the skin. And then they would leave you with that as your protection the entire time you were up in your wheelchair for the day. Needless to say, my first period was an awful experience!

After I came home from rehab I decided to try something different for dealing with periods. I'd used tampons for years as a teenager and knew that they were so much easier/less stressful than having to rely on maxi pads. I wasn't quite sure how tampons would work in my "new situation" now that I was a quadriplegic, but I decided to give them ago. Easy peasy! Having periods is inconvenient for anyone, much less a quadriplegic, but tampons make handling periods so much easier! (To the inventor of tampons I say, "thank you, thank you, thank you!")

Here's a funny story from my past about starting my period. In fifth grade the boys and girls were separated into two groups and we had "the talk" about the birds and the bees. I found puberty very interesting and looked forward to the day when I would "become a woman." I waited and waited and waited all the way through junior high school. Just about every other girl I knew had started their period somewhere along the way while in 6th/7th/8th grade and I was sure that I was the only one that hadn't!

By the time I started high school and still hadn't started my period I was absolutely positive that there was something seriously wrong with me/my reproductive system. I was so nervous about the situation and was absolutely sure that I'd never be able to have children. In hindsight I realize how silly I was, but at the time it was quite traumatic and filled me with a lot of anxiety/dread. Long story short, I started my period during my freshman year of high school. Imagine the relief that washed to realize that I was "normal!"


Kendra said...

That's horrible how they handled things in rehab. It makes me angry and sad just to think about it. Your story of waiting for your first one is so reminiscent of mine. How well I remember those anxiety-filled times in school waiting to become a grownup! I finally got mine on a trip to England and had no one to help me with it. Oh well, it's not like you can plan these things!

lee said...

Really bad for rehab to deal like that with these things.I bet the next most asked FAQ is about your toilet routine.

Tina said...

I love your candor Heather! So refreshing! I have a question for you, how do you use your camera?


Your Utah Friend,


Melissa Kennedy said...

I LOVE these FAQ posts and your willingness to share. I was wondering if your sense of modesty has changed over time as you've had to get used to having other people help you with such private things? Has it gotten easier or are there still things that bother you?

Anonymous said...

Hi Heather-
Yes-a big hooray for the manufacturer of tampons! A small thing that makes a BIG difference...

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