Thursday, March 01, 2007

taking control

It is hard to have a trusting relationship with a medical professional when the AMA disagrees with your lifestyle choices. For me that means that I continuously bounce from gynecologist to gynecologist, each one belittling my stance on birth control.

Which is no birth control, by the way, just thought I should put that out there.

I wasn't always this way, as an 18 year old beginning her sexual journey, I relied heavily upon depo provera in shot form. I showed up religiously to get my shot despite living on a commune, despite being a vegan, despite everything. I knew that I was not ready to be a parent (not with the amount of recreational drugs I enjoyed) nor was I to be trusted with a pill. (I do not take pills well, I have a box of vitamins my mother has given me over the years that I could never remember to take, let alone remember to throw away...) So I chose the shot. Not having a period for 3 years was an added bonus, or so I thought.

When I decided to go off the shot and explore other options my period didn't return. For six months it didn't return and I was unaffected by its disappearance. Until it painfully appeared. It started out as a normal period but quickly progressed to "why the hell am I still bleeding?"

After 3 months of profuse bleeding, I sought out medical advice: uh, sometimes when a cycle has been absent for a significant amount of time due to prescription birth control, it plays catch up. I bled for 9 (NINE!) months straight and no I am not exaggerating. It wreaked crazy havoc on my life, I suffered from acute lower back pain, I couldn't stand for long periods of time nor could I sit. I consulted with some of the best doctors in California and after much probing and prodding was told that most likely I would spend my life on birth control to control the bleeding which would negatively affect any reproductive plans I might have held for the future.

Uh. Hmm, I was 21 years old. I was in severe pain, and was told I couldn't have children. Life was so very far from okay.

My mom at the time (who knew nothing of the birth control) was just getting in to holistic healing and herbology, she attended a conference and gave me a progesterone cream to try, claiming that hormonal imbalance can result in profuse bleeding... It worked. It took two cycles to regulate and I only used it for about 6 months (see previous confession re: pills). My "Specialists" regarded the results as coincidence and still urged me to resume birth control to control my cycle. I didn't/ don't want to control my cycle, I wanted to facilitate a healthy and normal cycle.

In fact, every doctor I have since consulted be it for pregnancy (wow! not barren, hmm.), yearly checkup, 6 week postpartum check, whatever the case, they've always pressured me to resume birth control. One Ob/Gyn actually phrased it as "the only choice to avoid another unwanted pregnancy." (which was really odd considering she wasn't my ob/gyn during pregnancy and if she had been she would have known that it was no surprise that I was pregnant.) I was so stunned by her shunning of my personal choices that I could only mutter a polite, "um, no thanks, I'd be more comfortable abstaining for the rest of my natural life. But thanks for your disdain." (Coincidentally, she was the same doctor who told me I might want to look into a baby leash. We did not last long there. Insurance be damned.)

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the medical society's ability to save my life, set a broken bone, etcetera, but personal decisions regarding OPTIONAL drugs and/or procedures are best left with the individual, thankyouverymuch.


Kit said...

What a horrible experience you had with 9 months of bleeding. I don't blame you for staying well clear. You have to be strong to be different, as Leo the Lion's mother comes to acknowledge at the end of The Lion who wanted to Love... The only solution is to stay away from gynaes as much as possible. I too am a no control at all person, avoid the middle of the month and if it happens then so be it. My husband has been intending to tie the knot for a couple of years but not got around to it yet. Rather that than stuff myself with chemicals that don't know whether they're coming or going - I cowardly told the gynae I'd think about it and come back after my last post partum appointment and never did.

Lisa said...

Eeek. What a scarey experience. Bleeding all of that time. How did you not get anemia?

I can't take the pill, I get migraines. And the method of birth control that has worked the best thus far, is having a husband who travels alot and seems to either get sick or go out of town on business while I'm ovulating. Also? Have your hubby start chewing tobacco -- because that lowers the sperm count. So when you actually do get laid at the opportune time, he doesn't have enough "Swimmers" to get the job done... :-)

Emily said...

One of my favorite things about Hungary is the medical system because (even though it's slow, sometimes backwards, and there's no privacy) they understand that each person knows their own health and body better than a stranger can. For example: I also get Depo Provera shots. When I get them in America, they want a recent pap, a recent physical, recent STD testing and an on-the-spot pregnancy test. In Hungary, they ask me if I'm feeling okay, if I have any questions, and then jab me with the needle. The way it should be.