hello, i got my uterus microwaved. anyone who has ever read a women's magazine while praying for death in a stalled grocery line can tell you that march is the perfect time for spring cleaning, and i decided that rather than trying to figure out how to "spark joy" or accidentally pass out from oven cleaner fumes i would instead check myself into the hospital and have my uterine walls scraped clean and then set on fire so that it might sit dormant and useless inside me, like my appendix or my soul. my period has been weird from the minute it showed up, rude and temperamental and inconsistent, same as every single boyfriend i had between 2004 and that 2-year period of celibacy during which i always made sure to thoroughly chew my food lest i choke on a discounted slab of salisbury steak i'd only partially defrosted for my evening meal. i'm not even gonna sugarcoat it: throughout much of the last decade i have been so preoccupied with whatever is going on with my back butt that i have only paid fleeting attention to what is going on with the front one. and fuck calling the doctor, whose prescription of TRY TO BE LESS STRESSED is not a real thing that i can actually be, okay?! i have long suffered the anxiety-ridden latenight google searches of the woman burdened with an irregular menstrual cycle:
"can i get pregnant?"
"am i actually pregnant?"
"where has my period been for the last three months?"
"can that flowers in the attic thing actually happen to me?"
"are white culottes a mistake?"
"do you need to have a period to stay alive?"
for the most part, my period has never really interfered with my daily activities, which is 100% the only reason i ever try to solve any of my problems. has it smelled weird? okay sure, but that's totally normal, at least according to my doctor the health and fitness page in cosmopolitan magazine. has it gone missing for months at a time? yes to that, too, but it's not like i ever really missed it. and it's just so easy to keep spending all my tampon money on manicures and not think about sending a search party into my cervix to see what the fuck is going on in there when month after month of fearlessly wearing light-colored pants just slips on by. if this gross collection of mucus and nitrogen wants me to acknowledge its existence, then it's gonna need to erupt like a geyser on an amtrak train. otherwise, SORRY BUT I HAVE SHOWS TO WATCH.
and then five months ago, after some months of semi-regularity i can only attribute to eating more vegetables and not talking to any men, the dam broke. i was dirtying up a fancy hotel in oppressively-hot austin just minding my business and trying not to spontaneously combust on a 90 degree day in "autumn," when i woke up in a pool of my own sticky, clotting sloughed-off endometrial cells and vaginal secretions. when i first reluctantly pried my eyes open and registered the cold, soiled diaper feeling happening below the waistband of my stegosaurus pajama bottoms i thought, with a cheerfulness that is quite foreign to me, "wow my butt sweats a lot!" it was definitely not sweat. and i don't know what's on your list of nightmare situations that you pray never happen to you (number one on my list? ever witnessing any sort of crime), but please slide UNWITTINGLY DESTROYING A HOTEL BED to the top if it isn't there already.
i oozed out of bed, trying not to further damage any blindingly white property i will never be able to afford to replace, and calculated how best to remove my clothes without turning the room into something from the shining. and then, once they were off, how could i clean them? what was i supposed to do with the carnage that had occurred between the bleached sheets? does the intercontinental ever allow people to shame wash their own soiled bedding?! i texted amelia, the only adult in my phone who knows how to capably handle a sensitive etiquette situation, and she told me to pull everything off the bed and roll it into a tight ball (because this signifies to the staff that something horrible happened in there and under no circumstances should they hazard a glance) and put everything on the floor, then leave all the cash i had in my wallet on the bed and find someplace air conditioned to bleed all day so i wouldn't have to make awkward, apologetic small talk with the person tasked with sorting the blood-splattered towels of a person whose period tracker just reads ??? every month. is this what it's like to be drake? i wondered aloud to myself, picturing him singing softly as he neatly rolled sheets soaked in expensive champagne and various bodily fluids into a tight cylinder, kicking aside discarded louboutins and candy wrappers. no, he definitely has an assistant for that.
i never stopped bleeding! the next day, i bled on delta flight 1822 from austin to detroit. i bled all through friendsgiving dinner two weeks later, during which i sat in a diaper on a dark-colored towel and refused the cranberry sauce because it looked too much like my period. i bled in my reindeer pjs on christmas eve, hoping santa would leave me an industrial pack of depends under the tree. i bled through the new year. i was still bleeding on valentine's day.
i just spent the past two harried months squinting at flight information displays in DC and san francisco and omaha airports while lugging twenty pounds of leggings i tried not to spill anything on during my book tour, and i knew there was no way on earth i was going to be able to do that while also worrying that my personal red wedding could strike, in public, at any moment. so i called my new doctor, one i found who i knew wouldn't prescribe deep breathing and essential oils to not fix my out of whack hormones, and asked for a hysterectomy. which i thought would be easy, like ordering a pizza or getting an uber. i thought i had at least most of the necessary pieces of the hysterectomy jigsaw puzzle: an aversion to inexplicably bleeding like a wounded animal for weeks at a time, being old enough to remember watching gimme a break while sitting cross legged on an unironic shag carpet, a wife.
but did you know that 38 is still "young?" and that queers can have babies?! (jk jk every gay couple i know has, like, nine kids.) anyway my dude was like "lol yeah right we're leaving it in you don't have fibroids" even as i was actively bleeding through my underwear and pants, gooey red jelly seeping onto that noisy white crinkle paper they line the exam table with. but he did offer to do a hysteroscopy (a thin, lighted tube is inserted into the uterus so the doctor can read whatever ancient hieroglyphics have been written on its walls; i imagine there was some hastily written "daniel was here, bitch" graffiti on the closest wall of the cave); a D and C (dilation and curettage, where they scrape the uterine lining off with a soup spoon); and an endometrial ablation (i think there are multiple delicious options on the ablation menu, but pretty sure mine was burned off with a microwave wand, which will never not be cool to me). a veritable smorgasbord of gynecological delights.
i have not been penetrated that deeply in a very long time and it's a bummer that i had to sleep through it, although the fentanyl they pumped into my veins afterward was as good as any dick i've ever had. i'd never been under general anesthesia before, and the experience wasn't like grey's anatomy at all? there was no sabotage being plotted in any supply closets, no gunman busting in and taking us hostage even though i desperately need the kidney they're about to implant in me and if i don't get it i will die, no McDreamy gazing dreamily down at me while sensually telling me to count backwards from ten as i lust over each individual coarse bit of stubble in his smoldering five o'clock shadow. oh no, in outpatient operating room number three McTired barked "YOU'RE GONNA FEEL SOME HEAT" in my general direction then my brain caught fire for two seconds and i disappeared from earth, only to regain consciousness in a room full of very nice nurses who brought me cold drinks that i struggled not to throw up. and then they gave me a bag of disposable underwear to leak into and sent me home where i could whine to my heart's content, like the baby i would no longer be capable of giving birth to.
it's two months later and i feel as good as a person with untreated anxiety can allow herself to feel, which is to say that i am cautiously optimistic because i haven't seen aunt flo in a while but also battling the sinking feeling of dread that has formed in the pit of my stomach because i just used the term aunt flo. do people even say that anymore? am i even funny? is this totally dumb?! now that i don't have to think about accidentally staining my chair at olive garden i have so much more bandwidth to worry about other inconsequential shit! bring on the unflattering and seasonally inappropriate white pants!!1!!11!