The Little Stick of Happiness

In my post of 07/12/09 Learning to Love the Limitation, I wrote about my continued frustration with the severe menstrual problems that have been undermining my life and well-being. After yet another cycle where I heavily bled for almost two weeks (!?), I had started to feel a real sense of desperation and so went back to my GP just before Christmas. This year has seen the gradual breaking down of my mistrust of synthetic hormones. As I began to truly acknowledge how appallingly bad my periods had become – of how much of my life and sense of well-being was being eroded by such extreme symptoms – I began to open up once again to the possibility that they might provide a positive solution.

On the second to last day of 2009 I had fitted a progestogen-only implant – otherwise know as Implanon. It is a tiny match sized rod that is inserted under the skin in the upper inside arm. You are given a local anaesthetic and the procedure is over in seconds. Having chosen to have this done just before Xmas, I spent the days running up to my fitting referring to the implant as my ‘little stick of happiness’ – I figured I might as well be positive!

For the first couple of days after the fitting, my body wrestled with itself. My period was due and I was having all the symptoms of PMT but with a strange new undercurrent. The shedding of the lining of the womb during menstruation is triggered by the sudden drop of hormones in the body; this had already started to happen in my natural cycle this month but then suddenly progesterone was being pumped back in again. I could feel the confusion of my body. Laurie pointed out that I was being incredibly grumpy – both he and my Dad tip-toed around me – I felt emotionally brittle and I began to panic that I might stay caught in this premenstrual netherworld for ever; it’s not a great place to be– everything and everybody are intensely annoying and loosing a sock is a major world crisis! As the days have passed, my well-being has increased and the PMT has vanished. In fact, today I should have started my period and I don’t feel in the slightest that I will.

Implanon has a mixed impact. Some women find that their bleeding ceases completely, others bleed sporadically, while other poor souls have constant bleeding. Like the Mirena Coil, Implanon is another contraceptive device that has proved helpful in the treatment of severe menstrual problems. I have reached the stage when the thought of not bleeding at all seems blissful. The desire to have ‘normal’ periods has always been there but hanging on to some concept about ‘naturalness’ has only led me to feel more and more ill and run down by the impact of my worsening symptoms. Implanon was a risk (it could have made my symptoms worse) but my inner resources were running so low that to continue as I was, without taking that risk, felt a far worse fate.

I have never felt so well on what is supposed to be the first day of my period. I am now getting to grips with the possibility that I might not be having another one for three years (the life of the implant). It is a heady thought. All the things that have fallen by the way now have the chance to be reclaimed. I think I’m a little stunned! This time last month I endured the heaviest bleeding I had ever experienced. It was frightening and exhausting. How different today! This morning, I realised how much I psychologically hunker down at the first signs of bleeding and pain – every month stealing myself to cope with what is to come. I didn’t have to do that this morning and I really can’t explain how good that feels. The timing has been rather nice: a new year; a new decade and for me – perhaps (fingers and toes crossed in every possible way) – a new life!

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