Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Caution: Menstrual Comments Follow--Feel Free to Skip if That Tends to Gross You Out

listening to: 'The Sound of Silence' by Simon and Garfunkel
feeling: Relaxed

Yesterday I felt kind of yucky and I knew it was because I was pre-menstrual. I mean, really, why else would anyone cry because they didn't get an apple? See, our former board chairman brings home grown apples every year and drops them off for the hospital. I got the message, but somehow I didn't think that the people in the building could have scooped up 1,000 apples by the time I left at 2:30. I was wrong. When I asked about them, someone directed me to the inpatient unit, where a few had been sent for the night staff, but I needed to go ahead in order to catch the bus. And as I walked out, tears started streaming down my face for no good reason. I realise that. After all, I had apples at home. I wasn't just being emotion. It wasn't so much an emotional response as a physical one, really, although there was a bried anger at greedy co-workers that almost immediately bled away. From an intellectual standpoint, I knew this was irrational and baseless. It wasn't about the apples--I had some at home, for pete's sake. But hormones suck that way. I'm not sure men can relate.

Another thing about being pre-menstrual is your immune system goes wonky. I am much more likely to have allergy symptoms and feel sick the day before my period. Yesterday I was having weird gastrointestinal issues, which is also common. Today I woke up feeling remarkably...um...sexual. Why is it that our sex drives kick into gear right as we start to bleed? (and I know I'm not alone on that one). That just seems weird to me. In my particular branch of Paganism, for instance, it's considered not good to engage in sexual activity at that time...it's not so much that you're considered unclean so much as it's a holy time and your partner may run risk of being 'struck down', so to speak. Menstrual blood is considered very potent and the bleeding time is considered a time of unpredictable forces in flux. I've never put this to the test, but there must still be some sort of hormonal something that puts the sex drive on line then. Then again, maybe it's just that I've been working out at the gym. :)

This month is not going to be as adventurous as last month. See, when I was a teenager, I never got the tampon thing down. They just weren't comfortable. I suspect that back when I was a virgin, I was too afraid to put it far enough up. And of course, they were formulated differently back then--no teen versions or slim. The big toxic shock scare happened about the time I started my period or a little after. So I just never really got it. I've worn pads for years. But with my latex allergy, I have to be careful of what brands I use. Sometimes I use some nice cotton washable ones, but they don't draw the moisture away enough and are fairly bulky. But now that I'm more active, older, have been married and am supposedly more comfortable with my anatomy, I decided last month to do an experiment. Tampons are pretty much just cotton, after all--none of those sticky strips to react against. I picked up a variety pack of tampons, and decided to start with the smallest. I was flabbergasted to find there were no instructions on the box or inside the first pack. I mean...it had been awhile. Do they figure they need to just put the directions in the teen ones? Turns out it was in the middle box, which I didn't get to until the second day. After wasting the first one by not getting it positioned right, I at least got one up where it seemed fairly comfortable. It took me three tries to get to point where I didn't feel it, and then, by the time I changed that one out, I was having trouble with the area not lubricating enough for easy gliding, so to speak. I found that the only way to get anything positioned right was to just dispense with the applicator and use my hands...so I might as well bough o.b. brand. At least the applicators were biodegradeable. But after 2 days of trying this, I just went back to pads, hanging my head low, beaten by tampons. I just wasn't comfortable with them compared to a pad. I still have them on hand for emergencies, or if I want to go work out, etc.

So, this morning when I started I went over to the pharmacy to look for some pads, I was scanning the aisle. There's the menstrual disposable cups, Instead. Those are intriguing, but I suspect they require more coordination than tampons. I just wasn't feeling adventurous. (The analogous reuseable ones you find at natural foods stores are made of rubber, so even though they're 'all natural' I'm highly allergic to them and I'm not going to put anything like that inside a very sensitive area--trust me, I look for natural, environmentally friendly alternatives, I just have a few special needs, like allergies and poor tolerance for tampons). I came across something I've heard about for awhile but never actually seen. Always makes a version called maximum protection specifically for women who are size 14 or above. See, when you're a larger woman, you tend to have your flow work differently. Pads that just cover the crotch don't do it, because the menstrual blood manages to get pushed in both directions. A lot of times, I've had to wear overnights throughout my entire period, or put two pads end-to-end. The longs help, but still aren't perfect, and it's not so much the thickness that's needed as the length. I've bled halfway up the panties before, which can be very embarrassing if it gets on your pants.

These pads feel great. Perfect. Not too thick, but covered, and they're actually curved and a little thinner in the middle and thicker at the ends, just like I need it. Yay!!!

Bet you didn't know menstruation was an adventure. It is. Every single one is somewhat different, even if the cycles are regular, and I'm on approximately #320 now, so I think that makes me some kind of expert.

And as a reward for listening to me rag about the rag...here's what else you can do with them: how to make bathroom slippers from maxi pads, via Inflatable Sheep and Other Fancies.

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