Trigger warning: discussion of body parts, gender dysphoria, medical yuck etc.
Previous title: I Hate My Mirena And They Won’t Take It Out Because They Think It’s Just Because Of My Brain Disorder And That Is Totally Ableist And I Can’t Stop Crying.
I don’t really have the spoons for this, so this is going to have no structure. It won’t make sense. Things generally don’t make sense.
Because everything ends up all at the same time, I had the psychiatrist on Monday and today I had the gynaecologist. This is the one who railroaded me into exchanging my lovely side-effect-free Implanon with a Mirena, because she prefers it and it was heavily implied that the pain-stopping surgery wouldn’t go ahead without it (and it didn’t work!), and decided that I had endometriosis so she would admit me to hospital so she could cut it out.
(Fun fact: I don’t have endometriosis, or at least, not where she looked. She showed me pictures. I think it would have gone better if I had started crying instead of holding it all back and then falling apart halfway home.)
The gynaecologist dismissed my problems, and they are. Problems, that is. They’re really bad. After four and a half years being yucky period free, I have had six weeks of non-stop bleeding. I can feel this. It builds up and then when I move, like a vacuum being unsealed, it pops out and bursts, and I start to cry, because that’s not a bodily function that I can cope with since it doesn’t belong to me. I don’t have to deal with it, and I know this now because I haven’t. “It’s normal,” she said. I pointed out that she said 1-2 weeks, tops. “No, I didn’t, I would never,” she said. I have it in writing. Twice. “Oh, that’s for the laparoscopy,” she said. “The Mirena is always 1-2 months. Then it stops, and it comes back in a few weeks, until it stops completely, sometimes.”
The part where I said I already didn’t have periods and I needed to stay that way was as forgotten as the part where she gave me no information about the Mirena at all, because apparently I’m smart enough to look online all by myself, and she was out of leaflets. I’m assuming, because I talked about the bleeding and she said it’s normal, and she would have been the one to put it in, that I do have it after all. I couldn’t bring myself to ask. She did address the hospital incident. “You were quite anxious to leave, weren’t you?”
Well, obviously. Today I received an apology from the hospital, and they haven’t even investigated yet. It was that bad.
So then she tells me to keep trying with it, like it’s a choice I have. I already tried to cut it out, but I was shaking so much I couldn’t get through the skin. Hiding marks from doctors is so second-nature to me, anyway, that even if I was actually able to think, it still would have healed before I saw her. The only way it comes out is if she takes it out. She will be, as soon as she listens to me long enough.
“You’ve already done the hard work,” is really quite condescending, especially when my psychiatrist was telling me to go to the ER because the bleeding was not normal, stopped recommending medication as soon as I explained that I had been made to switch from an Implanon to an IUD, and told me to make the gynaecologist call him – the letter he sent a month ago, asking for a copy of my records so he could make a treatment plan, went unanswered. (In other words, this could have been solved by now.)
Because, as you may have noticed, and like many other people whose only recourse is screaming into the internet, the Mirena has a direct correlation with a significant and otherwise inexplicable overall increase in my general anxiety level, unrelated to PTSD and in ways not previously a thing for me. I don’t want a plastic thing in an organ that isn’t mine to be affecting my brain.
“But it’s only a little bit of hormones! And it’s not circulating very much!”
I wonder if that’s like how the little bit of dairy from something labelled “manufactured on equipment that also processes milk products” made me throw up for a week and the swelling in my throat was so bad I could only have rice milk for another three? Because a little, different, can be quite enough. And I’m not clear on how hormones can circulate not very much and yet the brain knows what and what not to send signals to create.
And also, I don’t want a thing in there. I’m not sure I ever clearly even agreed to it, to be honest, and I didn’t even know it was going in until I got home and reached up and found the strings and had to sit down because my legs wouldn’t hold me.
She also promised fewer side effects than the Implanon, because the hormones don’t have to circulate. I’m not sure if she’s used to explaining things to people who don’t have the same kind of grasp of medical knowledge that comes from three years of personal injury law, or if she honestly thinks that. The active ingredients released by the Mirena are different to those in the Implanon. There is no way to compare them like that; they even work in a different way – the Mirena releases the hormone into the uterus to discourage pregnancy by reducing the amount of mucus and lining produced (sometimes stopping periods if this is reduced to nothing, but…) while the Implanon releases progestin to stop ovulation in the first place, hence why I prefer it. And also, less pain. My brain less not mine.
“You still really want the hysterectomy, don’t you? But it’s not necessary, and you need to have lots of counselling. And it won’t stop the pain, because it’s all normal anyway.”
From the same counsellor who absolutely and totally manipulated and screwed my sister’s head into tiny little knots and sent her spiralling across the world. Yep, it’s that small a town. I will sit through anything at this point, but not that. I had to have the surgery to stop the pain. The pain is worse. “There’s nothing wrong, but that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real. It’s like people who get migraines.”
You mean, like me, I wanted to say, but unlike my psychiatrist, my gynaecologist won’t let me use a computer to type to her. My phone crashed, because as great as it is, phones aren’t meant to handle heavy word processing, and instead of anything else, she made me write on printer paper.
I was so humiliated as I scratched out each letter, watching it come out backwards even after I sat there and tried to work out which way the b and the d went. I know she was told – my psychiatrist sends a letter in advance every time I go somewhere new, explaining what my brain does and how best to talk to me. Actually communicating, meaningfully, is impossible. She thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to leave me like this, because she can just change the Mirena under anesthetic, and nevermind the part where she has to change the Mirena at all. Or every time I say I don’t have periods I get told I’m anorexic, because I can’t choose that, because I can’t be not female.
So she finally decided she had to talk to my psychiatrist, because finally, finally, I get a pain management plan. And physio. Because it’s not like I’ve never tried physio, or exercise, or sports, and it’s not like those are so easy when you regularly find new numbers at the top of the pain scale. She even said physio will help with the anxiety and fix my brain. Because she has a Mirena herself, and it’s fine. And if physio ever helped with anxiety they’d be pushing physio instead of medication, wouldn’t they…
I left in a bit of a what-the-hell state, after I had already started to leave and she decided then to check the incisions, so I had to strip in front of her, and she started poking at my tummy (without asking to touch first, of course). Naturally, I then dropped everything because my hands couldn’t manage holding a corset (not easy to put back on, obviously), my bag, my phone, my phone case, and my bear. “Are you right?” she said, and I had to step back into the corner to avoid her touching me more. (Why do people do that?) I had been prepared for an ultrasound, since she sprang one on my before, and wouldn’t she need to check that the pain being worse wasn’t because the Mirena had perforated something (I am honestly praying for this. It’s the easiest way to get what I need.)
So then I get home and my mother wants to know everything that happened, because she has no boundaries, and instead of processing, I get to relive it all. Again. Then again, tomorrow, when she forgets that she already asked, or doesn’t understand.
So I don’t get to forget, not any more, and pretend that these are things that don’t apply to me.
I flat out stated that everything is worse now and this is not a thing that I can deal with. “Of course everything’s bigger now, it’s your conversion disorder,” she said, as if it’s going away. It’s not. And also, having a brain disorder doesn’t mean that I’m not serious, or that I don’t understand enough to make this decision, or that I wouldn’t want it if my brain was neurotypical, or whatever the hell is behind a statement like that. My brain works differently. It doesn’t not work.
The other thing that comes up, is “oh, your trauma wasn’t sexual”. It goes like this:
“Your trauma, that wasn’t sexual? So you’re fine with an ultrasound. Oh, you just had a pap smear, of course it’s fine.”
“You weren’t raped, so you don’t have any problems with the wand, just hop up and I’ll be back in a minute.”
The only reason I slept before the appointment today was because I hadn’t slept the three days beforehand, and I passed out over my Vita just long enough to have a nightmare. I was raped, but nobody cares about that. There was a significantly sexual component to the treatment I received at work, including being sexually harassed and victimised and assaulted, but nobody cares about that either. They assume that because I spend three hours getting ready, making sure my perfect makeup and pain-reducing, posture-correcting corset and St Gabriel bracelet are between my tears and them, that it doesn’t affect me. If I have makeup on, I can’t cry, because then I will look like a panda. Doesn’t mean it’s not completely dehumanising to be so thoroughly dismissed.
I wonder, if I cried, whether it would make a difference. I have thought about pulling the thing out, I read that news story about the girl who was trampled with a glass bottle inside her and I think that would hurt less, how can I make that happen? If I take the Mirena out by myself, then there’s nothing stopping periods until I can get someone to put another Implanon back in. My first Implanon took six months before the bleeding stopped.
It’s not just about the bleeding, of course. It’s not even about being subjected to this again and again for the next twenty-thirty-however-long years, and people talking about uterus and ovary and showing me pictures and telling me that’s mine and it’s so nice and healthy and how lucky and fertile I am while I’m making a sad hippo face and hoping they catch my disapproval. (I gave the gynaecologist a note today. It said the bleeding only slowed last week, the pain was worse, please write to the psychiatrist he sent me to bug you, and then at the end “i am asexual, genderfluid and childfree. i need this to be respected.” It hasn’t really helped.) It’s not even “you don’t have periods! you’re not eating enough! you’re so unhealthy your body can’t make teh babbies!”, because I can make that work when I want something to be done about something else, and that’s the only time it’s not absolutely soul-crushing.
It’s that this isn’t me, it’s hurting me, it’s a think I have to be constantly aware of, and I coped with it and then I learned that I can not cope with it and be okay and I am not going back to not coping with it.
So I am making a resolution now. I have to go back to the gynaecologist in six weeks. I am going to find my laptop, and type on that, even though carrying it is really hard because I have to carry everything on one side because my right arm won’t do anything and can’t take the weight. I am going to tell her that unless she puts an Implanon back in as soon as possible and refers me to whatever counselling she wants me to have to prove that I am serious about the decisions I make about my own body (which I shouldn’t have to do), I will take the Mirena out myself (it’s possible) and go and get someone else to put an Implanon in since I don’t think I can get one without a prescription (well, not easily. If someone can give me one, I would probably be only more grateful if they offered to do the hysterectomy. Or introduced me to Sean Bean.)
This isn’t my mountain. At least, it’s not my only mountain. But if I learned anything from that hospital horror, it’s that if I say something enough, someone will eventually listen.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take my OTC pain meds that don’t work (if I don’t take them, the pain is worse than it is now, but they don’t make it stop), and I have to go cry again. Because, in all of this, I am reminded, again, that there are body parts in me that don’t belong to me, and while they are there, people will feel perfectly justified in telling me what to do, how to live, who I should date, what I should wear, and my gender identity will continue to be denied to me. And, every day I leave the house, I will be triggered, retraumatised, and my psychiatrist is just realising that exposure therapy isn’t a great solution when the things you’re being exposed to aren’t meant to be normal. There isn’t a getting used to this.