Guest Post: The Early Bird

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A guest post from my good friend Edna Brown:

On the playground with kids during my fifth grade summer was not the ideal time to “become a lady” as grandma would say. I remember hurting in my mid-section for no reason at all. I did not recall falling or being hit in the stomach or eating anything that would have made me sick. I was confused and in agony.

I was still trying to play a game of tag football with my cousins and her friends at my aunt’s house. I was pushed down and tackled and I felt something that was unusual.

I got up and ran inside to have my aunt check me over.  She told me to go into the bathroom and she would be right in to see what was wrong. I went into the bathroom and almost fainted. I thought that the world had ended and my Tomboy Days were long gone. She was shocked as well but she tried to keep me calm as she explained to me what was going on with my body.  She fixed me up and gave me the “Talk”.

She called my mother – her sister, and we all cried. I thought it was too early to deal with such a thing, and my aunt could not explain why this was an issue for me at the age of eleven. She taught me all about the pads and hiding them from the boys. The purse came into my life. What a drag!

I went from competing with the guys to worrying about where I could sit my purse where they could not discover the new “issue” in my life. I started sulking and lying around the house because my life had changed so drastically. I started to have to physicals which included pap smears and other female related gynecological procedures.

My first few menstrual cycles were the classical four to five days with a light flow, so it was not a lot to manage compared to some of the other girls that I witnessed whose lives came to a screeching halt during their time of the month.

The older I got, the skipping or missed menstrual periods started. I would miss a month or two and have a cycle, miss a month or two. I questioned the doctors about this, and they said that it was normal for some teens. They suggested that I go on birth control pills to regulate my cycle.

This worked for years as far as making my cycle predictable; when I got to the different color pills it was like clockwork.  When I entered my twenties and got married at the age of twenty-two, the skipping started again and this was while I was taking the pills.

Back to the doctors with more questions, they suggested that I use a different dosage and prescribed  contraceptives with a stronger dose. Those pills were the devil in disguise! My cycle became more uncontrollable. I stopped taking them altogether .By the time I reached my thirties, I experienced menstrual periods only a few times a year. I asked my gynecologist if I was going through the change early, and she laughed at me.

I had started experiencing hot flashes after I drank or ate anything sweet. Sugar seems to make a personal sauna moment for me. Each time I asked a doctor about this, there were no answers and always an offer of more contraceptives. One doctor did finally say that the hot flashes and night sweats happens when the level of estrogen decreases and the body temperature rises, which meant menopause to me.

Now that I am in my forties, no children, and hot flashes galore, it is clear to me that I understood my body better than the doctors did. I rarely see a menstrual period, but I am always prepared for one just in case it happens.  Since I started this rollercoaster early, maybe I will get off of it early.  Then I can help others who have questions about the rollercoaster ride of their lives.

Edna Brown works her job as an Academic Success Center/ Academic Computing Support Technician at Piedmont Community College.  She is also enrolled at East Carolina University as an Industrial Technology student studying for her BA degree. She is married, and she loves to travel with her husband any time that they get a chance to get away. Edna also loves reading and exploring new adventures.
P.S from Barbara:  Edna and I work together at Piedmont Community College, and she’s a gem of gems, hormones and all!  Join the discussion!  Post your early bird or any kind of period or menopause woes by clicking “Comments” below.  Thanks!

15 responses »

  1. My mom tells a story simiilar to yours, of how she had no idea what was happening to her & thought she was dying when she started her periods. I, on the other hand, was late getting mine and wondered if I was normal because it seemed every girl I knew had already started.

    • I thought I was dying! It was another thing that a girl has to worry about, my life was getting complicated. This girly thing was not easy at that age. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Yes, too bad yours started so young. I was lucky and didn’t start mine until 15. And like Susan, I worried there was something wrong with me. I think my Mom did too and when I finally had my first period on Christmas Eve, she went out and announced it to our family. I was embarrassed, but glad to be “normal”. I remember she had ordered some big box of all different kinds of pads with pamphlets etc. to educate me (probably from Kotex). I had looked at that box for a long time and waited and waited for the big day. And now it is over. YEAH!

    • My sisters were the lucky ones, they were older and enjoyed the freedom of being carefree while their baby sister had to lug that purse around. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Thanks for the post Edna; Barbara has some great guests and you are one of them. It proves over and over that listening to your body is #1. It’s fun to hear other women’s stories. I remember my mother handing me a book and telling me to ask any questions!! oh how many questions I had!!

    • Thanks Sylvia, I remember the book from my middle school class. I remember my mom being really upset because she was not with me. I was with her two sisters who were as different as night and day. One was explanatory and sensitive with me while the other was telling the neighborhood and making light of my “moment”. My mom asked my aunt to bring me home, there were two brothers waiting to pick on me, and two sisters who were worried that I was never going to come out of our room. Oh yea, my male cousin told me that I could not go swimming in the ocean because a shark would attack me. Ha!

  4. I remember the torture that I went through, it is enlightening to know that it happens to all of us. I was an only girl in a house full of boys, so though my story does not mirror yours, there are a lot of similarities. I dreaded the month to month thing and keeping track, just to ensure that I was “prepared” and I was one of those that had the “screeching halt for one day a month. With brothers at home, they would gripe and complain about all that I got away with. If only they really knew!

  5. edna, i loved your “personal sauna moment”. great line!

    i started mine on an airplane with my dad. i was mortified. when i arrived at our destination i had no idea what to buy so i bought “hospital pads” thinking they would be extra good! ugh!!

    • Girl, I would have went for those if I would have saw them. We did not have “wings” then :) Remember those big blue boxes? I remember asking my dad to purchase a box for me, it took him a hour in the store waiting for all of his friends to move on so that he would not be picked on at the counter.

  6. Edna — I love the comment that sugar was your “personal sauna moment,” like the others did. Great job on this post. That moment of “becoming a woman” is always one we remember, but what I don’t LIKE to remember is that every month became a dreaded time for me. I passed out like clockwork until the doctor put me on birth control pills, which straightened things out. Years later, I discovered that all those years of horrible cramps were a signal for something much more devastating: cancer. BUT I’m fine . . . and your post is great!

    Dawn

  7. Thanks Edna for the great posts, and thanks to all of your for your stories. It’s amazing how much our periods have affected our lives, going straight back to those youthful days.

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