Dear Mirena, it’s not you, it’s me… (Updated)

See bottom of post for update as of 2/8/17

***** Hi boys – warning, girlie TMI ahead. Skip this one, unless you’re trying to help a loved one through dealing with a Mirena nightmare, then read ahead. I’ll try not to be too gross*****

**** Also I am NOT a medical professional – blah, blah – this is just my own personal tale of Mirena woe – I’m not here to give you advice.****

*** If you don’t want to read my tongue-in-cheek rendition of this – skip to the bottom – I’ve listed just the facts there***

So, ahead we plunge – This is my story. It’s been a rocky road, and I know there are MANY stories out there of women who struggled with Mirena – and many more who had a great experience. No judgement or bashing here. Just my story.

 

Dear Mirena –

It’s not you… it’s me. Or maybe – it is you, actually.

Things started out so well about a year and half ago. You were a dream come true. Progestin to help with PMS mood swings, and birth control that no one had to think about – not that I had any need of the birth control, but it was nice to know it was there.

I’d had a VERY short lived fling with the NuvaRing just before we met – that was it’s own special disaster – and should have been a warning sign for me. But who am I to heed warning signs?! That’s just silly.

See, I don’t tolerate synthetic hormones well. I never have. I’ve been on and off birth control several times, and it’s never been great. Stomach upset, general malaise, and then the uncontrollable crying. That’s always the best.

NuvaRing had the same effect – within about 5 hours of insertion. I turned into a sobbing lunatic. I removed it immediately, but it took another 5 days for 5 hours worth of hormones to work their way out of my system.

I cried uncontrollably and at the drop of a hat. Despair was the tip of the iceberg. This was full blown hormonally-instigated depression that I couldn’t see clear of.

Now let me just say – I love the NP at my OBs office. I truly do- she’s gifted and intelligent and somehow manages to put you at ease in the most awkward of situations.

HOWEVER – medical professionals – I implore you. LISTEN to your patients. I know – you deal with some quacks. But when an otherwise reasonable woman walks into your office explaining that she thinks she has something similar to PMDD – it’s short-lived but intense and that her previous experience with synthetic hormones isn’t good, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY – STOP.

Listen. Please. Come up with a plan. One that takes into account ALL that she’s telling you. Most of us know our own bodies, and at least deserve a say!

I know, Mirena, I’m veering off track. I’m sorry. I thought we’d be a good fit too. Or I hoped anyway.

So the initial appointment was… painful… if I’m honest. A couple of days of cramping and  stabbiness – then, oh I don’t know, 3 MONTHS of bleeding.

Seriously.

But that’s within the range of normal I’m told.

So we power through that – and I spend a lot of money on feminine hygiene products so that we can continue our relationship.

Oddly just a few weeks after you and I get together, I have this odd episode of vertigo. It’s positional and VERY intense. The doctor, who knows I’ve recently had a cold, determines that it’s labrythitis.

So it fades after a while (read 2-3 months). But then I discover that I have more than a drink or two and my equilibrium completely leaves me. COMPLETELY. I’m on the floor. No matter where I am. Picking my head up off the floor is actually impossible, and this will last for approximately 10 -12 hours.

Back off to the doc I go – who thinks it’s Meniere’s disease. A specialist and an MRI to ensure that it’s not a tumor later – the ENT agrees.

Oh – and I forgot the hearing loss. That part is fun. It’s only in a certain frequency range and just in one ear. But it means I can’t hear the kids in the car – so we all yell. All the time. That’s nice. And yes – it’s tested and diagnosed by a professional. Is it recoverable? We have no idea.

So I cut out sodium. Because that’s one of the ways you deal with Meniere’s. My daily sodium intake is about 1000-1500 mg. Which is pretty low – salami and hard cheese – out (have I mentioned my love for antipasti?) Any pre-prepared food – out. But I sure as heck know how to ask for unseasoned meat at a restaurant….because that’s a skill we’d all like to have. Ugh.

So here we are, Mirena, you and I. You’re frequently uncomfortable. And I’m starting to feel down.

Did I mention that I’ve put on weight? Oh yes – 6-7 months in and I’m 25 lbs up. With no change in lifestyle to speak of. This is no laughing matter.

So now I’m depressed and uncomfortable in my clothes, and not eating salt. I’m hungry, grumpy, uncomfortable and well… miserable.

Oh, but you’re not done with me yet, Mirena – not even close – now you decide I need to be a little unsure about – OH EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. Say hello to Mr. Anxiety.

Now I’ve experienced some mild anxiety before. I know what the heart racing feels like. I know what it’s like to talk yourself out of stupid decisions  (usually in regards to getting reassurance from a significant other) because you know how you feel isn’t ‘right’.

But this isn’t that.

This is certainty. Heart-pounding, heart-breaking certainty.

Mirena, you have had me plainly convinced that I’m a terrible mother, unloveable woman, with difficult children and an impossible life. It’s been completely miserable. And I’ve been so embarrassed that I kept it all in my own head. And that’s just ridiculous. You had me such a mess I couldn’t even reach out to those I love for help.

But no more Mirena – we’re over you and I.

And I already feel better. Just 24 hours in, and I feel like I have my brain back a little. I’ve done laundry. It’s not actually an impossible task. My sheets are clean, and my kids are happy. Look at that!

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This is my bed! I love it – and it’s all clean and nice – because Mirena no longer gets a vote!

I’m not unlovable, and you’re not in charge anymore. I’ve told people I love that you’re gone, and how I’ve been feeling and have nothing but love in return.

So thanks but no thanks – I don’t need what you have to offer.

Sincerely,

Me.

 

JUST THE FACTS:

  • Mirena was put in in March 2015 after trying NuvaRing. That was in for only 5 hours – which left me an emotional disaster. A couple of weeks later I had the Mirena placed.
  • Insertion was painful – and several days of cramping afterwards – OTC pain meds knocked the edge off, but could not get rid of discomfort.
  • I have a history of not tolerating synthetic hormones well – and minor history with anxiety. Never depression other than a short bout of PPD with both children.
  • Bleeding after insertion was 3 months long.
  • Weight gain began immediately and continued until leveling around 25 lbs higher about 7 months in. Was at about 130 pre-Mirena and have hovered around 155 since.
  • Weight has been impossible to shift – regardless of extreme dietary changes and consistent HIIT workouts and cardio.
  • Vertigo symptoms began almost immediately. I am *fingers crossed* hoping that my ‘Meniere’s disease’ resolves or improves as a result of removal.
  • Some Meniere’s symptom are  – tinnitus, or ringing in the ears – constant pressure in the ear – hearing loss – and loss of balance or equilibrium.
  • Moodiness began early, but has become increasingly extreme . Worst around PMS time. Loved ones relate it to ‘flipping a switch’. I’m okay, until I’m not. Then I’m impossible and inconsolable.
  • Anxiety has been VERY extreme. Relationship-sabotaging, with both family and friends.
  • Consistent but not constant discomfort randomly, but especially during ‘ahem’ relations.
  • Removed and almost immediate improvement in mood and outlook within 12-24 hours.
  • Began Chastetree Berry immediately after removal. This is something I keep on hand – it helps your body’s natural progesterone production. *fingers crossed* I’m hoping this helps to stave off the dreaded ‘Mirena Crash’. I’m also hoping that since my symptoms were so bad with it that removal is what is needed to stabilize everything!

** I am NOT telling anyone to go buy Chastetree Berry supplements and take them. They do work for me – but please get professional advice before taking anything new!**

I’ll continue to update this post as I see how this all plays out. If I haven’t updated and you’re looking for it – call me out, please!

Update 2/8/17

Sooooo – It’s been a while since the removal and here are the relevant things that have or have not changed.

  • Thankfully I did not really experience the ‘crash’ that so many people have. I was a little off for a bit – foggy headed and such – but nothing extreme. That has dissipated.
  • Crazy is totally gone. I get the mild stuff I used to always get a few days before my period (which I felt were extreme before I experienced Mirena bonkers), but there is none of the unbearable anxiety and weeping and despair.
  • Period immediately went back to what I’ve been used to my whole adult life.
  • Libido is much better than it ever was with Mirena and no pain during relations 🙂 .
  • Weight did not ‘fall off’ but I am able to work to lose weight, as opposed to breaking my back to no effect. I am still working through this 20 lbs but it IS moving.
  • Meniere’s symptoms improved, but not gone. (I wish I could say they were!) Fullness in ear is gone. Hearing loss has not improved. No ‘episodes’ since removal. I do still experience ransom tinnitus. I have maintained a low-sodium diet.
  • Mainly I just feel like ME – I have more patience with my kids and don’t constantly feel like I’m barely holding my life together. My circumstances have not dramatically changed – just my outlook!

If there’s anything in particular you’d like an update on – please buzz me!

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Honest vs. Intentional

I’d like to talk for a minute about being honest vs. being intentional.

I don’t know about you, but through my life I’ve had several ‘mottos’.
“You ALWAYS have a choice – you may not like your choices, but you always have one.”
“Personal responsibility” I think that one speaks for itself.
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to” (this extends to questions you just aren’t *sure* you want the answers to.)

These have all been different themes since I was about 18. I felt strongly, even then, that once you’re an ‘adult’ you have to stop using “My mom did _______” or “The kids at school were ______” as a reason for not achieving what you wanted to.

Can the effects of traumatic circumstances be legitimate? Oh boy, you bet. But should you let them hold you back? I don’t personally think so. I think we should, as people, take responsibility (there’s that word again) for our future and do whatever work we need to in order to try tomove past these things. Easier said than done – yes I know.

My most recent motto is “Be honest, but be intentional.”

It’s hitting me in the face hard right now as we work our way through this divorce, which will finalize next week.

The ex (I’ve finally stopped calling him “not-yet-ex”) has a new ‘love’ – another one. He’s on his 3rd since we split up 1.5 years ago. This doesn’t really put a wrinkle in anything for me, but the kids are a whole other story.

This is where the rubber meets the road for me on being honest vs. being intentional.

If I’m HONEST with you guys – I have a ‘friend’. I have someone I’ve spent some time with. After a bit my kids have met his kid. We all have a great time together doing things we all enjoy – rock climbing or biking. And, if I’m HONEST, as much as I really do like and care for this person, when we’ve done things with the kiddos, there’s great INTENTION to the way that we do it.

We have a basic set of rules at this time. It’s something we both agree on.

Look – my kids have been through the ringer already this past year and a half. Their parents are getting divorced. Mom has moved out. It’s been emotional and messy.

The last thing they need is for me to add one more layer of stress.  So – when we’re together now, it’s all about the kids. HONESTLY, we hardly speak. We ll have fun – we all laugh and act silly. His kid and I hang out and have fun – my kids sometimes sit near him and snuggle up or hold his hand.

But they initiate it, and, for me, that’s the key.

Might this all be “more” down the road? Absolutely.

But we’re very intentional. I want all of these kids to feel like they were part of things and this all developed in a way that made it easy for them. This requires enormous amounts of patience, forethought and very calm, in spite of how emotionally-charged it can be, conversation.

My ex said “Well I’m being honest.”

And he’s not wrong. He is being honest.

I think I am too. “We’re good friends and I like him a lot. I think he’s fun. What do you guys think of him? of his son?” This is how this goes for me. All of these things are true.

I feel good about my response – just as the ex does about his.

I feel like my kids are getting to express their feelings and their opinions. It’s because we do these things, that they pow-wow’ed on my bed last night to chat about how they were sad about the divorce next week (because they know. I don’t believe in hiding that.) and how they didn’t really want a lot more change right now. They wish their dad wouldn’t get married right now. They already don’t feel like they get as much attention from him as they’d like, they say.

Because my relationship with him matters – and for their sake – I share this stuff with their dad. I try to let him know how they’re feeling. I can’t fix it for him – or dictate how he handles his new relationship- but I can at least pass along the info.

He’s completely comfortable with holding hands and kissing in front of the kids, leaving the them alone while they’re his home for the two of them to have alone time.

I’m not saying that these are things that should never happen – absolutely they should! I think the kids need to see a healthy relationship. Physically and emotionally as is appropriate.

But I also feel strongly that my particular kids deserve for me to be intentional and calm at the moment. Not caught up in another person. But present – for them and their needs and wants.

I think this whole situation has made me appreciate being intentional more. Patience IS a virtue. And good things DO come to those who wait. In the meantime, we’ll have a lot of fun, and some difficult times too, and enjoy the process – the natural progression – that this all takes.

 

 

 

Playing along…

Found Terrible Minds yesterday due to the linked post. So much humor and brilliance in one space!! Soooo – I decided to play along with Chuck’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

With a MAJOR caveat. I’ve never been a fiction writer. Ever. Like pretend I’m in 6th grade (though that might be insulting quite a few 6th graders) and this is for ELA. But it was fun.

His blog is brilliant – please go give it a read.

Here it is – based on The Idiomatic outcome “Practice killed the cat”

 

“For the love of God, stop. Please! Just stop. The neighbors think you’ve lost it, and I’m beginning to agree with them!”

It felt like the 10th time she’d said that today, but he couldn’t. It was compulsive. This need to rehearse the fouettes en tournant over and over again. It made him dizzy, but that didn’t matter now. In fact, it began to feel like reliving an old high.

He’d given up hope of ever being more than an understudy. He’d resolved this, and become happy with his place in the cast and the world. He and Molly had settled in to a quiet schedule around performances and her work. He was content.

Then at 8:14 this morning, the phone rang. The lead was out, severe stomach virus with dehydration. They’d actually gone so far as to admit him to the hospital. He’d recover, but they had to fill – and it was John’s opportunity to live the role, even if only for a day.

Mr. Mistoffelees was his. This was his shining moment and the fouette was the crowning glory of this role. Molly would never understand. Her desk job paid their bills, that much was certain, but the passion, the drive, the all-consuming fire wasn’t something she could relate to – at all.

“John – I know you’ve worked hard. And I’m so happy for you, but this is, frankly, ridiculous. Pictures are falling off the walls. The downstairs neighbors are threatening to call the police.”

He couldn’t even hear her anymore. It’s as though the need to maintain perfect balance and form while completing the rotations in his old, worn shoes on the highly polished hardwood had overridden his ears’ ability to process sound. Demi-pointe, turn, retire, turn, retire, turn. Over and over and over.

John began to feel faint, his vision blurry. He’d been ignoring the roaring in his ear, but he was starting to think that Molly might have a point. He should take a break. If he wore it out in practice, he’d be no good on stage. He had brush-up at 3 anyway.

He stopped with a final, sweaty turn and took a minute to catch his breath. “You know what, Molly – you’re right. Let me clean up, and we’ll go grab a bite and sit in the park for a bit before rehearsal. We should be celebrating. I’ve got this!”

Molly breathed for what felt like the first time since the phone rang. He’d been spinning like a top for the past 2.5 hours, and she really couldn’t take anymore. She loved him, but it drove her crazy when his good sense went out the window like that – it didn’t even have the courtesy to ‘whoosh’ as it went by.

Molly and John spent the remainder of midday walking, holding hands, talking. He was ecstatic, fairly thrumming with the energy of his excitement. She was giddy for him. There was giggling. There was kissing. There was a rose from a street-side flower vendor. There was the perfect intimacy of a rose-gold afternoon.

“Gotta run, babe. You’ll come backstage after, of course?”

“Of course, baby – I love you. Break legs!”

Brush up goes by without a hitch. The director is pleased. The stage manager can’t believe he’s hitting the marks so well. Off for makeup and costume and they’re set.

The show has run for so long, it’s hard to believe there haven’t been a million major mishaps. And maybe there have been. Maybe that’s the magic of theatre. We mostly never know. They cover up the minor injuries and illnesses. They make up for broken set pieces and equipment. They hold more together with gaff tape then we could ever imagine.

But this one couldn’t be covered up, and gaff tape was no use here.

John was shining and brilliant, on spot with every cue. Molly’s face hurt from grinning at his performance for so long.

Until that very last turn. Stage mics can pick up enough that granny in the last row heard the snap. There’s nothing like the sound of bone cracking, really.

Molly saw him go down. She knew it was bad. No one’s ankle should ever be at that angle. She’s a problem-solver though, already poised with what hospital to go to, which orthopedic surgeon was best. She was so caught up that it took her a moment to realize that something else was wrong.

“Why isn’t he moving? He should be yelling in pain,” she thought.

And the curtain dropped. The audience mumbled in concern, and time stopped.

Backstage, after the initial crowding around of cast members and quick drop of the curtain, they all began to back away. Slowly. Hands over mouths, tears begin to fall as they turn to one another for solace.

Molly rushed to the stage door, and was immediately let in. Continually bringing in treats for the techies has it’s advantages in a situation like this – they remember your face.

She ran, full-bore, to the stage and saw everyone standing stock-still – they either couldn’t look away or couldn’t bear to look at all.

She froze. And in that moment, she knew. He wasn’t moving. And he wouldn’t again.

The cast parted to let her through, and she dropped to her knees at his side. No wailing for Molly. Silent tears blurred her vision. There was no lifeforce there, no heartbeat. Just her John utterly still on the stage in this costume he’d waited so long to wear.

There was busyness then. The emergency crew left with him. Announcements and apologies that the show was over for the evening. It all went dark. Molly still can’t remember how she got home that night. Whether she slept or didn’t for the following three days. There were funeral arrangements, and family members rushing into town.

But she woke up from the fog when the call came from the coroner’s office.

“Were you aware of any heart problems?” “No.” “Did he have a family history of heart disease?” “No.” “Any reason you can think of that he would have had a heart attack? Excessive strain as of late in any way?”

“Yes. Yes there was.”

2.5 hours straight. Spinning like a top. Practicing for that role, for that one shining moment, until he felt sick. He’d said he was tired. But that was all. Some say practice makes perfect. But this wasn’t perfection – it was like the worst joke God ever played.

Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Practice did.