Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This morning, my period started full force (for those who don't know, my life before transplant, menstruation was my subject matter for 3 or so years). I'm having cramps. CRAMPS. Day one, ever since working on FLOW: heavy flow and pain that doubles me over. A hot water bottle helps. Curling tight in a ball on one side. And copious amounts of Advil. 

Only I can't take Advil anymore. It's not good for kidneys (or kidney in my case). I'll mention here that Tylenol can cause liver damage. Two seemingly innocuous over-the-counter meds I'd always taken for granted turn out to be not so inconsequential. 

While I've always eschewed medication in general - taking them only as a last resort - I used to pop Advil like candy. For cramps. For headaches. For wrist and shoulder and back pain, sometimes taking 3 and 4 at a time instead of the recommended one. Never thought twice about what I was putting into my body. 

Now, I have to think. 

I haven't taken anything since 2 weeks or so after surgery when Tylenol every 4 hours was my savior. I'd give up on Demerol early that post-surgery morning, 4 days after being sliced open, and relied on the much mellowed med for relief. At the beginning I could barely handle hour 3 and would count down until my next dose. But by that weekend I'd stretch it out if I could. 5 hours between doses. Then six. Another week or so later I stopped completely. 

That doesn't mean I haven't been in pain. My right shoulder, an overuse injury I've had for almost 2 years, is back in full force. 

I'm icing. 

Last week I had a menstrual migraine, the day before the hurricane hit. 

I grit my teeth and dealt. 

Today cramps are so intense it's hard to lie flat. Even my big scar is aching with the pressure. 

It will pass. 

I'm wondering of all the extra anxiety I've been feeling lately could be, in part, because I'm not numbing myself anymore - I'm going into the pain with no weapons against it but time and acceptance. 

And that's not easy. 

Popping pills was. 

But now, more than ever, I have to protect my body and keep it safe. 
That hot water bottle I didn't buy  in town yesterday is now at the top of today's to-do list.