I had cramps. Bad ones.
These weren’t “oh, let me pop a Midol and take a nap” cramps. These were excruciating, day-ending, schedule altering cramps.
And the older I got, the more intense the pain became. My cramps felt like a fist wrapped around my stomach, squeezing every five seconds, with each squeeze feeling tighter than the one before. By age 13, I was reduced to lying in a ball on the floor until the squeezing stopped; it would usually last an entire school day.
By the time I hit high school, though, the pain was out of control. In addition to cramping, I now had to fight nausea and vomiting, too. My parents advised me to toughen up and stop being so “dramatic,” about my pain. My doctor said discomfort during my period was “normal” and advised me to take a couple of Ibuprofen. The thing was though, nothing about this sort of pain was normal, so instead of taking two or three, I ended up taking six or eight, just to feel normal.
But the feeling wouldn’t last. Once I graduated college, I was taking sixteen ibuprofen a day to fight all of my symptoms which now included all day vomiting, nausea, cramping, and bloating. I found myself having to work my life around my period. Any time I suspected it was coming, I would just plan to stay in bed all day and suffer. But now, instead of missing a couple of hours, of school, I was missing a couple of days of work (AND money), I was in more pain than ever, and I definitely didn’t feel well enough to interact with my family or friends.
It was as though I was being held hostage by my own body.
I was fresh out of college, I had just been kicked off of my parent’s insurance and my first real job came with very little money and even fewer benefits. I was in desperate need of help, with no clue of where to find it. BUT then, I found Planned Parenthood.
The women at Planned Parenthood sat with me and patiently listened as I explained the pain I’d been in since I was a young girl. They told me there was nothing “normal” about what I was experiencing, but that they thought they could help. They gave me a complete examination. They told me I was “just fine,” but, that birth control pills would help with the severe pain and vomiting. They gave me a free, six month supply of birth control pills (something I would have NEVER been able to afford on my own).
They also gave me information on other local, sliding scale clinics I could visit.
That was nearly eight years ago; I haven’t vomited since. I can go to work any day I’d like to go and I can see my family & friends whenever time permits. I have my life back and it’s all because of Planned Parenthood. So the other day, I was stunned when a congressman tried to vilify the group by asking Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s president, if Planned Parenthood ended lives.
“Ends lives?” I thought, “Planned Parenthood saves lives.” They saved my life and every single day, they come to the rescue of millions of women who are in need of quality, affordable medical care. And I don’t get how a man who has never had a cramp or a contraction, thinks he can even begin to understand Planned Parenthood’s value. Women must be very careful about just who let speak for us, but, that’s an entirely different blog…
Anyhew, I stand with Planned Parenthood and I encourage more women who know the value of the agency, firsthand, to do the same.
Sylvia D. Snowden is a fabulous Chicago-based journalist, read more about her on www.TrulySylvia.com. Follow Sylvia on Twitter @TrulySylvia
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