Tuesday, September 28, 2010

four years minus nine months, cont

{I'm still writing about the last four years. I finished the post I started to write in June twice and I deleted it twice. I started again and decided that if I ever was going to post it I should do it now, in pieces, as they materialise. I plan to finish my story before the babies are born. That gives me anywhere between a day and 5 weeks. It's anyone's guess.}

It's 1997 and I'm 12. I'm standing at a traffic crossing in Kings Cross, London, dressed head to toe in red velvet. It's the Easter holiday and I am visiting the capital with my grandparents. We are standing waiting for the light to change when for the first time I feel it, an evil clench of pain in my stomach, burning claws digging into my flesh. For one insane moment think I have been been shot (it's London, anything's possible). I gasp and double over but the traffic is too loud and the pedestrians too intent on getting where they're going for anyone to notice. Within seconds the pain is gone, the lights have changed and I am on the other side of the road.

At 14 I start passing out with regularity, every fourth Monday finding myself in the middle of the night with my cheek pressed to the bathroom floor and every fourth Tuesday missing the morning's classes as I am allowed an extra hour in bed. Over the next few years the imprints of many bathrooms, some kitchens and a few hallways gather on my face. My Gran's downstairs bathroom is the best, wool shag pile being more forgiving than cold linoleum.

In 2000, aged 15, I visit the doctor for the first time. She suggests a hot water bottle and tells me that my pain is normal. My mum starts buying the strongest painkiller she can in boxes of 100 whenever she visits the mainland, it not being available on the island without a visit to the doctor. Who thinks a hot water bottle is what's needed.

It's 2004 and I'm 19. The pains are worse and I have taken to passing out more frequently. I now live with a boy who has wooden floorboards that are pleasantly springy. He's a worrier though and once again I head off to the doctor. It is around this time that I begin to suspect that I have endometriosis and ask to be referred to a gynaecologist. The doctor, a stand in whom I've never met before frowns at me looking puzzled and prescribes a medication for heavy periods. I don't have heavy periods, I have cripplingly painful periods. As I leave the surgery I crumple up the prescription and throw it in the bin, wiping tears of frustration from my face with the rough sleeve of my coat.

In 2000 I turn 20. I now spend two days every month completely immobile, curled into a ball. When I stand up I fall down. I need help getting to the bathroom where the pain does nothing to reassure me that I'm not having my womb ripped out. When those two days are over I spend the next three in an exhausted stupor, the previous days having rendered me completely and utterly useless. Pissed off and having had enough I decide to bypass my GP completely and make an appointment with an independent women's clinic. They take one look at me and refer me to a gynaecologist.

Six months later I'm sitting in the waiting room of the hospital, watching the heavily pregnant women in pyjamas and winter coats huddle under the doorway trying to keep warm while they smoke between contractions. I meet said gynaecologist who laughs at me and assures me that I don't have endometriosis but she will willingly perform an operation just to prove that I don't have endometriosis. Two months later I'm back in the waiting room, three small wounds in my stomach and desperately wanting to go home. I've just come round from the operation and have been diagnosed with endometriosis, stage III (aka: severe). My brain still addled with morphine and general anaesthetic, I am told that if I ever want to have children I should probably do it now.

* image by Pat Pat