purples, barf, and washing machines

newly purpled!
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I repurpled my hair yesterday. It’s leftover manic panic purple mixed with Punky Color plum, violet, midnight blue, and something else I don’t remember.

Speaking of all different colors! I woke up at 4am and was barfing my brains out for hours. I had a hallucinatory moment, a wild, trembling, gut-shaking, trippy epiphany as I barfed into the 6th towel and stripped off my 2nd pair of sweat-soaked and vomity pajamas: thank god i have a washing machine.

I thought of all the times I have been sick and how non-trivial it was to deal with it. Now I have this amazing luxury… a washing machine and dryer in my house. Whoa!!! Do you people have any idea how grateful I am for it?

I flashed back to the time I had a laser colposcopy and was hemorrhaging for a couple of weeks. I had just moved out from my cosy co-op situation and was for real on my own for the first time in my life. I bled into every pad, towel, pair of underwear, pair of shorts…. I was really weak, and hadn’t unpacked my stuff yet, and didn’t have any furniture other than my futon, which was on the floor in a rising wave of papers, books, moldy bits of toast on plates, cups, and bloody clothes. I kept calling the doctor’s office, which went like this:

9:05 am
Me: I’m still bleeding, is there anything you can do? What should I do?
Phone-answerer at crazy GYN’s office: We’ll have our advice nurse call you back.

Advice nurse: Are you bleeding more than two tablespoonfuls per hour?
Me: I have no idea.
Advice nurse: Are you soaking a maxipad more than once an hour?
Me: I don’t have any maxipads left.
Advice nurse: If it’s more than 2 tablespoonfuls per hour then go to the emergency room.
Me: But… I’m not sure… I don’t know how I’ll get there… I’m missing so much work…
Advice nurse: I’ll ask the doctor to call you.

Doctor: Stay in bed and it will be fine. Or, you can go to the ER.
Me: I’m bleeding on everything.
Doctor: Then go to the ER.
Me: What will they do? Will it help? I’m actually in a lot of pain, too.
Doctor: You should not be in pain. You have no nerves in your cervix. Go to the ER, or not. It is normal to bleed after the procedure. Get plenty of rest and fluids.
Me: I’m really confused about what to do. I’m sorry. I’m just bleeding everywhere, and it’s scary. *cries*
Doctor: Have you thought about getting psychiatric help?

(Repeat every day for 2 weeks. I won’t horrify you with what happened at the eventual ER visit but it involved the word “cauterization” and a lot of terrible screaming.)

I was rescued by the women I was dating at the time, who found a good gynecologist, (who stopped the bleeding, and no screaming this time), drove me to the appointment, did some of my laundry, and brought me groceries.

Man it was incredibly awful. If you do not want to end up like me on the floor with blood everywhere, I recommend that you not be poor, and that you obtain a washing machine by having your mom buy it for you like mine did. Thanks mom! I also could recommend a general smashing of the patriarchy, free and decent health care, the abolishment of the class system and nation-state, not having a cervix at all, mandatory HPV vaccination, and decent guaranteed housing for everyone (with abundant washing machines). A copy of “Our Bodies Ourselves” given out when one is about 8 years old would also be quite helpful.

That’s what was going through my head last night as I barfed as quietly as possible so as not to wake up and horrify my sleeping child.

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