The MAD Goddess writes out loud with candor and humor about the changing landscape of life for women with retired husbands,
adult children, and grandchildren. It's not always a pretty story,
but it's usually pretty funny.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This tears it! I thought it was over. I thought the last box of tampons I bought were the last box of tampons I ever bought. They’ve sat idle for months now and I was envisioning them in a sort of shrine – an homage to the end of bloating, cramping, bleeding – aching head, aching back and aching boobs.

I should warn you, if you get squeamish at the mention of womanly body parts and female functions, you might want to stop reading now.

About a month ago, I had the worst cramps I could ever remember. I gave birth with less pain (and that was completely drug free - nazi doctors!). Killer cramps but no visit from my Auntie Flo? Odd, but it isn’t like I wanted to see her again.

A few days later I noticed that my body-temp surges had completely disappeared. This was a huge disappointment in itself. I live in the northern most realms of Wisconsin. It’s cold here. It was 35 below in late January - February wasn't much of an improvement. Those flushes of intense body warmth were the only thing getting me through the winter.

Cramps & hot flashes gone? Could all of this be pointing to a spike in estrogen levels? Sure enough, I woke up to the gift of bloody sheets this morning. I warned you to stop reading if you were squeamish.

Toddling to the bathroom with legs pressed together, I remember how nice it was to be done with all this. Toss the panties in a bucket, add cold water and pour in some peroxide (it lifts the stains like nobody’s business if you get to it right away). Grumble through a shower, dig the tampons out from the back of the bottom shelf in the linen closet and get ready for the struggle.

Struggle? It would seem that my body is staging an all out defense against these bullets of compressed cotton on a string. To be blunt (pun intended) I can barely force the little buggers in. Once there, they won’t stay put. The first time I have to pee, the tampon practically drops into the toilet.

On my last visit to the doc for his annual invasion of my private regions I was still having pretty regular periods – pretty and regular being relative terms here. Ugly surprise attacks would be a better description. You never know when they’ll show up and the hemorrhaging flow gets ugly.

I asked if things had changed down there. Doc was confused. I told him the problem with the tampons. He suggested I try a lubricant if I was having trouble inserting the tampon.

If dryness is the problem, why the heck are they sliding back out on their own? I asked.

If an obstructed cervical opening were the problem (as I’d suggested), how would they drop back out once I had them in place? He countered.

My body is clearly rejecting these nasty foreign objects. If all of that isn’t bad enough, they’re not doing their job. I think it’s called by-pass leakage. I know it means I have to wear a pad too.

After days of this, I start to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome – you remember back in the 80’s when they told us that wearing tampons overnight (or for more than a few hours at a time) could kill us?

So, I ditch the tampon and pray for the best luck with my latest brand of pads. Forget it. If it shifts forward, I bleed backward. If it shifts if backward, I bleed forward. If I try the extra long, I bleed over the sides. The winged-wonder pads twist and stick in places they shouldn’t (can you say ouch - dammit!?).

I’ve stained so many pairs of underwear in the last two years I’ve lost count. Sometimes you can’t get to them right away (like if you have to work for a living – gross, but true). Instead of throwing them out when I get home, I throw them in the washer with lots of bleach. I stash them in the back of the drawer to wear the next time Auntie Flo comes to visit (again, gross but true). I’m through ruining $5 a pair panties.

My mother was done with all of this fuss by my age. My sister was done. My cousin was done. What’s up with this? I should be done. I want to be done.

Doctors can suck your fat out, cut 6/8ths of your stomach size out, give you drugs (with a list of frightening side effects longer than both arms) to regulate your mood, help you sleep or clear your sinuses. They can prescribe Viagra for your husband even though it may cause blindness (hey, listen to the commercial “sudden change or loss of eyesight”) or death (when you shoot him for pointing that thing at you one more time) but the FDA regulates the use of drugs to stop menstrual flow with a slam of it's patriarchal fist.

If men had to go through this ritual every month (or two weeks as it seems near the end), you can bet the minute the family was complete, the factory would somehow be closed.

As for me, I will (impatiently) wait for the next walk-out strike my hormones stage and hope that management finally shuts down production for good.

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