I recently read an article about a young woman who died from a blood clot after taking the commonly known birth control pill, Yaz. After her untimely death, her grieving mom wrote letters and posted them on a website to keep her memory alive and inform the public on the dangers of a pill prescribed to millions of women daily.
I stumbled upon this heartbreaking website after a horrific experience I recently endured after taking a teeny tiny pill for less than three weeks, all in the name of responsibility. I’d had negative experiences in the past with other birth control pills and an IUD. Mostly they affected my mood and turned me into a hormonal she-devil with humongous boobs that were deemed untouchable due to extreme tenderness. Yup, I was convinced the theory behind birth control was either A. to turn you into such a miserable bitch that nobody wanted to be around you; never mind get naked with you, or B. make you so damn sore and bloated that you don’t want to get naked anyway. I stopped taking birth control for almost twenty years. Between pull and pray and condoms I was able to play it safe.
After recently entering a new relationship and deciding the pull and pray method may not be the safest option, I went to my primary care physician and explained my predicament. She felt birth control pills were my best option regardless of the side effects. Side effects are unpredictable and it was worth the risk of avoiding pregnancy at an age I could technically be a grandma.
I was ultimately placed on a combination drug with female hormones to prevent ovulation. It has 2 hormones: levonorgestrel (a progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen). I took the pill as directed on the first Sunday of my period. I bled for eighteen days straight. The doctor said it was normal and I shouldn’t have much of a period at all on the second pack. I envisioned a wonderful world without periods and decided to muster through the annoying two and a half week-long period just so I would make it to the glorious pill pack number two.
But I never made it.
The following day I noticed a heavier flow. But I chose to ignore it and stocked up on some super-duper absorbent tampons. That night I noticed my back began to ache, just like the ache you get right before child-birth. I tossed and turned all night trying to get comfortable. The next morning I grabbed a couple of tampons and went to work. It wasn’t long before I noticed the cramping was much worse than usual. At one point as I stood up from my desk I felt a strange dropping sensation in my belly, followed a gush. I rushed to the bathroom and sure enough I had not only bled through the tampon, but my undies and tights too. Did I mention I was wearing a skirt that day? Thank God it was black!
I had a back up tampon in my purse. But I also had to create a man-made pad out of cheap cardboard-y paper towels stocked in the work restroom. Can I just say un-fucking-comfortable!? It’s bad enough I was leaking like a sieve, but to top it off I had to walk around with sandpaper rubbing between my legs. This makeshift pad lasted for about an hour until I stood up again, only to feel a second drop and gush. Back to the bathroom I went for a repeat performance. I had no choice but to waltz into my male supervisors office in tears and tell him I had to go home, NOW. Can you imagine the horror of having to say to your boss “I’m sorry, but I have to leave work early because I am experiencing some significant blood loss from my hooha area and it’s about to get messy.”
I drove home sitting on my jacket to protect my brand spanking new leased vehicle seat. I bolted to the toilet. It sounded like I peeing after drinking several beers on an empty stomach, only it wasn’t urine. I called my doctor’s office and the woman took a message. I must have sat on that toilet for an hour not daring to move, waiting for a return phone call. When I finally got the nerve to remove myself from the porcelain throne and lie on my bed, the doctor called. She asked if there was any possibility I was pregnant. I told her I didn’t think so “jesus, I had better not be considering I am on freakin birth control!” She said it was most likely a side effect of the pill but if I continued to bleed I should to go into Express Care in the morning. If for some reason it was a miscarriage they could tell by doing a pregnancy test.
About three hours went by and I seemed okay. My boyfriend had come over and we even met a couple out for a drink. I threw on some baggy pants, accessorized with a big, bulky pad and routinely did bathroom checks through the night. Suddenly it happened again. *Drop*gush* I looked at my guy wide-eyed and said “I gotta get out of here!” But the problem was I didn’t dare to stand. What if it went through my pants? He suggested the bathroom but I worried the aftermath might look like a scene from CSI. I had to get home. I finally stood up and tied my coat around my waist. He told the other couple I wasn’t feeling well and off we went. I spent the majority of the night on the toilet giving birth to golf ball sized clots. After about three hours I began to feel exhausted and had to lie down. But I knew if I got up it was gonna be messy. So I took a towel and wrapped it around myself like a mawashi (sumo wrestler diaper). I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. About and hour went by before I felt it again. I tried to hold the towel tightly to my undercarriage as I did the fox trot to the bathroom. I dropped the towel and sat as soon as possible but I wasn’t quick enough. When I looked down I saw and alien form at my feet. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I didn’t want to touch it. I had no idea how I was going to transfer it from the floor into the toilet. So I cried. And cried. After the cry session I wadded up toilet paper and scooped it up, trying not to gag as I looked away. This scenario played throughout the night. At one point I was so delusional that I missed the toilet again, screeched, and woke my boyfriend up. Instead of being humiliated and horrified I just gazed wearily at him, pointed at the floor and said “what the fuck is that and why does it keep coming out of me? ” Up until now I had protected him from the disturbing scene. He looked down in disbelief, and stared for a bit before replying “I don’t know honey, but it looks like you dropped a jar of grape jelly on the floor.” And he was right.
I sat on the shower floor with my knees up as foreign objects slid out of me and wrestled their way down the drain. I had no energy to react. I went through four large towels that night. They were un-salvageable so I just threw them into a trash bag. My boyfriend woke up intermittently and tried to reassure me everything would be alright. I went through the birthing ritual about eight times that night, resting my eyes in between but never actually falling asleep.
The next morning we went into Emergency Care. I had to wear another makeshift diaper and hide it under sweat pants and a trench coat. They asked me why I didn’t go to the ER considering I had hemorrhaged all night. The PA was convinced I had a miscarriage. They wanted a urine sample but every time I tried, I birthed another clot. When I was finally able to muster up a stream of urine they informed me it wasn’t a miscarriage. It was a side effect of the birth control. I had a hard time believing that much blood loss could be a mere side effect of a tiny pill. To stop the bleeding they had to prescribe another birth control pill for three consecutive days. They gave me some mega super pads, suggested iron pills, gave me a list of iron rich foods to eat, and sent me on my merrily way to pick up a new prescription of birth control and a package of adult diapers. They prescribed three packs of pills. Did they really expect me to continue on these fierce little blood suckers? I took them for three days and called the doctor again to tell her I was done. I wanted off all pills. Her response was “ok, but you can expect some more bleeding as you’re going off the pill.” Seriously? I had already been bleeding for a month straight and had finally graduated from an adult diaper to a ginormous pee pad that was longer than my largest pair of underwear.
A couple of days after the Night of the Living American Horror Story, my boyfriend took me to brunch (yes, he stuck around through it all). I tried to lighten the unpleasant scenario up with diaper jokes and showing off my newly developed gunt (the diaper had given me that baby-got-back look with an equally large bulge in the front). As our omelets were served with a side of toast, the waiter asked if we needed anything else. I asked him if he had any grape jelly. My boyfriend just looked and me with a smirk, shook his head, and pushed his toast aside.