Birth Control the Silent Killer
Birth Control the Silent Killer
Every month the pain hits me, but this is much more than physical pain. This is deep emotional pain. The kind of pain you might feel when you remember a lost loved one. Yes, I’m talking about the pain of my menstrual cycle. For me it’s severe pain. Pain from cramping. But it also carries emotional baggage.
Menstrual cycles were given to women for one intention…pregnancy. But for those of us who couldn’t bear children, it’s an ugly reminder of what could have been. Every month we deal with the physical pain and the emotional anguish. And it hurts.
For me, there’s more. At a young age, I suffered with debilitating cramps. Ones that had me down for at least the first day. During my early years, I dealt with the pain by taking pain meds and using a heating pad. But the pain was still too intense, so I decided to go on birth control pills (as the doctor suggested). This provided some relief but those painful cycles were still present every month, just like a reoccurring bad dream.
So, after an ectopic pregnancy and a couple of years of infertility treatments, the doctor suggested I take my birth control pills non-stop. This meant skipping the inactive pills and immediately starting a new month of pills. This was the answer to my prayers!! I didn’t have periods or pain! I went month to month without the physical pain and without the monthly reminder of the emotional pain. This regimen continued for about 10 years.
Then the unthinkable happened. In October 2016, I had outpatient surgery on my ankle. It was supposed to be a simple surgery that cured my issue quickly. I would be up and back to normal within 3-6 months, according to the surgeon. Well, that was far from the truth. Still today (1 1/2 years later), I experience pain, both physical and emotional.
October 6, 2016 was the day of my outpatient surgery. The surgeon said the surgery went well and the healing process seemed to be going well. I took prescription pain pills the first few days and I was walking much sooner than I expected. Then something changed. It was the end of October when my left leg started hurting and swelling. The pain just kept getting worse and I was concerned! This couldn’t be normal and definitely not leg spams as the doctor suggested.
It was after an initial trip to the doctor that I was sent for an ultrasound of my leg. Hours later, I found myself hospitalized with six blood clots. Four in my left calf and two in my lungs. I couldn’t believe what was happening. How did a simple ankle surgery put me in the hospital with six blood clots?
Well, part of the reason was the birth control pills. You know the ones that allowed me years of undue pain. While in the hospital, I was immediately taken off them. They (and any other replacement hormones) would never enter my body again. The risk is too dangerous after having clots. It was difficult to believe that something that helped me so much could cause such a deadly situation, but it was true.
After four days in the hospital with an IV drip of Heparin, I was released to go home on an oral blood thinner called Xarelto. Ten months later the clots finally dissolved enough that I could go off the thinner.
So the pain is over, right? This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Once again, just like my early years, I am again reminded of the pain of my menstrual cycle, the pain of never giving birth to a child, and the added leg and ankle pain from the “simple” surgery.
You maybe asking why I’ll telling you my story. Yes, it’s that time of the month and I’m emotional and experiencing all the pain listed above. But, I also want to warn women of two things. Birth control pills CAN put you at greater risk for blood clots, especially if you have other factors such as a blood clotting disorder or you are a smoker. I also want to remind you that you know your body better than anyone! Please listen to your body! If I hadn’t done so, I may not be here today.
Lastly, know that you are not alone if you are facing infertility. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are anything like me, you are asking why me?? I know the answer isn’t easy, but please believe God has a plan for your life. It may take a lifetime to discover His plan, but hopefully, in the end, it will be worth it. I’m waiting for the day that His plan becomes clear in my life and I hope you will find your answer too.
For more information about preventing blood clots, please refer to my other blog post about preventing deep vein thrombosis.
So sorry you have to go through this 🙁 Glad they caught the clots and risk in time!
Oh goodness, Rachel, I can’t imagine all the different feelings you’ve dealt with. I’m so sorry that you’ve had this struggle and hope that you do find peace with it. Infertility is so much more common than many realize. So thankful that they were able to find the clots and manage them!