I have been silent on this blog for a little over a month now, and I feel it is time to correct that. At first I took a small break because I had a medical issue I was dealing with. Then Thanksgiving came, and John was here for a while, and then the other holiday season started and I just got out of the habit of writing here every day. And it's not like I didn't have anything to say; I just didn't make the time to share it.
My medical issue is something that is relevant to this blog and to people who read it, so I'll take a moment to share what was going on with me. In the second week of November, I was having a period that had already been going on about two weeks. I didn't think much of it, as I had bad periods when I was younger. But then I started clotting heavily, and something just felt wrong.
As I've written about before, my brother Jon is recovering from an aneurysm. I took this quarter off school to be there for him, which left me with no insurance as my insurance is only active when I am enrolled. I don't qualify for public insurance (and I'm self employed as a writer, which has no benefits), but I didn't think it was a big deal. It was only for a few months, and I am pretty healthy. But as luck would have it, this issue came up when I was without insurance, and I found myself scrambling to find someone to help me.
I called Planned Parenthood first. After many phone calls, including one to the regional office in Cincinnati, I found out that all the Planned Parenthoods in my area have lost Title X funding, meaning that they can no longer have a sliding fee scale. The only one that still has Title X funding in this part of Ohio is in Columbus, which is a full hour from my house. And because they are the only women's clinic that's able to help low-income women in roughly a 150 mile radius, they get a LOT of patients; so much so that they have a limited amount of appointments they can take daily and those are doled out in a lottery system. You have to start calling this number at 8am and hope you can get in. For someone having an emergency, that's not at all viable, but the clinic is swamped.
I was going to go to the emergency room, figuring it was better than nothing, when my mother offered to pay if I went to Planned Parenthood. She wanted to make sure I got good, specialized care from a facility that would actually be able to follow up. I am very lucky to have my parents, and I am sincerely thankful for their help when times are rough. Not all women are lucky, but more than that, a low-income woman should NOT have to rely on family assistance for medical care. The gutting of Title X is shameful. How can "the greatest country in the world" let so many women fall through the cracks?
Aside from all that drama, I found out that my clotting was caused by the use of tampons. The tampons caused abrasions in my vagina that were bleeding, and the blood was getting trapped and clotting. The nurse practioner said it looked like I had had a longer than usual period, which meant more tampon use, and that the current blood was caused from the damage. I could have kicked myself because I simply know better. I'm well aware of the dangers of tampons, but was using them anyway because I was being lazy and sometimes an insertable is more convenient. Sure enough, after three days of not using tampons there was no more clotting or bleeding. My vagina was sore for a while and felt very irritated but I am ok now. The period I had after it was completely normal. And tampon free.
I will have insurance again in January, and I plan to continue using Planned Parenthood for my reproductive health needs. I got excellent care while I was there, and was treated with dignity and respect. I am very thankful they exist and I will keep at my Congressional representatives and elected officials until they pull their heads out of their asses about Title X. I encourage all of you to do the same.