The Diary Of A Kenyan Endo Warrior – My Struggle With Tampons

Dear Diary,

I’m still super excited about the pad dispensers, because I still can’t use tampons. Rather, I still choose not to use tampons. My struggle with tampons begun as a preteen. My mum told me that they were not for young girls, and told me that they could make me sick. Toxic Shock Syndrome was described and I got scared. I envied the girls in school who swore by them. They did not have the pad problems, you know, having to change all the time, no odour ( remember the time Always had THAT scent?). They could swim!! Oh, THEY COULD SWIM! I on the other hand, used to sit on the sidelines watching, enviously.

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Deep within I knew that once I was an older, out of the nest, I would use tampons. When I got an opportunity to try, it went awfully wrong. I could feel it deep within. It was so uncomfortable. The next time my period rocked up when I was least prepared and a tampon was what was available. That has to be the longest night of my life. That was discomfort 101. As if the discomfort was not enough, the flow seeped through. That day, I decided that tampons were not for me.

My biggest question has always been, where do the clots go? Where?? The flow is usually 80% clots, so the tampon definitely is not the most practical tool. Let’s not forget, how inflamed, tender and uncomfortable the pelvic cavity feels at that time. A tampon seems like a tool of the enemy at that time.

A few years ago, I detoxed and felt a newness and relief I had not felt in a long time. As I weaned off different chemicals, I saw a relationship between what I put into my body and how I feel. My reservation with tampons is that I don’t know exactly what I am putting in. My research has shown me, that I need to care about such things. It may seem silly to some, but pain free days are indeed, slices of heaven. They are not to be trivialized. One of the articles I read reinforced my resolve to watch what I put in.

I meet girls who love pads and others who love tampons, periods are personal, and every one has their experience. My advice to both is, do your research well and then choose what is most comfortable for you.

Love always,

Ess

 

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The Diary Of A Kenyan Endo Warrior: When It Rains, It Pours and Sometimes Overflows

Dear Diary,

My periods, while in high school, started off innocently, like the morning dew, I was relieved to finally be a woman. And then someone opened the tap and they poured and overflowed.

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The number of times that I soiled my clothes and sheets are too many to count. It was the usual, so I hated having to sleep out or stay out late on those days. I remember when we set out to climb Mount Kenya, I prayed to God to save me the agony of having my period on the Mountain. Back then I didn’t know about the pill to postpone my period. So I used another method, I avoided all the girls who were currently on their periods. I didn’t want anyone inspiring my periods to come while on the mountain. Poor girls, had to endure periods without showering. But, I think at that altitude your body is a little kinder to you. Well, I hope it is.

Once we got down from the Mountain, and into the hotel, my periods came. My pink trousers, that I loved, were now a hot mess, a bloody mess. The pain I felt was out of this world. I couldn’t stay to celebrate our victory, i just went to curl in bed. My uterus was punishing me for taking it to high altitude. It was a long night. The flow seeped through my protective sheet, and I was stressed.just-dying

Somebody needs to make pads for Endo warriors. A super long, super absorbent and super comfortable pad. I tried wearing two pads, before, but yo! that was extremely uncomfortable, I got a skin irritation from the pad materials, so I was left torn between heavy flow and irritation. They make for a horrible combination.

I tried adding cotton but that too was uncomfortable. Tampons are a story for another day.

Why are there only 8 pads in one packet? How many is one supposed to use in a day so that they are enough for the cycle? For me to be comfortable each month, I need between  two and three packets. Now, I’m able to buy as many as I’d like, but back then, being a teenager whose flow was out of this world, that was difficult.

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Why don’t suppliers keep their supply regular? It is soo frustrating when you finally find a pad that works for you and then it’s out of stock, or better still, a bootleg version floods the market and now you have to choose another brand and pray your way through your periods. Because your poor bum is so sore.

I’d love to see a pad company, tailor make a pad for girls with Endo. A brand that understands that when it rains, it pours and definitely overflows. One that understands that clots are real and we’d like a cotton top sheet, one that doesn’t irritate our bums. All for the same price, because Endo is already costly enough.

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Love always,

Ess

 

Why I Keep A Period Diary

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Ever since I was a little girl , I always kept a diary. It was my outlet and a way of keeping a record of the little details of my life.  Unfortunately, I was not very detailed about my periods and their patterns, so when I needed this information, it was nowhere to be found. I answered the doctor with a lot of ‘Umm, I can’t quite remember’ and blank looks with several breaks in between as I tried to run up and down the corridors of my memory trying to remember key details. I am sure that there are many ‘little’ important details that I left out during these consultations.

After many years of trying (and failing) to recall from memory I finally discovered the Period Diary app and it literally changed my life. I was finally able to document my period journey daily, and a couple of months later I begun to recognize patterns in my cycle.

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I quickly realized that my menstrual cycle is not just about the day(s) that I shed the lining  of my uterus. It is about what I experience through the whole cycle, my emotions, diet , ovulation. It is the vaginal discharge all through, the color and texture of the actual shedding. Keeping a period diary has helped me to be more in control of my body, as I know what it’s triggers are and what to anticipate at different times. I am definitely more prepared for the occasional pain, PMS symptoms and actual periods.

Keeping a diary has helped me to see the cause and effect of different things that I’ve tried. For instance, when I detoxed and started taking an Apple Cider Vinegar elixir every morning the inflammation and pain during my cycle significantly reduced. I also figured out that the monthly headaches were reducing over the months, so I was definitely doing something right.

I recommend keeping a period diary to all women, both young and old, whether you have complications or not. It helps you to understand your body, it’s functions and your emotions.

Mothers with teenage daughters, I urge you to ask your girls to keep a period diary as soon as they start their periods. After every couple of months, sit down and review it with them. Talk about the patterns that you both recognize. Many girls don’t know what a normal period is. They often just take their periods as they are,  persevere, until they are adults and realize that something was wrong all along.

There are several period diary apps that you can choose from on the Play store. This is the one that has worked best for me.

If you opt to keep a physical diary, these are some of the details to record:

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Blessings,

Ess

I Call Her Red

My little toddler found a packet of pads a few days ago. I told her they are called ‘pads’; for some reason she thought they were diapers for her toys.

I had the option of telling her a coloured lie, BUT, I am trying to make our home a truth zone. Also, the fact that I believed pads were mkate/bread, is rather bewildering. When my husband read my first post he called me laughing, wondering how now brown cow I was told they were bread; better yet, how I believed it. Oh the folly of youth. I’m yet to understand it myself.

When I got my period, I wasn’t sure what to refer to it as. Was it a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ or just an ‘it’? I rejected the nickname that was introduced to me, ‘kunyesha’ which means to rain.

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Also, I’ve always wondered why some people call it period and other periods. Does the pluralism indicate severity? Just food for thought.

When I asked my peers, I learned there was a better nickname, ‘Rolling’, you know, like the stone that gathers no moss. And so it stuck, until this rolling felt like tumbling down under. The pain was something else.

I then decided that my period was a she with the prefix ‘Red’. At some point it was so painful, all I could think of calling her was ‘Red Devil’ because the pain was outta this world. Now she is just Red. Red signifies her color, the fact that she stands..er..seeps out and finally the fact, that my vagina is a no go zone while she is in town.

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Other nicknames I have come across are:

  • Shark week
  • Aunty Flo is in town
  • Red Robot
  • TOM {Time of the month} is here

What do you call your period? Does it live up to it’s name?

You can find other interesting nicknames here and here.

‘Big Sis’

My Period Is A Part Of My Life

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After weeks of waiting and wondering how the first monthly sighting would be, my period finally came. They were not what I expected. On one hand I expected to feel different, I felt different in a gross kind of way, not a,’I am now a woman’ kind of way. On the other hand, I knew this was IT. The beginning of the end of my innocence. Remember my introduction to periods conversation? I felt as though a part of me was dying. Seeing blood supported this line of thought. I had been conditioned to believe that, seeing blood meant you should rush to a hospital immediately; yet, now I expected to sit tight and wait for it to pass.

whats a periodMy first period was weird. The theory had not prepared me for the practical. I wasn’t prepared me for the sensation, duration, color, flow or the pain. I had to acquaint myself with adhesive matters, because as women, we all know, that in matters pads, the glue matters. And wings too. You are only bothered by the quality of chicken wings, until you wear a pad without wings and have to walk around with your thighs touching each other on purpose. Then, you appreciate the genius behind pads with wings.

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NOTHING prepared me for the leaks, stubborn stains got a whole new meaning. To wash with hot water or cold water? that was the question of the week. Incase, you are wondering, cold water any day.

Periods are and can be beautiful.

For the longest time, I just never thought of them like that. The truth is, I didn’t quite understand them. I thought I did, but beyond the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’ I was as clueless as they come. I didn’t understand what was really happening in my body, the hormones et al, and how genetics, the food I ate, the chemicals I exposed myself to could play a part in all; after all, it was just the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’. I’ll talk more about this in my next post.

What was your first period like? Did it live up to your expectations, if you had any?

‘Big Sis’

The Big Sister Also Needs A Big Sister

Hello !

My name is Ess and I like to talk about periods. Yup, you read right. I wasn’t always like this but life happened. I’ll explain what life did or didn’t do to me in the next couple of posts but first, let’s reminisce on my first conversation about periods. I was a shy girl, who thought periods were gross, actually disgusting and dirty, and such an inconvenience. To my defense, my first conversation about periods wasn’t all rosy. Unless we choose to dwell on the fact that roses are red [pun intended].

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I was about eight or nine years old, when a cousin and the house help at the time decided to prepare me ‘womanhood’ as they called it. Well, I was told that soon my body was going to change and I would have to change the way that I carried myself. No more playing with boys. Blood was going to become a monthly sighting and it was disgusting. How encouraging right? Then I was shown a pad, and asked if I knew what it was, all I said is that I had seen an ad on t.v. Well, it was now introduced to me as  ‘mkate’/bread. I have no idea why food was brought into this conversation. I was told they were not exactly for display hence the shopkeeper wraps them in a newspaper. That wrapped up my period class and I was released into womanhood, well, whenever it would strike.

I left knowing life was about to get hard and yucky, my periods were enroute and my days of fun were about to end. The realities of life that I was not looking forward to.

Subsequent conversations about periods in my home science class were filled with giggles and awkwardness. The basics were covered but still, I was left somewhat unprepared for  what was yet to come.

I’ve had my periods for well over ten years, and they have changed over the years; I’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly sides of periods. As I have walked this confusing journey, trying to understand my periods and the things and drama that they’ve come with, there are so many times that I have asked God why I didn’t have a big sister, to shed some light on what to expect and what to do when the unexpected happens. I am a big sister, but I too felt the need to have a big sister.

Many years later, through my journey of pain and confusion, I have found my feet ordered to this very place, to be the light that I did not have. Be the ‘big sister’ for those willing to listen and talk about periods openly.

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The truth is, I don’t have all the answers but I sure am a whole lot wiser than I was then. I have had to learn in my adulthood what a normal period looks like to enable me to identify an abnormal period.

That’s it!!! You can’t identify the abnormal symptoms if you don’t know what a normal period looks like.

I invite you to join me on this journey of demystifying periods, body loving and pursuing fullness of life and health.

I would love to hear from you, what was your first period conversation like? How has it shaped what you think about periods now?

‘Big Sis’