Good Self-Care Means Drugs and Dancing

I may have mentioned before that I have endometriosis. One effect of this condition is that my periods are brutally painful. At their peak, over-the-counter painkillers don’t even touch the pain, so I spend a few days a month on prescription opiates. Before and after those days, I snack on ibuprofen and acetaminophen like candy. My cycle is short (23-25 days), and my periods are usually preceded by a few days of cramps, as well as the random flares at other times of the month, so I spend close to half my life living with and managing this condition. Every period has its own internal cycle as well; some are worse at night, some worse during the day, some have 6- or 8-hour pain cycles.

The thing is, it’s kind of like rain in Holland. When I moved there from Winnipeg, I went from a very sunny place to a classic coastal climate: grey, rainy, and damp. I spent a few years really missing the sun, and pissed off about the amount of rain. One day, when a friend (another immigrant) and I were headed out to a festival and I was complaining about the drizzle, she said casually, with her usual cheer: “Oh, this place. If you wait for the rain to stop, you’d never do anything!” And it really struck me how much energy I had spent over time bemoaning the rain instead of just taking it into consideration and moving on. It changed my attitude about the rain. It’s just rain. It won’t kill me. So I apply that now to the pain: If I wait for the pain to stop, I’d never do anything. It’s just pain. It won’t kill me.

Which brings me to my weekend. Tomorrow night, Memetic is hosting another Roaring 2020s event at the Pyramid, and I’ll be heading down there with a couple of friends. My period started yesterday and as today rolls along, the pain rolls in. Tomorrow will be worse. Although I love dancing, I’m not sure how much of it I will actually be able to do tomorrow night, but I am going to load up on prescription painkillers, have my friends pick me up and drop me off so I don’t have to drive, and make sure my phone is charged up in case I have to leave early by cab.

I resent how much my life is restricted by the endometriosis. I can’t make certain kinds of plans too far into the future (canoeing, camping, anything involving lots of physical activity, distance from modern plumbing, or lots of mental concentration). So this weekend, I’m going to go out anyway. Best case scenario, I’ll be out during the downswing cycle of the pain and I might even be able to dance for a bit. And if I have to go home early, at least I got dressed up and hung out with my friends and listened to some fun music. Worst case scenario, I end up crying in the bathroom for a little while; at least if that happens, I am pretty sure that I won’t be alone, because there’s always some entertaining drama in there.

Sometimes there’s so much pain that all I can do is stare unfocussed into space and try to manage my breathing until the wave eventually passes. Other times, I manage to stay ahead of the pain with meds (and diet and so forth, but that’s another post for another time), and just get on with my life as much as possible. I am planning and hoping that tomorrow will be one of those times. Because the Roaring 2020s events are such a fun time! Most people make an effort to dress up in flapper style, and the techno-electroswing music is fabulous. Memetic, the group organising these events, also hosts MEME every summer, the Manitoba Electronic Music Event, where in the past I’ve seen Funk d’Void, Noah Pred, Drumspyder, and of course super thrilled to have seen Blond:Ish (yay for DJs who aren’t boys!).

I love dancing. And I love prescription drugs. Let’s hope the one lets me do the other! I’ll let you know how it goes. šŸ™‚


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