Prevention, Precautions and Side Effects

Some months back, I had a failed IUD experience that really traumatized me to the point of avoiding contraceptives in general. I shared my concerns with my boyfriend and he was extremely supportive and understanding of my decision.

Of course, several more weeks flew by and some of the hesitation of it stared to fade and we started discussing being more “careful” in general. In speaking to my Gynecologist, she suggested Nexplanon, which is an form of BC implanted in your arm. I admit I probably didn’t do as “deep of a dive” as I probably should have when considering this method. I just knew it was 99% effective. My main concern was the cost, which at the time of my consideration, would have been $350 after insurance .

what me

Yeah, no.

In speaking back to my Gynecologist via email (I actually go a Gynecology clinic that is housed under the umbrella of the hospital I work for and we have an app where you can communicate with your healthcare provider), she informed me that if I waited until 2019 to get the implant, it would be 100% free due to some coverage changes with my plan regarding contraception. Free.99 is always a win in my books!

yasssss gif

In the meantime, I still felt a bit funny about not being as safe as we needed to be, so I spoke to my Gynecologist once more, who suggested going on a combination BC pill until  I had the procedure done.

I’ll admit, going on “the pill” was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do when I started, but mostly because I had heard of all of the unpleasant side effects. I started taking it in late October (it was suggested I take it the first Sunday of my period–I guess for tracking purposes) and concluded my last pack in early January. During my time on the pill I experienced:

  • Extreme mood swings (even outside of “that time of the month”)
  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Constant fatigue
  • Increased depression and anxiety (I have already been diagnosed and take medication for it, but i felt worse while on the pill)
  • Frequent Agitation
  • Some weight gain (despite not changing my diet or exercise routine).
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Breakouts (in the beginning)
  • Decreased libido

Some more positive side effects that I experienced were:

  • Regulated periods (my periods have always mostly been constant, but the pill made them a bit shorter and easier to count on a calendar–prior to taking any BC at all , I tracked my periods with the app Flo. I still use the app to this day just to log symptoms I’m feeling and to keep track of the length of symptoms).
  • Lighter cramps during my period
  • Forced me to get up at a decent time every single day since the pill strongly suggests taking it at the same time everyday.

All in all, taking the pill wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, it was just inconvenient as hell and I felt like I was in a constant state of agitation. Like, constant. There’d be the rare occasions where I would take the pill later than intended and a handful of times where I left the pack at my boyfriend’s place (oops).

covering mouth

When the new year finally rolled around, I was excited to be just days away from getting the implant. Goodbye pill, hello convenient stick it in and go BC!

The appointment for the implant was mostly standard. My vitals were taken, my doctor explained some of the risks with the implant and asked me to sign a consent form to proceed with the procedure. Easy! I laid on the examination table, she gave me a numbing shot in my arm (which stung a bit at first), then she asked me to turn my head and a minute later she was finished inserting the implant in my arm. It couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  I excepted there to be some huge complication like I had with the IUD.

Before I left the room, she explained that there may be some swelling, bruising and minor pain in my arm over the next week or so. She suggested I keep the compression band aid wrapped around the incision spot for at least two days and also suggested that I finish the last week of my BC pills. Again, she mentioned possible side effects, but the only two that really stood out were: irregular periods and spotting. Gross. She closed with the reassuring statement of,  not every woman experiences this.

Several hours later the numbness of my arm wore off and I started feeling throbbing pain. It felt uncomfortable to naturally allow my arm to rest or dangle freely, so I propped a pillow under my arm (my left arm) for support. That and some ibuprofen seemed to help. The pain seemed to continue through the weekend, but faded by the start of the following week.

By mid week, the pain had mostly gone away, but my arm was a bit bruised, tender and felt funny if I moved it around too much or too quickly. I had also finished taking my pills mid week and with completing the “pack” brought on what I thought was my period…but this was not my period, oh no. This was “spotting“. This lasted for about a week and grew a bit heavier each day until my actual period started and came in with terrible cramps.

Now, I’ve always experienced painful cramps, but these were different. No amount of OTC pain medicine seemed to eliminate them (and I was taking the max amount each day) and they lasted the duration of my period (as opposed to the first 1-2 days like they normally do). And speaking of my period, it lasted a whopping 11 days. Granted, the flow wasn’t as heavy as normal, but it was consistent enough to be annoying. It was also annoying because I had no indication of when it would end. Once Ms. Flow made her departure, the spotting returned for another week and a half! Omg.

All throughout the messy red wave, I experienced a tension or cluster headache and sometimes a migraine just about daily. I’d wake up with one, it would linger throughout the day, I’d go to bed with one and start the entire cycle all over again. I was fatigue to the point of barely having energy to do simple household chores or even focus on basic tasks at work, and just didn’t feel “well” in general. While my mood was mostly stable during this time, the severe cramping, frequent bleeding, headaches and extreme exhaustion were kicking my ass. After about three weeks of this, I addressed it with my doctor, who basically told me to pop some ibuprofen and “ride it out” for 3 more months because apparently it takes your body time to “adjust”.

concerns

I read up on the experiences of many women who had gotten the implant and I’d say about 85% of them experienced the same symptoms and they did not go away for whatever duration of time past 3 months that they choose to keep the implant “installed”. Some women who kept the implant in for the entire 3 years claimed that none of this ever went away. That was super encouraging news. Greatttt.

My period and any lingering spotting finally went away (at least temporarily) maybe the last day or so of January and has “stayed away” ever since (according to flo, my period is almost over a week late). I’ve read that, that doesn’t mean those symptoms aren’t coming back and they could come back unexpectedly and for longer periods of time. There is literally no way to know when or if they’re coming back. All I can do is stay prepared. I hope I’m one of those lucky few women that either stop having periods or have them with longer time in between.

I’ve only had the implant now for a month and a half. These are the side effects I’ve experienced so far:

  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Spotting
  • Longer than usual period
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Elevated blood pressure (which I’ve had to now address with my Primary Care Physician)
  • Minor and infrequent arm tenderness (near the implant site)

One positive outcome from the implant has been the freedom of not having to remember to take a pill every, single day at the same damn time. It’s in and to my knowledge, it’s working as directed–I’m 99% sure I am not pregnant dispute my period being “late” since the algorithm of flo has no way of knowing my body is literally in a tailspin right now and my entire cycle has been thrown off.

As the my doctor suggested, I’ll assess how I feel after the 3 month mark. If the symptoms have “settled” or “stabilized” , I’ll continue on and keep it on a bit longer, otherwise, I may consider having it removed and going back to the drawing board.

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(First) Anniversary

This past Sunday was our (first) dating anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since our first nervous and shaky first date. At the time, I wasn’t sure if he was nervous or just shy in general, but since that first date, we’ve had many conversations about it and he was most definitely very nervous. Fast forward to a year later and we’ve had some amazing times together.

We decided to celebrate the dating anniversary, because it was a milestone for both of us, but also just an excuse to do cheesy and romantic things together (though, I don’t think either one of us needs a specific reason).

Sunday morning, we woke up around mid-morning because the teacher had some special event “planned” that was also a “surprise”. He referenced this surprise the other day when he asked if I had any specific phobias outside of snakes and spiders (which he knew) and when I told him I didn’t and asked why he was curious, he just left me with, “It’s a surprise that’s part of our anniversary plans”.

overwelmed

The entire ride to the “surprise” I kept wondering what it could be. The Teacher is not typically a mysterious person or even a “plan in advance” person. He’s always been mostly transparent and “fly by the seat of his pants”.

Anyway, we pulled up to the venue, which happened to be a local arena where many sporting events, concerts, shows, etc take place throughout the year. As we pulled into the line of cars trying to enter into the parking lot, I asked him if we were there for a sporting event (hockey or basketball). He laughed, parked, and walked me towards the entrance of the arena. There were swarms of people, but literally no advertisements of the event until after we got through security and then we saw:

cirque du soleil

No way! I had always wanted to go to a show, but never got around to it! I was definitely pleasantly surprised. The show (as I assumed) was wildly colorful and imaginative. It held my attention the entire time (which now a days seems difficult to do).

Post surprise show, we stopped at our first date spot, which was a local brewery not far from the arena. Like the year before, it was drizzling quite a bit and was a little chilly, but this time we didn’t have to stumble through all of the “get to know you” questions. We laughed as we recalled certain things we talked about, how crowded the brewery the year before and how amazing it was to return as a happy couple.

After a few quick beers, we traveled to another “early on” date spot just down the street. We visited this Mediterranean spot last spring (April, maybe?) after taking a stroll through a beautiful garden right around the corner. Again, it was nice to return to the restaurant and the food was still just as yummy as I remembered.

After dinner, we went back to his place to exchange anniversary gifts (we exchanged lists of gift ideas because he is a list person). As we entered his apartment, I felt a rush of anxiousness and fear. No, not over the gift I was giving him (a fancy watch he could wear when he wears suits), but what I wrote in his anniversary card! In a nutshell, I wrote some sentimental ramble about how much fun we’ve had in getting to know each other and closed it with, “I love you”.

Yes. I wrote in this card, “I love you”. Mind you, we hadn’t verbally said this to one another by this point, so writing that in a card was potentially risky! I’ve basically felt this way for a few months and felt that our 1 year anniversary was appropriate to just let it out. I thought long and hard before writing that message and genuinely felt in my heart that he felt the same way (he had pretty much been talking around it for months and his actions communicated it as well), but perhaps he was just as afraid as I was to say it?

Well, we read our cards at the same time (silently), sitting side by side on his couch. Upon opening his card, I noticed he had actually filled up the entire inside portion of the card with his “letter”. The Teacher almost never writes anything in cards and the past few cards that he’s given to friends or family were cards that I bought and insisted that he sign (he would just sign his first name). I’ve always been a sentimental person and appreciate writing people notes and receiving notes in return. I never took offense to this and assumed he wasn’t a card person (even though my primary “love language” is affirmation)

I read through his note, which mirrored mine about all the fun we’ve had. He also mentioned that our relationship had been his most serious relationship to date, how he enjoys regularly waking up next to me (even though I steal his covers) and last but not least, he closed it with a statement about how he had been holding in something for a while that he finally needed to let out: “I love you”.

charlie puth hearts

No way. We both chose the same way to communicate our love of the other. How crazy is that? I imagine (like me), he was also very nervous to write that, but also relieved when he saw I felt the same way too. There was definitely a collective sigh of relief after reading each other’s cards. It felt like this tremendous weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had to forcibly refrain from saying it!

The anniversary day went well and was a lot of fun, but my favorite part of the day was reading his card. Knowing that you’re genuinely loved by the person you love is indescribable.

Into The Future

Life has been relatively great lately. I’m finally getting over the plague I dealt with basically the entire month of January. Slowly, but surely.

Work has been (at times) a bit chaotic, but I’m starting to notice the chaos is basically coming from leadership never being proactive and always being REactive to situations. It drives me insane, because I’ve always prided myself on thinking about all possible outcomes as I navigate any situation (especially work related). Reacting to every little thing dramatically sends bad vibes throughout the office. Lately, it’s been triggering my anxiety a bit, but I’ve tried to do a little better in this new year about setting “boundaries”.

I’ve decided that:

  • I refuse to work OT unless it’s absolutely necessary – this does not make me a bad employee, especially if I manage my time well (which I do)
  • I refuse to volunteer for everything
  • I’m taking more of a leadership role on projects and various other opportunities to showcase my skill set
  • Instead of doing someone’s job for them, I’m instructing them on how to execute a task and wishing them well–this is huge for me, because I’ve spent the last few years almost taking on aspects of everyone else’s job
  • I refuse to be “available around the clock”, especially on PTO days. I am allowed to have a life outside of work and I plan to do just that.
  • Speaking of PTO, I am setting myself a goal of taking 2 days off a month, with at least 1 true “vacation” (The Teacher and I are planning a vacation in April for a few days).

Speaking of the Teacher, things are continuing to go well with us. He still continues to be the sweetest and most loving person ever. It’s been hard for me to truly trust people and let my walls down, but he’s been extremely patient, supportive and loving, so my walls are just about gone. I feel very comfortable talking to him and being myself even if that means I’m dealing with depression or anxiety and he’s a lot more open about his own struggles with depression and anxiety as well. I think sharing those struggles with depression and anxiety has really helped us bond that much more over these last couple of months. Having the emotional support of your significant other is such a wonderful feeling and having them understand what you’re going through on an emotional level is invaluable.

Speaking of months, we’re coming up on our 1 year dating anniversary. In less than a week! Dating anniversary (not relationship anniversary). It’s hard to believe an entire year has flown by so quickly. I’m not entirely happy with myself for being kind of coy and stupid at first with the Teacher, but I think keeping an emotional distance, really thinking about our connection (and maybe what i wanted) and taking our time to get to know one another has really built a strong foundation for our relationship and has actually added true meaning and purpose to it. Anyway, we’ve been talking about celebrating the anniversary, which is the same week of Vday (ours is on Sunday). We’ve decided to do something “big deal” on the day of (he suggested going to the brewery where we had our first date and then going out somewhere “nice” from there) and then having a relaxing night IN for Vday, with takeout/ or making dinner and cuddles. I have a feeling that he’s probably buying a lot of shit for both the anniversary and Vday. I’m not entirely crazy about people spending lots of  money on me. He spent quite a bit of money on me for Christmas. Like, tons (granted, i spent a lot on him too, but that’s different 😉). Not only did he get the 3 reasonably priced items I asked for, he got me tons of other things too. He asked what my work address was today 👀. Either he plans on doing a B&E or maybe sending flowers or something? I’ve never received flowers at work actually, that’d be cool, but absurdly expensive 🤦🏽‍♀️.

Another thing we discussed last week was moving in together. This has vaguely crossed my mind a few times over the past month or so, but he brought it up over dinner last weekend in conversation and suggested we start looking for places since our leases are both up in July.  That’s a huge step in a relationship, but one I think we’re both ready for. I also think it will save both of us money, as we’d be splitting rent as opposed to paying two separate rents and commuting back and forth to each other’s places (we live about 15 minutes worth of a highway trip away from one another).

Speaking of relationship stages, I spoke to my ex briefly this afternoon. Our conversation started with him updating  me on how his family (who lives up north where the temps have been -48 or some shit  this week) was doing. The conversation somehow then went left and he spent an hour talking about all of these failed relationships and dating experiences he’s had since we broke up.

overwhelmed.2gif

Part of me felt sorry for him (because he is a good person), but in speaking to him, I see a pattern of him crashing and burning when it comes to love. His idea of love doesn’t involve a great deal of logic. He acts mostly on infatuation. It’s like he’s not patient enough to let something grow organically, which is important in building something. It’s like he’s in love with the idea of love. Love doesn’t always happen at “first sight”. It’s not like the movies. It’s not always perfect and just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel so soon. I’ve definitely learned my lesson after going through a whirlwind romance with him. I hope to never do that shit ever again. It’s not healthy. And it took a lot for me to move past it and fully heal.

He told me about dating some girl a month after we broke up only for her to break his heart and dump him two days before his birthday and how he had to go to therapy to deal with “feeling lost”. He told me he “loved” this girl 🙄. I admitted to him I also had a similar experience when he and I broke up (which he’s long been aware of–except, I didn’t “love” him). He apologized for causing me pain, I accepted it and reminded him that I have no resentment towards him (which I don’t). Life lesson learned. He also admitted to regretting the way he ended things between us. TBH, I don’t care anymore. I’ve healed. I’m over it. I’m happy. When he asked how I was doing, I wrestled with being transparent about my own love life, but decided to be honest and let him know that I’ve been in a long-term relationship with a guy that makes me truly happy. He seemed genuinely happy for me, which is mature of him, because I guess that might have been a dick move of mine to tell him that, especially after he spent twenty minutes complaining about his own love life.

Oh well. Such is life.

Outside of that, I’m just coasting and trying to remind myself to practice more self-care this year. I’ve done just ok so far, but I can do better.