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.

Advertisements

I Thought I Would Be ELATED.

So I caught up with my ex yesterday…

A year ago, I was EAGER for the day when we would catch up and he’d essentially not be in the best spirits or “got a taste of his own medicine” (by ending things), because I was bitter and heart broken. I imagined myself as Demi, belting out how I was SORRY, I’M NOT SORRY for being better off without him (it is a hot song though, I’m not gonna lie).

Not sorry.gif

Obviously, time heals wounds and over the months I’ve gotten better, gotten over it, and learned some valuable life lessons.  I’m fine, but hearing that he perhaps is going through some “bad times,” (in regards to his love life) didn’t give me the satisfaction that I thought (a year ago) it would have and I felt like a shitty person for even telling him that I was doing, “REALLY well and was HAPPY” (though I didn’t necessarily reference my current love life, but we’re facebook friends still and I’m sure he’s at least seen clues or references of The Teacher and might have put two and two together by this point) .

It’s been a crazy year since we parted ways. Some ok times and some really bad ones…but I think I’m on the road to being ok. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well though.

I thought when this moment came, I’d be elated to know that he felt some OUNCE of heartache, sadness or emptiness that I STRUGGLED with for MONTHS after we broke up, but if anything, I felt genuine empathy and a bit of sadness for him. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, especially this time of year. And while, I’ve moved on (and I am happy), there is still a part of me that wants genuine happiness for him too. Though we didn’t work out romantically (and now I can see that we probably weren’t as ‘perfect’ for each other as we both thought while dating), he’s a good person and deserves to find his peace and happiness too. He’s also continued to treat me with respect and not like a terrible ex, which I appreciate and I’ve tried to do the same with him.

I chose not to elaborate on my love life, but instead offered support and words of encouragement. I hope that he finds peace or some glimmer of hope that eventually things will look up for him. I hope that he finds that special someone that loves him in a way that I was unable to and treats him like fine china.

I have to say that I’m extremely proud of myself for getting to this point. This is HUGEEEEEEE progress!

A Year Later…

It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the split that (at the time) seemed to rock my entire world and I feel blessed to be able to look back on that experience today and be at peace with it.

Looking back on it, the relationship was probably doomed from the start. My ex (while still a very kindhearted and lovely guy), wasn’t entirely ready or even patient enough to build a new relationship with someone from the foundation up. At the time, I didn’t realize he had dealt with a broken engagement several months prior to us dating, which explains many of his (at the time) questionable and irrational actions and mannerisms. I can’t even begin to imagine or understand the pain of losing someone you thought you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with. I felt the entire relationship from our first date or our breakup was super rushed and colorfully chaotic. While fun and romantic, it lacked a great deal of crucial foundation. Milestone after milestone after milestone, when in reality being formally engaged, he probably missed many of those relationship comforts and longed to experience love again with someone new, but quickly to maybe fill a void. This is not to say our relationship wasn’t real or that he didn’t genuinely care about me, though, because I know that he did (as did I).

Unfortunately, I am not a replacement for an ex-fiancee and I’ve never claimed to be (nor do I ever want to be) and if I could have done anything in my power to take that hurt away from him or heal his heart, I would have done so in an instant. He was a good guy and treated me extremely well, but his heart wasn’t ready to be legitimately open during our time. I don’t think his intentions were to ever hurt me and I’ve forgiven him for the hurt I had to endure as a result. While I wouldn’t call us friends (though he’s referred to me as such), we are currently on good terms and occasionally catch up with one another from time to time. Knowing that he’s doing well in life genuinely makes me happy, he deserves it.

Building a relationship with someone is hard work and not something that I think should be rushed. Corners should not be cut. There are not shortcuts, back roads or detours. You have to be all in and committed to it. It takes time to build that trust and grow the relationship into something beautiful (and strong). To force a relationship forward past all of the initial building phases is emotionally reckless and almost never ends well. I think it’s natural in the earlier stages to have some infatuation over your S.O., but the entire relationship shouldn’t solely exist off of that feeling.

I spent yesterday reflecting on some of the night it happened and just how hurt I was. How could this happen? What did I do wrong? Will I ever open my heart like that again? But then I thought beyond that night and how much I’ve grown (emotionally) as a person over the past year since. I am so proud of what I’ve become. I am a much stronger person. It’s definitely been an interesting ride, but I couldn’t be happier with how life turned out.

I’m in a happy, long term, committed relationship with this amazing guy and I probably would have never met him had I not gone through heartache before (and maybe some other stumbles along the way).