sanitary pads 10

My 7 most disastrous periods (and why I make cotton sanitary towels)

Look, I know that I recently started a convo about disastrous periods on my Facebook page but I blame you lot entirely for the rest of this blog post. That’s because your stories triggered memories of my own most disastrous periods and, kraken lovers, it ain’t pretty.

Now, because I make and sell handstitched cotton sanitary pads I spend a massive amount of time talking about uterine output. I routinely ask customers about their clottage and you routinely tell me about ruining your bed. Well, this is my side of the gory story, mostly powered by endometriosis. So I hereby list the 7 times when I could really have done with one of my tsunami-harnessing cotton sanitary pads. Settle down, grab a cuppa and fetch yourself something absorbent…

The Halls of Residence

I’d been at university in Cardiff for approx. four days (and 327 bouts of homesickness) when this happened. Still navigating the cider and bewilderment, I’d been invited to another student’s room with a pile of other 18 year old strangers. In the interests of making friends (the feeling of which I have now happily divested myself) I went along.

I can’t remember the details but I suspect it involved joss sticks. What I DO remember, though, was that I was wearing pale blue trousers and it wasn’t until I got back to my room that I realised I’d started one of my disastrous periods. And how did I realise? Because my blue trousers where no sporting a mahoosive purple patch right where no purple patch should ever be. I was never invited to that room again. I literally have no idea why. None at all.

The Political Party Conference

Here’s a tip if you ever find yourself working for a political party when your period is due. Don’t go to the conference, even if it does involve sickening amounts of Kahlua and watching MPs cheat as if their marriages are on fire. Take it from a woman who knows.

That’s because there is a certain amount of mortification to be had when disastrous periods kick off in the middle of the night, you collapse in pooling fluids, you explain to the chief exec that you need to leave, end up being driven home, while mewling and bleeding, on the back seat of a researcher’s car before being dumped on your doorstep and met by an ambulance. Let’s just say that I never included it on my CV or, for that matter, worked in politics again.

The Posh Hotel

An hour’s drive from the lair of Conjugal Kraken and I is a hotel so posh that it comes with a butler service. Well, we’d managed to bag a seriously discounted night so up we rocked, thrilled to be in clean sheets that we hadn’t had to wash ourselves. Even better, when we got there we’d been upgraded to the master suite. Kraken lovers, IT HAD IT’S OWN LIVING ROOM. I felt like Elton John. Until I started bleeding not remotely like Elton John. Never before have I appreciated a suite so much, not least because it gave me room to crawl about on all fours while in pain and pressing a perfectly fluffed towel to my raging fundament. It never crossed our minds to beg the butler for help but something tells me he had to get the suite redecorated after we left.

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This was real go-back-and-shower territory. It happened at the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty retrospective. I was giddy with pattern-cutting joy until I found myself gawping at Shalom Harlow’s paint-sprayed gown from McQueen’s spring/ summer 1999 collection. That’s because, with no warning, I felt my entire uterus collapse out of my conjugal portions.

You know how you can feel disastrous periods seeping into your clothes before cooling? Well, the result was me shuffling past Kate Moss’s 3D holograph, knees together, to get to the toilets whereupon the full horror was revealed. Cue a bleak stagger back to our hotel, with an ashen-faced Conjugal Kraken, for me to set fire to my clothes. The upside? It had a shock factor that would have made Lee McQueen holler with merriment. Three years on, I still cling to the notion that I was fashionably horrifying.

The Wedding Day

Conjugal Kraken and I had booked our wedding for April-the-something 2007. Yet three months before said nuptial affair I realised my period would start on that very day. So, knowing that this would involve Peckinpah levels of gore and me screaming “Diclophenac!” rather than “I do!” I asked my gynae consultant (and apologies for the technical language) to sort it the fuck out. He did. He promised a post-wedding hysterectomy while injecting me with a potion to temporarily stop disastrous periods.

Well, the upside was that I didn’t have a period on my wedding day. Or the day after. Or a full nine months after that, in fact, because said potion briefly rendered my joyously barren body fruitful. Exactly ten months after that injection Kraken Junior’s skull shattered my vagina, my ability to sleep and the part of my brain that regulates the urge to jump off bridges. Be VERY careful of what you wish for, kraken lovers.

The Surgery

I’ve had all manner of surgical interventions on my love nook and its attendant parts. Ironically, though, it was one of my facial surgeries which acquainted me with the particular horror of having disastrous periods while under anaesthetic. Now, my portions had felt a bit queer as I was being wheeled into surgery but was momentarily distracted by masked-strangers plunging weapons-grade sedatives into my veins. So it wasn’t until I was wheeled from recovery onto the ward that I vaguely remembered a thought about periods. Until I passed out again. And then woke again, only to lift my sheet from my body and peer underneath.

It looked as if they’d removed my appendix and not even bothered to sew me back up. I slurred something at Conjugal Kraken about periods and passed out again. Only, the next time I woke I had three nurses at the end of the bed. One held my right leg, one held my left and the other changed the sheets while wedging a fistful of NHS sanitary pads against my Particle of Fleeting Delight. We never spoke of it again.

The Sofa

Years ago, after one of my first surgeries for endometriosis, I was told a tale by a fellow gynae patient. She explained how she had gone to her friend’s house, sat on her brand new white sofa and proceeded to ruin it by flooding at exactly the wrong moment. I carried that story in my head for 25 years, perpetually grateful that my disastrous periods would never be that disastrous. Until two years ago when they most certainly were.

So I’m on my own sofa, having a perfectly uneventful period, until I feel a tickle in my nose. Now I like a good sneeze so I let it come over me, giving a firm and satisfying blast from my snout. Only it wasn’t the sneeze that I remember so much as the feeling of sticky heat ballooning out of my trousers and onto the cushion beneath me. You know when you stub your toe? And you’re too scared to look at it? Well, that’s why I sat very still. I was too scared to look. Until I remembered that scene from Nip/Tuck where a woman fused with her own sofa (don’t ask). So I slowly lifted myself up only to feel even more balloonment, until I was upright and staring at what had turned from a brown to a red leather cushion.

I was so covered with gore that I actually squelched my way to the bathroom. That’s where I stayed, unable to get off the loo because of the amount of carnage escaping from my Fun Trough. You’ll be thrilled to hear that we saved the sofa. But my dignity? Well, that disappeared down the U-bend a long time ago.

So does this make you feel better about your periods? If you have a gory tale to tell, I want to hear it right here! How many cushions/ car seats/ careers have you ruined with your uterine madness?