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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The P word

I am grateful that I grew up in a house where it wasn't a taboo to talk about periods. I wasn't allowed into the prayer room by my mother as it is customary in most Hindu homes. But I didn't have to sleep on the floor or do other crazy things that some people say they had to do when Aunt Flo came for a visit.

However, my first educational crash course about preparing for the changes in my body was not from my mother. It was from the girl I sat next to in Class VI. I was 13 and of age, and she told me not to be scared when 'it' happened to me. We had a chapter on human reproductive system in 'We are the World' in Class VII Moral Science. A year too late.

A couple of months ago, I saw a girl getting death threats on social media because she wrote about her 'feelings' during that time of the month. Her post was not what I would consider 'tasteful', the language more provocative than was necessary, but death threats? A whole nation was obsessed with examining her character, propositioning her, and lashing out at people who supported her freedom to express anyway she chose to on her timeline.

The evasion around a mundane body function might seem illogical to some, but even I made sure that I let SG read this post first before publishing it. Why am I writing this then?

Last Tuesday, my father told me that my mother had some spotting even after her menopause. SG looked up the internet and we saw possibilities from polyps to endometrial cancer. I was hysterical and we insisted that they visited the doctor at once. One of my paternal aunts, whom we always turn to for medical advice, had the same suggestion. It was 17th September, Viswakarma Puja. Most doctors were not practicing from home. Even though, Lord Viswakarma is the Principal Architect of the Universe and the divine engineer, his blessings are sought by medical equipment as well. A family friend made some jugad and requested a doctor to check on her nevertheless.

The doctor diagnosed a tumor in her uterus and recommended immediate surgery. He wanted it done on Friday. But my mom said that she had some work to take care of at her school first. She was admitted on Monday morning, operated  upon on Tuesday and will be going home today (Friday in India). The support of friends and family has been overwhelming.

Things could have been worse, had we not talked about it. It could have been malignant. My MIL told me about a woman whose tumor grew to 9 pounds before she was diagnosed. Uterine fibroids and endometriosis are quite prevalent gynecological disorders and the most common reasons for hysterectomy. A lot of women don't talk about it, not among themselves, not even to their daughters. I don't advocate status updates about premenstrual cramps every month, but let us have the freedom to talk about our bodies, at least, in clinical terms.

5 comments:

Sayani Bhattacharjee said...

Thanks so much to share such important information....but most of us(specially women)feel sharing such gynecological problems or information may make us weak and physiologically abnormal in front of others (specially males). After all, female physiological structure are made to provide pleasure(that is a common notion)and are not supposed to open our mouth in any circumstance. Wanted to share a major disease that highly prevails in mid-aged women....Breast Cancer...Would like to share the sites:

Sayani Bhattacharjee said...

http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=MSABC_FY13_AboutBreastCancer

Sayani Bhattacharjee said...

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29351249 Skirt size increase linked to breast cancer risk, says study

Aparna Kar said...

Thanks for the information Sayani. One of our friends lost his mother to endometrial cancer. She was diagnosed in 2009 and survived three years. His Dad documented this in his blog back in June 2012 which he shared with me. Have a look. Very inspiring.

http://gpsastry.blogspot.in/2012/06/celebrating-death.html?m=1

Aparna Kar said...

A friend shared a fact sheet on endometriosis. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.html