Almost Bleeding to Death Monthly Is No Way to Live

Almost Bleeding to Death Monthly Is No Way to Live

Article originally published on Hormones Matter

At age 23, I woke up from an ovarian surgery to the comment, “It’s not cancer, but you have moderate endometriosis. If I were you, I’d get pregnant as soon as possible.” Having only been married for a year, and not yet stable in our financial situation, we just laughed, not really understanding what the doctor meant. And I decided to go right back onto the birth control pill.

Five years later, at age 27, on our anniversary trip we decided it was the perfect time to get off of the pill and try getting pregnant. I remember throwing the packs of pills away, excited for the future to come. Little did I know that would start a whole snowball effect that would ultimately take my health and my fertility.

A year later, I was starting to have odd symptoms. I began having massive acid reflux that was burning my voice box severely. I was quickly started on a Proton Pump Inhibitor. I was never told that it should’ve been a limited time treatment, so I continued taking them. Pretty soon, I started having issues with my menstrual cycles. I noticed that the bleeding was getting heavier and heavier and the pain was increasingly getting worse. It never occurred to me that any of that was in any way abnormal. I just figured it was part of being a woman, and I needed to suck it up.

Severe Menstrual Bleeding and Panic Attacks: Unrecognized B12 and Iron Deficiencies

On October 6th, 2006, I woke up to severe bleeding and panic attacks. My husband rushed me to the doctor where I was diagnosed with severe iron deficiency. My ferritin (stored iron) was incredibly low; almost non-existent. I was sent home with iron pills and instructions to take them once a day. Quickly my health began to decline, and many mornings I would wake up in a sweat and a full panic. I knew something was wrong but all of the tests kept coming back normal. Two years later, when my doctor retired, I received my records and immediately noticed my B12 was also extremely deficient, so I started supplementing B-vitamins on my own. I slowly gained a little energy back, and was able to function semi-normally for a while, however, I still had this underlying anxiety that I couldn’t shake.

Back on Birth Control and Still No Relief

My next option was to go back onto birth control and see if it would control the increasingly heavy and painful menstrual cycles I was having. Unfortunately now, any pill I tried, my body and my anxiety went into a major downward spiral, leading me to quickly come off of any hormone pills. By this time, I was seeing multiple doctors. My bleeding had become very uncontrollable, and I was soon diagnosed with a fibroid. I considered Uterine Artery Embolization, but at that time my fear of losing my fertility was too prominent to go ahead and proceed with the surgery. I continued to increase my iron intake, and after lots of research, I learned a regimen that seemed to work for me. Regular lab testing showed me constantly dropping in iron and blood levels, and then recovering some, and then dropping severely again when my cycle came around. Eventually my cycles got so intense that I was having to use incontinence overnight pads instead of the regular menstrual pads. It was a nightmare. I began to get more and more bed ridden and ended up having to bring in outside help to just help me get through my day, while my husband went to work to provide for our home and my medical needs.

Dropping Blood Pressure, Skyrocketing Heart Rate: I Was Close to Dying

The day after Thanksgiving 2013, which my husband and I had spent alone due to my inability to leave the house, found me unable to get up without almost passing out. My blood pressure was incredibly low and my heart rate was more than 160 beats per minute. I brushed it off as anxiety, but my neighbor who was a paramedic’s wife came by and took one look at me and told me, “Get to the hospital RIGHT NOW!!!” My husband loaded me up into the car and we went. I wasn’t a stranger to the emergency room, but was usually sent home with the comment “take more iron” or “go see your doctor” (which I was, but evidently I wasn’t getting the monitoring or treatment I needed).

So I sat in a wheelchair in the waiting room, waiting for my turn to be called and suddenly two nurses ran out of the doors and headed for me. I looked at my mom who had joined us at the emergency room, knowing instantly this couldn’t be good. There were people who were sicker than I, throwing up all around me. The nurses grabbed my wheelchair and as they wheeled me back I heard a nurse say, “Sweetie you don’t have enough blood in your body, we need to start you on a transfusion right away.” I immediately burst into tears, looking back for my mom and my husband for reassurance. I was terrified of transfusions. I had only ever heard horrible things about them. About allergic reactions, and new diseases transmitted through them. I was absolutely terrified. Through my tears, (which I felt stupid for, because I figured I was old enough not to cry), the nurse quickly and quietly reassured me it would be ok. She said they’d start it slow and ke