“Every woman should experience this at one point in their life.”
Another tampon is dragged out by the snake my naked husband is pulling out of the drainpipe. We are both covered in raw sewage after we decided to open the clean out in our basement to clear a “little” blockage before we sat down to eat dinner. It is 11:45pm.
I am wearing my long North Face jacket, the one I bought for cold mornings of car duty at school, jeans and rain boots that are now covered in shit and sweet potato peels. He is wearing his Crocs. At least we decided on sensible footwear before starting this project. After a trip to Walmart, smelling like sewage and with bits of toilet paper in his hair, for Draino and other necessary tools for the job, my husband came home and took his clothes off. It is 35 degrees outside and not much warmer in our unfinished basement which is now covered in the most ugly and foulest of just about everything you would never want to imagine.
I don’t smell it anymore. I’ve already used the shop vac to suck up all the dirty standing water and unloaded it three times by dragging it outside and down the long hill of our driveway to dump it in the woods. I keep thinking to myself how I should have gone to bed at 7:30 like I wanted to and avoided this. I have a big project at work involving four hundred children and permanent paint on the last day of school before winter break tomorrow. I’m so exhausted that I am starting to disassociate from the whole experience until I realize I’m not holding the bucket in the right place anymore and there is sewage dripping on my leg from the pipe hanging above me.
Earlier this week I got hit perfectly in the center of my eye with an oily piece of partially cooked shrimp. Shrimp in the eye. It was supposed to go in my mouth, but the hibachi chef gave me little warning and with little warning and little coordination you get what I got… shrimp in your eye. It was what I thought to be a little too parallel to the sad comedies of my life. I was really close to being in remission from an illness I’d be fighting for over a year and had just been told that I had to restart my antibiotics. It was a hard blow feeling like I was so close, but not close enough. It was a lot like shrimp in the eye, and not in the mouth.
“Another tampon,” he said. Plop, into the bucket it fell with it’s other floating companions. I hadn’t had a period for maybe four months. My body stopped having a normal cycle a year before that. I couldn’t remember what it felt like to have PMS, be bloated, have cramps, or cry uncontrollably for no reason except for when all of that started happening two weeks prior. First it was my breasts. They hurt all the time for a week in a half. I couldn’t hug anyone taller than a third grader. My bras were too tight. I felt like I was an entire cup size fuller and my nipples… Ow.
I started freaking out. My tits hurt, I’m tired all the time, like my face hurts I am so tired. I had a headache and a terrible cramp one morning. I’m hot, then I’m cold. Then, hot again. I’m pregnant. Oh shit, I’m pregnant.
All of these thoughts hit me on a Sunday night as I was brushing my teeth in my pajamas trying to get into bed before 9 o’clock. I start shaking. I had just started antibiotics again and was taking a medication that my OBGYN said “would be devastating to a pregnancy”. Oh, shit. And then out loud OH, SHIT. We hadn’t used double protection the last few times we had sex since I’d been off of antibiotics for one blissful month and I was excited to get back to a normal life and sex life. Of course, my birth control wasn’t stable yet, I thought. Stupid, I thought. Stupid, stupid, careless, stupid. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a child. I knew I could be okay with that. It was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry a child full term and I didn’t have the emotional stamina to deal with that kind of loss and guilt.
Or maybe I did. I had spent the last year pushing the limit of how strong I thought I could be. I’d been dealing with painful ongoing Lyme disease, that seemed to leave me with the feeling that I had no control over my body and some days no control over my mind, along with trying to live a life of recovery from alcoholism. Two diseases that are complicated and baffling that most people will tell you aren’t really diseases. Having to explain my symptoms to doctors in disbelief, ending up with multiple wrong clinical diagnoses and then later an unnecessary surgery, to come to do my own research, become my own advocate while fighting with insurance companies at the same time dealing with pain, fatigue, and a long list of bizarre symptoms and all still trying to stay sober, sane, and not eat half of the food pyramid while trying to keep weight on my skinny ass. This on top of the endless natural disasters wrecking our country and pig of a president ruining all the good in our land in his effort to make greatness “again”.
I learned I could deal with a lot more than I thought I could. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t smell the stench in the basement anymore. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t bothered much by the fact that the jacket I had to wear the next morning during freezing cold car duty was covered in shit or that my eyes were burning from sheer exhaustion.
“I see something in there,” he says. By now he has armed himself with a headlamp. “Let’s just try the snake one more time.” I position myself with the bucket that has wads on cotton floating in it, which are only recognizable by the long string still attached to them. I had left dinner in the microwave waiting for us going on two hours ago. A Greek pork roast I had made in the crockpot that day. Now, I thought of it and was not surprisingly no longer hungry, it looking a little too much like what was on my boots and jeans.
Standing in Kitty Litter, a Walmart find to soak up the mess on the floor, resting the bucket on my knee now because I couldn’t hold it up anymore, I realized the metaphor for this moment that was my whole year. Shit Wave: 2017.
I hoped that a blockage would be freed and flushed from the cosmic system that is my life and allow my energy to flow again like water: steady, clean, and strong. I remembered and silently thanked the moon for it’s gravitational pull and had a glimmer of hope that the waves and tides of my life force would once again show calm waters.
“Here’s one more,” he said.
“Every man should experience having his period at one time in their life,” I reply.
Art teachering during the day. Recovering from it all during the evening. Repeat.