Life as a Bleeding Woman

menstruatingwoman


by Jennifer Gardner

God is a man. I know because I am a woman. As a woman I have convincing evidence. Throughout almost twenty-three years of living, I've been convinced that I have little to no blood in my body, aside from the gallons of it I seem to lose for five to seven days out of the month. In all other ways my body is basically flawless and to complain about it would be like Marilyn Monroe griping about that extra toe she was said to have. As if anyone ever looked at her feet anyhow. Inside my body, as I said, there flows coffee and cola, a great amount of icy water but no blood. I don't mind it really, except in the winter when I feel colder than Santa streaking at the North Pole. Really, the only gripe I do have about my lack of blood is the surplus I find coming from between my legs at the end of each month.

As a vampire enthusiast, I prefer skin cold to the touch. I prefer alabaster flesh. When people say I look anemic I say, "Thank you!" Someone might occasionally brush up against me and say, "My dead Grandma is warmer than you," and comments such as those puts a toothy grin across my face. Being cold occasionally becomes a hindrance but that's nothing a lot of hot chocolate and a warm waterbed won't fix. Living in Michigan doesn't always help either but I deal with it as any good amphibian would. I've learned to come to terms with my own literal frigidness. I only wish my icy composure would be consistent throughout the month. Because for three weeks out of four, I'm a vampire's drought. But for that other week I become a vampire's dream date.

I began menstruation when I was 13 years old. Friends of mine got it before me, and talked about it like it was a gift. They made those of us who didn't yet have it feel left out. "Did you get yours yet?" they would ask, like a girl's period was the next best thing to a visit from Publisher's Clearinghouse. So when I finally spotted red at the tender age of thirteen I was actually happy and proud of myself. I looked at it as a part of maturing, and my first experience with maturation hadn't gone so smoothly.


Life as a Bleeding Woman

by Jennifer Gardner

God is a man. I know because I am a woman. As a woman I have convincing evidence. Throughout almost twenty-three years of living, I've been convinced that I have little to no blood in my body, aside from the gallons of it I seem to lose for five to seven days out of the month. In all other ways my body is basically flawless and to complain about it would be like Marilyn Monroe griping about that extra toe she was said to have. As if anyone ever looked at her feet anyhow. Inside my body, as I said, there flows coffee and cola, a great amount of icy water but no blood. I don't mind it really, except in the winter when I feel colder than Santa streaking at the North Pole. Really, the only gripe I do have about my lack of blood is the surplus I find coming from between my legs at the end of each month.

As a vampire enthusiast, I prefer skin cold to the touch. I prefer alabaster flesh. When people say I look anemic I say, "Thank you!" Someone might occasionally brush up against me and say, "My dead Grandma is warmer than you," and comments such as those puts a toothy grin across my face. Being cold occasionally becomes a hindrance but that's nothing a lot of hot chocolate and a warm waterbed won't fix. Living in Michigan doesn't always help either but I deal with it as any good amphibian would. I've learned to come to terms with my own literal frigidness. I only wish my icy composure would be consistent throughout the month. Because for three weeks out of four, I'm a vampire's drought. But for that other week I become a vampire's dream date.

I began menstruation when I was 13 years old. Friends of mine got it before me, and talked about it like it was a gift. They made those of us who didn't yet have it feel left out. "Did you get yours yet?" they would ask, like a girl's period was the next best thing to a visit from Publisher's Clearinghouse. So when I finally spotted red at the tender age of thirteen I was actually happy and proud of myself. I looked at it as a part of maturing, and my first experience with maturation hadn't gone so smoothly.

"How big are they gonna get?" I asked my mom when my boobs started growing. I was a child athlete and I couldn't afford to have two jugs hanging off my body, bouncing as I ran. My fears were unfounded because as it turned out, my boobs never grew much. I've had bigger mosquito bites. Once I walked into a tree. The lump on my head was the size of a C cup, a size bigger than my chest. But I'm not complaining about my chest size. Being small chested has its advantages. I can squeeze into small elevators. I can even play pool without toppling over. I've dealt nicely with this form of maturation. I tried to deal as nicely with menstruation.

When blood started to leak from my innards, I made the mistake of believing that it qualified me for womanhood. In my idealistic way, I imagined that I'd be in complete control of the menstruation process at all times. I'd only bleed a few drops here, a few drops there, a small price to pay to be a woman. Since I'd always been active, I wouldn't have to worry about cramps. It all seemed nothing I couldn't handle.

Boy was I wrong.

The reality is that once a month I lose more blood than a hemophiliac gunned down by Al Capone. I've had clots the size of golf balls. And I don't care if I trained for the triathlon, I'd still get terrible cramps. I wonder, is childbirth this painful? Gallons of precious blood flows from me each month. I always wonder, considering how pale my complexion is and how cold in temperature I always am, where does all that blood come from? With my endless supply of blood, I should be sitting on a shelf in Wes Cravin's prop closet for his next Nightmare on Elm Street movie. If blood were kerosene I could heat the world. My little blood cells must reproduce like bunnies. And all I can do is pad up like a football player and stay away from sniffing dogs for five to seven days.

Naturally I've underpadded before. Sometimes my period sneaks up on me like a mugger in a dark alley. Once I was visiting a friend in Minnesota, "Aunt Flo" came along. "I think you sat in chocolate," her father said to me after I'd gotten out of his luxury Cadillac with leather interior. Sure enough, it wasn't Fannie May on the back of my pants. It was the menses of my own embarrassed little body. My friend's family were strict Christians. So I suppose the nervous little joke I made about blood sacrifices happening between my legs wasn't a very good joke to make. As my blood flows from my body, so too does my tact.

I tried to give blood once. I said to Red Cross, "Take my blood, please!" But my temperature was one tenth of a degree too high. I was sitting next to Homecoming King, and my blood sensed it. I tend to run fevers and get sick around my time of the month, doubling the pleasures of being a woman. I'm a weekend bartender who waits tables and also cooks. Typically the last weekend of the months are the busiest. Typically it's the last weekend of the month when I'm bleeding more than a Gacy victim. My customers aren't always interested in hearing about my menstruation, even those who drink Bloody Marys. Coincidentally food sales also go down.

Once I fainted. My blood pressure was something like 30/10 or some other outrageously low number. My mother called the ambulance but I refused to go to the hospital. I might be a woman but I'm also a gutless wimp. I didn't want to go to the hospital. I wasn't wearing clean underwear. Since then I've really had to take my body into consideration around the last of the month. I load up on much needed rest. I overindulge in sugar in case I'm diabetic. And I make sure to eat large meals high in nutrition, something that doesn't come easily when menstruation, cramps, and cold-like symptoms destroy your appetite.

I've recently discovered PMS. As a young menstruating girl my emotions were always in key, independent from mother nature. But in my older teen years, when my emotions became unstable pre-menstrual syndrome conquered me. I would cry over a busted fingernail, yet remain dry eyed at my grandfather's funeral. I especially get emotionally distraught over school grades. Anything below an A seems reason enough to jump from a bridge. PMS usually occurs for me about four days before the first onslaught of bloody warfare. By calculation, this means that I'm not myself for the four prior days to my menstruation, and for five to seven days after it begins. This totals as much as eleven days of menstrual taxing out of a thirty-day month. Is this fair? Is there a menstrual labor board I can call to report this?

I don't try to understand the actual effects PMS has on me. I just try to avoid all social contact, which is rarely possible. For the other nineteen days of the month I think thoughts like, "I have very little blood in my body. Lacking essential blood, I'm already very much dead." Then just days later I find streams of blood gushing out of me like a geyser. As soon as I find proof of that I have precious life essential blood, I lose it. This is God's best practical joke. Only a man could justify such suffering.


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