Feel free to stop reading now, if you want.
It started out as just cramps, but I didn't recognize them for what they were, because I am just that far out of practice. Oh man, I thought, I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me, I wonder what it was.
The next morning I found a scant amount of bleeding and was like, Huh. Well I suppose the sex last night was pretty enthusiastic. Wouldn't be the first time I'd knocked something loose.
I was driving to work before I finally put the pieces together. Cramps. Plus bleeding from your girlybits. Equals...? Anyone?
Yeah, I'll take "obvious answers" for 500.
I had sort of a mini-meltdown in the car, held at bay only because I still didn't quite believe it was happening. You're overreacting, ha ha, you're going to get all worked up and then it will turn out to be nothing.... right, but I'm still stopping by the CVS.
I can't decide which is better if you're going to a drugstore and buying nothing but one box of tampons, being a chick or being a dude.
So there I am at work, shelving crappy romance novels, and all the magical concommitants of menstruation, the ones that I'd long since purged from my memory, are rearing their ugly faces again. Cramps. Referred pain in my lower back. Dizziness when I stand up too fast. (I used to get vertigo all the time, and I knew it had stopped after I went on T, but I never connected it to not losing buckets of blood every month.) Hot and cold flashes. Persistent low-level nausea. (That's a new one!)
And I'm not out as trans at work, so when people ask, "Are you feeling okay??" I can't say, "NO, GODDAMN IT, I'M MENSTRUATING."
I feel like I've had the rug pulled out from underneath me. For the past five years I have felt so good about my body, so in control of myself and my life, and suddenly I'm being slapped in the face with a reminder that I'm not. That I'm not in control, that my female organs are capable of taking the reins anytime they want, of saying "fuck you" to all the testosterone I've been pumping into my system and doing as they please.
Guys, I'd been operating under the belief that I was sterile.
Not disease-proof, to be sure, but my ovaries were supposed to be -- as my Japanese doctor explained it -- "on ice." One reason why I'm big on hot, hot monogamy is so that we can both get tested and cleared for STDs and then never again have to fuss with the sexual speedbump that is condoms. Since I was going to be getting STD-tested anyway with my annual check-up in July (quick, before I lose my health insurance!), I'd been planning to ask Wil if he wanted to get tested too and clear the way for uninterrupted sexytimes.
Which was when I pulled this gem out of the box:
ARRGH. PLEASE TELL ME THAT'S NOT PRESCIENT.
First available opportunity I called my doctor's office -- I really wanted my hormone levels checked, stat, to see if I was bleeding because they'd gotten too low, or I was bleeding even though they were normal. Unfortunately by then it was 5:05 on a Friday afternoon and fucked if they were going to answer that. I went back to work.
"That'll be eight dollars and sixty-four cents," I say to a girl about my age, as she's checking out at the register. I glance down at the book she's buying, because I'm nosy like that.
Me: [blink blink] "That's.... not the subtitle I was expecting."
Her: "LOL. Not so much, right?"
Me: "Uhm, yeah."
Her: [taking her book] "I'll come back and let you know how it was." ;)
Me: .............REALLY NOT NECESSARY.
I'm being haunted. That's the only logical explanation.
It's Tuesday before I get in to see the doctor. I'm chatting with the nurse as she takes my vitals, and we end up commiserating about the shittiness of periods.
Her: "Anything that can bleed for seven days and not die is just creepy, that's all I'm saying."
Me: "I swear, the female body is PROOF that there is no intelligent design. It's like the most haphazard Rube-Goldberg device ever made -- 'Let's have the uterus get ready for babies every month! But what if it doesn't get fertilized? Uhhh I know, FLUSH IT! GREAT IDEA!'"
Her: "And the only alternative is getting pregnant..."
Me: "...which carries its own set of problems."
Me: "Oh man, I thought I was STERILE. But according to people on the internet, I'm only probably not ovulating. In this context, 'probably' is a very dangerous word."
Her: "Yeah, just like you 'probably' won't get pregnant if he pulls out, right, but that doesn't always work either -- just ask my nine-year-old."
(She's required by law to keep what I say confidential; am I required to reciprocate? o_O)
In any case, the doctor wasn't able to tell me much more than what the people on the internet had -- that there is virtually no research on FTMs, because all of our medications are generic and so drug companies have no motivation to learn more. That most FTMs, at some point in their lives, will experience some breakthrough bleeding again, and that mine had most likely been sparked by the trauma of surgery. That sort of shock to the system can mess with your hormone-receptor globulin something-or-other and would certainly be capable of tying up more of my free testosterone than usual.
I got blood drawn to check my hormone levels and my levels of hormone-receptor-globulin-whatever (the nurse taking my blood was like, "I had to look that up to see what it was, I'd never heard of it before!" And I was like, "Yeah, well, I imagine that checking to see why a dude is menstruating isn't a test you order every day.") I'm cleared to space my doses a little closer together for a while, every ten days instead of fourteen, to get my levels back up.
So now the question is, how much do I bank on that "probably," hmm.