Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a tampon story

Before I begin, allow me to divert my 6 loyal readers to an older entry of mine.

Please return after the next regularly scheduled posting. I
promise that it will be about something wholesome...(maybe :-))

I was recently given the opportunity to review a new tampon for a product opinion panel. Now, this seems a little awkward, in the sense that I can't really do that until I stick the thing inside of myself. Then there's the accompanying mess which is par for the course, and talking about it afterwards is a stretch for me. But look, here I go writing a blog about it.

I began my early days of tamponing with a personal cheering section.

My aunt stood outside of the bathroom door for an hour in her Wisconsin lake house basement to referee the entire fiasco, just so I could go swimming at 13. I ended up staying out of the water.

Many kids from my x'd-out generation were "encouraged" to become independent at an early age. Our parents were very busy working, getting divorced, and listening to Carly Simon, so we had to learn to fend for ourselves with a lot of things. Sex education in Chicago consisted of a 5th grade field trip to the Robert Crown Center for a 3-D movie that described adolescent changes in a comfortable level of detail, while the snickers and elbow nudges were kept to a minimum in the wake of hovering teachers.

One morning, sometime between the night I slept with stuffed animals and the night I wanted to sleep with something other than a stuffed animal, "Love and Sex and Growing Up" mysteriously appeared on my bedside table. It had two sections--reproduction of people and reproduction of animals. I spent the first year I owned it learning about the animals, which seemed way more interesting at the time.

My mother didn't say a word about the subject. A rumor went around in 4th grade that the new girl, who was already towering 2 feet above all of us, had gotten her period. Of course, then we all immediately started to as well.

I didn't have any idea what to do with the period supplies, but I was determined to have my period too, dammit. So I poked around in the bathroom cabinets until I found the bounty. One tampon and one maxi pad. I was set. I would be protected from then on.

I stuffed the supplies in my pocket and brought them out during bathroom break at school. My friends were in there, and I called over the 4-foot stall that I was bleeding. "Where? "I want to see!" Our voices surely echoed into the hall where the boys were standing.

The girls demanded proof, and I was ready for them. I pulled the adhesive backing off the pad and pressed the sticky side to myself. Then I laid the tampon in my undies.

"See," I boasted as I cracked open the stall door. They were impressed to see the clean tampon laying under the pad. I wasn't too thrilled when I had to pull the pad off of my skin after school, though. Luckily, there wasn't any hair down there at that age. I decided that I
never wanted to get my period. It was too painful!

Tampon incidents seem to be part of my life. I "lost" the tampon that I was supposed to review while I was at work, which is every woman's tampon nightmare.

I rushed back to the chair where I had just been sitting, terrified that I might find it strewn next to the hard drive on the floor.

Sent a frantic text message to my husband asking if he had seen it laying around the house.

Shook out both legs of my pants while making sure no one was about to come in the break room, just in case a bloody piece of tissue went flying.

I once went to the gynecologist to look for a misplaced tampon, but it was nowhere to be found. She told me that it had probably fallen out. Under no circumstances was I going back to the gynecologist at age 37 to have my hoo hoo searched again.

I whipped open my locker and dragged my bag off the shelf. There in the pocket was my silver ipod nano with its shiny and reflective backside, a perfect mirror. In the dark bathroom stall, I couldn't see much of anything (I'll spare you the details, and by the way, ipods do make excellent mirrors if you ever need one in a cinch. Cosmopolitan magazine can quote me on that.)

I never did find the tampon. Six months later I seem to be fine and without signs of death-bringing infection, so it must've been another case of "it slipped out." I guess this is what happens after you've delivered three 8-pound-something babies.

It's past time for someone to invent a tampon with a GPS or homing beacon. This could turn into a very real public health problem for many women, and as a healthcare provider, perhaps I should lead the way. Needless to say, I gave a decent review, since I really liked the pretty packaging. :-)


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