When you ask folks for horrifying period stories, you expect to be entertained. You don't expect to be saddened and enraged.
So many of the terrible tales happened to children. As young as nine. Burdened with cramps, heavy flow and interacting with rude or unsympathetic people. Menstruation is a completely natural part of life, but most girls are inducted into puberty with feelings of shame. It's unbelievably upsetting to discover how poorly we treat young girls — kids, really — going through this biological phenomenon that is no fault of their own.
There were interesting stories, to be sure: An acupuncturist and a masseuse who promised to "remove blockages" which resulted in very heavy gushing periods. Maxi pads pulling out pubic hairs. Tampons that somehow ended up SIDEWAYS in the vaginal canal. On the funny side, there was the guy who thought his niece getting her period meant she was ready for a Quinceanera. And in the "ruined property" department, kudos to the woman who damaged a vintage Mustang by bleeding all over it.
But in general, it was heartbreaking to read so many cases in which girls didn't know they were getting their period when they got their period. Seems like not many of us were warned about the rusty-colored discharge that looks nothing like blood, or the tummy troubles you might write off as being just a stomach ache.
In response to the post, commenter Kathy: Mama Honey Badger wrote:
This. Is. Awesome. Women need to talk about their periods more. For something so fundamental to the female experience, I suspect most women don't have a good idea of what's "normal," and what could be improved by or requires medical attention.
I've been having medical tests, because my periods have been so heavy since my second baby was born. I've been ignoring the symptoms for almost two years, but I'm finding the two-week wait for a biopsy almost unbearable.
Once I get through the tests, I'm probably going to have a minor surgery, and then no periods for about 5 years! woo-hoo!
The sad & frustrating thing is that I didn't realize that my periods were so unreasonable by talking to my mom, my doctor, or my girlfriends (some of whom are physicians!), but because I happened to see a segment of Tyra's talk show and a woman with periods as heavy as mine was advised to seek medical help. Not only do I hope that my biopsy is negative for obvious not-wanting-cancer reasons, I also would be irritated if it's positive and it's the The Tyra Banks Show that saved my life.
I don't know what we can do to and for little girls to make them feel better about and well-equipped for their period, but if talking about it helps, well, at least we've got that. And now, settle in, get comfortable, and read on for the most horrifying period stories, ever.
In middle school I had the. worst. periods. They were often so heavy that I bleed through both a super tampon and super pad (was wearing the two simultaneously) in an hour in a half on more than one occasion. Between the hemorraging and the cramp-induced vomiting, I missed several days of school per semester. Now, when I was in middle school I was also drastically underweight and as a result had very irregular periods that started with no warning.
One day I was sitting in homeroom when I suddenly felt incredibly nauseated and dizzy. I was too dizzy and disoriented to make it to the bathroom and so I threw up in my backpack. That's when the horror dawned on me: there was more to come because I was starting my period. My homeroom teacher was an epic douche who seemed to get off on punishing me in particular so my desk was crowded in a corner that obscured me from the view both she and my classmates. I deliberated with myself for about 10 minutes (while the vomit dried in my backpack) and decided the only thing I could do was call my mom. As I mentioned, this teacher was a total douche and so I then wasted 10 more precious minutes steeling myself to ask to use the phone. Let's take stock: at this point I'm now cowering in the hidden corner, bleeding profusely through my sundress, clutching a backpack full of vomit and running a fever (the fever part happened often with my period as well). I HAD to get home.
Me: Ms. Blake, um, I'm not feeling well. May I please call my mom?
Ms. Blake: You may only make phone calls with a note from the office.
Me: So um, Ms. Blake, may I please go to the office?
Ms. Blake: Not unless you have a note from the office.
Normally I would just go along with the game and loudly protest how stupid she was being, but I was in no position to do so because I was too dizzy and too embarrassed to make a scene in front of the class. I pleaded with her again and again to either let me call my mom from her classroom or else let me go to the office. Each plea was met with a resounding "you need to go to the office." It had been about 30 minute since I vomited at this point, and I was shivering with blood beginning to drip down my leg. I suddenly snapped.
I shot up suddenly from my desk and got in her face. I was 7 or 8 inches taller than her so I must have been pretty imposing. Even if my sheer height wasn't intimidating, the long trail of blood down the back of my dress must have been. I yelled directly into her face.
Me: Ms. Blake, as you can see I got my period unexpectedly and now I'm kind of sick. See, I puked in my backpack (I showed her the mess). I can't make it to the office and I need to go home, so may I PLEASE call my mother?!
The sheer look of horror on her face made the entire spectacle worth it. She quickly assented and unlocked the closet where she kept the phone and let me talk as long as I wanted. I was so scary though, no one dared laugh, not even the 13 year old middle school boys who lived for that kind of thing. In fact, the whole scene was never mentioned by any of my classmates or teachers ever again as far as I can tell.
Ninth grade my boyfriend and I get invited to his friend's girlfriend's house. Her parents are loaded. Everybody wants to get in the hot tub, and rich girl lets me borrow a bathing suit. I'm too busy worrying about my awkward 14 year old body to notice the weird stomach pains. After about 10 minutes in the hot tub, my boyfriend's friend starts screaming and pointing at me. The water around me had turned a horrible and social-life-destroying shade of pink.
The parents made my mom pay to have the hot tub cleaned and I moved back in with my father 300 miles away.
Shark week, indeed.
It was the balmy summer of 1994 and I was deeply into the terrible trend of sloppily cut-off jorts. My favorite pair could lovingly be described as "mom jorts" and the edges looked like they'd been mercilessly gnawed by honey badgers.
Little Sorcia was also having her first summer romance, tra la! We were on our annual vacation at the beach and I was besotted with a *gasp* slightly older man (2 years my senior). It was a heady time, let me tell you.
Unfortunately, it was also that time of the month.
Since I'm nothing if not a modern gal, I was wearing one of those new-fangled tampons * — no pads to weigh this girl down! Also, how the fuck does one swim in a pad? In the ocean? I mean, doesn't it just fill with sea water and ultimately drag you down to the watery depths of the abyss? But I digress.
The Summer Lover and I were strolling along the beach at twilight, holding hands and making goo-goo eyes at one another. I was wearing my beloved mom jorts with nothing underneath, hoping for a little PG-13 snog fest later on. As I stepped over a large piece of driftwood, Summer Lover gallantly offered me his hand to help me over. As I took my giant step, he squinted, puzzled, at my groin. Then he said, "Hang on, you've got a really long string..."
And he YANKED OUT MY TAMPON.
Horrified (and suddenly doubled over in pain), I watched as the realization dawned on him. Then he shrieked like a little girl spotting a spider and hurled the bloody thing into the sea. Then he wildly started washing his hands in the surf, scrubbing them with sand. I lay crumpled into a ball, wishing only that the sun would crash into the earth and kill us all.
I don't know what was more humiliating. The fact that I had to walk BACK to the hotel with him, dripping blood into my mom jorts? Or perhaps how he mumbled something about suddenly having to get the fuck out of Dodge? Or maybe it was when I walked into our room and my grandmother blurted out, upon spotting me, "Dear Lord, Sorcia — are you bleeding to death?!" to the general guffaws of my insensitive family (who still think this story is too hilarious not to be shared at most family functions).
* My history with tampons is a long and troubling tale that should serve as a warning to others. For instance, I didn't realize (being too ADD to read the goddamn instructions) that you REMOVE the cardboard applicator. For the first week I tried tampons, I just thought they were insanely, Victorian-era uncomfortable. Well, no shit, since I had a telescope of cardboard jammed into my pubescent hoo-ha all fucking day and night.
I'm 19, living in Brooklyn, and have just had my first ever adult sleepover.
I wake up in the morning, naked of course, and feel some very unexpected period blood which has welled up inside my vag. I roll out of the guy's futon, being careful to keep my thighs and knees locked together, and shuffle as quickly as I can to the bathroom. I've just barely gotten the door shut when blood comes POURING down my leg. PERIOD BLOOD IS ON THE BATHMAT!
I'm terrified and embarrassed for obvious reasons, but also because I already puked on this guy once, and I don't think our budding romance can handle another bodily fluid catastrophe.
I clean myself (and the bathroom) up as best I can, and grab my clothes so I can get home — I pick up my mini-skirt and thong (seriously the worst possible clothing combo for this particular situation) and MacGyver a pad out of toilet paper and some tape I find. Then, I walk to the subway.
Let me pause here to say that I'm an idiot who doesn't even consider taking a cab because, well, what else can go wrong?
10 minutes of walking does a number on my makeshift maxi, and I board the L train in terror of what is about to happen.
Did I mention that it's a weekday morning at rush hour?
I transfer at Union Square (those of you familiar with the NYC subway system know what a mess this is. Everyone else, picture a middle school dance: pretty crowded, with a bunch of weirdos milling around) to the downtown Q train and can feel the TP in my thong unraveling. I can do nothing, short of sticking my hand down the front of my skirt, to prevent what happens next. The toilet paper falls out. The bloody mess of scotch tape and TP falls out of my underpants and onto the platform in full view of everyone. EVERYONE. IS. STARING.
My options flash before me - do I pretend not to notice? Just walk away like nothing happened? Do I get on the train to go home? OMFG What if I start bleeding and it's running down my leg again?!
So I do the smart thing, I turn tail and run — up the stairs and out of the station and into the first taxi I see.
I have endometriosis, but I didn't know this yet. I was 22 and I had dealt with painful cramps since my period began at age 14 but one day the cramps were so bad that I was on the bathroom floor in a ball. I got up to change my pad and found a blood clot the size and length of my thumb nestled in the pad.
My first thought was "Oh my god! It's a dead baby!". It wasn't completely red and had some blue and purple parts to it...so I thought that, indeed, this thing was the beginnings of a baby. I cried about it and put it in a Tupperware. Once my boyfriend came home, it was off to the ER. I really thought that the pain was so bad and the bleeding so severe that I needed emergency care. And I really thought that I needed the blood clot evidence as well.
Well, the nurses and doctor treated me like the insane person I was. They told me that I probably just had endometriosis and made me feel like I was stupid and gross for bringing along the clot. Once I looked up endometriosis I realized how lucky I am for being a super trooper or being blessed with a mild case, since some women literally cannot function because of the pain.
Funny thing is, the discharge papers stated clearly that a woman should come into the emergency room if she passes blood clots. I realize that I was silly to bring the clot, but I didn't think they would believe me and, besides, I thought that it was a baby and was pretty emotional about that. It is now nine years later and I am pregnant with my second child. I'm happy to say the first child halved my endometriosis symptoms so perhaps this baby will cure me for good. (Although a nutritional diet, exercise, and pain management through metal efforts- ie. not feeling like a victim and just continuing on with my job and daily activities had helped previously as well)
I have had my leakage moments and a Mom with fibroids, but I think the worst moment I experienced was when I interned in a Crime Scene Unit and witnessed an autopsy of a decomp[osed] woman who died during her period. Apparently the woman overdosed and the Technician started to remove the decomposed pad. I tried not to gag, but ended up throwing up. I was disappointed that I couldn't keep my sangfroid. I swore to myself that I will never let myself die from an overdose, or kill myself, or die in an accident while having my period and that my next of kin is to clean me up with a box of Tide and a garden hose.
I was nineteen and attending a summer class at a certain well-respected Southern institution of higher-education. I had never been away from home before. I was a part-time student and thus unable to secure a dorm, but my parents had rented me a room across the street from campus, next door to the local Wawa, which was an important place in campus life. My tale of heartbreak and misery centers around that God forsaken Wawa.
I was also in love. His name was Joshua* and he was God's purest creation. He was beautiful and brilliant. He looked like Hugh Dancy, but with the subtle masculinity of Jon Hamm. Poems have been written about his perfection, and his name will go down in history. I had zero experience with boys, and he was the first one I'd ever known to completely charm me. We had many long chats about history and politics and other smart people subjects. I have a vivid memory of us sitting on the floor of the British history section of the library talking about Anne Boleyn.
So what if we never kissed, or even held hands? We were in love, in God's purest way. Or at least I was. Looking back he may have just been using me to do his homework. But anyhow, I am not attractive, and men don't exactly flock to me. I made an effort for Joshua. I wore short skirts and cut-offs. I wore heels to class. I started wearing make-up, and I learned to do my hair in the styles of 1940's pin-ups after Joshua expressed a fondness for them. Despite some mild flirtation on both sides and my best efforts, Joshua had yet to make a move of any kind. But I was convinced it was only a matter of time. Until that horrible, horrible day.
It was a Thursday near the end of the term. I was visited by Madame Becker, at the Romanovs would say, in the morning, and spent the afternoon in my room reading Harry Potter fanfiction and setting my hair in pin curls. Then my stomach was seized with pain. I rushed to the toilet as blood gushed out of my body. This happens about once every period for me; it gets really heavy for an hour or two. I went to change my pad to discover, to my horror, that there were none left. I used up the last of the toilet paper (I was going to buy more later that day) wiping myself, and wiping off the pad to prepare to go to Wawa to buy more.
I left the house feeling very insecure with my soaked pad and my short shorts. I was terrified I was leaking. I rushed to get in and out. I got some very overpriced toilet paper (they charge extra for "convenience"!) and some of those extra thick plus-sized pads that protect so well while completely fucking up your panty line. As I'm lining up to check out, who should I notice but Joshua. God's greatest creation, standing in line to buy a pack of gum, with a pure halo of white light around his head.
He noticed me. I noticed him. He looked down at the items I was holding, and quickly looked away. I blushed, and sweat began to roll down my back. Neither of us said anything. I was shy around boys, and knew little about them. But I was sure they did not want to think about blood coming out of a girl's vagina. I got to the front of the line. The clerk rang up my purchases. I reached for my purse.
My purse. I'd forgotten it.
Joshua must have been watching me. Silently he pulled out his credit card and paid for my items. If I had been embarrassed, now I was mortified. I did everything I could not to cry. Neither of us said a word. As soon as he paid, Joshua left the store. I went out behind him.
I don't know what possessed me in that moment; I now suspect it was Satan. But I couldn't let it sit like this. I couldn't spend the rest of the day dreading seeing him again. I couldn't sit in my shame. I was going to thank him for paying. I was going to explain how I'd forgotten my purse. I was going to offer to pay him back the next day. I was even going to offer to give him some of the homemade brownies my mom had given me a few days earlier.
I ran to catch up with him. He was waiting to cross the street. I ran up to him as fast as I could, and put my hand on his shoulder. He turned around. In that moment I stopped moving, I felt something drop. Out of my pants. It was my pad. My thick pad, so soaked with blood it's shape could not be made out. It was like I'd given birth to a pile of medical waste. It had gotten so wet with blood it had come unstuck from my panties, and slipped out of my shorts. Blood covered my thighs and stained my shorts.
Joshua heard the drop. Joshua looked down. I looked at him for one second, and saw a look of complete horror and disgust appear on his perfect face. He looked at me, scrunched up his face, and ran across the street, barely missing several cars.
We never spoke again.
*Not his real name.
Just some quick backstory, I used to be the quietest, most obedient and well behaved kid, mostly because I was petrified of the idea if interacting with most people.
When I was in fifth grade, I'd gotten a weird precocious period (I never had one again until I was well into high school). So I remember the first day it happened, my mom sent me to school with a maxi pad.
So here I was with this maxi pad in the pocket of my kangaroo jacket (read: hoodies to the rest of ya'll), totally freaked out that someone was going to notice.
During class, I kept putting my hands in the pocket of my hoodie to reassure myself that the pad wasn't visible and hadn't fallen out. God forbid someone noticed I had one. I wouldn't have lived it down. But of course, every time I touched the pad, that traitorous piece of shit would make this plastic rustling sound. My teacher, Mr. C, noticed that I kept putting my hand in my pocket and kept touching something that sounded rustling and plastic. Of course, his first thought was that I was sneaking candy during class and food was absolutely verboten.
So he confronts me in front of my ENTIRE class and demands I take whatever it is out of my pocket. Fearing the wrath of my teacher and the taunting of my peers, I looked at him and whispered "No".
Of course this infuriated him because here I was, refusing his orders in front of a class of kids he needs to maintain authority over. He demands again "Take out what is in your pocket and give it to me"
I'm still not swayed. No one will ever see my maxi pad. I must have turned about 18 shades of red by this point, because everyone in the class is intently focused on me and whatever it is I have stashed away in my pocket that I refuse to show the class.
I start crying. Silent crying, but no one mistakes what's going on here. Again, I shake my head and barely choke out the word "No".
He then ups the ante. I watch him walk slowly over to his desk and pick up his teacher phone. He decides to give me one last chance "You either give me what's in your pocket, or I'm sending you to the principal's office."
By this time, the tears are flowing freely and I shake my head at him again and say no. He makes a quick call, and I already know he's not bluffing. I gather up my things and when he gets off the phone I head, sobbing, to the principal's office.
I sit in the office, crying, but still refusing to give up the goods. I have no plans as to what I'm going to say in my defense, so I'm also terrified. The principal is busy, so they send me into the vice's office.
She looks at me sternly and asks what it is that I have that's so important that I wouldn't hand it over. This pushes me over the edge. I break down into full-on 9 year old crying with the heaves, and pull the maxi pad from my pocket.
She takes one look at me and goes "Oh, honey. It's okay. Stupid men just really don't understand" and gives me a super huge hug and lets me hang out in her office for the rest of the period (heh).
He never followed up with me and never bugged me again. I'm sure he got the lowdown at some point and hopefully felt like an ass. No one in my class ever asked me either. I guess the word got out!
The second time I tripped on mushrooms was my senior year of college (can you tell where this is headed?). I was alone in my apartment and ate the caps and stems. I was enjoying staring at various moving patterns on my pillowcases and listening to the imaginary ocean waves when I had to pee. I went to the bathroom and noticed the blood in the bowl. Usually, I have no cramps until I start my period and this was no exception. However, I completely forgot about the concept of periods and just assumed I was bleeding from the inside out. Specifically, I believed that there were tiny trolls with teeth and nails shredding up my internal organs. I laid in bed curled in the fetal position, for what seemed like hours, begging the trolls to leave my body, until I went to sleep.
This actually happened to my cousin when we were 14 - it was a very hot summer day, so she invited me and a whole bunch of friends to her house which had an awesome pool. There was a good 25 people there, including some superfine dudes from school.
Meanwhile, a plumber was also at the house because they were having pipe problems. Eventually, they figured that a branch must have broken through a pipe and they dug a hole nearby to check it out.
Eventually, we hear the plumber say "oh my God..." and everyone looks over. He pulls the branch out and it's covered in tampons. It was a Tampax Pearl Christmas tree. He reached into the pipe and pulled out handfuls and handfuls of dirty tampons. I've never seen so many tampons. He was piling them onto the pavement as a bunch of 15 year olds looked on in horror.
Needless to say, my cousin was mortified. Now that we're in our 20s, we can laugh about it although we've never flushed a tampon again.
All right, I've got one. It's more about the, uh, accessories of menstruation than the process, but it is still something I look back on with a mighty cringe and a shake of my head. Without further ado:
First off, you have to know that I love my dog. He is curious, smart and adventurous. He doesn't care when I have to feed him from the cat's food because I've run out of dog food and am too lazy to change out of my PJs to go to the store. In fact, he'll eat anything: goose poop, bugs...and tampons. Used tampons.
I try my damndest to make sure the bathroom door is kept closed when the crimson tide is upon me and there are tampons in the trash can. I really, really do. I also try to keep the trash can inside of the bathroom cupboard at that time of the month, but as soon as I'm doing my thing in the dead of night, I get that "aw fuck it" middle-of-the-night apathy and drag that sucker out for easier access. But as I am human, I sometimes forget to either put the trashcan back in the cupboard and/or close the bathroom door, so occasionally I come home to find shredded, bloody toilet paper notably void of the tampon that had been wrapped in it and thrown away. As gross as this is, it is just a [disgusting] part of life that I try not to dwell on for too long, and it never seems to hurt the iron constitution of my dog.
About a year ago, an out-of-town friend calls and asks if she can crash at my place for the night. I say sure. After I get off work, she and I meet for dinner, have a lovely time, and then she follows me in her car back to my house. While she's putting her stuff in the guest bedroom, I notice the bathroom door was left open when I left the house that morning. Panic-stricken because I know there are tampons in the trash can, I rush to find that indeed, the dog has gotten in the wastebasket and left little red shreds of evidence everywhere. I clean everything up quickly, change the bag in the trash can, and everything looks normal again.
That evening, I'm taking my dog for a walk. Actually, I'm taking him on a really LONG walk, hoping he'll expel that used article of mine. He never does, and I figure he'll do it in the morning.
The next morning, I get up and am heading to the bathroom when I hear my friend say, "Dude, your dog pooped on the floor!" I swear to Christ, I will remember this scene for the rest of my life. I walk into the kitchen to find my friend holding a steaming mug of coffee and staring quizzically down at the floor at a piece of dog poop...that has a threaded cotton string coming out the end.
Yes. It was a poop tampon.
My friend, bless her, either feigned ignorance or it was honestly too early for her to realize that what she was seeing was a used tampon that had been shat out of a dog's butt laying in the middle of the kitchen floor. I was MORTIFIED. I made a completely lame excuse about the dog getting into my craft yarn that probably made NO sense and cleaned it up. To this day, she hasn't said a word about it, and if that doesn't earn her a place in heaven then nothing will.
The dog, however, has yet to apologize.
The first time I tried to use a tampon, I not only couldn't get even a fraction of it inside of me, but I passed out from the pain. I mean, LITERALLY passed out. When I came to, I promptly burst into tears and then ran out to the living room to tell my mom. After hearing my story and asking me to demonstrate exactly what I'd done (while clothed!), she somehow managed to keep a straight face while explaining that my aim had been too high.
Pro tip: tampons don't go in the urethra.
(via email, from S.)
I live in Bombay (Mumbai), India and I have a horrible story, by Indian standards, to share. In some cultures here, menstruating is still considered to be "god's curse on women" and when you are mensing you are supposed to sit in a corner and not touch anybody. Seriously. If you touch someone, even by accident, then they wash all their clothes, take a shower and sprinkle cow urine in the house to purify it. I'm not kidding.
My friend practices such a religion (Swaminarayan, a sect of Gujarati-Hindus to be precise) and I went to her place to hang out one time. While watching a movie I fell asleep on the couch and my period started just then. By the time I woke up the couch was soaked and my light blue jeans were gone as well. She saw this and started yelling which brought her mum, dad and brother into the room. I cannot even start to describe the look on their faces. It was like I had killed her sick grandmother and was sawing her body into bits.
Of course the house had to be purged then. They threw out the sofa (I don't blame them), washed *all* the clothes and sheets and curtains they owned (3 days of non-stop laundry), scrubbed the floors and walls and even held a huge "purging ceremony" complete with incense-burning and hymn-chanting to rid their house of whatever evil I had brought in with my monthly gift.
It's no surprise that we're not friends anymore.
(via email, from A.)
When I was 12, I went to stay with my grandmother and step-grandfather for the summer in a town about 45 minutes from my parents'. I wasn't totally hip to the period issue yet; I didn't have any sisters and my only girl cousin hadn't started yet. Thus, it wasn't really on my radar that starting my period wasn't something I needed to worry about yet.
Anyway, my grandmother is a bipolar schizophrenic with Parkinson's disease, which is a real treat. She was still in pretty good shape at the time, although obviously batshit crazy in many ways. For example, she didn't let me use the bathroom for three days because I used a hand towel to wipe lipstick instead of a Kleenex. Given this background, OF COURSE my treacherous body would choose that summer for its foray into womanhood.
I didn't know shit from shit about what I was supposed to do, I only knew that I was bleeding like a mofo and in PAIN. Horrible, stomach turning pain. So of course I raise this issue with grandma. I informed her that I had started my period for the first time and asked her for help and she responded by....
Kicking me out of her house. Alone. To wander the streets of a strange town. While bleeding to death. With not a penny or any idea of how to get home.
Her theory was that my shiftless mother conspired to send me to her that summer so that she, the sainted grandmother, would have to deal with the unpleasantness of my first period, like it was some crazy first period conspiracy. And my step-grandfather, who was an asshole in his own right and had never raised a child, much less a daughter, completely supported her reaction.
I walked for about three or four hours to the home of the only person I knew in town, who let me make a collect call to my mom so she could come pick me up. Covered in blood and crying uncontrollably, I waited for another hour for mom to get there. Thanks, grandma. I've forgiven her because now I understand that she is a sick lady who needs serious help that she wasn't getting, but I still feel sad inside for little girl me when I remember that walk.
(via email, from C.)
When I was 11 years old, my family took a weeklong trip to Disney World. I had weird stomach pains the entire time and spent a lot of time laying down on benches in the park while different members of my family went on rides. A few of the days, the pains were so bad thaat I stayed in bed in the hotel. I had a fever, so my mom (a nurse) just chalked it up to some kind of bug. On the last day of our trip, we were headed back home and had to drop our rental car off. The rental car company provided a shuttle from the parking lot to the airport.
I was sitting on the shuttle next to my mom when I suddenly felt this POP inside me. I looked down and I was GUSHING blood. Like, up to the WAISTBAND of my (90s little girl) jean shorts. The blood was everywhere, dripping on the floor and running down the aisle of the shuttle bus. Yes. I was completely soaked. My mom thought I might have had an explosive diarrhea or was, you know, hemorraging!!!! so as soon as we got to the airport she rushed me into the bathroom to the extreme dismay/puzzlement of my poor dad and 8 year old sister.
My mom took me into the bathroom and cleaned me up, determining that this was my period. MY FIRST PERIOD. She took some culottes and underwear out of the dirty clothes suitcase for me to wear and packed me down with THREE sanitary pads from the bathroom machine. As a nurse, she was understandably disturbed. I don't remember feeling really anything other than ok, this is what is happening just keep going...I remember really clearly what the tiles in that bathroom in the Orlando airport looked like, though. So meanwhile my dad is tasked with explaining menstruation to my little sister, who had NO IDEA what it was. My jean shorts were thrown away.
We had a little bit of time to kill before our flight, so my parents decided to take us to the TCBY in the airport. You know TCBY is all white inside, right? Or at least this one was. White chairs, white floor. So, you know what's coming. I had ANOTHER explosion while my parents were ordering the ice cream and before we could get out of the store, some custodians were MOPPING UP THE BLOOD COMING OUT OF ME AS IT WAS COMING OUT. Yes. This happened. My parents, so concerned and confused like WTF is happening to our 11 year old daughter rushed me off the bathroom so my mom could clean me up again. Another three pads.
So then we had to visit the Speedo store in the airport to get me something else to wear, as the dirty culottes were now much dirtier. My mom got me a pair of bike shorts and then decided that she was so freaked out about what was happening to me that I had to have a wheelchair. I was mortified but somehow just floating above my mortification and looking down at it. I got in the wheelchair and was wheeled onto and off of the plane. I bled pretty strongly for the next few days and when my mom asked my pediatrician about the ahem FORCE AND FURY of my first period, the pediatrician said that can happen to girls with first menstruation.
I've told this story for years, at first to other girls my age (it was a annual tradition at summer camp and was dubbed "The Florida Story" by my group of friends) and it definitely made them feel better about their first period experiences. Mine is pretty mentally and physically traumatizing in a way that middle school girls can't even process, I think. I certainly couldn't even begin to proces the total OMG-ness until I was much older. When I tell it now people are just out and out horrified.
I know Jezzies like to comment with knowing stuff like UM DID YOU EVER THINK YOU HAD THIS HEALTH PROBLEM and thanks, it turned out I had an imperforate hymen.
Related, sorta: 10 Of The Grossest Stories You'll Ever Read