I was sitting in a lecture when I felt it. A familiar unsettling in the lower part of my abdomen. I knew it was not gas or anything related to my stomach or intestines; no, it was much lower and deeper, nearer my pelvis. Great, I thought, my period was starting. Now, I wasn’t apprehensive about soiling myself, for I knew it was due around this time and was already wearing a pad. What I was afraid of was the pain. The standing ibuprofen I kept in my backpack needed restocking for over a month and between my busy schedule of homework, tests, and extracurricular activities, I had not found the time to replace it. Which was foolish of me, given that I knew very well the overwhelming and incapacitating pain that heralded the start of my cycle. Sure enough, as the professor droned on, the intermittent unsettling ratcheted up into a full-on persistent assault on my uterus. The pain was now the center of my focus. Thus, when a friend called out my name, asking what was the matter, I did not hear her at first. When her question finally registered, I whispered, low, not wanting anyone else to hear, never mind the fact that we were in a biology-based class and this was, after all, a normal biological process, cramps. She understood immediately and offered some Midol she had on her, but I shook my head no. I had enough experience to know that I never found relief from it. No, I needed the big guns. I needed some Advil stat or I could kiss learning anything today goodbye.
The sweet face of the regular clerk greeted my impatient eyes that flicked past her, scanning the shelves on the wall. Tums, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Advil. Yes! My heart leaping at the sight of that blessed navy, red and yellow packet, I struggled to keep my varied emotions in check – feelings of relief mixed with physical discomfort and annoyance – as I requested and paid for the medicine.
In between class I slipped out to the small eatery on campus, praying that they had those little individual packets of medicine behind the counter. The sweet face of the regular clerk greeted my impatient eyes that flicked past her, scanning the shelves on the wall. Tums, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Advil. Yes! My heart leaping at the sight of that blessed navy, red and yellow packet, I struggled to keep my varied emotions in check – feelings of relief mixed with physical discomfort and annoyance – as I requested and paid for the medicine. I shallowed both pills on my way to class. Now came the wait, the agonizing interval between ingesting the pain reliever and it finally taking effect. Going into the last hour of lecture for the morning, I continued to be distracted by pain. My eyes were glossing over the slides on my computer, my ears were filtering out the takeaway points from the instructor. This entire morning of learning was a wash, all because I didn’t get ahead of my cramps on time. Beating myself up, sitting in self-wallowing, I was ready to accept defeat when finally, like the sun breaking free from the clouds, like a balm over my pelvis, the cramping ceased. Bless it. I could now return to being me. That is, until another four hours later when the effect of the medicine wore off. I sighed, returned to my laptop screen, and began catching up on my notes for the day.
-A 24-year-old Period Champion from Atlanta, Georgia