The First Couple Weeks Back in Europe

…have been really fucking intense. Like, Jesus Christ, has it always been this bad? No cheeky tongue-in-said-cheek artsy-ass way to convolute it: the past few weeks have just been an adventure.

My original plan coming back to Europe before starting school in Dublin on September 11 was to go and WWOOF (organic farm labor in exchange for food and housing) near Paris for about a week and a half, move to Dublin, get a phone/housing/bank account/etc etc, and start school. I found an orchard just a train ride out of Paris that looked quite lovely, and the host and I set up the ten-day arrangement for mid-August.

Starting at the Chicago Airport on my way to Paris, things already went awry when I had paid for two checked bags that somehow didn’t show up on my ticket (calling Kiwi did nothing, by the way), and I dealt with it simply by weeping at the check-in lady until she let both on the plane.

Then, at the orchard, I was (somehow) surprised to find that the host was a single old man retired from a career as a lawyer. Without thinking, I had just assumed it would be like the last three times I had WWOOFed where it had always been a family with at least one other WWOOFer. A little nervous about this set-up, I went along with it for four days that, I found, just got creepier and creepier. The man complimented me consistently on everything from my French to my personality to (especially) my looks. One night, I couldn’t get away from him to go to sleep because he wanted to talk to me about how a smile like mine was a gift to the world for fifteen minutes straight. I had read his reviews on the WWOOFing website and they had all been very positive, so I stayed thinking that it was probably just me being overly sensitive. However, one day, he took me with him to the grocery store, and, when he asked me if there was anything French I particularly missed, and I said the Trésor cereal, he bought it and said I could maybe thank him with a kiss. When I recoiled a little, not sure what to say, he said “no, maybe not here” and then gave me a big speech in the car ride home about how it was more important to give than to receive. Upon talking to the boy I had dated in France this past year—who now lives in Brussels—about it, he told me I needed to leave, and that I was welcome at his for the next seven days before I left for Dublin.

I booked the bus. Unsure of what to tell my WWOOFing host, I said I was going to Brussels for the weekend and just needed to take all of my things with me because I owed my friend a lot of books and instruments. He believed me for a few hours, but then got suspicious and demanded over and over that I tell him the truth. When eventually I said I was going to Brussels for good, he yelled at me that I was a coward and a liar all the way from packing up my things to carrying them all the way across his gravel driveway in the pouring rain to the gate out of his property. It was insane. If you are thinking of WWOOFing, it is absolutely wonderful (usually), but BE CAREFUL and make sure you will not be alone!

This past week in Brussels was nice, but certainly intense in its own way due to spending more time with my ex-boyfriend than we probably ever did while we were actually dating. I had nothing to do (why I had wanted to use this time for WWOOFing in the first place) and picked fights. Alcohol is cheap in Belgium, and we probably drank a little too much. Then, two days ago, the Fella got in a bike accident that sent him over the handles of his bike and into the street. Although he did not go to the doctor and says he’s getting better, he’s been in pain and unable to move his right arm since.

I almost fell for a housing scam in Dublin yesterday.

Currently, I am sitting in the Paris Beauvais Airport for the next nine hours after having already been travelling for eleven hours straight because, due to a string of unfortunate events, I missed my flight to Dublin by fourteen minutes.

I hate to believe in luck and, if there is such a thing, I know that I have an obnoxious amount of it. But I still can’t help but wonder if I am momentarily cursed, and when it will lift (I had just gotten in a car accident and, separately, a flat-tire on the freeway the week before coming to Europe).

I keep beating myself up for being here, and, as always, reading about what’s crumbling to pieces at home.

I hope these weeks have not been a reflection of what this year is to hold. I am incredibly, beyond excited to live in one of my favorite cities in the world, but, after all this, I am honestly feeling discouraged and a little out of my depth.

Advertisements

An IUD Perspective

To be completely honest, I feel a little weird writing a blog post about getting an IUD. Not that women should be ashamed of their bodies or anything, but it’s a little strange to broadcast to the world what’s inside my uterus these days. However, I really quickly want to share a bit about my experience getting an IUD this past week, since I know I looked to the experience of others on the internet while getting ready for mine, and many on the internet had experiences that were fairly different than mine and my best friend’s, who had gotten hers a couple months ago and helped me through mine. So here’s what went down from my perspective…

Why I chose to get an IUD
I stared taking the pill when I was fourteen because I had horrendously painful periods (i.e. dripping sweat due to the pain in the middle of class until it would get so bad I’d have to go home), and didn’t stop until this past year when I moved to France and– for some reason that I forget now– didn’t bring enough with me. When I got into a relationship, I started the pill back up and experienced crushing mood swings and depression that I hadn’t felt since puberty. This experience made me question if the depression I felt all throughout high school was entirely a natural byproduct of, well, being a teenager, or actually how my body just deals with hormones. Either way, I had to stop taking the pill, and I’ve felt pretty averse to starting hormones ever again since.

How I chose my IUD
I started by going to my health insurance’s website and seeing which IUDs they covered. I then looked up the three that were covered and decided I wanted Paragard, since it was the copper, non-hormonal, option. The way copper IUDs work is that they kill sperm, while hormonal IUDs do more for making the uterus not suitable for eggs. They are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and last for TWELVE YEARS! With copper IUDs, they normally make period cramps a lot worse for the first couple months (the doctor discouraged me from this option due to my history of painful periods, but, again, I was trying to avoid hormones). I then researched Planned Parenthoods around me to see which one took my insurance, called them to ask if they had Paragard, and made an appointment.

Getting the IUD

This is where my experience seems to diverge from many. Prior to getting my IUD, I had read that it generally wasn’t that painful, and just felt like period cramps. My mom’s best friend and her daughter had been fine afterward and drove themselves home. The doctor herself said that experiences varied, but most didn’t experience too much pain.

My best friend was visiting me from Albuquerque by chance on this day. This friend is probably the toughest woman I know and is a wildfire firefighter. She had gotten her IUD a few months prior and said it was more painful than breaking bones. When she got hurt in the field this summer, her crew asked her how painful it was from 1 to 10 and what the 10 was. The 10 was getting her IUD. Anyway, she said she would drive me home just in case, since I had been planning to drive myself.

And I am glad she did. I would like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance: I’ve broken an arm and a leg, I’ve had mono and strep throat at the same time (and didn’t even notice until I went to the doctor for a regular check up), I’ve danced several dance concerts with shin splints. The operation, though, was incredibly painful. There were several points where I thought I was going to have to back out and ask the doctor to stop. I cried. I almost passed out. It was definitely the most pain I had ever felt, and it lasted for a little over two hours. After the two hours, the pass-out-level pain came and went in pretty frequent waves for the next two days. Now, they are coming sporadically at bad-period levels, but, for example, they kept me up for a couple hours last night. I am not out of it yet, but I expect, from what the doctor said, for this phase to last for about two months.

And, again, everybody’s experiences vary. For me, this was definitely the most pain I have ever experienced.

Conclusions
But hey I’m still happy as a clam to have an IUD! I can’t (99% at least) get pregnant for the next twelve years, which is basically the rest of my fertile life! Two months is only .01% of my relationship with this IUD fella, even if it’s pretty awful.

Hope another story was helpful, and I wish you the best with your IUD!