Hormone Diary (part 2): Evil, thy name is Mirena®

 

As I sit there listening to the doctor’s voice, her Eastern European accent virtually slapping me across the face with it’s harsh, clipped tones, I struggle to comprehend what I am hearing. I am shaking inside, my mind’s voice rising, first to whisper, then start screaming, “Really? REALLY? REALLY?!?!”
 
 IMG_0427
 
“This is four month re-visit. How are you feeling Jodie?” Direct, no genuine empathy detectable.
 
“Ahh … actually, I am feeling very anxious & quite exhausted. I have constant spotting or bleeding.  I have trouble staying focused on tasks, making decisions is hard & I am really moody. Oh & I have been getting these weird little dizzy spells – I just feel like my it takes my head time to catch up with where my eyes are & it makes me feel all woozy, if that makes sense.“ I spill my words together in an attempt to be coherent, rushing on with;

“I mean I have recently gone back to work full time & things have changed quite a lot, so I know I am under quite a different lot of stress from what I was, but it all feels such a struggle.” I am rambling, I know it, but lately my mind is always on high speed & the words are out before I can check them, especially when the anxiety kicks in.
 
“Hmmm … yes, well, change can be hard. The release of hormones from Mirena® can impact this too, it is quite normal in early stage of insertion.”  Is what she said.  What I heard is, “suck it up & stop whining sissy-girl.”
 
“Oh … really? Well, it’s been four months – is that still early stage?   I also noticed my hair is falling out & I have been getting a lot of pimples on my face. I haven’t had that kind of thing happen since my thyroid went all dodgy. It’s a bit upsetting.”
 
“Again, the hormones in the Mirena® can cause this. It is quite typical.”
 
“Oh … really. That worries me a little, will it stop? I do recall reading that there can be short term side effects, but they generally stop after a while, right? It’s been four months already though, & I feel kind of ordinary …”  My voice trails away to not much more than a whisper.
 
“Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no.”
 
“So … really? Okay. Well, I also feel like I have put on a lot of weight really quickly & am extremely hungry all the time. I am finding it very hard to control. I mean I know I am not the healthiest or fittest person I know, but I do try to, you know, eat well & stuff. I guess …”
 
“Well of course, the hormones from Mirena® can cause this too. You have to start to try harder to regulate appetite & look at having exercise routine.”
 
“Really? It’s hard to get motivated when I feel so tired all the time.  Oh well at least I know it’s not just me going crazy – I thought I was making it all up there for a while. I mean, how often would you see someone who gets the WHOLE list of possible side effects? Not often I’m sure, right?” Cue my awkward laugh.
 
“I think all is okay to keep it in & we follow up in six months.  Things might have settled more by then.” Dead pan, no reaction.
 
My mind screams, ANOTHER SIX MONTHS OF THIS  … REALLY??  What I say is, “Really … oh, okay, ahhh, I guess so then. If you’re sure it’s alright. I REALLY don’t want another pregnancy!”
 
“Okay then, you can make new appointment when you pay. Take care Jodie.” Rises & opens door, while I still sit in stunned, lost, gullible uncertainty.
 
“Right then, nothing to worry about. Really.” I mutter as I hastily exit.
 
My mind is a muddle of inaudible questions. That is happening a lot lately. I can’t process what has been said with any confidence that I should be more concerned, instead of just accepting of what I have been told. So, I do what normally do, I respectfully accept what I have been told & walk away with a polite thank you. I pay. I make another appointment. I walk to my car. I climb in. I sit, keys in hand, eyes stinging, hands shaking.
 
The next thing I hear is a sob, I wonder where it is coming from, I look up & catch sight of my eyes in the rear view mirror. They are red, wet with tears & streaked with black from my mascara running. It is me who is sobbing.
 
“Really,” I think confoundedly, “Really?”

ducks in a row

It wasn’t until a few days later, when all the doctor had & hadn’t said finally sank in & I had a heart breaking epiphany.  I had once again been body-jacked by an alien, only this one I willingly & stupidly had implanted into my own body.  

A little while back I wrote a short post about going to the pharmacy to pick up a contraceptive prescription, & to my shock & horror, handed a huge box with an IUD (intrauterine device) in it called ‘Mirena®’.  While I joked about not having read the brochure, most of which was true, I had done some research on contraceptives in order to work out which one would be most likely to work for me over the long term. 

After having my second child, I knew I was finished with pregnancies.  I love my children & would love a bunch more if they were ready made, but the carrying of them is something my body clearly told me it wasn’t keen on anymore.  I don’t know if I can clearly explain the need I felt to not get pregnant again – it was almost like a constant warning bell in my mind.  When you body yells that loud, it pays to listen, which I did, to that, but sadly, I managed to ignore, deny & mistrust that same warning bell when it began to not so much screech but sob as the Mirena® began it’s reign over my body, mind & emotional stability.  

img_learn-more
 
(Image source)
 
Such a tiny & innocuous looking little thing isn’t it?  Kind of like the pills I took to rid myself of the first alien invader – a cyst on my thyroid.  A little radioactive iodine cure me of that sucker, but this, this did not grow of it’s own volition, this, I had it put in my body by choice.  Bad choice, very bad choice.  

In retrospect, I wonder if I did make a hasty decision, just so I felt like I was ‘protected’, rather than really thinking through the possible consequences, given my history with hormone dramas & other related medical issues.  

As a form of contraception the Mirena® is considered among the most effective & is branded as a a great way for “busy moms” to “keep life simple”.  What it does not express quite so forwardly is the nastiness of the side effects. 

When you dig deeper & read the ‘Safety Considerations‘ – it reads like a disturbing list of ‘unlikely‘ issues.  Unlikely to some, but then there are those like me who are extra sensitive to changes in the balance of hormones in the body.  For those, it reads like a horror story of chaos & devastation.  The information states that;

Less than 5% of Mirena® users may experience:

Vaginal discharge
Breast pain or tenderness
Nausea
Nervousness
Inflammation of cervix, vulva or vagina
Pelvic pain during your period
Back pain
Weight increase
Decreased sex drive
Pain during intercourse
Anemia
Unusual hair growth or loss
Skin irritations (such as hives, rash, eczema or itching)
Feeling bloated
Swelling of hands and feet
Expulsion
 
Horrid, right?  There is that part of you that reads these things & thinks, well, they have to cover all bases, surely it won’t be that bad.  Another part thinks, DON’T DO IT! Infuriatingly I didn’t listen to the latter thought – I cannot tell you how deeply I regret not listening.  It is with no hesitation that I say, “Evil, thy name is Mirena®!”

food stamp

Over the four month period I lived with this alien matter inside me, I went from being a happy, reasonably healthy, reasonably confident & easy going woman, to a paranoid, insecure, anxiety stricken, angry, insatiably hungry, out of control beast.  I became so lost & compromised I did not even make the obvious connections to what was happening to me – a place I hoped I would never got to again.  

I felt like a bystander to my own steady decline – watching, helplessly as my whole system pulsed with the poison being released from a little piece of plastic hidden deep inside my body.  I was going through the motions, but felt no like I had no way to change it.  My mind was a mess – unfocused & foggy, unable to cling to the idea that something was wrong.  I even wrote a little about my sense of apathy & disconnection here – but I still hadn’t put all the pieces together.

You might be reading this thinking, well, DUH Jodie, wasn’t it obvious?  But it wasn’t, it really wasn’t.  Life is busy & complicated most days & keeping check on myself had become a low priority. 

In the days following my visit to the doctor, a few things happened –

  • I had a major melt down where I screamed uncontrollably at my children for spilling paint on the tiles, something that had happened many times before & was no.big.deal.  Both my babies ended up cowering away from me crying in each others arms.  I was mortified & disgusted with myself.
  • I had someone ask me when my baby was due, to which I responded, “I’m not pregnant just fat, so please fuck off now!” 
  • I stood on the scales & broke down when I saw that I had put on more than 10 kilograms in the past four months & was now the heaviest I had ever been.
  • I had a conversation with someone relatively new in my life, who is a little older, a lot wiser & who had been through her own nightmare experience while using an IUD.
  • On impulse & after some quick Google-ing, I took the alien Mirena® out & threw it unceremoniously in the rubbish.  

Fast forward about 3 months & I can tell you, that impulse was the BEST.IMPULSE.EVER!  My decline into horror has stopped, completely.  Hooray, all good, the end!  Really?  No, not really.

I have been sitting on finishing this post for a few weeks now, I am not sure why.  I suppose I think there should be some take home message, some insightful, all encompassing wisdom that makes this all turn out for the best for everyone.  

What I realise is, it is still a work in progress, you see, for all the celebration of ridding myself of the alien invader – there is collateral damage.  My body & mind are recovering, but I can’t undo what has happened quickly. And if I am honest, that part really sucks!

I have some very hard work to do to get back to a place when I feel comfortable in my own skin, where I don’t feel guilty for allowing my children to see me so unwell & inflicting on them the wraith of my own pain, where I don’t feel like cringing away from my partner’s touch because I hate the way I look.  It’s a steep climb from here & I fear I am not up to the challenge.

 Warning... I'm exercising,  eating right and watching  my alcohol intake...  Which means I'm  sober, I'm cranky  and I'm sore.  So proceed with  caution!

I am working on it – but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle.  That said, I have, at the time I write this, lost around 5 kilograms, I am eating well & intentionally & I am, to even my own surprise about halfway there on the C25K app! Not so long ago, I would have said this about running anywhere …

clown run

So, while it is not all smiles & happy endings, yet, I am making a concerted effort to get myself on track, for my children, my partner & ultimately for me.

Note to self:<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
I'm pretty damn AWESOME!

I’m tucking this little note away for future reference.

If there is a take home message I can impart here, it is please, please, please read the fine print before you make any decisions regarding any kind of pharmaceutical / chemical intervention.  Then once you do decide, listen carefully to your body, very carefully, it will tell you if there is a problem – you just have to trust yourself.

 

Cheers,

Jodie xx

Cook!  Eat!  Enjoy!

(ecards sourced via Pinterest

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Alison @ Talking Frankly says

    Jodie sweetheart – you are very damn awesome. And well done for working through that particular journey without stabbing that horrid doctor. Now that you are feeling better, find another one! And your children love you just the way you are. Because, well, you’re awesome xoxo

    • says

      Thank you gorgeous Alison! If I could go back & stab the doc – I think I would!! In her defence though I do think accent made it all seem so much harsher than it might have otherwise been. That said – I won’t be going back there in a hurry!
      Really appreciate the kind words – feel so lucky to have my babies & good friends like yourself out there! xx

  2. Katie says

    I had the mirena in and it was beyond evil. The dr refused to remove it, so I booked G in for the snip and removed it myself. Best thing I ever did.

      • Katie says

        He didn’t believe that I could be ‘that sensitive’ to something that contains very little hormones. He tried to blame my other illness instead.

    • says

      I remember you saying how bad it was for you – I should have known it would suck for me too! We’re still looking into future options but I am intending to remain free range with no added hormones that is for sure!! xx

  3. says

    I am glad that you wrote this post. Have you read the book “is the pill right for you” it is a great insight into how hormones can cause so many problems for woman and they are told it is normal. I didn’t know that you could take it out yourself. Glad you are starting to loose the weight too, it makes a difference to how you feel.

    • says

      Thanks Eleise – I haven’t read that one but will definitely be looking into it now!! It’s not hard to get out thankfully – saved myself another $150 too – gotta love Google!! :). Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. says

    Good idea, but another thought I had was to please change your doctor. With no empathy and what seems like just wanting your money, I think I would keep changing until you find one that suits and above all cares!

  5. says

    I didn’t have your experience with the Mirena – it was something the dr spoke about at one point but we didn’t land up following through with because I was actually going through meonpause – but that is pretty similar to what happened with me and menopause. It was only when I found a dr who specialised in women’s hormones that we then knew that I was going through menopause and she treated it correctly. I can honestly say that for those 8-10 months, my life was just horrible and I know that I didn’t score any brownie points with my family !!!! I was horrible to live with. I put on close to 30kgs in about 5 months and I am still battling to lose it now.
    I think taking it out was the best thing you could have done and I agree with Becc – I would be looking to see if I could find a new dr – preferably one who specialises in women’s hormones.
    Love, hugs and positive energy !
    Me

    • says

      Oh me! Sounds hideous – probably lucky you didn’t try the mirena as well – could have been a complete nightmare!! I am glad you got the right treatment. As I can attest the wrong treatment really sucks!!
      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  6. says

    Oh Jodie, I’m so sorry you have been through all of this. When I lived overseas, a doctor convinced me to go off the pill and go onto Mirena. I was on it for about 15 months – a time in my life I think I’d rather forget. I had bleeding at irregular times, my skin broke out all the time and I felt depressed and lethargic. Actually, just think about it now makes me feel physically ill. My side-effects weren’t as horrible as yours though. It’s so easy to be cajoled by doctors into doing things. We go to them for advice because they are supposed to help us, but unfortunately many are motivated by ulterior motives. It is so brave of you to write this post and to get the message out there that this can be a really, really detrimental form of contraception. Sending you a great big hug. xx

    • says

      15 months like that sounds just awful Lizzy! I am sorry it had such a huge impact on your time – I feel sick when I think about it all too!!
      You are so right – I think we are conditioned to ‘trust’ doctors as being able to help us – but it pays to remember they are only humans trying to make a living too.
      Thanks for sharing & stopping by – sad as our experiences were, it is reassuring to know I am not the only one & we can all come out the other side better for it!
      Hug gratefully accepted! :)

  7. Chantel says

    Great move – side effects shouldn’t be accepted, especially when they are changing who you are. Glad you are slowly recovering and great post for anyone at the contraception crossroads.

    Hello from #teamIBOT

    • says

      Welcome Chantel! It has been a harrowing experience – you are so right we should not accept that side affects are ‘normal’! Things can only get better from here that’s for sure! :)

  8. says

    I can’t stand hormones. I don’t use the pill or any of those terrifying things they try to implant. (It’s about time some of these male medics came up with versions for their own sex).
    I use the Billings Method to avoid pregnancy and achieve it when I want. It is worth learning a natural method and letting your body do its thing its way. You need to be careful using it but in 15 years I have never had an accident and all the 6 babies were conceived first go when we wanted them.
    I hope you are feeling better soon and it looks like that’s happening now!

    • says

      Very wise move Jody! Hormone free is the best way to go I think! I will certainly be doing that from here on in. I haven’t heard of the method you use before – am interested to look into it though. Thanks for sharing! Appreciate you stopping by! :)

  9. says

    Oh sweetheart, you really have been through the wash, ringer and then smashed about by this horrible thing. My heart aches and breaks for you. And to that doctor I just want to bitch slap her for having no compassion – what a mole. Please try and be kind to you, your children won’t remember you were cranky, it’s just a few months and you are now on the right track. Go the 5kgs, it’ll happen but be gentle to yourself. I was fortunate hubby got the snip, so haven’t had to think of options for me, thankfully! Good message to those who are considering M too. Lots of love, hugs and high fives for publishing this post, bet it was challenging to write – Em xxxxx

    • says

      Oh thank you lovely Em! It means so much to read those words! I am still smarting from some of the horrid things I said & did, especially to the kidlets, that’s always hard to forgive yourself for!
      I am trying to just be happy with small steps – 5kg is great, but I know there’s 20+ to go & too much dwelling on that makes it seem too hard! Am working on the small wins – every one counts! xx

    • says

      Thanks Shelley! I am sure my time will come – I have plenty to be happy for & know it won’t always be like this! Really appreciate the support! xx

  10. says

    Wow, what a horrid experience! I’m so glad I read this as have been toying with the idea of getting a Mirena seeing as hubby won’t get the snip. My initial reservations were around my experience with the Depo injection as a teenager and knowing it’s the same hormones, but this post brings up a whole new range of issues which sound way too unpleasant and complicated to even consider!

    • says

      It’s a big decision Emma! It may not be a problem for you – I am sure there are some women who have no issues. It makes it hard when you want to be responsible & in charge of your body. I am hoping my partner will come around to the idea of him taking his turn – time will tell! Good luck with whatever you decide – just think carefully!! :)

  11. says

    Oh. My. God, Jodie! I want to hug you and go down to that doctor’s office and bitch slap her myself. I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. It’s not okay and something needs to be done. I recently got refused the pill because my migraines with auras have been increasing. Combining those with the pill increases my risk of stroke. My options are the mini pill, which is making me have my period nearly every second week, having an IUD, or Mirena. I thought Mirena was an injection? I haven’t read the paperwork because I was going to see if I regulate on the mini pill first. It’s just all a bit too much. I hope things settle down for you soon xxxx

    • says

      Thanks Renee – virtual hugs gratefully accepted!! Contraception is a big deal & decision isn’t it!! I have been on & off the pill for years, but have had lots of struggles with that too, which is why I decided to try the Mirena. Suffice to say, after this experience I am not in a hurry to go back on anything! We are looking into alternatives that leave my body alone!! Free range, no added hormones is my new motto!! ;) xx

  12. says

    I’m so against all these hormonal contraceptive methods once I started actually researching how they work and what not.
    I’m also hesitant about the more permanent contraceptive methods – vasectomy and tube tying and what not. Not that I think they are bad, I just can’t help thinking “But what if I want one more…?!” Haha.

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through so much hell, but more power to you for getting through it and following what you knew to be right in the end! It is not an easy thing, particularly with such an unthoughtful and uncaring doctor!!

    • says

      Welcome Talia! It is a big call with any form of contraception isn’t it! There’s always a lingering ‘what if’ over something more permanent for me too – but realistically for me I just don’t think my body would handle it too well!

      I definitely won’t be back to that doctor in a hurry – that is for sure! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  13. says

    Oh I am so glad that you took it out and that Doctor should be ashamed of herself for not doing her job properly.
    Although I wasn’t on the same contraception, a few years ago I started having the pill injection and began to feel many of the things you described were happening to you, especially the inexplicable and hugely fast weight gain, huge mood swings, libido issues – the lot and like you it took me a long time to realise that it was the injection that was causing it. When you are in the middle of it going through it it is very hard to see.
    As soon as I realised I stopped the injections and after a couple of weeks everything started to right itself again, I’ve never been near any hormone stuff since.
    So glad things are coming together for you now.

    • says

      Thanks Rhian – it is hard to see for looking when it is all happening I totally agree. So pleased that you did something as soon as you realised too – the recovery time can be slow, but at least it will happen!! :)

  14. says

    Oh Jodi, my blood was boiling as I read that exchange about the doctor’s office! So glad you have got rid of the whole thing now, and are starting to feel better. It’s hard enough keeping on top of everything without a stupid bit of plastic driving you crazy

    • says

      Thanks so much Jess! I have to admit I do wish I could go back & give the doctor a bitch-slapping now I am feeling better & can see how much I needed her to see how bad it was & help me, but at the time, I just wanted to trust someone & do the right thing.

      So glad it is out & I can get back to being me! I kind of missed her strangely – not something I would have thought might happen, so for all the drama, there is some good that came out of it!! :)

  15. says

    So good that you’ve shared this, the last implanon I had in gave me problems, not as bad as yours but still and I decided that’s it for me and hormonal birth control.
    I’m surprised it’s only 5% that have issues given how many women I hear have problems with birth control!

    • says

      Seems like a ridiculously low figure I know Lila! I think I should have been more suspicious – but alas no. Thanks for sharing & like you , I am glad to be done with hormonal birth control!! :)

  16. says

    Oh Jodie you poor thing!! I am SOOOO pleased you are getting back to your old self again. What a horrible thing to go through and so easily done too. Oh and this may be just my opinion but you doctor sounds horrible – get a new one, quick!!!!

    I have the mirena and I don’t suffer those symptoms – well not to the same extent as you did. Very lucky I guess. ALthough I have also put on 10kg and am also the heaviest I have ever been and I hate it. I think it might be because I just don’t do any exercise at the moment (no time) but you have got me thinking!!

    Thank care lovely lady xx

    • says

      Thanks Robyn – it has been a difficult one, but I am getting there! I am glad it has not had the same kind of impact on you – I do like to think that the majority of women can use it effectively & feel well & protected! The weight gain is a killer with this one I think – don’t be surprised if it does have an influence even if you aren’t as active as you might like to be!

      Appreciate you stopping by & sharing! :)

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