Mirena: the removal

After a very long and treacherous journey which has taken two years, I can finally talk after having come out of that dark tunnel. This is my story… and what is the conlusion of this story? If you feel like you need to get the Mirena coil removed, do it. Listen to your body, it knows better than your mind…

In July 2013 I got the Mirena IUD swiftly plopped into my uterus… it didn’t hurt really. I had done the stupid thing and looked it up on the internet before. So I was prepared for a bloody horror movie scene but in fact it was all very pleasant. I did take some painkillers an hour before hand which might have done the trick… Can I just say that before that point I was all up on my anti-hormone horse but after many consultations with doctors I was persuaded not to get the copper coil, but get the Mirena coil. The periods would be too heavy with the copper they said.

It all seemed okay ish, for the first couple of weeks there was always a bit of unwanted blood, but what you gonna do. Then I stopped getting periods. Which is whats expected and it was enjoyable! In August things went down hill for me, I became very unfamiliar in my own head and I started wanting to be alone quite a bit. I put this down to the fact that I had finished university a few months before hand and I was having a bit of a crisis with having to start adult life, and that is probably true too, maybe I wasnt happy in my relationship? But again there wasnt any particular reason to feel that way…. I decided the most logical thing to do would be to just leave the UK and go away to be on my own and adapt. SO I bought a one way ticket to New Zealand. Sounds a bit dramatic but it had been something I always wanted to do, so I just went for it.

New Zealand was insane, I had a job, a house, I got to become best friends with the cousins of mine whom I had never met. But, things did get worse for me, the days went by in a pixellated fuzz. I wrote a diary entry in December when I was at my worst and the only way I could describe my head at the time was as if I had “black sand clogging up my brain”, it felt like the ultimate brain fog. I found it hard to be around people and one day I even stayed in bed the whole day and I hardly moved, I was scared. I’d never done drugs but it’s what I imagined a bad trip would be like, except this trip didn’t end.

As the months went on I slowly started coping with the new me, unfortunately I put on weight developed terrible spots on my face, the worst it had ever been (that could be due to the diet, the foods so rich and good there!). With the help of some lovely people (who had no idea they were helping) I have some incredible memories from New Zealand. I got to meet my family who are awesome, and I made some life long friends. I make it sound like I was a pain to be with, but no one knew what was happening in my head. I don’t know how it happened but it stayed secret the whole time, until one of my best friends came over from the UK. I let her in on what was happening and showed her the diary entry I had written in December, desperate for someone to understand me. She cried reading it.

In August I moved back to Bristol UK to live with my partner again. That’s when we noticed more physical changes. My breasts were lumpy, as was my abdomen, and my sex drive had decreased – a lot. I still felt this mind fog but I like to think I had it under control, like my mind had bought a mini hand-held fan. I went to the gyno and I was told that I had cysts on my ovaries (which weren’t there before the coil). Thats when I knew it was most likely the coils fault, I felt happy to point fingers. It wasnt depression, it was a hormonal imbalance which I had chosen for my body.

I was so unhappy in Bristol, I would cry frequently and all I had in my head was swear words and negativity. That wasnt who I was. I was the person who you would never piss off, who would never say a bad word about anyone. But I found myself internally swearing at doors, benches and branches. Anything I didn’t like the look of. It was terrible. On the plus side I lost about 10 kilos and my skin went back to normal – I still put off getting the coil removed, hoping I would get better. At the end of the day it would be a great form of contraception if there were no side effects. The doctors and everybody else said that something with such a small amount of hormone would not do that to me. Yet each day that went by it got worse, as if it was magnifying… which biologically, makes sense. I then started doing some research and it seemed I was not alone.

My friend reached out to me in March 2015 and asked if I still had the Mirena, because she had to have hers taken out as she was really suffering with it. She wanted to know if I had any similar problems. After we had a big discussion about it I thought, Fuck it, let’s get it out. At this point I felt 99% confident that it was the coil doing this to me.

With a very supportive boyfriend by my side I made the appointment to get the Mirena removed in April 2015, just a few weeks ago. It didn’t hurt at all and my doctor who did it told me that she isn’t the hormone kind gal either and she swears by the copper one, that it is only bad if you have the ultimate heavy periods. Wish she had been the one I had my first consultation with…

So.. the results? Well, I felt instantly better knowing it wasnt in me. But physically the lumps in my body have gone down dramatically, and my sex drive has gone up. I am smiling a lot and genuinely laughing at things which I actually find funny now. I’m more interested in the people around me and I can engage so much better. During my Mirena era I got to the point where I would force myself to listen to people but I used to get so bored and negative my mind would wonder. But not anymore… I’m slowly getting myself back and it feels so good. I’m embarrassed to say that before I got the Mirena inserted I had never given mental illness/problems a second thought. It’s safe to say that’s changed. I genuinely believed I had severe depression. There was a constant sense of impending doom weighing my shoulders down. That was the lowest part of my life so far and anything from now on will be a joy compared to that mind fuck. I can’t describe to you how relaxed I feel now. Yes, it may well be a placebo effect to any of you cynics reading, but this placebo shit is good if that’s the case.

Girls.. if you feel like you’ve lost yourself, chances are it’s the Mirena. Just get it out. Go and make the appointment now. I’ve only had mine out a few weeks and the changes are amazing, I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and getting back to who I know best and who I love.

So whats the plan now? I’m going to let my body settle down over the next couple of months, then I’m getting the copper coil inserted… I’m waiting for the day that men can take the contraceptive pill. What a day that will be.

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Bristol, United Kingdom

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Bristol is a weird city. Never have I known such proud people as I know the Bristolians. Even after 7 months I havent made a connection but as time goes on I realise Im isolating myself from a community by refusing accept the fact that I have settled.

Every day is different. If im not walking around a man attaching a colostomy bag to his stomach at 6am I’m running after a bus screaming to stop as a boy is trapped in the doors. Its like a constant trip, sights are so outrageously unusual that its become normal. Have I become urbanised?

Out of the dark window I saw trees raving in the wind and grubby centipedes with doors, carrying people to their required destination. As I walked home I felt like there was no resistance against me, the process felt like a liquid would. The fingertips of the early incoming gales were flicking my loose hair around my face, the rain was splattering lightly onto my face with such politeness that I welcomed it like an old friend. The city was grubby with sadness and lost souls despite the hope the community try to bring, but with the purge of the rain the streets were reset and the smell of woodsmoke and ancient water spiralled around me. It looked like a city but felt like a forest. Gulls were manically calling and flitting, probably apprehensive for the front which had hit the land and was coming our way, the occasional lone male glided down the centre of a street reminding me of trawler ships breaking through the silent frozen seas. The lack of people in the streets made everything more real and the music in my ears made it even more so. Evening stragglers idled past me whilst I frowned at the sky, trying to think of ways to make things better, to make life better.

With a new job drawing closer things feel a little more comfortable and safe.

Sierra de Tramuntana, Mallorca

Arriving back in the UK after a year in New Zealand felt so natural, I guess it must have been time to move on. There are moments now where I question what the hell we are doing when all I hear is chaos on the radio and in the paper. Walking through Brighton nearly sent me into a panic as there were so many people, Ive been away from all of this for a significant time. Just to clarify – the newspapers in New Zealand never announced world news on the front page, you would need to search for the World section in your lunch break. The rest of the paper focussed on local news such as community affairs. I have to say it was very refreshing however I went along with this mentality and cut off all news of home whilst I was there. Ignorance really is bliss but I dont think that personality trait ever goes down well here. My partner, Mark, visited me and was amazed at the news on the television. If it wasnt farming news it was biscuit rating time, or 10 minutes back and forth from the studio to the reporter trying to pick a song for an elderly brass band to play (they settled on Happy Birthday after establishing that they couldnt remember the song from My Fair Lady).

Mark and I flew to Mallorca, Spain. I grew up there and seeing friends and family was long overdue. Our house is situated in the heart of the Sierra de Tramuntana which is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its culture and beauty. Our cottage lays on a hill between the mountains called Galatzo and Bauza. Like most of the island the rock is limestone which provides great thermals for birds to soar upwards on. I worked on a project to help conserve the population of vultures who lived in the area due to the lands characteristics.

We spent our days snorkelling in the beautiful Mediterranean sea, and our evening sat out in the dusty dusk light, eating olives and salads with good beer and company. The featured photo was taken along the coast from Port Adriano. We rented a two seater sea kayak and set out to explore. The coastline is very interesting, there are lots of caves and old forgotten features scattered among the limestone sea cliffs. I have no idea what the door in the photo was used for, it has steps carved out of the rock and further up there is another doorway which you can just make out.

The Mediterranean is like a nursery for the Mediterranean Great Whites (Carcharodon Carcharias), I’ve never had the mis/fortune of meeting one but it makes swimming there a lot more special, they come down to breed (it probably has something to do with the Tuna population as well). The nutrient level is relatively low, you can determine this by observing the clarity of the sea water (which attracts so many tourists every year). Fortunatley there were no Jellyfish (or Medusas as they say), which made snorkelling pain free this year, however apparently there were many blooms down in Formentera. At the end of our visit we had trained our bodies to allow us more time under the water, and the water became an accesible world to us.

For the first time in my 20 years living there I had made peace with the ocean and found a mutual ground with it.

Wanaka

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I grabbed a job working on treble cone ski field.  Found a house in wanaka town,  and drove my cousins scrapper around.  The towns amazing and the people are so laid back its almost ridiculous.  You have to make an active effort to be unhealthy as everything is organic and well sourced.  Everyone is into yoga and sustainable living.

Working was fun,  I was part of a great team and learnt how the ski fields work.  It’s made up of very hard working and dedicated people,  snow makers worked all night and sometime their work was undone by rain at dawn.  Patrol kept the mountain safe and us in services kept the guests happy. 

The hiking was beautiful.  You had the short walks like rob Roy glacier and Mount iron,  then you had longer ones like Roy’s peak etc. I left before the real snow hit after 6 weeks of work (it was a bad start to the season as the snow never stayed), I really needed to go home to the UK!

I knew I would miss the landscapes,  the water is so pure in the south you can drink straight off the rock or icicle.  The low population meant that there was never a rush hour and wild food ‘pot luck’  dinners were a thing. The conservation status was very unique as humans actually fight nature to try and undo what the invasive species have done (the invasive species being us as we brought in ferrets, deer and rabbits etc)…When I was working with doc I’m my first job I was lucky enough to work with the bio team setting up tracking tunnels. In doing this we could get an idea of the rodent population,  with the beech mast year it was important to get it right as further action may need to be taken to help fight the battle for the birds. We were flown by helicopter into the Iris Burn Valley in Fiordland. We spent two days working, protected from the intense sun by the mountain beech. Our footsteps were cushioned by the sphagnum moss.  If you leant on a tree it usually fell as the moss had enveloped and rotted it.  Black robins and fantails would closely follow your every move to gorge on what lay under the grounds foliage.  We used a gps to keep ourselves from getting lost but the deer leads below and distinct mountain peaks above meant we would have stood a chance if technology failed. 

All in all New Zealand’s landscapes have set the bar high. 

Breathing Fiordland

I arrived in October to work for the Department of Conservation in Te Anau. It wasn’t an easy move to say the least and it didn’t get any easier, I just got used to missing the people I love. Stepping into the arrivals lounge I was tackled, hugged and kissed by my relatives who I was going to get to know throughout the coming months. After a hospitable stay with them I moved down to Te Anau to settle in to the house and job. Te Anau is literally the corner of the world and it is stunning and undisturbed. The job started off hard, it got easier and started to come naturally. I was sorting hikers onto the world famous tracks: Milford, Kepler and Routeburn.

As the months went on I got to know the area well and my fitness got good. Favourite tracks were usually long day hikes (5-12 hours) these included Gertrudes Saddle, Mt. Burns, the Routeburn, Luxmore, Lake Alabaster and many more. Its a very harsh environment, very unforgivable and unfortunately I got to know that as time went on and more tragedies happened. Your safety is your responsibility and there is no such thing as bad weather but there is bad equipment, wet feet are the norm and blisters are the least of your worries.  Don’t even try shifting the blame, do the research particularly on weather and forecasts. The impermeable granite cliffs caused river levels to rise and fall extremely fast. As the hut warden of Mintaro says “if you hear and avalanche/rock slip, dont run, you’ll only die tired!”. But the tracks are a haven for beautiful birds such as the fantail, rifleman, weka and sometimes kiwi (if you’re lucky).

8 months at DOC Te Anau – a great place to work, I had a great boss and a tight team. I bagged myself a job on Treble Cone for the winter so I said my goodbyes and moved on.