Friday, 19 May 2017

The 7 Stages of Buying and Trying a Diva Cup

      Last month, I finally bought a Diva Cup.  I thought I would never try one in a million years, but apparently even I am capable change.  I feel a lot of existential guilt about the trash I leave in my wake.  I also feel a lot of moral outrage that I have to produce waste for some natural process that I did not ask for.  A menstrual cup seemed like the final frontier of sustainable living in a female reality. 
      Anyway, according to Diva Cup's (2017) Eco-Divas info page, the average woman uses approximately 9,600 tampons across her 40 year menstrual life cycle.  That's a hell of a lot bleached cotton and rayon leaching dioxin into the environment!  It's also probably not good for our internal lady bits in the long run.  Disposable menstrual gear is the norm right now, but the plastic covering ends up on washroom floors, and the paper flaps static cling to your clothes to be tracked through the house.  It's a mess, and it's not cute.
     On the other hand, I really thought it was disgusting and horrifying to shove a silicone cup up your vagine to collect menstrual blood that you have to deal with hours later.  However, my opinion was swayed by the savings on pads and tampons and alleviating some of my personal contribution to the degradation of the environment.  This paradigm shift was assisted by fate drawing me to London Drugs and noticing that Diva Cups were on sale for $5 off.  You can also purchase your own Diva Cup at Shoppers Drug Mart for those sweet, sweet Optimum points. 
You can also get them here:
Expect to pay about $40 with tax ($37.99), but it is totally worth it!  Let me weave you a yarn of penultimate satisfaction with this innovative product.  

Meet my Diva Cup.

 Hey, it's a Diva Cup.  It's like 2" tall.  Doable.

With all the preamble out of the way, let's jump into my actual experiences!  As my cycle progressed and I got more practice with the Diva Cup, I noticed several marked changes in my state of mind.  Maybe there weren't 7, but I liked the way it sounded, so we're going with the 7 Stages of Buying and Trying a Diva Cup.

1. Excitement

I was really jazzed when I bought my Diva Cup.  I had watched some YouTubers chronicle their experiences and read some reviews beforehand, I finally felt ready to commit.  No time like the present to begin a new menstrual chapter.  I was unstoppable!  The box was like a special secret in my purse on the bus going home. 
"I'm a modern empowered woman, yes, this natural glow is my divine feminine confidence because I am saving the world one period at a time."
If only I had such positive self talk all the time.  I couldn't wait to get home and boil my Diva Cup.  Strong start!

2. Horror

After the cup was sanitized through boiling, I was good to go.  The only problem was that I was about a day early.  Things were not in high gear yet.  However, I thought it would totally be a good idea to do a dry run...literally.  Getting it in there was so easy.

Let me tell you, it is a lot easier to shove something up your vagina than it is to pull something out.  If anyone else has had sex with a tampon in, then it got so rammed up inside that you have to dig your fist in there in sweaty horror, praying that you do not have to go to the hospital to get it removed because the string seems nowhere to be found, you know that certain visceral terror.  The horror is twofold.  It is a total lack of feeling in control of your own body, and the crushing embarrassment of being afraid of your own genitals. 

3. Disgust

I'm a 300% sex positive person.  I just have zero desire to reach into the muscular bag that is my vagina.  A menstrual cup kind of relies on our ability to be able to at least put a finger and a thumb in there.

In my panic, I got in the shower and tried to relax.  Relaxing never works when you need it to.  Relaxing then "bearing down" like you're pooping seem like contradictory instructions.  Timidly trying to coax a foreign object out of there while you're freaking out is not productive, I learned.  It was suctioned to my cervix; gravity was not on my side because it wasn't full of blood and mucus and junk.  I tried a new technique I've been using to calm the crippling anxiety in my daily life: mantras.

As it is said in the old and revered hymn by Riff Raff featuring Katy Perry,
It's no big deal.  It's no big deal.  It's no big deal. This is no big deal

This is how we do, yeah, chilling, laid back
Straight stuntin' yeah we do it like that
This is how we do, do do do do, this is how we do

With a mighty push and a violent act of fumbling dexterity from desperate yet nimble monkey fingers, she was out!  Lesson learned: wait until there is more than spotting.

4. Intrigue

Over the following days, it was interesting to get a feel for the removal process.  There is something quite fascinating about seeing all the goop that comes out.  Now, I only remove and clean my Diva Cup in the shower.  I am not yet confident enough in my skills to do it over the toilet.  Getting to pour the cup full of blood down the drain is like the call of the void, both inviting and intrusively perverse.

The other benefit of removing the cup in the shower is that you bathe twice a day.  I usually use my period as an excuse to be as gross as humanly possible and wallow in my own filth.  But with the Diva Cup, and specifically when taking it out in the shower, you can take the time to look at the measurements on the side and keep track of how heavy your flow is.  This is another stat provided on the Diva Cup packaging, but the average period is 1-2 ounces.  In my first month with the Diva Cup, I measured 2.5 ounces over 4 days.  This month was a shorter, lighter period for me, with just shy of 2 ounces over 3 days.


5. Satisfaction

It's always really satisfying to feel like you're getting better at something.  Every single time I took it out, I got a little faster.  I felt a little more relaxed.  I was able to put my fingers in there without panicking so I didn't end up pinching my business with my beautiful yet pointy active oval finger nails.

I only used one big overnight pad for the duration of my period.  I did go through two regular pads and one pantyliner, but that is less than I would normally use in combination with at least 6 tampons.

It is great to see that menstrual cups really do reduce feminine hygiene products going into landfills.  The amount of spotting and leakage was so insignificant, it really blew my mind and made me confident in the cup's staying power.

 I was supremely impressed by how little made it past the Diva Cup after 13 hours on the Tiger Force (heaviest flow) day of my period. 

The Diva Cup promises 10-12 hours of protection, but it was a long day.  I think the Diva Cup would be a game changer for swimming.  I still haven't tested it out at the gym, but I am working on it.  I am a lazy cretin.

6. Empowerment

As I gained confidence in the product, I decided to talk to friends and family about menstrual cups as a legitimate option for period gear.  I had the most wonderful conversation with my mum.  She shared that when she was growing up, menstrual technology was that of a belt with a cotton tube like a sumo's mawashi.  It was bulky and legit tortuously chafey.  She's watched the rise of pads, then tampons, and now this new option is amazing, scary, but amazing.

We have a wonderful relationship, and I can talk to my mum about anything.  But our conversation made me aware of my own taboos around menstruation, and having a positive relationship with my own vagine.  I realize that being comfortable with your own vagina is also beneficial for your health in general.  It is an opportunity to figure out your personal normal and track changes.  Not just from menstrual flow/colour/consistency/duration, but what if you found a lump?  At least you have a baseline.

I wish I had switched to a menstrual cup years ago.  I hope there are tweens starting out with cups instead of tampons.  I don't think pads will ever disappear completely, but we should retire tampons fer suuuure.  The menstrual cup is the way of the future.
 I wish I knew you when I was young.

7. Excitement

I boiled my Diva Cup at the end of my last period and tucked it away in its fun pink drawstring bag in preparation for the cycle to begin anew.  As I looked upon the little pouch, I got a brief pang of excitement to try the process again.  After a second period using the Diva Cup, I can honestly say that I have no regrets!  It has totally exceeded all of my expectations and I really hope more women get on board.

The Diva Cup isn't the only menstrual cup game in town.  No ma'am!  There are other shapes, sizes, and lengths too.  A lot of them look very similar, so here is a sampling of the ones I thought seemed the most visually diverse. 

Sticks, ribs, tubes, lengths in any combination.

I like the Diva Cup because it was designed in Canada and manufactured in Ontario.  Considering the environmental and health benefits, supporting Canadian innovation is a pretty good bonus.

Hopefully this post inspires some more ladies to try out reusable menstrual gear.  Find what works for you.  I mean, apparently we have around 40 years to get it figured out.  I've spent the last 12 years ripping through pad wrappers, yanking out tampons, and scrubbing blood stains out of my period undies.  I have already spent approximately 1.6 years of my life bleeding onto a weird foamy plastic sheet.  Existing shouldn't have to be this hard.

 If only we could get PMS, cramps, and migraines figured out. (feat my squirrel neck pillow)

We're all in this together.  Be brave.  Be kind.  Shove a cup against your cervix.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Tales from the Draft Vault: Sex and Attraction

I noticed that I had a lot of unfinished posts in the "Drafts" tab, so I thought it would be fun to look back at what unhatched plans I was sitting on years ago.

Hilarity ensued.

I was unsure about a lot of norms in dating (and still am).  There is so much that I don't understand about what it's like growing up as a young male in this age of the internet and instant gratification.  Negotiating wants and needs with a partner and confronting my own beliefs and hang ups has been challenging.  I was not a good communicator face-to-face and often felt a lot of legit rage because I was genuinely afraid of speaking my mind but also figuring out my own beliefs as a feminist and general good human and partner.

*the spinal disability porn was shown in a Health Science class on human sexuality.  The prof wanted to show that there really is everything out there and that some people do try to do...empowering things with porn whether the world wants it or not* rolls eyes into the cosmos at the romper room fuckery*

These drafts were from somewhere around the age of 19, so 2012 ish.  There was a lot going on in my life, I was pretty salty about a lot of stuff, and also thought that I was pretty hot shit (100% tru doe).  I was coming into my own and enjoying feeling like an attractive and desirable young woman.  I spent all my weekends at bars, clubs, and partying, so I put on my psychology googles when other people had on beer goggles.

I still have super glued on half-grapefruit or navel orange boobs, whatever.  Now I wear backless stuff, it's awesome.  AND I don't have to be mean or jealous of well-endowed women, I understand now.  We all don't have to give a single fuck about what men want, it all makes sense!  #maturity

Life is a lot easier when you don't exist to be attractive to men.  That has been a fabulous life lesson.  I probably wouldn't own so many clothes with unicorns and glitter tulle and Troll Dolls if I hadn't learned that lesson.

In that above post we see some of my saltiness.  I think those posts remained drafts because I didn't like who was coming out when I explored the feelings of inadequacy and jealousy I was experiencing.  As I left my late teens and entered my early twenties, it was shocking when some of my male friends started dating girls who were freshly out of or still in high school.  It was a shocking realization that once you are in your 20's, some guys can start looking for younger models.  Be it for their naivete, crisp virginity, ease of manipulation, or feeling like rulll mannnn, it was really disconcerting.

It is any combination of:
- saltiness because I was starting to become self conscious that I was aging
-protectiveness of underage girls drinking and having sex with adult men
-who is using who?
-what do you even have in common? They don't give a fuck about Skyrim
-the ease of posting/sending nudes and messages without understanding repercussions

So salty.

Thank the lord I we weren't in the era of SnapChat yet.  I think this iteration of me would have had an aneurysm writing about my distaste for the voyeurism and frivolity of it all.

More Tales From the Draft Vault to come! 

Friday, 31 March 2017

Tales from the Draft Vault: Colourful Characters

I totally forgot about this until I stumbled upon this draft.

How exciting it was to have a campus in the down town core! 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Tales from the Draft Vault: I Don't Drink Like I Used To

As many of you may remember, either through previous posts from years gone by, or from experiencing me in real life, I really enjoyed a tornado of party monster behaviour.

Hilarity ensues!

Now I don't know if these were composed around the same time, but this could have been the morning after for a 6am replenishment shift...

I physically cannot drink like I used to.  I got older and hangovers got worse.  I started getting migraines more frequently, especially after not sleeping well.  I also realized that unless I get absolutely plastered, one or two drinks often makes me very depressed if I'm not in a 100% cheery mindset.  Sugar in alcohol also destroys my guts.  After getting C.diff last year and being on antibiotics for 9 months, I realized that I don't need alcohol to socialize.  I do have social anxiety, and it was a challenge to overcome the stomach-turning nervousness, but it was better than cramps and feeling like I'm going to shit my pants after 2.5 drinks.  No more alcoholic go go juice.  It was a really fun time in my life, but I've learned how to be confident enough to be entertaining without alcohol.

Goodbye, old girl.

Friday, 24 March 2017

A Headache is NOT a Migraine

Hello internet!

After an extended leave of life-living, I have returned!  Not so triumphantly, because it was under unpleasant circumstances of a crushing migraine that catalyzed the necessity of getting back into the swing of things.  However, I'm looking forward to making more time to share my experiences through ThingofStuff.

I've been making a lot of "real art" for school, so I haven't been doing much silly doodling, or even doing #ootd fashion illustrations on Instagram.  My life has been absolutely consumed with heavy-practicum-based Art Therapy certification.  It is really exciting, and I love what I do, but it is a lot to handle emotionally.  Not to mention that being disgustingly busy makes time go by insanely quickly, and it leaves next to no quiet moments for the arts and crafts that I want to do!

As you may have deduced, I'm a lady under a lot of stress.  I go to school, I work at a little cafe to augment my poverty, I have three practicums, I volunteer, and I still occasionally model.  I am also in a mild distance relationship and try to be semi-social.

My body has developed a delightful pattern of waiting until I have a day off to be unbearably uncooperative.  In December, as soon as I was out of school for winter break, I was sick on and off until the end of January.  I developed a sinus infection and had 3 migraines in 4 days.  I have had more sinus headaches and migraines in 2017 than the last year combined.  That being said, I was only working 2 jobs and volunteering (did contract C.diff, but that's another story!).  Spring Break was a welcome beacon of respite; however, I've had a sinus headache for the last few days and woke up to the sound of grinding power washing and a throbbing migraine this morn.

After all this preamble, let's jump into the story of my original intention!

If I had three wishes, I would certainly wish for migraines to be stricken from the human condition.  Everyone experiences pain differently, and not everyone gets migraines, but migraines are a scourge upon humanity.  A headache is not a migraine.  Headaches are unpleasant, but they are like a rat nibbling at the cardboard of your being.  You can kick it away for a bit and carry on with your day till it comes niggling back.  A migraine is like throwing your whole cardboard being into a compactor and setting fire to the sad crushed cube after.  You legit cannot function.

If you don't believe me, check out the Mayo Clinic's summary of the debilitating symptoms of migraines.  There are also some good resources.

Anyway, if you've ever been able to feel a tennis ball of pain behind one of your eyes, hissed at light like a vampire, and almost barfed or shit the bed because you're in too much pain to move, you've probably had a migraine!
The tennis ball of disabling pain is generally located behind the right eye, and can extend backwards into your neck.
As mentioned above, an extreme sensitivity to light or sound can be experienced.  Even with your eyes closed, it feels as if you can still see because the vibrations of sound and the intensity of light flood through your closed eyes.
For me, I also become disgustingly sensitive to smell.  It makes it very hard to navigate getting home in a pre-migraine state because public transit is full of all kinds of horrendous human and automobile-related odors.  You may feel Mommie Dearest levels of psychotic anger towards your environment, itching to scream at the world to shut up, but too crippled by the pain of noise to make a sound yourself.

A very poor caricature of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford screaming, "NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!" in Mommie Dearest.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please search it on YouTube, you'll understand a lot more pop culture references.)

This overwhelming sensory experience is often accompanied by a sweaty urge to throw up or have violent diarrhea.  If you're really lucky, sometimes both!  As unladylike as it sounds, it is far more relieving to start fresh and super hydrate after than to frantically panic about the possibility of barfing and have it never come to fruition. (I have a severe fear of vomit, Emetophobia, which can make the anticipation of barfing FAR WORSE than the actual act) So if you're like me, you can have a migraine AND a panic attack while naked on the toilet with the lights off!

Why am I naked, you ask?  I was going to have a nice relaxing shower, but now I'm doing deep breathing and holding on to my ankles and crying!  Joy!  Grace!  Opulence!

After chugging water and feeling like you are sufficiently empty of bile, it is well advised to pop some codeine, caffeine, and acetaminophen (NEVER ASPIRIN, codeine + aspirin = acid re-flux and  holes in your guts) and jump in a very long, hot shower.  I generally start standing and end up doing some weird crunchy yoga in the bottom of our dirty bath tub.  Let the droplets from the shower head soothe your splitting cranial pain.  
Post-panic-laying-on-the-dirty-bathing-well bod looking SNATCHED!

Once you have been in the shower for a solid 20 minutes and maybe cried a little bit, you might start to feel better.  The darkness of the bathroom, the way the shower curtain sticks to your arms, the warmth of the steam, it starts to feel good.  It's time to bundle up in huge socks and a house coat and to make (and eat) an entire pot of Kraft Dinner in bed with something cool on your forehead.  The ultimate goal is to have a codeine-induced nap and awaken like Venus on the Half-Shell.

In reality, I usually wake up with anime hair and still wearing my weird Orbeez-filled cooling head wrap that looks like Judo headgear, groggy AF.

One day I'll learn to balance everything with self care, eating healthy, and working out.  But for now I have to cope with how my body handles stress, tension, and fatigue.  I am still not ready to take the next step and ask my doctor about prescription migraine meds, but I'm getting close.  I had big plans to construct a mermaid headdress/diadem/crown thing and I've lost 5 hours of crafting time because of this terrible hereditary propensity.  

I'll bust out something more fun soon.  

Thanks for reading, I look forward to doodling and spewing about whatever I want a part of my routine again!

Love and stuff,

Thing of Stuff