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I had turned to The Keeper in search of a safer, more natural form of “feminine hygiene.” I’d decided that a latex, chemical-free menstrual cup was the healthiest way to manage my crimson tide. I scoffed at those who used disposable pads and tampons, landfilling precious natural resources and sticking bleached, possibly chemical-residue-filled paper products into or beside their precious lady parts.
My scoffing turned to strained, awkward laughter, and then, panicky, verging-on-sobbing hyperventilating the night my Keeper got stuck inside of me.
It was the weekend after Christmas, a couple years back. My partner and I were indulging in a marathon horror-flick fest and as usual, I had bitten my nails down to the quick.
We were thinking about dinner when I made a quick trip to the bathroom to refresh my Keeper. For those unfamiliar with the ways of crunchy-granola, earth-friendly menstrual devices, this entails gripping the “tail” of the menstrual cup, a tiny length of latex that many women cut short with scissors. You reach your fingers up into your vagina, gripping the cup’s tail and/or tapered bottom (the device is contoured a bit like a slender tulip). You gently crumple the sides of the cup to break the seal holding it in place, and pull it out. You dump the bloody contents into the toilet and rinse or wipe the cup before reinserting it.
I couldn’t catch the tail.
I sat on the toilet, reaching down, not being able to get any purchase on the tail, and therefore unable to pull the cup the fraction of an inch I needed to crumple the sides to pull The Keeper out.
At first I was mildly amused but methodical as I considered alternate positions I could take to get more leverage. I took my pants off and squatted in the tub, thinking somewhat absurdly of the Matthew Broderick bathtub scene in "Election." Aside from some mild Keeper turtling, this did not help. I tried lying on my back. No improvement: I had bitten my nails into a state of uselessness.
Once your significant other has seen you give birth, there’s no point in trying to preserve any semblance of mystery. Nonetheless, I felt shy about asking him to stick his fingers up my vag to grab a menstrual cup filled with six hours of my bloody discharge. After much laughter, he agreed to help, but with his big, stupid, clumsy sausage fingers, was even less equipped for the task at hand.
So he decided it was time for tongs. Squatting next to the tub, with him lying underneath like a car mechanic, my life had hit a new level of embarrassment. As soon as he tried to reach in with the kitchen tongs, I screamed: “Don’t touch me!” It was time for the pros.
Dressed to impress (ie. not look like a perv), I got ready to go to the ER. I found the Keeper’s paper instructions and packed them in my bag. If you’ve ever been to an ER, you know there’s no privacy, regardless of any painted lines on the floor, or the flimsy office dividers they’ve put up to an impression of discretion.
“I have a latex menstrual device lodged in my vagina,” I told the intake worker, and the rest of the crowded waiting room. “Here are the instructions on how to remove it.”
The ER is a depressing, dirty place during the holiday season. Coughs and sneezes filled the air. Someone fell onto the floor and urinated. For four hours, I waited.
Finally, just before 11 p.m., I got a bed. An extremely cheerful, friendly and young looking nurse came in to check up on me, and ask about the Keeper. She said she was glad I was there because she had been thinking of getting one too! Aside from this mishap, would I recommend The Keeper? She wasn’t sure if she should get that or a Diva Cup.
The doctor came in, a bit incredulous. “Sooooo, you got something stuck. In your vagina?” he asked, using a carefully non-judgmental voice.
“It’s a menstrual cup,” I replied. “It wasn’t a sex thing,” I added, not wanting to sound defensive and judge-y, but also not wanting to be the woman who got a foreign sex object stuck up her vag just days after Christmas. “It’s a medical device. I brought the instructions.”
After perusing the instructions and taking a look under the hood, he left…because he couldn’t believe removal could be so simple. (If it were, why would this dolt be on his bed, unable to remove this easy-to-remove menstrual device?)
He said he needed to consult the hospital’s head of gynecology. Who says Canada’s universal health care system provides anything less than top-tier service to its tax-paying citizens? About a half hour later, he returned. My cup was running over at this point, the leak staining the disposable post-surgery abdominal pad they’d laid under my butt as I reclined on my back.
“Good news! She says it actually is as easy as we thought it was!” The nurse was back too, beaming. I was surprised she didn’t high five me.
“Can you put your feet into these stirrups?”
With his gloved hand, he reached in, broke the seal and scooped out The Keeper, all in under a second. I felt a tidal flow surge out in its wake. He tossed The Keeper into one of those kidney shaped receptacles you see on TV medical shows and left, while saying, “And that’s that! Take care!”
“Well, here’s some paper towels,” said the nurse. “It was nice meeting you, and I’m so glad we got to talk about Keepers! Bye!”
After mopping up -- there was a copious amount of mucusy blood on the pad below me, and on my skin -- it was time to get dressed. I wadded up a pile of hospital Kleenex and stuffed it onto my underwear, waddling to the sink, where I thought I’d find The Keeper in its kidney-shaped receptacle.
Nothing was in the sink, or on the small examining room table.
I actually pawed through a trash bin of medical waste thinking, okay, this is gross, but I can boil my Keeper at home and disinfect it. It was nowhere to be found.
I washed my hands, taking care to get the dried blood and crusted Kleenex pieces off. I stuffed more Kleenex down my underwear. I knew my Keeper had been kidnapped. It was probably going to be photographed, then live on forever in ignominy on some secret hospital wall of shame, alongside snapshots of “bottle returns” and other “Eiffel Syndrome” souvenirs. (“Eiffel Syndrome” being medicalese for patients presenting with foreign objects stuck up their butts with the explanation “I fell on it,” in the shower, in the kitchen, etc.)
“It wasn’t a sex thing,” I said out loud, to no one. Then I waddled to the exit.
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