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Category Archives: Women’s Health

Long time coming.

The past two months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally. Since early May, I stopped training with my cousin and also haven’t been eating all too well, I’ve received news that I still have a material hormonal imbalance, I flew (for the first time in five years) to Vegas for a Bachelorette party, started playing softball again, got into a verbal argument at a volleyball match, I had a few rounds of physical anxiety, my boss had a baby, I took over the day-to-day trading operations at my firm, started stress eating, and most recently (between yesterday and today) my family has had issues with our next-door neighbors. It is a lot of stuff, I will try to make it all make sense.

Since January I trained with my cousin, who is a certified personal trainer. We stopped, temporarily, training in May because he was going on a trip and then that eventually became permanent because my work schedule became completely erratic and I couldn’t commit to specific times. As of result of not having my cousin and his sessions to motivate me and my new work schedule, I’ve fallen off the wagon a little bit. I did however join a new gym and have at least been going once per week. I went today and I’m hoping to go more this week, but I haven’t been that great at being consistent. My diet has been pretty crappy as well as I’m basically stress eating at work, which I will explain later. Hopefully this is my week though, I need to get into a groove.

Midway through May I got the results back from a saliva test that I performed over the course of the month of April. The results were packaged and sent out to a lab in Washington State and my naturopathic doctor received the results. She called me up in the middle of the month and we scheduled an appointment. At that visit, she told me that I still have a progesterone shortage, otherwise known as estrogen dominance. I’ve been off of the pill for almost fifteen months now and I have gotten a lot better. My estrogen levels have normalized now, but my body has not been able to raise my progesterone levels naturally, which has thrown off my periods, caused PMS, and I also have been told that at my current level, I’d have a hard time conceiving a child and if I did conceive, I’d have a hard time carrying the pregnancy to term. Needless to say, I was speechless. I thought that my body has had enough time to heal on its own and regulate my hormones once more. However, that’s clearly not the case and not only that, but now I’m facing potential fertility issues. The good part is that I’m on a progesterone supplement program for the entire summer and hopefully that will help to raise my level.

In a short note, I went out to Las Vegas for a friend’s bachelorette party. This was a huge deal for me as I have not been on a plane in five years and more importantly than that, I wasn’t sure as to how I’d react to flying with my anxiety. I will admit that I took a 0.25 mg Xanax during takeoff on the flight there and home, but beyond that it was fine and I actually enjoyed myself on the airplanes. It sounds silly, but this was a big accomplishment for me.

At the beginning of June, softball started and I’m on a new team. All of the ladies are fantastic and I’m having a lot of fun. I still play volleyball as well but it hasn’t been all fun and games recently. I play on a co-ed team and there is one man on my team who is constantly trying to move me around and control my play simply because I’m female. Well eventually I became fed up with him and at a game a few weeks ago I called him out. He claimed that he was trying to help the team out and even tried to guilt me by saying that he respects women and his mother is dead. Really? I’m sorry your mother is dead but I don’t think that she has anything to do with volleyball. Case closed. We recently played together this past Thursday actually and barely spoke to each other, but that’s OK. We played well together on the court and that’s all that matters.

In the middle of June, I had major anxiety. I wasn’t sure if it was a side effect of the Xanax in my system, stress from work, or both. I’m thinking that it was a combination of both. I didn’t have a full-blown panic attack, thank God, but still, I did feel defeated that I reacted so badly to my thoughts.

Literally a few days after my mini-breakdown my boss gave birth to her son, which then put me in charge of the daily trading operations at my firm. Needless to say I was nervous then and I’m still a little nervous now. I’m two weeks into this experience and it’s been quite eye-opening. I’ve been able to prove to myself that I’m able to handle this job and it has also helped to spark a fire in me and reignite my interest in the stock market and finance in general. However with all of that positivity, I have started to stress eat. I visit the snack closet multiple times a day to help calm myself down when I get nervous at work. This is a terrible way to relieve stress and this week  is the week where I hope to stop this phenomenon.

Last but not least, the issues with the next door neighbors. They had an early Fourth of July party yesterday and didn’t invite my parents. It really hurt my mom’s feelings and made my dad angry. As a result, it made me livid. But on top of that, I felt physical symptoms of anger and anxiety. When I saw my neighbors, I felt my chest tighten and felt pain in my head. I wanted to go over there and start screaming at them. I felt awful for my parents. I always tried to be the bigger person and continue to say hi to them even though they have basically phased my parents out of the neighborhood social circle over the years. I never wanted to be the person who just straight up ignores people but at this point I feel as though it’d be best for my health and psyche to just ignore these people. I have slowly removed myself from them as I have unfriended them on Facebook (which I’m still trying to get rid of) and have limited my communication to just the next-door neighbors but now I’ve really had enough. I really can’t afford the stress anymore and this weekend was the last straw for me.

So that has been my last two months. Lots of good, productive things and a few bumps along the way. My focus right now is to continue healing and working on my health in addition to participating in activities that I like with people who like and respect me. One thing that I’ve learned in the past two months is that I cannot hide my feelings (like being nervous about work or mad at a teammate or neighbor). I have to feel what I feel, take the appropriate action(s), and move on.

 

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Family Fat or Fat Family.

In my other blog, 6 in Six, I’m chronicling my path, journey (enter any clichéd term) to losing weight and reaching my goal of fitting into a size 6 dress. Weight (both management and loss) has always been a focus in my life and in the life of my family; not to mention that it’s also part of the namesake of this blog as well. My own personal story of weight gain/loss/management goes back to high school, where, long story short (Here’s the long version: http://6insix.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/), my weight has fluctuated between 140 and almost 200 lbs. I’m currently around 155, which is fine, but I’d like to look and feel better, hence the new blog.

Even though my personal weight history doesn’t go back way too far (I’m only 26), my family’s spans 3 generations (that I know of). My paternal grandfather had diabetes and refused to stop eating candy and cake before he passed away. My paternal grandmother’s weight fluctuated constantly during her lifetime. My maternal grandmother, or Nonna, (who is alive; she’s a healthy 78, God bless her!), has always been a little overweight, but what Italian woman isn’t? Just kidding, she has never been obese, but she tends to carry more weight especially after menopause. The good part about her is that she goes to the gym – EVERYDAY. I’m very proud of her. My dad’s sister and her husband, my aunt and late uncle (who also happen to be my only aunt and uncle as my mom is an only child), have been obese, even morbidly obese for as long as I can remember and beyond. My uncle passed away in 2006 at the age of 59 because he was so heavy – think anywhere between 350-500 lbs for a man around 6 ft tall, perhaps even shorter, I can’t remember. After his death, my aunt, who was also VERY heavy, lost around 90 lbs. She’s still obese, but I’m glad that she’s at least lost some weight. My brother gained weight in college (just like I did), but he’s never been obese. My dad’s weight fluctuated a lot between the time when my parents got married and I was a baby. After that, his weight has been pretty consistent as he’s very active; going to the gym, riding his bike, coaching football, and refereeing basketball, all of which he still does today (and he’ll be 60 in July – God bless him too!). Then there’s my mom.

She’s struggled with her weight for as long as I can remember. It seems that her weight issues came about post pregnancy/child rearing. She lost the baby weight after giving birth to my brother and then me, but it seems as though as she and my father were raising us, the stresses of having kids coupled with other things took its toll on her weight and she gained. Since I was cognizant of her struggles with weight, she’s tried many things including low-carb diets, pills, detox, etc. Nothing that helps to promote lifestyle changes and healthy habits.

So, here comes today’s story. My mom’s been sick (like has a cold, etc.), so she stayed home today. She called me this morning to ask me if I could buy a book off of Amazon for her, so I did. I asked her how she was feeling because my dad told me that she was up all night throwing up, etc. She told me that she was better, but the chicken that she cooked last night must’ve not been cooked through all the way, which made her sick. She then goes on to mention that she also threw up the 1st night of their cruise last week. THEN she says that she hasn’t been eating carbs and even though she’s thrown up twice recently, she’s lost 5 lbs. I said to her “well, that’s great, but you’ve been throwing up”. I also explained that she doesn’t need to avoid carbs and she needs to make lifestyle changes because she can’t sustain not eating bread/pasta/etc. forever. She gave me the runaround and “yea yea yea”‘ed me, which made talking to her tough. Then I tried to say that she should really consider going to a nutritionist or trying weight watchers but she cut me off and said she doesn’t want to hear it in only so many words.

It’s tough for me to watch her not take care of herself especially since she’s within the menopause age range (she’s 58) and it’s only going to get harder for her to lose weight, etc. as she gets older. For a woman of her height, weight and age, she’s in good shape as in she can move and move quickly. She’s got strong, muscular legs and arms, but she’s carrying a lot of extra weight in her midsection. I don’t want her to get seriously sick or injured as a result of the extra pounds. I am always conflicted as to whether or not I should say things to her about her weight, but I feel like if I don’t, then I would be partially responsible for her condition and I would be completely enabling her dietary and active behaviors. It’s always a fight or argument if anyone brings up this sensitive topic to her, but we (as in myself, my dad, her mom, etc) just want what’s best for her. She has people who can and want to help her (including my cousin who’s a personal trainer!), but she refuses to use her resources.

I can understand where the defiance comes from since I heard a bunch of people trying to offer me “help” when I was 50 lbs. heavier, including the overweight women in my family, which made me unbelievably angry that they “had the nerve” as I would think at the time. Everyone had their two cents and felt a need to express it to me, which always made me mad. In order to combat it, I’d just eat more junk and act defiant to prove that no one can tell me what to do. I felt like that was the only control that I had at that point. I remember the emotions that I felt very vividly and I try to remember them especially when talking with my mom about her weight. I hope that one day the light will turn on for her as it did me. I eventually got so fed-up with being fat; so fed-up that I was finally ready to lose the weight – the RIGHT way.

I guess that’s what it’ll really come down to. Being ready and willing to do the work it takes to lose weight and take up a healthier lifestyle. Anyone can say “I want to lose weight, I want to be healthy” but you really need to be in the right mindset to do it. No one can force anybody to follow a diet and exercise regiment. It’s all up to the individual.

I want her to be healthy; I want my family to be healthy and active. The goal is for everyone to stay around for as long as possible.

We’re all at a disadvantage if we don’t take care of ourselves.

 
 

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An estate piece and home alone anxiety.

The past three days have been weird to say the least. It all started on Wednesday when my mom and dad went shopping during the day (they’re teachers, so they’re off from school all week). My mom received tons of gifts from her students, one of which was a necklace from a jewelry store. She returned the necklace and decided to buy me something instead of herself, which was a nice gesture, but not necessary. She called me at work and told me that she had bought me something but didn’t tell me what. She went onto say that she dreamt about this object and had to buy it. When I got home later that night, she gave me a small jewelry box. I opened it up and inside was a brooch; an estate piece. It was dainty, made of white gold and it had a small sapphire in the middle. Honestly, it was beautiful, but I don’t own brooches, nor do I know how to where them properly. My mom waited in angst for my reaction and I guess it was less than expected. I thanked her, but I probably had my go-to puzzled look on my face, which isn’t very nice. Then I went on to tell her that I was concerned that I’d never wear it and it (plus her money) would go to waste. She told me to “do whatever I wanted with it” and walked away. Minutes later, we were in the living room and talking and she started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she insisted that she was worried about the cruise that her and my dad were going on today (I’ll get to that in a minute). Then yesterday morning I wakeup and my mom says “why is the pin on my dresser” in a nasty tone. Again, puzzled, I wondered why she was so mad. Then last night, we barely spoke and when we did, it was awkward, at least on my end. So I basically let loose on her, at first I told her calmly that I’m sorry if I offended her and that I thought I was doing the right thing by expressing my concerns. Then she pretty much dismissed me, so I got angry and raised my tone. My parents left for their 4 day cruise this morning and my mom still seems pretty awkward to me, so I’ll have to see what happens when they come back on Monday.

Now onto their vacation. I’m happy that they take trips, especially since when our family dog, Boomer, was in his later years they couldn’t travel much because he required constant care (he was very sick at the tail end of his life, we put him down on April 5, 2010). Since his passing, they’ve been travelling more and… my anxiety developed, peaked, and lingered between then and now. When my anxiety was at its worst and even as it got progressively better, I had a hard time when they took trips because of the agoraphobia that I developed as a result of my anxiety. I would fear being alone in the house without anyone to have close by “if” something happened (a big issue with anxiety is the “what if” scenario). I also feared being embarrassed if I called someone and asked for help, thinking that they’d think I’m a lunatic. Clearly, these were all irrational fears, especially since I lived and worked away from home while I was in college.

Anyway, today my parents left at 4:30am and I got a little nervous as I watched the taxi drive off with them and their friends in tow. I went back upstairs to my bedroom and tried to relax, go back to sleep. At first it was tough because I thought back to how badly I felt during their trips past with my anxiety, so I turned on Jersey Shore to distract me, which inevitably relaxed me and got me back to sleep (weird, right?). When I woke up later in the morning for work, I decided to think through my mild anxiety from earlier – I pinpointed my thoughts and realized that they’re really terrible thoughts. I never really looked at them and understood why I was so afraid sometimes, but once I became cognizant of them, it all made sense.

Here’s a list of my thoughts when I get anxious (I had all of these when it was really bad, now I only get a few of them):

– What if I can’t breathe?

– What if I choke?

– What if I get hurt and no one finds me for days?

– What if I need to call 911?

– Who in the neighborhood or surrounding area can I rely on for help?

When driving, my mind raced (sometimes mildly races) to these thoughts:

– Drive in a populated area in case you need help

– Where is the nearest hospital?

– Does this road have a shoulder (emergency lane)?

– What if I’m in the left-hand or middle lanes and I lose control of myself and subsequently the car?

When I look at these thoughts on paper, they’re astounding. I’ve never worried so much in my life than I have in the past almost 2 years. More importantly than that, I’ve been worrying over the worst case scenario during that time. At first I thought that writing these down would get me anxious today, but as I analyze them, it’s actually helped me because logically, my mind is saying “no, that’s not going to happen” and “you have plenty of people to call in case something does happen”. I used to never be like this, that’s what gets me, but I am almost 100% sure (there’s always that inkling of doubt) that this is hormonal, especially because I’m currently in the week before my period, also known in my life as PMS time. If you read through the PMS link, it explains:

“PMS may often be triggered by hormonal changes. It tends to begin at puberty, after pregnancy, after starting birth control pills, after hormone related surgery as hysterectomy or tubal ligation or around the onset of the menopause. In fact, it is not unusual for the PMS sufferer to confuse her symptoms with those of an early menopause.”

I never had PMS before I started on Yaz in March of 2008, which is used to treat PMS/PMDD and as a result of taking it for almost 3 years (ended it Sept 2010), I’ve had several doctors mention that it possibly gave me PMS, which I’m still dealing with today. I have to admit though, it’s gotten better and I’m getting more and more comfortable by myself as time goes on. I’ve been taking Women’s Menocaps (per my Naturopathic doctor) to restart my endocrine system, which was shut down by hormonal birth control. My naturopath also has me on larger doses of vitamins B & D, which were depleted by the pill.

All in all, I’m doing well so far up in New Jersey and I hope that it stays that way. My parents are in sunny Miami on a cruise ship that will be heading for the Bahamas.

Needless to say, I’m jealous of them.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Family, Women's Health

 

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Empowering yourself and others.

Every day I get my horoscope (I’m a Leo) e-mailed to me from the DailyOM. It’s funny because today’s horoscope really coincides with this blog and my other blog, 6 in Six. It went something like this:

“December 21, 2011
Network of Empowerment
Leo Daily Horoscope
You may feel compassionate and loving toward others today, with a desire to offer your financial or moral support to those in need. One of the best ways to help others is by instilling in them a sense of empowerment and courage. Rather than taking on their burdens and trying to solve their problems for them, you can simply ask yourself which words and actions would help them feel inspired and courageous about facing their challenges head-on. Then make an effort to encourage the people you encounter today. You can do this verbally, by expressing your belief in friends or coworkers, or in written form, by sharing your admiration in a heartfelt note to someone who has overcome daunting challenges.

By empowering others, we also empower ourselves. Because the universe reflects back the quality of energy we put forth to others, we also benefit from our efforts to build up others. Not only do we gain a great deal of satisfaction from seeing our friends and loved ones being proactive about taking on challenges, we also begin to feel more empowered about taking on our own. At the same time, as our loved ones grow in confidence and strength, they will feel inspired to give back the courage and comfort we gave to them, and we end up creating a supportive network of encouragement and reinforcement that benefits all of us. As you help your friends and loved ones recognize their own strengths today, you will also be contributing to your own sense of empowerment. ”

Since starting my blogs on WordPress, I’ve come across some really awesome blogs myself and had a bunch of really interesting and awesome people liking and commenting on my posts, which is great and empowering in itself. I can only hope to empower people at least half as much as they empower me. Thanks to everyone who’s read my posts, liked them and/or shared your experiences with me! It’s truly a blessing to know that you’re not alone in this world and that we have such a great medium with which we can share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

In regard to the birth control pill and its side effects (perhaps the main reason for me starting this blog) – I hope to continue to try to empower other women affected by synthetic hormones in the new year. I also hope that more and more of you will help me by sharing your experiences as well. It seems as though the more I write about this topic and the more that I research, the more women I come across who have had similar problems as I did/still do. I thank God that many women have shared their experiences via blogs and message boards on the internet – they certainly helped me in my time of need when I was hopeless and scared. Those women have inspired me and continue to do so with their bravery and candidness by opening up about what they experienced and giving others hope that things will get better with time and healing.

I only hope to help others the way that I was helped myself.

 

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A little night anxiety.

I’m over 8 months off the pill – my “pill-versary”, as I call it, is April 7, 2011, so I hit 8 months exactly one week ago today. I have become more healthy by the day and I’m really feeling like myself again for the most part, which is great. My depression is gone, but my anxiety still lingers, although the rate at which it comes around has decreased over time since quitting hormonal birth control.

Anxiety reared its ugly head last night, but let me back-track for a minute. I just finished my period on Monday – it lasted four days, but wasn’t too bad, just uncomfortable at best. Fast-forward to yesterday, I haven’t been feeling good as I’ve had a cough and some congestion over the past 2 weeks, so I coworker/friend of mine and I went to Starbucks to go for a walk and grab something hot to drink. I decided to drink tea – black tea also known at Starbucks as AWAKE TEA. I should’ve known better, but I really needed something hot – although I could’ve asked for something decaf. In any case, the tea was huge and I drank the whole thing throughout the last few hours at work. By the time I left at 5pm, I felt kind of nauseous and I could feel parts of my body shake/tremble. Caffeine bothered me before I was on the pill – I would get trembling hands, higher heart rate, etc. But after I’ve been on the pill, I get all of those symptoms, plus anxiety. I really need to be more careful with caffeine, especially if I have to drive.

Anyway, last night I had a packed schedule – I had an appointment from 6-7, then I had to pickup a friend of mine and go Christmas shopping with her, and it turns out that I was out with her so late that I was able to stop by my boyfriend’s house for a rare weekday visit. Even though I’m happy to be busy and have things to do, this means that I also have a lot of driving to do and when I’m anxious, driving gets to be uncomfortable for me, especially when I’m alone. When my birth control reaction started, it started while I was driving; the one activity that always made me feel great and I loved it – whether it was alone, with people, in the day time, at night – I loved driving ever since I started at 16. It helped me to calm down when I was mad, it get me an outlet to sing at the top of my lungs, my car was kind of like a sanctuary for me. However, once I had my first panic attack on the highway at age 24, I’ve never looked at driving the same (although it has gotten somewhat better).

I didn’t leave my boyfriend’s house until about 12:45am this morning, which is obviously way too late, but I always have a hard time leaving him because I get so comfortable hanging out with him. He walked me to my car and then as he walked away, I sat in my car. All of a sudden these negative thoughts swarmed my mind. Thoughts such as “you’re going to have a panic attack on the bridge” (there’s only one bridge back to my house and it’s been such a sore spot for me to cross especially when my panic issue was really bad), “you’re going to need assistance” (this I think relates to the idea of being embarrassed by my anxiety), etc. I just sat in the car and thought to myself “why now? why are these irrational thoughts creeping into my head?” It was so weird; I haven’t had thoughts like that in a while, then I remembered the tea. As I started driving, I started worrying, anticipating my anxiety – this worry peaked as I crossed the bridge, but as I crossed, I was able to swallow and breathe with minimal discomfort. That helped me calm down and then my anxiety immediately dissipated.

http://stresshelp.tripod.com/id7.html

The above link gives more information on the connection between anxiety and caffeine.

I really need to be conscious of my own caffeine consumption.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Women's Health

 

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On the verge.

I had a 2nd round job interview today. I felt a variety of emotions; I was happy, sad, scared, excited – all at the same time. I had to go to work and then early for the interview. Sitting in my cube, spending the day with my coworkers, I felt guilty for going behind the company’s back to find another job. Yet to help myself along, I thought about all of the reasons as to why I’m even looking in the first place. Thinking about my current situation helped me get into my car and drive 30 minutes out-of-town to the interview. It was long; I met with one gentleman for about 25 minutes, then another for 1 hour. It was intense and pretty straightforward, but very productive. So now I wait, wait for the call as to whether or not my life will change, hopefully for the better.

Even though I was able to make the drive to and from OK, I found myself feeling a few symptoms of anxiety (albeit light) throughout the drives and the interview itself. Especially after the interview, when my mind was racing so fast about everything. I second guessed my decision to find a new job, which escalated into a bunch of “what ifs” including “what if my anxiety flares up and it interferes with the new job?” It was a bit sad really because before my hormonal imbalance, life was A LOT easier. I didn’t second guess myself; I had a great confidence about myself and my abilities, now I just worry about everything. I wonder if I’m good enough – even with this job, ideas sprang up in my mind like “what if I can’t handle the work?” I just can’t live and enjoy the ride and stop worrying. It’s just frustrating, especially since I potentially have an awesome opportunity in my midst (that’s if I get an offer from today’s firm).

I just hope that I can push through this anxiety. I also have to remind myself that I’m on Day 27 of my cycle and my anxiety peaks right before my period. I’m glad that the anxiety has lessened overall and I’m glad that I can pinpoint it to my cycle, but it’s tough to deal with sometimes especially when I’m making life-changing decisions. Also, not having a regular cycle makes it impossible to know when my period is coming, therefore I have no idea as to how long my PMS lasts each month.

I just have to keep chugging along and do my best with this…

 

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I’m waitin’ on you, Flo.

It’s been 36 days since my last period. Since getting off of the pill seven months ago, my periods have been irregular, but mainly running on a five-week (or thirty-five day) schedule (although one of them ran on a four-week schedule). I’m due to get my period any day now, but this one is late! It’s kind of frustrating, but kind of not. I feel like I’m getting it because I’m cramping a lot, my chin/mouth area has broken out, and I’ve had a series of headaches this week. So I’m not too worried; even if I’m pregnant, that would be a blessing. An inconvenient blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. I’m hoping that I’m not, but every time I wait on my period, the idea flows through my mind!

Anyway, in honor of Aunt Flo (and in a sad attempt to honor the menses god so that I can get my period promptly), I’d like to examine several depictions of Aunt Flo in pop culture:

First, there’s Flo from the Tampax commercials.

Flo is dressed in a Chanel-esque suit, she’s bubbly, and ANNOYING as hell. She visits women right at the most inconvenient times. Thank you, Procter & Gamble (the maker of Tampax), for giving a woman’s monthly period a real human touch :/

Next, there’s this cute, retro tribute.

I enjoy the fifties/sixties-esque design, plus who doesn’t love a woman in cat eye lenses? And yes, Aunt Flo really IS a girl’s closest friend.

Finally, my favorite for obvious reasons.

When Aunt Flo visits me, I feel like that little person looks. An added bonus is that my hair tends to look like that when I get out of the shower. I think that this cartoon captures the very essence of a period.The unruly, red flo, the grumpy face, the hatchet… all true when a period arrives. Well, I guess maybe not the hatchet, BUT sometimes I wish I had one…

Here’s hopin’ that Aunt Flo comes soon!

 
 

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