I had been putting off this visit for quite some time. I guess I really didn’t want to even think about it, and figured that maybe if I ignored it, it would just go away. Unfortunately, that isn’t reality.
So I sat there on the exam table answering questions about our presidents, reading letters off a card to check my vision, and listing off my health history for the past five years (that was the last time I saw a neurologist).
Are you willing to lose your vision in order to prevent pregnancy? Are you willing to develop osteoporosis in your 20s because of your “need” to be on birth control? Are you willing to have a stroke at 30?
I got married to Doug in 2005. I knew that we wanted to delay having children for a while, and I had tried pretty much every hormonal birth control method under the sun. I had not, however, gotten the Depo Provera birth control injection. It seemed like a pretty worry-free method. You only have to get a shot once every three months and most women didn’t even have a period on it. It sounded pretty good to me. I received my first injection just a few months before our wedding date.
About a week after getting the first injection, I started getting these debilitating headaches. And I mean, they were really BAD. I could hardly work. It was interfering with my job, my sleep, pretty much everything. After about of week of this, I made an appointment with my family doctor. I told her about my symptoms and she totally blew me off, saying, “Well, some people just get bad headaches.” Um, no they don’t…not like this.
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My mom suggested that maybe it had something to do with my vision. I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist looking for an answer. It was time for my annual eye checkup anyway, so I just kind of figured that my vision must have changed. As soon as he sat down and pulled his fancy eye looker machine up to my face, he backed away from it, switched the light on and asked, “Have you been having really bad headaches?” Why yes I have. I knew it. Mom was right. My vision must have changed.
Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:
Doctor: “Your optic nerves aren’t pulsing. You will need to be seen by a neurologist immediately.”
Me: “A neurologist? Why? Don’t I just need a different contact lens prescription?”
Doctor: “No. This has nothing to do with your vision really, except that if they continue to lay dormant, you can go blind. Many times this means that your spinal pressure is very high, which could mean that there is a tumor in the brain.”
Me: “A tumor?”
Doctor: blah, blah, muffled sound, blah, blah (I heard nothing he said after the word “tumor”).
I suddenly felt hot and sick to my stomach. A brain tumor? Possible brain surgery? They will have to shave my head. I will look terrible bald. Am I going to die from this?
About three days later I was sitting in a neurologist’s office. A couple days after that, I was getting my first lumbar puncture. About a week after that, I was getting my first MRI. Then came another lumbar puncture and another MRI.
The results were all in and they had a diagnosis: Pseudotumor Cerebri, otherwise known as Intercranial Hypertension. Basically, I have increased spinal fluid pressure because of swelling in my brain. I also have reduced vein size because of the swelling. I would be on medication the rest of my life. And if I wasn’t diligent about taking my medication, my spinal pressure would become high resulting in debilitating headaches…and/or I will go blind…or anything in between.
I thought for a long time that my headaches must have been related to my Depo Provera use, but I didn’t have that confirmation until I was diagnosed. My neurologist told me that he very often saw this condition manifest after women took hormonal birth control…particularly birth control containing progestin. So I had to deal with the fact that because I was so desperate not to get pregnant, I put something in my body that gave me a life-long disorder, and could make me go blind.
I MEDICATED A PROBLEM THAT WASN’T THERE AND NOW I TRULY DO LIVE WITH THAT CONSEQUENCE EVERYDAY.
Like I said in part two of this series, when we use birth control we are taking medication in order to “fix” something that isn’t broken. I had done just that and now I was living with putting the pieces back together. Now I do have something to fix…something I never would have dealt with if I had never taken hormonal birth control.
I live everyday with the reality that I could permanently lose my vision. I live with very serious headaches, even though I am on daily medication. A medication, by the way, that costs me almost $500.00 per month.
The sad part is that I am not alone. We know the risks of birth control and yet we continue to pump it into our system as if we have no choice. So here are my two questions, ladies.
IS IT WORTH IT? HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK?
Are you willing to lose your vision in order to prevent pregnancy? Are you willing to develop osteoporosis in your 20s because of your “need” to be on birth control? Are you willing to have a stroke at 30? Are you willing to increase your risk of cancer by 30 percent? Are you willing to develop deadly blood clots because you just can’t be a mom right now? Are you willing to risk a hysterectomy because that IUD looks so appealing? Are you willing to have a heart attack just so you can “fix” your unbroken fertility? If you are a married woman, are you willing to completely lose the desire to have sex with your husband?
How much are you willing to risk? The good news is that you don’t have to risk a thing in order to space your children and avoid pregnancy. There are other, natural options available that give you control over your body. Birth control does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. It doesn’t control birth. It doesn’t control anything. It actually takes your control away.
If you want to truly stand up for women’s reproductive rights, then stand against birth control. Because nothing says anti-woman more than birth control. Any drug that is pushed upon women in order to simply prevent a natural part of a woman’s cycle is one that needs to be outright rejected.
If you have been diagnosed with PTC after taking hormonal birth control and would like to talk to an attorney about your situation, please visit https://www.schmidtlaw.com/pseudotumor-cerebri-lawsuit/. Getting these dangerous drugs off the market is one of the best things we can do for the safety of women. Thousands of women, including myself, have now come forward in hopes to do just that.
This was initially supposed to be a three part series, but because of the overwhelming response I have received, I decided to add one more article.
Stay tuned for Part Four: Tell me how birth control prevents abortions again?
Read the other two parts of this series:
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