In 6th-grade science class we had to watch an extremely dated video about a group of girls going through puberty. Some of the girls developed sooner than others, and in the end the story focuses on the only girl in the group who hasn't gotten her period yet. She is VERY upset and feels left out. When she finally gets her period, her friend says, "All right! I knew you could do it!" Though I mocked it at the time, when I got my period a year later I thought to myself, "All right! I knew I could do it!" Getting your period is a big deal in the life of a woman.
Perhaps equally as important is a woman's last period. Like their first one, most women don't know when they will have their last period. 38-year-old writer A.N. Devers did though; because after years of struggling with endometriosis and adenomyosis, she made the difficult decision to have a hysterectomy. So, when her period came, she decided to mark the occasion by inviting friends over to toast her final menses.
In her Lenny Letter piece, A.N. discusses how she came to the decision to have a hysterectomy. "Though I might not look it, I am frail and fatigued after my 10-year fight to save my uterus," she says. "My diagnosis is endometriosis and adenomyosis, two similar but separate diseases that have the same side-effect: I bleed too much and sometimes for weeks and months at a time." A.N. dealt with heavy bleeding, unbearable pain, and severe anemia. In the last eight years, she's had two surgeries in relation to her endometriosis.
And the condition has been the center of A.N.'s life. "With the exception of having a beautiful, healthy baby boy, the entirety of my 30s feels like a lost battle," she says. "I've given up job opportunities, writing assignments, a book, my website, all to barely manage pain." She says that people often tell her that her son makes all the things she's missed out on worth it. She says, "I do have him. And he is the moon and the stars, but he is not all my dreams."
Though the hysterectomy was likely to improve her quality of life, A.N. found herself depressed and filled with dread. So she did what anyone would do. She invited her friends to join her for a toast to her last period ever. "A good-bye and good riddance of sorts. A sending away. A harnessing of witchy power and reclaiming of good health."
In the end, the party served its purpose. It helped A.N. to make peace with her decision. It helped her to lose the sense of dread. She wraps up her article by saying, "Good-bye, uterus. Thanks for giving me my son. Good riddance."
Bonus info: Lenny Letter founder Lena Dunham also suffers from endometriosis. She wrote about her experience with the disease in the essay The Sickest Girl.