Mirena, 1+ year in

**Disclosure: FAMILY – THIS CONTAINS INFORMATION YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ>>> CLOSE THIS NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT T.M.I. ON MY PERSONAL LIFE!**

 

Last year, I made the decision to say, “Screw you!” to pills, Nuvaring (although I mostly loved it), and any other birth control method short of spaying myself.

I chose to drop a few $$ and insert Mirena. (You can read about the entry here).
It was a painful process. I spent nearly 40 days with spotting and dull cramps. Then one magical day… it stopped. The bleeding, the cramps, the discomfort, and then my life began.
I have been blessed with some good sex in my life. Apparently, this good sex was dulled by previous birth controls. Sex has never been so good. Like.. holy shit. Guys who were maybe average at best, were doing a pretty damn good job. Before Mirena, I was using mostly Nuvaring, occasionally a pill; and I was dull. Sex was just an act. If I got off, it was less often than Halley’s comet. But my sex drive didn’t exist. I seriously pondered my sexuality. Boyfriends and lovers knew I was lying and some thought I had been cheating on them.
Then Mirena happened.
.. as it turns out, I’m very straight. And I’m so much happier with Mirena. Sex. is. awesome. Like– wet, hot summer awesome.

Oh yea! And I lost a bunch of weight! When I had Mirena inserted, I was weighing in at ~73kg (about 160lbs). While I’m sure other factors were involved (leaving an unhappy job, moving up a hill, running to subways and buses for new jobs, etc), I am now at ~63 kg (138-140lb) today.

Menstrual cycles suck. Period. (hah. a favorite of mine) From 6th grade through recent years, my period has been a giant cluster-fuck. They were unpredictable. As Cher would say from Clueless “I was surfing the crimson wave!”… more like Crimson tidal wave. It was hell. I had special clothes to wear because I needed to change and clean them so often. My cramps had me in bed, crying like a child. Sometimes they would last longer than a week.. then reappear about 2 weeks later. Then other times they wouldn’t show for weeks (pregnancy scares what???). I got onto birth control and it helped a bit. But I still had shit strong periods.
Now a year after Mirena insertion, my periods are mostly non-existent. I might get ‘ghost cramps’ once a month and the occasional spotting every other month or less.

Overall, everything is awesome.
But let’s sum a few things up real quick:

Pros: 
1. 5 years of baby-free sexcapades
2. Little to no periods/minimal cramping
3. Higher sex drive
4. Weight lost (subjective)
5. Overall happier life.

Cons:
**denotes possible Pro rather than Con
1. 350,000won (KRW = USD ~275) ((((in the states they said it’d be ~600$USD without insurance)))**
2. PAINFUL AS FUCK DURING INSERTION!!!!! FFFUUUUCCCCCCCK.
3. Bodies may react differently
4. Gotta stock up on condoms for all that sex!**
5. I got nothin.. I can’t think of anything else.

Resolutions 2015 Update: August Edition

It’s August 4th. The year is more than halfway completed. I have 5 months to make these resolutions happen. I am so pleased to update this post. There have been some seriously good improvements, and some others that still need improvement. But hey.. ce la vie right?

1. I want to lose weight.

Resolution: Lose 15lbs.

May UPDATE- – – I think I have lost some weight. The heaviest I was at was 75kg (about 165lbs). My average is about 73 kg (about 160lbs). The last time I weighed myself I was at 70.6kg (about 155lbs). When I wrote this, I was thinking of how much to lose, not really a goal weight. I’m changing it to goal weight now. I want to be no more than 140lbs (About 63.5 kg). I have a ways to go, but I will not allow myself to get back up to 165 again. The last time I weighed myself was on my birthday – – I will go find a scale today and see again.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I HAVE DEFINITELY LOST WEIGHT!! I recently weighed in at 66.7kg (147lbs). I don’t know how I did it. I kind of want to give credit to Mirena, but I also now live on a hill and maybe that has helped a bit?

2. Get laid.
Resolution: get laid at least 20 times – it counts even if it’s with the same person. No need being a slut about it. I’m 28, not 22.
May UPDATE – – – Yes. This is a much better year than last year. Numbers aren’t needed.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – 😉 😉 :* :* I should say mission accomplished, but far from over!

3. Travel
Resolution: Visit 2 new countries again! I would still like to visit Taiwan this year, my goal is Malaysia.
May UPDATE – – – 1 down, 1 to go!! Malaysia was visited in February. I am going to Japan again this weekend with my mother, but it’s still early enough to visit another country!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I have visited Malaysia, Japan, and Jeju (and island in Korea). Still have another country to try and visit!

4. VISIT GARY in KL!! (gary – this WILL happen)
May UPDATE – – it did happen! GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Gary is coming to Seoul! for like.. a day ish. But still!!

5. Save 10K – something that is not as easy to do in the US. It’s pretty simple for people working in Korea. When my flight and housing are paid for, I get a pension, and hopefully make a few $ on the side by selling food and what not… this should be easy.
May UPDATE — it’s not as easy. I had two medical procedures this year already that has cost me nearly $1,000 USD. I also missed a market (which makes me a few hundred extra) and haven’t done any massages. My side business is seriously lacking. Hopefully I can start massages again soon though and make that dough!! On the bright side, I found out I have 3kUSD already saved thanks to that pension plan!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Failing. After the whole medical procedures thing, I was let go from my job and have new employment. (Details about that in another post coming soon.) So ..yea… not really doing well on the savings resolution. I have been doing massages and voiceovers again, but they haven’t quite added up to a savings bundle. However, it seems that I am at least doing the other stuff right!

Mirena Five Minutes of Pain for Five years of Wonder

Warning: This blog entry contains some explicit words and probably stuff my family does not care to read about. This is mostly geared toward women who have an interest in birth control –who may or may not be in Korea.

Size of Mirena (photo from Mirena.com)

In 2010 I went into my local Planned Parenthood and inquired about a new form of birth control. I had been on Nuvaring for about 6 years and was content, but it was getting expensive without insurance. So, a nurse-lady (Who was not my regular nurse) suggested an IUD. After a bit of research I decided to get Mirena. It was going to cost me about $700 not including the insertion. So I paid some monthly payments and I went in for my appointment. As I got onto the table, my regular nurse came in and did a quick consultation. “Shannon, this was a surprising move. You have always complained about heavy periods and cramps. Paraguard isn’t going to help it.” Paraguard? Noooo, I’ve been paying for Mirena. “Well, we have Paraguard here for you.” Noooooooo. I don’t want that one! So the appointment got cancelled and I got a refund. My nurse suggested Mirena, but by then I was dissuaded. I went back to Nuvaring at $30USD per month. I came to Korea in September 2013 with a year supply of Nuva ring. But somehow I ran short of that year and ended up getting convinced by a friend that I should ‘go natural.’ It wasn’t like I was having sex anyway. I may as well let my body do it’s thing.

P.A. (the friend) said that when she got off birth control, her skin cleared up, she lost weight, and she felt more alive then she ever did while on birth control. Her body was a bit whack at first, but everything went back to normal after a few months. So I decided to give it a try. I weighed in at about 145-150lbs at that time (June 2014). My body was not reacting the way it was supposed to. My skin was breaking out in places it should never break out. I gained another 10-15lbs. My period was showing up every 30-45 days. When you expect it on the 1st and it comes on the 7th, that is some seriously emotional freaking out. Now imagine that every month.. a week or so later than expected. It was heavy, it was light, it was starting, it was stopping. It was unpredictable and I do not approve of that.

I moved to Seoul late 2014, early 2015. I inquired about IUD and so many people had them!! I knew it was time. I needed to save some money and get my health insurance.

I got an appointment with MizMedi in Gangnam. I had a pap with Dr. Seo and discussed Mirena. He said, “Okay! No problem. After your next menstrual cycle, make an appointment immediately and we will have it done.”

So I did it on a Saturday. I waited in the waiting room for a few minutes and consulted with Dr. Seo one last time for about 3 minutes and went into the room. He said it would hurt a bit. I anticipated it…but I did NOT expect it to be THAT FUCKING PAINFUL. JESUS MOTHERFUCKING CHRIST ON HELL IN A BASKET OF CUNTBALLS!!!
“Four letter words are okay here, Shannon” OUCH!!! “yes that is a four letter word.” SON OF A BITCH. “That is about 10 letters, but still okay.”
They insert this thing into your uterus. You know that good feeling when you’re having sex? It’s not that. It’s the painful version of that. It was like a vampire dildo bit my insides. It was like having a piranha going at it on my uterus. It was like Satan himself unleashed Scylla and Charybdis into my precious parts and let them do their thing.

“Relax, Shannon. Five minutes of pain for five years of wonder.” “”WONDER??” “No, wrong word. Five years of no babies.”

……and then it was over. He used a magic sonogram wand to make sure it was in the right place and THEN it was over. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. He said, “There maybe cramps and spotting in the next couple of days. See me when you are dressed.”
After he walked out, I got up to get dressed and saw a ghost. It was my face in the mirror. I was pale as I’ve ever been. I was surprised I hadn’t passed out. I saw Dr. Seo and he said to take some medicine, and if there were any problems, to come see him. They let me stay in a spare room for a bit while I rested. I don’t know if it was the alcohol the night before and not eating that morning, or if it was the extreme situation I had just gone through, but I sat on the toilet for about 30 minutes (sorry, graphic mental image, but I felt it was necessary).

Then I passed out on the bed for about an hour. I finally got up and paid for the appointment. The entire bill was just under 300,000won (~$275USD).

I went home around 2pm, showered and fell asleep. I felt like I was having a really really bad period day. A dull prolonged cramp and I was exhausted. I did go out the night before so I probably was a bit tired from that. I couldn’t stay awake though and ended up waking up and going back to sleep every hour or two until about 8:30pm. Then I treated myself to a bag of Mint Milano cookies and watched Scandal.

It is now 2 days later. I have been spotting lightly still and now and then feel a very very dull cramp – – as if I wasn’t sure if I were on my period or not.

But the doc is right. 5 minutes of pain for 5 years of birth control. I look forward to minimal to no periods, clearer skin, and losing a few pounds.

Update to come in a few months.

And for those who endured the entire entry:
Menstrual cycles suck. Period. (ha!!)

Gang-cyst-ers paradise

I had a hernia on my stomach for over 10 years. I came to Korea and had it taken care of for about $600-700USD after everything (hospital stay, meds, checkups, surgery itself, etc). The reason I wanted to get rid of my alien baby was to be able to start doing core-work at the gym. So when I moved up to Seoul end of Dec 2015 I signed up for a gym.
They had a pilates class and since it had been 6 months since surgery, I thought – ‘This is it. Here’s where it all begins’. The next day I felt great in the way that one does after a workout they hadn’t done in ages. But I noticed my wrist was hurting a bit. Typical when you are doing lots of floor work including plank! So a couple days later a student points out my wrist. She said, “Teacher, what?” and pointed to my right wrist. Lo and behold, there was a bump on it. I looked it up and immediately recognized it as a ganglion cyst. I went to an orthopedic doc nearby and he aspirated it. He said if there’s tingling, numbness, or pain that I should be worried — otherwise, no sweat.
There definitely was tingling and pain, especially when I was typing (which is often). I was also on a pasta making kick and that was starting to get difficult. I went back to the doc and he said that I should just wait it out because it will go away, then he aspirated it again. This time I noticed the blood in the aspirated fluid. Doc said no biggie.
The thing never went away. It never got smaller, only bigger, and more frustrating as I continued on my everyday activities.
I consulted with another doctor at Gangnam Several Hospital (Yonsei University) here in Seoul. He mentioned aspiration and I told him how the first two times didn’t do much. He said the next step was surgery. It was March 31st and he was to do surgery on the 10th.
wpid-wp-1428397015929.jpeg this is what my wrist looked like leading up to the surgery.

The hospital said I needed to come in on the 9th for surgery prep. I went in and they had me in a corner of a 6 person room. I thought six people wouldn’t be horrible… it was awful. Granted, it was only 12,000won (~$12USD) per night. But for every patient, there were 1-3 family members with them. Not the kind that go home, the kind that require a cot and a chair and snore louder than anyone I’ve ever heard.

Unlike the hospital in Ulsan, this bed was controlled with a remote so I could sit up and what not. However, unlike the hospital in Ulsan, this ‘bed’ was really just a mat on a cart. The hospital was fancy and all, but I didn’t expect the ‘mattress’ to be so thin. It felt like I was sleeping on a mat on the floor. So I wasted a whole day on Thursday (wasted it because I could have been at work) and then slept in the hospital. When I woke up on Friday (day of surgery) I noticed my back wasn’t feeling great. No thanks to the stupid mat-on-a-cart bed. They wheeled me in for surgery. The first male nurse tried to put the IV in my hand. It was extremely painful. (I’m bad with needles and pain, but this was really uncomfortable). Another female nurse came over and yelled at him for something and they took it out. Then they reinserted it into my wrist near my thumb. It wasn’t as bad but still uncomfortable. They roll me into surgery and start the anesthesia. I remember the ‘light going out’ effect, but I don’t remember my dream this time. I woke up and they brought me back to my little corner hole room. I had a huge brace on my wrist and they had a special tie up shirt for me. My back was still hurting but the wrist was worse.
Then my coteachers came and sat awkwardly in my little corner for an hour or so. They brought me a sandwich and some snacks. After they left, the hospital brought me their food– foul smelling seaweed soup, kimchi, tofu, and rice. And a spoon. And chopsticks. For those of you who are right handed, I dare you to try and eat with your lefthand using chopsticks. Luckily, I’m not an idiot and I brought some forks with me. I barely ate because it all smelled so bad.

I napped, I played games, I watched TV shows. It was hot as fuck in that corner. I asked them to turn on A/C and they said it was on. I’m “blessed with a chest” and for those who don’t know what that’s like… things get sweaty and they get really uncomfortable. I decided to tackle putting on a bra by myself. I succeeded. But what I failed in, was putting my shirt back on. As I tried to put my newly-surgerized hand through the sleeve, *POP* goes my back.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. The nurses came back in and made me remove my bra again because they needed to xray my back. . . which was a muscular problem but they didn’t listen to me. So, I was back in square one. They brought me a heating pad, which is smart, but when I’m already sweating like a beast it was the last thing I wanted to feel.

The next day they gave me muscle relaxers and helped me with the bra. My back was in extreme pain and my wrist was in extreme discomfort. My fingers were like sausages. Food again was pretty meh, but that’s Korean hospital food for ya. #bringafork
They wanted me to stay another night or two to observe my back, but I convinced them that I would be better at home since the hospital bed is what screwed with me in the first place. They complied.
I went to gather my belongings and noticed that my ring was missing. Not just any old ring. This was the .25 carat diamond ring that I bought for myself in honor of my 21st birthday. I bought it from Na Hoku in the Mall at Millenia and only took it off during massages and surgeries. When this ring was not on my finger, I didn’t sleep well. I had an actual tan line from this ring. It was a part of me. And it was gone. I searched high and low and the whole hospital ward was helping me look for it. It was not to be found. I don’t think it was stolen. I think it was in my locker and when I tried to get dressed, I knocked it out of the locker and the cleaning lady probably swept it up with the rest of the trash on the floor. “I’m sure we will find it” the nurses assured me. But you know when something special is truly gone, you can feel it. I could feel it in my heart and the pit of my stomach. It has not been recovered and I am waiting for the next step in that.

Back to the surgery. I had the brace on for 2 weeks before they took out the stitches. I have a mini-Frankenstein scar on my wrist and my range of motion is restricted. One month later, I can finally make a fist. I try to do exercises and improve my range of motion. Typing hurts a bit still, so does falling and catching myself hah.

Total cost: ~500$usd after everything (hospital stay, medicine, check ups, etc)

Laser Hair Removal – Seoul

I had talked about how great it would be to get laser hair removal with a friend over a year ago. We thought “Might as well do it while in Korea” – – but then we got lazy and never did it. She left, and I re-signed for another year. I moved to Seoul and joined Expat Women in Korea (FB group for women only) and a group of us started talking about getting it done again.

Dr. In Joon Lee at Nova Skin and Hair Clinic is who/what was recommended. They gave us a 10% discount as a group (aka  – no tax).
They are located just outside of Gangnam station (line 2, exit 12). Literally. You walk up the stairs and turn left directly into the building. They’re on the 2nd floor.
2fl, A-Tower, 822-1 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, SK (135-933) Phone: 02-563-7977 Dr. Lee’s email: Ijune@novaskin.co.kr

(website: http://www.novaskin.co.kr/english/)

It was recommended that we either shave or trim about a week before (whatever is being done). I opted for the armpit and bikini (not Brazilian, just bikini). Each treatment cost 100,000won per area. So I paid 200,000won (~$200) each session.
The first session was on Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing quite as romantic as getting lathered with lotion then zapped by a laser.

It started with a quick consultation with Dr. Lee. He speaks great English. He gives you the run down. Then I changed into some typical Korean medical clothes (aka, awkward scrubs) and was escorted to the back room. They put some kind of lotion on my bikini area and topped it with seran wrap. Yes. It was awkward. After about 15-30 min (i dont remember how long, I was watching How to Get Away With Murder on my ipad), they brought me to the laser area. They laid me down on a table and gave me eye covers, not unlike the ones you use for a tanning bed. They lifted my arms and proceeded with the removal. IT HURT. YES. IT HURTS. Do NOT think it doesn’t. It was like they took a metal chopstick and heated it up and zapped my armpits. (Sidenote: I don’t do pain well. I cry every time a needle comes near me. – – I did not cry during this.) When they finished, they put two ice packs under my armpits and let me rest for a few minutes. 

Then they had me turn around on the table (head to feet kind of turn).

Dr. Lee left the room, and the female nurse proceeded to work on my bikini area. It didn’t hurt as much as the armpits. Maybe I’ve been programmed to not feel it as much though because I have been getting bikini waxes for the last 10+ years. There were parts that were UBER sensitive, but overall it wasn’t too horrible. Just like any good hair removal specialist, she asked if what she had done looked okay. I had her do a few other areas and it was done. Dr. Lee came to see that my skin was reacting well and then I was on my way.

It was a little sore for a few hours after. It probably didn’t help that I was shopping and trying on clothes. But it stopped. You can take a little pain reliever if you want to.

Almost one month later, I have no shaved my armpits once. The hair on my bikini line just falls out. It’s incredible. And that was only one treatment. I go back for my second round on either Saturday or Monday. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Bye Bye Baby: Part 2

For the last 10 years I’ve had a hernia about an inch or two above my belly button. Check out ByeByeBaby for more information on that. 

Well, the surgery is done. It has been just about 3 weeks since I had it taken care of. 

I heard a lot of ‘Wow. You’re brave for getting surgery in a foreign country’ and ‘I hope you didn’t contract anything in that Korean hospital’ – – – Let me tell you something right here, right now. Korean healthcare may not be what us “Westerners” are used to… but I would be in massive debt right now if I had this surgery in the US. My school provides insurance and perhaps that covered a good chunk of it, but I was not insured in the US. The last time I went to the hospital in the US was for a kidney stone that I couldn’t tolerate anymore. that cost nearly $10k. I was in an emergency room for 3 hours maybe? I had blood work done and possibly an xray? or ctscan? Frankly, I can’t remember. The medication cost well over $100 that day as well. 

This ordeal included a CT scan, blood work, urine test, chest xray, 2 ultrasounds, the surgery itself, 2 nights stay in the hospital (shared with one person and had a bathroom), included meals and medicine, plus the medicine after I left the hospital, 2 follow up visits, and a minor surgery to remove excess fluid from the treated area. 

           The total cost: ~600,000won – – – less than $600USD. Even if I hadn’t had insurance this wouldn’t have cost more than $1,500USD.  

So what was the experience like? It was fine. The doctor, Dr. Im, was fantastic. He had a light sense of humor and spoke decent enough English. When he didn’t know a word, he’d look it up or just draw the surgical process. He joked that US doctors couldn’t do the surgery because of their fat fingers – “Asian doctors? We have small hands. Good for small surgery.” 

They briefed me on my pre-surgery do’s and don’t’s. I checked in and had an ultrasound to properly locate the affected area. Then waited in my room for a bit. They stuck an IV in my arm and wheeled me to the surgery room. They gas-masked me and eventually I fell asleep. I dreamed that I had slept too long so when they woke me up, I tried to sit up in a start. Note to self: NEVER SIT UP AFTER SURGERY ON YOUR STOMACH. It was incredibly painful. They brought me back to my room where a friend had been waiting for me. She helped me back into the bed and then I spent a few days in a bed. No, the hospital room wasn’t as accommodating as US hospitals maybe. The bed was hand-crank and I had to get up and do it myself. The phone and help button were on a table that was just out of my reach, so I had to stumble out of bed when I needed help. The IV was put in at an awkward angle and filled my elbow and upper arm with fluid to the point that I couldn’t move my arm. Then they put it in my hand and the same thing happened, and then they put it in my other arm. Luckily before that could do damage, it was time to leave. Each morning, afternoon, and evening they brought Korean food and medicine. The nurses were too afraid to speak English so they just spoke Korean at me and laughed and walked away before I could try and explain my pain levels. That was honestly the worst part – – the lack of English communication by the nurses. They apparently knew basic medical English but were too shy to use it. 

Anyway, 3 weeks later, I’m allowed to ride a bike and clean my apartment and do normal life activities. It still hurts if I eat too much or when I’m bloated.. And when the occasional fuck-face pokes, rubs, or hits my stomach. Otherwise, I’m doing okay, and I look forward to dropping some weight. 

IMG_20140731_095024

 

This is what the waiting list looked like. I was 06. it reads ‘swha-noen’ – – Shannon.

IMG_20140801_184121

Breakfast and lunch. IMG_20140801_183719    

 Scar after the stitches were removed and the healing process has begun.   IMG_20140811_093228  

Bye bye baby

 

 

alien baby

 

I’m pretty sure it started in 2003. During the LBHS fall production of “The Crucible.” I was both set running manager and playing the part of a ‘possessed’ extra at the beginning of the show. Between these two roles, I had to push and pull large and heavy set pieces in a timely fashion and, also, scream my head off. These actions gave birth to my ‘alien baby.’

It’s actually an epigastric hernia. I call it an alien baby because when I put strain on my stomach muscles, a smallish (but noticeable) bump appears above my belly button. 

What’s a hernia exactly? Well, when the stomach muscles are weak, your intestine can start to push the fat and muscle through. It forms a small bump. This isn’t detrimental. But when the intestine starts to really push through, it can get trapped and cause serious pain and also screw with your digestion. Mine didn’t get THAT far.. just the first stage or two. 

Why didn’t I get this fixed before? Well, I tried. A few times, I went to a doctor and inquired and their responses were ‘It’s too small. It’ll go away by itself.” or “Tape a dime in your belly button and then work out” – le sigh.

So I came to Korea and happened to be at the hospital for various reasons. I brought it up to my surgeon and he said “Sure, let’s operate on it. How’s next week?” ZOMG!!! Really?

So tomorrow I will go into the hospital to stitch it all back up. I will say farewell to this alien baby.. for the whopping price of 800,000won (Aka less than $800). Screw you American healthcare.

 

Wish me luck!

 

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