Women in Lighting

The Chocolate Story

28 February 2020 // Health Stories

The Chocolate Story

« Hey, can we stop by for a chocolate? »

I have to admit, as last word of my “previous life” I have chosen pretty well.

What really happened was that an internal haemorrhage had just started and I was slowly going to “shut down” in order not to feel too much pain, but in the bliss of the ignorance I misread the symptoms and I was relying on the greedy version of mine.

I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the shortest day of the year.

I was walking with my new friends to a workshop, as I had recently given up my job in order to start my own research: I wanted to be comfortable on the first experiment’ session, therefore I had decided to book an artist residency and, between an EEG recording and an interview with participants, I was enjoying the side activities proposed by the cultural space I was at.

The details between the “cocoa moment” and the urgent surgery is so full of details that I may take the heritage of the Divine Comedy and follow up with the same number of pages, so I will make a huge jump and go straight to the next morning.

It’s 5 am and I suddenly open my eyes wide with the laughing nurse in the background: she knew I was not speaking Bulgarian, but I had a long list of medications to start with. She decided to take one of those trains than, especially in the public service hospital of Sofia, may pass just once in life and she stacked the suppository in gently, but without waking me up first. Of course she quickly went away, hardly containing her laughing and, honestly, I started my morning following her mood.

One of the director of the art residency had slept over right there with me, I didn’t wake her up, but the doctor later on did. “We saved you for this much”, indicating a figurative gap between his fingers with a serious and still face, “how are you feeling?”. I was feeling great, I had no pain, just an enormous number of tubes coming out from my belly.

One week later I could go out, I put a bit of make up on and I presented my project on the scheduled day. I was confident, I felt so loved and proud. I had forever left behind the young unsecure lady and I had made space for a confident woman, but somehow my hormones were not ready for that yet.

Three weeks later the as-long-as-possible therapy started and I was officially in a premature forced menopause. You know, Italians tend to be a bit theatrical in what they do and/or say, or do saying if we consider our constant body + gesture movements, but I meant it and, going back, I would repeat it: « I will turn myself into an Olympic swimmer ».

The fact is that no doctor told me how it would have been like: no one mentioned the loss of sight; the loss of hair; the body transformation; the head inside the refrigerator to kill the heat wave; the weird sensation of not being able to control your temper; the window constantly open to the depressive thoughts. Women are expected to be seen a bit neurotic, so no one felt the need to prepare me.

If at the beginning of this story ignorance was a bliss, my “current life” started with the huge doubt of having developed a mental disorder, because I did not know enough.

One year later and an additional surgery on the list + a partner farewell+ 4 months in-room after, I am here writing to you. I am now 31, I am happy, I have managed to have a controlled yet REAL period, I have resumed my research job after being able to go back travelling, walking and actually just speaking without crazy eyes in front of other people.

I am not special, but I am certainly blissed. And I am ALWAYS and FOREVER available to listen and to talk, to make every woman feel even more worthy because of all the winds that we have inside us.

I cut my hair, but they are growing back
I gained weight, but I will lose it
I lost many friends, but I gained others
I act madly, but I accepted it
I delayed my job, but I am still here alive to finish it!

I couldn’t be happier than this.
With all the love I can possibly carry

Martina Frattura

 

See also: Women’s Health Articles on International Women’s Day website.

Photo of chocolate above by Tetiana Bykovets via Unsplash.