Be prepared. Or not.

Ally MacLean

OK, so my story isn’t as epic as the Bangkok Breakdown or as upsetting as Ravens v. Backpack.  But what makes it worth telling (I think) is that it shows that you don’t have to be halfway across the globe or on an extended canyon river trip to experience a menstrual misadventure.  It can happen any time, under much more casual circumstances. Like, when you and your boyfriend decide to go on a short camping trip, just for one weekend night.

Let’s set the scene here. I knew I was on my period. I knew there were things I could do to make the trip Aunt Flo-friendly. I began to describe, out loud, to my boyfriend, a few of the things I’d need to do to prepare:

Me: “Yeah ok that’s fine, we can totally go camping, I just need to bring along a few baggies, so I guess I’ll have to buy a box at the store, and a few tampons and some TP, no problem. I’ll need to go get some wipes too, don’t have those...and you know maybe I can find something a little less, I don’t know, see-through as a ziplock, that way I don’t have to look at bloody stuff in my backpack - maybe like a jar or something? That way it wouldn’t smell either…”

Boyfriend: “...oh…well...we don’t have to go camping…”

Needless to say, we opted to go for a day hike instead.  Which (sorry day hikes, no offense) is totally not cool! I felt a little silly for letting biology alter my plans to go outdoors!  Nature out-natured me, when all I wanted to do was nature.  

What’s even sillier is that I thought I was avoiding “the problem” of dealing with nature while in nature, and set out with my boyfriend on an 8-mile hike with nothing but snacks, water, and a modest amount of toilet paper.

That’s right. No fresh tampons, no baggies, not even some extra TP.  I mean, what did I think was going to go down when it was time for my tiny bladder to relieve itself? That the tampon (first and only of the day, mind you) should just stay up there? Total rookie mistake.

I may have uttered a curse word or five when I realized my self-inflicted dilemma, halfway through the hike. Luckily, my snacks included a near-empty bag of rice cakes.  I like rice cakes just fine (did I mention they were plain rice cakes?) but eating four at a time as fast as you can because you really gotta go feels a little like torture.  

Finally, I traipsed off into the woods, empty bag in hand, to take care of business - but since I didn’t have as much toilet paper as I would have liked (and yes, had to use some as a makeshift pad, because I’m an idiot), things were not quite, shall we say, tidy. I’ll just leave it at that.

Whatever, I’m over it. Things weren’t all that bad, and it could have been worse. Honestly, the whole thing is more annoying than anything else.  Not having a few simple things turned a totally manageable, mundane monthly event into a mini-menstrual misadventure (ok, I’ll stop). It’s kind of hard to believe that there’s nothing out there to handle such a basic dilemma (Animosa to the rescue!).  

It’s also kind of hard to believe how much unhelpful, incomplete and sometimes downright absurd advice there is out there for any woman trying to prepare herself for any expedition where there might not be a trash can around to dispose of used menstrual products. In our next post, we’ll talk a little more about these inadequate solutions, and how they help reinforce the notion that biology is a barrier (NO! BAD!). 

Stay tuned, and check out our twitter feed for more #menstrualmisadventures that we’ve heard from so many other women. Most of them should be kind of know, now that some time has passed...but if nothing else, ladies, you’ll know you’re not alone in the struggle!

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