I’m not sure if we have discussed this fully but one of the reasons I got a coil was because of my horrendous, horrendous periods. (Sorry if you are reading this at lunchtime.) They were never great but got really bad when I was about 23. Vomiting, diarrhoea, pain like… like… none I have ever experienced.
When people said that labour was just like “bad” period pains I was like WHAT? How much more painful can it be? And indeed, when it came to labour pains, they really weren’t much worse than what I was used to – only in labour I was given an epidural and got high on gas and air.
Not the usual run of it, which was standard painkillers, which did nothing. If I could steal a muscle-relaxant like a Zopliclone or a Valium that would do that thing that people talk about with pain, it put it on the other side of the room. Otherwise a hot water bottle stopped me from actually screaming. Mostly all I could do was sit and wait. I have missed days of work in this agony, had to cancel career-enhancing freelance work. It has been a curse.
One time I remember, when I was probably 24 or 25, I was woken up around 5am – this was typical – and the pain was excruciating. Fine, I’m not that brilliant with pain, it’s true, but even then I feel like this were uncalled-for. Pain is really hard to share, it’s hard to describe. But these were a bit like the weight of a large stone. You know, that feeling when you try to lift the weight of a massive stone. Cold, hard, heavy. Also sharp like a knife. Nauseating. Dementing. I could feel it in the back of my throat. It felt frantic, panicky. Urgent. Help, help please help me. I was on my knees in bed but with my head on the pillow, hands on my abdomen going “Owww owww owwwwwwwww!!!!” The full indignity of womanhood. I mean not quite, but getting there.
After about 90 minutes of this torture, a puke, six ibuprofen and a hot water bottle I sort of drifted off into a daze. By then I suppose it was 6am ish. I don’t know why but I turned on the radio and it was an interview with Marian Keyes. I turned it down so it was just a gentle murmur, just a thing to take the edge off the thundering alone-silence of the room. Half asleep, I listened to her little pixie voice talking about her depression. She’s got a strong accent, an instantly recognisable voice. It was a long interview and her impassioned voice in the early morning light jumbled up with the pain and the painkillers and the fuzziness has left me with the faint sense that Marian Keyes is actually God.
Even then I didn’t pick up a Marian Keyes book until 14 years later when I read The Break, about a month ago. Then I read The Woman Who Stole My Life and then I read Rachel’s Holiday and now I’m reading Watermelon. And I really can’t think of an author more mis-packaged than her. I mean, Rachel’s Holiday, (my favourite so far), is dark – really, really dark, about a girl going into rehab. For anyone who has a bit of a booze/drugs/shopping/eating problem, this is just the marvellous stuff, a real kind of crash course in addictive personalities and general therapy. I loved it.
But it’s also funny. And there’s some romance. And because it isn’t unremittingly bleak and doesn’t have that turn of phrase or style that turns it from “chick-lit” to “literary”, she’s stuck in the “chick-lit” bracket, which … I don’t know… seems unfair. Though that is to fall into the trap of thinking just because “lit” has got “chick” in front of it, it is necessarily dismissive. (It is, though, isn’t it.) As I’m sure I’ve said before, I’m no reading snob and I would have read these books years ago had I realised what they were actually about.
Anyway, all I suppose I’m saying is: Don’t judge a book by its cover. I think it’s a phrase that will really catch on. Here is a link to Rachel’s Holiday on the Waterstone’s website. I generally link to Amazon for books, but I know that you would probably rather buy from Waterstone’s.
How about you? Do you have a story about Marian Keyes? Or is there another author you secretly suspect of being actual God.