Women’s pain is normal and we don’t even bother to talk about it because it would be like talking about inhaling and exhaling air

Also, Blue Cross of Michigan is the worst insurance company in the US

I have always been convinced I could do a tracheotomy if I had to.

In an emergency, I mean. If someone were choking. Not just for the heck of it. Not as a hobby.

I always have a Swiss army knife in my purse and I always have a pen. (A pen that people so often, in the Before Times, would want to borrow but I would not let them because people who don’t carry their own pens also do not return borrowed pens.)

I don’t carry alcohol to sterilize the equipment but honestly, if you are choking to death, would you rather die an sterilized death or take your chances with a pen that I had not let other people use?

I have never been called to do a tracheotomy.

I did, however, come close the other night.

I was taking the bus home and the driver stopped the bus, got off, closed the door, and disappeared.

I was the only one on the bus.

I waited. And waited. And wondered if it was some weird psychological experiment, like the time in PSYC 201 in college when there was an irregular pinging sound during one whole class session but nobody had the guts to ask the prof what was going on. (Which may have been the experiment.)

Anyhow. I was wondering if I could walk home (if I could get out of the bus) when the driver reappeared.

I asked if everything was OK.

She said she had needed to use the bathroom.

I did the math. She had also used the bathroom at the beer garden at the start of the route only 20 minutes prior.


“That has to be a hassle in this job,” I said.

She agreed that it was.

And I knew my moment had come. The moment I had been waiting for – to give medical advice.

I dug into my purse – this wasn’t even my regular purse with the SAK and the pen – it was my festival purse that is small enough to get past the search teams and search teams don’t let you take knives into festivals, not even in Wisconsin, and pulled out a foil of generic AZO.

Yes. Even if I can’t carry a knife, I always have pee pills with me.

I pulled the cord and walked to the front of the bus as she stopped the bus.

“Here,” I said as I passed the pills to her. “Even if you don’t want to take pills from a stranger, this has the name on it. This will help you not feel like you need to pee all the time.”

She gave me a bewildered thanks as I sauntered off the bus, happy that I had done A Good Deed.

The really sad thing?

I really did do a Good Deed.

How did you find out about AZO, generic or otherwise?

How did you learn that it’s possible to relieve bladder and UTI pain?


Let’s back up.

Guess what – bladder pain is not normal.

It’s not normal to think you have a UTI all the time.

It’s not normal for your bladder to feel like it’s on fire.

But again – I never thought too deeply about it. It’s just one of those things that goes with being a woman, right?

Even when I have mentioned it to my doctor. And have asked for a solution. And have been tested and the result has been nope, not a UTI.

Even when I have been sure to pee right after sex. And to always wear scrupulously clean underwear. (In The Vagina Bible, Dr Jen Gunter says ALL THAT IS BS. BLADDER PROBLEMS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH PEEING AFTER SEX.)

Even when I have been scoped up the hoo-ha and the doc has said nope, your bladder is a normal size with normal capacity and there is nothing wrong with it.

(Thank you, Blue Cross of Michigan, for considering that doctor office visit as a hospital visit for $700 and not an office visit for a $45 copay merely because the doc’s office happens to be in a hospital, which is not uncommon for teaching hospitals. You are the most evil of insurance companies. United HealthCare paid all visits to docs in this hospital as office visits. Blue Cross of Michigan? YOU ARE AWFUL.)

Even when I have had to call my doctor when I was on vacation and ask for pain relief because I was in such pain I could barely move, I thought it was normal.

This was normal.

Of course my bladder bothers me.

I am a woman. We have pain.

I didn’t even learn about AZO, an OTC painkiller for bladder pain, from a doctor. A pharmacist told me about it.

And the words “interstitial cystitis,” with which I have not been diagnosed, mind you, have never been said to me at a doc’s office. Even when I have asked for more UTI drugs and they say it’s probably not a UTI and I need to be checked out, nobody has said, “Because it might be this thing that can’t be cured and nobody knows what it is but hey it might help to stay super hydrated and avoid tomatoes.”

But I have AZO. Well, I have Walgreen’s version of AZO. So I guess that’s OK? No definition, really. No cure. No truly effective treatment.

But at least we have Viagra. Right?


9 thoughts on “Women’s pain is normal and we don’t even bother to talk about it because it would be like talking about inhaling and exhaling air

  1. EXACTLY! After you mentioned The Vagina Bible, I rushed right out and checked it out from my library. Turned out to be so full of information I DID NOT KNOW I went right out and spent actual hard-earned money on my own copy. The number of times she said, “but we don’t have good studies…”

    But yeah, at least there’s viagra.


  2. There’s a prescription urinary anesthetic that is like AZO but which is blue instead of orange and which you can safely take for more than 48 hours (AZO is reputedly rough on the kidneys?). But the blue one did not work for me. But it works for some people?

    (also, yes, “oh, yeah, we can’t do anything about that pain, just get past it” should not be the *first line response* anyway, because there are all sorts of other non-specific neuropathy-ish pain relief options that work for some people for this kind of pain (amitryptiline, gabapentin, etc.). It should never be “oh, well, it’s women’s pain, just get over it” as the response; if doctors want to try out the “ignore it for a month and maybe it’ll go away” method they should say that explicitly and invite the woman to return for more options or for a referral for more options because most just GIVE UP on answers because of societal training and no, why are we dooming half our population to this sort of nonsense?)


    1. Yes! Give it a month and look for [these things]. Keep a diary, tracking [this information]. Gather this kind of data and come back and we’ll look at it.

      Not just a shrugging Oh well maybe it will go away – we don’t know how to fix it anyhow.


  3. I just read an article about someone with chronic headaches, most likely caused by exposure to VOCs. The most interesting line in the whole article to me was “Nobody said, ‘Hey, it’s all in your head.” Of course they didn’t, it was a man.


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