Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Mortified and horrified are not synonyms. It peeves me when people use them interchangeably. Mortified means deeply embarrassing and humiliating and horrified means aghast and appalled or generally full of horror. Often a mortifying experience is also horrifying, but they are not the same thing.

I had an experience on this vacation that was both mortifying and horrifying. It was also gross, so if you'd rather not hear about my terrible shame, then you can skip this one and come back tomorrow or so when I'll share a touching family tale.
I haven't gone on vacation without getting my period since I was twelve. It's like some kind of Murphy's Law of menstruation that I can't just enjoy a trip without cramps and bloating. In fact, the first time I ever got my period in my entire life it was when I was on vacation. My body hates me and is always trying to find ways to prevent me from having a good time and this is just further proof of it. This trip was, of course, no different.

Since I had the baby my period has been really irregular. I've only had it a couple of times since she turned six months old and it's unpredictable. Apparently this is normal with breastfeeding, so I don't really care. But of course my body recognizes that I'm out of town having fun and it starts up and says "Hey we better ruin her fun and start bleeding and hurting! Let's throw in a migraine too just for kicks!"

We were staying at our friends' shore house in New Jersey over the weekend, as I explained in the last post. This is the most elegantly appointed beach cottage you've ever seen. It's all french country and the whole house is so perfect it could be the Pottery Barn summer catalog. Our hostess is extremely meticulous and she has two useless bichons, one of whom is just mental. The dog has issues. It has hot spots and has to wear tee shirts so it won't bite itself to pieces. It's missing hair and has an awful case of dog skin tags and it smells like fritos. The dog is not cute and it's super neurotic, snappy, yippy and is just a major poop eater all around. The other dog is only slightly better in that it doesn't have skin problems.

There's your set-up. I have my period. We are in a beautifully decorated, spotless home. There are annoying gross dogs.

When we got there I became distraught over what to do about my tampons. My mother drilled it into my sister's and my heads that we were never to flush tampons in the toilet because they'd clog the pipes and if we did it again we'd have to pay the plumber. We got in trouble a couple times and had embarrassing awkward moments with plumbers more than I care to remember, so it became a habit to never flush tampons. Just wrap them up well and dispose of them in the trash and take it out immediately. End of story.

I didn't really want to do this in a strange house because I am so shy about having my period. I never want people to know I have my period when I do. I'm so weird about it that as a teenager I had it for two years before I even told my mother and I revealed my secret under threats of doctor's visits. I didn't want anyone to see tampon wrappers in the trash or anything, but then I also didn't want to clog up the toilet, so I weighed my options. I decided that clogging up the toilet would be terrible beyond words, so I wrapped the tampons, wrappers etc. in lots of toilet paper, covered them up with more trash and put them in the bathroom garbage can. My plan was to get up in the morning and take the trash outside before anyone could see it.

Sunday morning we had torrential rains and I couldn't go outside to take the trash out, so I figured it wouldn't matter because by then more trash had accumulated and everything was well hidden at the bottom of the can under some Stridex pads, chewed gum, old floss, dirty Q-tips and the like.

While the baby and I napped upstairs, a tremendous disturbance awoke me. People were yelling, dogs were barking, someone was gagging. Dear God, what was it? It was mass hysteria on the first floor. All I could hear was "EWWWW!!!" and "PUT THAT DOWN!" "OH MY GOD BLOOD!!" and "THAT"S DISGUSTING!!"

The dog had pulled the used tampons out of the trash and had strewn them across the house. The other dog had gotten in on the action and a fight had ensued. Our hostess was horrified and disgusted. Upstairs, I hid because I was mortified. What was I going to do? Everyone would know it was me because earlier I mentioned needed a Midol for cramps and our hostess has had a hysterectomy. There was no way to get out of this. It was my worst nightmare.

Maybe I should have owned up to it and gone downstairs and cleaned it up, but I was too ashamed and humiliated. If I could have, I would have climbed down the drainpipe and hitched a ride to the airport so as to never have to face my hosts again. I decided to feign ignorance of the event and stayed upstairs for a couple hours. When I came back down I pretended like I had no idea and no one mentioned it. We all just acted like nothing had happened, but deep down I knew they knew and I think they probably knew I knew too. Uggh. I never want to see these friends again. I'm that embarrassed.

Now we're in Rhode Island with different hosts, my husband's cousins, staying in a beautiful beachside home that looks like the Barefoot Contessa's house. It's as fancy as the house in New Jersey. This time, I've decided to flush, so let me know if anyone knows of any good plumbers in the tiniest state because with my luck, I'll probably end up needing one. 

(HEY!! Aren't the Ghost Hunters guys plumbers in Rhode Island? I could call them!)


Gina said...

I feel your pain. The last time I went on vacation with my in-laws (which is scary enough its own - 40 or 50 in-laws in 3 beach houses), I got mine while I was IN THE POOL. I realized it and got out to head to my room. After i came out, I discovered a trail of blood drops all through the house. I hurried to clean it all up and prayed that whatever was on the deck/stairs either got splashed away or escaped notice.

Anonymous said...

The EXACT SAME THING happened to me the first time I went to visit my future in-laws. Luckily, the only trash receptacle I could find was in my bedroom and I discovered the mess their dogs had made with my tampons before anyone else did. I had never been around indoor dogs before and I just couldn't believe they would do that! Smile, you have sisters everywhere!

Gabrielle said...

oh. oh my god. i would die if this happened to me, literally die. i'm not QUITE as embarrassed, generally speaking, about my period as you seem to be......but still generally pretty embarrassed. ugh oh god

Anonymous said...

Oh please start flushing them! Just don't flush the applicators (even cardboard i dont flush)! But I've NEVER had issue with flushing the actual tampon. NEVER. Ew.

Sunny said...

The general rule is don't flush applicators. Tampons shouldn't be flushed into a septic system. I've used this trick before while traveling; when you get to Rhode Island, flush a big wad of toilet paper first. See how the plumbing handles it. If it's okay, flush away. Obviously I have had my own Bitch of a Uterus wars. Bitch usually wins. Bitch.

rockygrace said...

Oh man - I can only imagine what my house's ancient plumbing would do if I tried to flush a tampon ...

... and gee, maybe they should train their damn dogs to STAY OUT OF THE GARBAGE? Just a thought ...

nandy said...

They were THEIR dogs. I wouldn't worry too much about it. They've probably pulled a lot of things out of the garbage.

Fortunately, you didn't have MY worst period nightmare...sitting on a fancy couch (think "silk cushions") and feeling the start of your period with a gush!

And I agree with previous posters. FLUSH! Just not the applicators.

Dawn said...

Truly the mother of all mortification and horrification stories!

As a homeowner with a fragile septic system, I appreciate your consideration. But as the owner of a goat-dog, I am torn about guest's potentially disastrous disposal practices. Sophie's choice.

lucy said...

I would die, too. Another reason to love my Diva Cup. Have you ever tried a menstrual cup? You don't have to worry about disposing of anything, and you don't have to empty it as often as you need to change a tampon. I can practically forget I have my period.

Anonymous said...

You've probably heard this a billion times before, but here's one billion and one: get a menstrual cup! Best things ever (admittedly after a slight learning curve). Good for the plumbing, good for you, good for the trash, and you never have to worry about running out of tampons.

And if a dog somehow manages to get hold of it, well, that's bound to be a -very- interesting for your blog.

Kerry said...

You'd be amazed at the things dogs will go after. We keep ours out of the bathrooms and the bedrooms, which helps a lot, and the kitchen garbage is dog-inaccessible.

And it's really hard to train them to avoid trash. I guess it can be done, but I'm not sure how. Ours aren't particularly big on self-control when there is temptation.

I hope the good of your vacation is outweighing the bad! :)

JTN said...

It happened to me too!
I was visiting my parents with my husband and dog. I got my period and buried my tampons at the very bottom of the trash can. The next day my father says "JTN... your dog has... something in her mouth..."
I ask him what is it? He replies... I don't know... but I think you need to come check her out.
So, I come into the kitchen and the dog is parading around the room with a tampon string hanging out of her mouth like a trophy. She's extremely happy and thrilled with her new treat.

My father knew exactly what it was but he was too embarassed to say anything. At this point, my mother and I crack up laughing and I go through the task of convincing the dog to release her latest chew toy.

My husband and I still laugh about it today because of our dog's enthusiam and my dad's willful ignorance. When my husband is feeling especially sarcastic he'll ask the dog if she wants to go dumpster diving for more meat lollipops.

Kirby said...

How awful... I've also been "trained" not to flush. At home this isn't an issue, I have a system (one cat likes those too) and when at my sister's I also have a system - she has dogs. On the few occasions when I am where somewhere different without secure bathroom garbage, I wrap securely and either find secure garbage can or inquire with the hostess - much less embarrasing to ask than to have an "incident". So sorry, and I agree absolutely mortifying.

greyspasm said...

You see, cats would never do this! ;)

Anonymous said...

My dog managed to dig a pair of blood stained panties out of the laundry and then proudly bounced into the living room in the middle of a dinner party and dropped them on the rug during cocktails. And everyone knows that period panties are always your worst huge granny knickers. That was some cocktail conversation killer! I thought I suffered alone in my horror and mortification. You only lost one friend, I wanted to ditch every single friend I have!

JoeinVegas said...

Trash. Our plumbing system would not take anything like that, not even a wad of TP. With granddaughter here I've had to clear pipes twice.

catherine said...

I have a great fear of that happening to me. I find a toilet paper tube in the garbage, fold both edges in like this )( and put the well wrapped pad or tampon in it and close the other end tight. A dog would really have to work at it to get it apart and maybe someone will notice before it gets all over. So far i've been lucky.

Anonymous said...


the same thing happened to me. the awful thing abouut it was that it also expanded even more as he chewed it so it was literally a gigantic bloody mess. so awful! i had a great laugh over it though. i flush them always. i have a fabulously powerful toilet.


wagthedad said...

Ouch. Ouch.

I have to say, though, I've been on the clean-up end of the exact same thing (I'm a man), and that ain't pretty, either.

When I was thirteen our dog did the same thing. I yelled at my sister, who told me that it was my mom's, and then I yelled at my mom, who told me it was my sister's. In some strange, beyond-my-years lucid moment, I cleaned it up myself.

Now that I think back to it I think the both of them were grooming me for my future life with womanhood.

But that sucks for you. Obviously I don't have a period, so the only thing I can compare it to would be maybe constipation, and THAT sucks, so....

My wife has the same thing with vacation periods. Crazy.

jmm said...

I think you did absolutely the right thing by pretending you didn't know the incident happened.

Anonymous said...

I understand your embarassment, but she's married to a doctor and has three daughters. It couldn't have been a first time experience for her with those awful little dogs she has. When we stayed there, they got into our trash too, so I know how bad they are. Even though you're dying, it truly was an entertaining story. Don't worry about it. d

Anonymous said...

This happened to me in college when I lived in a house with 7 other girls. Several of us got our periods at the same time each month. There were only 3 bathrooms in the house. I guess all our mothers also trained us to just wrap tampons/pads and put them in the trash. We had 2 puppies. One day they were bored. Someone forgot to close the bathroom door when they were through. It was that time of the month for about half of us. The dogs got into the trash and ATE most of the tampons and shredded all the bloodstained toilet paper and spread everything all over the whole first floor of this house. I imagine they played tug of war with the "toys" unwrapped each one like a piece of candy. Anyway, so I feel your pain, at least a little bit.
I also use a diva cup now for the most part, and if I ever have to throw a tampon away, I put it an outside garbage that animals can't reach. This has been burned into my brain forever.

Alcyone said...

As a life long owner of garbage tipping, toilet bowl swilling obnoxious dogs, it is my responsibility as their owner to keep them in check. It is also required of me to insure that my houseguests are NOT mortified under any circumstances within my means. I am terribly sorry that the mess wasn't cleaned up quietly and without your knowledge which I believe is what should have happened. And then the dogs should have been contained. One way or another. Also, flush (for your own peace of mind) unless you're specifically asked not to. Generally there are signs. Just not the applicators but I do appreciate your thoughtfulness and I'm truly sorry this happened to you

Anonymous said...

When I was a young girl just having periods, maybe 12 or 13, I was never very good at keeping menstrual blood off my underwear. My panties were always stained. My 2 dogs loved to dig them out of the laundry hamper and take them out to the backyard. My DAD always found them. I was mortified. I was another one that had my period for over a year without ever telling my parents. I just quietly used my mom's tampons or bought my own stash. Even now, at 53, I find myself blushing at the thought, and I'm a nurse! You're not alone. time will pass, you'll go through menopause, and you'll love NOT HAVING PERIODS!

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