After surgery on my knee when I was fifteen, I was half-conscious being wheeled to the recovery room. Once there, I was jolted out of anesthesia by the raging pain in my knee, a familiar post-surgical experience. But in addition to this pain, I became aware of cramps in my abdomen. I felt a hot, sticky warm pool of blood under my bottom and smelled iron. I touched it. I raised myself up onto my elbows and saw that blood was seeping up through the white, bleached-stiff hospital sheet. I lowered myself back down and slipped back into unconsciousness. I was jolted half-awake again when a male nurse pulled the sheet back and said to someone, 'she's bleeding!'

I was shaking from cold, and I remembered I didn't have any underwear on. They never let you wear underwear. I didn't have any underwear, and this recovery room was public! Fighting the anesthesia, I mumbled 'It's my period.' Did I actually say the words? My throat was parched and raw from the intubation. The nurse shouted this time, 'She's bleeding!' Another male nurse came. The two of them poked around, turned me over, searching for the source of the blood. Each movement sent surges of pain up my body from my knee. Through the haze, I said again, 'It's my period.' Did they hear me? As the nurses lifted me to a sitting position, I could see that blood had seeped down the white, full-leg plaster cast from my crotch half-way to my knee almost meeting with the blood seeping up from the surgical site. 'It's my period,' I insisted.

I could sense their panic as they frantically pawed me. A female nurse joined them, and said calmly, 'she's menstruating.' They pulled the sheet back up, and I drifted back into sleep, laughing hysterically to myself as one only does on narcotics. I had begun my period during the surgery!

The male nurses only saw a crippled girl; I knew I was a woman.

---- Carrie Sandahl