Note the subject, okay? There will be copious amounts of menstruation discussion seeping all throughout this post.

The first day of my most recent period felt like I was being disemboweled with one of those hand-crankin’ old fashioned apple peelers.  I’ve had some beastly days before, sure, but this was the first one in a while where the uterus crampings seemed to be using my large intestine as an amplifier. (One that goes to eleven. At least, mine do.)

I couldn’t figure out what to do.  So I slipped into the weird, slow-crawling routine that I generally assume whenever I have a flare: I took my UC meds as ordered. I drank a lot of mint tea and water. I took very small steps when I walked. I took Tylenol – sparingly. I used a heating pad. I chilled after work on the couch.

In fact, nothing really worked. The Tylenol kicked in briefly and wore off quickly. At one point, I was worried that I had some sort of surprise perforation or toxic megacolon or something else horrifying, because my belly was bloating and stiff as a board. In addition to chilling in general, I tried a lot of deep, calming, relaxing breathing, which didn’t work too well; at the end of the second day in, my shoulders were stiffer than my belly.

Then, on the afternoon of day three, the pain dwindled and disappeared. The period, of course, continued merrily along with minimal fuss and cramps. At no point did I see any blood out the back door, although it can be hard to tell when you’re flaring and menstruating simultaneously. Naturally I was happy to be feeling better, but I’m still frustrated as to how to prepare for such a sudden assault the next time it occurs. That’s the thing about having ulcerative colitis – at least, in my case. Even if one is in remission with successful ongoing treatment or medication or what have you, there is always a next time.

So, in the infernal internal equation of hellacious period + ulcerative colitis – riding it out like a champ, what’s a lady in pain to do?

The Answer: homemade shortbread. Always shortbread, dears. With weak tea.

Scotch Shortbread
From The Fanny Farmer Baking Book, published in 1984.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter until smooth and creamy. Add 2/3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and beat well. Stir and sift together 2 cups flour and 1/4 tsp salt, then add to butter mixture and beat until completely mixed.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough. You can prepare the cookies in multiple ways, by rolling out in a sheet 1/2-inch thick and cutting with a cookie cutter, or by rolling up the dough in a log and slicing 1/2-inch cookies off. Also suggested is to pat the dough into a round pie pan, bake, then cut into wedges like pie pieces when serving. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets, prick 3 times with a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes or until cookies have barely browned around the edges. Don’t over bake; they should not be completely brown. Remove and cool on a rack.

Enjoy the buttery goodness, perhaps with an episode of Downton Abbey or other Masterpiece Theatre delights. I’m currently watching the looong miniseries The Jewel in the Crown. Shortbread definitely helps. Although Art Malik is quite entrancing, and there are lots of familiar faces sprinkled throughout.

(If you don’t know how to make weak tea, well. Try hard.)


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