Red Lobster - An Endometriosis Story
When I was around 15 years old, I was visiting my grandparents in Tampa, Florida. It was Sunday, and some friends of theirs were treating us to Red Lobster. I was gleeful with shrimp in butter sauce anticipation. But as I got dressed to go, my joy was shattered by a familiar pain in my ovaries. That time of the month had crept up on me like a demon in the forest. I knew what this meant. I grabbed at my flesh, demanding the pain to subside or at least not get any worse. Not today! Not when I'm being treated to Red Lobster! NO! I would have none of it. I took some deep breaths and a couple Tylenol my grandmother gave me.
Red Lobster wasn't that far from my grandparent's apartment, but the drive was eternal on this day. I was seated in the back with my grandmother and her friend. It was a snug fit, and it was so hot. How could people live in Florida and own a vehicle without A/C? The sweat was pooling on every ledge and in every crevasse of my body. The pain grew, and laughed at the Tylenol. It took over my abdomen from my pelvis upward, and at my lungs, it tried to take my breath. My head swooned. I closed my eyes, begging God to make the pain go away. As usual, the pain intensified in waves, and I relished in the low tides. Always hopeful it was done and then shattered when it started to swell again, peaking to the point of wanting to just die and be done with it. The heat served to make the peaks even more unbearable.
I opened my eyes as we entered the Red Lobster parking lot. "Please, God. I want to eat free shrimp!"
As I started to get out of the car, my grandmother looked at me and saw I was pale and soaking wet with sweat. She helped me walk across the parking lot, but we didn't get far before the pain put my abdomen in a chokehold. I saw orange dots, then black dots. I could still hear and was still walking with the assistance of my grandmother, but I was on the verge of passing out. I screamed out. She walked me to the bathroom. I could see again, was more aware of my surroundings. She sat me on the toilet.
I desperately wanted to lay on the cold bathroom floor, which was my go-to spot in the depth of my Endometriosis misery. For me, a hard cold floor cooled down my body and put me conveniently close to where I could throw up or shit, which was frequent in the throes of cramping. I've been found on several bathroom floors by friends and family, my face white as a ghost, in a pool of sweat. But at the Red Lobster, I sat on the toilet with my head against the wall, begging God to relieve the pain.
"Carole, are you alright?" I heard my sweet grandmother say from outside the stall. I could hardly muster up the strength to answer, but I knew my dream of all-you-can-eat shrimp was over. I could no longer endure this pain. "No, grandma. I need to go home. I can't eat." I replied.
She helped me to the car; I threw myself prostrate across the hottest, stickiest back seat ever known to man and lay there in the Florida heat, continuing to beg God to relieve this pain and thanking him for the brief moments when the peaks became valleys.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I saw the Red Lobster sign pass above me through the back window. I cried.
My grandmother dropped me back at the apartment. I was in a brief pain plateau, so I could walk into the apartment without assistance. I hit the A/C down to 65 as I walked down the hall, tore off all my clothes, and threw myself on the bed.
While my grandparents and their friends enjoyed lobster, crab claws, clams, and shrimp, I was cramping and praying for death.
And I never got my free Red Lobster.