Yaz Birth Control Killed the Sister I Never Knew

I could hear the painful cries and moans echoing through the hospital walls.  They were more like screams.  It wasn’t ordinary emotions.  They were deep sharp aches that climbed out of the stomach.

“Something happened,” I said to my sister as we came closer to the intensive care unit.
My sister noticed the crying, but she thought it was just the same crying that she heard all day today.  As we came closer we noticed it was different.  It was loud.

“What is that?” she asked me, “What happened?”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

“Hey Jaype!”  my sister said knocking on my glass window.  I was still in bed, shirtless, wearing pajama pants with my face eating the cotton shirt I wrapped around my pillow.  She continued knocking on my window.  “Jaype!” she said again continuing to try to get my attention from the slightly open window.  Jaype is what my family calls me; it’s my first and second initial crammed into one syllable.  “Jaype!” she said again, “Janelle’s sister is in the hospital.”  I woke up.

I didn’t know Janelle very well except for the fact that she had been in a relationship for the past few years with my brother, Eliot.  They were due to have a baby and I still wasn’t that close to her.  I’m not close to both my brothers.  We just aren’t that type of brothers.  I didn’t even know Eliot’s girlfriend had a sister.  Her name was Janice.  I never met her or heard of her.  Even then, I still got up, got into the shower, put on some pants, a white shirt, and my hoodie, as I headed over to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital it was what it was; excruciating pain, prayer, emotions running rampant.  It wasn’t your normal kick back Saturday morning.  I never met Janelle’s family.  The halls of the ICU and the walls of the waiting room were surrounded with people I didn’t know.  My sister said we were there to give support.  Even if they didn’t know us, they still needed our support.  We shook hands with people we didn’t know, asked them how they knew Janice, got asked how “we” knew Janice and we replied with the same story: her sister is dating my brother.

Everyone was hopeful.  She was fighting, everyone said.  Janice was dying from a blood clot that formed in her lung.  The blood clot started forming because of a birth control she used called Yaz. She entered the hospital last night and she still laid in bed.  Everyone knew she’d get better.  Everyone had hope.

They wanted to sing hymns in the waiting room.  They must’ve been hardcore Catholics.  They didn’t have a music player with speakers, so my brother volunteered himself to get his CD player at our house.  My sister and I drove back home with my brother to go get it.  We pulled up to our house, my brother ran in, and we headed back to the hospital.  My brother walked ahead of us as my sister and I stayed behind.  As we started getting closer to the ICU unit, that’s when we heard the cries.

We walked passed a girl screaming in pain on the floors by the elevators as one of her friends held her in her lap.  She was shaking, trembling, she couldn’t control herself.  We walked through the hallways and everyone crowded the ICU main entrance.  I could feel the frustration in some of their faces.  The dark broken tones breaking all of their hopes.  There emotions were smearing across everyone’s defeated hope.

“They’re starting CPR,” the doctor said to one of the parents, surrounded by everyone else wanting to hear what was happening.

She was already gone.

It must’ve hit everyone so suddenly.  She had just entered the emergency room last night.  Everyone thought she was okay, and that she would recover.  No one even thought that she was dying.  There was no chance that she could’ve been on her last breaths.  She was 22.  She was almost my age.  She didn’t smoke.  She exercised.  She drank occasionally.  Everyone thought she was fighting.  She was supposed to get better.  People were still rushing in only to find that they were too late.  It was just yesterday that they brought her in.  It was 2pm in the afternoon, and Janice had left her body.

My sister was mostly with my brother, who was mostly with Janelle, the whole time holding her.  She cried and yelled, “Why didn’t they take me!  She had so much to live for!”  I watched them comfort her in an almost empty waiting room.  There were hymns playing.

After the painful sudden embrace of death, everything simmered down.  They started bringing people in to see her.  I didn’t feel anything and neither did my sister.  We were there to hug everyone even though no one wanted to hug us.  Nobody knew who we were.  When one mom came in with her daughter she told someone, anyone, to watch her daughter as she went into the ICU to see Janice.  I took her baby into my arms and carried her after she came back out, tearing up, sitting on the floor with a broken spirit.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

My sister took a seat next to me in the hall where I was sitting alone.

“When I was younger and it was only Angel and me, we would always be with mama,” my sister, Shirley said.  Angel was our eldest sister, she was the second oldest.  “One day when we were on the bus with mama the bus crashed and Angel and I were hurt badly.  We were pulled out, but we couldn’t find mama.  Angel kept crying, ‘where’s my mom  Where’s mama!’  When they finally found her, there was blood all over her face.  There was a large opening ripped on top of her head and she was covered in a lot of her own blood.  Angel kept crying.”

“Your sister and I stayed in the waiting room in the hospital.  Angel was still crying.  She was crying a lot.  I didn’t feel anything.  I watched her cry since we left the bus crash and all she did was cry.  I looked at her and said, ‘You cry too much.’”

“We couldn’t sleep at the hospital and they didn’t know how to contact papa so they put us in a foster home.  Papa thought he lost all his family.  He couldn’t find us.  Angel thought we lost our mom and this was going to be how our life would be, no parents, just me and her.”

“Later on, papa picked us and up and took us home.  Mama got better.  But ever since then I noticed that I was sort of desensitized to type of things.  I just don’t cry as much as your older sister,” Shirley said.

“I’m pretty sure I have that too,” I replied.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

When I walked into the ICU, into the room that held the body of the sister I never knew, I felt out of place.  Her family surrounded her life left body.  Her mother and her sister held her hand wondering why it had to be her.

9 responses to “Yaz Birth Control Killed the Sister I Never Knew

  1. This is so sad.

    I had a friend who was on Yaz a few years ago, and she ended up really sick too. Yaz has a really strong diuretic, which is good for women who retain water, but not good for women who don’t. She ended up dehydrating so badly that her organs started to fail. The doctors couldn’t figure it out for months. They did all kinds of internal imaging, exploratory surgery, blood tests, everything. It was like a months-long episode of “House.” Their last ditch effort was to try the trial-and-error process of taking her off one medication at a time. Once they discontinued the Yaz, she started to improve.

    My doctor keeps asking if I want to switch to Yaz from the pill I’m on, and it’s like, “Lady, are you kidding?”

    • I KNOW! Why would anyone even recommend a drug that has so many lawsuits. It’s just awful. Things like that shouldn’t even exist, especially when there are so many other safer alternatives.

      • I’ve had my own pill horror stories – one gave me terrible headaches and wrecked my skin, one messed with my metabolism and I gained 50 lbs. – but I’ve been so lucky with the one I’m on now.

        I have to be on this medication for the rest of my life, so yeah, I want to be on one that is safe.

        My roommate was on Yaz when my friend was hospitalized, and once the doctors found out what was making her sick, I told roomie to get herself to the nearest doctor to make sure it was even safe for her to be on it. She ended up switching to something else, too.

      • Gillian, y’know what, we should be YAZ ANTI ACTIVIST!

  2. I’m pretty sure there are more than enough anti-Yaz groups and lawsuits out there. Apparently, there are something like 1100 active lawsuits against the manufacturer right now.

    It’s cute though, they think a couple of commercials addressing things the FDA wants them to *fix* about their pill is enough to change everything. Not really, it’s still a shitty medication.

    (http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/have-you-seen-the-new-yaz-commercials/ – The commercials ran last year after the FDA sent them a huge warning letter, but they only addressed the PMDD, not the ridiculously high risk of clots and dehydration)

    My first pill (a brand) was amazing, but my insurance raised the price, so I switched to a generic. And then another one, and then another one, before starting the one I’m on now. They’re all generics for the same brand, but did completely different things to me. Some of the side effects were worse than the symptoms of the condition I have, the one the pill is supposed to stave off.

    Oral contraceptives still seem to be the wild west when it comes to research and regulation, which is why Yaz hasn’t been outright banned.

  3. I responded to your forum thread on 20sb. I just wanted to say I’m sorry 😦
    Also, I’m really worried. I have no symptoms on Yaz and have been on it for years so I’m reluctant to change. My doctors have never expressed any worry. Changing birth control is always a big mess with me (excessive aches/ bleeding/side effects) so when I’m on something w/o drama, I get complacent.

    I guess lawsuits = drama. Death = drama.

    • I would get yourself checked. It doesn’t matter how many excessive aches, bleeding, and side effects you end up having, as long that in two days you don’t die.

      I’m no doctor. But I hate seeing people die.

  4. I just switched off of Yaz. We knew of a couple of people with clots and I was getting bad headaches myself. When I talked about it with my doctor she kind of laughed off all the reports but said she would give me a prescription to something different anyways. Not sure if this one is any better though. I’m hearing too many scary stories lately. Thank you for sharing this. It’s a growing problem and more people need to talk about.

    • Birth control is pretty scary crap. My girlfriend is on Loestrin, and she gets some major mood swings, that or she likes to blame a lot of things on birth control. I hope everything works out. If you can, do some research on the pill you’re currently on. I’m sure if there’s lawsuits or anything, they’ll show up right away.

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