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FAQ About Your Changing Body



It's been a challenge putting together an FAQ that works in every state and doesn't squick out Ron DeSantis. But we can still offer vital health information for growing children while conforming to the stated values of the GOP. While tweens and teens are absolutely old enough to carry a pregnancy to term or practice hiding from armed gunmen, we can't risk traumatizing them with facts about the very bodies they live in. So, the actual S-E-X stuff we'll leave to more traditional sources like, more worldly cousins, porn and sketchy youth pastors.

Why am I so sweaty?

Could be the hormones. Could also be that guns are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. and the leaders your parents elected are not only blocking the kinds of gun legislation that have proved effective in other countries, but are showing up for work with little assault rifle pins and posing for holiday family photos with enough firepower to take Guam. Also could be you're sweaty from crouching in the art supply closet while you were LARP-ing mass murder during today's active shooter drill. Try deodorant and frequent showers.

When is my voice going to change?

That depends on the growth rate of your larynx and how good you are at running in a zigzag motion. About a dozen children die from gunshots every day in this country, with 12 to 17 year olds accounting for 86 percent of those, according to Pew Research. Kind of makes The Hunger Games look like drama camp. And you may have to get as far as age 14 or 15 for your voice to drop enough to belt out those bass notes. Move to Australia or set up cones and run some drills, Peeta.

My period is really heavy. Is that normal?

Yeah, we can't talk about menstruation in Florida. But we can tell you that you've got about a gallon of blood in you. And if you're shot in a major artery, you can lose enough blood to render you unconscious in seconds and dead in less than three minutes, so you're going to need all you've got. But an adult can lose roughly 20 percent of their blood before going into hemorrhagic shock and, assuming it's a flesh wound and you manage the pain by biting into the handle of your lunchbox, you might not even pass out until around 40 percent.

Am I still a virgin if I use tampons?

Let's address a common myth about tampons because that's all I heard: That little wad of packed cotton simply isn't absorbent enough for the potential wineglass-per-minute bleeding of a serious gunshot wound. And plugging the hole left by a bullet won't create enough direct pressure to slow or stop bleeding. Peer pressure is bad but firm, direct pressure is good, kids! Again, we literally cannot offer you basic hygiene advice but we can suggest your mom pack a few rolls of hemostatic gauze along with your Lunchables so you can get a jump on clotting.

How do you know how you identify?

Yeah, we can't go near that one. But speaking of identifying, we can suggest you submit a preemptive DNA sample so you can be identified after your death amid a battlefield-like school room. The tumbling path of a .223-caliber-size round not only shatters bone and shreds muscle and organ tissue as it tears through a child's body, but also creates large exit wounds — the fragments sometimes causing multiple exit wounds — that can render you unrecognizable to your loved ones. Remember: The faster we identify your corpse, the faster we can send those thoughts and prayers.

What's the safest kind of protection?

You're going to want Level III or rifle-rated body armor that's a cut above what the cop who came to visit your school on career day was wearing. Yeah, AR-15 rounds are going through that thing like your mom's book club through a bottle of rosé. Still, Kevlar isn't nothing and may hold up against a center mass shot from a handgun with larger, slower rounds. So when choosing which wounded or dead classmate to hide under, Chloe with the fancy tactical backpack is a solid choice.

What's Plan B and how does it work?

The only Plan B I can talk about is a tourniquet, honey. Place it high on the limb and pull it tight.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or jennifer@northcoastjournal.com. Follow her on Instagram @JFumikoCahill and on Mastodon @jenniferfumikocahill.

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