Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Pity Party--Thanks for Coming!

All right, I've been a basket case for a little bit now.  My week has been very busy, which I suppose is a good thing, keeping me distracted from my impending surgery.

It's been a long time since I've needed any major medical care.  Basically since my C-section with J, 10 years ago.  And I am not a great patient.

The amount of medical attention it takes to lead up to this surgery has been a little unexpected.  There's the consultation, when I initially went in to talk to my doctor about ways I could get any relief from the monster that I become for half every month, where I feel like my insides are attacking me, which causes me to want to attack anyone who comes near me.  And the low-grade, but constant, pain I'm in during the other half of each month.  I hadn't come in earlier because I had been chalking this all up to aging, and just the inconvenience of having been born female.

So that appointment was followed up by that super fun ultrasound I wrote about last time.  Then I had to go in for the appointment to talk about the results of the ultrasound. That was followed by the appointment to get some bloodwork done and a "pre-op", which was followed up by an appointment for one last pap smear (awesome!) and then to sign the consent form after hearing about all the ways that I might die during this whole thing.  Oh, and of course to get my health care directive paperwork--so fun.  Now I have to go to an appointment at the hospital on Monday for "patient education."

Finally, the actual surgery.  Which, people, will be on October 30!  I will miss Halloween!  Ugh.  Well, at least I don't have to miss or be bedridden for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Anyway, all this has been really crazy, and I've been feeling super crappy, physically, during the whole thing.  I'm sure it's partially from stress and anxiety, but I can't make myself stop worrying just by telling myself to stop worrying.  And I've made some observations about doctor visits.

First of all, the waiting.  Not just in the lobby of the doctor's office.  For me, it's when you're plopped in the exam room (after the indignity of stepping on that scale--before each and every appointment-- in ALL YOUR CLOTHES AND SHOES AND HOLDING YOUR PURSE), on the chair, waiting for the nurse or doctor or whoever.  It is so creepy!  You're completely alone, and it is such a powerless feeling.  You can hear the muffled voices and footsteps from people outside the little room.  Kids crying.  It's always too hot.  You sit in there looking at the stirrups attached to the stupid bed, the drawers full of all the sterile stuff and torture devices.  The posters of diagrams of your guts.  The flier about domestic abuse.  I think I'm slightly claustrophobic, because I start fantasizing about just opening the door and running away.  And you have NO IDEA when somebody's finally coming in.

Then someone comes in and does your blood pressure, which by now is most certainly elevated.  It's all I can do to not try to read my chart, but I really don't need to have my weight or BMI staring me in the face.  Then that person leaves.  And again, you're alone in the creepy chamber.  And the couple magazines in the rooms are ALWAYS pregnancy magazines.  If I ran my own clinic there would be gossip magazines and Entertainment Weekly issues.  Or TV's.  Even better.

But then the doc comes in and has a quick chat, then leaves the room telling you to undress and get on the table, leaving you a "drape" and a paper vest.  So you disrobe, attempting to pile up your clothes strategically so nobody has to see your undergarments laying there.  Sit on the paper on that table, wrapped in the horrible drape and paper, grateful that at least you can keep your socks on.  Again, sitting there waiting.

The doc comes in and then you're treated to the exam.  "Feet in the stirrups, and scooch your butt all the way down.  Let your knees fall to the sides."  AAAAAAAACK.  And the doc disappears behind the sheet with a light and the glorious speculum, and you get intimately acquainted.

I seriously think they should start off the whole thing with a glass of wine and maybe have TV's on in the rooms with music videos or something.  There should be a way make the experience at least slightly less horrifying.  Maybe let you bring your own robe.  Anything.  Yeesh.

Anyway, so I'm mentally preparing, and I'm feeling a little better today.  I have to quit being such a baby.   I keep hearing about how much better I will feel when I'm all healed up, and I can't wait.  And luckily, I have people willing to help me out during this whole mess.  So today I will try to stop feeling sorry for myself.  I really am lucky to be able to get this fixed, and I know it will all be fine.

So thanks for letting me get all this out.  I feel much better!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Hysterical Uterus

I've been feeling sort of crummy lately.  Off and on, sometimes more on than off, over the past several years.  I'm not one to go to a doctor unless I HAVE to, and I went to the doctor this week.

It's hard being a girl.  Our bodies tend to occasionally become our enemy, and mine was getting really angry.  So I went in to talk about what I can do to get some relief (and relieve my hubby and kids as well from the monster I become), all the while thinking my "condition" was normal to a middle-aged woman.

Well, then I was sent in for an ultrasound.  No biggie, right?  I've had lots of pelvic ultrasounds.  I was pregnant for two years!   So I go in like it's no big deal.  She performs the ultrasound and then tells me to strip down waist down for my vaginal ultrasound.  Wha?!?!

Oh my God.  The torture device they use for this looks like it comes from the novelty section of an adult toy store.  I was not ready for that.  Ew.  Again, it's hard being a girl.  You have to lay there looking at the ceiling while the tech (thank GOD it was a girl--can you imagine?) probes around your lady bits, looking at her screen and pressing buttons occasionally, asking you how old your kids are, if you like the cooler weather, blah blah blah.  Nightmare.  

Anyway, after that minor assault exam, I was sent home to wait for my doctor visit 9 days later to discuss the results.

But it wasn't 9 days.  They called me a couple hours later with this message:  "the results of your ultrasound confirmed fibroid tumors and the doctor would like to bump your visit up to this Wednesday."

Creepy, right?  Those of you that have been through this probably don't think it's that creepy, but again--I don't go to doctors.  So I'm of course thinking, holycrapIhavecancerandtheyareabouttotellmeIhavesixmonthstolive.

But I don't.  I'm just old, and have a ratty, used up, fibroid-filled, wartlike uterus.  Nothing like feeling like the outside of your body is unappealing, and then to be told that your insides are unappealing as well.  Gross!  

So I'm getting a HYSTERECTOMY.  My first thought was, "hysterical!"  So I googled the origin of the word (this is from Wiki Answers):

"Hysterectomy" is the surgical removal of the uterus (womb). The word "Hysterectomy" (termed in 1879) comes from the root word "hyster" referring to the womb and "ectomy" meaning removal.
The reason the root word "hyster" refers to the womb is derivative of the word "hysteria" based on the sexist assumption that the womb itself caused uncontrollable, emotional behavior.
Subsequently, 19th century and early 20th cent physicians performed "pelvic massages" and prescribed vibrators as a treatment for "Female Hysteria" and "hysterectomys" for severe cases. Female Hysteria was thought to be a real, psychological disorder in women until the 20th century.

I have an issue with this description.  I don't think it's that sexist.  At least for me.  My warty womb HAS caused me uncontrollable, emotional behavior!  And my Female Hysteria IS a real, psychological disorder!  This description, and therefore the origin of the word, is right on, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm now waiting for the scheduler to call to set up my pre-op.  Hopefully I'll be getting this lovely thing over with in the next couple weeks.  Well, then there's the 8-week recovery period... 

Oh--and to add insult to injury, there is a new, less-invasive, method of doing this surgery.  Yay!  Well, I'm not eligible for this.  It seems that after the C-section my bladder latched on to my warty uterus with a bunch of scar tissue, so now they're making this a major surgery.  Yay me!  Yay my warty uterus!  

Ugh.  It's hard to be a girl.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I spend a lot of time thinking about this subject, but have yet to write about it.

It's too complex.  But I've been watching an awful lot of Desperate Housewives lately, and I am in awe of the relationships between the women characters on the show.  How fantasy-like it is, but how it is so based in reality, how women relate to each other and treat one another.

We women are a high-maintenance breed.  I am no expert on women's relationships, but I have been an observer over the years, and it is a subject that continues to baffle me.

I grew up with very few friends as a kid.  I think that was mostly due to the fact that we moved around so much, and I didn't have much time to really bond with anyone.  I always had one or two to dork around with, but through elementary school and junior high there really wasn't anyone too close.  I wasn't eating alone at the lunch table or wandering alone on the playground, but I certainly wasn't invited to birthday parties either.  But I was blissfully unaware most of the time, so I survived those years pretty unscarred.  However, I did get picked on sometimes.  And the mean kids, even early on, were just as often girls as they were boys.  As I got older, the girls seemed WAY meaner than the boys.

In junior hell high, it got rougher.  I would get notes from girls on the bus telling me they were going to "kick my ass" when I got off the bus.  At the time I was just frightened and didn't understand why they hated  me so much.  As an adult looking back and having a firmer grasp on the minds of idiot kids, I know that they just thought it was hilarious to watch me run from the safety of the front seat of the bus and sprint all the way home in an effort to outrun my beatdown.

I'm a pretty nice person.  I have my not-so-proud moments when I can get catty, and certainly a few days a month where I turn into someone I hardly recognize, but I pretty much live by the motto that you shouldn't treat someone in a manner in which you yourself would not like to be treated.  So I can't compute why someone would have a desire to make another person hurt.  I know, I know, they have a low self-esteem, they come from a tough home life, they hurt people to make themselves feel more in control, blah blah blah.  I pretty much think mean people are just assholes.

In high school, it got a bit better, at least for me.  I think I found some confidence (in my fresh grown boobs that didn't come in until high school), and I know for a fact that the friends that are built in when you're in the marching band saved me in many ways.  I had people I knew, that I considered friends, but I had pretty much two or three GIRLFRIENDS.  The girls that you can talk to all night long.  That worry for you if you're sad.  That truly do want you to get that kiss from the boy you're crushing on, and don't feel jealous if you do.  It was a beautiful thing.  Then I moved away from them.

In college, almost all my friends were guys.  They are just so very much easier.  I was on the drumline, so by default most of the people I spent time with in college were guys.  I loved them.  It was like having an army of big brothers.  I could tell them anything.  I could be whoever I really was at the time.  I could be sloppy, no make up, sweatpants.  They took care of me.  I helped them with their girl problems.  They worried about my boy problems.  No judgment.  And believe me, they knew things and saw things about me that I don't think any girl would have given me a pass on.  I had a couple girlfriends, too.  Roommates, drinking buddies, people to swap clothes with.  But there was almost always an underlying pressure with them.  Nothing is more tricky to navigate than a house of female roommates.  Who didn't clean what, who isn't chipping in to pay for household stuff, who slept with who's ex-boyfriend, who took my mascara, blah blah blah.  It can really make or break a friendship.

There were exceptions, of course.  But they were few and far between.  I had a sweet friend who was a couple years younger than me who I loved like a little sister, and she made me laugh more than anyone has since.  I had a wild girlfriend who was a couple years older than me who I looked up to like a cool older sister who was loud and brave and loving, and introduced me to the real culture of college.  They are dear women who I still love, but there weren't many like them.

But here I am, middle aged.  I am who I am going to be for the rest of my life.  I am a wife and mom, raising my kids, doing a pretty good job managing my life.  And really, nothing has changed.

Girlfriends are hard to come by, perhaps even harder.  I have some women who are incredibly dear to me, but they are for the most part family.  As I call it, "forced by blood or marriage" to be my friend.  I say that jokingly, of course--they really mean so much to me.  Sisters and sisters-in-law.  Outside of them, I do have one or two FRIENDS.  I have a group of women here in town that I have met through the kids' school or sports, and they are very cool women.  I just don't know them all that well.  But I do have a couple special ladies who really are friends.  I know them.  I've known them for a long time.  I know about their parenting, their marriages, their histories.  And they know mine.  I trust them.  I can just as easily go out for a glass of wine (or two) with them as I can just greet them in passing at the ball field.  I can call them if I need anything, and even better, I know they can call me.

But there are so many more women that aren't like that.  These are the ones I do not understand.  The women who cannot stop competing.  About their parenting.  Their kids' athletics.  Their homes.  Their cars.  Their money.  Their whatever.  For God's sake.  The women who talk trash about other women five minutes after you meet them.  The ones who if you do or say something they don't like, they never speak to you again.  The ones who let their kids act like assholes to your kids.

They are the middle-aged mean girls.  And they are out there in force.  You hear them at the ballfield.  You get to know them at school functions.  You see them at the stores.  They are the women that make me feel cautious when I'm meeting other women, possibly future friends.

I live out here in the boonies.  Most of the time I find myself a casual observer of these women, these relationships.  I hear women who I though were friendly with one another talking about each other in a negative way to other women who they don't even seem to know that well.  I hear about neighborhood drama as if they're stepping right off of Wisteria Lane.

I guess my point is this:  It is WAY easier to be nice, people.  It feels GOOD.  Women are loving, passionate, funny people, and we would make a great team if we all stuck together and were more forgiving of one another.  Especially now that we're getting older, ladies!  Seriously, life is too short.  I try to teach my kids the old saying, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  We should take time to think about what we teach our kids, and set the example.  We should take some time to think about the people we were when we were kids, and how we felt when people were mean.  It's an ugly feeling.

Let's just be nice to each other.  Grow up, already!  And think before you speak.

Guys have it so easy with each other.  And they really are good sports to hang in there, because we women really are a mystery.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leaves and Sweaters

I'm back after a very busy and somewhat sad week.  This week we survived the first anniversary of my dad's passing.  It's hard not to reflect on that time, and I spent a great deal of time remembering what those weeks were like.  I won't allow myself to dwell on it, but it definitely brings a person down.  This is my favorite time of the year (aside from Christmas), so it's unfortunate that we have that sad memory right now, but I'm doing my best to turn it into a time to reflect on the good times we had with my dad.  His sense of humor, his cheesy taste in music.  And to try to help my mom when she feels lonely.

We made it through, and now it's time to really focus on the good things fall brings.  Not only is it GORGEOUS weather lately, the leaves are changing.  The air is chilly in the morning and in the evening, and warm in the middle of the day.  The sun is setting earlier.  The air is drier, crisper, easier to breathe.  It smells like sweet dried leaves outside.  I so love it.

In this house, we are excited for so many reasons.  We have some important birthdays coming up!  A is turning 11 in a little over a week.  J turns 10 in early November.  Each of them end up celebrating their birthdays three times, lucky little dudes.  They get two big family parties and then we do one for their school friends.  We have a big costume/birthday party for one of my sweet nephews.  Halloween.  The big Thanksgiving Extravaganza is coming up.  See??  So very much to be happy about and be thankful for.

Life is funny.  I was just about to start writing about something very silly, and in the background I'm seeing the images on my TV of an American Flag burning somewhere in the Middle East.  It's also politics season, and it's a political ad.  Somebody thinks somebody else is to blame for all the ills in the world, and is sure they know somebody who will fix it all, and if you vote for them everything will be perfect, and if you don't, well, the world's going to hell.  I can hardly take it.  Every four years they do their best to ruin my fall high.  Ugh.  No wonder I turn to Desperate Housewives on Netflix for my background company.

Anyway, before that rude politician killed my buzz, I was thinking about something that has all kinds of fun potential this Thanksgiving.  We do a ginormous shindig with my family every year.  It's a big bunch of us, and traditions grow and shift every year.  This year it has been suggested by one of my lovely cousins that we should do an ugly sweater night.  I'm assuming she means ugly holiday sweater, and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!  I will finally be able to wear a crazy holiday sweater with pride!  (E, I hope you're taking a break out there in L.A. and reading this, you nutjob, you know this will throw you over the edge and force you to get a plane ticket.)  What a photo op this will be.  There will be 25 or 26 of us there, and what could be more awesome than a picture of all of us proudly wearing our sweaters?  And I get to make the hubby wear one!  Ha!  So now I need to start shopping for them.  Oh, the potential...  I'll post the pictures for sure.

But for now I must go.  I need to research how to make a "ginormous pile of bacon" (that's what A has requested for his birthday dinner this Friday) without making my house reek for an entire week afterward.  And I have some bathrooms to scrub.

Get out there and look at the leaves, people!