How do I spell relief?
It seems that my little forty-year-old body is beginning to show signs of wear. Things are breaking and falling apart quicker than I can get into the shop to have them repaired. My thyroid has gone bonkers and is growing so fast that Hollywood is calling hoping to buy the movie rights to "The Thyroid That Ate New Jersey". My hair is falling out, my skin is drier than chalk and I've gained some weight as well.
I'm one hot mamma.
And let's not forget what's been happening to my inner beauty. I either cry all the time or I randomly threaten to chop a loved one up into tiny, bite-sized pieces. Everything tastes funny, I'm bone tired all the time and my house stays a balmy 110 degrees day in and day out, despite the fact that my family is wearing sweaters and mittens and crying about how cold it is in here.
Although they don't know it, I have overheard my family talking about me when they think I am not around. They are using words like, "exorcist" and "straight jacket" and I'm reasonably sure I heard Mr. Man wondering aloud whether or not I could find my way back if they dumped me in the woods.
Ungrateful little long-haired monkeys anyway.
And so, despite my dim view of western medicine and the whole white coat wearing lot of them, I have embarked on what is turning out to be a long, medical journey. In the words of Arthur's long-suffering man servant Hobson when told he should see a doctor, "I have seen them and they have seen me".
I have been poked, prodded, stuck, measured, radiated and x-rayed. I truly believe if they could find a way to bill Blue Cross for flying in magic Pygmy turtles from the dark Pygmy forests of Zimbabwe...or wherever one might find the magic turtle habitat, they would surely do it.
Although we have yet to determine why my neck presently looks like I am storing up walnuts for winter, my friendly neighborhood physician has found something of interest in the meantime. Something that could explain my little mood swings and bouts of hot flashes.
It seems I am running low on estrogen. Really low. If I were a car and estrogen were gasoline, I would be coming to a screeching halt in rush hour traffic. Basically, I have so little of this important female hormone that it's nothing short of a miracle I have not yet sprouted testicles.
My doctor broke the news to me on my last visit. He had decided that the only thing he had failed to check before sending me on to a specialist, which is doctor code for "I have no freaking idea what's wrong with you", was what was between my legs. What a hoot. He ordered more blood work and scheduled my annual pelvic examination, which I like to have at least once every ten years whether I need it or not.
"Hmmm," said the man in the green gloves while he was about elbow deep in my china. (Let that sink a minute. I'll wait for you to catch up.) "It looks like your blood tests are right. Your estrogen is very low".
Is there some sort of estrogen dip stick I was unaware of? Some little dashboard light down there flashing, "Check Estrogen"?
"Just relax and breathe deeply and it won't be as uncomfortable", he said.
I'm reasonably sure that this phrase is on page one of the "How To Talk To Women" man handbook because they use it in every conceivable situation. My boyfriend said it when I lost my virginity. My first husband said it to me when I was giving birth to my daughter. My second husband said it when I was having our son. And my divorce lawyer says it every time I write him a check.
There I am flat on my back with my feet in shiny horse stirrups wearing nothing but a paper dress and pink socks while Captain White Coat roots around in my china like he's lost his Timex and thinks he hears a faint ticking somewhere around my left ovary. It's at moments like these that conversation is simply not necessary. Get in, do the deal and get out.
Women everywhere understand this. It's a universal truth. What in the world makes male doctors think that this is the perfect opportunity to get to know our thoughts on the weather, or the Cubbies or fishing? Yes, they will even try to talk to us about fishing rather than have the room be silent while they go spelunking in our female caverns.
Once while I was in such a position, a doctor actually asked, "So, you like to go fishing?"
I said, "Why? Did you find a lure in there? I was wondering where I left that."
Once his expedition was over, he politely handed me some tissue and left the room so that I could get dressed in my normal, non-paper clothes. As nice as the paper dresses are, one should almost never wear them on the street. They're designed strictly for exam room entertaining.
"Sher, I'm going to draw you a little picture," he said after I was again sitting upright and fully clothed.
"This is a normal woman's estrogen level here," scribble, scribble, scribble, "And this is a post menopausal woman's estrogen level here."
"So where do I fit in this picture, Doc?"
"You are the hairy stick figure over here with a beard and a penis."
Apparently the old ovaries have tired of working and have decided to close shop early. They do not care that I am only forty and they do not care that their lack of work ethic has caused me great distress. They are shriveling up like old old grapes and leaving me to become an estrogen challenged woman long before I expected to be.
My monthly visits from my bitchy old Aunt Flo are beginning to decrease and before you know it, she'll finally get the message and stop showing up at all. I'll never again know what it's like to be pregnant and I'll never, ever experience the joy of childbirth.
All I can say is....
Yee-Haw! Whoopee! Hot dang! Bring on the horse urine, Baby 'cause mamma's having hot flashes and she can't wait for the big "M" to move on through. I'm going to turn the air conditioning up, grab my estrogen in a bottle and have a menopause party. You're welcome to come. But make sure you bring your own estrogen. I'm not sharing.
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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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