The Razor’s Edge

Depression is a beastly motherfucker. 

This morning I had my first appointment with my new doctor. The first doctor I’ve ever had who immediately wanted to treat my PCOS in spite of me not wanting to try to conceive. 

I came in for a referral to an endocrinologist, a prescription for spironolactone, and maybe something to help my increasingly frequent migraines since I’m allergic to the number one migraine med. 

I left for hours later, my pee in a cup, my blood in some tubes, and my chest on an X-ray. I carried one prescription for metformin, one for spironolactone, and one for Topamax. Within an hour I had an email with an appointment with an endocrinologist. 

That part went well. 

Bullshit #1: I’ll tell you, I was super pissed that I couldn’t get into the endocrinology clinic any time within the next year with a referral from the family practice clinic in the same hospital, but let them take one phone call from a different clinic and it’s see you in November, Mrs. April

We dropped our prescriptions off and were told an hour. We went home. I got the text that mine was ready. Even though Ian hadn’t, it had been nearly two hours, so we went to pick them up. 

After a bunch of back-and-forth about names and can’t-find-yours-sir and insurance, we left the drive thru missing one of mine and one of his, and one that he got only had half the number of pills it was supposed to. I said park it, and went inside with righteous fury. 

Bullshit #2: The only prescription I really cared about, the spironolactone, wasn’t in the bag because they thought the dosage said 2/5mg and the pills come in 25mg. And nobody answered at the doctor’s office. And no one called them back from the doctor’s office. And they sent the it’s ready text anyway because the three prescriptions that were on the same single sheet of paper were entered at different times today. 

I’m sure. I’ve been using this pharmacy for eleven years without problems. You had two hours to call them. And then you sent me a text that all of my prescriptions were ready. And you weren’t even going to tell me anything about this? Because we were just handed the bag in the drive thru with a thank you. No explanation. Nothing. 

I wanted to scream at her. Look at my face, lady. Do you see this fucking beard? I didn’t shave it today because I wanted the doctor to see its fucking luxuriousness. Do you think I like walking around looking like this? I have an appointment next week for my first round of laser hair removal. I can’t do anything to this bastard but shave it right now and it’s making me fucking crazy. I have to look in the mirror every day at this black reminder of how I have shit ovaries that ruined the one thing I wanted to do with my life. Every fucking day. And I hate it, and it makes me hate myself. So go fill the 25mg pills. I’ll wait right here. 

I wanted to make her cry so she could feel one tiny fraction of everything that I was feeling, because I knew she was lying with her tedious explanation. I do it to customers all the time. I bullshit them just like she was bullshitting me. 

But I didn’t. I took the other half of his prescription and I took her explanation that they were out of his blood pressure meds until tomorrow and I left. Because I knew if I started in on her I wouldn’t be able to stop. 

I’ve spent the past two hours in bed being alternately angry and sad. Crying and playing a stupid coin push game on my phone and shutting out the world with extra loud dubstep in my headphones. Because on top of all this I had to unpack a bottle of metformin to put on my counter and look at every day, just like the fucking beard, and it brought back all those years of miserably failing to conceive. All at once, on top of me. 

And then I got up and I fucking shaved and I came to tell you about this. 

 I’m so sick of hating my body for letting me down, but I don’t know how to stop. 

When Normalcy is Not

I don’t talk about this much anymore, but we struggled with infertility for ten years.

I have PCOS. I menstruate maybe annually on my own. Usually I have to take progesterone to give the lady bits a kickstart.

But in December and February, it just happened. December was no big deal, because it had been a few months. Whatevs.

But last month I cried.

Because I didn’t know how to react.

What’s going on?
Has my body decided to be healthy?
What if I get pregnant?

I cried because I didn’t know how to feel about the possibility of fertility. I cried because I thought we were done with this. I cried because I thought the roller coaster was over.  I cried because I had convinced myself that I did not want to parent.

We do fucked up things to our minds when faced with the harshest realities of life, when we realize that in spite of what we’ve always been told, we can’t do or be anything we want just because we want it.

Sour grapes.

But it was only during that first rush of confusion that I questioned, that I believed the lies that I had talked myself into believing.

I do want to parent, but at the same time, I do love the life we have now, for the most part. It was the sudden flip-flopping of everything that I thought I knew that hurt me so much. And in a way, I appreciate that flip-flopping; it’s just another thing that has helped me be present in my life and be conscious of my own innermost feelings.

And now I understand that I can welcome being childless as much as I once dreamed of parenting. Not just because it’s safe and familiar, but also because I know that I have the capacity to be mindful and simply enjoy today.

Except on the days that I can’t, but I’ve learned that it’s okay to have those days too.

Any day can be a good day on its own merits.

It’s Still September, Guys

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why do so many Facebook users need to co-opt another month of the year to promote awareness of an illness whose movement has gained so much momentum in the past 25 years? They’re not even soliciting donations, let alone increasing awareness. The whole idea of this ‘pretend you’re pregnant’ scheme is tricking people, not helping them realize ‘hey, early detection is key.’

Here’s an idea. Maybe, instead of making everything into some cutesy little joke or changing your profile picture to end child abuse or something useless like that, everyone could instead really reflect on whatever it is they’re supposed to be promoting. Instead of posting a nice little status update like ‘teehee, I’m 6 weeks and craving Oreos!’ we could try something like ‘I care about the women in my life and hope they all understand how important it is to everyone who loves them that they perform monthly breast self-exams and receive annual clinical breast exams.’ Instead of changing a profile picture, which is supposed to somehow miraculously end child abuse, we could pick up the phone and call the cops when our neighbor’s child has mysterious bruises and broken bones.

Maybe if everyone chose to openly state their intentions or act on their beliefs, we wouldn’t even have to have awareness months or weeks for anything, because those of us who care, those of us who are personally vested in these movements, don’t wait for a special day.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I’m pretty sure breast cancer patients and survivors and their families think about it more often than a twelfth of the year.

September is National PCOS Awareness Month, but I definitely think and talk about it the rest of the year.

Does having a whole month for awareness really do any good overall? Doesn’t it just encourage people to speak up when it’s that time of year, so they can relax, believing they’ve done their part, for the other eleven months? Doesn’t the overwhelming publicity during that one month just lull people into believing that the problem is being taken care of? What do you think?

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Since September is PCOS Awareness Month, and September 12-18 is Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I thought I’d start the month off with this,’s ’30 Things’ meme.

1. The illness I live with is: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2005

3. But I had symptoms since: 1993-ish

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Dealing with the resultant infertility

5. Most people assume: That there’s nothing wrong with me.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Taking my BBT, because it can raise my hopes or dash them.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: Scrubs

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: Is an air conditioner a gadget? Hot flashes are a real bitch.

9. The hardest part about nights are: Insomnia

10. Each day I take 9 pills & vitamins (or 10, or 12, depending on where I am in a cycle).

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Believe everything is worth a try.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Invisible, because I can choose who to invite embarrassing or upsetting questions from.

13. Regarding working and career: They’re not as important as health and family.

14. People would be surprised to know: How often I cry.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: Infertility.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Learn things about myself that I never would have otherwise.

17. The commercials about my illness: I wish!!

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Innocently believing I could get pregnant as soon as we started trying.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Smoking.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Nail art. I’ve enjoyed painting my nails since I stopped biting them a few years ago, but now I’m getting into the fancy stuff.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Spend it with my family, have a great day of swimming or go to the zoo or anything fun, without having to feel guilty or disappointed in myself.

22. My illness has taught me: That I really am the strong person that people have told me I am.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Try (insert home remedy)!! That’ll fix you right up!!

24. But I love it when people: Say ‘oh, that sucks,’ and MOVE ON.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: It’ll be okay.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Learn everything you can, and really spend some serious time to think about your priorities.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: No matter how much you think it’s ruined your dreams, sometimes you really can forget about it, for a few minutes or a couple of hours.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Let me know that sometimes it is perfectly fine to feel sorry for yourself.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Patients with invisible illnesses are some of the most misunderstood and criticized people you will ever meet, and there are so many more of us than most would believe.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Encouraged. Maybe you have an invisible illness, and you’ll write a list as well. Maybe you’ll feel less alone. Or maybe you’re fine, but now you’ll be a little more understanding of others.