I try to take pictures that obscure my neck with my camera. Photos that half block my face, because I’m not particularly attractive. Why include a selfie at all? I figure without a visual-aid you may not be able imagine this story. So for the record, the above is a recent photo of me. Me in the body that makes people say, “Oh my! But you’ve gained some weight.” Yeah, believe me, I know. I realize I’ve gained weight. I notice my clothes don’t fit. I can read the numbers on my scale. Despite being big, I seem harder to see. For all you fat girls out there, middle-aged sister-friends, there’s nothing like turning 50 to make a woman invisible in plain sight. I have to do something pretty spectacular to get noticed.
Like walk around half-naked
Yesterday I don a paper top. Paper skirt. I’m not at a bridal shower, nope. I’m at the doctor’s office trying to figure out how to be properly covered, yet assessable. Naked under my temporary clinic-issued clothes. Dr. C, whom I’ve never met before, knocks briskly then enters. Too bad for him. C’s greeted by the sight of my ever-growing ass, only half covered. In one of those I swear I don’t make this stuff up moments, I notice my new doctor blushes. He apologizes. I assume he must be used to seeing bodies, even chubby bodies like mine yet I startle him. I am sorry to have embarrassed him. I climb up onto the examination table obligingly.
He’ll feel more like a doctor if I’m perched on the edge of the table.
This visit is off to a bad start. I don’t make things any better by being void of information. No, I don’t know when my last period stopped nor when it commenced. I haven’t been keeping track since I had my last child. Thirty years ago. If I thought I was going to have to know I would have kept better notes. Can’t they mail that information sheet out to me a month before my appointment? Anyway, while my doctor seems flustered, and determined to take up our 15 minutes with stupid questions I take the helm and re-steer the conversation. All I really want to know is why I’m so fat. He side steps this issue by asking again about period in January.
The one that lasted all month.
Dr. C insists having a 30 day period, even at my age, is not normal. This remark bugs the shit out me. I am 20 the first time I have a period that lasts about a month. Feeling frightened and upset I see a gynecologist who asks me the reason for my visit. “I’ve had my period every day for a month,” I reply. He asks again what brings me to his office. I repeat, “I’ve had my period every day for a month.” He nods cheerfully but seriously reiterates, but what’s wrong? What seems to be the problem? I don’t think it’s normal to have a period that lasts 30 days. Maybe Kumari doesn’t think so, the doctor? Not so much. When I realize I can’t even get a pelvic exam out of him I try another doctor. And another. Over 5 doctors, maybe over ten. Over thirty years.
Not one until this Dr. C finds occasional extensive periods abnormal.
Dr. C orders a mammogram and an endometrial biopsy. Biopsy? Say what? Wait! But no. Our fifteen minutes is up. Any longer and C will come under scrutiny from the big bad insurance companies who manage my care. I’m left alone to get dressed. Left alone. Hmmm. Will no one get back to me? I wander out to the hallway. I’m directed to the phlebotomist. Then abandoned once again. I’m bewildered by the system. I wish, I just wish, I could talk to the person in charge instead of being led through a series of tests that sound both invasive and scary. A second appointment is scheduled for my biopsy. I will get a phone call for the mammogram.
Nothing left but the internet.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens in an endometrial biopsy don’t bother with the health med sites. Go straight to the comments section. Other sister-friends spill the real deal. Sounds like I’m in a heap o’trouble. Cancer is nothing to fuck with. Early diagnosis is key. As for me? I already blew that. My lack of health insurance guarantees I haven’t had a pap smear in decades. I scope out the treatment options reluctantly. Let’s be Stoic. What’s the worst that can happen? 1) Either the test will reveal cancer or 2) it won’t. If nothing is discovered I still have the question: what makes Kumari hormonally unbalanced? Having been this way all my life, I wonder if it’s what makes me, me. Perhaps if I’d figured out my delicate estrogen progesterone complex as a young person I might have grown up to be a cis-gender heterosexual willowy thin manicured nails soccer mom instead of the question mark I am. Not black, not white, not accepted as an American but not raised as anything else, I spent my life being defined by what I am not.
Death is not a sin
I always imagined that if called I’d be ready to go. I don’t have a bucket list. But suddenly the logistics of the situation hit me. I wonder if I’ll be able to pay for my apartment if I have to take days off for treatment. I wonder if I’ll be able to get to the radiology center by myself. I wonder if I will be ok with having parts of myself cut out. The parts that secrete hormones seem like pretty important parts. Do I want to live a life that is defined by the c word? I mean it’s not the death that bothers me so much as the dying. I spend a restless night weighing options. I can do nothing, and let Nature run her course. I can get information and decide when I know more. Or I can decide right now.
I know I’m not willing to give up on my race.
I already signed up for the 10k before my doctor’s appointment. The first one I’ve run in over 30 years. I arrange both my biopsy and the mammogram for after the event because I don’t want to waste valuable training days. The funny thing is the race I chose 100% based on location. I didn’t even bother to check times, until after. Until after I’m committed. Holy cow, the slowest person running is still going to be half an hour ahead of me. oops. I didn’t realize this was a tiny 200 person race. I never ran in anything that had less than thousands (with an “s”) participating. What will it feel like to lag so far behind everyone else? Waddling along with my penguin gait I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to meditate.
Now y’all play nice!