What Is Even Happening Here?

What Is Even Happening Here?

Warning: This post is one of them “awareness raising” posts. It’s about “women’s issues.” Endometriosis, PCOS, periods, ovulation kits, sonograms, all that stuff. It’s not gonna be that gross, but there will be a fair amount of gross. So if you’re easily queasy on account of good ole Aunt Flo, you might want to pass on this one. 

You want to know something crazy? Last Sunday was the seventh Sunday in a row I’ve made it to church. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since I hit puberty.

So you would think that means I’m doing well, right? But unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The trend of late has been fewer days in debilitating pain, always a good development. (My normal the past few years has been about 8 days down, and recently I’ve gone from 11 bad days down to 3! This month has been worse though.) But my cycles are all over the place – the last three have been 37 days, 44 days, and 26 days. I’m on Day 24 of my current cycle, but I’ve been in horrible pain for several days and spotted from Days 17-21. This premenstrual spotting thing is new, as of last month. As in, it’s never happened before.

I’m not ovulating, and according to the vaginal sonogram I had done on CD* 14, my body isn’t even really trying that hard.

This is so freaking confusing and frustrating. I used to be able to reasonably predict my bad days. I used to be able to prepare. The apple cart may have had some sketchy looking apples in it, but at least it was upright. Now the dang thing has flipped over and I don’t know how to do life like this. I barely sorta knew what I was doing before; now I’m all at sea again.

The next step involves something I didn’t know existed: meds to force my body to do what it’s supposed to do. We’ll force a period, force ovulation, and find out whether, once my body is doing what it should be doing, life isn’t less painful.

But – and here’s the really fun part – it looks like we may not have much time to work this out. The parent organization of the hospital where my doctors work is in negotiations with my insurance company, and if an agreement is not reached by May 1, I’m gonna be back at Go without collecting $200 when it comes to Houston doctors.

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer” indeed.


*that’s Cycle Day, for you normal people

 

On Memoirs

On Memoirs

I’m a picky reader when it comes to memoirs. Perhaps this is due to my standards being set by Augustine’s Confessions, CS Lewis’s Surprised by Joy, and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Tough acts to follow. But here are some great memoirs:

My Life in France is the deliciously-told story of bringing French cooking to American kitchens, but it isn’t really about cooking. I mean, yes, it will make you so hungry and deepen your appreciation for beurre blanc, but the story told here is really of a beautiful life, not just the making of delectable food. Julia Child is an inspiration for a lot of reasons, but one is surely that she threw herself into pursuing a new career as a chef at the age of 37 after a successful and storied career as a US diplomat.

Walk-On by Alan Williams is about Williams’s four years as a walk-on member of my favorite college sports team, Wake Forest Demon Deacon basketball. Even for people who aren’t into sports, it’s got a lot to offer.

The Opposite of Fate is about the life of accomplished American novelist Amy Tan, but also about the mental and emotional and the effects of Lyme disease on such a mind, on such a life.

Another great memoir that deals with chronic illness is A Walk with Jane Austen, a book most likely to delight people who love England, Jane Austen, and Jesus.

Rescuing Sprite is heartwarming for us dog people, especially if you have (or want) a soft spot for rescue animals.

Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks provides a unique twist on the genre – the memories and reflections of siblings recounting their past together give this memoir a different feel.

You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again was interesting – who doesn’t love a little peek into everyday life in Hollywood?

Despite skipping a couple chapters that were too much for me, I count Augusten Burroughs’s memoir Dry among my favorites. It has given me some essential tools to understand addiction.

Anna Broadway’s Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity was raw and real and hilarious and beautiful and hard. I read it when I was single and just as frustrated as Broadway (a pseudonym), and it was so refreshing to find out I wasn’t alone, that there was someone else struggling with the whole “sex drive with no outlet” phenomenon experienced by a Christian woman committed to chastity. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sadly, celebrity memoirs typically don’t quite hit me right. Even Bossypants was only mildly interesting to me, and just not funny. Maybe it’s because writing funny things to be read in silence and writing funny things to be delivered aloud require somewhat different things? I don’t know.

But right now I’m flying through Danielle Fishel’s Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern, and y’all, it’s delightful. It’s fluffy and silly and humble. Fishel’s writing is peppered with too many trying-to-be-funny asides, but I do that too (right?). I’m still enjoying it. And I wanted to share this passage with you, because it describes my sister SO PERFECTLY and I just love it when that sort of thing happens.

Fishel apparently went to college at 27, a decision that took courage and openness to failure. And she worked hard, enthusiastically pursuing academic excellence. She explains that her academic drive came partly from how badly she wanted to be there: “It took determination, courage, and overcoming years of fear for me to be on that campus, and I wanted to make the most it.” And this is where we get to the part that sounds exactly like my sis:

I’m also competitive and looked at getting good grades as winning in the imaginary game of college. That’s what you do when you get older. Make up imaginary games so you can win them.

I mean, y’all. She once made up a game in which someone would ask a question, and whoever answered it first won – and the question-asker could answer the question. At one point I remember her asking “Who’s our mom? MOM! I WIN!”

She was almost 21.

*drops mic*

The Sixth Day of Christmas (because I skipped the fifth)

The Sixth Day of Christmas (because I skipped the fifth)

So here’s the thing about endometriosis/PCOS/pelvic pain – at least the way it manifests in my life –  it totally derails your plans sometimes.

If I could have picked something to be an advocate for, I would have had one hell of a list to choose from. Black Lives Matter. Ending abortion. Adoption. Good theology. Good theology of sex among Christian women (especially single Christian women – purity culture has had its drawbacks). The sufficiency of Scripture. Discipling women. Mission work with Bedouins. Freeing people from slavery. Streetwalking with Jesus. Making dangerous streets safe again.

Instead, I get to talk about disorders and diseases of the female reproductive system.

Now, don’t get me wrong, those other things matter to me a great deal. Hopefully I will be able to help on some of these fronts at least. I can write about them a lot – and I’m sure I will. But with my illnesses, I feel that I bear responsibility for raising awareness and talking about what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I’m trying to figure out how to value Jesus in

This isn’t what expected 31 to look like for me. But here it is. And you know, it’s beautiful, even in its brokenness.