Feeling Grateful…Until Your Husband Fucks Up Again

You can usually count on the old man to turn a drama into a crisis.

 

apocalypse-371947_1280I went into day surgery for a minor gyny procedure today. I won’t scare away my few male followers by sharing the intricate, gory details of the investigative procedure into the over-chartered territories of my almost-defunct uterus, but suffice it to say, it was on a par with a quarterly Council clear out, only this time linked to MENSTRUATION GONE WRONG, and the sort of uncontrollable blood loss usually sustained by a rogue shark or zombie attack.

 

It was my only visit to a hospital outside of child birth, which made me (worryingly) somewhat of a celebrity in theatre – ie. a virgin to anesthesia at the ripe old age of fifty-two – so I was grateful for the full run down of what to expect by the bevy of lovely nurses, although less happy about the million disclaimer forms I had to sign in abject panic mode. If I’m honest, the sight of those stark white walls, labeled bins, compression stockings that they vacuum-packed my calves into and the fugly hairnet on my head, all felt a bit too close to the bone at this stage of my life.

 

I can’t have read the memo properly because when I mentioned my impending surgery to two nurse friends of mine last Saturday night, they laughed at my misconception about some local, vaginal anesthetic for pain relief – on a par with Diazepam tabs they give me at the dentist because I’m such a blithering mess – and in hindsight, perhaps my misunderstanding had something to do with my Prosecco Brain or the brevity of time I was given to overthink the procedure. Anyway, it turns out that you need real, grown up drugs when they carve out the walls of your uterus like a melon before a Mad Men-themed cocktail party.

 

The old man kindly elected for me to have my op via the public health system, to get value for money for all the taxes we’ve paid, and the benefit of that was that I wasn’t given very long at all to worry about what lay ahead. Indeed, virtually no information was passed onto me until yesterday, around lunchtime, a few hours after we had commenced NC’s birthday celebrations.

 

The phone conversation went something like this:

 

Hospital Nurse: ‘So obviously, no alcohol twenty-four hours before surgery…’

Me: Looking at my empty Champagne glass and the time on my phone as I counted forward the hours in my head. ‘Does one glass of wine count?’ I asked as I made a mental note to cancel the rest of NC’s birthday celebrations that evening.

 

I have to say that the public health service was outstanding, and it made me appreciate the shallowness of my own job and how the next time I worry about whether a cushion’s piping tones with a lampshade, I will shoot myself. Not one nurse complained when I was being wheeled into theatre and asked if I could pop off the trolley to go for a pee, and when the anesthetist informed me that the pre-meds would give me the sensation of two glasses of wine and I suggested she top it up a little, even she managed to crack a smile.

 

And when I woke up an hour later – grey, groggy, yet hopeful that FINALLY, I might be able to dip my vag in the ocean all through the month without fear of attack – I felt truly grateful to be alive. Thankful even, for those closest to me who have continued to support me through those weeks of every month where I can be somewhat irrational. And I included the old man in that drug-induced “gratitude circle of love” until a few minutes later, when he decided that my back bumper needed work as well and that a minor altercation between our car and a cement mixer on the way home was the way to go about it.

Concessions for Women

Hats off to Fu Yuanhui, the twenty-year old swimmer, for mentioning the P word at the Olympics. And I’m not talking about the P in Phelps.angry-1429013_1280

 

When asked how she felt after her race, she responded with:

 

“My period came last night and I’m really tired right now … but this isn’t an excuse, I still did not swim as well as I should have.”

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be that honest in the workplace and our colleagues were mature enough to demonstrate some empathy rather than smirking patronisation?

 

No, menstruation is not an excuse for poor performance and women don’t expect it to be, but perhaps it should be? Other athletes concede matches due to injury such as inflamed joints or muscle strain. Picture the pats on the back when a guy comes into the office with his arm in a sling because he sprained his wrist playing rugby; then imagine the reaction in the photocopying room if a woman suddenly bent down in agony from excruciating period pain.

 

Why is there this expectation that women have to be stronger and tougher to be equal ie. Superwomen? They suffer through menstruation, giving birth and breastfeeding while working and are still not considered as good as their male counterparts.

 

I read a very funny article recently about the true, nitty-gritty symptoms of menopause – the bits we don’t talk about. ‘Clots the size of tennis balls’ is one of the descriptions that stuck in my brain – cue exit of all my male readers – and it made me laugh out loud, because every one of us has at least one horror story about birth and embarrassing period accidents.

 

So, even though I’m usually quite vocal about my demand for equal rights, it did cross my mind when I read that piece that too right! women should be given some concessions in the workplace for all the hormonal shit we have to put up with at the same time as doing our jobs. But we’re not. We’re expected to forge through it, which means that sometimes our life feels like our own Olympic competition to to see if we’re good enough to do ‘a man’s job’; as if what they do is what we need to aspire to.

 

Even though we push their babies out of our bodies.

 

At the same time we’re fighting the stereotype of women being complainers and moaners, so to counter balance that accusation most of us try to make as little fuss as possible in the workplace, even though no man has ever had to give a presentation while worrying about leaking from either boobs or vagina or being over-tired because they couldn’t sleep through period pain or the crying of a newborn the night before.

 

*Steps down from soapbox*

 

Farewell Dear Ovaries, You’ve Served Me Well

I went through this stage at the tail end of my forties where I had this recurring nightly dream that I was pregnant and something would always go wrong – not necessarily with the pregnancy, but either the old man would leave me, or the baby would turn out to be some animal or my worst enemy at the birth. pregnant-914689_1280

 

You know how fucked up dreams can be.

 

Anyway, recently I’ve been dreaming about different friends of mine falling pregnant, which is strange because they are typically the least likely in my circle of friends to ever consider having a baby in their fifties. Therefore, what I think these dreams symbolise is that I’m ready to leave the reproductive phase of my life, and they have something to do with the final breath of my dying ovaries as they enter palliative care.

 

Mentally, I’ve been good with the retirement of my ovaries for some time now. You get tired of remembering to stock up on sanitary products, of paying tax on sanitary products, bloody sheets, not being able to wear white and well… blood. In fact, if anything, I wish they’d just gone  a bit more honourably, elected euthanasia rather than this final peri-menopausal stand they’re having with my uterus now, a silent demand that I acknowledge their role in my life and grieve for their parting.

 

For the main part, my ovaries have served me well, and relatively painlessly from all accounts, and I have two beautiful children to show for their monthly production line, who have now fully transitioned from foetus to adult, (physically at least).

 

I do wonder if men are forced to think about the reproductive system as much as women. Because menstruation and gestation are fairly time-consuming activities and make living that bit more challenging than only having to consider condom size, batteries for the remote and the odd embarrassing public boner. I wonder how they’d cope with the responsibility and symptoms of periods over thirty-five to forty years of their lives, worrying about their unwanted appearance, the panic when they don’t appear at all, having to take full responsibility for contraception and pap tests and at the tail end of their cycle, dealing with the eccentricity of their death throes and final assault.

 

At times it can feel like a real pain in the vagina, but if you think about it, the female side of reproduction is really quite a privilege. I mean, how fucking awesome is it that we can make babies?

 

It’s Kurt’s nineteenth birthday tomorrow and I can still remember those initial wondrous hours I spent with him between his birth at 3.30am and the first light of dawn, lying in my hospital bed, gazing with a terrifying, undying love at this chubby-faced second miracle that I’d created, now protectively swaddled and encased in his glass cage at my side. This, in spite of an inhumanely quick delivery that can only have been directed by Satan, enough stitches to create a patchwork quilt and each time I got up to the loo, what felt like the loss of half the contents of blood in my entire body.

 

And if I didn’t have the foresight that I have now… you know… about the next eighteen years of trials and tribulations that would undoubtedly lie ahead of me, I’d do it all over again; to experience that moment of primal, intense love that happens within seconds of your child’s entry into the world, along with the realisation that something is bigger than you now, because you’d give up your own life for that little scrap of flesh in a heartbeat.

The Holiday Period

Dear Period,

 

Forgive me for abandoning all hope of ever being able to decipher how your special powers of diarising work exactly, when no matter how meticulously I plan ahead you always seem to appear slap bang in the middle of my hard-earned two weeks of holiday.

The Holiday Period
Courtesy of Libra

 

I begrudgingly give you ten out of ten for accuracy once again this year.

 

Admittedly, having you join me on this skiing holiday isn’t as bad as when we were on our beach holiday last year, when already humiliated by having to wear swimmers in front of a posse of gorgeous teenage girls, I had to deal with you too.

 

But wearing twenty-five layers of warm clothing and thick gloves isn’t much easier and can be plain cumbersome when attending to your intimate needs en piste. And there is very little sympathy from ‘Da Boyz’ when we have to search for a toilet every hour in the middle of the mountains. There are only so many Hot Chocolates even they can drink! And why does the ladies room always seems to be located in the deepest, darkest cavern of the mountain when walking in ski boots for any length of time is an extra torture sent down by God when periods, childbirth and men weren’t enough, to test the inner strength of womenkind?

 

Added to which ‘Da Boyz’ have already consumed all the Neurofen for pathetic and whimsical boy ailments such as muscle strain and mountain flu, (the symptoms of which seem very similar to that of the common après-ski hangover, although they deny it profusely).

 

Cabin Fever certainly becomes all the more apparent in a real cabin with the combination of hormonal teenagers, ADHD, no Foxtel, tired limbs, those kids next door (who must live permanently on sugar) and your company.

 

So frankly, I wish you’d stayed at home. You know that this is one of those special weeks in the year, like Christmas and our birthdays, which the old man and I set aside for some catch-up intimacy, when we leave the excuses of hair washing, stress and tiredness at home. So I guess I should thank you for that ‘out’ you provided me with, although if truth be told I was quite excited at the prospect of having a laugh in the sack at my husband’s expense this year, in spite of the fear of Kurt wandering in at every opportunity and shouting ‘FUCKING GROSS’.

 

Remind me of your exact purpose in my life these days again, other than to fuck over my holidays?

 

Yours truly,

 

L

What Do You Get When You Mix ADHD With PMS?

Tyrannosaurus rex, a theropod from the Late Cr...
Tyrannosaurus rex, a theropod from the Late Cretaceous of North America, pencil drawing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ambience in Dysfunctionality House has been ‘tetchy’ this week – a direct result of girl hormones creating chaos.

 

 

 

When I was a young girl and packed off to a girls’ boarding school, we all took part in a sport called ‘sychronised menstruating‘ whereby the timing of our periods would synch with time, usually by the end of the first term of each academic year. This meant that we were all fucking miserable for only one week of each month and then had three weeks to pretend to be human again.

 

Unfortunately, NC and I haven’t synched, most likely due to the erraticism of my peri-menopausal period, which seems to turn up these days when the fuck it likes. So the lucky boys in our house can be privy to our errant mood swings, sometimes for a month in its entirety.

 

Luckily, NC and I handle PMS really well.

 

That was a lie.

 

We both share the uncontrollable sobbing stage of PMS – I actually cried when Charlie Pickering announced he was leaving The Project a few weeks ago and she cries every time they play a Disney song on Smooth FM – as well as the psychotic ‘don’t look at me or dare talk to me full-blown hell’ of the actual period.

 

It must be like living in the hormonal Hunger Games for the boys, only there’s no wilderness in which to hide.

 

Although the old man has his places. If he cannot camouflage himself in the darkest recesses of Dysfunctionality house or down at our local pub, he relies on the faithfulness of his invisibility cloak which is his best strategy for avoiding anything he doesn’t want to be involved in.

Getting ready for Hogwarts
Getting ready for Hogwarts (Photo credit: Liz Gealach)

 

NC and I have very different personalities; in fact some might say that she was definitely switched at birth we are polar opposites. Mentally, she is a clone of the old man, but luckily for her, she looks like me physically. And people assume that because she looks like me, her temperament will be as calm and easy-going as mine (!). Even I am fooled sometimes by the aloofness she can demonstrate in a crisis, but that is not the case when she is PMSing (because it has become a verb in our house), when a viper lurks under the shell of my blonde, nerdy bombshell of a daughter.

 

Add to the menstruation equation problems like the after shocks of an argument with NB (Nerd Boy), or under-achieving in her latest ‘rock’ assignment, and she and I dance around each other in the house, territorially, like two Tyrannosaurus Rex, about to rip each others throats out.

 

Little things set us off. For me it can be the health and safety violations in her bedroom and bathroom; for her, the trigger can be as inane as no Marmite in the pantry.

 

Everything irritates us during our PMS, but we irritate each other the most.

 

We have learned to avoid eye contact over our afternoon cup of tea. So we sit there sipping silently, secretly congratulating ourselves on our self-control.

 

But sometimes a catalyst enters the equation.

A Proper Cup of Tea
A Proper Cup of Tea (Photo credit: James Shade)

 

Catalysts speed up a chemical reaction where sometimes it would be best left alone. Our catalyst is Kurt.

 

Kurt’s ADHD makes him impulsive and daring and fearless of consequences. People with ADHD are often those crazy people that take up extreme sports and talking to NC or myself before, after or during our period could be categorised as a very extreme sport.

 

And when you’re physically hurting, mentally fragile, angry most of the time, completely irrational and at the mercy of a hormone rave, communication is not a priority.

 

Tigger
Tigger (Photo credit: Señor Hans)

But Kurt doesn’t understand the concepts of personal space or how women tick. It is like living with an overgrown puppy or Tigger – highly energetic, full of life, reactionary and a little bit crazy.

 

And at the first sign of a reaction from us, when he has either hit a nerve, or detected some resilience or weakness, his game seems to sharpen. Mercilessly. He bounces around us and between us like a big, fat bumble bee looking to sting, winding us up, prodding and baiting us until the steam begins to stream out of our orifices.

 

Then he goes in for the kill suddenly and there is no going back because the she-devils have been released.

 

’You’ve got your period, haven’t you?’ he’ll ask.

 

Suffice it to say, the consequences of his foolhardiness are neither instant nor painless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The female body, Menstruation and Exercise

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for shocking, educating or causing the men brave enough and ‘new’ enough to read this post, to projectile vomit – welcome to a woman’s world.

The Menstruation Tent
The Menstruation Tent (Photo credit: GorillaSushi)

I have my most interesting thoughts when I’m attempting to drag my body from one end of the local pool to the other.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that there was a lot of talk about menstruation last week.

I’ve been hyper-focusing on periods a lot lately – mainly because I’m mentally and physically  (should be) OVER them, as I’ve mentioned one or eight times before on my blog (here).

So last week, when even the ‘Neurofen for Abject Misery’ wasn’t working, I asked my followers if there was a teenager out there who might want to ‘feel like a woman’ early and adopt my periods now – in a kind of exchange arrangement.

What’s really making me bitter, twisted and psychotic about periods at the moment, is just how difficult they make it to do certain things. Those adverts about roller-blading and swimming are obviously a gross misrepresentation of what you can actually do during your period – it’s just a way of sucking the innocents into the bloodbath – because the reality is, periods don’t just stop at the excruciating pain and psychopathic mood. They suck, big-time.

I was forced to swim during mine last week.

Normally my timing is much better, but as I’d found (seemingly) legitimate excuses for NOT swimming the previous five days, when an unfortunate window of opportunity became available to go to the pool, menstruation seemed a rather pathetic excuse.

Anyway, it was day 1 – commonly known as ‘the trickle’ – (just before it turns seriously nasty and into the full-blown  ‘tsunami’ of days 2,3,4, and 5).

Do any of you find that the main problem with swimming during your period is the logistics of hiding the tampon string? If anyone holds the secret to concealment, please let me know. I’ve tried everything – up the crack, around the back or in a ball at the vajajay entrance.

Nothing is failsafe.

The ultimate fear of course is that the telltale little white string will work its way out just as you exit the pool and in full view of the lifeguards (that you’ve spent the past 3 weeks perving on) in a ‘DID I MENTION THAT I’VE GOT MY PERIOD?’ kind of moment.

Ever notice all those women frantically groping around their groins at the steps from the pool?

The other fear of course is that the tampon will soak up so much water from the pool, that it will free-fall out of your body with the speed and accuracy of a bullet, aided and abetted by bloody gravity, and then land, a soggy, bloody SPLAT on the steps, scarring for life all those innocent little kindies who have just come to learn how to swim.

When I don’t have my period, I swim monotonously, counting each length torturously down, wishing it were my last so I could already be tucking into that ‘pat on the back’ muffin and Latte. Swimming when I have my period, means that my mind continually wanders back to the whereabouts of that tampon string at any given time, praying to God that it is not in full view of the faster swimmers queuing behind me, wearing goggles.

We women have to put up with so many body issues when we do sport, don’t we?

It must be so much easier for men.

They don’t have to worry about any of this stuff, do they?

  • Aforementioned concealment of tampon strings and unruly pubic hair
  • Non-waterproof mascara
  • Fanny farting during yoga and Pilates
  • Breast jiggling
  • Erect nipples
  • Menstruation Leakage
  • Children in the shower shouting ‘look at that woman’s enormous bush!’
  • Children in the shower looking pitifully at your empty breasts
  • Poor bladder control (aka ‘weeing slightly’) during difficult yoga positions or from resulting embarrassed laughter

Women’s bodies weren’t really designed for strenuous exercise, were they? At least, that’s been my excuse for a while now.

Letter Of Resignation To The Women’s Menstruation Club.

Photo courtesy of urszulakk at www.flicker.com
Photo courtesy of urszulakk at http://www.flicker.com

For the attention of the Director, The Women’s Menstruation Club

Dear Sir/Madam,

It is with no regret that I wish to inform you of my resignation from The Women’s Menstruation Club.

As you are no doubt aware, I have been an active member of the club for the past thirty-four years, and believe that I have taken full advantage of the opportunities afforded to me in that time. However, as I no longer have need of the facilities, I feel it is time to withdraw my membership and cancel your services.

When I first joined the club at the age of fourteen, (at your sister club in Tenerife; on holiday with my father!) I was initially quite naive regarding the services you offered, but having been influenced by other club members I was nevertheless keen to experience the opportunities firsthand. Since that time, I believe that I have taken those opportunities and run with them.

However, upon reaching my forties, I have come to realise that as I am using your facilities less and less, it is probably time to cancel my membership.

I am finding the costs of membership quite prohibitive these days, especially when I am gaining absolutely no tangible benefit from your services. Added to which, I have recently heard of a new women’s club in the area, called The Menopause Club, which may suit my needs better.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some benefits to my membership and I do not look back on my time at the club with only regret.

I am aware that there are a lot of women who never get the chance to belong to such a high profile club or use the facilities and for that I am eternally grateful. When I first joined the club, your facilities even provided me with the perfect excuse for a break on occasion, a means of avoiding other activities, and more recently, my now irregular visits to the club have provided me with the welcome excuse of not always having to exercise with my husband.

I would also like to add that I did take full advantage of those two special offers you made to me, and although often on occasion, they don’t always seem quite so ‘special’ any more, on the whole they have been a worthwhile investment.

But as you will probably understand, paying for services that are no longer required can cause a certain amount of stress. My husband believes that the responsibility of my membership at the club has recently begun to put pressure on me, and may in fact be the root cause of a very subtle change in my humour these days. Especially since my visits have become more erratic and there is less continuity or community involvement.

I will miss the club for other reasons, of course. Being a member has been a big part of my life and cancelling my membership will herald the next phase; and who knows what opportunities that will bring.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Louisa Simmonds

Panties/Containers for Tampons courtesy of urszulakk at www.flicker.com