Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sick days

It's been a while. I've updated Cocktails With the Penguins, but not this. I haven't looked at most blogs, either, and I apologize for that. Work was a whole lot busier than usual for January. I'm glad, actually--L'Ailee was also very busy with post-New Year's Resolution customers at her gym, and I'm usually at loose ends in January because of that. Also, I have had a damn cold. I tried to update this blog three times in the past couple days, and you should be glad my bleary-eyed, Nyquil-fueled rants never got published. I almost took sick days Thursday and Friday, but didn't. I have surgery coming up, and I'm going to need about three days. I'll get to that in a bit.

There's stuff going on around us. The Dow has been on one hell of a wild ride. The Khalid Sheikh Mohammad trial will probably be moved out of NYC. The Proposition 8 trial in California has paused after going on and on, but not for a ruling. I've thought about all these things. That last one is the one I know best, though not the one that affects me and L'Ailee the most at the moment. My aunt brought it up in what was a pleasant phone conversation Thursday evening. She'd have voted for it. She voted to ban same-sex marriage in Florida, and believes "the people" had a "right to vote on this" in California. We got into a screaming argument that became very personal very quickly. We probably won't be talking again for a little while.

The last time I blogged, I talked about how my uterine fibroid problem came back and now I need treatment. Apparently there are exciting results when it comes to green tea extracts in mice, and human trials start soon. Unfortunately, I don't think drinking tons of green tea will help all by itself, even if I liked it, which I don't. I can only stand the stuff when it's got a lot of flavoring. My gynecologist did tell me to cut way back on eating and drinking soy, though, because it has phytoestrogens and those might encourage fibroid growth. This is tricky for a vegetarian who's trying to keep her cholesterol down, but I'm doing my best.

Gods, I don't want to talk about surgery. I have talked about it with people IRL, including L'Ailee, BossLady, my best friends, and women in my swimming group and belly-dancing class. I had a myomectomy five and a half years ago. This involves cutting into the uterus, taking the fibroids out, and reconstructing the uterus. (You desperately wanted to know that, yes?) I will be having one again. My gynecologist tells me that the partial hysterectomy I wanted is a desperation move, particularly since I'm under 40, even though I know I'm not having kids. I just don't want to keep going through this! She suggested uterine artery embolization, but a lot can go wrong there. Basically, the blood flow to the fibroids is blocked, and the fibroids die. One of my Swim Girls *and* one of the women in my belly-dancing class told harrowing stories involving the stuff used for blocking the arteries migrating and midnight trips to the ER. That put UAE into the "no way in hell" column real quick!

So, another round. Thankfully, I don't need hormone therapy this time, because my "fibroid burden" is still relatively light. I asked if it could wait until after Valentine's Day. My gynecologist laughed, but allowed it. She says that's one reason why she doesn't want to do the partial hysterectomy if she doesn't have to--"you genuinely enjoy sex, and I don't want to take a chance and do something that might interfere with that." I've heard reactions from women who've had it that are all over the map when it comes to their post-surgical enjoyment, but I'm very glad that my gynecologist considered it anyway. (Of course, she's also L'Ailee's gynecologist.) Since my job is sedentary, I don't need much time off from work, just a couple recovery days with high-octane painkillers. Last time, I did find that it helped ease my pain to sit on a cushion with a pillow or teddy bear in my lap when I sat at a desk and typed. I told BossLady about that, and she offered to buy me "the biggest, cuddliest, cutest panda teddy bear I can find." Not necessary, of course, but it felt good when she said that.

I think I'll be all right. It's not work I'll be missing, it's fun for about three weeks. I hate it, but I can live with it. I know that if I ignore fibroids, they do *not* go away. The last time became a crisis because I'd gone over a year without visiting a gynecologist. (A good doctor moved away, and my HMO's choices for me became Lesbophobic Bitch or It's-All-In-Your-Head Quack.) So I'm not going to let things get bad again.

Last weekend was a good one. Saturday afternoon, I went surfing with my best friend Yemaya O'Reilly. People who don't surf think it's crazy to go out into the cold, but the waves get all stirred up in winter weather and the salt in the water keeps it from getting frozen. You can't stay out as long as you can in summer, but if you wear a full-length wetsuit and aqua shoes--we prefer them bright so we don't blend into all the hazy gray-blues and we can keep an eye on each other--you're fine. It clears our heads. I could never really meditate when I've tried, but I get close to a meditative state when I surf. I have to stay focused on keeping my feet on that board and seeing the next wave coming. It's wonderful.

Yemaya's also in my belly-dancing class. Sunday was a performance day. She actually started it off with a performance to, of all things, "Big Blonde and Beautiful" from the musical version of Hairspray. We laughed because she's multiracial and recently bleached her hair in response to a few grays. We laughed a lot. I was missing the Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers game that afternoon, and L'Ailee had jokingly suggested that I wear my black and gold performance costume--Penguins team colors! I did, with my Penguins earrings. A lot of women liked that, and some others wished they'd worn some sports team or other's colors, too.

It was about 30 women, ranging widely in age (late teens to early sixties) and in a lot of other things as well. Unlike my instructor's bigger, better-attended Memorial Day performance/picnic at her home, no spouses, partners, boyfriends, or girlfriends were allowed. I found it a bit difficult--when L'Ailee's eyes go really big, I know I'm doing it right! A few other women felt similarly. It was especially tricky for me because when we were choreographing our solo performances, Yemaya advised me that I needed to "slut it up a little," and my instructor nodded. Move sexy...but without anybody to move sexy *for*?

I did fine, though. We all did. We gave each other zaghareets, the traditional cheer, then ate delicious Middle Eastern snacks when we finished. Belly dancing is also liberating in its way. In the Middle East, I was told, women dance and socialize in womens' only groups most of the time. Women who are tightly controlled and strictly veiled on the street cut loose around their friends. Thank the Gods, we don't worry about literal morality police here.

But we put other chains on ourselves and accept other unreasonable demands from the world around us. We're nice girls. We have no rhythm. We look ridiculous when we dance--our mother, father, brother, gym coach told us so. We don't want to do something to please some guy. We're too Christian, too Jewish, too feminist, too smart. We're too fat, too old, have boy hips, have hippo hips, haven't been the same since we gave birth, have scars. But we all have something, don't we? We all have something good, too. Sunday, a random and unlikely group of women showed each other that something good. We put our regular clothes, our regular selves, back on late in the afternoon--hijab scarves, jeans, designer leather jackets, Land's End parkas, Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys--and strutted outside. I know Yemaya and I weren't the only ones who wanted to bring that feeling in the room out into the world with us.

I actually got into belly dancing because of that myomectomy, which I will soon count as my first. My abdominal muscles were never very good, but they'd been sliced into and knitted slowly back together. L'Ailee's gym offers domestic partners free memberships, and that's what I became shortly after the myomectomy. I moved from Orlando to NYC after I recovered. (It was a very eventful autumn.) I tried other exercises for my abs, but didn't care for them. Pretty much the only thing I liked about the gym was the pool. One of the two belly dancing instructors recommended her class as a way to help strengthen my abs. I felt fat and gross, and I didn't think that would be for me. "Look," she said in an exasperated voice, "we wear regular exercise clothing to class. We don't judge your body, only whether you learn. How do you think you become fit? You become fit by working out. This is like saying, 'I cannot practice driving because I don't know how to drive.'" She was right, of course. I joined her class the next week.

I'll have to work hard to get back into it after this surgery. My friend Mona, who I met in that class, struggled a little after her son was born. But it's way more fun than Pilates, or worse yet, doing nothing at all. Isn't everything?

Happy Imbolc to all who celebrate, happy February to those who don't. Spring will come back! Really!

Links, if you can stand to read more:

Two of America's zoo pandas are leaving us this week: Tai Shan in Washington DC's National Zoo and Mei Lan in Zoo Atlanta. They will be going to China's Bifengxia reserve as part of their breeding program. I have been watching them--Tai Shan especially--on cams since they were born, and I'm a bit sad over it. They leave on February 4th, and despite the snow, both zoos are throwing going-away parties for them this weekend. This is a touching interview with one of Tai Shan's keepers, who will be accompanying him as he transitions to China.

On a sorta-related note, Lilly Pulitzer, which I love with all my heart, comes out with its first black and white print this spring: Pandamonium. Yes, I pre-ordered.

Bi teens of both genders get bullied a lot, but bi girls do some bullying themselves.

Why death and disaster don't change atheists' minds. I found the last paragraphs particularly powerful.

The commercials for Campbell's Select Harvest Light soups promote disordered eating...or, as a writer put it, are mmmm, mmmm, fucked up.

Finally, enjoy this roundup of NYC-centric blogs from the Village Voice.


Jude said...

So my fibroid problem is what saved my life because of the extra attention I was getting in that area. Even though I am older than you, having it all out was my best option and I'm loving it. And the sex part, it just got better. ;) I hope you find the solution that works for you.

Jewels said...

Love your blog. There are no belly dancing in Arkansas, go figure...but perhaps I'll purchase a DVD? I need SOMETHING to tone my very sad abs.

The demon elliptical is kicking my cardio into shape, but I'd like something targeting my problem areas.

I miss reading your unique, loving viewpoint, and I'll be sending up good thoughts for you from Arkansas.

alan said...

When I was reading up on menopause in preparation for Dottie's, I remember reading how soy was a great help because of all the estrogens in it, so cutting down on yours sounds like a good idea to this layman!

Between surfing and belly dancing I'll bet we're talking abs of steel by now!

Love the atheist very true on all counts!

Would you please give my favorite Russian a hug and take one for yourself? The two of you are such a bright spot in my world!


MoonRaven said...

I hope that you had a happy Imbolc, and I will wish you a lot of luck and love with your surgery. It sounds like you are facing it with a good attitude, but it also doesn't sound like much fun.

Perplexio said...

Hope you don't mind, I wandered over here from Barbara's blog. I too am a Penguins fan... I have been since the late 90s (right around the time Herb Brooks became coach). It was guys like Jagr, Straka, Kovalev, Kasparitis, and Barnaby (incidentally I became a Pens fan the same season the Pens traded Stu Barnes to Buffalo to get Barnaby) that captured my interest in the Penguins. I still remember staying up to see the end of that triple OT game against Philly back in 2000... what a nail-biter, I just wish it had gone the other way-- Oh well, the Pens got their redemption in last year's finals. Can't believe that the Flyers blew a 3 goal lead in an elimination game in the first round... Even one of my friends who is a Flyers fan said, "No team that blows a 3 goal lead deserves to win!" And then the Caps imploding in Game 7 of the Semi-finals was an even bigger surprise (after they played so well in Game 6-- I thought the Pens were toast in Game 7). Well anyway, I've started following both of your blogs.

Perplexio said...

PS: Regarding the article on atheism-- in a way Atheism is a "religion" in and of itself... It's a fellowship of people who share a belief in not believing in a higher power.

If people of religion were to look at atheism as a religion they might actually show atheists the respect that the article claims people of faith tend not to show atheists.

lightfeather said...

I had that fibroid stuff glad that after menopause it really tapers off in a big way and I had extremely early crossing over that bridge with joy and ease! Ever notice that the docs talk about the fibroids like they were fruit? grapefruits, lemons, and limes you have in there... I had a grove of them. LOL! Love the belly wondering if I'm too old to give it a whirl? Or better yet, pole dancing...hmmmm.. stop by when you have a chance. remember, I'm back :-)

BostonPobble said...

Good grief but you're fabulous! Keep us/me posted on everything because you are loved.