It’s what’s inside that counts

Since March, I have now had four or five pelvic ultrasounds (yes, both the external and the internal probe Congress loves so much) and a pelvic MRI.

Here is what we know:

There are masses inside of me and they are growing, and they need to be removed.

Here is what we think we know:

One of the masses is an ovarian endometrioma the size of a tennis ball (and growing). Until late June I’d never heard of such a thing but turns out I’m intimately acquainted and just didn’t know it. Essentially, I have endometriosis that has invaded my left ovary and taken over to the point that it likely cannot be extracted and removed; the whole ovary has got to go.

I have other masses in my uterus that are fibroid tumors. At least one of them is also the size of a tennis ball. I was sent to have an MRI this past week to find out the number and size and placement of them all, since apparently, from the expression on my specialist’s face, there’s a bunch of crazy shit happening in there, all together, that has her thinking I should get a hysterectomy, STAT.

My specialist asked me, while prodding around my guts with her fingers, if I was done having children. Well, I said, I didn’t think I was. She pressed her hand down on my lower stomach from the outside and pressed her fingers inside of me upward, so her hands met around the parts inside of me that are swollen and cramped, and I felt a pain so deep it didn’t register in my body but it registered deep in my emotions and I began crying.

I am 34. I have always had regular periods that last three to five days and that come with minimal discomfort. I’ve never been on hormonal birth control and I had a quick and lovely eight-hour natural labor and delivery. I have always joked about being built for breeding, with my wide hips. I have had friends and family who’ve fought with period pain, endometriosis, cysts, fibroids and excessive bleeding and have always counted myself as being very fortunate to have a system that seemed, more or less, to do its thing and keep the peace.

I have finally met the man I want to spend the rest of my life and have a family with, and, in my more selfish moments, it’s a little like a cosmic middle finger in the face to think that that might not even be on the table for us.

My gynecologist asked me if I have a high pain tolerance. On the one hand, how great to have not suffered from the discomfort of my insides twisting and growing and crowding my organs. On the other hand, the lack of pain means I didn’t even realize what was happening for so long, and now it’s likely too late to really fix it and keep it functional.

I go back to the doctor Thursday to find out exactly what the MRI shows and what’s next. I know it will not be great news because they called and moved my follow-up appointment up a week. They told me come by whenever; they will work me in. That only happens if something is concerning enough to need action.

My family and friends are of course being supportive and wonderful in every way. My mom had a major bout of fibroids in her 40s and ended up with a hysterectomy. But she’d already had three kids and had her tubes tied; she knew she was done adding to her family. But she knows what a tough row to hoe this can be for the brain and body when it happens.

I had hoped I was finally getting to start a family in earnest, with someone who loves me and my son. It will be difficult to let that dream die before it even had a chance, if that’s what it comes to.

I know I will need surgery. I just don’t know how much and how soon and how serious.

I know I can feel a dull thud of pain on my left side where the ovary continues to grow larger each menstrual cycle. That pain wasn’t there four months ago.

I know sitting up from lying down is increasingly uncomfortable.

I know I can feel tenderness all across my belly, and sharp pain whenever a not-to-be-named 4-year-old gut-checks me while wrestling.

I know I am scared.

One of those days

Argh, I’ve had one of those pointlessly annoying days, where you wake up to the sound of screeching birds beneath your air conditioner (they’re back), and you amble into the living room to try and get a few winks in to the soothing sounds of the TV Guide channel, only to realize that the various animals you willingly share your place with are not going to show you the courtesy of SingTFU, so you do your internet rounds until the very act of being awake starts to piss you off, an then you retire again to the couch, where you nap until 11, which is perfect timing because it means you can watch a string of Dirty Dancing: The Series, which you didn’t eveh know existed but now suddenly you can’t turn away from.

And as 3 p.m. rolls around and you realize you haven’t gotten off the couch, much less made it to the gym or anywhere else as planned, you wince at the heaviness in your gut — a mixture of cramps and frosted mini-wheats — and stay horizontal for as long as possible.

It’s not until you get in the shower that you realize you’re in too lousy a mood to even dry your hair. This does not bode well for the evening. So you throw on some frumpy shirt and try not to blow up at the only person (in this case, Phil) who even dares to be around you on such days. And everything, everything is ripe for ridicule. And, still, the mere act of being awake is making you angry, so you can’t help but think of ways to remedy such an inconvenience.

The only thing that seems to soothe is cheap pinot grigio. And some precious alone time.

I don’t have a lot of stereotypically PMS-y days, but when they hit, they hit hard. With luck, this will be my last for several months.

Universe, I am annoyed

Is it even possible to buy a bra that does not piss me off? I doubt it.

First off, I’m pissed that I have agreed to give in to the cultural mandate to wear a bra. I don’t actually *need* a bra insomuch as anyone actually *needs* a bra. I’m not ashamed to admit that; I’m quite relieved that I don’t have to worry about all that extra baggage. I’m sure I have plenty of back problems to look forward to anyway.

So, my wearing a bra is a purely calculated move based on my desire to assimilate into and move freely within society by incorporating female drag. Same reason I wear makeup sometimes and wear my hair long and “ladylike.” Some female drag I have incorporated into my routine; some female drag I have not. I suspect most women pick and choose which bits of typically feminine crap they want to bother with.

But if I’m going to wear a bra (which, I suspect, most of us do on a daily basis mostly to shield the world from the occasional outline of a — gasp! — nipple), is it too much to ask that the frigging thing a) not evoke images of Madonna with their torpedo cups; b) not be stuffed with so much padding that my humble size begins to look a bit more ample than it actually is; c) not come embedded with wires that puncture my lungs every time I move? (I haven’t bought an underwire in many years, but it seems that the tradeoff is a bra with copious amounts of unneeded padding.)

Does there exist a bra that does not seek to pump up my modest B into a generous C?

I sure as shit can’t seem to find one.

Oh, and, should it exist, I’m not fucking paying more than $20 for this mythical swatch of fabric, either. What a crock.