Monday, June 08, 2015

Hormones & wrinkles & how's yer father?

"You should write about that on your blog" said a barn friend yesterday when I told her about the blood panel my doctor took to check my hormone levels (oh lordy, the joys of fifty-one). He took me off my pill, which keeps me sane, and thin-ish, and made me wait two weeks to take my blood. Then told me my hormones were great, that I wasn't menopausal or peri-menopausal and that I should go right back on the pill again. Uff. "That's easy for you to say, you're a man" I joked (not). In the last three weeks I've swelled like a puffball, developed spots all over my face like a teenager, and I've wept every single day (and with great gusto in darkened movie theaters.)

This is how it works, one's body is highly sensitive to hormones and every time you go on on or off a birth control pill (in my case, it's a very low dose, three month pill which means you only have a period -- a tiny one -- every three months) your body goes into major shock. I'm not a huge person, only 5 foot 3, so I blow up like a balloon every time. My doctor, of course, isn't amused. (And I love him. We held hands and watched Oprah together just before my son was born in 1990). "Once a year, you'll have to be tested to check your hormone levels, it's fine" he says. "That's all well and good coming from you, Doctor R" I say. "You don't have to walk around feeling like a grumpy, emotional fifteen year old."

"You know, I was pregnant last year" I say. "No you weren't" he says, almost waving his hand in order to push away the ludicrous thought. "Yes, I was" I say and I described the emotions, the tender breasts, the throwing up. "It's because you don't take your pill in a regimented way" he says, almost kindly. "Your body thought you were pregnant."

He sounds awful, doesn't he? He's lovely. Sane, kind, practical, and a pragmatic, efficient medical doctor, not a therapist, or a new-age guru. And such a better option than the female doctor who used to be in his practice, who, about a week before I was about to give birth to my first child, after examining me, "Oh gosh, I hope the baby will fit!" Which of course sent me into paroxysms of anxiety. Dr R just held my hand and watched Oprah with me. And now he's got me back on my low dose pill with the hideous side effects that are bound to ensue for the next few days.

It's not a bowl of cherries, your fifties. You're more confident, for sure. You know what you want, you don't really care what other people think any more. But your body is doing all kinds of stuff that you'd rather it didn't. I try not to think about my more daredevil activities. Riding a very young horse who bucks and rears and behave like an ass, for example. If you stop to think about it, you're dead. So I choose to be brave and get on with it, but it's probably not the easy route. Then again, when have I ever taken the easy route? The easy boyfriend? The easy recipe? It never happens. "I like a challenge" I say. Sounding like Calamity Jane.

As for sex, well, it's really nice, isn't it? I'd forgotten, actually, how much fun you can have with another person, without spending any money at all. (Especially if they don't notice your distended tummy or your teenage acne, or do notice, and love you anyway.)

I appealed to a girlfriend who seems to be having great success in the dating arena. She's my age, very beautiful and extremely funny, a writer. She wrote back "I'm loving my French bf - he's into wrinkles! Yay!"


LPC said...

Very nice, indeed.

Katherine C. James said...

1. Your doctor sounds sane and kind.
2. Keep doing the difficult thing when you feel like it. (It makes me think of JFK, saying in his Boston accent, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.") My dad did, and he lived a long and happy life sustaining no major injuries in the process.
3. Sex is nice. It gets better.
4. French boyfriends for everyone.
P.S. Have you read Mary Ruefle's Granta menopause piece? I can't decide if it's funny or horrible in its inaccuracy. I'm leaning toward funny. The cryalog is funny.