Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big M

You don't have to tell me.  I know I've been looking a little peaked lately.  The bags under my eyes have grown significantly larger and more obvious.  The crow's feet have grown into dinosaur footprints.  And the two lines on my forehead between my eyes - the ones my yoga teacher tried to convince me represented my wisdom - well, honey, I must be one of the smartest people in Texas, 'cause they are now cavernous folds.

I am sure that part of it is due to the box I now have to check at the doctor's office, the 35-40 box, representing the downhill age slope I am on, my uncooperative body barrelling without permission toward that big birthday everyone tells me is "the new 20" but I don't believe them.  In neonatal nursing, I'm not kidding about this, one of the diagnosis criteria that puts a baby at risk for problems is when the mother is "AMA", or Advanced Maternal Age.  I now realize why there are so many warnings attached to the AMA label:  I actually groan now when I get up off the floor after playing with the kids. 

Some of it is likely due to the jolt my body got after going from thirty-sumpin' years of ten hours of sleep a night and napping at leisure to now having to set my alarm to get up before my kids at an hour only college students and Starbucks employees are awake so I can run, check email, clean the house, and spend time with my Lord in some peace and stinkin' quiet, thank you very much.

Yeah, I get it.  I'm tired.  I look tired.  I feel tired.  I'm TARD. 

The other day, I was shopping for some Mother's Day gifts with Caroline.  We were zipping through Neiman's (really, I was just cutting through to get to the other stores, I swear).  It was one of those Pop In/Grab Something/Pop Back Out kind of shopping trips - not the kind I like at all, I like to browse -but Caroline was having none of it.  She was hollering at the top of her lungs.  I don't know if you have ever spent any time in  Neiman Marcus, but let me tell you, it's not the type of place that has a lot of screaming, hollering children.  It's more of the hushed tones kind of store -- sshhh... keep your voice down... you mustn't upset the couture.  Seven-month-olds, I have since learned, don't really care much about couture.  Or the angry stares of the well-adorned women trying to procure the couture.  I was so mortified and so exhausted by that time, I just wanted to lay down and take a big ol' nap.  As it was, I was trying unsuccessfully to maneuver my stroller through the serenity that is Neiman's as carefully and as discreetly as is possible with a very vocal child as its passenger, when out of nowhere this wonderful woman appeared and offered me... nectar of the gods.  "Honey.  You look like you could use some champagne", the angel of mercy whispered knowingly. 

Now, before the Two, I tell you I would have accepted her offer without reservation, and I would have slurped that champagne down before that saint could have even blinked her kindly eyes.  But, since things have changed and I am not in that champagne-slurping-at-the-mall place in my life anymore, this is what I said.  "Yes!  I would love some!  But no, really, I'm going to pick up my daughter at preschool.  I can't.  I mean, I shouldn't."  Angel smiled at me, a bright, radiant, pious smile, and said, "No worries, hon.  It's in a can.  You can take it with you and drink it later", nodding to the baby, "but I sure do think you need some".  And then she pressed it into my hand.  Nirvana in a can.  Who knew they made champagne, in a can?  It even has an attached straw for convenience!  Could I love it any more? 

Incidentally, I didn't drink it.  It's sitting in a place of honor in my fridge like the Holy Grail, waiting for just the right moment, a time when I might really need it.

But maybe I should have chugged it on the spot and asked Angel for some back-up.  Because later that week, my husband gave me the mother of all insults.

Chris asked me if I was going through menopause.

See, I'd been having some, um, temperature changes lately.  Hot flashes.  The Oh Mercy, sweltering, sizzling, oppressive, wake me, and therefore Chris, up in the middle of the night as I fumble in the dark for the fan/thermostat/water because ohmagosh-I'm-on-fire kind of hot flashes.  Uh-huh.  Fun times at our house after dark. 

Hence the menopause question from my husband. 

MEN-O-PAUSE.  The Big M.  Excuse me?  As in, the thing that happens to grannies?  I can't be going through menopause.  Aren't I too young?  My parents still do Santa Clause for me.  Doesn't that mean anything?  It can't be.  No.  No, no, noooooooooooooooooo.  Unless?  Could it be?

I decided to do a little research on it and consult my doctor.  I'm using my finger quotes when I say, "My Doctor".  Paging Doctor Google.  Oh, come on!  Like you've never done it?  You know Google's the first place you go when you have a medical question.  I admit it.  I consult Dr. Google regularly, probably three times a week at the very least.  If you look up the history on my computer, here is a sampling of the medical issues I've googled in the last six months:

Tylenol recall
How much should my baby be eating?
Why does my dog stink?
Home remedies for poison ivy
Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (see the above-referenced hot flashes)
What does a spider bite look like?
When do my baby's teeth come in?
Dallas-area plastic surgeons (that was a weak moment after examining my wrinkles in a close-up mirror)
Signs of a stroke

And these are just the medical questions.  I can't even list the number of inane things I've queried Dr Google about since we were introduced.  So it was only natural that I'd consult Dr. Google about Chris' insulting yet curiously thought-provoking question. 

Dr. Google, thorough as he undoubtedly is, provided me with a very meticulous questionnaire about my symptoms.  This, the good doctor informed me, will accurately diagnose the problem.  All I had to do was check yes or no in the little box to the right of the statement.  If I answer yes to any of these questions, well then, I need to get myself to my approved healthcare provider post haste:

I feel very tired, especially in the afternoons (yes)
I have trouble sleeping - falling asleep, staying asleep  (yes)
I have hot flashes or night sweats  (yes)
I am forgetful or absentminded  (yes, I think?)
I experience bloating, gas, or bouts of diarhea  (do I have to answer this one on my blog?)
I crave sweets, carbs, or alcohol  (um... see champagne story above)
I sometimes feel overwhelmed, confused or just not myself  (duh)
I feel stiff or achy in my joints, especially in the morning  (yes)

After completing my questionnaire, Dr. Google told me I had a SEVERE case - he actually used that word - of menopause. 

Hmmm.... unconvinced, I gave my husband the same survey.  Guess what?  He has menopause too!  An even worse case than mine.  Can you believe it?  What are the odds?  My twelve-year-old dog has it as well.  And sometimes even my three-year-old daughter too.  Who would have thought?  Oh, and Dr. Google?  You also just described every parent of young children in America, male and female. 

The moral of this story:  Don't believe everything you read on google.

Those night sweats?  Hormonal, yes, but not menopause.  Dr. Google, you've finally failed me.  But all is forgiven.  After all, I've got Nirvana in a can with a straw in my fridge.

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