Dear Mom and Dad,
I have waited a long time to write this. High school, college, my first job, my first apartment.
Your firstborn is finally an adult.
We’ve addressed the issues before. Usually at the kitchen table, or as you stand in my doorway while I cry in my bedroom. I have yelled. I have called you assholes, terrible parents.
I blamed you for fucking me up.
You did fuck me up.
I am an adult now, so it isn’t your job to parent me any more. To teach me acceptance of self. To tell me I am beautiful; perfect the way I am. To tell me I deserve only the best. To tell me that guy who broke my heart is crazy for letting me get away. To tell me I am a catch. A good person. A talented artist. A fountain of possibility. A woman with an amazing life ahead of her.
You weren’t there for me when I was bullied in middle school and high school. You wrote it off as “being a kid” or “well, that’s high school,” but I was a kid. I was in high school. That’s all I knew. I didn’t have your hindsight.
When I found the note in the garbage during science class, the one that was written about me by two girls in the class, you weren’t the ones who held me and told me it would be okay.
You didn’t acknowledge the pain that I felt when I read those words – ‘she’s such a stupid bitch. I wish she’d just like jump off a cliff.’
You told me they were being stupid and childish. You told me to brush it off.
You found the suicide note that I penned at 11 years old. You were going through my stuff. I was so mad at you. You sent me to therapy, and we never spoke of it again.
When I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, you didn’t help me shoulder the burden. You didn’t cry with me. You didn’t buy any books on the topic. You didn’t do the Walk for Mental Health charity 5k that I KNOW happened several years ago.
Why didn’t you do that?
When I overdosed in college and you came to pick me up, you silently drove me home to your house, two hours away, where I stayed the entire weekend to “get away from everything.” On Sunday night, you asked if I was okay.
I’m okay. Two days ago I tried to kill myself, again, but you know, sure, okay, I’m fine.
And then you put me on a bus back to school.
And we never spoke of that weekend again.
I stayed in therapy.
When I gained all of that weight, because of the PCOS, and I was sad, miserable, and feeling less than worthy of anything, you bribed me with a new car to lose 20 lbs. You didn’t tell me I was pretty. You didn’t tell me size was just a number. You didn’t tell me to go out and have fun with my friends, to not care about what I looked like, to know that it was the inside the counted the most.
You told me you’d buy me a car, and when I starved myself for two months, you handed me the keys.
You never told me it would get better.
But then there was your second child.
I know now that parents have favorites. Do you love all three of us? Of course you do. If something were to happen to any one of us, would it break you? I would hope. But when all three of your kids stand in front of you, you know who your favorite is.
He is your favorite child.
He grew up bubbly, fun, surrounded by friends. Smart, adorable, well-behaved. Charming.
I hated him from the beginning. Remember the time I spilled hot soup on him when he was three? Remember the time I yanked a huge chunk of hair out of his head when he was seven?
I was, undoubtedly, your angry child.
But somewhere along the path of growing up, he became my favorite too. When you guys didn’t care about my broken heart, he did.
When I needed help with stats, he always knew the answers.
When I was in my darkest moments, fearing the end, I remembered that while I idolized him more than he looked up to me, I had a little brother to take care of.
He encouraged me when you didn’t. He took me seriously when you brushed me off. He laughed at my jokes. He asked to spend time with me. He got to know me beyond being his sister and your daughter.
All the while, he shined. Confident, secure, compassionate; he encompassed everything you’d look for in another human being. He made for great company.
He is gay.
You didn’t bribe him to change. You didn’t encourage him to shy away from his friends because he was getting used to his new skin. You just didn’t.
He was still beautiful. He was still talented. He was still smart. No matter what he “was” – he was still your son. My brother. And you loved him for exactly who he was, exactly who he is, just as you did before, just as you always will.
The acceptance was instant. It was non-negotiable.
He was surrounded by your love – the same love I lacked when it came to my yearning for your acceptance. Your non-negotiable support.
I resented you. I resented him.
In the wake of the recent suicides within the LBGQT community, I am so thankful that my little brother was one of the few who was enveloped in love and support from the very beginning.
That he became so much more that could define him other than his orientation.
That his life was so filled with possibility, he never wanted it to end.
You did not grace me with an abundance of love at the times I needed it the most. Perhaps it was because I was your first – your oldest – your first “go” at all things parenting. Perhaps you had no idea what to do, so you chose to do nothing. I know that as a child, I was different. I had different needs. As an adult, I can understand that. And I can empathize.
But thank you for being exactly the type of parents my little brother needed.
If you had been different, if things had been different…well, I don’t know how to even write the words that follow. I can’t write them.
All I know is that I am grateful for him – the one person that in my darkest hour will tell me, “Caroline…it gets better.”
My little brother.
It’s estimated that between 5-10% of the female population is affected in some way by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
This is her infertility story.
I’m a lesbian. Ordinarily that isn’t super-important, but I’m at the point that I want kids, so it becomes very important.
Once people find out that I’m gay and want kids, I get asked, “So you’re planning to adopt, right?” There seems to be a socially-held expectation that being gay means you must adopt. Once, someone told me that adopting was “my social responsibility.”
However, my response is always, no, I want to carry my child. I want to experience pregnancy, with all its ups and downs. I want to feel my child grow. It’s my experience, and no one should try and take that away.
While I was never big into kids, I’ve dreamed about being pregnant since I was a teenager. I always vaguely knew it was something I had to do at some point.
Then, about two years ago, suddenly a switch flipped and it was all I could think about. I started reading about it, talking about it, doing everything I could to get near it.
And one day, my partner and I decided to start trying.
My partner and I have tried to get pregnant for a year and a half. We tried to get her pregnant because her cycle was regular. Since I cycled irregularly, and we didn’t know what it would take to get me regular enough to become pregnant, it seemed the easy choice. We started tracking her cycle, found a donor, went through a contractual process that took months, and finally started trying.
Every month we’d try, watch her symptoms, get excited, take the test… and it would be negative. Twice we got hopeful. But eighteen months and two miscarriages later, we’re back at square one.
During those eighteen months, I ran through every emotion imaginable. The worst of which was the jealousy; jealousy that I wasn’t able to carry our child. I consoled myself by saying I’d carry number two. However, by the end, we both felt defeated, deflated, and devastated. I also felt a fierce determination; a determination that I wanted this so badly, I’d do anything I needed to do.
After 18 months of failure to get pregnant, I decided to see an endocrinologist. I’ve always had a really irregular cycle, so I knew something was wrong. However, it took me a long time to be ready to face the possibilities of what that might mean.
After meeting with the endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS has major fertility implications – PCOS means that I don’t ovulate. No ovulation = no baby.
I’ve started a treatment regime including medication and weight loss, that so far has been unsuccessful in booting my system – no easy task. Next month I start an ovulation drug that will allow me to ovulate regularly.
All of a sudden, this got very, very real. My coping strategy involves researching the hell out of my options. I’ve been sensitive to my options for a while, because, by now, we’re up $2,000 in to plane tickets, doctor visits, and everything associated with a bootleg-approach to getting pregnant.
We tried working directly with our donor. We had him tested for fertility. We got ourselves prepped. It costs a lot of money. Starting our adventure with the endo and getting my cycle regulated meant we had to consider some options.
My options are to start fertility drugs.
Once I do this, I can try either a home insemination, or an Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI. This whole TTC thing gets complicated, overwhelming and expensive really quickly. My understanding is that IUI, in which a tube is placed in my uterus to flush sperm in to the area as I ovulate, is my best option.
Of course I know how baby-making works, but damn.
I hate that it has to be so clinical. I hate that there is always someone else in my bedroom. I hate that this can’t just be mine. I hate that I can’t be surprise. I hate that we will pay an $800 price tag for an 18% chance of success. It’s just not fair.
Despite all of this, I’m optimistic. Still looking forward to the future. I know it will happen, and I can’t wait until it does.
As long as there is that tiny pinprick of light, I’ll keep the sputtering flame of hope alive.
I’ve been commiserating with my little sister about the assholery of our uteri.
We may not be biologically related, but we have both had our histories of hysterical tissue issues. Mine are rooted a bit higher, in my ovaries with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Hers, a bit lower in whatever was left of her cervix after multiple surgeries to remove cancerous bits, with fibroid growths to really get a party started.
I started menopause about a year and a half ago, with missed periods here and there, and she’s being chemically induced into menopause to bitch-slap her uterus into better behavior.
My uterus, not to be outdone by hers, has decided to head for the nearest exit. The technical term for this is prolapse. I think my sister correctly called it when she told my uterus to fuck off and quit being an asshole. Being more muscle than brain, my uterus simply flipped her off and continues it’s exit strategy, crawling out of my vagina.
I thought I was going to have a nice and easy peri-menopause, progressing without hiccup into full menopause, thus creating a permanent détente to my chronic battles with PCOS.
Up until this, I wasn’t having nearly the issues my mother had. In fact, by my current age, my mother was completely done with menopause, although hot flashes were a thing for her for quite some time. When I first started skipping periods, sometimes for up to three cycles, I went to my gynecologist, who gave me some brochures, tested my thyroid (all my doctors are convince there’s a thing going on with my thyroid, despite ever so many tests proving to the contrary) and told me that this was all very typical for a woman my age.
My sister is right. My uterus is an asshole.
Fuck you, uterus.
Riding the Medical Mystery Tour is SO MUCH less fun without the Beatles.
This is her story:
Oh how I loathe going to the doctor’s office. Unless I’m loaded up with snot, like I am today. When I’m loaded up with snot, I can get something to help the snot go away. When I tell the doctor that all the snot in my head is drowning my brain, he knows what to do to help.
Any other time I go to the doctor? Well… That’s an entirely different story all together.
Over the last six or seven years, I’ve lived with non-stop pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen. I’ve been poked, prodded and made to drink some of the nastiest shit in creation. I’ve had multiple exploratory surgeries and damned near every narcotic known to man. I’ve received FOUR different diagnoses for that could contribute to my chronic pain (PCOS, Endometriosis, Diverticulosis and Interstitial Cystitis), but I’ve never been given any kind of permanent clue as to what can be done to stop the pain. I’ve been told that I can’t have such and such treatment for one diagnosis cuzz I’m being treated for another diagnosis. SO.MANY.YEARS. of never-ending bullshit have pretty much jaded me against much of the medical community.
Imagine my dismay to realize that it was going to start all over again.
I’ve been constantly dizzy since mid-January. Interestingly enough, it started about a week after I turned 30. I’ve had the continuous feeling that I’m on a boat and not in the “I’m on a boat mother fucker! ON A BOAT!” kind of way. (Which sucks cuzz I used to like being on boats, mother fucker. ) Went to the doctor, who poked and prodded and couldn’t figure out a reason for the feeling, so he gave me some anti-dizzy shit and sent me on my way.
The day before Valentine’s Day, I decided to add passing out to the mix.
After many different tests, I’ve been diagnosed with Orthostatic Hypostension, which means that when I change positions (laying to sitting, sitting to standing), my blood pressure bottoms out and I wake up on the ground with no clue what happened. (Well, I don’t pass out every single time, but the potential is there.) As for the dizziness that never goes away? No clue.
I’ve had MRIs, CAT scans, heart tests… All to no avail. I get to trek on down to the University of Michigan at the end of October to see if maybe they can figure out what’s going on. So far, the only thing I’ve been able to find that fits all my symptoms has been MdDS, which apparently is very rare and can last anywhere from a few days to decades. Color me fucking excited. o_O (And just to clarify, I hadn’t been on any long trips in planes, cars or anything else, but I was INCREDIBLY stressed out due to finding out some things about my boyfriend/fiance that damned near destroyed me.)
Oh! But wait! It seems my body decided to throw another curve ball into the mix!
During all my testing to see why I’m always in pain, I was told that I’d never be able to have another child. My kidling is awesome, so while I hated hearing it, I figured that I’d at least been able to have one child, so I was lucky. Any time I was asked if I was gonna have another one, I’d always say I didn’t want anymore.
To me, it was easier to deal with the judgment of being one of those mothers than to have to deal with the looks of pity and the empty condolences from people who never had to deal with the reality of not being able to choose whether or not they could get pregnant. After six years of being told it would never happen and having all kinds of unprotected sexing with no babies, I had pretty much come to terms with it.
Except in June, I found out that I managed to get myself knocked up.
I had a miscarriage scare in my seventh week, but things seem to be moving along well now (17 weeks). The thing that sucks is that being pregnant seems to lower my blood pressure even more, which presents a challenge.
I no longer leave the house by myself. I haven’t been able to drive since February. I have to walk with a cane, so I don’t appear to be drunk from all the stumbling around I do when I walk. I have to rely on anyone who might be willing to help me get to my doctor’s appointments and hope against hope that the offer of help isn’t just an empty promise. I lost my job cuzz I can’t work without someone in the same building, just in case I happen to fall or pass out. I don’t see any of my friends for months at a time.
And though I’ll probably never say it out loud, I’m fucking depressed as hell over this entire fucking situation. (Except for the Squishy – that’s what I’m calling the baby – THAT has me over the moon.)
I feel as if I have no one I can talk to. Whenever I go to my friends or family, I can see them tune out. I’m sure they want to be there for me or whatever, but they aren’t dealing with this shit on a daily basis. They just don’t understand and I don’t expect them to.
So, I sit in my house day after day, wondering if I’m ever going to feel better. Wondering how the fuck I’m gonna manage to take care of a baby when I can hardly keep myself from walking into the wall. Wondering if I’m ever going to receive a diagnosis cuzz I really want to know what the fuck is going on.
I’m always wondering if there’s someone else out there who might be going through the same thing. Not necessarily the same symptoms, but just the whole not knowing thing. And then I wonder if I sound like a whiny bitch when I carry on about what I’m dealing with. I don’t address this on my blog, for the most part. While I have written about it a couple of times, I try not to focus on it cuzz I don’t want to appear as whiny or like I’m seeking sympathy or something. I hate to be pitied and I’m really trying to avoid seeing anyone feeling sorry for me, ya know?
Thanks for giving me a place to rant and rave. I don’t feel like I’m gonna told be told to suck it up or some such shit, though now that I’ve said that I am TOTALLY expecting to get some comments like that.
Is there anyone else who feels like they’re taking part in The Medical Mystery Tour?
Or am I really alone in this?