File under: Things they never told me; Things we don't discuss around women of childbearing years.
(Warning: This is not a shiny, happy teaching/education/funny kid stories, share with the guys kind of post. So you can click away now, dad.)
Back in November, I stopped taking my birth control pills. I don't need them anymore for, you know, birth control (see also: husband, snipped), so I guess I was mainly hanging on to them for habit's sake. I always felt like I needed to have that control over my hormones, to force my body to do what I wanted every 28 days. Without that, what my body really wanted to do was have no set cycle schedule and create cysts on my ovaries which grow and explode and HURT, just for fun. In short, the pill kept my body from trying to kill me, and it allowed me to know with certainty that it would be okay to wear white pants.
I found this useful for many years.
But this fall, I decided enough is enough. So I quit taking it.
Meanwhile, and mostly unrelated, the tremors in my hands have been getting worse. My handwriting is horrible, especially if I have to go slowly, or trace something. Not only can I not hold a camera or decorate cookies, I can't tweeze my own eyebrows. I can barely put on makeup, and to do that I have to be leaning over the sink looking into a stationary mirror, I can't hold a compact mirror with one hand and apply mascara with the other. On most days, this is simply annoying. It is also part of the excuse I use for putting on my makeup while driving in the car, at red lights. Mostly.
But back to December. One morning I went into the urgent care clinic at my doctor's office thinking I had a UTI. This is not abnormal, I get bladder infections 2-4 times per year. Who knows why. But this time, I saw a different doctor in the rotation, one I had never seen. One who apparently read my chart, unlike anyone else in that office recently. And so she knocked and came into the little room and sat down and said, "You don't have a bladder infection."
"Oh, yes I do," I countered, because I am That Patient, The One Who Always Knows Better.
"No, actually you don't," she said. "And you haven't really had one since 2009."
"No," I'm still in charge of this conversation, lady. "I get them a couple of times a year. I know what it feels like. I just need an antibiotic."
She cleared her throat.
"Let me be clear. You do not have a UTI. You haven't had one in two years. I've looked through your chart. The last 5 times you've come in here and peed in a cup, it hasn't actually grown any bacteria. So there's no infection." (note: they do a quick pH dip in the office, and then they send it off for a five day culture. Apparently nobody was following up.)
Shut. The. Front. Door.
And so she sent me to see a urologist, for the weird, painful bloating and the having to run to the bathroom suddenly, ALL THE DAMN TIME.
Finally, this week I had a CT scan and a visit with the urologist. (Who, for the record, is younger than me. DO NOT WANT.) He diagnosed me with Overactive Bladder and sent me home with a new prescription.
So. Let's tally it all up, shall we? I gave up the birth control prescription of my youth, and traded it for something to keep me from peeing my pants when I sneeze and running for the bathroom every five minutes. I may, in the near future, also have to start taking a prescription to help me deal with the shaking, for it is driving me crazy. Youthful Bountiful Girl: 0; Shriveled up and Damaged Old Woman: 2. I went straight from preventing a baby to trying to avoid being like one.
A woman's body does strange things, things men don't have to deal with. It's not just the Bringing Forth New Life miracle, either, although I suppose it's connected. Your body never fully recovers from forcing a watermelon through the eye of a needle, and I don't think it matters if you have one or twenty. Things just don't quite fall back into place correctly. Nobody tells you this, when you're young. Nobody tells you, look, that getting up in the night to pee thing? That's not just to prepare you for what it's like having a snuggly little screamer around at 2am. It never goes back. I guess if they did, nobody would want to have children anymore and then we'd die off as a society.
My point is, and I know you've been waiting patiently: 40 Sucks. I hadn't really worried a whole lot about it, it's just another birthday. But now I think turning 40 is like having a car with a 60,000 mile warranty. Once you hit 60,001 things starting falling apart.
And apparently, I just clicked over.