It has served its purpose.
Forty years ago I was grateful that my Mum had already had the “your body is changing” chat with me. To be totally honest I hadn’t really understood what the whole thing was about. She hadn’t mentioned sex or babies, instead she had explained that my body had to get rid of extra blood every month. I’d not asked why, I had just accepted what she said and thought no more about it. Until, aged 11, my periods had started. I understand that girls start “earlier” these days but 11 was pretty young in the early 1970s. Since I can’t recall ever discussing this issue with any of my friends I am just presuming that I started first.
From day one they were painful. My Mum said that was what being a woman was about. My doctor prescribed some strong painkillers when they threatened to affect my exams, but everyone seemed to be of the opinion that I just had to put up with the pain and the inconvenience.
Thanks heavens for university, for women’s lib, for the pill. Control at last. For a dozen years I chose when the painters came to call and life was manageable. That was twelve years with a break in the middle for child number one and a break at the end for child number two. I have no idea why I didn’t go back on the pill post baby two. Sure the old man had a vasectomy but that had not been the primary reason for using it, so what was I thinking?
To be honest, between thirty and forty I had it easy. Things calmed down dramatically. The timing was regular and the impact was minimal. I felt normal, well, normal compared to the horror of my teenage years. I believed the people who said that childbirth helped. It seemed to make sense.
Then, in my early forties, the nightmare began. I’m still not sure how women are meant to describe this. Doctors want to know if your periods are “heavy”, they want to know if they are “unusual”. I ask you, how many women share these details? How many women know what “normal” is. Apparently the answer “I think so,” doesn’t really convince a male doctor that there is an issue. We discussed peri-menopause, I was prescribed pills, I was told to keep a diary. I was encouraged to manage this for more than six years, manage taking at least one day a month off work, manage the inability to get through a full lesson without a bathroom visit, manage the “inconvenience”.
Then at last, a visit to the surgery about a different issue, gave me an appointment with the practice nurse. She asked the right questions, drew the right conclusions, recommended a visit to the hospital, she started the ball rolling.
The problem was not instantly solved. Fibroids, pre-cancerous cells, and other minor issues, all combined to ensure that the solution was not straightforward. Surgery is always a last port of call but the alternative treatments whilst reducing the impact have not solved any underlying problems.
So, here I sit. In the waiting room. With my waiting womb. Waiting for the operation that should be life changing. I worry that I may be pinning too many hopes on this. My family worry that I am underplaying the potential impact. Apparently I am moody enough so the idea of forced menopause is not making them happy.
But, it has served its purpose and I am happy that the waiting will soon be over.
Monologue Homework for Creative Writing