Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Premenstrual relief & pain update

I avoided chocolate and sugar before my period this past cycle and I had virtually no premenstrual pain flare. It was awesome.

I think I've gotten a slight premenstrual flare ever since my vulvodynia started, but over the past several months it was stupid-bad. And over the past several months I had no control in the face of chocolate and sugar. I know they have to do with one another.

And since I quit my desk job, I didn't spend a lot of time sitting in a chair this time around either. At home I try to lie down when I can. I don't have a couch anymore because my new apartment is too small for one (I mean, if I valued a couch above my other possessions, I would have a couch, but I would have a couch and nothing else), which means I end up lying in bed a lot. It sucks. But now that it's summer I'll be able to lie on my balcony, which will not suck.

So overall, my pain is low. And as long as I take my sex with a dose of Neurontin, my post-sex flares are down too.

My menstrual cycle took five weeks this time, six weeks last. I thought the delay might be related to my mood stabilizer, Lamictal, which seems to give me more physical premenstrual symptoms, but maybe it was just stress. I have never been one to skip periods due to stress. I've often run like a clock. But certainly it's possible. Lamictal is great for me so I don't want to stop taking it if I don't have to.

When I work at the restaurant, I often have scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of turkey bacon for breakfast. But I've deduced through trial that the turkey bacon makes me flare. Just a little "hey, watch out!" from down below. And I've decided I don't want to eat pigs or cows anymore, so the rest of the breakfast meat is out. The whole point in eating at work is to eat from the dairy and meat realms, which I don't usually buy to eat at home. I feel betrayed.

I was close to developing a complex about being skinny over this recent skinny phase of mine. Everyone kept telling me how skinny I was. Drink milkshakes. I even downloaded an app to my phone to count calories for me.

And then I said, screw you people. You tell me how skinny I am but I never tell you how fat you are. I've been roughly the same weight since high school. I was stressed and I lost five pounds. Should I poke your stomach every time you gain five pounds?

In my efforts to try to eat the weight back on, I realized that I just don't have the eating gusto necessary to do it. There's a reason I'm still my high-school weight, and it's not metabolism. It's the way I eat, and it's probably genetic. My brother is the same way. We eat, but not more than we're hungry for.

I am also a world-class slow eater, which helps. I'm talking two hours for a bowl of chili.

And when I can't control myself around chocolate and sugar, I don't ALSO have dinner. I think this one trick could be its own multi-million-dollar diet craze.

I am really mad about this whole "you're skinny" business. People think they're doing me a favor, but they're actually just making me paranoid. I'm going to make a T-shirt that says, "You're Fat."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The failures of doctors and mechanics

Everything that happens to my toilet or my car is a metaphor for something in my life.

Over the past two or three years, in addition to my car's biannual budget blowout, I've twice taken it to the shop only to be told that there was nothing wrong with it.

The first time, I took the car in and said the clutch is bad. They gave it back and said the clutch is fine. A month later, the clutch started to stink. I took it back and they said, oops, here's a 10% discount.

I took my car in this April. Two check-engine codes, my entire tax return. They fixed it. I took it back last month because since they'd fixed it, it'd been running funny. They gave it back and said it was running fine.

Tonight it shuddered and sputtered and flashed its check-engine light at me. I said, "I know, honey. I know."

Getting your car back from a mechanic who says there's nothing wrong with it is like having a doctor (or 35) tell you there's nothing wrong with your vulva. When they called to say there was nothing wrong with my car, I almost told them to keep it. Instead I forced myself to interrogate the guy about what they'd done to check it out.

I planned to question them further when I picked up the car, but I crapped out. I was a demure young female thankful that they hadn't charged me, devoid of analytical skill.

Similar to how I am whenever I face a doctor. Except doctors always charge.

Owner of a '98 Chevy and a lemon vulva, I am of rare qualification to make the statement that every mechanic in the world has better customer-service skills than every doctor in the world. But we have to be on our toes with both; otherwise, we are at their mercy. Here are two things we can do:

1. Stop being pansies. Ask all of our questions multiple times. Take notes with intimidating, conspiratorial fury. Pester them until they are clearly annoyed. When the doctor moves to leave the room, shout, "Who's paying who here?!!"

2. Know our stuff. If my car's current problem were a bad clutch, I'd know it. If it were a vibrating vestigial air conditioner, I'd know it. But this is the first time my car has broken in this particular way, so I don't know what's wrong.

I once asked my dad how he knows so much about cars, and he said it's because he's had to repair his own cars so many times. So every time my car breaks, the automotive area of my brain grows.

I will never be a mechanic, but I can still study up on my car, broken or not. And I'll never be a doctor, but I can still study up on my vulva.

There's plenty of vulva stuff out there to read even though as far as most doctors are concerned, vulvodynia might as well be a dinosaur. But the most important way we study our vulvas is by observing them every day. It's like my car: I'm the driver, so I know when my car isn't running right, no matter what the mechanics say. And I'm the body, so I know when my vulva doesn't feel right, no matter if my condition is listed alongside vaginismus or Triceratops.

I love my car. I wish I loved my vulva the same way. Is it possible that I feel more protective of my car than my vulva? In this metaphor of mine, does my car represent my vulva? My relationship with myself? My metaphor makes me nervous. I am way overdue for a car wash. And detailing. And a paint job. And hub caps. And door trim. And ceiling glue.