If I only had a penis

From my other blog http://www.mirandagargasz.wordpress.com

 

It’s true.  Anyone who knows me would say that I hate being female.  Granted, I am a tomboy and always have been.  It’s not the clothes I hate or the makeup.  While doing my hair is a pain, again, I don’t mind it so much.

What I hate about being female is my uterus and how many gynecologists blow off the symptoms I give them as being nothing.  In all fairness, many doctors do this, but lately it’s the gynoes that have me up in arms.

I’ve had female problems my entire life, mostly just that I bleed like a stuck pig and my period hangs around for too long, sometimes 12 days at a time.  For years I’ve had docs tell me that if I lost weight I’d be fine.  Which I listen to even when I don’t believe it.  You see, I used to be thin and still had these issues, but no one wants to listen to that.  When they see an obese woman walk in the door, she may as well sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher for all the good opening her mouth does.  Such is my experience.

Around Easter, however I did work gradually up to this, I started having pain on the right side of my pelvis.  I couldn’t sit without rocking.  I couldn’t stand.  I couldn’t lay down.  Nothing relieved the pain.  When I lay in bed at night, on my stomach, it felt like I had a rock in my belly.  Driving hurt.  Driving over bumps really hurt.  Sneezing hurt. Peeing felt like my guts were going to fall out.  Sex hurt and there was bleeding afterward.  I’d almost swear looking at me hurt.

Off to my gyno I went.

In the beginning, he was an awesome doc.  He, after 28 years of complaining to multiple doctors, finally diagnosed me with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which, while incorrectly named, is an endocrine disorder.  Basically, none of the hormones in my body do the job they are supposed to do.  He gave me metformin and my life has been so much better.

I expected much more understanding than I got this past spring.  He gave me a prescription for Motrin and said take this for three months and see what it does.  I was unimpressed because I was taking Motrin at home before this and it did nothing.  When I brought this up he said, “But this is prescription strength.”  Having no faith that it would work, but realizing that I don’t know my butt from a hole in the ground when it comes to doctoring, I took my medicine like a good little girl.

And it didn’t work.

When I talked to him about the bleeding after sex he said, “Well, I think you and your husband should slow down and take your time.  You are 40, these things take time now.”  Again, I’m no doctor.  I did what I was told and was sent home with orders for an ultrasound if I thought I needed it.

And it didn’t work.

My hubby and I had sex two days after my period stopped and he looked like I sacrificed an animal on him.  Not exactly the romantic after-glow we were going for.  It became clear that the ultrasound was definitely needed.

Last week, I went in to get my results.

“Well, Mrs. Gargasz, you have many problems.”

No, shit.

“From what we can see, you have nabothian cysts on your cervix, one of which is very large.”

At this point my geeky brain was thinking he was talking about some bizarre planet on Star Wars or something.

“But the other problem is a fibroid tumor on your right side.  We also can’t rule out endometriosis.”

After a moment of quiet reflection I said, “So what do we do from here?”

“Well, you need to lose weight and come back and see me in a month.”

????????????

Yes, friends, this is where quiet, mild-mannered Miranda turned into hysterical, blubbering mess.

Lose weight?  THAT’S what we do? I thought.  Is he expecting the miracle of all weight loss stories between now and Labor Day?

“Doc, I’ve been on Weight Watchers for over a year.  I exercise at the Y eight to ten hours a week.  The Motrin is killing my stomach and my appetite. The scale is going nowhere fast.”

“Well, we need to do some watchful waiting, have you continue the Motrin and see how things are from there.  Losing weight will help because overweight women produce too much estrogen which feeds the fibroids.”

“Um, you see me.  You KNOW I’ve been struggling to lose weight. I just told you I’m not losing despite my best efforts.  My rings are beginning to spin around my fingers but my pants are getting tighter.  That has nothing to do with the inflammation and growth of the fibroid?”

“Again we have to just watch and wait.”

Then I got even more hysterical.  And pissed.

“Wait a minute.  The Motrin I’m taking is ridiculous.  I may as well take chocolate because at least I like the taste of that!  Watchful waiting?  What have we been doing since April?  It’s August, almost September.  Watchful? Waiting?  Are you kidding me?  I have two young boys to raise.  I cannot be in bed two weeks out of every month, unable to even walk because of the pain I’m in. I don’t mean to be rude, but that is not an acceptable answer.  You know why?  I’m pretty sure if a doctor told you that you have a benign tumor on your penis and large cysts on your testicles, you’d be in here tomorrow removing that shit.  I’m positive if you couldn’t have sex anymore because it hurt and caused you to bleed–not just a little because of the dryness you suspected, but ALL OVER your partner, like serial killer amounts– you’d have found a cure fucking yesterday.”

His eyes grew too big for his head, I was ushered out of his office and given an appointment in a month.  I was also told to bring my husband with me.

So, I’m going to watch and wait.  I’m also going to write a diary of every day this month with what I eat, how I feel, the level of my pain and every damn gas pain I have.

If my next appointment includes the words “watchful” and “waiting” I’m going to lose my damn mind.

And search for a new doctor.

The Devil On Your Shoulder: Depression

**Copied here from my other blog.

“Get help or we’re through. You’re not the woman I married,” my husband, Jim, said to me.

Quite a mouthful of medicine, those words. That’s what it took to get me into therapy, though.

I was 28, the mother of a three-year-old and a six-month-old. I was unemployed. My former employer, who didn’t renew my teaching contract, had screwed up my pay and I was without our mortgage payment for two months. Unemployment had not yet kicked in. Several interviews had gone south, leaving me feeling horrible, especially the one where I overheard the principal saying she’d never hire someone so fat.

I began feeling like the Queen of All Failures. I began living in my pajamas for days, each morning struggling just to get out of bed. My kids were given exactly what they needed and little else. There were days that they ate lunch while I fought to keep my head aloft and not firmly planted on the table. On the chance that I had the energy to shower, I’d sit in the tub, arms wrapped around my legs, rocking and crying, as water poured down on me.

The worst part of all that were the thoughts racing through my head.

You are such a loser.

Everything you touch fails.

You don’t deserve your husband or your kids.

They don’t deserve to have to put up with you.

They’d be better off if you were dead.

The life insurance money would be enough for Jim to take care of the kids.

They’d be fine.

Your dad was right. You’ll never amount to anything.

Your mom was right. None of her kids turned out any good.

Think of all the bills that would just disappear if you no longer existed.

I had known for months that I was spiraling out of control, but I dealt with it the way I always did. I threw myself into my work. When the job dried up, my safe place to run was no more. Suddenly, I was made to face my demons instead of swallow them and deal with them later. Years of suppressed depression bubbled to the surface and threatened to devour me.

I began planning. How could I kill myself? Where could I do it, so my kids and husband wouldn’t be the ones to find me? Was everything in order so they could easily bury me and move on? Would there be a babysitter for the kids that would be close to Jim’s work?

So, when Jim finally sat me down and muttered the hardest sentences he’s ever had to say, I got help.

It was the most difficult step toward wellness. I learned things about myself that were hard to swallow. Things like: I will probably always have to take medication to keep from spiraling into that black hole of self-loathing again; I will struggle to stave off the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder that I’ve had since early childhood; I’ve been depressed my entire life; I’m not a bad daughter and I’m not a bad mother; I’ve been suicidal before and the blackouts were my brain’s way of keeping that pain away from me; painful recovered memories that, even now, I don’t want to deal with. These are all mountainous things to accept.

Accept them I did, though, and I can say now that I am way more informed about the darkness that lingers in my brain. When the self-loathing begins, I don’t ignore it. I tell Jim and get myself to the doctor because my medication needs to be monkeyed with. When I feel that overwhelming weight of hypervigilance wrap itself around me, I find a safe place–even if that means abandoning my grocery cart in the middle of the store and running out of the building–and breathe, talking myself out of the impending panic attack. I constantly weigh my behavior as a mother and a wife and, if I find it lacking, I have a support system of people in place that I can run to for help.

Imagine, if you will, what would have become of me had my husband not drawn that line in the sand.

I doubt I’d be here today, with the strength to carry on.

I count myself lucky that I have people who love me enough to draw that line, people who care enough to pay attention and notice that something is off.

Not everyone has that in place.

Some of us hide it better than others, behind masks made of humor and goodwill that suck the energy out of us so badly that there’s little left for us when the sun goes down and the house quiets for the night.

Some of us are drowning under the stigma that breeds so rapidly where mental illness is concerned, frightened that people will know we’re ill and stop trusting us and begin questioning our every move.

When I hear about people who commit suicide because of illnesses like depression, it breaks my heart. I know exactly how they feel. I know about the devil on their shoulders, whispering vile thoughts into their ears. They aren’t weak, cowardly or selfish. They are sick and in search of mercy. They find it in the worst place possible.

If you or someone you love suffers from mental illness, reach out. Don’t let the devil on your shoulder have the last word.

Why The Meetings Matter

Confession time.

I almost quit Weight Watchers.

Today.

Last week, I had vertigo. Because I’m crazy or stupid, or some dangerous combination of both, I got myself ready for my meeting. I had an awesome corn and bean salsa I made to share with the folks at my meeting. As long as I didn’t make any sudden moves with my head I was fine. I had just left the bathroom after getting my hair ready and walked out onto the landing. I spied a Lego at the top of the stairs. Every person who has ever stepped on one of those suckers in bare feet knows that they make the bad words spill out like a river. I bent over to pick it up, yelling down to the boys that they need to be more careful and pick up their toys. Then I stood up. The world took a spin. I took a nose-dive down the stairs.

Then today about an hour before I had to leave to go to the meeting I felt the tendrils of a migraine I’ve been fighting for the last few days begin to stir. I had taken all the medicine I could so there weren’t any more options. I laid down on the couch, in the dark and the bad thoughts came back. The inner monologue started. You know the one.

You’ve been absent for the last three weeks.
You’ve eaten like shit for the last week.
You’ve not exercised in a week.
You’re getting fatter.
You should just quit.
You’re not taking it seriously.
You’re slacking.
You’re wasting the money on membership.
You’ll never lose weight.
Why are you even trying?
Why go when you KNOW you’re going to step on that scale and you’ll have gained back all the weight you lost?

But I got up.

I went.

Why?

Because my friend Diane messaged me this morning reminding me that I promised to be there.
Because I told her I would as long as I didn’t throw myself down the stairs again.
Because Lynn would wonder where I was and probably message me, too.
Because there is a reason peer pressure works, dammit.

Meetings give you a sense of community and belonging. Those folks in those meetings become a sort of family. Sure, you don’t know everyone’s name. You may not even like every person in that room. But they are there. They will bolster you. They will tell you you’re awesome even when you don’t feel like it.

They’ll do what they did for me today. They’ll hug you and congratulate you on the LOSS you had after three absent weeks, no exercise and feeling like crap healthwise.

They’ll help you give the finger to that inner monologue.

She’s a pretty mouthy bitch, anyway. Why are we even listening to her?

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TIPS THAT I SUSPECT HELPED ME LOSE EVEN THOUGH…..

1. I gave up fries. Even those delicious McDonald’s sin sticks.

2. I eat off a segmented baby plate. Laugh now, but it’s hard to go all portion crazy when your plate is smaller than your head.

3. When I order a sandwich from a restaurant, half the meat gets taken off. Either I put it on somebody’s plate or I put it somewhere gross like a used coffee cup so I won’t be tempted to put it back on.

4. I drink only water. Diet pop is a treat for once a week. Even though it has no points it still isn’t good for you.

5. I tell the waitress not to even bother bringing the bread to the table. I don’t want the temptation.

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That’s Mommy Warrior to You

I know this is a weight loss blog, but the topic of this post has been weighing on my mind lately.

Here’s a newsflash: the Mommy Wars are bullshit. There’s no competition. There’s no blue ribbon, golden cup or flower wreath at the end. The best any of us can hope for is that our children will survive childhood and still speak to us.

The truth is we’re all flying by the seat of our pants. Every last one of us. Any mother who claims otherwise is delusional at best, and a bald-faced liar at worst.

We each have full plates. Some of us are staring at a dinner-plate-sized life overflowing with responsibilities and duties, while others are struggling to balance a platter-sized plate overflowing with unimaginable strife. For every mom who researches other options for Little Johnny who was born allergic to her own milk, there’s at least one who’s lucky to get anything down her picky little cherub’s gullet. For every mother who spends all day playing with her kids to the detriment of the laundry and a thousand other chores, there’s at least one who wishes she could. For every mother crying over scraped knees and measles outbreaks, there’s at least one worrying about the cancer that just claimed her two-year-old’s eye, or worse, his life.

All mothering, no matter how mundane or heart-wrenching, is hard. The very essence of motherhood demands that we be made of stern stuff. You can’t be a wimp and be a mother. Moms march in the trenches, bathed in vomit and excrement, and they do it because they love the tiny people in their lives. They do it despite the thankless attitudes and the judgment of others.

There isn’t one mother who isn’t dead dog tired at the end of the day. Many of us have spent the prior hours wiping butts and noses, cooking, cleaning, cooking some more, cleaning some more, racing to and fro and back again, answering countless questions, and arguing over the fairness of chores only to have the cycle begin again for one fast go-round before bed. Some of us even do it with a fever or while we battle chemotherapy. That’s an average day. If we’re lucky. God forbid a holiday of even the most minor status should rear its ugly head, because that work list doesn’t include sleep or breaks, and, usually, guarantees at least one judgmental relative pointing out everything we missed or got wrong.

You see, moms fight battles every day. Some of them are small like forcing Tony to eat just one more bite of salad. Some of them are bigger than we can imagine, like picking the dress your precious girl will be buried in, or filling out that journal so they’ll know you loved them, because you won’t be around to tell them yourself.

The truth is we are Mommy Warriors, not engaged in Mommy Wars. Our battles are fought within ourselves each day. And at the end we lay our heads on our pillows and pray for strength. There is no room for judgment. There is only hope and the desire to do better tomorrow, if we have the luxury of a tomorrow.

So the next time you see me carrying my screaming kid like a football as we exit church in the middle of mass, don’t judge. You have no idea that we’ve been up since four with a kid having an asthma attack and a migraine that caused him to vomit. You don’t know that my mammogram came back funny and I’m worried I have breast cancer. You don’t know that my husband is home with our teen because he can’t be left alone, even to go to the bathroom, because he’s suicidal.

You don’t know what battles this Mommy Warrior is fighting.

And I don’t know yours.

What I do know is very simple: Each and every mommy is doing the very best she can. People who say otherwise aren’t inciting a Mommy War. They’re just assholes. And every mommy knows just how much attention we pay to what comes out of those.

The honesty of children

It’s been a few rough weeks.  Storm damage and power outages.  Mother Nature is not showing me the love and I’ve been very blue. I’ve been struggling with diet and exercise and unable to lose pounds because I’m battling health issues (PCOS and its evil companion metabolic syndrome) that work against me.  It’s highly frustrating to work out eight to ten hours a week and see the scale stagnate or creep up slowly.  My weight has been the cause for many tears lately and my confidence in any of my abilities has bottomed out, my self-worth directly connected to the number on the scale.

I’ve learned to find joy in the smaller things, non-scale related, this past week.

This week my Tony started swimming lessons.  He went from knowing nothing but how to sink really well, to turning into Mr. Limpet.  My little fish took to swimming like, well, a fish!  Two days as a polliwog and he got kicked out for knowing too much.  He was back stroking all over the pool!

I sat in the little windowed vestibule watching my bambino swim along with all the other moms.  All the other skinny moms, I should add.  A little boy who couldn’t have been more than three came over and asked, quite unashamed, “Why is your belly so big?”  My face turned red and his dad swooped him away from me as if I had leprosy.  Later, the dad came back.

“I’m sorry about what my son said.  He hasn’t developed a filter.”

I smiled.  “Don’t worry about it.  If I had a nickel for every time my kids embarrassed me I’d be rich.”

He quickly moved away again.

It made me think of a birthday party for my youngest niece, Kaitlyn, that I attended recently.

Alexandria was playing in her sand box with friends, too much fun going on to give her aunt even a second of her time.  I said to her, “You know, I’ve been here a couple of hours and I’ve yet to get a hug from you.  What’s up with that?”

She smiled her best smile and raced over to me with her arms outstretched.  She slammed into me, wrapping her arms around my sadly huge belly.  “I love hugging your big old tummy, Aunt Miranda.”

“Well, I’m working hard to lose this belly.  With any luck there won’t be much belly there to hug someday,” I said, feeling more than a little sad at the honesty of small children.

She looked at me and said, “Oh, my gosh, I hope not!  I like that you’re so soft!”

I nearly cried, and hugged her harder.

On days like today when the living room is done painting and I’m looking at Tony and Jimmy and trying to determine who is wearing more paint than the wall, when Rosie is dumping her dog food all over the kitchen because she’s angry with me, and I’m feeling fatter than ever because I’m surrounded by long, thin super moms and dads, I’ll remember that Alexandria likes her auntFunny-Weight-loss-Cartoon-W630 huggably soft.

And the scale doesn’t have the first clue about that.

The fog is clearing….

Let’s face it.  I’ve been in a funk rolled in desperation and frustration, then deep fried in depression.

So much has been going on in my life the last few weeks (and if I’m honest, things have been off for the better part of a year–maybe more).  There’s been a personal crisis for nearly every member of my family and I think I’ve reached mine.  Fingers crossed.

You see, I wrote about my thoughts to have gastric bypass surgery to help me in my stagnated weight loss plans.  I also wrote about the show I watched called “My 600 Pound Life.”

I think it affected me way more than I first let on, because here’s the thing:  It helped me reach my “Enough is Enough” line.  You know what line I’m talking about.  The one where you decide that the bullshit stops here and now.

For the past two/three weeks I’ve been a woman on a mission.  And that mission is ROCKIN’ right now.  My doctor changed my meds for PCOS and coupled with my altered eating plan (low carbs–bye, bye bread for most days–hello lots and lots of fruit and veggies) I’ve dropped 13 pounds.

But wait, there’s more.

Three of those pounds I lost DURING my period!  That’s something that has NEVER happened!

And there’s more….

For Mother’s Day my husband splurged and got a family membership to the Y.  Today, our first day as members, I went swimming for 2 glorious hours.

And the hits keep on coming.

I cheated.  I ate a zinger.  And IT. WAS. AWFUL.  Why was I shoveling this shit into my mouth so often thinking it tasted like heaven rolled in coconut?!  Instead of filling up on that garbage, I ate the black bean and corn salsa I made.  So good.  So filling.  So much more satisfying.

The reality of that wretched snack hit me like a brick wall.  I’d heard people say that kind of stuff about foods they loved at my WW meetings and always thought they were full of it.  They were RIGHT!

I’ve still got health concerns going on and I’m not out of the woods by any stretch where they are concerned, however, I have a plan of attack that I am totally embracing this week.

The scale cannot have control over me.  The scale doesn’t tell me anything worthy of remembering.  It tells me what kind of effect gravity has on my body.   It doesn’t tell anyone that I ate right.  It doesn’t tell anyone that I shopped right.  It doesn’t tell anyone that I worked out.  It doesn’t tell anyone that I gave up Diet Dr. Pepper (okay, I have one once a week–TRUTH).  It doesn’t tell anyone that I eat red meat only 2-3 times a week.  It doesn’t tell anyone that I eat bread maybe twice a week as opposed to every meal like I used to.  It doesn’t tell anyone that I can no longer stand sweets (exception being carrot cake made from scratch–WHICH I made and still didn’t have, so SCREW YOU, SCALE!).  It can’t tell me or anyone else that I purchased a bathing suit for my newly minted Y membership and I ordered that sucker two sizes TOO BIG!!!!!!  BOOYAH!!!!!!

I feel pretty confident that Thursday will show up and I will make that scale my bitch.

Hanging this on my fridge helps me realize who I really answer to when I make poor choices.

Miranda’s Bitch

No joke.

 

Desperation

It’s been an odd time for me lately.  I’ve had some health issues going on related to the PCOS that I have.  Most of it dealing with pain that is constant and not finding much in the way of relief.

I kept telling myself that the pain is more than likely because of my weight.  I was following my Weight Watchers points and tracking my steps each day by pedometer and riding my bike.  The weight, however, kept going up and up.  I was feeling very frustrated.

Then on Easter I spoke with someone who had had gastric bypass surgery in December.  His diabetes was almost non-existent, he felt better and looked better.  I began to entertain the idea that the surgery would be something that would help me.  My desperation began to consume me.

Once upon a time, I wasn’t fat.  I didn’t know that I had this metabolic issue until I was 38 and well past skinny.  I spent years thinking I was fat when I wasn’t, mostly because of comments by people who should have been building me up instead of tearing me down.  Be told enough times that you’re fat and you’ll believe it, regardless of what the mirror shows.

So, I went to my doctor with two goals in mind:  1.  Ask why I can’t have a hysterectomy since I’m done having children and at least the pain of ovulation and menstruation (which keep me in bed almost 2 weeks out of every month when it’s really bad) would be over and  2.  With the way PCOS works, would gastric bypass even help me?

The nature of PCOS is such that none of the hormones in my body do what they are supposed to, namely the pancreas.  I am not diabetic but I take medication that diabetics take to control the insulin resistance and metabolic disorder that come with PCOS.  I could starve myself and still gain weight because of this issue.  I wasn’t sure if gastric bypass, which really only controls the amount of food you can consume would help.  In my brain, I’d lose weight like the surgery is designed to do, but would I just gain it back?  I didn’t know.

My doctor assured me the pain I’m in does have a cause and it’s not my weight.  I have an enlarged uterus and they need to find out why and fix it.  He also told me that a hysterectomy is far down the road.  I’ve got two other procedures to go through first, but they have to find out what else is wrong first.  When we talked about gastric bypass surgery and how I’ve been on WW for a year now and had no real progress, he told me to research it and come back in two weeks to talk about it.  I also had blood work ordered and my very first mammogram scheduled.  He gave me a prescription for a new med for my PCOS and sent me on my way.

My doctor has no idea just how nerdy I am.  I raced home and immediately overdosed on all things gastric bypass that I could find on the internet.  While everything I read was a little on the gross side, it didn’t seem that terrible.  I sat down that evening pretty secure with my plans, especially after talking to my husband who said, “If you need help and can’t do this on your own, then I want you to have all the help you can get.”

That’s when I turned on Netflix.

That’s when I saw “My 600 Pound Life.”

That’s when I changed my mind.

The episode I saw was this woman who was, as the show says, 600 pounds.  While I’m nowhere near 600 pounds, the worry was in the back of my mind, and that is what prompted this feeling of desperation, making me feel a kinship with the lady on T.V.  She was ridiculed for her weight openly in the grocery store.  I was at the drug store when a little old lady stopped to tell me that I was fat and unhealthy.  (It always amazes me how many people see someone who is overweight and point it out to them like it’s news. As if we’d say, “What?!  I’m fat?!  Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”)  She was embarrassed to be seen in public.  I HATE going to functions with my husband because, even though he would never feel this way, I am embarrassed that someone will say something about his obese wife.  She was desperate.  I am desperate.

Then she had the surgery.  And subsequent surgeries.  They carved her up like a turkey.  She spent three months in the hospital after one of them.  She kept saying that the surgery was worth it all–giant scars all over her body, pain, and the chance to have a baby.

Good for her, I say.

But I also say, it’s not for me.

I don’t want to be carved on.  I have enough body issues to have a surgery that will make me look like Frankenstein’s monster.  I don’t want my husband to have to care for me the way her husband had to care for her.  I can’t be in the hospital for three straight months.  I’ve got children to care for and my husband can’t do that all on his own.

I wept watching that show, knowing that I needed to exhaust all other possibilities, knowing that I’d only have the surgery if my doctor gave me the choice between it and dying.  I’m not there yet.

The scary news is I’ve still got some health issues hanging over my head that need to be identified and dealt with, with at least one minor surgery on the horizon.

The good news is, my doctor changed my medication.  This week will actually be a loss for me, fingers crossed.

For now, I’ve altered my eating habits by limiting my carb intake.  It seems to be working quite well.

I’m still frustrated and feeling desperate.

I’m still working through self-esteem issues.

I’m still not giving up.

That’s the important part.