Just a quick post to announce that The Trevor Project won the poll, and 1/3 of the proceeds from Mad 4 Equality will be donated there. Thanks for voting--I expect to post entry info in a day or two, and am super stoked about the tournament. Stay tuned!
On a slightly different BW note, I wanted to apologize for being such a lax little blogger lately. A couple different things have been going on, one of which involved me stepping off of a sidewalk onto uneven pavement and twisting my foot, causing a ligament to pull a chunk of bone off. So I'm hobbling around on crutches and demanding things from my DGF, who is being a ridiculously wonderful sport about it.
I'll try to pick up the pace, though, for your reading pleasure. I miss you guys! Love, BW
My last post got a ton of traffic; it seems like I'm not the only one out there with gynecologist stories (nor, for that matter, chin hairs).
I really did intend it as a public service announcement, *not* a scare story. I hope you'll consider it even if you have a deep aversion to such things. Here are some tips to make your gyno-health-ventures more tolerable:
Before making the appointment:
While making the appointment:
A week before the appointment:
The day of the appointment:
At the appointment:
Any other tips I'm missing? Please add them in the comments!
This is a hard entry for me to write, since it's perrrrsonal, but it's important.
A lot of women hate going to the gynecologist. But when I say that I hate it, I mean, I HATE it. As in, I would rather get a cavity filled, clean my toilet, or run a mile with my old PE teacher screaming at me.
A few years ago, I finally found an OBGYN whom I love. (I'll call her "Superdoc.") Superdoc is a lesbian, was wholly unassuming when I was asking about lesbian sexual health while trying hard not to seem (or be) gay, and best of all: she has very small hands. But Superdoc is on a long medical leave, so I had to see someone else. Alas.
As soon as the new doc came into the room, I knew I'd made a mistake. (Also, she looked like an old-timey schoolmarm, so I'm going to call her "DSM" for "Dr. School Marm.") She didn't shake my hand (bad sign), and sat at her computer while I sat naked beneath my dopey little robe. Then she started asking me questions. The conversation proceeded thusly:
DSM: When you came here last, you and Superdoc talked about PCOS?
BW: Yeah. But I think I don't have it, because I got an ultrasound and they said my ovaries weren't polycystic.
DSM: That's not the only way we diagnose it. Do you remember what Superdoc said would happen if you didn't have a regular period?
BW [more subdued]: I had a CAT scan for an unrelated reason and I asked about my ovaries and they said they were OK.
DSM: [laughs consescendingly]: well, if they didn't look specifically at that, then they can't tell you. You have to do calculations.
BW: [very softly, looking away] Oh. I... I don't know, then.
DSM: Look, I'm not trying to convince you that you have PCOS. I'm trying to make a diagnosis here!
BW: [even more softly] Oh, yeah, I--I don't... um... Yeah, I mean, I'm not saying I don't have it, I just thought... Well, one thing is my hormone levels are normal. They took blood and--uh--they're in the normal range. I--uh...
DSM: That's not dispositive.
BW: Oh. [Feels small.]
DSM: It says here you had an IUD.
BW: Yeah. I did. Maybe five years ago? Six? Or four?
DSM: What was your period like then?
BW: I don't--I'm not sure. It was, um, I... I don't know. [Melts into a puddle of shame, embarrassment, and discomfort.]
DSM [incredulous; annoyed]: You don't know?
At this point, I am looking away, basically mumbling softly and incoherently, and--I kid you not--very close to tears, which DSM does not notice. I decide I'm not going through with the exam. Then I think about how folks in their 30s can get various kinds of nether-region cancer. And then I feel worse. And then DSM tells me that irregular periods put me at risk for endometrial cancer. And I think about dying.
More awkward conversation ensues. Some highlights:
When she gets up to do the exam, Kelli Dunham's refrain keeps going through my head: Get your bits checked out. I will mentally dissociate, I think. I'll pick a spot on the ceiling. I will notice absolutely everything about that spot. Bit-checking will be over before I know it.
But while conducting the breast exam (which, yes, I also loathe), DSM asks if I wax or pluck. I tell her that yes, about every other month, I get my upper lip waxed (I don't have a lot of lip hair; I just don't want any). Then, she asks if, although she can't see any facial hair, do I ever have to pluck a hair from my chin. I say sure, sometimes. She says it isn't normal for women to have hair anywhere besides their heads, and that this is probably because of PCOS (which, it is now clear, she has affirmatively decided I have).
Because my brain clicked off, I neglect to point out that countless businesses are sustained by the presence of hair on women's faces. That "lip-wax" and "chin wax" are actual menu items at many beauticians'. That this fact is excellent evidence that I am not a freak of nature for having unwanted hair.
So instead, I say nothing. I am silent. I imagine a carnival barker yelling, "Get your bits checked! Get your bits checked right here, folks!" I find a spot on the ceiling. I stare at it. She conducts the exam. It is uncomfortable, but lasts five minutes, tops. My bits check out fine. She leaves and I put my clothes on and get out as fast as I can.
Basically, it was an awful morning that reduced me nearly to tears, and I had to be consoled by my DGF (lucky for me, I was seeing her right afterward). But I did it. And now I don't have to think about it, and I've taken care of myself, which is an excellent feeling.
If I can live through that whole freakin' ordeal, you can, too (and chances are, your experience will be better than mine!). Get your bits checked out. I promise you'll live through it, and it can save your life.
The convergence of two things I was reading today led me to this post:
According to McGonigal, most people struggle with willpower. I know I do. She invites readers to pick a particular "willpower challenge" of one of the following types:
Then she suggests various ways to help meet these challenges. In Chapter One, for example, she advises being uber-vigilant about when you are making a choice--even to the point of carrying a notebook and writing it down. Why? Because we often aren't aware that we're making decisions at all. It turns out that if you ask people in the abstract, "How many decisions do you make about food/eating daily?" they guess about 14. But then if they actually count these decisions, it ends up being over 200! The idea is to get acquainted with how the decision-making moment feels, whether it's the urge to check your email or the urge to order those hot Converse from Zappos.
That brings me to my question for you: if you had one month and unlimited willpower, what would you do in that month? What "I will"/"I won't"/"I want" challenges would you take on? These aren't rhetorical questions--I really want to know! You show me yours and I'll show you mine...
_As part of my New Years resolution to drop a few pounds--a resolution which has been slow-going, to say the least--my DGF and I decided to join a gym. I've had gym memberships before, and sometimes I've been good about using them; other times I haven't. (Bizarrely, the likelihood that I will use a gym seems to be inversely correlated with the gym's niceness.)
I'm an afternoon or evening workout person. Working out in the morning makes me feel virtuous, with a nice post-exercise buzz, but the habit doesn't stick. Turns out I'd rather loll about in pajamas (on days I work from home) or drive grudgingly to work, down some coffee, and allow my mind to wake at roughly the pace of a banana slug. I covet the virtuosity of Morning People. I spent a brief time as a Morning Person in college, cheerfully forgoing Jell-o shots so I could go to sleep at eleven, wake up at six, lift weights, and run a mile. I have no idea what got into me, and no idea where it escaped to.
All of this is to explain that although I've worked out at gyms in the past, I've never needed to change clothes there. I either change at the office or wear gym clothes under my work clothes. Then right after I work out, I just drive straight home.
But this new gym we've joined has a pool. And for some reason, I have been obsessed with the idea that I want to swim. I do not have a swimmer's physique, nor am I particularly good at it. But surfing is on my bucket list and I need to be in better swimming shape if I want to surf before I hit 40. Also, I recently read Haruki Murakami's South of the Border, West of the Sun (which I liked very much), and the main character is always swimming to clear his mind. Murakami himself also swims, and I am presently a little obsessed with Haruki Murakami, so my burgeoning interest in swimming makes a fuzzy kind of sense.
Anyway, since I don't want to drive home sopping wet after a swim, I need to use the locker room at this new gym. I hate changing in front of other people. It's totally uncomfortable and I avoid it when I can, sometimes even changing in the shower stall. But whatever. I'm an adult. I can handle being embarrassed about my body or my half-nakedness or my brilliantly white day-glo upper arms. Here's the part I didn't anticipate but should have: some women are weirded out by seeing a butch in the locker room. They don't read me as male, but correctly read me as a dyke, and some of them kind of stare and look uncomfortable.
Honestly, I don't blame them. One of the main rationales for having separate men's and women's locker rooms (along with the safety issue) is that people want to be able to change their clothing without worrying about being looked at as sexual objects. I get this. And since I'm obviously a lesbian, some of them probably feel that it's a little like having a guy in the locker room.
Even those who are quite progressive (and there are many of them at this gym), and don't blink at seeing a lesbian couple hold hands on the street may feel uneasy when there's a dyke in the locker room, because it makes them uncomfortable to think I might be looking at them in a sexual way (which I'm not).
So far, my basic strategy has been to try to make myself as small and unobtrusive as possible. I avert my eyes and position my entire body away from the other women. I guess this has worked okay so far, but it still makes me *and* them uncomfortable. And probably one of these days, I'm going to get told, "This is the women's locker room!" I guess I *could* wear tight pink T-shirts or lavender capris sweatpants things to announce my girlness, but, uh, that's not going to happen.
I know I have just as much right to be there as everyone else and yada yada yada. But for me, the issue is not about being ashamed to be a butch or not wanting to hold my head up high, or anything like that. Just as *I* have a right to feel comfortable in the locker room, so do they.
I'd really prefer to allow everyone to be as comfortable as possible. I don't *want* to ignore their discomfort. After all, I would feel totally uncomfortable if there was a guy in the locker room. Not because he looks different from me, or because I think he's going to do anything he shouldn't, but simply because he is sexually attracted to women and I am a woman.
Have any of you other butches ever felt uncomfortable in a locker room? How do you deal with it? Just keep your head down and your gaze averted? Or is there a magical approach I haven't figured out yet?
(Update: Wendi at A Stranger in This Place had a great post on this last year!)