…everything as I imagined it, changed. The way I thought my life would go, that traditional path- these no longer became realistic options. One year ago today, I read, dumbstruck, this email from my doctor:
[The results], if they are to be believed, indicate that premature ovarian failure is the problem, not PCOS dysfunction/follicular maturation arrest as you, I and your previous caregivers had presumed.”
It was literally my worst nightmare come true. I felt robbed. I knew something was wrong with my body, but I hadn’t prepared myself for the worst case scenario. I still remember when I read that email at work, I literally felt like all the air had been sucked out from my lungs, from the room, the volume turning down and heard a high pitched ringing in my ears. I was, quite simply, shell-shocked.
And, I can say confidently, after a year of soul-searching, introspection, therapy, crying, blogging, laughing, talking and talking and talking and talking and talking with my husband, my family, my friends – I’m okay with that change. I’m not thrilled, I’m not throwin’ a party for myself- but I’m okay with it all. It is what it is, and we adjust accordingly.
Almost exactly this time last year, I was sobbing in my apartment, on the phone with my husband, who had received news that same day, nearly a few hours before, that he might be losing his job in the next week, crying and terrified and trying to make sense of it all. This year, the apartment is spring-cleaned, the windows are open, and Larry was on his way out the door to meet with a client. I’ve only got a few hours’ sleep to my name, but I’m feeling refreshed, invigorated, and soaking up the gentle spring breezes and sunshine. I made it a point to sweep and dust and clean and just general say, “Out with you, you wretched year!”
I picked up my husband from the airport. I had one of my favorite salads for lunch (Whole Foods’ Cranberry Pecan Feta with Balsamic over Mesclun Mix). I bought myself a lovely bouquet of tulips. I’m wearing one of my absolutely favorite shirts (I bought it for a quarter from a thrift store in college; it’s some 7-year old’s little league shirt, complete with their last name and number on the back). I’m wearing a bracelet I’ve had since 7th grade but haven’t worn because it broke years and years ago- so I fixed it last week with my new jewelry making habit and brought new life to it. I’m wearing the kickass handmade watch I bought in Kyoto. I’ve got a massage lined up at 3:30pm, and I’m buying us a new teapot, since ours literally fell apart this morning while cleaning. I’m also buying a little Wet Jet cleaner because a) I’ve always wanted one and b) I really need to mop, and our mop sucks.
Last year I was dreading Passover because I was having a crisis of faith. This year, I need to get my ass in gear and get a menu together b/c we’re hosting our first seder at our place. Last year, I stumbled blindly through this day. This year, I’m blinded only by the sunshine every time I keep looking up at this expanse of pale blue. I don’t know if it’s the estrogen or the weather, but I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in a year.
I’ve come to a place of peace, a point of recognition, and the moment to start taking action. I’ve mourned and I’ve grieved and I’m sure I still have plenty of tears left. But I’m done spiraling down. I do what I’ve always done: I get back up, brush off my bum, hope too many people didn’t see me fall flat on my ass and if they did fuck ’em, and I keep going. Did I scrape myself when I fell down? Of course, and that immediate stinging pain of skin on pavement hurt like hell. Now I’ve got an interesting little scar with its own story. I’ve learned that I need to be careful where I walk and pay attention to the road. I’ve learned that bandaids and ointments will treat the wound, but that I will always remember the moment I fell and carry with me the pain. I’ve learned to ask those around me to help me back up.
Premature ovarian failure. What a helluva name, right? Even premature ovarian insufficiency isn’t necessarily a kinder form of nomenclature. Nobody wants to be thought of as a failure or insufficient. I’m not a failure, I’m just infertile. And I think today, I’m going to stop whipping out my diagnosis like it’s my fucking title on my business card. I’ve always had to clarify: “I have premature ovarian failure…” Fuck it. It’s just a busted organ (I have two actually- it’s just a matter of time before the thyroid stops working entirely).
It’s not cancer, I’m still able-bodied: it’s about putting it in perspective. Should I still live a long and full life? Absolutely. Will we still be able to build a family? Of course, just not in the way we planned… and that’s okay. Like a good scar, I’ll have an interesting story to tell.
An interesting story to tell our children, and their children, and their childrens’ children.