Past its prime?
Originally uploaded by norvegal
I went to the doctor yesterday to see if there have been any advents in migraine therapy since the last time we talked. (Nope, there haven't been any.) While I was waiting, I overheard an elderly woman talking with the receptionist. "She gave me a pneumonia shot and a tetanus shot," she said. "And she said this was the last tetanus shot I'd ever need!"
Mind you she was speaking in the happy voice of someone bragging, look how lucky I am, neener neener, I'll never need a tetanus shot again. But I heard, "The doctor said I only have 5 to 10 years left to live." Although she clearly had no problems with what she'd been told, it made me feel strange and sad and thoughtful.
So I went and talked with my doctor, a lovely smart woman who has freckles and curly hair and a fantastic way of really hearing what you say—or at least putting up a convincing front. We talked about migraines and she explained how women tend to get them when they reach puberty, and that they can get particularly bad on the other end of the journey as our ovaries reach their expiration date.
I turn 40 this month, so that expiration date is still a little while off. But I'm sensitive to it. Once women hit 40 in this country, it seems as if the prevailing culture really wishes they'd sorta...just quietly disappear. Please don't be so visible, thank you very much. It's not good for PR.
Anyway, my doc did give me something for the nausea. Among its various side effects are dizziness, fever, drooling, mask-like face, protruding tongue, rigid arms, rotation of eyeballs, shuffling gait, tremors, increased psychotic symptoms, heels bent back on legs, heart attack, and—particularly welcome in a drug to prevent nausea—nausea. My friend Jane noted that the heel thing could make for a very effective ice-breaker at parties. Always look on the bright side.
On my way out, they had me schedule blood work, an MRI, and my very first mammogram. It felt strangely like I was scheduling my car's 60,000-mile service and saying, "What the hell, can you toss in a new timing belt and some tires while you're in there?" Only it's a body, not a car. I asked if I'd get any discount for preordering a walker and my first case of Depends now, but they said no.
Sometimes I find life almost too surreal to fathom on a cerebral level. So much is happening simultaneously, from bliss to utter despair, from youth to, well, you know, anti-youth. It seems to me that if you spent too much time thinking about it, you'd go batty. And, considering the alternatives, I think I'll just go with it.
If I take good care of myself and if I'm very lucky and if the shuffling gait, tremors, and increased psychotic symptoms don't get me first, I, too, may become that happy 90-something-year-old bragging that she never needs another tetanus shot again.