Sometimes the daily grind of life is all too much for one 47-year-old woman from the quaint coastal village of East Scrotum, Maine (not to be confused with Scrotum’s Point, a sad little town north of South Bunghole).
Ah yes, Maine — The Way Life Should Be.™
Unless your life should be that you’re perpetually broke, your feet ache, your boobs sag, and your shit stinks.*
I met up with Starla Turdbucketsen early one morning to see how she does it. How does she survive in today’s crazy-ass world? How in god’s name does she wake up every effing day — remember who she is — yet continue to get up anyway?
“It ain’t easy,” Starla sighed, blowing a steady stream of smoke into my face.
“So, you smoke cigarettes now?”
“Let’s talk about your life. Who is Starla Turdbucketsen? You’re a daughter of an elderly parent who thinks Elvis reincarnated as a 13-year-old gospel singer from Sweden. You’re a mom of a teen who thinks he’s going to college to triple major in YouTube Celebrity/Video Gamer/Culinary Farts. You’re a mom to a tween daughter. You’re a wife to a man who incessantly watches MASH reruns in his underwear.”
“Starla, in the past year, you’ve gone through menopause, major surgery, and the legal separation of Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. You work two jobs, yet you’re wearing a bra you bought circa 1989. Any thoughts, insights or revelations you’d care to share with us about being a modern woman in today’s society?”
“Well, if I have to pluck one more freaking gray hair out of my chin, I swear I’m gonna lose my shit. So there’s that. ”
“So, why do it? What gets you going day after day? Why not just drive your Toyota Corolla into the nearest brick wall?”
“Are you deaf, you unbelievable nimrod? The commute!”
Oh yeah, the work commute!
(And yes, my doctor says I’m currently suffering from progressive hearing loss, but let’s get back to Starla and her desperate attempt to cling to those last few scraps of sanity.)
Let’s face it — most of our lives would be a never-ending shit parade if not for those blissful 28 minutes of the morning when you are alone in your car, driving to your soul-sucking job.
I think most harried Americans would agree, the commute is that rare time when you are free to let it all go. That’s right…just take a deep breath…roll down the windows to air out the stench of “medicinal” marijuana…crank some hip-hop…and forget our president is a cross between Forrest Gump and Gary Busey.
“What is it about the commute that appeals to you, Starla?”
“Two words: No. News.”
“Two more words: ‘Nuff said.”
And so concludes another in-depth interview! Stay tuned next week when I ask Starla her take on the current nuclear crisis with North Korea! (Preview: She thinks it’s the classic “my missile/ego/therapy bill is bigger than yours” dust-up)
*In 2007, the Maine State Tourism Board fired the marketing director after he presented the slogan: Maine: The Way Life Should Be (Except For Those Who Are Perpetually Broke & Their Feet Ache & Their Boobs Sag & Their Shit Stinks. If That’s You–Move To New Hampshire.)
Never say to the woman, “This must be the menopause talking, right?”
For hot flashes, freeze a washcloth, then slap your husband upside the head with it.
Still feeling blazing hot? Carry a good portable fan.
Make mood swings fun. Get out a timer and count how many intense emotions you feel in three minutes. Then throw the timer at your husband.
Practice saying sincerely to your spouse: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, honest. It’s the menopause talking.” Then strike the classic ‘Hold head in hands and look tormented’ pose.
See a mom with a newborn and think, That will never be me again! Yay!
See a mom with a newborn and think, That will never be me again! STILL YAY!!!
Realize that you’ve entered the I-Don’t-Give-Two-Shits-Anymore stage of your life and it is glorious.
Crying a lot? Keep tissues in your bra. Worked for my grandmother.
Chocolate is soothing. Always have it handy for those moments you feel like punching someone in the throat. I keep a bag of chocolate chips in my bra.
Go full-on “old lady”. Buy the National Enquirer, a gallon of butter pecan ice cream, and a jug of cheap white zinfandel. Say things like, “She’s much too busty” or “That Harrison Ford sure is one hot ticket.” Get a short tight perm and start wearing cat sweaters. Or get ten cats, give them tight perms and name them all Harrison.
Embrace feeling increasingly invisible to the opposite sex. Shave legs? Eh. Makeup? Please. Clothes? What’s the point?
Eat a lot. Get bloated. Wear leggings. Fart in public. You’re invisible now, go for it.
Rent the movie Sisters with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. It will make you laugh so hard your chocolate chip and tissue filled bra will explode.
If you have any other menopause tips, please leave them in the comments below. I’m sure my husband will appreciate it. I’m running out of chocolate chips.
A few weeks ago I underwent abdominal surgery. If you’ve ever had surgery, the first thing you notice is how many times the nurses and doctors ask you what you’re getting done. Apparently, this is their safeguard protocol in case you’re there to have a tonsillectomy and instead end up with one less testicle. I’m not sure why they insist on asking the patient at all. Wouldn’t they have learned to write this crucial information down somewhere? Maybe jot it on a post-it note:
TAKE OUT LEFT OVARY.
DO NOT REMOVE HER TONSILS,
NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO!
So there I was in pre-op, all splayed out in a johnny while an RN tried to start an IV.
“And what are you here for?” she asked. I had already been asked this by nearly everyone else in the hospital at this point, including the janitor, and my response was the same every time: “Why, a tummy tuck and boob job, of course!” (The janitor seemed to think this was a good idea.)
Some nurses have a sense of humor, but this time the joke fell flat. Maybe she’s heard this one before? She jammed the needle harder into the top of my hand. “OK, I’m kidding,” I winced. “I’m really here to have a hysterectomy. Yay. She’s removing all my endo and an ovary.”
“Which one?” she asked.
“Well… I only have one ovary left…so, I would say the one that’s still there. Tell you what — if they don’t see an ovary, then don’t take it out. If they do see one, take it out.”
Again, nothing but a solemn glare from Nurse Ratched.
She left the room. “Tough crowd,” I whispered to my husband.
A few minutes before surgery, my surgeon breezed into the room. She thought my tummy tuck joke was funny, but I noticed she didn’t actually agree to do it, so my hopes were crushed once again. Then she lifted my hospital gown and drew a circle over my left ovary.
Great, the success of my operation depends on a Sharpie.
I kissed my husband goodbye and reminded him that I might very well die on the operating table, but not to worry. Did he have my living will? Did he know how to make the kids breakfast? Did he know the Netflix password?
They wheeled me into the OR, and the last thing I remember is looking up at a large bright light, just like in the movies. The anesthesia kicked in and I drifted into a painless deep sleep thinking (and probably saying out loud to the surgical nurse) “Tummmmy tuuuuuuucccccckkkk…don’t forget it’s the only ovary there….no, no, no! Don’t take out my testicle!…just a nice tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmy tuuuuuuck….”
My three hour surgery was over. After a strange block of timeless time, I started to drift back to the land of the living. I was doped up to my eyeballs on fentanyl so the pain was thankfully absent. But I had this horrible crushing sensation that my bladder was full and about to explode. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. The kind of urgency you feel when you’re stuck in traffic for hours after consuming a 64 ounce Big Gulp and you want to say “fuck it” and urinate into the nearest receptacle.
Before I go any further, I have to explain that Maine women are a unique independent breed. We tend to be strong, stodgy, stubborn and stupid. My grandmother lived to 100 and she used to take my brother’s dirt bike for a spin well into her nineties. My mother still moves heavy furniture around and she’s 82. I once mowed the lawn with a push mower while 9 months pregnant. After the baby popped out, I scooped him up and continued mowing. We don’t need no help, dammit! We’re built like tanks and can power on through anything.
Except holding in our pee.
There I was in recovery, drifting in and out of consciousness, alternating between yelling that I had to go pee and drooling helplessly all over my gown. I faintly overheard an RN telling my husband I needed to sleep. Sleep? My bladder is burning hot and bursting and she wants me to sleep?! After pleading, “I gotta go pee! Please let me pee!” a thousand times in a half hour, I had had enough. Goddammit, I’m going to find that janitor! He’ll let me pee!
“It’s just your bladder having spasms, dear,” Nurse Ratched kept insisting. “You don’t have to pee. It’ll go away in a few minutes.”
Of course, the nurse probably insisted I remain lying down so I wouldn’t hurt myself. Maybe this is because I just had major surgery. And okay, in my drugged-up haze I thought my husband was Sting and the nurses giant pesky bumblebees flitting about my consciousness. But at this point, deep in agony, I was unstoppable. The sweet relief of urination was within my grasp.
I swung my feet over the edge of the bed and things began to spin. For a few moments the entire room seemed to disappear into a milky white fog. I didn’t know where my feet were. When I reached up to scratch my head, my hand moved across my field of vision like it was encased in syrup. Where was my head? Who’s hand is this? Help me, Sting!
“I can’t find my head,” I slurred to my husband as he tried to steady me. An RN and a CNA magically appeared by my other side. Ugh, Nurse Ratched! NO! You will not stop me, devil woman! I plodded forward a step only to be snagged on something. I tugged at the annoying IV line, oblivious to what the hell it was and why it was holding me back. Am I in the jungle? Is this a snake?
Before I knew it I was out in the hallway/jungle with two nurses and my husband all trying to hold onto me. They were talking to me, but my brain concentrated only on the excruciating bladder cramps. My untied johnny hung loose in the front, leaving my ass to flap in the cold breeze. I shuffled along like a tranquilized bear, occasionally pausing to try and brush off Sting and the bumblebees. “I GOTTA GO PEE!” I hollered at random patients and nurses in the hall.
I finally made it to what I judged to be an adequate hole in the ground by the bamboo trees, grabbed onto someone’s arm, sat down and let it go.
Into the toilet, of course. I’m not an animal.
And Nurse Ratched was right. False alarm. I didn’t have to go after all. Maddening.
Still ranting to no one in particular, “Why won’t they let me pee?!” they led me back to my bed. I repeated this charade at least three more times (that I remember), each time getting angrier and louder. I was in recovery for a very long time. My surgery was at noon and I didn’t get permission to leave until 8 pm. I was close to being admitted overnight, but I think the nurses for some reason were happy to see me go.
Later on, when I was a bit more lucid and back to my normal sweet self, my husband told me how funny it was when I shoved the nurses aside and dragged my IV down the hall while almost completely naked to go to the bathroom, when I didn’t actually have to go at all.
“Yeah, that must have been something,” I said, mortified at the thought.
I faintly remember after I was discharged, I continued to whine about peeing while the nurse wheeled me (hurriedly) out to our car. I think I might have grabbed her hand to pet it like she was a kitten, and told her that she was very nice but kind of mean, too.
Warning: This isn’t my typical lame humor post. In this one things get real. And graphic. I’m talking about (gasp) female reproductive health issues! Feel free to close your eyes and run away screaming. I won’t take it personally.
Okay…are they gone? What? You guys are still here? Look, I’m not kidding. This isn’t the good fun reproductive stuff, it’s the uglier side about pain and disease. Fine, stay if you want but I tried to warn you…
Once upon a time I was a young girl who suffered agonizing pain during periods. I ate Advil like candy and spent several days every month writhing in bed with a heating pad on my belly. It was difficult to get up and walk around, much less go to school. People told me this was “normal” and that I was being a baby. I believed them and sucked it up.
In my late 20s I met my husband. We got married, and not soon after we decided to try to get pregnant. I felt becoming a mom was my destiny, a lifelong yearning rooted deep in my bones. We tried for over a year with no luck. Around this time I started to have strange vague symptoms: bloating, pelvic pain, urinary, digestive issues. I saw many doctors over several years. One said I was “depressed”. One told me I had IBS. Another said it was stress-related.
Well, I thought, if they think it’s all in my head, I must be crazy. I trudged on, trying to live my life while ignoring that nagging feeling something was very wrong. Finally, feeling humiliated and defeated, I gave it one last shot and saw a Nurse Practitioner. She patiently listened to me and gave me a pelvic exam. The next words she said changed my life: “You have a large mass. I’m sending you for an ultrasound immediately.”
During the ultrasound I wasn’t scared. I felt pure relief. That may be hard to understand, but when you’ve basically been patted on the head by doctors for so many years, when one finally believes you, and there’s proof something IS wrong, it’s like a godsend.
The ultrasound tech was very quiet for a long time. Not a good sign. Then she kept asking me if I had to use the bathroom. Finally, she left the room to get a doctor. Yikes. After several minutes, they returned. She finally turned the ultrasound monitor toward me and pointed. “See that?” she asked.
“What? I don’t see anything.” It looked all black to me with no discernible shapes that resembled organs.
“That is a mass. It is so large it’s covering all your organs. Your bladder is flattened. I’m surprised you can hold urine at all at this point.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “Are you all right?” I was surprised at the technician’s warmth and kindness. It was probably the most compassionate interaction with medical staff I had had in decades, aside from the NP.
It turned out I had a large ovarian cyst, about 15 cm in diameter, or six inches, roughly the size of a soccer ball. I know, crazy. Why couldn’t it have been a baseball? Why not fruit of some kind? Pomegranates are nice. And how in the hell did I not know it was there? I suppose I thought I was just gaining weight or very bloated. Not to mention the rest of my abdominal organs were all squished to make room for this… thing. As much as I was happy to know what was wrong with me, I felt like a total freak. Like I should be on the cover of one of those old Ripley’s Believe it or Not! books: “Woman lives with giant tumor for months and doesn’t know it!”
Soon I met with a wonderful OB/GYN (who went on to deliver both of my babies) and he said I had to have major surgery as well as a biopsy of the cyst to rule out cancer. I was 31. My gut reaction? (pun totally intended) Get it out now. What in hell are you waiting for?
It was during this surgery that my doctor made another startling discovery. I had endometriosis. Everywhere. To put it simply, it’s when the uterus lining for some reason spreads and grows in other places it shouldn’t. Then every month it bleeds and becomes inflamed as if it were inside the uterus. And it was all over my bowel and my bladder and my ovaries and my fallopian tubes and oh, let’s just say it was all over the goddamned place.
So I had one obliterated ovary, one disintegrated fallopian tube, and the stupid giant cyst thing removed. It was benign. “But doc,” I cried. “Can I still get pregnant with only one pathetic, diseased, lonely ovary?”
“Yes,” he said. And I believed him.
After several miscarriages, (and along the way another diagnosis of a blood clotting disorder to boot, called the MTHFR gene or as I like to call it, the Motherf—er Mutation ), I eventually had my two babies. I’d even go so far as to call them miracles.
Unfortunately, the endometriosis didn’t go away entirely. (Maybe you’ve seen on the news this week that actress Lena Dunham knows what that’s like. I wish I knew who in the hell she is.) For years I tried several IUDs and drug therapies to keep it at bay. For some reason, the endo didn’t get the memo. To say I was in constant pain is an understatement.
After much deliberation, I had a partial hysterectomy at 39. Worst surgery of my life. And that was my fifth one. When my surgeon, in her words, “got in there to look around” (a phrase that makes me think of someone opening a suitcase and rummaging around for some socks) she discovered a horror show of Stage 4 endo. It was just a mess of adhesions and nodules and lesions, oh my. My organs — my bladder, uterus and bowel — were stuck together, some of them frozen in place, most of them crunched and flattened. What was supposed to be a quick 45 minutes turned into nearly 3 hours. She had to call in another surgeon to help her excise everything. I think there may have been a chainsaw or a weed wacker involved at one point. And to top it off, I was bleeding somewhere after the five incisions and they couldn’t stop it. Apparently, a nurse came out and told my husband it was “touch and go” at one point.
“It was a pretty hairy situation,” was how my surgeon put it later on when she sat by my hospital bed. “You really had us worried. You gave me a run for my money.”
Well. It’s how I do.
But I lived through it. I’m sure you guessed that part already. I even came home after a few days and managed to take care of my two year old not long after the surgery, a point I like to bring up to my husband whenever he has a cold. So, all in all I had a few good healthy years and felt like a new woman again. Until I felt like crap again.
Which brings me to today. It’s been over 6 years since my last surgery and you guessed it, another one is coming. I didn’t make this decision lightly. My doctor is open to alternative medicine and last year put me on a strict diet to curb the endo. I tried herbs, vitamins. I’ve seen chiropractors to help with my lower back pain. I even tried Lupron last summer. (A horrible, terrible, no-good chemo drug used for men with prostate cancer. Too bad I’m neither a man nor do I have a prostate.) I’m going to start seeing an acupuncturist this month. I’m not sure what’s left to try. Maybe a full body transplant? Give me Sofia Vergara’s.
So, another surgery it is. Will it finally cure the endo? I’ve read good things and bad. Mostly, the answer is maybe. Honestly, I have run out of options at this point. And chronic pain tends to wear you down enough to make you actually want to have major surgery. I admit I’m a little scared shitless this time. I suppose this is why I’m writing about it because it helps me gain some distance from that fear brewing in the back of my mind.
Last week, my doctor said it’s time to take out my remaining sad ovary and clean out the endo again, except this time I’ll be plunged into instant menopause. I don’t know about you, but just the sound of that gives me a hot flash. And to top it off, because of the extensive bowel endo I had last time, there’s a possibility of a bowel resection. (Oh, my god! I swore if there were anything I would never write about on this blog it would be a bowel resection!) She’s going to have a general surgeon on standby just in case they decide to yank part of it out. If they don’t, well, there’s a good chance I’ll end up with another surgery just for that in the near future.
“Oh, hell,” I told her. “Just take it all out! I don’t need no stinkin’ bowel! Could you give me a good tummy tuck while you’re at it? Maybe inject all that excess fat into my boobs? I swear I have a punch card somewhere that says Buy 6 Surgeries, Get One Free.”
The best part was when my surgeon, someone who’s been doing this for decades, said to me, “I’m not gonna lie, I am dreading your surgery. Dreading. It.”
When I told her, “that makes two of us” she responded with, “Yeah, but you’re the lucky one! You’ll be asleep! I’ll be awake!”
Good point. Let’s hope so anyway.
Thanks for reading this long, long, graphic TMI reproductive history of mine. I just had to get this out and let you all know I’ll be taking a very long break and won’t be around much. At least I get to lie in bed for a few weeks and read, right? But before I go, let’s review a few key points to ponder:
Always trust your gut instinct.
Always get a second, third, and in my case, seventh opinion.
Always make sure your surgeon is fully awake during your surgery.
Take care of yourself because it’s all you got, ya dig?
Tell me again, who in the bloody hell is Lena Dunham? I’m stumped.
After it’s all over and I’m fully recovered, maybe I’ll come back here and start blogging about silly stuff again. And if you care to send some positive vibes, say a little prayer, or just say to yourself, “Damn, girl! See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!” I’d appreciate it.
Newsflash: We all have feminine and masculine tendencies. Naturally, some of us might be more on one side than the other regardless of our gender. Some of us might have an equal balance of both. These traits might be due to our childhoods or because we were born that way.
What I’m saying is — enough already. Sheesh.
Still some people automatically lump either gender into tidy little boxes. Men like sports. Women like makeup. Men burp and fart. Women like makeup. Men scratch themselves a lot. Women tell men to stop burping, farting and scratching themselves and give us their credit card already so we can go buy more makeup.
We all know it’s ridiculous to overgeneralize based on gender. I’m a good example. I grew up with five brothers. And last time I checked, I am a woman.
Here are a few facts about me:
I hate makeup.
I rarely wear makeup.
Once a year when I wear makeup for a special occasion, I have no idea how to apply it so I don’t end up looking like this:
I love sports. I like to play them, I like to watch them on TV.
I live for Super Bowl Sunday.
I love to listen to bands like Alice in Chains.
I am strong. I’m wily. I could drop you like a sack of bricks with one swift chop to your trachea.
I hate washing my hair. I hate brushing my hair. I hate my hair.
Shoes are evil. Especially any shoe that is not a sneaker or flip-flop.
I hate purses. I have no idea why people spend tons of money on them. I walk into a purse store like Coach and my mind switches off. Picking out a purse is like watching my horribly-applied clown makeup dry. I prefer to just stick my wallet into my jacket pocket and call it good.
If I carry a purse, (I own exactly one) I will spend the entire time flinging it around while yelling “What in the hell am I supposed to do with this stupid thing?! It’s like an anchor around my neck and I swear I will die right here in the middle of this fracking Coach store if I have to drag it around one more minute!”
I hate clothes shopping. I hate clothes. If I could wear the same outfit every day — say, a large potato sack with a rope belt — I’d be happy.
I have no idea what pants go with which shirt. Or what’s considered trendy or fashionable. Because I. Do. Not. Care. (also, I have bad taste in clothes, see above)
I hate shopping in general. Going to the mall is cruel and unusual punishment. While my husband will agonize over which coffee pot to buy, I’ll slink slowly to the floor in agony, crying “for the love of all that is holy JUST PICK ONE SO WE CAN GET OUT OF THIS HELLHOLE!” Then I hit him in the head with my giant ugly purse.
I don’t like to cook.
I don’t like to bake.
I do love to eat.
I don’t like to clean. I will clean of course, but I won’t like it.
I hate math but I’m good at it. I also excel in science and medical stuff. (that’s right, the technical term is “stuff”)
I love to play basketball and I’ve got a killer hook shot.
I love to play video games for hours, like Tomb Raider and Mario Kart.
I actually rather enjoyed all of the Iron Man and Avenger movies.
Sometimes I burp. Very long and loud burps that rattle the windows.
So is your mind blown? No? Fine. (ahem)
What about you guys? How are you unlike/like your gender’s stereotypes?
Snowflakes drifted down in slow spirals, landing on my cheeks like bits of delicate lace. I peered through the window and saw him standing inside the foyer waiting for me. A bolt of excitement flashed down my spine, sending tingles to the darkened corners of my heart. Despite the cold, the heat emanating between us was radiant, a blistering flame threatening to engulf us both with its power, leaving nothing but dying embers in its wake.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” he had whispered to me on the phone earlier that day.
“Oh, really?” I purred.
“You’re gonna love it,” he promised in that silky voice that drove me mad. “I can’t wait for you to get home.”
And now after eight agonizing hours at work, I was home.
He threw open the front door with such force, a gasp escaped my lips. I ran to him, the space between us electric, filled with the pounding pulse of aching desire and raw lust. His hands slid underneath my heavy down jacket, squeezing my yearning body tight, enveloping me in a passionate embrace. His breath heavy and hot in my ear he teased, “This is your night, my love. Yours.”
I stood trembling as he kneeled before me, gently sliding the snow-caked boots off my legs, my breath quickening with every tantalizing touch.
“I think you need some warming up,” he said, wrapping his arms tight around my legs.
I nodded, still in a trance, willing to relinquish my very soul to this man. “Yes!” I begged. “Please, do it now! I’m so cold!” He caressed my feet, slowly placing them into my soft brown slippers. An instant rush of release, the dam finally bursting and giving way to a thunderous flood. “Oh, yeah,” I murmured, my voice barely a whisper. I wiggled my toes and sighed. “Ooh….that feels so good.” I shut my eyes, surrending to the pleasure, my arms limp and powerless at my sides.
“Please, don’t make me wait any longer–you must come with me now,” he demanded.
“But–what about the kids?” I asked, nervously glancing around the room.
“No worries. They’re gone for the night,” he whispered. His feather-soft lips brushed against my cheek as his hand trailed slowly down my back. I shivered. “We’re all alone,” he breathed into my ear.
He held me even closer, tracing the outline of my trembling chin with his finger. “Come, darling, please…” he pleaded. He took my hand and led me down the darkened hallway.
One glance to the left and I squealed with delight. The clothes in the laundry room sat stacked in several tidy piles. “Oh, you didn’t!” I yelled and squeezed his hand. The bathroom sparkled in the moonlight, smelling of lavender. I felt my heart stop. My eyes watered as my hand flew up to cover my mouth.
“Oh! Honey!” I cried. “You cleaned!”
“Wait, there’s more,” he said as he led me toward the living room. Flames from a dozen candles danced with the shadows on the walls. In the center of the coffee table, a silver bowl filled with Godiva chocolates. A bottle of red wine gleamed in the candle’s glow.
“Oh, sweetie!” I gushed. “It’s all so beautiful!”
“Shhh…” he soothed and pushed me down onto the couch. He leaned my body back onto the cushions and stroked my hair. Our eyes locked, the flames of desire licking at our souls in a near explosion of searing heat as we edged ever closer to becoming one.
“For you,” he said and ceremoniously placed the remote into my trembling hands.
“Oh, no, honey…I…I couldn’t…” I protested. My heart skipped a thousand beats. I gazed down in wonder at the buttons, all shiny and begging to be touched.
“There are 3 seasons of Scandal on Netflix, please…watch all of it.”
He placed his finger on my lips. “Shhh….it’s okay. Please, do it. The dishes are done, the house is clean and I’m going to put the last of the laundry away. There is nothing more for you to do now but watch your show.” He handed me a glass of wine and a hunk of dark chocolate. “And we can do it….all….night…long.”
“All night?” I asked, blinking.
“Unless you want to talk about your day at work?” he asked, leaning back, his eyebrows raised in genuine interest. He started to rub my feet, the day’s strain melting away with the gentle touch of his hands.
“What was it you told me yesterday?” he continued. “That Debra told Lisa about Sue and she didn’t even care that Sue wasn’t speaking to Lisa anymore because of the time she caught her rolling her eyes at what she said about Wendy?”
“Yeah! I mean…huh? You really want to talk about that now?” I sputtered in between bites of chocolate. Swigging back a gulp of wine, I sighed, “And it wasn’t even what she said it was–”
“How she said it,” he said, shaking his head.
We laughed. We watched Scandal for 10 hours straight. Exhausted and spent, the first pale rays of morning light spilled onto our entwined bodies still curled together as one on the couch, basking in the afterglow of a perfect night.
“Honey?” I asked with a slur, still drunk on wine and chocolate.
“Yeah?” He reached over, absent-mindedly twirling my hair with his fingers.
“Do we have any Excedrin Migraine left?”
“Yes, I’ll go get you some.”
“I love you,” I whispered.
“It’s just…what with the red wine…and all that chocolate…it’s a migraine waiting to happen and I–”
“Shhh…it’s okay. It’s okay. I know,” he said, tenderly rubbing my temples. I began to shiver again. As he drew my hot pink Forever Lazy Snuggie tighter around me, his arms created a cocoon of pure bliss I never wanted to escape.
Men say “tomato”, women say “get off yer ass and get it yourself.”
Women say “Did you hear what I just said?” and men say, “Huh?”
I suppose the take home message here is apparently men and women are different.
I guess. I don’t know.
Are men and women really that different from each other? I’m only one month younger than my husband, and I think we’re pretty similar in many ways:
We both like to eat.
We both prefer to get sleep every night.
We both laugh too much at America’s Funniest Videos.
We both think Ryan Seacrest’s fame was purely accidental.
Yet I often wonder how we would have communicated when we were kids. See if you can spot any differences.
My Conclusion? My husband is from Mars, I like to talk.
What do you think? In your experience, do women really talk more than men or do I just need to shut up more often? (If you’re a man, don’t answer that.)
If you’re a woman, I totally don’t think that’s true at all, do you? I mean so what if I like to have discussions and express my thoughts on things and sometimes I tend to ramble and all but really, I think gender differences are all a bunch of hooey because we are exactly the same and just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m the stereotypical never-ending-talker and he’s the one who says nothing but “Yes, dear” and “Huh?” because I know men who like totally talk a lot and women who don’t talk a lot so what do you think? Does Cory or John like me? because I totally think they do.
Is your mind blown? Well believe it, baby. Would I lie to you? It’s been proven in recent studies. Yes! By people in white lab coats! Who are no doubt running around some freaky lab, analyzing brain scans of men drinking Heineken while women are judging their manhood on a scale from 1 to 10. My husband wants to know if they’re in need of any more test subjects because he’s available and will work for free beer.
So I’ve decided to save these scientists future time and money and let them in on a few of my own earth-shattering studies:
When Women Ask Men “Am I Right? Well, Am I?!” They Prefer Men Nod Their Heads, Hand Them Their Credit Card And Walk Away
When Women Ask “Does This Make My Butt Look Big?” They Prefer Men Answer, “Hell No! Never! You Have The Best, Most Perfectly Sized Ass In The Universe! Here, Take My Credit Card!”
Husbands Who Say “I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong and You Were Right” Live Longer
Men Prefer Women With Bigger Breasts
Small-Breasted Women Prefer Men Who Prefer Women With Smaller Breasts
Both Men and Women Prefer Men Have No Breasts
Men Prefer Women Who Stop Talking For Five Seconds So They Can Watch The Game In Peace
Women Prefer Men to Say Something, Anything, For The Love Of God Isn’t There One Tiny Spark Of A Thought Flickering Across That Simple Little Brain Of Yours?!
Women Get Bitchy During Their Period
Women Get Bitchy When Not On Their Period
Women Get Bitchy, Period
Women Like Chocolate
When Women Eat Chocolate They Get Really Happy And Very Quiet
Late on an autumn night in 2003, the rain was coming down so heavy I almost didn’t hear the faint thumping at our garage door downstairs. My husband lay in bed next to me, snoring and oblivious. But I knew something was wrong. I heard the thump again. I rushed down to our kitchen and opened up the door to find my 69 year old mother slumped up against the wall on the steps that led to her apartment.
“I….can’t….breathe….” she whispered, her face white.
I yelled for my husband as I struggled to lift her and slowly walked her to our couch.
“Call 911,” I said over and over again, my voice cracking. My husband had already called for an ambulance. Five minutes ticked by and still no siren. Where were they?
“You’ll be fine, Mom. Just fine. You will,” I held her hand and felt it growing colder. “You will be fine,” I repeated again. She closed her eyes. Her breathing grew raspy and faint. Panic rose in my throat as her hands started to shake.
After a few more minutes, red lights danced in our windows. My husband would stay home with our one year old and I would go alone to the hospital with my mom. As they checked her vitals, the paramedics spoke to my mom in hushed tones. After an eternity they loaded her into the back of the ambulance, rain pouring down on top of all of us. I sat in the front seat and waited, crying and shaking from the cold rain. Why weren’t they going?? Go! Just go!
The emergency room was strangely quiet. My mom lay on a stretcher, gurgling and gasping for air and I was sitting alone next to her, a thin curtain drawn around us for privacy. After a few minutes a tired ER doctor held up her X-ray in front of the light.
“Do you understand what you’re seeing here?” he asked me. I stared straight ahead.
“This,” he pointed to the area of her lungs, “means she is full of fluid. This is why she can’t breathe. We need to determine the cause. It could be pneumonia. Or she could be suffering from congestive heart failure. Has she been sick lately? A cold?”
My mind lept back to the previous week. She had complained of her allergies. She said she was stuffed up, and was wheezing a lot. She also mentioned she had felt a bit nauseous and dizzy. But she’d never said anything about pain in her chest. She hadn’t complained of any pain at all. This couldn’t be a heart attack. Could it?
The rest of the night was a hazy blur of nurses rushing around, telling me they were doing what they could to help my mom. At one point around 1 am, the ER doctor informed me things were very dire as they were attempting to clear her lungs but she might not have much longer to live. He suggested I talk to her right away and let her know I was there beside her. To say my goodbye.
I felt my own breath catch as I touched her hand. It was shockingly white, cold and lifeless. My mom was dying right in front of me. This was it, she was going to die and I was the only one here to say goodbye to her, as my brothers were still on their way. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t.
I wish I remembered all of what I said to her, but I don’t. What do you say to your mom who’s about to die? I remember saying, “I love you, Mom” over and over and whispering to her that everything would be okay. My tears were flowing nonstop now. At one point I made a little joke to lighten the unbearable mood and she chuckled through her gasps. She held onto my hand and told me to tell my brothers she would be fine and that she loved them all very much. She seemed to be taking this death thing much better than I was at the moment.
My brothers all arrived and we sat in a dim waiting room for hours, watching TV and waiting for our mom to either die or recover.
Around 3 am, one of the nurses poked her head into the room and with a huge smile on her face exclaimed, “She’s taken a turn!” We all looked at each other. “For the better!” she yelled, adding, “We didn’t think she would, but she did!” We all stood up, exhausted and not believing these words were true. But my mom did round that corner; she met up with death and said, “not now, sorry, maybe next time.”
She spent the next few days in the ICU, preparing to move to another bigger hospital at Maine Medical Center. She was scheduled to have quintuple bypass surgery and her mitral valve replaced. She had suffered congestive heart failure. Later, the doctor informed me she likely had several heart attacks over the years by the looks of the deceased heart muscle they had found.
On the day of the operation, one of their best cardiac surgeons reassurred me they’d take good care of her and they were planning on replacing her mitral valve with a valve made from animal tissue. The surgery lasted almost ten hours. The surgeon finally came to us in the waiting room and said it couldn’t have gone better, she was doing great. They ended up putting a metal ring around her valve instead of using the pig’s valve. My brothers and I all laughed at this news, “She’ll have no pig inside her after all!”
Back in the ICU, my younger brother and I stood at her bedside as she lay hooked up to a million tubes. My mom stirred awake, grumbling and moaning. “Hey!” she croaked, “Do I have a sheep’s heart now? Am I a sheep? Baaa-baaaaa…” she murmured, giggling, the drugs still working their magic.
Today, she’s doing well and last fall marked nine years since her heart failure. If if wasn’t for her crawling down those stairs to get help, if I hadn’t heard those little thumps at the door, she would not be here right now.
This month is heart health month.
Please, become aware of all of the signs of a heart attack and stroke.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Many ignore their symptoms until it’s too late.
The following is a great video that uses humor to get the point across:
Last night, my husband found me sitting on the couch watching television in a daze, my eyes red and puffy.
“Are you crying?”
“Were you crying?”
(wipes nose, slips soggy tissue into shirt) “Uh….no, I most certainly was not.” (sniff) “Crying.”(sniff)
(a fat tear slides down my face)
“But it’s a commercial for car insurance.”
“I can’t help it, all right?! Just look at her!” (weeps) “Her name is Flo! FLO! She’s got a ridiculous beehive headband hairdo and she’s way too perky! I hate her with every fiber of my being! It’s so sad! Why do I dislike her so? I’m a terrible, terrible person!” (sobs)
“I need a beer.”
I’ve always been a big crier. When I was a little girl and witnessed any minor injustice at school–kids pushing other kids, kids not taking turns on the slide, kids not sharing their fruit roll-ups with me at lunch–I’d burst into tears. It was my go-to defense tactic. I was just an emotional kid. When my brother knocked my vanilla Jello pudding pop into a mud puddle on purpose, I sobbed uncontrollably for days. When I read that Pa Ingalls had to tell Laura her beloved dog, Jack had died, I cried for months on end. My ability to turn on the waterworks stayed with me throughout my entire life. Once in college, I sobbed while addressing a huge lecture class. There wasn’t even an exam that day.
You’d think I’d harden up, develop that cold cynical shell so many people seem to have once they reach middle age. My crying has only gotten worse. I cry while looking at baby photos of my kids. I sniffle at a stop light when a good song comes on the radio. I tear up when cantaloupes go on sale.
I really like cantaloupe.
I think crying is good for you. I think it means you’re a strong person, that you’re not afraid to feel genuine emotions or appear vulnerable to others.
No? It just means I’m simply a woman? It’s just too much estrogen?
Yeah. Maybe. I’m proud of my emotions. I like to feel things. I have empathy. So what? (soft sob) Is that so wrong? What are you trying to tell me? (sniff) Where’s that ****ing Kleenex?
My tears help connect me to the moment. They remind me of the blessings in life. Sure, I’m cheesy. I admit I’m wimpy. And okay, I’m sappier than that old commercial about Julie through the glass.
(If you don’t cry at this commercial you are nothing but an empty unfeeling robot)
We need to allow ourselves to show more of these sweet emotions in this cruel heartless world. I just wish I could control it better once the flood starts. If only I could be a little more selective in what makes me a pile of mush.
Yesterday I was on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game when it hit me: that was my son out there on the field. My son. Running and kicking and smiling and laughing. My son! I thought, with a tightness in my throat. I have a son! Look at him! He’s amazing and he’s my son! He’s a miracle!
Tears threatened the corners of my eyes like thunder clouds before a rainstorm. Hold it together, Darla. Yes, you’re a mom. He’s your son. No big whoop. He may be a miracle but…let’s be real here…he still doesn’t know how to make himself a bowl of cereal. And yesterday you found him singing in the mirror with his underwear on his head. Now, don’t you cry in front of the soccer coach. There’s no crying in soccer! There’s NO CRYING IN SOCCER! Don’t do it! No! C’mon….suck it up. Oh, for god’s sake, here it comes! Stop crying! Swallow those tears.! This is going to be embarrassing….hold it in….
It may shock you to know my husband doesn’t cry much. Almost never. I think I saw a few tears come out of his eyes once–at the altar when we were about to get married. For all I know, he was crying about the impending loss of being single or had just sliced a huge onion.
“But I have dry eyes!” he protests. “It’s a real medical condition! I am not capable of crying! I have feelings! I swear! What? Don’t look at me like that! I can feel things! I just choose not to show it is all. Wait–what are you doing? Why do you have the tweezers? Get away from me!”
“Oh, c’mon…I just want to pluck one eyebrow. Just one. There’s got to be a tear in there somewhere and I’m gonna force that sucker out.”
Do you cry a lot? Or hardly ever? Ever in public? Or just in private over a beer? If so, what’s wrong with you anyway?