Vagina Wars: A New Hope

I’ve debated endlessly with myself about publishing this post. The truth is, this is an adult situation, and I’m going to discuss some delicate matters, so you’ve been warned. In the end, I thought that other women out there might be dealing with the same issues I’ve had and not to share would be wrong.

First some history. In 2007 I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy. The lump was estrogen receptive, so I was placed on the drug tamoxifen, an estrogen inhibitor, for a period of five years. Everything went beautifully, but I continued menstruating heavily and in 2011 my doctors decided I needed to have an oophorectomy (hysterectomy plus removal of my ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the whole shebang.)

Shortly after that I realized that sexual intercourse, an act of which I was tremendously fond, had become unbearably painful. It was like one day a switch was shut off and my vagina ceased to be my friend. 

Oh, we coaxed it, and lubricated it. I sent off to Europe for a product guaranteed to make my vagina a welcoming place again. My radiologist, Dr. Sapiente, sent me home with a set of dilators in Easter egg pastels. We tried lidocaine swabs. Nothing helped.

My gynecologist at the time prescribed the topical steroid, Premarin, and for one glorious month I was on speaking terms with my vagina. Unfortunately, when my oncologist found out I was taking it she put her foot down and took it away from me, and we were back to being frenemies.

Poor Studly was, and continues to be, so patient, and I must say I’ve been a trooper, too. Wine helps, lots and lots of wine. The act still hurts, but I don’t care as much. 

When we moved to Florida I told our new family doctor about my problem and asked if there were any new treatments for women like me. He responded, “Is it still that important to you?” I wanted to slap him, but instead I began the search for another doctor. 

My new doctor is female, and she referred me to a gynecologist who uses a relatively new procedure using lasers to stimulate the vagina to create its own collagen. I saw the specialist on Wednesday, and for the first time in six years I feel hopeful that we can be friends again. 

The procedure isn’t covered by health insurance, and the initial package of three treatments can vary in price from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the part of the country in which one resides. Annual follow up treatments run about $500. 

At my doctor’s office the procedure is known as the Mona Lisa Touch (they have a website: http://www.monalisatouch.com/), but I understand there are several other companies in the market with different monikers.

My first treatment is scheduled in early March. If I haven’t put everyone off I’ll provide updates, not to be confused with play by play. That would just be wrong. Send good thoughts. I will appreciate them.

Oh, my new gynecologist talked to me extensively about new research regarding Premarin and he’s started me on a new prescription. Things really are looking up down there.

Peace and friendship, people.

Feckless

How awful is it that I’ve come across the word “feckless” in reading material pretty much my entire life but never bothered to look up its meaning. I relied on context to get close to the definition, but it’s being bandied about so much in our current political environment that I decided to pin it down and see what Mr. Webster says.


Can I build a poem around it? It’s worth a try.

Feckless

Feckless, rhymes with reckless, but given a choice I’d rather be the latter

At least reckless implies action, foolhardy though it may be

While feckless, ah, that milquetoast adjective, describes a dearth of

Initiative, a failure of character. In a word, Congress. 

Mud

My heart’s been walking in soul sucking mud, the kind that pulls my shoes right off 

As I slog through the muck from point a to point b. Bare feet carry gamely on, step by sticky

Step. Pick up my shoes and brace myself against gravity’s ultimate challenge. Falling

Face first into the mire is a real possibility. I’ve been here before. It’s not pretty.

Underground Railroad: A Review of Sorts

What if the Underground Railroad was an actual railroad? What if runaway slaves could hop aboard and travel to freedom through a series of subterranean tunnels? Aptly title, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, explores this possibility, following the escaped slave, Cora as she seeks a better life outside of the brutal one she’s known picking cotton on a plantation in Georgia.


While the concept of an actual train is pure fiction, the harsh aspects of Cora’s life are not. As a slave she was beaten for protecting a young child from the master’s whip and chose to risk the possible hazards of life on the run rather than submit to the certain abuses from those who own her.

The book has an odd cadence, and there were times when I backtracked and reread a page or two to get it to make sense to me. There is a certain dreamlike quality to some chapters, while others are stark in their recounting of cruelties rendered. But it’s ultimately satisfying.

This is a book for our times. As Cora finds peace in some destinations and horror in others we are reminded that there are still people in this world trying to escape these chilling truths, looking for a safe haven from cruel masters. We can be that safe haven.


Peace, people.

Two Movies in Two Days

If I had a fortune I’d spend all my time traveling to exotic places, but I don’t so I do the two next best things: read and go to movies. 

On Sunday my friend, Lee Ann, and I went to see La La Land. I’d had some reservations about the film based on feedback online. With the opening number all my doubts were erased. It’s a gorgeous film with fun music. 

Ryan Gosling is handsome and adorable, while Emma Stone melts my heart. No wonder it’s the odds on favorite to win best picture honors at the upcoming Oscars. Yes, the choreography is just so-so, and Gosling and Stone aren’t the greatest vocalists, but I left the theater with a smile on my lips and a desire to dance to my car. Lee Ann discouraged me from doing that.

On Monday all of our company returned to Indiana, and Studly Doright had to go to Orlando for work. Left all alone I was antsy after the active weekend, so I took myself to see the film, Lion. Another best picture nominee, Lion is by turns heartbreaking and hopeful. 

Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman perform beautifully in their respective roles as an adoptee from an Indian orphanage and his adoptive mom. The gorgeous Rooney Mara plays Dev’s love interest. But the scene stealer, without a bit of artifice in his performance, is Sunny Pawar who plays the young version of Patel’s character, Saroo. 

I’ve now seen three of the six best picture nominees. Including the two mentioned above I’ve seen Hidden Figures, not once but twice. I’ve no desire to see Hacksaw Ridge, but both Fences and Hell or High Water are still on my wish list. Who knows, maybe I’ll chase those down this weekend. Unless I win the lottery. If that happens, I’m hitting the road.

Peace, people.