My Post-Menopausal Uterus

I am mad at my uterus.  I know this is probably not a preferable way to be, especially for a 55-yr-old who has been post menopausal for two years, during which time, I must say, my uterus has been quiet, and compliant.  But then about two weeks ago I … um … started my period?  I started bleeding and bled steadily, “moderately” for five days, then it petered out to spotting.   By the seventh day I was at the ob-gyn’s office visiting my female nurse practitioner, for whom I was overdue for a visit.  I like her and am comfortable being myself with her.  “Okay!” I began, jokingly.  “I’ve been doing  ‘The Secret’ thing and imagining myself young and vibrant and it must be working ’cause I got my period!  It ended yesterday. I guess my body decided to ovulate!  Can I get pregnant?”

Something like that.  Well, her faced soured.  All smiles were now banished from the room.  “This is abnormal.”  She scowled. ” It would have been abnormal if this had happened a year ago.”

The next thing, I am lying on the table, my feet in the stirrups.  She leans her head around my bent upraised leg and warns,  “You will be mad at me,” as she proceeds with the required  uterine biopsy.  I fixed  my eyes on the  floral design in the border paper along the ceiling and for one moment during the procedure I wondered, how many other women have focused on this same spot in this same position with some similar thing going on? The paper wasn’t a bad choice. Flowers.  A little busy, though.  Perhaps they had thought about it when putting this room together; give the women something pleasant and busy to stare at while their legs are spread and the required procedures are performed.

The results of the biopsy were back a week later.  The nurse practitioner called me with the news, “The cells came back ‘normal’.’  However, you still need to schedule a D&C.”

“Well,” I replied, “What about hormone therapy?”  I had done my homework.  Besides, I did not like the thought of having that surgical procedure, surely I could persuade her to let me out of it.

“No, you were negative for hyperplasia, as well.  So you don’t need hormone therapy.”  There was no chatting with her.  “Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gross.”  (Not his real name.)

So I did.  I got an appointment for 10:20 AM two days later (which was this morning).  I arrived at the doctor’s office in a rush, without my book, about five minutes early.  My records were current, afterall.  There was another patient, Rita,  a few years older than me, confident, well-dressed,  checking in when I arrived.  I announced my arrival and stated I was there to see Dr. Gross.  Rita announced she was seeing Dr. Gross as well.  We exchanged glances and both took our seats in the waiting room.  It was full.  I looked around the room  at the generally expressionless  female faces and plucked four magazines from the rack.  Did Dr. Gross have a partner?  No? It was just him and my nurse practitioner seeing all these patients?  I immediately regretted that I hadn’t brought my book.

I was a pretty patient sport at first, realizing this was part of the female condition.  All of us here because of our vaginas and uteruses (uteri?), our reproductive systems.   I wondered about  Rita, 60 at least,  had she been bleeding?  Was it more serious at her age than mine?  There was only one (young!) girl who was visibly pregnant. A young burly man was by her side.  She sat and gazed at the air in front of her, while he was seemingly absorbed in a Reader’s Digest. There were at least five other women waiting ahead of Rita and me.

I waited.  Another girl arrived and asked the receptionist about her blood work.  They chatted and she left. Thank goodness!  I flipped through four Home decorating magazines – I thought I might get some ideas for how to deal with our den windows, bare since we bought our house eight years ago.

The pregnant girl was called back.  Her husband stayed, although he had picked a new mag by now.  Another young girl arrived and sat next to me, picking up the magazines I had discarded. I was okay, relaxed, going with this woman thing, remembering how I sat in these waiting rooms during my younger decades, as an expectant mother, healthy young mother visits.  I could not remember the last time I had visited a male gynecologist.  At least 12 years ago?  I had a healthy reproductive history.  I had never met Dr. Gross in the years I had been coming here for my healthy checkups with my nurse practitioner.

Finally, well, I got up. I walked  to the receptionist desk and politely asked, “Excuse me, but how much longer do you think it will be?”  It was 11:10, I had been waiting 55 minutes.

“Oh, I think you are next!”  She replied.  “It shouldn’t be long.”  I sat back down and imagined if this room were full of men.  There was no way they could get away with this kind of wait with a waiting room full of men!  Surely men would not all sit this long in compliant silence as we women were doing!  What if there were male doctors waiting here?  My husband, the engineer!  He would have been long gone by now. “See ya, assholes!”  Well, he would do it with self control.  He would inquire, state his limits…surely leave!  What do 55-yr-old female doctors who are bleeding do?  They have their doctor ob-gun … er … gyn personal friends, don’t they?  They are connected and awarded home visits or appointments after hours.  Well, other doctors and influential people aren’t sitting in these waiting rooms like this, for sure!

These thoughts were resonating and expounding in my head when the nurse leaned  into the waiting room and called … “Rita!”

Okay, so Rita had beat me into the office by maybe a minute.  Had we been scheduled for the same time? As Rita headed back, I locked eyes with the receptionist, who quietly uttered, “Oops!”

This is where I…did that angry-woman-uterus-hormone thing.  I know it is not my uterus’s fault.  My uterus is just being my uterus.  Besides, it stopped bleeding over eight days ago.  It’s doing its part to act healthy now.  It’s not the receptionist’s fault, and it’s not Rita’s fault.  But  I jumped up out of my chair, grabbed my long wool coat, jerked it around to put it on, and  strode to the receptionist’s desk.    “I’m leaving!” I hissed at her.

She inquired rather politely,  “Do you want to reschedule?’

“No!” I barked at her as I stormed out.

Okay, in retrospect, maybe Dr. Gross had delivered triplets this morning at the hospital, or done some other complicated thing involving another woman’s uterus and that’s why we had such a long wait.  He was involved with  lots of women’s reproductive systems this morning…young women with uteruses way more active and alive  than mine.  But mine has served me and the universe well over the years, having provided a  safe and perfect womb for three healthy fetuses to grow to full term and then exerted its timing and muscle to press them out into the world.  And  it expelled and aborted one fetus it knew wasn’t healthy.   My uterus has lived a clean, honest, hardworking life.  I need to honor, respect, care for, and thank my uterus.

This afternoon I called the doctor back and scheduled another appointment.   The receptionist recognized me of course.  I told her I didn’t want to wait an hour or more.  She explained that sometimes the doctor arrives late from his rounds at the hospital and probably the safest bet is 11:30 AM.  I am scheduled for 11:30 AM, next Thursday.  I’ll bring a book and in my restless moments of waiting I will pause to think of all the things in my life I am grateful for and to feel deeply the  appreciation I have for the long life and faithfulness of my uterus, my friend, my womb.

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4 Responses to “My Post-Menopausal Uterus”

  1. Twitch Says:

    This is classic and all women can relate to the uterine dilemma. Thanks for sharing this real feel.

  2. rosie Says:

    Jody, this is great. I just arrived home at 6:30 and read it what fun. I believe that you have touched a cord with many women. You go girl.

    Love ya Rosie

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