My Good Friend, Lucy

I love summer.

I love to float in the pool with my arms thrown over the sides of an inner tube, or take long wandering walks in the heat, sweat streaking my face and down my back as my tennis shoes stick just a little to the tarry roads. I love to sit in a hammock (still don’t have one) in the back yard and read a good book. I love to grill pork burgers slathered with Cairo Bar-BQ Sauce (tangy) or Sweet Baby Rays, or follow little 1 1/2 year old Wonder as he dances around the back yard. I love to drink chilled Rosé or a homemade shandy  equal parts Mich Ultra and San Pellegrino Limonata on the back porch while swatting at mosquitos because they have an affinity for my ankles. I love to wake on a cool enough morning that the window is open; I can hear the birds bickering while the squirrels chatter. Hell, I even love planning and working on Isky’s wedding, and she will tell you with judicious restraint that her mother is at best a reluctant wedding planner with mostly terrible ideas and an inappropriate sense of humor–apparently booze, music, and food isn’t her preferred theme.

Here’s what I don’t love in the summer–taking Lucy in for an endometrial biopsy.

Lucy is my uterus. She has been a good friend for many years. I can’t say I was much aware of Lucy until she made herself known with a shot of blood when I was in the 6th grade although I’d read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret at least 500 times by then, so I was ready for her.

Since that cold day in January 37 years ago, Lucy has been a conscientious and dependable partner. She did her part to make sure my own youthful stupidity didn’t end up in an unwanted pregnancy by being super regular and, I believe, somewhat hostile to invited but last-minute guests. By the same token, she welcomed each of the four little zygotes that made their way and burrowed into her nourishing walls.  She grew the most beautiful babies, full-bodied little chubs–two with full heads of hair and two bald as can be. For that alone, she deserves a YOU ARE THE BEST UTERUS! medal.

But she continued on, long after the babies were born, doing good work–creating a welcoming environment and shedding it with steadfast determination. When I turned forty, Lucy got a little cantankerous. Peri-menopause had its way with the both of us. I think she just wasn’t quite ready to give up the ghost, and who could blame her.

In my opinion peri-menopause was a helluva lot worse than actual menopause–did you know that menopause is just one freaking day–the day it has been a year since your last period commenced? I had no idea, so I guess I should say that peri-menopause was more difficult than post-menopause,  but maybe not for Lucy.

So why did I have to take Lucy in for an endometrial biopsy? Because I had a period while I was on vacation. A full-blown period with sore and tender breasts and cramping and blood–the likes of which I hadn’t seen for 19 months. Of course, you don’t have a period when you are post-menopausal. You have post-menopausal bleeding, and that has to be checked out because it could indicate cancer. Gosh, cancer is a scary word. I hate to admit that I am scared to say or even write cancer, but I do anyway because the sort of magical thinking that allows us to believe that ignoring something can strike it from existence is dangerous (but that’s another blog post, for sure).

So post-vacation and post-menopause, I took Lucy to the doctor for a check-up. I wasn’t planning on having an endometrial biopsy, but my doc thought it necessary, and so we proceeded. Have you ever had one? It isn’t pleasant. I’m pretty sure that Lucy was pissed and rightly so. It entails a practitioner trying to squeeze a long pipette in through the cervix right into Lucy. She tried to protect herself. Who knew my cervix could be so wily, all moving around in there, dodging the pipette. You would think I’d have known just how capable my cervix was; she’s been a real trooper my entire life. But I was surprised and a teensy bit dismayed when my doctor said he was (at this moment) clamping my lovely cervix in place. What?

And oh boy, he did. Ouch. That shit hurt. And it hurt when the pipette inched its way into Lucy and scraped around. I could feel it–the scraping. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the least amount of fun I’d had in a long time. And poor Lucy. Scraping.

I’m a worry wart. I hate the word biopsy. I don’t want anything bad to happen to Lucy. I don’t want her to be sick. But I also know that there could come a time when we may have to say our goodbyes. Lots of women do.

The biopsy was benign.

I suspect that I just had a period. I imagine that Lucy lovingly continued, long after that period 19 months ago, to create a warm and welcoming space just in case new life burrowed once again into her flourishing walls. It probably took her much longer, in her advanced age, to create this space, and finally she had to let go.

It sure is hard letting go, isn’t it. Even when I think I’m learning how, I find out that my body is struggling in the very same way. It’s news to me all the time, that I’m not in some mortal fight with this strong and competent body of mine (losing weight, gaining weight, staying fit, growing muscle or babies), but that we–my body and I–are one and the same.

I guess I’m in Lucy, and she’s in me.


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