Sunday, 4 September 2011

sometimes it's hard to be a woman


I was on recuperative & hopefully inspirational trip, but as I write this, I am waiting to be discharged from a Scottish hospital following emergency treatment for a ruptured ovarian cyst, caused by a long term development of a disease called endometriosis.

I have experienced true, transformative pain in the last 3 days. Every moment I am away from those absolutely awful hours of agonising, shrieking pain, I rejoice. But my celebrations can only be reserved for the brilliant & swift diagnosis, surgery & aftercare of the men & women who looked after me at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. (Go NHS Scotland!). I'll rant on about how I'll string Andrew Lansley up by his currently pain-free testicles if he takes a penny away from these amazing people another time...

I have some difficult weeks ahead. I may have to cancel some lovely work I have in the diary (I may not, I'll see how tough this old bird is...) I also have to get better. But I have to now get to my own doctor at home & start treating this incurable disease. Incurable disease. It sounds very dramatic when you say it like that, I will be able to carry on with my normal life but that normal life won't quite be the same again.

I don't have children & at 40, am unlikely to. A combination of not the right time, not the right man, & when it did happen (by accident, mind) I lost it at 6 weeks anyway. Also, I don't think I want to have a child. Anyone who knows me well, will be aware that if I do really want something I'll pretty much keep going until it's mine. So, that ambivalence is telling me my heart wouldn't be in it. I like children & society enough not to chuck out yet another human being with attachment issues.

I'm revealing all this very personal biography as it is intrinsic to my incurable disease & my current stay in hospital. Endometriosis is either diminished or unlikely to develop in women who have children. My lifestyle choice has lead me to this moment.

This year, a friend's wife gave birth to their lovely daughter. She is indeed a 'miracle baby' as his wife ( in her early 40s) has been through many rounds of IVF to finally achieve her dream of being a mum. My friend said whilst watching his wife go through the gruelling treatment & then the hours & hours of labour, it crossed his mind that he's very glad he's not a woman.

If a woman goes through the frankly heroic act of pregnancy, labour & birth, her body is altered, possibly injured & basically, I think it hurts. I am sure that plenty, if not all mums will say it's worth it for the joy motherhood can bring, but I bet they would not choose to go through a battle of body against nature to achieve being a mum if they didn't have to & there was an easier way of getting a baby out from within.

If a woman does not have a child, she risks a slap on the wrist from mother nature in the shape of 'an incurable disease'. Choosing to not let out your womb on nine month, short term tenancies appears to be a health risk as much as doing so.

Indeed, I don't ignore the fact that men have plenty of gender-specific medical complications that can occur & boy, do they suffer 'down below' when they get a smack.

But for a woman & reproduction, there's not much more that justifies the phrase 'damned if you do, damned if you don't.' I don't mean to damn a woman for having a child. I mean that she will probably suffer, whatever she does.

I'm not blaming anyone, I'm not implying that Cameron or Thatcher or the Tax Payers Alliance are responsible (although I wish I could, just for chuckles) or anything that baseless. I just hope we appreciate that being a woman is hard work, pure and simple & we don't deserve the debasing, the routine sexism we encounter & the continuing saga of unequal pay when let's face it, our bodies are at the very heart of whether human kind functions & continues at all.

I plan to take my 'End' on, like a fool that's lost its way in the middle of my body & start treatment as soon as possible. But I'll never forget the hours in the middle of the night after my operation, in awful pain, sobbing & feeling immensely sorry for myself, wishing, momentarily, that I had been born a man.

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