Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ladybrain review of: maybe, probably having mono

I am exhausted. All the time. I've had this lingering sore throat bullshit going on. Swollen tonsils, difficulty swallowing, etc. So, after the near-fruitless adventure of navigating the cesspool that is the American medical system, laced with a good amount of procrastination, I finally got a doctor's appointment. This was so fucking hard to do. So hard. And I work for a non-profit; they practically pay me in insurance. I cannot imagine trying to get any sort of halfway decent medical care while un- or under-insured. I don't know that I'm qualified to write on the travesty that is our healthcare system, so I'll leave that for another day (or a better informed author), and move on to my anecdotal experience.

My doctor, once I could finally find one who would take me, was quite good. And thorough. He had all these adorable, just-finishing-med-school, white-coated helpers. He was patient with them and explained everything he was doing, and politely questioned their conclusions, to make them think things through. My scared looking lab-coat helper was a dude named Luke. Luke was adorable. He also didn't bat an eye when asking me about my dating habits and sexual activity. After hearing my symptoms and the duration, he understandably had an interest in who I've been swapping fluids with. He scrupulously avoided male or female pronouns, and when I decided to just clear the air and tell him I swap saliva with women, he launched into a very matter of fact and rather informative talk on the safe-sex practices best suited for lesbians. Of course, how to keep yourself safe (even if you're a lesbian) should be taught in, you know, schools, before people are likely to be sexually active, as opposed to doctor's offices, to people in their mid-twenties, but that's another rant.

So, in addition to being scheduled for blood work, they checked to see if my spleen was enlarged (apparently if it is mono, I've just been BEGGING for a ruptured spleen by continuing to box for the last two months), and had me do this crazy EKG, breathing mask, riding a bike test. To see if I have blood vessel constriction around my heart. This is apparently rather common, and presents as fatigue. If someone my age, in good shape, comes in to a good doctor complaining of two months of illness and fatigue, they take it rather seriously, it seems. So I left the doctor's office covered in EKG pads, looking like a robot, or a riveted pair of jeans (the clinician said she suggested that I take them off in the shower due to the strong adhesive. they were so visible through my shirt that i ripped them off at the bus stop).

So here's the long and short of it, everybody. Mono: it sucks. Final verdict.

It made me realize something, as I was dragging my ass home from the doctor's office, looking and feeling like I'd been shot at and missed, and shit at and hit. It was this: Being a woman takes a lot of energy. I got street harassed three or four times on my way home. This is common in my neighborhood. But yesterday, I didn't even have the energy to flip them off. I didn't even have the energy to debate with myself over whether or not flipping them off was a good idea. I felt too exhausted to brush my hair, when i got out of the shower. Shaving my legs was out of the question. I didn't have a snappy comeback when I was riding my bike to work this morning and a car decided I was too slow off the line after a stop sign, and thus prevented him from making a right turn, for about .4 seconds. He called me a stupid bitch, and I just rolled on, barely perturbed.

Normally, my armor from all of the things that make me feel shitty for existing while female is 50 percent umbrage/feminist awareness and 50 percent compromise and compliance trying to fly under the radar (hence the leg shaving). But my recent exhaustion and near-apathy has been a kind of armor, too. A tempting, easy kind. But here's the thing: it SHOULD piss me off to be called a stupid bitch for basically no reason. It SHOULD piss me off that I can't walk around my own neighborhood without being cat-called and hissed at. And the people doing these things should know that it's entirely unacceptable.

But it's just so exhausting sometimes.

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