FILED IN: Parenting

Breathless in the saddle.

You’ve seen this — haven’t you?
MENtal illness.
MENstrual cramps.
MENtal breakdown.
Ever notice how all women’s problems start with men?
Surly sentiments (typically about men) printed on t-shirts, bumper stickers and anything else quoting women, about being a woman, for a reason.
If only men knew half of what we women go through, physically.
And it’s like another quote I recently read (and nearly spewed my diet beverage all over my shiny new laptop) says, “Going to a male gynecologist is like going to a mechanic who’s never owned a car!”
Don’t get me wrong – this is not one of those “man vs. woman” (or) Mars is way better than Venus sort of debates – I’m just saying that perhaps being a woman is a disease that is best treated, in the familiar.
“Okay…Dad’s home…and I gotta go.”
**smooches, hugs and a quick tousle of blonde hair**
“Help each other out and pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze be good for Daddy.”
Not that my husband can’t handle our kids, or anything….but….well….you know.
I took one good look around, pushed the dog away with my left foot, slammed the front door and met my husband halfway up the driveway. A quick peck hello, one more goodbye and I took another look at my watch before downing what was left of my water bottle and jumping into the minivan.
“Good luck!”
My body has been invaded by some unknown force, or forces — terribly wearing on the mind and depleting me of what little energy stores I had left — and in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “Of course you know, this means war!?!”
Full metal jacket, baby.
I was scheduled for a major overhaul and halfway to the hospital, I mentally went over the game plan.
Me: First, we hit the baseline mammogram. Then, when our water stores will be at their limit, we hit the ultrasound — both pelvic and vaginal — and depending on the outcome, we’ll just have to play it by ear.
Self: Check.
Me:  Finished the last of the gallons of water?
Self:  Check…we’re fully loaded and ready…we’re packin’!
Me:  Good.
I found a parking place rather quickly and hoped that this was a good sign. And on the ride up, to soothe a sudden attack of nerves, my imaginary elevator operator announced upon our arrival:
Fourth Floor! Middle-Aged Maintenance, Bone Density, Damaged Goods Imaging and Boobie Patrol!

“Whatever, dude…I’m packin’!”
I stepped off the elevator and thought it must have been someone’s idea of a joke…making all of us used-up, tired and physically aggravated old broads share a floor with the maternity ward.
“And how are you, Mrs. Thompson?”
The receptionist gave me a big toothy grin and all of sudden, I had to pee…like mad.
“Um…(gulp)…I’m…(intake of air)…uh…(grabbing crotch)…I gotta pee!”
Well, didn’t I just look as old and spent as I felt at the moment!?! But, being a woman — and the fact that she must see her fare share of our ilk during the day — she nodded her head, placed a hand on my shoulder and reassured me that this was the reason why old ironsides like me are….pre-registered.
I go and put on the funky little pink top – with the ties all over that I can’t seem to figure out – and sit where I’m told; nearly pulling every muscle in my neck trying to watch The Simpsons on the tiny television (hey, weren’t all men such Homers?!?) and still had to pee…like mad.
“I’m ready for you, Elizabeth.”
I go in and my personal boobie patrol officer explains to me how she is going to…um…make my breasts conform…to this big, white, cold piece of metal that will literally hold my future in its steely grip and I couldn’t take it any longer.
**blank stare**
“I mean, I don’t think I’m going to make it. Can I…like…just go a little, you know, to take the edge off?”
She thought it was a great idea and I nearly knocked her over — by running into her with my boobs escaping their flimsy hold and flapping every which way — but, immediately felt better by simply sitting on the toilet.
“Okay, just a squirt.”
I grabbed my stomach, closed my eyes in concentration….and peed a freaking river.
“Where you able to save some?”
**looking downward**
“Just taking that initial pressure off feels a whole lot better, right!?!”
**picking at the ties hanging this way and that**
Okay, I lied…how sad is that!?!  But, being a woman and all, I believed that I couldn’t possibly feel as if I could stoop any lower (or wider, for that matter) than I have in my 41 years with a vagina, and all.
“Okay, Elizabeth…I’ve finished with your abdomen and, I have to say, for having had four kids…and all…you have a very nice looking belly and uterus. Oh, and you can go and relieve yourself, freely.”
I couldn’t jump off a metal table fast enough, naked, if I tried. It felt so good and I thanked the pelvic police and told her how happy I was with her and how nice the boobie patrol officer was to me.
“It’s the little gifts we like, right!?!”
Amen, sistah!
“Now, I’m going to pass you this probe through the bottom of the sheet, so that you can help me guide it into your vagina, and be careful, because it’s covered in goo!”
And I swear to you…I froze. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. Nada. And it’s not like I’ve never had those words said to me before, but like…huh!?!
Feeling totally invaded – not to mention lower than the lowest low – I finally snapped out of my humiliation-induced coma. 
“Pre-menopausal or not, I’d say you’ve got quite a few miles left, Mrs. Thompson!
But, surprisingly, I suddenly didn’t feel as old as I did walking into the joint.
Perhaps a bit more “seasoned” than some…still…I’m healthy, had all my original parts, and (staring at the seascape print pinned to the ceiling) I thought…hell, yes!… I do have a nice looking uterus!
“It’s okay, Elizabeth…I’ll be gentle.”
So, I grabbed the penis-like looking probe, closed my eyes.
“Go on,” I said breathlessly, “I bet you say that to all the pre-menopausal women you meet!”