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Am I or Aren’t I?

Now that age 50 is on the horizon (three months away), it looks like I get to play the “Am I pregnant or is it menopause?” game. Yay.

I haven’t had any crazy serious menopause symptoms, really – a hot flash here and there, the occasional night sweats … I had the weight gain, for sure, especially in the stomach area, but that was one of the big reasons I started counting calories and exercising, so I can’t even get too upset about it. Probably the one thing I really noticed was that (ALERT ALERT female talk commencing – just want to warn any guys out there) my periods started getting irregular towards the end of last year.

I started using an app called Period Tracker, and it’s been great. My periods were doing a pretty regular thing where one cycle would be 24-27 days, the next would be in the teens (usually 17-19 days), the next back to 24-27 days, so on and so on. The app would gamely try to estimate the first day of my next period, but it was usually wrong.

For May, it estimated my start date as May 4. I always count exactly 28 days from the start of my last period and note that on our kitchen calendar. (Discreetly, with a little ‘p’ in pencil, not ‘MY PERIOD STARTS TODAY!’ in Sharpie or anything.) I would usually start three to four days before that. My estimate for this month was May 9th.

Now, we don’t use birth control, okay? Before his chemo and bone marrow transplant in 1993, Dave was asked if he wanted to freeze any of his, um, little swimmers for possible future progeny. The assumption was that between the damage done by the leukemia already (which was caught later rather than sooner), the major chemo drugs, and the bone marrow transplant, he would become permanently sterile. He declined the offer, and I knew from the early days of our relationship that we would not have any red-headed curly-haired babies. (Sob – I would have loved to have a baby with Dave!)

So I’ve never really paid any attention to my fertile periods, ovulation days, what have you. I do remember one or two scares, when I was in my mid-30s, when I would be late, we’d buy a pregnancy test and then hold our collective breath as we waited for the results. Usually I got my period the day or two after I did the test. Dave’s main worry was that if I did somehow get pregnant, the baby’s DNA would be seriously damaged by the affect of the chemo on his aforementioned swimmers. We always worried for naught.

In the last week of April, I was going through a frustrating period with my weight. It always fluctuates because I weigh myself every day (digital scale compulsion), but usually the general trend is downward. (Four more pounds to goal weight #1!) That week, though, it was trending UP and it was starting to frustrate me. Not by huge amounts, just .2 or .4of a pound, but usually it goes up and then goes back down, you know? I complained about it to Dave, and he laughed and said, “Well, maybe you’re pregnant!”

Let’s just say I didn’t laugh along with him. Instead, I panicked. “Wait, WHAT? I always thought you said we couldn’t get pregnant!” I opened my app and realized that if we could get pregnant, there was a possibility based on timing. If you get my drift. While I freaked out, Dave said, “Well, they never gave me a test or sperm count because the VA doesn’t do that. I guess there’s a very small possibility it could happen.”

Well, hot damn. I was a complete mess! I proceeded to worry every single day until May 4th, the first possible day I might get my period. That day came and went and nothing happened, no spotting, no nothing.

Although he is not a worrier, I did manage to get Dave as nervous as he possibly could be. “Can you imagine?” I fretted. “I’d be FIFTY YEARS OLD when I had the baby! I’d be … (pause to do mental arithmetic) … 68 when the kid graduated high school. You’d be 77!” By the time I was done, Dave was as worried as I’d ever seen him look.

I’d estimated my period to arrive by Friday, May 9, and it almost always came before my estimate. On Thursday night, I tried to think reasonably. I mean, what is it they say – when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras? Okay, so I might miss my period. But I’m 49, my husband is most likely sterile – it’s probably pre-menopause or the start of actual menopause, not a baby. I did some Googling and although the consensus was menopause, every site still said, “Keep in mind that you can get pregnant during menopause!” which was no help to my frayed nerves.

Then I asked Dave to do some research. Some sites said you could regain fertility after chemo, depending on the type and strength of the chemo used. I had no idea what they used on Dave, so he looked it up for me (turns out it was Cytoxan, Busulfan and ARA C). After he looked it up, he seemed very relieved. It turns out that the combination of the chemo medications is pretty toxic to a man’s fertility, so we weren’t being silly to assume. (Combined with the fact that we’ve been together since 1998 and never got pregnant.)

On Friday we ran errands, and I bought a two pack of pregnancy tests while Dave rolled his eyes. At this point we weren’t worrying any more, but I knew I had to do a test just to get an answer once and for all. The brand, First Response Early Result, is supposed to detect hCG up to six days before your period starts, and you don’t have to use first morning urine. So I came home, took the test and then waited. I couldn’t see anything happening; then Dave came in and said, “So it’s negative, huh?” Like this:


Yes, I took a picture of the test!

Turns out I had been staring at the part you pee on, waiting to see a result. He had to point out the result window to me. Can you tell it’s been a long time since I’d done this?! That was with the instructions laid out next to the test, after I’d read them meticulously three times.

On a side note, I’ve never been able to just pee on the stick. I’m always afraid I’ll either pee on my hand (ugh), miss the stick and waste the pee, or not be able to pee for the five straight seconds you need to. I always pee into a disposable cup and dip the test. Aren’t you glad I told you that?! (And could I say ‘pee’ anymore?! Geez.)

My worries were over, but my period still never came. Since the box had two tests, I figured it would be prudent to take a second one after I was officially a week late (using my estimated date, five days later than the app’s estimated date). I cheated and did the test yesterday morning instead of this morning, and it too was negative.

So now I’m kind of excited, imagining the freedom of no more periods. We’ll see if it just shows up terribly late, or I just don’t get it anymore (I doubt it will be that easy). At first I was worried I’d be buying pregnancy tests all the time, if my period starts being seriously crazy, but now I think I’m just gonna chill out and accept the fact that we are not going to be making any babies.

On a funny side note, I was telling my mom and daughter about this on (appropriately enough) Mother’s Day, and Paige’s face lit up as she asked, “If you aren’t getting your period any more, can I have all your supplies?!” I told her I wasn’t sure this was totally the end, but I did gift her a big stash and she has dibs on the rest when the time comes. Good riddance, I say. 😉

Self-Sacrifice | Willpower | Becoming Bionic

My two weeks with regular contact lenses is almost up.  Earlier today, I put my head on Dave’s shoulder and mock-sobbed with relief, “I just ordered bifocal contacts!”  He patted me on the back and said, “You done good, kid.”  As the kids and I know, that is High Praise from Dave…his way of saying, “Holy crap, you did an amazing job!”

I hang my head in shame as I admit that after the first day, I seriously thought, “I can’t do this.  I can’t spend another day wearing these contacts.”  It sucks so bad.  I hate wearing glasses, and here I am, wearing (reading) glasses almost all day long.  I have to wear them to see during just about every activity I engage in, except for watching TV and driving.  At the end of the day, when I finally take the glasses off, I can still feel them on the bridge of my nose.  It’s like phantom pain, except not really pain, just pressure.

I know how whiny and spoiled I sound, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.  😉  Wearing regular contacts after being used to bifocal contacts is like going back to Windows 3.1.  But I did it, man.  I’m wearing these suckers for their full two weeks, so I have to suffer until this Friday.  But then I can switch to the one pair of bifocals I’ve been hoarding…by the time I’m done with those, my new shipment of contact lenses will be here.  Huzzah!

In other amazing feats of self-sacrifice, yesterday was National Ice Cream Day.  Did you know that?  I didn’t realize until someone mentioned it on Facebook in the early evening.  I like me some ice cream, but nobody likes ice cream like Dave does.  It was no surprise when he turned to me after dinner and casually said, “Hey, maybe we’ll run out and get some ice cream later on.”  This is kind of a big deal for us because we almost never eat after dinner – we eat early (we’re usually finished by 6 pm) and then don’t eat again until around 10 am the next day.  After some discussion, we decided to use a Culver’s coupon for Concrete Mixers.

Since we don’t do this very often, we didn’t know what flavors they had.  I pulled up the Culver’s website so we could check out our options, and then made the mistake of clicking on the Nutrition tab.  The coupon was for a medium size (buy one, get one free), and the calories in one Concrete Mixer of that size were equal to about half of my entire daily allotment of calories.  If I hadn’t read that, I probably could have eaten the entire thing without a second thought.  Instead, I did some quick math and decided to split it into three servings:  One for last night, and the other two for today (one for me, one for Dave).

So yes, I came home and weighed my Concrete Mixer, took out five ounces and put the rest in the freezer.  How’s that for willpower?  (Well, I know I could have just not had any at all but…it was National Ice Cream Day!)  I got Mint Oreo, and it was really freaking good.

When we went out for the ice cream (custard…we’ll call it the same thing), we realized it had really cooled off.  Yesterday started off fairly pleasant, and then hit ‘hot, humid, disgusting’ levels by early afternoon.  We had the air conditioning on and had pretty much stayed inside all day so we were pleasantly surprised by the cool outside air.  We came home, turned off the A/C and opened the windows.  When we went to bed, though, I had to turn on the overhead fan.  Poor Dave.

This is how it goes in our house lately, thanks to my perimenopause and Dave’s thyroid craziness.  I never used to sweat, ever.  I mean, I could do the Jane Fonda workout and not a bead of sweat would grace my brow.  Now that I’m staring down menopause (not there yet, but I’m almost 49 so it’s on the distant horizon), I sweat.  Especially if it’s humid.  And I’m not used to it, so it grosses me out.  It’s like walking around wearing a damp bathing suit under your clothes, all day long.

One thing that helps is keeping a fan going, blowing cool air on my skin.  But Dave’s crazy thyroid makes him get cold much easier, so while I’m standing in front of a fan, he’s wrapping up in a quilt.  I saw the look on his face when I turned on the bedroom fan before climbing into bed, so I took my side of the sheet and blanket and threw it over him, wrapping him like a burrito.  Poor guy!  His next thyroid test is this Friday.  He’s been feeling less tired, so we think his thyroid level must be coming down, but things still don’t feel ‘right’ just yet.  We’ll know more when his test result comes back next week.

Today, by the way, is the day I had my cochlear implant surgery five years ago.  (Let’s just say that I feel a LOT better right now than I did at this time five years ago.)  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to just go about my business on July 22 without remembering that.  This is the day I became bionic!

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