The Girlie Chronicles: Revelation, Part II

(Note: As the title indicates, this is the second of a two-part story. To read things in order, scroll to the entry directly below this. We wouldn't want you to be confused...)

Propelled by the paw at my back, I take a seat in one of a pair of 1970s Danish modern chairs placed before the fertility doctor's desk. The worst is over, I tell myself, glad to be un-naked and in a room without stirrups.

The Varmint arranges himself in the other chair with a confidence-boosting little smile in my direction. The chair upholstery has been well-worn by a thousand other hineys. The doc's got himself a corner office with a view of the La Jolla coastline and the Torrey Pines golf course.

"Man, in Doctor World, this is pretty much Shangri-la, isn't it?" I say in my out-loud voice. Oops.

He laughs, gathering papers from the bookshelf behind him. As he arranges the documents into a little folder, he is happily chatting about art. He likes that we're artists. He then pauses, inhales deeply and visibly shifts into doctor-mode.

"First," he pulls out a scientific illustration and points, "this is a normal ovary. It's smooth and pink and round."

He pauses, pulls out another illustration. "Now this is what your ovary looks like. It's a textbook polycystic ovary. These bumps here? They're eggs that have not been released. They cause a traffic jam of sorts, harden and turn into cysts."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Here. I'm going to try to replicate the illustration for you, below. Essentially, what you need to know is that if normal ovaries looked like Brad Pitt, mine would look like Marty Feldman.

"What causes it?" asks The Varmint, ever so sanely.

"We're unsure," replies the Doc. "There's a hormone imbalance of some kind - but your case is very mild. You exhibit none of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Your body doesn't react well to insulin, we think, and since PCOS can lead to diabetes, I want to test your body's reaction to a sugar spike." He looks at me. "You'll need to take a rather involved blood test."

Needles. Great.

"Now, while we'll have to put you on medication to manage the PCOS, the good news is we can work with this.

I think I can get you pregnant within the year, but because you're 38, we need to get moving. Time is of the essence," he grins, clapping and rubbing his hands together.

Wait. Um, Varmintlings? We weren't... I mean, this was just to see if...

Awww. Shit.

I sigh and slump into my chair. I look over. In a moment of clarity, I see The Varmint grinning from ear to ear. He looks excited. Happy. And, dare I say it? Relieved, even. Wow. Who knew?

"There are no guarantees, of course," says the Doc, finger wagging, "but I feel good about it. We'll need to take some preliminary tests, get you started on some drugs, and oh yes," he looks over at The Varmint. "We will need a semen sample."

Is it awful to confess that at the point The Varmint's face clouds over, I have my first moment of pure joy since arriving at the fertility clinic? Dual parts schadenfreude and commiseration.

Hey. I'm human.

"And the one thing I don't want you to do," the Doc says, his gaze returning to me, "is to get on the Internet when you leave my office and go reading about PCOS. The symptoms will scare the hell out of you."

Huh? "Um, dude? You have no idea who you're talking to, here," I say, oblivious to the fact I just called my doctor dude. "Go ahead and tell me that, but the first thing I'm doing is when I get home is surfing to a chat room. Better you tell me than, say, Ethel Mae in Buttmunch, Iowa..." He blinks. (I realize now that he was probably in shock that someone called him dude or maybe it was the unfortunate Buttmunch, Iowa joke - but at the time I thought he was just measuring me up.)

Sighing, he starts in. "PCOS can lead to diabetes, heart disease and perhaps cancer." (Here my brain snarkily, and thankfully silently replies, What doesn't?) "The common symptoms of PCOS are weight gain around the middle leading to obesity. It can cause baldness or thinning hair - especially on the top of the head. PCOS patients commonly suffer from hirsutism - that means hair on the face and body," he pauses, "Oh, and adult acne. It also causes adult acne."

My mouth goes dry. I'm paralyzed. I gulp, hoping to stimulate some saliva production so I can say something, but I'm just opening and shutting my mouth, like a big mouth bass. I feel The Varmint shake me a little. "Tam?"

I can't reply. All I can see is an image of my new self, lying on the beach, like Jabba the Hutt in a bikini. It won't go away. Make it go away. I think I whimper at some point.

"As I mentioned, you exhibit none of the symptoms," says the Doc. He tries to be reassuring, but his tone says it all: I told you so.

"And after hearing about your lifestyle, you won't need to make too many changes. You already exercise and eat well. Those are the keys to effectively negating the symptoms of PCOS. Plus, in combination with the drug I'm going to prescribe, you'll never develop the symptoms - and you'll probably drop a few pounds and improve your complexion besides."

I snap-to. Sure, in the last five minutes I learned that what I believed about my body my entire life - that I never had periods because I was an emaciated jock - was nothing but a shaggy dog story.

I learned that I may have a hormone imbalance that will make me look like Orson Welles. I discovered that the odds that I'll get diabetes, heart disease and cancer just went up.

I found out I might be having a kid within a year - and that my sweet and loving husband has been squirreling away some potent daddy urges. And yet?

The girliest part of me is crouched in the corner, giggling maniacally and rubbing her hands together: I get to look svelte and smooth - and my insurance has to pay for every single cent of the magic beauty drug that will make it happen! JOY! I hold on to that thought, smiling as we leave the clinic.

I'll think about the rest of it later. For now, it's enough that The Varmint's frowning and muttering at the plastic cup in his hand as he fumbles for his car keys.

Oh, this is gonna be good.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >