At one point last week, my mother, my aunt and myself were all sitting together on the sofa, aunt and self taking it in turns to rub Mum’s feet and make tea, while the men went off and did Manly Things in the kitchen. Given that my mother had just had her lady parts surgically Dealt With, the conversation naturally turned to, well, gynaecology. And the following points were established:

  1. When they opened Mum up and looked, her dermoid cyst/teratoma/whateverthefuckyoucallthem was actually twisting again, and had she gone with her preferred more convenient October date for surgery, well, actually, she wouldn’t have got to October, and ambulances may well have been involved. So. I am glad I told her the sooner the better. *Buries face in hands. Shudders.*
  2. My mother is having an almighty fit of guilt for not taking me seriously when I, as a teenager, used to fall down clutching my abdomen and puking as my grapefruit-sized teratoma twisted and turned and pressed on my left ovary. Now that the same thing has happened to her, she feels dreadful for having been dismissive of my pain. I feel very conflicted about this. I certainly didn’t want her to ‘get’ it by the Severely Practical Method. I hate that she was in so much pain herself. I’d rather she never got it as long as she lived, if it spared her this. But Bitter McTwisted (who seems to be channelling Yoda’s bitchy cousin) curled her lip and muttered: ‘Hah! 18 years late, your sympathy is.’ And I can’t quite despise Bee McTee for it.
  3. My aunt attempted a competitive ‘well, my periods used to be really painful’ sally at this point. After some minutes’ elaboration, we agreed that anything a hot-water-bottle and a glass of wine could sort out wasn’t, after all, in the same league as The Puke-a-thon. After which, I gracefully ceded the Chief Sufferer Conch to my mother for a while, and Bitter McTwisted looked insufferably smug.
  4. Another thing that we established: all my maternal aunts – and there are a lot of them – were in their mid-fifties when they finally hit the menstrual buffers and binned the tampons for good. As was my grandmother (who had her last two children in her 40s). I am so screwed.

After this, the conversation turned to yoga, Chinese herbs, The Power of Vitamins, Shiatsu massage, ear-candles and Positive Thinking. I let the Positive Thinking Fairy run my share of this conversation. We both had to sit on Bitter McTwisted’s head for the duration, mind you. I am so over alternative ‘medicine’. My aunt, however, is very Woo, and my mother would be if only her beastly daughters would stop nagging her about science and evidence and randomised double-blind controlled trials. I was pretty Woo myself, in my eager wide-eyed youth. Eheu, I feel old and cynical. And right, of course, but mostly old and cynical.

(Also, another probably twenty years before I reach the menopause. I think I may have to faint now. And to think that for most women this would be a grand cause of celebration and relief. Life is such a random shit-bag like that).

Later on, my mother apologised to me all over again for being underwhelmed by my own ovarian cyst issues. And then apologised for never taking my painful and heavy periods particularly seriously either. And I squirmed and tried to change the subject. Years I’ve spent, waiting for my mother to acknowledge the fact that I was a most unfortunate woman and not a hypochondriac or malingerer. Years. And when she finally not only admits that she was wrong and unhelpful on the subject, but is profoundly sorry for having ever been so, I curl up like a salted slug and pretend to be deaf. I do not pretend to understand myself.


9 responses to “Genetics

  • a

    Well, of course, if Bitter McTwisted were actually in charge, she would enjoy the vindication. However, as it is May that is actually in charge, the realization that comes at such a high price can’t be satisfying.

    20 years? Really? *cringing in sympathy*

  • Quiet Dreams

    20 years is an awfully long time. And seeing as you’ve developed the habit of not getting sympathy from family members (not including dear H), I imagine that, yes, it would be somewhat a shock to the system to suddenly get some acknowledgement.

    • Hairy Farmer Family

      Absolutely. And, of course, it’s not the Calm, Practical, Stiff Upper Lipped WAY to accept sympathy with a practised pathos. We’re just not used to it, and are frantically embarrassed by the attention. Quick! Diversionary humour! Look at the weather! Is that a Great Auk? Was that thunder? I simply MUST have a wee!

      *Lightning-bolt cartoon-like disappearance, complete with rotating legs in cloud of dust and comedy PeeeOOOWW! sound effect*

      Capable Well-Read British Women suffer grimly in silence – unless they have a blog, of course – confining their moans to their spouse. Because that is simply what shape the mould is. Damme if I know how to break it, either!

  • valery valentina

    You can borrow my menopause for the rest of the year if you like? I don’t seem to have made real plans for it yet. My paternal grandmother had her three children in her 40s. She was born summer 1901, my aunt feb 1946. Sadly for me, those genetics came without guarantee.

    Glad you survived the alternative talk. But I hope science comes up with better pills for you within 20 years.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    I started out in life as very anti-woo, and probably left myself absolutely no-where to go in terms of becoming even more anti-woo. It simply couldn’t happen: I was already against the Anti-Woo wall. Over the last 5 or so years, I have gradually acknowledged that the mind/body link *is* in fact, a link. And a complex one. I sternly resisted the concept that the way I thought could have any positive impact on my fertility – and I still do, I suppose, at heart – just not quite so rigidly. I give a grudging nod towards the Holistic, these days. Vitamins, yes, if you don’t already eat a balanced diet. But I don’t think I could sustain an Ear Candle conversation without snorting like a grampus, so I think you did frightfully well to suppress Bee McTee for the duration.

    ‘Hit the menstrual buffers’ is the BEST phrase I have heard… well, since your last brilliant one, probably. You have simply no idea how cheered I feel when ‘Nuts in May’ pops up in the feed. You must write, dear. Other places than here. And let me read it. Yes yes yes.

  • twangy

    Yes. Gawd, sympathy undoes me faster than anything. And yet, I am miffed if it is not applied. In the right way. At the right moment.

    Not difficult at all, me.

    (Yes. WRITE, as above. Your country needs you! The reading public needs you!)

  • Dr Spouse

    Well, not screwed in the “ovaries giving up and refusing to get pregnant” sense, though obviously in the “racked with pain the rest of us can’t understand” sense.

    I find it a bit odd that anyone would distinguish between mind and body. You’d have no mind if you didn’t have a brain, which is (doh!) part of your body.

  • Laurel

    I guess I think there’s a place for Woo, but it’s a subtle place. It is not going to fix twisted up inner parts or pain that doesn’t submit to heavy-duty painkillers or floods of blood. Nor is it necessarily going to make any sort of obvious cause-and-effect linkage. That’s why it’s Woo. It is not a good plan, if you are confronting Serious Health Things, to rely on Woo. That’s my perspective anyway.

    As for your mother in general… sigh. Not surprised your feelings are so mixed. It seems that whenever life actually, finally hands us the satisfying opportunity to shriek, all Daffy-Duck-like, “HA! I TOLD you so! But would you listen?! Nooooo…” it is the last thing we actually want to do, and it doesn’t actually feel satisfying. Especially when the offender was your mom (mum), of course. I’m glad she understands, but I do wish she had had a little more faith in your reporting to begin with, when it was most needed.

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