The Strongest Man In The World

Nope. He’s not lifting cars off trapped people or flying through the universe saving the planet from stray asteroids.

He’s fighting cancer right this very moment.

And he is going to win.

My dad. My superhero.

My father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the blood, in December 2011. In May 2012, he underwent a stem cell transplant. In February 2013, it failed.

But that did not stop my dad. He immediately started a clinical trial, which turned out to be too hard on his body. So after being admitted to the hospital last week, he began a 96 hour aggressive chemo treatment to knock the cancer out.

Now, my dad is notoriously stubborn.

My favorite picture of my dad.  Summer 1970

My favorite picture of my dad. Summer 1970

Just ask my mom.

Or my sister.

Or me.

Last week, he refused to go to the emergency room even though he was feeling terrible. (Turns out, he had pneumonia!) The nurse came in and fussed at him for not heading to the hospital sooner, even though we had all begged him to go.

My mother said he sat there and patiently listened to the nurse as she ranted and raved about how if he had waited much longer before coming in, he could have passed the point of them being able to help him.

When she was finished, my father said, “You know, I’m a retired Colonel in the Army. I’ve been chewed out by drill sergeants and superior officers, but ma’am, I must say, YOU are second to none.”

Under normal circumstances, my dad’s stubbornness would get under my skin like a blood-thirsty tick, but being up against this cancerous kryptonite, it has actually come in handy. He is digging his heels in and is not letting the cancer get the best of him.

And I am thankful that he has superhero strength, and stubbornness as well to fight this villain and to get us all through this.

But I’m still wondering…how does he hide his cape under his hospital gown?

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My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 44 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 44.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 44! Not 104! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 93. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.