This post, people, is gonna separate the women from the boys. Use extreme caution and enter at your own risk.
Entrance is not advisable if:
a) You call your reproductive organs another name because you can’t say vagina or penis.
b) You don’t have a vagina and are afraid that reading this will make you fearful of people that do.
c) You have a vagina and are afraid this post will make you fear it or another’s.
d) You are already uncomfortable because of the number of times I have said vagina in this paragraph.
If you choose to read on, please remember to keep your seat in the full upright position to avoid choking and remember that at any time you may click away from this bog to read about sports or celebrity gossip.
Once, twice, sometimes three times in a month, I walk around riddled with pain, barely able to move or think beyond the limits of my own skin. Usually close to my cycle, my body reacts to the influx of hormones, sending my skin into an overactive frenzy that turns my body into walking Florida swamp water cesspool.
My skin festers, breaks out, becomes unmanageable. The dermatologists have a name for it, but not a cure. They overcompensate by filling me up on antibiotics. If I do not take the drugs, my skin rages against me all month long instead of three or four bad days in a month.
Either way, there are several days in a month when I feel, shall I say, a little under the weather.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa, and the certain paranoia about constantly clothing my body despite 98 degree weather, is central to my regular everyday routine.
For a long time I believed that I could get rid of it, that with enough drugs and creams it would simply go away. If I imagined myself perfect, a different image at each stage in my life, it would always have one constant: flawless skin. One of my deepest desires is to be able to wear a tank top without a hoodie.
But, as I have gotten older the scars have settled in.
The truth is on the surface it appears that there is nothing wrong with me. I regularly go to the dermatologist and people will puzzlingly remark, “but your face looks clear.” But, I have missed more days of work or school in my life because of my skin than due to any cold or flu.
Mostly, though, I have learned to ignore the pain and to block out my skin. Despite the zombie-esque flesh I have sat through English lectures, taught compositions, walked through the coliseum, all the while gritting my teeth, changing bandages, and lathering up with Neosporin, until, finally home, the sterile blade lances the skin. I usually just manage to cry, lying still because I know that in an hour, or two it will have shriveled up and the pain subsided.
I do not think it took my very long, only until I was a teen, to have a routine down for how to manage my skin. Hidradenitis Suppurativa, is in the family of acne, and is hereditary. My mother and brother have acne. I am the only one with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. It is a condition that affects the sweat glands—specifically in the under arms, groin, breast, and abdominal area. The sweat glands, unable to act properly, get backed up.
Basically, my sprinkler system does not work. Go figure, that I would have this condition in the armpit of the United Sates, where sweat is necessary to function in 11 months of the year.
All this goes a long way in explaining my week. On Saturday, a small nodule appeared on my labia (I told you it was the vagina chronicles). I, having already established that my body hates me profusely, thought nothing of it.
By Sunday in the pm, it had swollen to the size of seed and had started to become painful. At that point, I had to show Picasso. We had a good ten-minute conversation about my labia in our upstairs bathroom. Weird, I know. We have a very medical relationship at times that is hard to explain. I won’t try.
Monday, by noon, it had swollen to the size of a dime. I was barley able to sit at my desk chair. I officially was suffering from elephantitis. I came home on Monday, trying desperately to ignore the whole situation, and did what I always do: I made meatloaf.
By Tuesday morning I could not really walk, but I went to work. This was business as usually and it would fix itself. My elephantitis vagina was growing larger, so that soon I would have to wheel it around in a cart. The pain. I could really only concentrate on that.
At lunch time, Jay came over to show me her new roller derby skates. I was drowing out everything else except the pain. After a heated conversation, not really I just image it that way, she convinced me to go to the dermatologist to have outpatient surgery (typical of outbreaks that I can’t control and must be fixed by sterile, medical, white coated people).
She drove. I thought about my vagina dentata. When, about an hour later, I was seen by my dermatologist, the short pinkhaired woman looked at me and said, “Yeah, I am not doin that.”
Always encouraging when a medical professional won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.
She sent my vagina and I packing to my primary care physician. Jay, my vagina, and I drove across town to the primary care doctor where we waited for more than an our to see the doctor.
She looked at me for another two minutes and explained that it had nothing to do with elephantitis Hidradenitis Suppurativa, that infact, I had a bartholin gland cyst. This, she explained, was something any woman could get at any time.
My vagina and I were stunned. It never occurred to us to think it wasn’t our normal irrational, messed up, mean and nasty skin. Go, figure, though, that I would have another gland malfuntion.
For the second time in one day, and the only time in all my life, my vagina was turned down. My vagina was embarrassed as the doctor explained that she would not operate and that I must go to a gynecologist that specialized in the specific procedure to fix this issue.
I cried after the doctor left:
A) someone really was gonna have to cut open my chach
B) I was feeling very rejected by medical professionals
C) I was in agonizing my-vagina-is-the-size-of-my-head-kind-of-pain
D) I was learning that I heart my vagina, and its usual care free drooling lap dog personality was taking a severe beating (my vagina and I go way back without any vagina monologue worthy stories)
E) There are more reasons but I can’t name them all, they are personal you know, and I am a very private person
Needless to say, I was a sad-sad lady on Tuesday night. I went to bed really early after Picasso brought me a DD iced coffee with chicken and broccoli form the Chinese restaurant up the street.
Yesterday, though, it got worse (poor-poor vagina).
I put on my big girl pants (ie: a dress, I mean I was walking around with the world’s largest vagina) and went to work.
At noon, Jay took me to the gynecologists. She had left to deliver a baby, you know the normal reason a vagina expands to the size of a grapefruit, and would not be able to see me for another two weeks!
I cussed the heavens. I showed the waiting room my vagina, so they could see my pain. No, I didn’t. Don’t be so serious.
What is a girl supposed to do with a giant vagina? Join the circus? Join a freak show?
Maybe I would get my own act?
No, no. This would not do. I did not get a Master’s degree in English Literature to have people pay a dollar to see my ba-jinga. I could have done that without student loans.
So, Jay and I called around. My primary doctor called around. As a result, my vagina and I have a date with destiny at 2:15 today.
In the meantime, my mother made me chicken and dumplings and Jay made me a great salad. I dozed in Picasso’s lap while he watched basketball.
Today, I woke up to my groundhog day:
I have a date with the limits of my very existence. The dual involves a blade, my body, and a drive to the other side of town. It is not West Side Story.
I will come out alive but my ba-jinga may not survive. This real folks. This is nasty. This sheer terror. Let us hope that I live to tell the harrowing tale of my visit to the OBGYN.
For now, let us clear our minds and think of better times.
This is real life people,