Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reflections on pain, gender, and whippet monsters

I once (moons ago) went to my doctor, complaining of dizziness and nausea. So severe I could barely walk. Convinced that I must have St. Vitus Dance, the Black Plague, or at the very least, E-coli, I staggered into the exam room and threw up in the Hazardous materials bin. Very clever of me, considering my eyes couldn't focus enough to read. I thought it said "Toss Cookies Here".


Upon examination, Dr. Who looked at me kindly and explained. "You have labyrinthitis". An inner ear infection. This diagnosis always brings to mind the Minotaur, and a rather trapped, claustrophobic feeling that does nothing to help my symptoms.

To the point, I've had labyrinthitis many times in my life. It's my answer to a sinus infection. The hell with sinuses, say my viruses, lets really f*ck her up and go for the ear. We can whack out balance, nausea, brain function, and head pain all in one full swoop. Truly, one would believe that after several billion doctor visits I'd be capable of self-diagnosis.

I mention this to my long-suffering doctor. "Why don't I remember?" I say. "You'd think I'd know what it is by now."

"Oh, that's easy" says Dr. Who. "It's because you're a woman." Say wha? I reach for the cell phone to call my lawyer, the ACLU, my friend Deb who will come kick his y-chromosome butt. Dr. Who sees my expression and hastens to explain before neutering without anesthesia commences. "Women are genetically programmed to forget pain - you're supposed to block physical discomfort. Otherwise no woman would ever have more than one baby."

True or not, this seems logical enough to take Deb off speed-dial. But I am reminded of his words this week. After six days of chasing a whirling dervish whippet puppy about the house, I wonder what on earth possessed me to subject myself to this draining and exhausting ritual again. And I wonder too, if my long suffering tolerance of other draining, exhausting, and often painful experiences in my life is inexorably woven with this phenomenon.

But then Morgan talks quietly in his sleep and curls closer under my arm. And I remember the words of Dr. Who, and I am grateful. The very thing that brings me the greatest pain also allows me the greatest joy. True or not, there is comfort there.

6 comments:

Patience-please said...

Smart doc.

Mo said...

Oh how true this is! Duncan can make me so mad, then he climbs into my lap, all 95 pounds of him, gives me kisses, and nuzzles, and all that anger falls away to uncontrollable laughter!!!!

When a Problem Comes Along, You Must Whippet... said...

No truer words . . .

Jenn And The City said...

Thanks guys. It made sense to me.

Anonymous said...

heh heh "Deb is on speed dial and will kick his butt." GO DEB!

wonderful post, Jenn.

Phyllis

Deb aka GUIDO! said...

...at your service...

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Jenn and the City

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Thanks Patience!

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