Neither Terminal, Nor Contagious

Could this be the reason I have an incredible desire to get a tattoo?"

It was exactly one month to the day before my forty-second birthday when I received the news. I was sitting on the exam table of my doctor’s office, naked from the waist down except for a giant paper lap napkin and my socks. Dr. S. turned from his monitor to say, “My assessment, C.T., is that you are experiencing menopause.”

How romantic. Could I have been given my diagnosis in any less dignified fashion?

No, apparently not. I mean really, what did I expect? It wasn’t a terminal disease – hell, it wasn’t even contagious. It was simply menopause. I didn't need to bring a family member with me for the devastating news. I just needed to take my pants off to be given my diagnosis. Why couldn't I just take everything else off, too? It would only be a matter of moments before it got really hot in there anyway.

I listened patiently to what I could expect from that point forward.

“So,” I began slowly, “does this explain my petulantly rebellious uterus?” After ten years, Dr. S. is able to recognize my shift to four-syllable words as a cue to a bigger conversation. He is a very patient man.

“It might,” he said. Patient and non-committal annoyed me.

“Could this be the reason I have an incredible desire to get a tattoo?” I was not a big fan of the whole scratch the skin, fill it with ink, wait for infection and heal process for a cartoon version of something I wouldn’t want to look at in twenty years. However, for the previous six months, I could not stop thinking about getting one.

He chuckled and asked me how the kids were. I was still half naked and he was chuckling. Patient, non-committal, chuckling and changing the subject not only annoyed me, but could drive me to spit pea soup. He was a safe enough distance away where it would have been pointless and I was still not wearing any pants.

“My kids are a major source of stress and I simply do not have the patience to deal with them lately.” It took every ounce of will to say something generally honest that didn’t belie the fact that I was ready to lock them in their respective rooms until they were old enough to be married. I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation with my bare butt sticking to the exam paper on the table. I started to sweat.

Again, I listened with what passed for patience when he told me that being short of patience was to be expected under the circumstances, as well as hot flashes. It was my turn to change the subject. Just the thought of heat could start a personal inferno and I still needed to get my pants on. No, actually, I wanted to get completely naked. It was hot in there.

“So, generally speaking, you know I’m normally pretty easy-going. When things go wrong I can laugh it off, laugh at myself. Lately though, I can go from Lucille Ball in the candy factory to Linda Blair spewing pea soup for spite. What can you tell me about that?”

“We have pills for that,” was all he could offer.


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