Gracie in the GrassLast week I took Gracie to the Vet for her annual check-up. We were a few weeks early, but something was going on with her gastrointestinal system. Gracie hates the Vet. To get her there I have to go on a roundabout walk that just happens to end at their door. Halfway down the block she realizes where we are, stiffens up, digs into the concrete, and refuses to budge. Her eyes narrow into little slits. I’ve betrayed her again.

In the waiting room I sweet talk her and give her a biscuit. I scratch her ears and tell her she is a good girl. She is anxious. She whines. I’m embarrassed that my dog is a bad patient.

Each visit she is a bit more obstinate. Each visit she has to wear “a party hat” so the Vet can draw blood, take her temperature, and give her shots.  She doesn’t like it, and it is a tussle to get the muzzle on properly. She is fear aggressive, and it takes two of us to get it on safely.

Dog in a Party Hat

Gracie would not pose in a “party hat” for me. This is a better behaved dog.

Gracie is six, middle aged but juvenile.  Something she has in common with me. The stool and blood tests come back; she has a little giardia, nothing to worry about, it has been going around. They give me five packets of a powder. I mix one a day into her dinner. I pick up some heartworm nuggets and Frontline. I pay the bill. Hopefully, we won’t be back until next year.

I stare at the telephone unable to make the phone call, unable to cross off “make appointment with gynecologist” from my list.  I hate going even though I am sure the doctor is a lovely person. I am way overdue, but I feel fine. For years I didn’t go to a doctor. I wasn’t on birth control, I didn’t want children, I never got sick. I only started going during peri-menopause when I began hemorrhaging from fibroids.

I had huge fibroids. Depending upon the surgeon’s preference for sports or food metaphors I had either softballs or grapefruits. I was determined to go through a natural menopause, and thought I could tough it out. I couldn’t. After two surgeries to remove reoccurring fibroids I acquiesced and had a partial hysterectomy (uterus out, cervix and ovaries remain).

Looking back, I don’t know why I resisted having my uterus removed. I had read up and done my research. The hormones are in the ovaries and find their way into your bloodstream without the uterus, so there was no need to go on hormone therapy.  If you keep your cervix there is minimal loss of sexual responsiveness. My system had to go through a little internal nerve rewiring but within a few months I was fine and had orgasms that I couldn’t complain about. I felt better almost immediately.

I was, and still am, ecstatic to not have my period. I never acknowledged how much I detested getting it. How uncomfortable it made me feel. My body betraying my mind. My denial ran to not keeping track of it; every month it seemed like a surprise. Cramps and crankiness. I always seemed to be out of tampons and Advil Extra Strength.

Each visit to the gynecologist freaks me out and kicks up all sorts of traumatic dust. I don’t like having anyone else touch me there or poke around. I tell myself that I can not wait until something is wrong; I have to go in for a visit. I try to psych myself up to make the call. I have to be a grown up.

I remind myself that if you are an adult with some combination of a vagina, ovaries, a cervix, and a uterus you need to go in for a check-up. For preventive maintenance. Doesn’t matter if you identify as gay, straight, butch, femme, transgender, female or male. But I wish someone else would make the appointment, snap the lead on my collar, walk me there, put on the muzzle, and pay the bill.

8 thoughts on “Check-ups

  1. rmiles

    Glad to hear your dog will be fine. I can not wait until menopause! In my early 20s, I tried to give my uterus away; I couldn’t find a taker. Who wouldn’t want a young, barely used, like-new uterus?


  2. Jamie Ray Post author

    I tried to give my two kid quota to my brother and sister-in-law to use; but they decided that two of their own was enough. People kept telling me I’d change my mind about having children, but I knew that all I wanted was a dog.


  3. genderfabulous

    “But I wish someone else would make the appointment, snap the lead on my collar, walk me there, put on the muzzle, and pay the bill.”
    Is your partner up for a little kink? hehehe =;-)
    Yeah it’s hard, but you gotta do what you gotta do!


  4. pensitivity101

    Liked your post Jamie Ray. Glad to hear Gracie is OK (she looks very similar to my Maggie). Dogs love you unconditionally with no hidden agenda, so most of the time I prefer them to people.
    As for the menopause?? I started mine at 35 and it lasted 20 years. Glad to say I’m well past (and rid of) it now. We’re all different.


  5. Mary McC

    Understand totally the look of betrayal from your dog…mine shakes violently on a hollow floor, so it’s really LOUD. Interestingly, this behavior stops instantly when the tech offers a treat – then starts up again when the treat is gone!


    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Yes, they are almost never too upset to eat a treat. They can be extremely articulate when they want to tell you something and very cagey when they want to hide it from you.


  6. smitty588

    Thomas hates going to the vet too, he starts trembling and stuff. Just to trim his nails takes at least 3 people. He won’t let me do it at home. I have a grooming table and everything, but he hates having his feet touched. I used to be able to do it, but I think he must’ve gotten quicked at the groomers or vet and now he kicks and screams. I can also really relate to the stuff you said about going to the doctor. I’m 27 and haven’t gone to that kind of doctor yet. My therapist keeps bringing it up and saying I really need to go but I can’t. There’s no way I could let that happen. I don’t even like regular doctors. They’d have to like put me under anesthesia and not tell me that it happened so I’d never know. I’ve read that if you’re not engaging in certain behaviors and don’t have any symptoms or whatever, it’s not really necessary. But then other people say you still should go. My therapist said to me “no one likes going to that kind of doctor, but we all know we have to.” I don’t think people realize that sure, no one likes to have to go through that, but when you’re extremely dysphoric about your body, it’s even worse. I’d rather go through another series of ECT than go that kind of doctor once. That probably sounds crazy, but I’m totally serious. I know I’m gonna have to get there at some point, and I want/need top surgery so someone’s gonna have to be looking at and touching that area, so I’ve gotta try and figure out how to get through it.



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