Thursday, May 25, 2006

35 going on 13

I was thinking of starting a separate blog recently to chart a change in my life as it might prove an interesting exercise for myself in terms of keeping a journal.

But given keeping one blog in broadband free land is nearly impossible, two would be horrendous. As the odd reader I get might notice this blog is anything but themed anyway.

Also as I don’t know what is ahead of me, a separate blog might be a huge project and bring expectations which I may not meet because nothing really might happen. Anyway I digress.

I remember a post on Sinead’s blog last year which rang a few bells in my head. It was about infertility/potential infertility. While I am infertile and have always known that, it has never been the issue for me that it might be for many other women. Firstly there is a genetic disease in my family which although I now know I could not pass on as I don’t have the gene, procreation was always ruled out in my head until I knew I was gene free.

And as a lesbian woman having children was not always an option I thought about or thought possible when I was younger. Many lesbians do have children or do want to have a family. Bearing a child was never something that appealed to me even if it were possible, I have always run around looking after other people’s kids and wanting to be there for children who don’t have parents/guardians.

Finally the other medical conditions/disability issues in my life have always come first and I put the reproductive/pubertyless issues to one side in a bid for survival.

So the discourses on infertility have never actually applied to me or I have chosen not to take part in them. My ovaries never woke up when I was 11/12/13 and infact I have been in menopause for approximately 24 years. I have only really realised/verbalised this in the last few months as various consultants have considered it an important issue to address as I have osteoporosis and other medical conditions as a result.

Not experiencing puberty did have a huge impact on my teenage years. For a long time those who know that I have never had a period kept telling me how lucky I was and that I should not regret missing out on them. But puberty is an important marker in defining ones gender. It took until I was 18/19 for me to realise that I was a woman and that if my bits were somewhat different to other women, they were still female. I do have some understanding of the experiences of those with gender identity issues, but I did not spend too long confused about this when lovers and other important people in my life confirmed who I was and what I was at the end of my teenage years.

During the year long investigations which I have recently undergone to establish the cause of the premature ovarian failure/early menopause my gender identity has again come under scrutiny. I had a chromosomal analysis which indicated that I am female. Having lived my life as a woman for this length of time it did come as somewhat of a relief that I was right. I don’t wish to offend those who have gender identity issues, it just was something that I didn’t think applied to me.

So now at 35 I am going to experience puberty for the first time. I have begun a course of treatment, the side effects of which are uncertain. I have been told I might have the spots and periods, I may grow taller (!), my bones will either grow stronger or at least stop getting weaker if I mind myself, and my genitalia may become more defined. Then there are possible changes to my energy levels, a relief to the insomnia, different types of mood swings etc, libido (nope, no blogging about the libido I promise!). The treatment increases my risk of cancer, stroke, and other issues, but I am no more at risk than any one else for it and the damage not having working ovaries is more of a risk to me than the ‘cure’.

The various GP’s and consultants I was referred to on this matter when a teenager or in my twenties could have sorted all this out then. I don’t know why it was not addressed but my sexual orientation and disability probably had a lot to do with them not addressing it and me not pushing the issue. It can’t go unnoticed that it takes 2 different female consultants, a female endocronological registrar and a female GP to finally tackle this issue with me and do the investigations and support me through it.

I won’t be turning this blog into Maman Poulet 13 and three quarters, but I do think that what I have experienced is interesting from a queer perspective. If I was heterosexual, married or wanting to marry, my reproductive health would have been a priority for both me and my medical team. It is only being addressed now because it is now very damaging to my health not to do something. However the journey will be about a lot more than stronger bones and that in itself will be something to think about and maybe blog about.


At 21:19, Blogger Dermod said...

What a moving post, beautifully written. I wish you all the best in your journey, Suzy.

(nope, no blogging about the libido I promise!)


At 21:29, Blogger Suzy said...

Thanks Dermod, and while I might not blog about the libido, I won't reject reasonable offers to test it out...smirk...

At 21:51, Blogger Simon said...

Dermod said it better then I could ever say.So I will just quote What a moving post, beautifully written. I wish you all the best in your journey, Suzy.

As for Blogging on narrowband. I used to do that. I would type up what I would say in Word. (Still do actually but that is as I can't spell) Then I would just copy and paste.

I hope all works out for you

At 23:08, Anonymous Hazel said...

Ah Suz this is a great post. You know you do write so well and you need to write more often and for a larger audience. Look forward to seeing you this weekend. xxx

At 23:50, Blogger Ms Ann Thrope said...

Hi Suzy, I'm a first time visitor here but I just wanted to say best of luck with the treatment and I really hope things work out for you.

At 10:33, Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Wow fair play to you for blogging about this! I'm so sorry that this treatment didn't happen for you long ago - but isn't it amazing what medical science can do?! I hope this works out for you, if it's not too much of an intrusion, do let us know how it's going.

I really hope you get all the good things about puberty, such as the growth spurt and libido increase and more sleep......and none at all of the spots and painful periods!!! Though, and don't hate me here, when I was a teenager I always had clear skin and was rarely bothered by you might be as lucky as I was!

At 13:51, Anonymous Ianmcg said...

Very open and refreshing post Suzy, Hope it all goes well

At 21:08, Blogger Red Mum said...

What an amazingly honest and wildly touching post. Wishing you all the best wishes possible for the treatment to help your health.

I can only imagine the impact not going through puberty had on you, my own experience of having no breasts to speak of, and being the brunt of jokes of mostly everyone I went to school with who were more developed, I suppose it bears testament to your strength of character more than anything else.

And I think the Maman Poulet 13 and 3/4s would be a riveting read. After all that time of life (via a mum to her daughter) makes up most of my blogging.

Wishing you well Maman Poulet. Thanks for sharing so wonderfully such a tough and untalked about issue.

At 04:37, Anonymous morgan said...

Hey suzy - that's a brave post.

The bones needs treatment but, speaking from experience, HRT is only right for you if it carries on feeling right. It's acceptable not to do it.

At 10:14, Anonymous Sean R said...

Dear Suzy
Wow, oh wow! What a stunning blog post, just amazing! You give a new meaning to Judith Butler's idea of girling the girl! My mind wanders into the world of the bionic woman too: taller, stonger, able to leap buildings in a single bound (ok I made that bit up!)

It's not all that puzzling as to why such as "challenge" medicine-wise was not taken up sooner. While challenges seem to be the stuff of medical soaps/drama storylines, medicine is a heterosexual world and I feel how desperate this negligence has been. With much love, I wish you every success and hope you benefit from every advance in medical science, and keep us Pouletistas posted.

At 15:31, Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Dear Suzy!

I was very moved by your post, especially when I read you had found medical allies that helped you sort out a strategy. As a gay man living with HIV/AIDS for 20 years now, I know how important it is to find someone who actually understands what life is like for us. I am glad you found some compassionate care.

I am hosting the Carnival of Bent Attractions this month and will be publishing around June 10. Your post has been received, read and included. I hope that I can give you exposure that larger audience that you need.

Take care.


At 15:40, Blogger the nut said...

Just wanted to let you know the XVI Carnival of Feminists is up and you're the first link. There isn't anywhere for me to leave a trackback so I wanted to let you know.

Thanks for submitting!!


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