am i a man?

September 25, 2011

right, clearly i’m not, the question is asked tongue-in-cheek.

but here’s the ‘affirmative’ case…

1. i hate shopping.  if i need something i’ll steal, buy or borrow it.  (not so much on the stealing side these days.) but i can’t abide wasting time wandering thru malls and shops and “just looking,” waiting for an impulse buy to strike me.  (unless it’s window shopping for or inspecting houses and buildings.  that i have a probably, just-a-little, mostly-harmless, obsession with- and could do all day long, for most days of the week!)

2. i hate cooking.  it seems very pointless to me to spend an hour or more chopping and slicing and cutting and mixing and cooking and whatever else goes into it, to have it eaten in 10 minutes to then spend another hour cleaning and tidying and washing and putting away etc.  i’m all for eating, i’d rather just see it on the plate and not have to do the kitchen part, before or after.  i know this point suggests that cooking is a womans domain and many chefs/cooks are men; my point is closer to the family home, where, given society’s gender imbalances, most of the home/family cooking is done by women.  i find cooking a lot like alchemy- mucking around with stuff you don’t know much about to get a result nothing like you might expect.

3. i like activities that use my hands.  and no i don’t count scrap-booking or giving hand-jobs in this category.  i mean things like woodworking, painting (the house, not water colours) gardening, building things…  that sort of stuff.  i like tools.  the wooden or metal kind.  and machinery.  i like trains, steam ones in particular, i think the bicycle might well be the greatest invention ever.  (seeing that an invention to get your kid to sleep exactly when and for how long you want, hasn’t been invented yet.)  i like hot air balloons and the awesome abilities of a wing.  or two, very much so when attached to a plane i’m flying in.

4. i’m incredibly spatially aware.  i ADORE maps.  if maps were still drawn by hand and i could learn the skills to make them my ideal job would be cartographer.  i’m not so keen on computer generated maps.  on the flip side i dislike gps’s.  pointless, silly, bound-get-you-lost, or -mad, or both devices.  i have an innate sense of space and location and how things fit together.  there’d be no hiding secret rooms or passage ways in a house from me.  once i have a look at the outside and get a feel for the inside walls i’d be able to say “hey, there’s 2 metres missing from somewhere in here.”  i’m not sure that’s a modern-day useful skill but it’s one i certainly would love to practise.  i never get lost.  one look at a map and i can place myself in the real world and travel thru it very competently.  i love byways and highways and laneways and short cuts.  it just seems there’s more to the adventure if you can anticipate what might be next.

5. i’m never fashionably-dressed.  i might occasionally be well dressed and i’m often interestingly or quirkily dressed but i’m never fashionable.  i can’t afford it and i’m definately not interested.  fashion clothes seem to largely be made from plastic and wear out in less than a year.  if fashion is a womans domain, i’m definately male.

6.  i prefer balls games and outdoor playing with my children, to dress-ups and role playing.  tho when i was a kid myself it was the reverse.

a couple of ambigious matters:

1. i admire the sleek lines and beauty of a sail boat, cars leave me cold.

2. i love building houses (if only i could!) but i also love decorating the insides.

i feel sure there’s many more things i could list but that’s what comes to mind just now.  to be sensible i think there’s a great many characteristics that are shared across genders and preferences and likes and dislikes are not wholly specific to one type of gender.  this was just a little giggle on a rainy afternoon.

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taboo topic no. 2

September 18, 2011

look around you ladies (and gents), look at the women near you.  every second one is suffering a silent debilitation.  it’s not something you’ll see on her skin, in her face or in her eyes.  it’s something much simpler and much harder to fathom.  it’s not spoken about and yet it’s something that can be fixed completely in 90% of cases.  if it’s so straight-forward, why don’t we talk about it, and get it fixed?  i’d say a good part of it is embarassment and the rest is shame.

i’ll tell you my little story.  it’s nothing special but it might open a door or two.

following percy’s rather difficult birth i didn’t think about it much that every time i sneezed, coughed or laughed lovely hard i wet myself.  not a gush of fluid, but definately something that required either a change of clothing or the wearing of incontinence pads.  yup, at the age of 31 i had become incontinent.  not a topic for the dinner table.  or even, i was to discover amongst girlfriends.  but look around you again, one in two.  if it’s not you, it’s the woman sitting next to you on the bus, the one in the check-out queue in front of you, the one pushing her kids on the swing… 

forward on to tally’s birth, which while much easier i’m sure didn’t help my pelvic floor any.  and forward on another two years of pelvic floor exercises, no other exercise and never running with my children, daily pad wearing and crossing my legs and gripping like all hell whenever i caught a cold, i got a referral from my old gp to a gyneo/urologist.  kindly dr benness saw me in his offices a few weeks back and ascertained that it be best if i did a particular test to check the function of my bladder and pelvic muscles.  he saw me out of his offices in tears as i confessed i was the fatest i’d even been in my life because i could no longer move faster than a medium walk without wetting myself, that sex is fraught with embarassment as i fear peeing on my husband (for the record, we’re not into that!), that i can’t play with my children as i’d like, that i’m fricken’ 35 and incontinent!!

a couple of weeks later i received a telephone call from dr benness’s office informing me that a cancellation had rung in and could i make a much sooner appointment?  hell, yes i can.  so what happens at this test?  well, not that much.  if you’ve given birth in a hospital it’s certainly less intrusive than that.  a catheter up your urethra, a camera up your vagina and another sensor of sorts up your bum.  they pump you full of water, as much as you can take, and then see what happens when you cough, stand up with your legs spread and cough and run water over your hand.  there is no dignity, however dr benness and his nurse were very kind and matter-of-fact, i’m sure they do it every day so it’s nothing new to them.  it was funny to finally pee the pumped in water out.  because it’s only been in your body a few minutes and it isn’t actually pee, just water, it’s cold; and it feels weird to be passing something that is cold.

suitably re-attired, dr benness and i consulted on our next actions.  he gave me the option of continuing with pelvic floor exercises, which he’d previously confirmed i was doing correctly.  (sometimes i wonder how many people have had their finger in my vagina on a purely medical/scientific basis?  probably best i don’t count.)  i said ‘thanks, but no thanks.’  it’s been unsuccessful for over four years now, i want something more.  which is what i got last friday.  day surgery to fit a “tvt sling” to help support my pelvic muscles.  i don’t remember a bit of it being under a general anaesthetic.  not looking forward to getting the anaesthetists bill! 

we had hoped day surgery would actually mean me going home the same day but i slept, or did that doze thing you do when in a hospital ward with 17 beds in it, for the remainder of the day and much of friday nite.  come saturday i had to prove i could pee and have less than 100ml left in my bladder (checked by ultrasound) three times, before i was considered well and safe to go home.  i finally achieved this via drinking litres and really trying while hovering over a bedpan, at mid-day saturday.  home.

i have a bloody bandage over my belly button and over the tiny incision low on my belly.  they are to stay on for five days.  i was a bit sore yesterday, less today.  i’m tender but i’m otherwise physically fine. 

there is one other thing…  since the surgery was in the vicinity, i had my tubes tied too.  no more babies for me.  which is fine, and cool, and what i wanted…  but i do think there is something that has to be done to grieve the loss of my fertility.  paul and i agree that our two darlings are perfect for us.  i don’t want to go thru another bout of psd.  my experiences of pregnancy are over.  it will just take a little time to let that go.  being pregnant is life changing and a momentous feeling every day.  i need to dwell on that a little while and then let it slip away.

so there’s taboo topic no. 2.  i hope it may help someone else.  because i know you’re out there and maybe reading this and thinking i don’t have to live with incontinence.  you don’t.