On Second Thought

Let's not ask the husband or kids

As women age, we go through stages of familiarity at the local doctor’s office.

We get to know our doctors through sports injuries to reproductive health to making babies to making sure there are no babies.

While these are all no doubt adventures in themselves, they’re stages we have some degree of control over.

Sports injuries are often self-inflicted by the pure nature of deciding to play a sport, and sometimes they do carry through in adulthood.

While many babies arrive unplanned, many families actually do plan for their arrival and for the time they want no more arrivals.

But once we’re past these stages, it seems we wait. And age.

What will be next? Hip replacement? New knees? Bi-focals? Colonoscopy?

Probably yes to all. Probably sooner than I’d like.

But I still feel like I’m 30 — even 25 some days. I’m aware that I look more like my mother every day, but in my mind I’m not the middle-aged mom that my own mom was in her middle age.

Denial is good therapy.

But gray hairs and aching joints don’t lie.

And neither do the scales at the doctor’s office or the nurses who record them.

So during a recent checkup, a helpful nurse noticed my birthdate and began asking questions.

“When was your last cycle?”

“I have no idea.”

In the family planning days I made note of such things. Now there’s no need.

“Have you had hot flashes?”

I knew where this was headed.


“Have you noticed any changes in your health?”

“No … Or, wait. Like what?

I’m 48 and I’m still trying to figure out what normal is.

“Have you felt tired or lethargic?”

All the time. Pretty much since I can remember. I’m a night owl trying to get by in an early bird’s world.

“Yes. I feel tired. But I’m not sure what it would feel like to not feel tired.”

Have you noticed changes in your mood lately?

“Um … I don’t think so. I’m generally a very positive person.”

“For example, are you more irritable lately?”

There’s a loaded question. Irritable by whose standards?

I get irritated to find two-week-old wet bath towels in a heap on the floor.

I get irritated when someone eats the last granola bar and leaves the empty box in the cupboard.

“If people don’t irritate me, I’m not irritable.”

“Well, if you’re going through the change, you’d know,” the nurse said reassuring me.

I would? What if I wouldn’t?

What if I’m already irritable and I don’t know it?

“I suppose I should ask my husband or my kids if they think I’m more irritable,” I told the nurse.

But then I reconsidered.

Nah. I’d rather not know.

I’d rather assume I’m not irritable, in the same way I assume I look 30.

I feel better already.

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