STAR Tannery, Virginia - I guess I wasn't home the day Katie Couric - or anyone else - called for my opinion on healthcare reform.
I'm particularly disappointed to have missed Katie's call, which I'm sure happened, seeing as she used to live in these parts; ya know - where I have a following. . . or at least a readership . . . providing my neighbors and my brothers count as a readership.
At any rate, I was anxious for Katie to give me the national spotlight so I would have the opportunity to apologize on behalf of my circle of acquaintances.
You see, I am convinced they are the ones driving up the cost of healthcare and skewing the numbers, making the whole country appear to be sicker than we actually are.
The fact i that, other than myself, my husband and my two sons, I don't know a single normal, healthy person. Getting together with friends is a field of medical landmines that must be delicately avoided lest you serve something dangerous and exotic like, say, cream for the coffee, and trigger a long-winded history of a friend's recent epiphany about having been lactose-intolerant "all these years."
Truly, that wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that such a revelation can derail an entire gathering and turn it into a panel discussion on the digestive systems of all in attendance. No amount of Pictionary can salvage such an evening.
I had a long-standing policy when among women to not bring up the subject of pregnancy. Apparently all my mom-friends possessed the most twisted mutations of the female anatomy since Olive Oyl. When I walked into a party and saw the living room full of men, I knew that I was going to go into the kitchen and hear a litany of obstetric horror stories. Apparently only my sons and Harry Chapin's kids "came into the world in the usual way."
These days, though, the Ladies of the Wonky Female Plumbing are experiencing their first bouts with menopause. Apparently they are the first females of our species to encounter this milestone.
Frankly, I couldn't tell you when the female members of my family went through menopause. I recall my Aunt Angelina throwing open the back door and fanning herself during a major snowstorm - but that's about it. When asked why she was doing this, her only explanation was to scream, "IT'S NOT BECAUSE I'M GOING THROUGH MENOPAUSE." So, obviously, the women of my family were asymptomatic during menopause.
The same cannot be said for my peers, though. Not a one can bear to quietly and gracefully bid farewell to fertility. Last month a bunch of them decided that they needed hormones. I don't know who started it (I always suspect Oprah), but suddenly they all needed it - the problem being that no one really liked the idea that everyone else needed the same thing.
The result of this is that suddenly, for some, the hormones were not enough and something much more exotic was required; while, for others, the hormones were of the wrong type and something more exotic was required; and then there was a rogue few for whom the hormones would not work at all, requiring the employment of alternative treatments so exotic insurance would not cover them.
Along with this onset of menopause came the sudden revelation from among the group that, apparently, my husband and I are the only ones white-knuckling it through our middle years. It seems we know a group of really sad men and women and didn't know it because they're all on anti-depressants. Okay, not all - 13 out of the 17 I know about for sure.
There isn't room enough for me to go into all the syndromes that have swept through our little group, many with symptoms like "fatigue" and "muscle aches" which, to me, are more symptoms of the fact that we're all around 50 years old and acting like we're still able to take down a 17-year-old kid on the basketball court. You know who you are.
I know I should feel lucky to be 52 years old with no major illnesses. Instead I feel kind of left out. There is a certain bonding that goes on with medical kvetching. Some people join book clubs; some people join the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Support Group.
Well, I might come down with something yet. I have an under-active thyroid that shows promise!
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