My ex-husband and I have a remarkably good relationship for former spouses. Which is fortunate, since we run a business together. My schedule is set up a little different than his and there are days when we hardly see each other, although I can sometimes hear him laugh through the wall that divides our offices. On slower days, though, we chat off and on throughout the day. The first year after our divorce was a little tense, but it has now been seven years and we've settled into a mostly easy friendliness. And since we'd been together for twenty years before that, we haven't fallen out of the habit of rather casual exchanges. Like the time a couple of years ago I was complaining about the density of my breast tissue making for painful mammograms. He laughed and said, "That's the price you pay for having great tits."
Me: "Oh my God, eating lots of sugar makes you wrinkle faster!"
Ex: "That's funny that that's the first thing you went to - 'fuck my kidneys - people can SEE my skin!'"
Me: "Well, yeah - my point exactly!"
Nothing like vanity to shake you up. And so, using Lent as a jumping off point, I have dramatically cut back on sugary/processed foods. In spite of the fact that I'm thin, I knock back a disturbing quantity of sweets. I'm not kidding - several times a day I'm putting chocolate or candy or sugared cereals down my gullet. Since Ash Wednesday (ten days ago?), I've only had two cookies and one small cinnamon roll. That's it. It's especially tough when my son is around and I'm making sweet snacks for him. I'm trying, though. My hope is that by the time Easter rolls around, I'll have put enough of a dent into my sugar craving that I will just alter my general eating pattern.
Ex: "Are you in perimenopause yet?"
Ex: "I'd feel guilty if I didn't pass along this new information - are you aware of the current thinking on hormone replacement therapy?"
Me: "I'm not sure..."
Ex: "Apparently, if you start low-dose HRT when you are in perimenopause, you can ward off some of the more horrible effects of menopause... like vaginal atrophy."
Me: "What!?! Holy hell!"
I mean, sweet Jesus, is that really a thing? If it is, that is some kind of sick, twisted joke the universe plays on women. And I don't know the answer about where I am - I guess so, but I'm missing a uterus these days so the usual signs that I'm cycling are gone. I never had any PMS-like emotional changes and can't rely on that to tell. There is only the occasional breast tenderness and an inexplicable craving for Lucky Charms to let me know my ovaries are still chugging along, even if sporadically. But I wasn't taking any chances. The conversation ended there, because I turned on my heel, grabbed my cell phone and punched in my gynecologist's number right. that. minute.
That afternoon, I picked up a prescription of estrogen patches. They are dime-sized and the instructions say to put them on a fleshier part below the waist, a new one every half-week. (I've got news for the pharmaceutical company - weeks have an uneven number of days.) So I slapped a patch on my hip when I got home. Here's the problem, though - the only fleshy part I have is also my best part. Every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror, I'd cringe. I felt like I might as well take a sharpie and write "OLD" on my ass. I called my gynecologist again, and she had her nurse call to say there was a bag of estrogen gel samples waiting for me. Fifteen weeks worth, in fact, saving me quite a bit of money. Putting invisible gel on my legs I can live with.
I may scoff at my ex's hand sanitizer habit and what I consider to be an over-avoidance of germs, but I know important health information when I hear it. And if it also falls under the category of vanity, I really don't care.