One Mother of an Infection

   It’s pretty difficult being a woman in America today.  There have been rougher times for us, no doubt, but right now…I just shake my head with shame at the things I see and hear.  Earlier today I read a comment on Facebook by a woman that said women are the weaker sex.  Apparently this is true because it’s in the Bible.  Well, I haven’t read and have no plans to read this fiction tale of abuse and insanity so I don’t view any sex as the weaker sex.

   I live in Texas and while Wendy Davis stood to defend the rights of women in this state, I sat at home thankful someone out there was not only paying attention but they were in a place to publicly speak out against it in such a way they could incite action and change.  Although I hoped she would succeed in her mission to “allow” women to “keep” their rights to their own bodies, I was glad any outcome would have little effect on my life.  I’m very pro-life.  I’m so pro-life that I stand with Planned Parenthood; I agree with a woman’s right to have access to a legal and safe abortion.  I’m so pro-life that I believe in access to all forms of birth control.  I’m so pro-life I believe all people should have access to preventive care.

    I honestly never thought that losing Planned Parenthood in my state would directly affect me.  I’m disabled which means I finally have health insurance I won’t lose any time soon (Medicare).  Losing Planned Parenthood is no issue to someone who never plans to have an abortion, doesn’t need birth control to be sexually active (free condoms are awesome!) or has insurance that will cover her well-woman check.  I voted blue during mid-term elections with one of my main agreements being that we keep Planned Parenthood open and fight against the growing tide of patriarchy already embedded in our society.  …we lost but not all parts of the law were put into effect. Honestly, I don’t know where the law stands now but we have one abortion clinic remaining in this city and no Planned Parenthood.  One turned into a men’s clinic which I felt was a direct, but quiet, hit towards women that only I seemed to notice.  The other was simply closed down.  One abortion clinic closed and turned into one of those “family planning” centers.  The funny thing is I didn’t even know that particular site was an abortion clinic until after it was announced Texas would become one of the strictest states on abortions.  Apparently it called attention to the clinic and suddenly there was a mad dash to stand out there with horrible pictures of aborted fetuses.  I go by the place all the time, never noticed it until then.

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    I learned about Planned Parenthood at 19 even though my sister went there to confirm her pregnancies before that.  I thought it was exclusively for pregnant women. I had my first breast exam, my first awkward pap smear and I walk out with a bag of condoms and a dozen pamphlets on various things like common STD’s, how to give yourself a proper breast exam and other bits of info I didn’t learn from my mother.  Two weeks later I get a letter in the mail, I have BV which is just a really scary way of saying

Hey girl, you got some cleaning to do

They give me this horrible prescription that makes everything taste like metal and it goes away after 10 days.  A few months later I find myself sitting in this huge and empty lobby and I’m incredibly uncomfortable.  I have this searing burning itch that makes me want to cry every time I move.  My mom refused to take me to PP but my dad, a man who despises me, took me to find out why I was unwilling to put up any kind of rebellious fight with him for any reason, no matter how much he tried to provoke me.  I was soon in a room with my legs spread, my feet in stirrups and the doctor asking the nurse to call the students in.  I was soon showing my first herpes outbreak to a bunch of [some kind of] students.  It was a nightmare but they gave me all the information I needed and offered counselling.  They even saved me from having to go to a pharmacy by giving me the medicine there.

   When I was 20, my roommate was a nurse that worked in an assisted living home.  She got a new job at a new home and within weeks had a boil on the back of her thigh.  A couple of weeks later I had a labial abscess.  It was so painful. I cried like a baby.  I could barely move.  It felt almost as bad as my first outbreak.  My roommate said this was common for nurses after switching hospitals or homes.  I have come to know many nurses since and have never heard any of them mention this trend among nurses.  I went to PP where I was examined and referred to a different doctor.  PP tried to “pop” it but she said they couldn’t do anything more than that since lancing isn’t a type of procedure they’re allowed to do.  I made my way to this gyno; it’s my first visit to a real doctor and as I’m treading with slumped shoulders across this beautiful floor that looks to me like marble in a grand hotel but is actually just appealing tile in a decent hospital, I realize how trashy I really am and I’m horrified! The doctor lanced this nasty thing in minutes and sent me home with a pain pill prescription I didn’t fill.

   At twenty I used PP to help me figure out why my periods were so incredibly odd.  One period every three months that last 9-12 days was not normal.  I was too underweight; they offered me tips on eating a more healthy diet and we went through birth control options.  None of them worked and I developed this idea that birth control via pharmaceuticals is not the way to go.  At 21 PP helped me try to figure out why I always felt faint.  They tested me for diabetes which came out normal but at least I knew.  All of these tests, exams and visits I had to pay full price for but it was still cheaper than insurance or visiting a “real” doctors office.

   When I was 23 I got pregnant and the only place I knew to turn was PP because my sister said they would help me figure out how to proceed.  It cost me $15 for a pregnancy test to confirm my pregnancy so I could qualify for Medicaid. I went back to PP 3 years later to confirm my second pregnancy.  I honestly didn’t see myself needing to go back at any point after JJ because like I said, I have Medicare and Medicaid so I made the mistake of assuming I would need no other services because I could now have “real” doctors exam, test, and confirm whatever I needed.

   It turns out this isn’t true.  I have one-sided weakness caused by a cerebral AVM that ruptured during my second pregnancy.  It took out my left side.  Every now and then the joints in my left side give me trouble and I adamantly refuse pain pills so I was offered an anti-inflammatory when I started to complain about the increase in joint pain.  I took Naproxen for about two weeks before I got the worst yeast infection of all time!  I mean…I’m still gagging just thinking of that first day.  Naturally, I went to the store and stocked up on panty liners and got a box of DIY clean-yo-self medicine.  A week later I get my period and after its passed I notice the yeast infection was gone.  I’ve read they can clear up on their own.  This is only the second one I’ve ever had so I’m googling like crazy. Two weeks go by and I notice a faint discharge; I start googling more and find out it could be linked to HPV.  It starts to fade out on its own and then I get my period and the same pattern follows.  I’m now on my fourth round of this! I called my doctor two months ago but had to wait until the other day to finally see him.  I’m about to shove an entire garlic bulb up my vagina and attempt to hippify this thing out of my body because I am that desperate!

I was so excited about having this man go diving into my vagina so he can help me get clean.  I told the woman on the phone I had this thing for two or so months and needed help.  I get to my appointment and he’s going through the checklist of why I’m there.  He mumbles “32, no HPV test” and I stopped him.  He said they don’t test for HPV in patients my age! I asked about my history with HPV and he shrugged like it was no big deal

You had it removed though right?  And it was successful?

Well, uh, yeah but shouldn’t you check to be sure, anyway?

  He leaves and comes back with a nurse and we’re talking and I casually ask if she mentioned the yeast infection to him.  They leave the room.  Well it turns out that because I’m on Medicare, THEY DON’T DO “THOSE TYPES” OF TESTS!!!!! Right away I freak out.  What could they possibly mean?  All of the sites online say if Monistat doesn’t work SEE YOUR DOCTOR and that’s what I did but Medicare doesn’t cover it because most people on it are too old for yeast infections???

Why am I even here then?

He insists he can just check with his eye. What.the.fuck. What is a well-woman check if I’m too young for a HPV test and they can’t treat my yeast infection?  And now, I can’t even go to planned parenthood!!!! How is this even fair? What I didn’t think would have too great an effect on me actually does and now I’m freaking out.  What if I have HPV again and can’t get it treated because I’m too young for testing I can’t afford? What if this cheap vagi-cream he gave me doesn’t work?  What do I do?!  Where do I turn? Who in this “Christian, so-called pro-life” of a city and state will help me not only live but live healthily?  Looks like I’m on my way to the farmers market for some fresh garlic.

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