ColumnsWhat A World

The Mamms and the Papps

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Taking care of women’s health, the Rainbow way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Nancy Ford

All is well now, but a few years ago I was diagnosed with a gynecological problem.

Bye-bye, guys. Catch you next month.

Fortunately, it was one of those cervically pre-cancerous situations that was caught early. The problem areas, a couple of clusters of suspicious cells, were found during a standard annual physical exam that I had neglected for three years. It was either mere luck or divine intervention—you decide—that prompted my doctor to detect those two little trouble spots.

My doctor treated my problem easily with a colposcopy, a procedure that might best be described as a cryogenic douche. In what seemed like less than 10 minutes, he zapped the offending blight right off what was once my fertile plain. Painful? Slightly. Not bad. No worse than briefly holding your face in front of your local grocery store’s frozen food section with the wind whipping out of that display-case door at about 50 miles per hour. Except exchange your face with your vagina. Best of luck explaining that maneuver to your local frozen-food manager.

While it was not the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had with my legs in the air, neither was it the worst. The most negative thing about the whole deal was the six-week hands-off moratorium the doctor imposed on sexual activity during my recovery, a dicey period I’ve come to refer to as my Spring Thaw.

Today, a six-week no-sex vacation would not present a challenge. Today, six sexless weeks is a walk in the park—a nice, languid, undemanding, uncomplicated walk in the park. At the time of my diagnosis, however, the prospect of a month and a half without doing the deed in some form or fashion was daunting. After all, the last time I had gone for six weeks with no sex, there was a good reason. I was married.

At first I found the paralyzing reality of having been side-swept by The Big C was itself enough to squelch my sex drive. Throughout Week 1, I spent the time I normally would have spent on sexual activities by rejoicing in life, stopping to smell the roses and tossing bread crusts to the birdies. Tra la!

Mid-way through Week 2, seemingly innocent little things like inserting the nozzle of a self-serve gas pump into my empty tank set my mind wandering into the Land of the Lust.

By Week 3, I cancelled my premium cable subscription, not previously realizing how racy the programming of Showtime and HBO is. No need to be tempted.

Near the end of Week 4, I checked with my doctor to see if my hands shouldn’t be fitted with a pair of those giant satellite-disc shaped cones that dogs get attached around their heads after surgery to prevent them from chewing out their stitches.

As Week 5 began, I cancelled my basic cable subscription, too. That Rachel Ray is a tantalizing whore.

By the time Week 6 finally drew to a close, I was able to astral-project into the future, visiting new worlds and dimensions where sexuality is not an issue, a place where humankind finds ful- fillment through intellect, art, and reason. Some call that the highest level of enlightenment. I now realize I was visiting menopause.

Since my suspicious cell incident, I have tried to pay more attention to health maintenance, like mammograms. Suffice it to say, getting my mamms grammed is not my favorite way to spend time naked from the waist up in a small room with a stranger. Yet, again, it’s not the worst experience I ever had with little metallic dots covering my nipples. The worst involves a camping trip in Austin during an electrical storm, but that’s another story for another time.

There are, ironically enough, two things we women must accept about our breasts as we grow older. One is that, after a certain age, they have a propensity to point due south, almost racing each other to see which one can touch the ground first. Gravity is a harsh mistress. Eventually I hope to be able to simply mention to my breasts that it’s time for their annual mammogram, and they will automatically amble over to the clinic and jump up in between those compressing plates all by themselves, like two little puppies in a vet’s office waiting for a treat: Do Mama’s little girls want their mammogram? Do they? Yes, they do! Yes, they do! Do Mama’s little girls want to put little metallic dots on their little noses? Do they? Yes, they do! Yes, they do! That’s Mama’s good girls! Good girls! Yes! Yes!

The second thing is that we need a mammogram every year. Every. Single. Year.

For those lesbians who have a tendency to ignore their own physical maintenance, Lesbian Health Initiative–Houston hosts its winter(ish) installation of their Rainbow Health Fair on November 7, 8:15 a.m. ’til 2 p.m. at Legacy Community Health Services, 215 Westheimer Rd. Mammograms and Pap smears (by appointment), blood sugar and glucose testing, blood pressure, cholesterol readings, and a variety of other health screenings and services are available to gay women whether they are insured or not. The fair also presents a panel of speakers addressing topics like long-term health-care planning, living wills, and safe sex, including my own little dyke-and-pony show with AIDS Foundation Houston chief executive officer, Kelly McCann. Come say hello.

Best of all, not only is the Rainbow Health Fair free of charge, it also gives lesbians the opportunity to take care of their health in a comfortable, friendly, woman-centric zone.

Try getting that in your local frozen-food section.

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