"If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he wouldn't pass it."
—Alison Lundergan Grimes
So there I was, ready for work—looking rather fly in my birthday-splurge Anthropologie blouse—standing in the street with a tow-truck driver. Three of the four tires on my car had been slashed over the weekend, and now, at 8:15 on a Monday morning, I'd begun to address the logistics of repair and reimbursement from my insurance company. It was almost enough to send me into a perimenopausal meltdown.
Incidentally, P-meno is no joke. If you see me weeping because Yogurtland doesn't have Apricot Tart on Wednesdays, or ROTFLMAOing at the nice old lady with a strip of Charmin trailing from the back of her gray-and-purple paisley skirt, or if I fly into a teeth-baring, vein-pounding rage, flinging placemats to the floor when you ask me to please pass the salt, just know this: Elevated follicle-stimulating hormone.
Yes, I hear the words coming from my mouth. Yes, I know the tone and sounds are all sorts of demonic. But, no, I can't stop. This, my friends, is part of the Before-the-Change Change, and there could hardly be a starker reminder of how far from 20-sexy I have come.
Well—except for a kidney stone. A kidney stone is the asterisk, double-underline and exclamation point on Girl, you are old.
Which brings me back to Monday. I was dooted up and feeling sort of magic, as my friend Jill put it to me recently (noting, with a bottoms-up of her drink, that days like these are nearly extinct as youth and vigor begin to wane). I also happened to be having a Monica Lewinsky kind of hair day, which thrilled me to no end because M-Lew is my hair hero. No way was I about to let a little vandalism steal my thunder.
I dropped the keys into the hands of the tow-truck driver, sassed my way back into the house and, just as I began my nagging-mom routine (further proof of my vanished fecundity), I experienced a severe stabbing pain in my back that moved quickly around to my front. I became, metaphorically speaking, my tires.
Within two minutes, I made a breathless I've-Fallen-and-I-Can't-Get-Up phone call to my husband after limping my way to our bare mattress (we were expecting delivery of our new one that day), upon which I collapsed in a rather fashionable ball of sweat and nausea and Oh Sweet Filner, the paaain! This one went to 11.
At this point, my 8-year-old was exhibiting signs of perimenopause, all sobbing and hysterical and whatnot. "Honey," I whispered, trying to act like being folded and writhing on a 20-year old mattress is normal. "Daddy will be here soon. How can I help you? Do you want a hug?"
She shook her head. "Can I have my iPad?" she said, tears vanished. I gotta hand it to her: The girl knows when she's got the advantage.
She joined me on the bed and happily disappeared into Temple Run 2 while I called 911 from a fetal position.
What happened next was straight out of a "Lifetime Television Program for Perimenopausal Women" starring Valerie Bertinelli. Like any good dream sequence, I looked up from my (death) bed and there was a soft-white halo of light surrounding everything in my vision. And everything in my vision was a bunch of superbly hot men in uniform and carrying manly equipment, hovering in slow motion above me, asking me questions in kind but far-away voices—questions like, How long ago did the pain start? And I'm going to put an IV in your hand, OK? And I'm Javier Bardem. I'm taking you to Barcelona, where we'll eat paella and splash naked at Cala Morisca.
Though I don't remember it, I walked bent in the shape of an L with Javier and the others to a stretcher parked out front. Still in debilitating pain, I was loaded up in a shiny ambulance bound for Spain, where one of the Chippendales set a puke dish on my chest after I announced I might hurl. Which I didn't, because, you know: new birthday shirt. Then finally—finally!—morphine. I could get used to that. Seven milligrams and I was ready for naked ocean splashing. Or hot flashes. Or mood swings. Anything is possible with opiates.
By the time I floated into the hospital, the pain was gone and I was feeling euphoric, maybe even a little bit adorable. Mostly I was delusional and high, which I realized after I slogged toward the bathroom schlepping my IV bag—my hospital gown open to the back, the cord for my heart-rate monitor flung over my shoulder, my mascara smeared beneath my left eye like a bruise, my hair way more Ethan Hawke than Intern Lewinsky. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, I was terrible. I was fancy terrible with raisins on it.
And, like a signature on a Discount Tire work order, this sorry state of affairs was completed when Nurse Anne gave me a dose of Flomax to help me pass my kidney stone, making it official: I'm a perimenopausal geriatric man who pisses rocks and suffers from prostate issues. Asterisk, double-underline, exclamation point.
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