Fibro Mojo on the Go(Go)

IMG_9901

Last edited: 11th July 2019.

Aged twenty-three with an intimate area that had begun to itch with a persistence I had never previously encountered, I bravely took myself to see the lady doctor at the local GUM clinic. My fiancé swore he had been completely faithful from the day we met six months earlier so I was not too concerned – but I was aware that he had a checkered past as a bit of a playboy when he was single and working as a DJ in the nightclubs of York so there was a small nagging doubt of mistrust in the back of my mind. As I entered the medical examination room, trying desperately not to scratch, the doctor, a woman in her late fifties, briskly greeted me, fired off some questions to establish what the issue was and within ten minutes had me splayed on the treatment bed, knees propped up, legs akimbo, and her face uncomfortably close to my vagina. Before I could even point out where the itchy patches of skin were, she leaned back and exclaimed, “My God, I’ve never seen that before!” Holy shit – not a phrase you ever want to hear any gynaecologist say. If I could have run out of there in a dignified fashion, I would have. My mind was racing. What on earth had she seen? She wasn’t the first person to see my nether regions, how was I only learning of some sort of deformity now?! Had I missed a weird growth? Did I have a second vagina I didn’t know of? WTF??? I was freaking out and felt like a freak. Any minute now I was expecting a team of medical students to eagerly bounce in to see the bizarre abnormality the doctor was evidently shocked by…. But that didn’t happen. When I tentatively asked what was wrong, she laughed and said “I didn’t realise that was the fashion now. You young folks….” And then I realised what she meant. My fiancé had asked me to go fuzz-free as a treat and I’d been happy to oblige. That was all it was – my shaven haven of pleasure was unexpected at a time when it wasn’t the norm. And the itch that had been driving me mental – it was just a post-shaving skin infection. I’ve never been so relieved!          

It’s funny how concerned we all are when growing up about whether our bodies are normal. We take surreptitious looks in the school showers to see if our friends and peers have all the same parts we have in similar proportions. To my dismay, my breasts seemed to take forever to sprout, though my hips and arse were not slow on the uptake, and then when they did pop up and out, one boob decided to be bigger than its sister. It made me feel like a mutant. I used to compare my boobs to those proudly displayed by the fantasy women in The Sun newspaper and magazines, wishing that the smaller one would hurry up and sort itself out. I spent so many years trying to camouflage my ‘deformity’, before I learned that unequal breasts are quite common and never had any complaints from the men I deemed lucky enough to handle them when I became sexually-active.

When my health began to decline in my late thirties, again I was concerned with the abnormality of my body. My hands didn’t seem to work properly anymore. My eyesight would go when I was over-tired. My movements became stiff and I wanted to sleep all the time. Periods of brain fog seemed to last longer and longer. I knew something was very wrong but I was too scared to find out – MS was the biggest fear – until the pain became unmanageable, disturbing my sleep and day-to-day life. When you are facing this kind of situation, sex is the last thing on your mind. I didn’t feel attractive, the thought of dating made me want to poke my eyes out and the energy required for sex was too much for me to contemplate when my health was at its worst, in the months before my Fibro diagnosis. My mojo went into hibernation. I had more important things to think about.

Post-diagnosis, one-year of medication helped me to cope with the demands of my working life and once I left my teaching job, I was able to go medication-free, rest and focus on my recovery. As my physical and emotional strength came back, it got me thinking about dating and intimacy for those of us with chronic illnesses. Is Fibro a turn-off? Maybe not for someone who is genuinely interested in you but I can’t imagine this would be a selling point on your Tinder profile (“I like long walks on the beach, oral sex and have Fibro”). Hmm. I want to be honest with potential suitors – I have a chronic medical condition but I’m doing really well at the moment – but I don’t want to put them off before they’ve had a chance to properly get to know me. At what point is it appropriate to disclose health issues? On the first date? After the first night together? On your Wedding Day? (that’s perhaps a little late…). It’s a dilemma. Fibro is what I have but I don’t want it to define me or affect how people look at me.

I guess this is something I will figure out in time. I know I’m not so fussed anymore about my boobs endeavouring to touch the floor as I get older or the cellulite map of the world imprinted on my thighs. I’m just glad my body is now in a better state of health than it was and at the moment, I am still taking everything day by day, focusing on self-care, having fun, loving my travels and embracing my inner sex kitten (ha ha just kidding). How do you get your mojo back after a period of prolonged illness? There are lots of things you can do. Treat yourself to a new hairdo or some sexy undies. Get a massage (if touch is not too painful for you Fibro buddies). Listen to tunes that put you in the mood. For me right now, I’m just doing things that make me happy and give me joy – like tracking down street art in the places I visit, exploring nature, having a laugh with friends, rather than actively searching for a new partner. That will come with time. I believe that when you are at peace with yourself, you attract the right person into your world to share that journey so there’s no need to worry or rush things. Me (Fibro and all) and my mojo will be ready for the lucky devil when the time is right. I hope he or she is ready for me! 😉 

Take care, Lisa.

The Cat’s Whiskers

Screenshot_20180222-202237

Last edited: 11th July 2019

Can there be such a thing as too much honesty in a relationship? Are there some things you should just keep to yourself? There was a moment in my relationship with Mr Control when I realised I had said something that had drastically altered his perception of me, thereby changing the course of our relationship, and there would be no going back. Had I shared with him intimate details of past relationships? Hell no! Had I admitted to him that I’d reached the point when I only really fancied him when we were out and about and I would see some girl looking at him with lustful eyes? Of course not. Or revealed that he was an average kisser and locking lips with him made me nostalgically long for the kiss-me-dizzy embraces of my first love? Err no.

This is how it was. It was a picture of romantic loveliness. The scene was set for some ‘boom-chica-wow-wow’ action; the lights were off, candles were burning, and the ex-beloved and I were cuddled up on his couch watching a film. He had one long-limbed arm around me and with his free hand, he was shovelling sour cream and onion ridged crisps into his mouth like he’d never been fed. He had his t-shirt off, revealing gym-toned pecs and tuffs of hair on his chest in all their glory, but the pungent aroma of the crisps intermingled with eau de body odour was not really doing it for me. Whilst I pretended to ignore my revulsion at the animalistic feeding frenzy of the alpha male beside me, I absent-mindedly stroked my chin. And then it happened. There was a whisker. Underneath my chin, unbeknownst to me, a surreptitious whisker had been burrowing its way out of my skin into the light. A chill ran through my entire body upon the discovery. Panicked questions ran through my mind: how long has that been there? Are there more of them? Am I turning into a bearded lady? Internally, I was freaking out. I patted my chin on the hunt for more imposters. I was overwhelmed with relief when I realised this whisker was a solo squatter and felt my body relax. Without thinking, the words just came out of my mouth and once they were out there, there was no taking them back: “Baby, I just found a whisker.” There was a sharp intake of breath and he physically recoiled away from me. I looked at him and saw the horror in his eyes. The goddess he had been professing undying love for was tainted. We tried to laugh it off but it was an awkward evening and we went to sleep that night un-spooned, both of us claiming to be too tired for shenanigans. Something in the relationship had shifted.    

Finding the whisker made me feel old and was a shock to the system. It was a reality check that as we age, our bodies metamorphose in unexpected ways. I had anticipated becoming rounder and saggier but no one warned me that I would become hairier too. For ages after, I was paranoid more whiskers would sprout. So far so good but I still conduct a weekly inspection of my under-chin. Apparently legends Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor used to shave their faces to exfoliate and enjoy a fuzz-free complexion. Well, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me ha ha. I will admit that when seated next to a beautiful young woman at the theatre a few months ago, I was surprised by the fact that her head was shaved but her legs were not (unless yeti tights are now a trend?) but good for her – every woman should decide for herself the amount of body hair she is happy with.       

Between you, me and the cat’s whiskers, Walter the whisker and I have come to an understanding. He means no harm. Each time he makes an appearance he is instantly tweezed away and I have accepted that ageing is inevitable. We all have things about our bodies that we don’t like and there are more important things to worry about than the fear that a rebellious whisker is potentially waving to everyone as I make my way in the world… Love yourself, flaws and and all.

Take care, Lisa.