Sunday, February 9, 2014

Life Over Easy

This photo has all the makings of an omelet...
Eggs. They're pretty much a staple food in most people's refrigerators, always on hand but oft forgotten as you're standing there with the door wide open, muttering to yourself that there's nothing good to eat. For the past several months, I haven't been doing much weekend breakfast cooking. Once Spartacus and I discovered that Ria's Bluebird Cafe, the funky Grant Park diner across the street from Oakland Cemetery where Margaret Mitchell is buried, happens to have the world's most excellent buttermilk pancakes, we've become regulars there nearly every Saturday morning.


Ria's eggnog pancakes with torched marshmallow...mmm!
On the weekends, Ria's does specialty pancakes. Regardless of whether I'm having eggnog flapjacks with toasted house-made marshmallow or strawberry-laced ones topped with Chantilly cream, I always order a single poached egg. Poached eggs are a SUCH a pain in the ass to make at home. I've tried every method known to man, including the addition of vinegar as well as the purchase of silicone egg cups that you submerge in simmering water so the eggs hold their shape without the white spewing out everywhere, but it's just not the same as when the egg is prepared special, just for you. In my book, you just can't beat the simple glamor of a perfectly poached egg, adorned only with salt and pepper. 

Well, this morning was a little different, and I'm really not sure why. Both of us got up pretty early, which means we could have easily beaten the crowd at Ria's, but for some reason, I was motivated to cook. Maybe it's because I had an entire carton of eggs that was about to expire. Usually, I just hard boil eggs that are getting close to their expiration date, but since I also had a chunk of smoked gouda that was on the verge of going moldy, I decided I'd make an omelet. I had spinach, green onions, and grape tomatoes that needed to be used up, too, so into the pan they went. Man oh man, our kitchen smelled so good! As I stood there, flipping the omelet around in my trusty old non-stick pan, I felt strangely reassured. I was thinking to myself, "Nope, I haven't lost it," when it dawned on me egg-xactly where this sudden burst of culinary mania was coming from. 

Me & Julie, celebrating our friendship & 5-7 years of no more periods.
Last week, I went to see a gynecologist for the first time in seven years. The last time I saw one was to have my now-expired Mirena IUD inserted. Here in the US, the Mirena is considered effective for five years, but in France, it's been demonstrated to retain its contraceptive efficacy for closer to seven years. Since I was 44 at the time I had it placed, I pretty much banked on being menopausal by the time it was ready to remove. Back then, I was single. Aside from the fact that I was, uh, quite sexually active, and hated using condoms, I really couldn't stand having menstrual periods interfere with my life. There was nothing quite as sucky as being caught on call with blood-stained panties and no tampons, and don't even get me started on the grossness of sex whilst menstruating. My girlfriend, Julie, told me she loved her Mirena. I mean, what's not to love about no fuss, no muss contraception with the added benefit of no monthly period? I was quickly convinced that the IUD was definitely for me. One afternoon, while I was having lunch in the physicians' lunchroom at work, I bumped into a colleague who happened to be one of the head honchos in Emory's department of gynecology. He's a fatherly figure, a real good egg, and since I'd developed a pretty friendly relationship with him during my GYN rotation as a surgery resident six years before, I felt perfectly comfortable telling him about my situation. He got me into his clinic, and within a week, I had my IUD. (Since then, my well-woman exams and Pap tests have been performed by my internal medicine doc, just because it's easier than scheduling separate appointments).

Pregnant me at my nursing school graduation
When I made this most recent gynecologist appointment, it was basically to find out where I was in my hormonal cycle. I mean, hell, I'm 51. I'd convinced myself that I was in some early stage of menopause, based on the fact that I keep having these horrible acne breakouts on my chin. For me, one pimple constitutes a full on breakout; don't judge. I suppose I'm a little vain, but since I never had zits as a teenager, dealing with them over age 50 is somewhat traumatic. When the subject of my ancient IUD came up, the doc said she'd check my hormone levels, and that we'd go from there. Later that evening, Spartacus and I were joking about how weird it would be to have a baby at our age. Since I work in an infertility clinic, giving anesthesia to women who are having their eggs harvested for in vitro fertilization or cryopreserved for later use, and men who are having their vasectomies reversed or their testes biopsied because of low sperm counts, I am constantly reminded of how difficult it is for some couples to get pregnant. If Nature had a cruel side, it would be definitely be infertility. For me, conception was easy. I got pregnant two months after stopping birth control pills, and at sixteen weeks, we learned I was carrying twins. By the time I was 28-30 weeks along, I was as big as a house! In 1990, pregnant belly photos weren't yet in style, so the only known pregnancy photo of me is the one shown here, taken during my nursing school graduation ceremony. Talk about hormonal! I could never imagine going through that again, which is why I'm very lucky to have had twins. It still amazes me that two people came from one of my eggs.

How can Spartacus sleep at a time like this?
Late Friday afternoon, I got a call from my gynecologist. I wasn't expecting to hear from her so soon after my appointment, and I was momentarily struck with terror that she was delivering really bad news. My life flashed before my eyes. A lump rose in my throat. My heart started having palpitations. The pause between me answering the phone and her telling me she'd reviewed my lab results was immeasurably long. Spartacus was napping on the couch, and there I was, a complete basket case about to learn that I had some sort of gynecologic cancer. I was totally unprepared for what came next. "Kristyna, we're going to need to replace that IUD. You've got some verrrrry young-looking ovaries, and you still need protection. You're not going into menopause any time soon." She sounded so upbeat and happy. Relieved but also in disbelief, I nearly shouted into the phone. "Are you kidding me? I could still get pregnant at this age?!" WTF?! I guess the yolk's on me. All along, I thought I was on the verge of being over Hormone Hill, that this freakin' acne would resolve, and that my body would soon be free of implanted devices. Not so much. 

Me and my huevos
I have to admit, as shocked as I was to hear the egg-ceptional news about my youthful ovaries, I'm secretly a little turned on by it. My libido's raw, as in sunny side up. It's as if I've regained several years of my life. I've always looked and felt younger than my actual age, and maybe these raging hormones have had something to do with that. Who knows, maybe there is power in suggestion? I thought my eggs were poached, but my gonads have kept right on crackin'. No, I haven't lost it. After enjoying my luscious spinach-tomato-smoked gouda omelet, I called myself in some prescription strength acne gel to combat yet another zit that's popped up. (That's one of the few perks of being a doctor). I'm getting a new IUD on Tuesday. As for me and my huevos, we're scrambling to stay as deviled as possible while taking life over easy ;-)




35 comments:

  1. Be safe til Tuesday my dear and still, use a bit of caution... I am a testament for not being careful enough since I have four kids, you being the first and very planned.

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    1. LOL, don't worry, Mom. You're not getting another grandchild from me! XOXO

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    2. And 9 months later ............we'll see Helena with another set of twins, girls this time, and there will be a link to her mum's comment, ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry Helena, I couldn't resist.

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  2. Wow you certainly are fit at 51, and the picture proves it !

    Enjoyed the read as always,

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    1. Thanks, Scott. I've discovered the wonders of fitnessblender.com. Love those total body workouts. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  3. Wow, you sure are fit at 51, and the picture proves it !

    Enjoyed the read as always.

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  4. Haha Kris...could have told you that you were younger than your years. You really are something.
    btw, those pancakes look fantastic!
    Cheers, ic

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    1. Ian, if you ever make it to Atlanta, Ria's Bluebird Cafe is a must for breakfast. Seriously, the best pancakes in the world. I'm a bit of a hot mess, aren't I? ;-)

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  5. Kris, that's fantastic news! You're a whirlwind of a woman and a medical marvel. And what a witty and lively post! All that wonderful word play around the egg metaphor. Great photos too, especially the nudie. The white carton, the white eggs, and your white skin-some marvelous contrast there. A youthful spirit in a youthful body-what could be more inspiring!

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    1. It really is egg-cellent news, Marty. Amazing how I thought myself into a box without realizing it. We're supposed to have another snowstorm here tonight, so I hope my procedure for tomorrow won't get cancelled! Glad you liked the photos...had to search all day for that pregnant photo. Brad was very obliging in manning the camera for the nudie ;-)

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  6. I have always heard that a woman's body is the marvel of science that cannot be predicted. Did a great job in this post and I really appreciated the play on words. You tend to be one of the most clever writers that I enjoy reading.

    Fabulous pictures to boot! You and the food are very photogenic.

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    1. I firmly believe that what you've heard about women's bodies being unpredictable marvels of science is true, Steven. I'm living proof. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I had fun digging through all my old photos in search of that singularly elusive pregnancy pic...that's one of the unexpected bonuses of blogging. It stirs up other interests and activities that I otherwise forget.

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  7. Having an egg allergy means that generally even a faint whiff of eggs makes me a bit queasy... However, foot the first time in 20 years or so, you've made me a bit jealous that I can't go experience a perfectly poached egg, or sexy omelet... So well done, it takes some lyrical skill to get someone to crave something that will make her throat close and require a very unpleasant trip to the E.R.

    That picture of you with the eggs is absolutely gorgeous, and I cannot for the life of me fathom that you're anywhere near menopausal age! You have the skin and body that most women in their mid to late twenties are jealous of (all the more reason I should be jealous of your diet, huh? Lol)

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    1. Hey Ruby, based on your digital storytelling that I saw recently, you're a total knockout! :-) Having an egg allergy has got to be tough; it seems like eggs are in everything. Can you eat egg substitutes, or do those still have egg in them?

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  8. Good news indeed, Kris, though I feel your pain about the whole contraception thing. I ended up getting my tubes tied. Not really a choice. After my last C-section my doc told me, by the look of my insides, having another child would be extremely risky. I didn't fret much. Three kids was -- and is -- more than enough for me! (BTW, love the egg photo! That's one rockin' bod you've got there!)

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    1. Janene, it sounds like you made an educated choice, especially since you've have prior C-sections. Three pregnancies...whew! I was only pregnant once, and I never could imagine doing it again. Good thing I had twins ;-) Glad you liked the photo. It's caused somewhat of a stir.

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    1. Thanks, Melody, and thanks for reading and commenting on my blog :-)

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  10. GO HELENA! That's awesome! I mean at least you know you can still get pregnant if you want. There's a lot of women who have that trouble at the age of 27. This was an awesome post. =)

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    1. Thanks, Dean. I am guessing that it probably wouldn't be so easy to get pregnant at this age, but I certainly wouldn't want to find out! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  11. Thanks, Dean. I am guessing that it probably wouldn't be so easy to get pregnant at this age, but I certainly wouldn't want to find out! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  12. Good for you for having healthy reproductive system! I sound so clinical commenting back :) I agree, must be careful at any age because unplanned pregnancy has huge consequences. Speaking from experience, being a mom of 4 in 2005, I still conceived at age 35 and that was 9 years after the last one. Was totally unprepared like a teenager, hehe... but everything went well in the end. I loved your post, I like your way with words!

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    1. Glad to hear that surprise 4th pregnancy went so well! I come from a large family, and it seemed as if my mom was always pregnant, LOL. She had her last baby at 36. Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

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  14. Life begins at 50. Young looking ovaries? Now that must be why you look so young. I'm no expert in medical stuff but if a woman was to have her ovaries out, don't they have to have some sort of hormone replacement stuff to compensate?

    You're blessed Helena, healthy, fit, young looking, good job, lovely family, 2 kids at once, and age doesn't even matter for you.

    AND listen to your mother... that sought of news can get you carried away, ha ha ha ha.

    Tasteful photo too :)

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    1. Yes, premenopausal women who have their ovaries removed are typically placed on estrogen, and perimenopausal women who are symptomatic can also take it. Me, I'd rather stay away from systemic hormone replacement if I can help it. My IUD replacement for last week got cancelled because of the snow, so March 24 is the new date. Not exactly looking forward to it, but better than dealing with monthly periods or an unwanted pregnancy (not that I think that'd happen very easily at my age).

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    2. Be careful now Helena. March 24th is a long way away and you never know what might happen in between. You could get the girls, ha ha ha ha ha.

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  15. That was a hilarious and a fantastic post, Kris, that quite explains your new Avatar on FB. No wonder you feel so eggcited. Keep the fire going!

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    1. Haha, yes, Uma. I have a new lease on life it seems. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  16. You are super fit! Menopause won't drag you down. Be careful if you don't want another baby... lol... Mine came several years ago and I had the worst several years in my life regarding physical health. Now I am just happy all those PMS is over!

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  17. Yes Kris, you're still 'young and dangerous'. Eggs-actly as you should be!

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  18. Kris, your post is wonderful, full of humor and insight. Love that b/w photo wearing nothing but an egg carton; you wear it well! You look exceptionally fit for your age, any age really, just beautiful!

    The whole issue of ovaries is a sensitive one for me since not having children has been enormously heartbreaking and it all had to do with endometriosis which caused a tumor on my right ovary when I was only in my 30s, shortly after I had gotten together with my husband and thought I’d be starting a family. That’s why, even though I read this when you first posted it, it took me a little time to come back and comment. But I didn’t want you to think I had ignored it because I love your writing and your posts!!

    I know you understand, especially since you work in an infertility clinic. You mentioned couples unable to conceive. What further added to my sadness was the indifference and non-support of my spouse (even though, after my operation when the doctor said I was a good candidate for in vitro since I was otherwise healthy, my husband didn’t care for that idea or any ideas over the years.) If I had had a child naturally, as so many women can, my husband would have accepted that, but for anything else, he was not interested. He never really said no, he just said wait, the time is not right. It took me too many years to realize the time for him would never be right. But my own personal feelings aside, you wrote a fantastic post and I know so many people can relate to it. Btw, those eggnog pancakes look so yummy! Love all your photos too!

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