Friday, December 25, 2009

Less can be so much more

I've said it many times before, but I love the novels of Sarah Waters. Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith (and Affinity) have also been beautifully adapted for TV by the BBC. Please note that the video below contains major spoilers for Fingersmith, but it's gorgeous. And very hot in that repressed old English period drama sort of way.

Politically correct whiskey

Ho, ho, ho, love this Johnny Walker ad. I'm not a whiskey drinker, but if you are, this alone warrants giving them your support!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coming out this decade

I've just come across this wonderful photo story in AfterEllen showing some of the high profile women who've come out this past decade. Well done our very own Melanie Lowe for making the list! Didn't realise one of my favourite Criminal Minds characters, Penelope Garcia, is gay. Knew I loved her!

From Portia to Missy Higgins to Suze Ormand, check out the full listing here

Monday, December 7, 2009

Portia, oh Portia!

Portia de Rossi is to gay women what Hugh Jackman is to straight women! Oh-MY! She is lovely. I like her because she freaks out all the homophobes when they see her. "That woman..a lesbian? No way!" She is the epitome of femininity. She is a strong and beautiful woman who just happens to love other women. And in this interview on The View, she glows when she talks about Ellen and marriage and it's heartening to see.

On Prop 8 and its implications, Portia says: "(Gay marriage) is really not a religious issue or moral issue, it's just simply a civil rights issue. And the fact that the majority can get to vote on the rights of a minority seems very un-American to me."

Well done Portia for being one classy act! (Pity about the crap quality of the three hosts of this show including Whoopi who looked half asleep and who could have been an ally but chose to bury her head in the sand. Hmph.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Meredith Baxter's coming out moment

It's been all over the press for the past few days: ex Family Ties actress, Meredith Baxter (aka Elyse Keaton) has officially come out of the closet. The move was prompted by a recent lesbian cruise she attended, and the subsequent tabloid media hype around it. Meredith, 62, says she has been involved with her current partner, Nancy Locke, for four years.

Below, Baxter's sensitively-handled coming out interview (with Matt Lauer) on The Today Show. Watching it, I feel admiration for Meredith, but also sadness and anger that gay people have to subject themselves to this sort of rubbish: justifying loving someone of the same sex. I have to wonder when love will just be love. Full stop.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The other Secret unveiled

A few years ago I went to a friend's 50th birthday party. I don't know her too well. We were more casual acquaintances than anything else I guess, although I like her a lot and have fun in her presence. Anyway, her partner Helen happens to be a woman I've known for many years, also as more of an acquaintance, because of the age gap between us. When I was at school, Helen was probably about 40. She went away one weekend and another mutual friend (Patty) organised a friend (Elize) to housesit. They had a dinner party one evening and I was invited.

Imagine the scene... still in school (probably just on 18) and invited to this very grown up and very lesbian evening. I was nearing the end of my school career and was planning on leaving my hometown to go off to university in a matter of months, and I was desperate to be with a woman.

I had told my mom I was staying the night at a friend's - and I got there on my scooter. I was very drawn to the house-sitter, Elize, who was a journalist with the most wonderfully delicate hands you have ever seen. She was about 4 or 5 years older than me, although when you're 18, that may as well be 10 or 15 years older! We got through rather a lot of red wine that night, as I recall, and the mutual friend, Patty, left quite soon after dinner. I remained. I can't recall what was said about why I was staying. Perhaps I was too drunk to drive anywhere!

Anyway, the delicious Elize was very kind and very sweet and before I knew it our conversation turned to things more Sapphic. To cut a long story short, we decided at that moment that it would be perfect to skinny dip. She slid into the pool first. I was but 18 and very shy, you understand. Under the cover of darkness I got into the pool too, and we shared out first, but by no means our last, kiss of the evening. Lord, this is sounding very cheesy! It really was a wonderful initiation, and from the swimming pool, we went to the bedroom. It was in reality Helen's bedroom, but remember that Elize was housesitting. I am very grateful for that night. Wow. For a first time, it was everything I had hoped for. And more. She was attentive and gentle and soft and taught me a lot. I am very grateful to Elize and for that wonderful and unexpected night together.

Anyway, the point is that at Helen's partner's 50th birthday not so long ago, we all had to reveal a secret. It was a spoof of The Secret you see - and the revelations that afternoon were hilarious and daring. Mine, to just the birthday girl and Helen, was what had happened in their home some 22 years prior. I told them about the housesitting and the wine and the pool and the education I received and they both threw back their heads and laughed and laughed, delighted to have been a part of my early education in some small, unfathomable way! I was glad to have shared that particular secret and I must admit to wondering where Elize was today and what her memory of that night had been.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Settling for second best

People who cannot be single for any significant period of time fascinate me. One of the saddest things I've heard was a colleague's inebriated confession, about 10 years ago, that while he was desperately unhappy in a loveless marriage, he could not leave because he was more terrified of being alone. He was hoping to meet someone new, whilst in his marriage, and then leave the one bed for the other.

He and his wife are still married to this day, not that things are any better. He just hasn't found the right bed to leapfrog into.

Hearing that confession, I made a silent promise to myself never to become like that. I would rather be on my own, than settle. How insulting to your partner, and how soul destroying to yourself.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adam shouldn't have taken the 'bite'

There's been a lot of hype this week over Adam Lambert's performance at the American Music Awards. Apparently about 1500 complaints have been logged after he was swept away in the moment, apparently, and started improvising in his performance. The 'offensive' bits were his sexual interactions with men on stage: simulating oral sex, S&M, and then of course the kiss with one of the band members.

He later told Rolling Stone magazine: "Female performers have been doing this for years – pushing the envelope about sexuality – and the minute a man does it everybody freaks out." And I have to say, I agreed with him 100% (think Janet Jackson's boob incident and Britney's kiss with Madonna) until I saw the video, that is.

I have never watched American Idols until this latest season, when I was off sick and it was on during the day. It was down to the top 8, I think, and I was blown away by Adam's talent. He flaunted his sexuality with such confidence; he swaggered his stuff with such passion; and the singing - was powerful and amazing. Add his coming out in Rolling Stone to the mix, and the fact that America chose the blue-eyed 'nice guy' over him in the end, and I was a big, big fan. I still am, and I still think his talent is limitless, but I think he did get carried away.

Not only did he sing 'For your entertainment' terribly, but the aggression behind that kiss was a little much. The 27-year-old's admitted to totally improvising on the night, which means that the poor guy he kissed had no idea what was going to happen, and Adam literally grabs him, pulling him violently into the lip lock. That's the worst part of this for me. Sexy it was not.

Perhaps he's trying to break free of the Idols image and shock the world. Maybe he was trying to stir controversy in the hope it would boost album sales (and maybe it has, and maybe he was just acting out the lyrics, but I think he overstepped the mark. Absolutely, spice things up by showing a same sex kiss, but don't leave us with the feeling that it was stolen forcibly. He would not have gotten away with it if it had been a women either. I think ultimately, if I had read that the whole stunt had been planned and rehearsed etc, I would feel differently. But it wasn't, and role models - especially gay ones - should know better.

Update: The YouTube video I had posted has been removed 'due to copyright' issues.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The chilling reality

A very disturbing media release has been issued by the South African gay umbrella body, the Joint Working Group, to highlight concerns over proposed legislation in Uganda, in East Africa.

Gay rights groups in Uganda have appealed for activists across the world to hold protests at the Ugandan Embassies and High Commissions in their countries to oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being tabled in the Ugandan parliament.

According to the release by the Joint Working Group (JWC): "The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill aims to build on the current homophobic legislation already in force in that country by adding further offences and even more stringent punishments for anyone caught committing the crime of homosexuality. Among many horrific clauses in the proposed law are the imposition of the death penalty for what they term “aggravated homosexuality”, punishment for people who do not report on homosexuals and the criminalisation of activists who work in LGBTI organisations."

While gay rights are entrenched in South Africa, the situation is not the same in other parts of the continent, as the Ugandan example clearly states. Even in South Africa, lesbian women are raped in townships to 'cure them' or 'teach them a lesson', while homophobia is rife in many communities and being gay or lesbian is seen as being un-African.

In terms of the Ugandan issue, the JWC is holding a protest outside the Ugandan High Commission in Arcadia, Pretoria, on the 17 November from 12pm to 2pm, to show its disgust at the proposed bill. It's also calling on the South African government to break its silence on the matter, saying such silence is unacceptable.

If you're in Gauteng and can join the protest, please do so. And if you're elsewhere in the world, with the power to write about this situation, please spread the word.

And on a separate note, South Africans feeling isolated or needing help from LGBTI organisations, can possibly Google any of the JWC members as listed below.

Activate WITS, Behind the Mask, Coalition of African Lesbians, Durban Gay and Lesbian Community , D Gayle, Engender
Forum for the Empowerment of Women, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Gay and Lesbian Network (PMB), Gay Umbrella, Gender Dynamix, Glorious Light MCC, Good Hope MCC, Hope and Unity MCC, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), Jewish Outlook, Out in Africa, OUT LGBT Well-being, OUT Rhodes, Rainbow UCT, SAYLO, The Inner Circle, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Triangle Project, Unisa Centre for Applied Psychology, XX/Y Flame.

(Image thanks to Wikipedia)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The more things change...

The more things change, the more things stay the same, it appears. Today was a case in point. Had an appointment with a fertility specialist. He's highly recommended and one of the city's top experts. But before I even got to meet him, several things just totally offended me.

1) His receptionist was rude and insensitive. Women approach this doctor at their most vulnerable. They turn here in a crisis and to have the front-line person barking instructions at you and telling you it's cash only, is a little much. I was also told that it would take until mid December to get an appointment and then, once I asked to be on standby, was told I would have to call in weekly to see if there was any 'vacancy'. Talk about a God-complex, and this isn't even from the doctor who creates life each day!
2) Step two was being called by the receptionist and told, 'we have an appointment for you, but if you cannot come to this one, we cannot help you.' Nice.
3) Accepted the appointment and then argued with the woman about form of payment, saying it was 'utterly ridiculous' the Dr didn't accept cards or an EFT. Eventually she conceded that I could pay by EFT.
4) Arrived for my appointment 15 minutes early. Waited 1hr45 to actually get in to see the Dr. Before that, had to fill in THE FORM. Hoo boy, was this a beaut. Absolutely no consideration for any possibility but the married couple. Form actually said: 'Wife's name' (that would be me, I guess!), then 'Husband's job description' (need to make sure the hubby can afford the treatment!) and the piece de resistance was the line under payment: 'Husband's medical aid'. Let's just say I had to scratch out rather a lot.
5) Walked in to the Dr's office, to be greeted by a 'Hello Mrs XYZ, or is it Miss?'. He had just caught sight of my form, you see, and so did a little double take. "Miss," I replied. 'Oh!' he said, 'Please have a seat.'

It's a very vulnerable place to find yourself in, and I find it appalling that in 2009, one has to be subjected to this sort of sexist drivel. Forget about the gay women out there, the message is that being a mother is only acceptable for a 'wife', and only as long as there is a bank-rolling husband in the picture too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The long wait...

I am currently waiting to find out if my latest A.I (artificial insemination) round has taken. Had two this month. One nine days ago and the other, six days ago. It's amazing how few sites out there have info on exactly what should be happening now. It's also remarkable how hyper-vigilant you are about your body. Little cramps or pains I've probably had for the past 25 or so years are suddenly being felt for the first time. Grumpiness too is taking on a new dimension. I hit a low on Wednesday when I felt terribly pre-menstrual. The first sign was when I nearly ripped out a colleague's throat. Ok, not quite, but you get the picture. Everything is heightened right now and I do not feel in control! I have Googled early pregnancy symptoms ad nauseam. I then Googled 'very, very, very early pregnancy signs' and that still did not provide me with much comfort.

Early signs you see are frequent urination (I am peeing so much lately because I am WAITING to see if I am pregnant and drinking so much water because sub-consciously I know that peeing frequently is a sign!)
Another indication is tender breasts. How do you tell if your breasts are tender? I guess if you need to ask the question you've answered your question. I find frequent prodding of my breasts does help to cause tenderness!

Another sign is mood swings. OK, so that's just unfair. Of course I have mood swings. I am WAITING! And I am possibly PMT.
Another indication is sensitivity to aromas. Yes, yes, I have that! Erm, but I always have that. All-bloody-year round. OK, so this is not going so well.

Missed period? Well - not yet, because as pointed out earlier, it is EARLY, EARLY at this stage. Dizziness and / or fainting - no. Crap. OK, so it is not looking too good, really. I should know in the next few days. The wait though really is agonising, as anyone in the same boat will be able to confirm. Definitely a time of obsessing and naval gazing. Oh, to be a lady in waiting...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Best on-screen kisses

Apparently in an upcoming Heroes episode, Claire the cheerleader and another female character kiss. It's got Tinseltown buzzing, but according to sites like, the kiss itself is a bit of a cop out. The site says: "There’s a distressing lack of give-and-take here." It also says Claire seems 'pretty disinterested'. Well, I gave up on Heroes a long time ago, so I won't be able to judge for myself, but here are some of the better on-screen kisses over the years. Thanks to for prompting some of these memories!

Ally McBeal kiss in 1999 between Ally and Ling: (OK, so this one was disabled by copyright kings. You'll have to google it!)

Here's a wonderful collage from various classics:

L-Word collage:

Grey's Anatomy: Callie and Erica

LA Law - this kiss made history for sure as it was 1991!

Friday, October 9, 2009

When 'family' isn't 'family'

I have a very benevolent attitude towards most gay people. Generally speaking, I embrace them and feel an immediate kinship with them. After all, if they've gone through even a bit of what I went through to come out and be myself, they must be pretty cool. But I recently learnt that just because someone is family, doesn't mean they're your 'family'!

Picture the scene. Gay girl meets lesbian friends of best gay boy friends. Italian venue chosen for the occasion. I am full of hope and optimism. I am, after all, a glass-half-full kinda gal. Hmm. I first started getting a little concerned when Girl 'A' described Sean Penn's 'Milk' as 'that Art movie'. Clearly an Oscar for best actor doesn't qualify one for mainstream!

In the interests of a united nations, I pushed that aside, only to be told, a few agonising minutes later, that the Sarah Waters screenplay was in fact called 'Tipping Velvet' and that it had been set in the 1950's. It was all too much, I tell you, and so I did was any self respecting lesbian would do: I ordered another beer.

It was the only way I knew how to continue through the deep dark night where the friends of friends had turned out to be not family at all. *Sigh*

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sarah Waters

Most lesbians know Sarah Waters as the wonderfully talented novelist behind literary gems such as 'Tipping the Velvet' and 'Fingersmith'. Both of these novels put, in my opinion, lesbian writing in the mainstream. She's won numerous awards for her writing, and both of the novels mentioned above, as well as 'Affinity' have all been adapted for television. So, when I heard, many months back that Sarah had penned a new novel, due out in about Aug/September, I quivered with excitement and prepared to book my copy.

Her latest offering is called The Little Stranger, and it's set in the 1940s in rural Warwickshire. More intriguingly, it's billed as a 'chilling ghost story'. 'Affinity' - while not a ghost story, had a 'supernatural' element to it. The sexual tension between the main characters in Affinity kept me turning the pages rapidly.

Waters can pretty much write anything, you see, and a host of lesbian fans will buy her work. But this time, I have to confess to feeling a little let down. Make no mistake, The Little Stranger is a wonderful read. I took it away with me over the long weekend and devoured it in a day or two. She is a masterful storyteller. But, I did feel disappointed that Caroline Ayres, one of the main characters, was not lesbian. There were little indications early on that she was. Waters, I felt, teased us along, and then revealed about mid-way that that wasn't the route she was taking us along.


I've just watched an interview with Waters (via this link) where she admits that she's spent a lot of time apologising to lesbians for the fact that there's no gay character in the book.

She said however of Caroline that she's clearly not your run-of-the-mill, mainstream heterosexual protagonist: "So in a way, The Little Stranger is a queer book, which I hope will sit more comfortably alongside my more obviously lesbian novels."

The bottom line, is that I enjoyed the novel and highly recommend you give it a try. And ultimately (and see if you agree once you've read it) I do think Caroline is a dyke! :-)

Oh and of her new novel, which is yet to be written, Waters says she may look at the pre-war period of the 1920's and 30's. Please Sarah, put in a lesbian character... !

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Artificial insemination 101

This baby-making business (the A.I way) is not for sissies, I tell you. On the one hand, it's hectically serious, but on the other it's given many light moments, although you have to have a sense of humour to get through - that's for sure.

I've been through five A.I's already in the past two months and am currently waiting to see if any of the latest ones 'have taken'. I should know in a week's time. And while that has its own challenges and anxieties (the waiting), it has been easier this month. Last month was insanely intense. I spend days psyching myself up for it and also trying to be positive that at the end of it, I would get a positive result on that blood test. Alas, it was not meant to be, but it's been one helluva ride.

I have to laugh at the very first A.I. I'd taken the day off work for the occasion, as it was set for around noon and I wanted to be in a relaxed state of mind for it - something work does not induce. I had butterflies in my stomach all morning and by late morning they'd become slightly entangled. I set off on my Tom Cruise-like Mission just after 11am. First stop, the hospital up the road where my go-to sperm guy is based. I was to pick up the package, insert between breasts, drive 15 minutes up the road to another hospital where the gynae is based. As I arrived, the gynae's secretary called to ask if I was on schedule, as the gynae had to get into an emergency C-section asap. 'When will you be here,' she enquired anxiously. My heart nearly leapt out of my throat at the news. Holy crap - no pressure, I thought. Being a little early, I buzzed on the intercom to the sperm guys office (little more than a broom closet at first glance) and was told he'd 'be there in a few minutes'. Damn. No luck getting the goods early then. A guy arrived outside the office, clearly on his own mission for a female partner - and he was seen before I was. He emerged minutes later with the plastic syringe that is supplied and an envelope (which I later learnt has the specs of the sperm on it: basically how alive the little buggers were) but no telltale signs of any test tube. I still wonder where he placed it to keep it at body temp!

Anyway, I had my own transaction to get through, and my turn finally came and it was a quick exchange. The first thing I noticed was that there was practically NO liquid in the test tube at all. I mean it was less than a teaspoon worth. I couldn't stop myself: "Is that all I get," I asked him. Yes - he replied, no doubt having heard this question before. The second thing that alarmed me slightly was the colour of the 'specimen' as it's politely called. Pink. I wondered if he knew that I was a gay woman! Nah, impossible, I thought. Ok, best I get this show on the road - what with some poor woman poised and ready to have a C-Section and waiting for me to be seen to first.

I gingerly placed the test tube - upright as instructed - down my bra, hoping I had enough to hold it together. I zipped up my jersey (even though it was quite sunny outside) so those in the waiting room area I'd have to pass on my way out wouldn't notice the bulge of the test tube through my T-shirt. All you think of course is how obvious it is that you are carrying a vial of sperm, pink nogal, down your top.

I finally arrived back at my car, took off the jersey because by now I was starting to sweat, and set off on the drive. I took a wrong turn and ended up having to make a longer detour to get onto the highway; then when I did I got stuck behind two massive trucks - meaning I was stuck in first gear for about a kilometre. I was starting to panic by this stage. Next obstacle was a traffic jam as a result of an accident. Once past that, cursing and trying to relax myself all in the same breath, I had a clear run and arrived at the gynae's where, ironically, I then sat waiting for 10 long minutes. All the while I was worrying that the little guys in the plastic vial weren't getting any younger and may be starting to wane.

Finally it was time. The actual A.I was quick and painless, but the speculum inserted so he could see what he was doing was too large and was very painful. Hoo boy - I didn't expect that. I tensed like hell and was told to relax. Not very easy as anyone who's had the good ole speculum inserted will know. Turns out the next time he used a smaller one and it was painless and quick!

I lay alone in the room afterwards for about 30 minutes. I would have liked longer but they insisted this was enough. Then I got into my car and drive home, where I relaxed for the afternoon, channeling baby thoughts. The experience was - in a word: INTENSE.

I only started to see the funny side to the day that evening when recounting the story to a friend on the phone. What a comedy of errors and it's no wonder that it didn't take that time.

Wish me luck as the waiting continues....

Monday, July 20, 2009

God bless Google

If you think about it, our Internet service providers probably know more about us than our good friends. If they wanted to snoop, they'd know our most private information. Consider what you've searched for recently on Google, for example.

My own search history would make my mother blush and my gynae laugh. In my baby-making quest (artificial insemination route) I've gone back to Biology 101, and I've generally been amazed at how little the average person, myself included, knows about fertilisation and fertility in general.

Recent embarrassing search entries have included: 'how to know when you're fertile', 'what is a basal body chart', 'eating right to fall pregnant', 'how long does sperm last', 'how long does frozen sperm last', 'how do you defrost sperm', 'how long does an egg survive', 'how does artificial insemination work', 'ovulation' and 'fallopian tubes'.

And that's just for starters. After my first insemination I found myself really scraping the Google barrel: 'time it takes to fertilise an egg', and 'will the sperm run out in urine'. Ho, ho, ho - at least I still have a sense of humour about it, but when you're spending thousands a try, you find yourself asking a lot of questions. All I can say is thank goodness Google is there to answer me, because I wouldn't even like to say some of these things out loud! By the time this is all over, I will be a mini-expert in a lot of strange areas!

Now I've just got one final google tonight: 'why is A.I sperm pink?' :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Life out of the closet for Melanie Lowe

Adam Lambert isn't the only Idols runner-up coming out of the closet. On the other side of the world, in South Africa, talented musician Melanie Lowe recently came out in a local magazine interview. Her Story caught up with her to get the low-down on what's happened since then.

Amazing Adam Lambert

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to put fingers to the keyboard to say this: I Heart Adam Lambert! If I were a young gay guy I'd be salivating and rubbing my sticky hands together in glee.  What an all round superstar: both for his amazing musical talent (he was bloody robbed of that title, although perhaps he's above it all) and for his unfazed coming out. 

Of course we (the gay peeps) all knew he was family the moment he walked on stage, but I admire him for being so nonchalant about it in the Rolling Stone interview. I'll bet there were some who nearly choked on a hair-ball of mistress when the revelation was made, but Adam just says his sexuality is 'merely another part of me.' And so it is. 

Well done Adam. We admire you for being so open and so true to yourself - and frankly, didn't expect anything less given how honest your music is. Ah-men, Adam!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chastity undergoing sex change op

I've just been reading about Chastity Bono and her transition to a man. I must say I am a little surprised about the move. Not because I know her or anything, but because - from reading her memoir, The End of Innocence - I didn't get the sense that she was uncomfortable in her skin. In fact, my impression about Chastity was that she enjoyed and celebrated being a woman.

The latest news, thanks to AP, is below. Image thanks to this site:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chastity Bono is having a sex change to become a man. A spokesman for Bono, born a girl to Sonny and Cher, says he "has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity" and began the sex-change process earlier this year. Publicist Howard Bragman said Bono is proud of his decision and hopes "that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue."

The 40-year-old writer, activist and reality-TV star came out as gay 20 years ago, Bragman said.

In the book "Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming-Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, & Their Families," Bono describes the realization of being "somehow different — specifically different from who my mom expected me to be."

A message left with Cher's representatives was not immediately returned Thursday.

Bono's second book, "The End of Innocence: A Memoir," details how relationships with Joan, a lover, and Sonny and Cher changed after coming out.

In 1995, Bono posed for the cover of the gay magazine The Advocate and began working for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
All the best to Chastity. To be honest, it is not something that I can relate to. I have always loved being a woman, and never wanted anything else. But, it would be hypocritical of me to point a finger at anyone who is following their true destiny, and so, all the best to her.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hot, hot, hot

Discovered this video via One More Lesbian and thought it was worth sharing. I adore the opening scene from the L Word. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hitting menopause at 30-something

All I knew about menopause eight weeks ago was that it was not supposed to happen to me for a good 15 or so years. I'd half-heartedly heard my mom and her friends mentioning 'hot flushes' a few times, but apart from that I knew very little. We tend to only Google things when they are bearing down on us.

And so, it was a bit of a shock a few nights ago when I found myself typing the words 'hot flushes' into my Mac's Google bar. You see, menopause has hit me. And it's not as if I wasn't warned. It has been brought on, after all, by artificial means (Lucrin, but more about that later).

Let me rewind. Just before the end of 2008, a routine gynae appointment ended with the words: 'You need an operation. You have endometriosis." When I got home, that was another thing I had to Google. I am now an expert on the topic. And from not even being able to pronounce 'laparoscopy' I am now preparing for my second one.

I had my op a few days after that appointment. Turns out I had Stage 3-4 endometriosis (endo) and it was 'one of the worst cases' my doc had seen.  Initially I was upset my previous gynae had not picked it up, but in hindsight, I should also have been more in tune with my body and identified it myself years ago. I thought I'd be in the hospital for a few hours and be discharged by the evening, but ended up having to stay the night (and almost a 2nd night). Most of the sites I'd researched had said it was a 30 min, same day procedure. If you're reading this because you're about to have the same op, be prepared: if they find signs of endo and they have to laser or burn the adhesions, your 'look see' op turns into a bigger procedure and you need to give yourself more time to recover than you'd probably thought. It wasn't scary, don't worry. It's just that it does take its toll on the body, although I also think mine reacted quite badly to the anesthetic. 

When I got home at about 6.30pm the day after the surgery (which was at about 2pm), I was not the happiest soul. Two wonderful friends had to almost carry me up my steep flight of stairs and shower me, dry me off and help me into bed. Walking was very painful for a few days. I had expected the recovery to take about two days, but I was off work for five days, plus a full weekend, and even when I returned to work, my energy levels were very low. Granted, my op had been almost two hours long and my anesthetic had therefore been longer etc, but I think women going in for a similar procedure need to allow themselves more time to heal. 

Anyway, I am showing signs of my early menopause now; forgetting my initial point! I was given an injection of Lucrin in hospital and was told I would need one every month for three months. It was to put my body into menopause so that the endo growths would quieten down. After that, I was assured, I could emerge from menopause.

I had my 2nd injection of Lucrin about 10 days ago, (it's very expensive at about R1770 a jab and takes at least 24-48 hours to order and my medical aid - Discovery - doesn't cover it) and my mild symptoms of menopause from month one when my body was obviously still absorbing the drug have turned into raging side effects.

My hot flushes which I thought were 'cute' a month ago, are now bloody irritating. They literally strike every 20 mins and I feel like a thermostat-controlled urn which boils every now and then and then goes into silent mode. I can be sitting at my desk at work and all of a sudden, I can feel my arms stick to the desk and my face burn. It lasts only about two minutes at the most, but happens all day and all night long. Googling has revealed that every woman's body is different, so I this may not necessarily be your experience. I guess it may also not be mine: when I actually do go through the natural, real thing, it could be different for me. My other side effect seems to be memory loss. It's like fuzz these days!

Once my Lucrin course is over, I will have a second op to determine if all the endo is gone and I guess if the doc does find any, he will nuke it. I am hoping that this will be the end of it for a while! After that, as soon as my body recovers, I plan to start trying to fall pregnant. That, they assure me, is the ultimate cure. Ahh, but that is another post entirely!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Melting gay hearts around the world

I am seriously impressed with Iceland. Reading about the country's new openly lesbian Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, sworn in on Sunday, (1 Feb 2009) made me think twice about going to Iceland one day on a holiday. How cool (excuse the pun) to be in a place where sexuality is secondary to competence; where tales of titillation about someone's sleeping partner are not told; where old and young show more concern for policy than prejudice. Well done to the Icelanders -- the rest of the world, including South Africa, could take a lesson from you.

South Africa may have the gay rights on paper but lesbians and gays are still being persecuted, sometimes killed, for who they love - especially in black townships. Homosexuality is still very much taboo in African culture, and even our presidential favourite, Jacob Zuma, has gone on record with comments that incite violence against gays. Not to mention that Zuma got off a rape conviction - just. The victim was a young lesbian who's since had to go into hiding, fearing for her life.

Contemplating a Zuma presidency, after election time around April/May is too awful to contemplate. It's also on totally the opposite spectrum to the appointment of the Iceland PM. I sincerely hope that South Africans learn more tolerance in this area, otherwise, God help us all. We'll have to flee to Iceland!

(Image courtesy of BBC News)