My mid-life adventures with sex, birth control -- and witchcraft

© London Free Press 2018

“What witchcraft is this?” I think to myself after I hang up the phone with our local health unit.

A few years back, I visited the sexual health clinic in London, operated by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, in what became a humorous (at least to me) and memorable beginning of my foray into oral birth control use in my late 40s.

I was in a new relationship and despite my age, I knew there was still the possibility of pregnancy. Besides, I have high blood pressure that’s regulated with medication, so an estrogen-based solution wasn’t really an option for me.

I remember how humiliating it felt to be the oldest person in the clinic waiting room. I knew my ovaries were virtually coughing up dust, but I still wanted to be safe. The bowls of condoms around the room were an ironic source of entertainment.

Fast forward a few years and I now have the hot flashes and am living in hormonal hell. I’m 51 and still on the pill. None of the health practitioners I visit seem to have any experience with my combination of medication and menopause symptoms.

I’m fully aware that I can’t possibly be the first female to experience these challenges, but my family doc seems to be baffled by my fluctuating test results and readings.

Up until now I have miraculously resisted the urge to Google my ailments. (Come on, we all do this.) Now I spend an inordinate amount of time reading explanations, perusing forums and punching up questions into the web browser. This proves to be even more confusing.

Yet, it turns out 50 is the cutoff age for the sexual health clinic. In desperation, I give them a call anyway.

A pleasant-sounding young person listens at the other end of the phone while I explain my questions. She seems patient with me and attempts to put me through to a health nurse. While I wait, I waffle between being hopeful and asking myself whether anyone really cares about my “in-between” health issues.

Once I get through to the nurse, I ramble and repeat my situation. I talk about my birth control, confusing blood results, various symptoms and I ask for help.

The woman reiterates that indeed, yes, I am too old to be treated at their clinic. Great. Thanks. I ask where I can go. I ask about one clinic specifically for women that I’ve heard a few friends and health professionals mention it. The nurse informs me that the health unit is not affiliated with that clinic nor does the nurse have any idea where it is. Really? That’s helpful.

She also says that particular clinic has opened and shut several times over the years. She suggests I go back to my family doc and ask to get referred to a gynecologist.

I unintentionally let out a loud sigh followed by a nervous chuckle; one that I hope conveys the sarcasm and irony I intend.

All I can muster is quietly saying to myself, “What witchcraft is this?”

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© 2019 Shauna M Rae