First the rant. (You're welcome.)
Yesterday while waiting for the morning school bus, my neighbor told me that she's just been diagnosed with long-standing Lyme disease. As in, her blood work shows that she's had it for a long while -- probably a year or so. When I asked her whether she had been aware of being bitten by a tick, she said no, but that her health has been dodgy for the last year -- urinary tract infections, aching joints, heavy fatigue, and the like. At one of her many doctor visits prior to diagnosis, she mentioned the fatigue and was told, "Well, you're a mom. Of course you're tired."
WHAT THE EFFING FROCK.
I am sure that the medical establishment does this frequently -- brushes off complaints of fatigue from women (particularly mothers) because it is assumed that we, in our multiple roles as caregivers, workers, home tenders, etc., tend to overdo it, get tired, and then whine about it. OF COURSE YOU'RE TIRED, the message runs, YOU POOR LITTLE THING, YOU'RE OVERDOING IT AND CAN'T BE TRUSTED TO PROPERLY GAUGE YOUR OWN HEALTH AS A RESULT. And the medical inquiry stops there. And the potential Lyme disease, or potential depression, or potential thyroid problem, or potential anemia, or potential (fill in the blank) goes undiagnosed and untreated.
(Please pardon the shouting, but I am THAT PISSED OFF.)
Has this happened to you? Because it's happened to me. The exhaustion I felt when the kids were littler and before my kidney failure asserted itself through high blood pressure was bone-deep and pervasive. My then-doctor tested me for anemia (negative), but stopped there. Was there anything else wrong with me? Who can say? It's quite possible that my on-again, off-again depression was lurking, or that the early signs kidney failure were asserting themselves. There's no way to know, now, whether there was something treatable going on that would have spared me some of that exhaustion that I could ill-afford.
AND! Can you in your wildest dreams imagine any doctor saying something similar to a male patient complaining of fatigue? Michael and I both work full-time, stressful jobs. We put in a fairly equitable amount of house- and parenting-work. And yet, I guarantee you that if he were to complain to his doctor of heavy fatigue, he'd get tested up, down and sideways for heart problems, blood disorders, and anything else the doctor could dream up. There is no way in hell that his doctor would say "Well, you're a father -- of course you're tired" and send him on his way with a pat on the head.
This makes me so angry I could SPIT.
Now, the fun stuff! A few weeks ago I was contacted by the nice people at All Children's Furniture and offered a chance to do my very first bloggy giveaway. I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent at first -- I have no experience with this company and can't vouch for them in any real sense -- but the person who contacted me is very nice and has put up beautifully with my dithering and delays. And their product line is quite extensive -- I spent LOTS of time browsing everything from kids furniture to play kitchens to organizational systems. Plus, we're in a recession and free = good, right? And don't you all need a jungle marble maze from ALEX toys, rated for ages 3 and up?
This maze has won a "Best Toy" award from Parents' Magazine and is made of solid wood blocks. (There's a detailed description of the maze here.) If you'd like to enter the drawing, please leave a non-anonymous comment (with a working email address) before Sunday, June 8, at midnight. I'll do a random-number-picky-thingy (or put numbers in a hat, more like) on Monday and announce the winner then. Weeee!