No Sexist Medicine!!!

Ugh, well three strenuous dance lessons last week including trying hard hard hard to do my oh so highly prized fish with no hands turned out to be not so good. Got sick all over again. Just a bad sore throat and cold this time, no flu thankfully, and, as of yet, no horrendous headache, but the weak muscles and bones and congestion have meant I had to miss a couple more dance lessons. Which I’m really not liking right now because my showcase is coming up very soon. I guess I have to not worry. Worry creates stress and anxiety, which is part of what’s keeping me sick, I must repeat to myself. Ad nauseum. I decided not to perform in the studio’s group class, which is not Hustle I found out, but Shim Sham, a form of Swing that I’m not familiar with anyway. It would have been fun but I have enough on my plate with my crazy fast Salsa/Samba/Cha Cha routine with Luis and my slow arty lifty Rhumba with Pasha.

My regular internist is back from vacation, so I went to see her last week about the hideous headache episode (see last two posts). She said regardless of the sinus x-rays it still sounded more like sinus than migraine and x-rays aren’t very good at showing everything that’s going on anyway. Since my general neurologist is not helping much, she decided to send me to a headache specialist. I have an appointment with Columbia University’s headache center next Monday. It should be good. They’ve already directed me to download several forms requesting detailed info on the pain and gather all my sinus and brain MRIs I’ve had over the years. I’m also gonna print out my blog entries describing this last headache episode (at least one good thing a blog is for!) and type out my old headache diaries. And I’m gonna INSIST that they not take one look at me, see ‘female of childbearing age’ and label me a migraineur. It’s sexist, unfair, and downright potentially harmful to me. Sexism simply has no place in medicine. I want them to consider all of the possibilities, and only after they’ve considered everything, including the male-dominant cluster episodes, will I let them tell me they could be migraines and proceed with the typical migraine meds. I don’t want to take those damn meds (which, as I’ve described before, constrict blood vessels serving the brain thereby causing frightening lightheadedness / light-upper-bodiedness and stress me out over the possibility of, at best fainting at an inopportune time, at worst suffering a stroke or heart attack) unless I know for sure my headache is a migraine and they’ll actually work.

Anyway, my throat is still sore and I still have gallons of post-nasal drip but hopefully, hopefully, I am now on the road to recovery and can resume my dancing later this week. I bought some killer Country Life vitamins recommended by a friend who had gastric bypass and couldn’t eat for months, and finally meekly asked my landlord to repair my broken air conditioner (the wonderful man bought me a new one after determining the old was irrepairable!), in case my crazy illness was related to that nasty heat wave we had. And, though my past week was sadly devoid of dancing, I did catch up on some reading. I managed, without vomiting, to get myself as far as my nearest New York Public Library to return a ballet videotape (ABT‘s The Dream), and, while there, found a copy of Kaavya Viswanathan‘s young adult chick-lit novel “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,” which, thinking they were all pulled by the publisher after numerous allegations that either she or her editor plagiarized from several other YA writers, quickly snatched and read, out of sheer curiosity of course! And it actually was pretty good, I thought. It was a sweet, over-the-top comedy about an Indian girl whose parents push her so hard to get into Harvard that, in her quest to convince the dean she’s worthy of admission, she loses something of herself, which, through the course of the novel, she regains. Of course I don’t know how much content Viswanathan may have pilched from other writers since I don’t read contemporary YA (though ideas aren’t copywritable anyway), but something I know she couldn’t have “stolen” was the hyperbolic but truth-ringing parts about immigrant parents pushing their poor kids at all costs to realize their American dream. They were hilariously sad, and for capturing at least that, at such a young age (18), I think Viswanathan should be commended.

I also borrowed a copy of Colson Whitehead‘s new book Apex Hides the Hurt, which I think I was just too zoned out on meds to get, and Melissa Bank‘s The Wonder Spot, which I found surprisingly un-put-downable for being about rather mundane subject matter. It’s basically just about the life, from early puberty through adulthood, of this very ordinary woman who’s not particularly good at anything, struggles to find a suitable career, struggles to find a suitable man, struggles with losses of friendships and family members — it delineates a normal female life, basically. Yet it was a very interesting read for me. I find myself constantly struggling to be not normal, to be above average, to have everything — be a dancer with perfect technique and artistry, as close to professional as possible though I well know I started way the hell too late in life for that; I dream of someday winning a major literary award, but it’s incredibly difficult just to write the first draft of my novel with an intellectually- and emotionally-demanding 50-60-hour-a-week job as a lawyer; and I want to be this amazing lawyer who argues a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Supreme Court and writes formidable law books and articles, well respected as being at the top of my profession, but there’s no way I can even keep up with developments in criminal law outside of that required by my job with the writing and dancing. I guess Bank made me think, wow, some people, most people, almost all people in fact, just ARE, and that’s enough, that’s perfectly fine, that’s even interesting to read about. And Bank herself — I’ve often been so envious of her, as I’ve been of other writers who’ve had a bestseller or won a literary award or had their book made into a movie, but this is really only her second book and she’s not 15 years old. I mean, you can have some accomplishments, and still be ‘accomplished’ … as long as I have some things in life to be mildly proud of, I guess I’m okay; I don’t completely suck as a human being.

But then: across the street at my bookstore, I also picked up a copy of this month’s Pointe magazine, whose cover story features the illustrious David Hallberg, whom of course I’ve been gushing over for the past couple months since he just brilliantly danced his first season as an ABT principal (and has been writing smart little entries for The Winger blog). The mag contained mostly pretty pictures, and the story was way way too short for someone as sophisticated as he, but one thing he said at the end stood out. “Everyone blooms at a different time,” he said, and in the past three to four years he’s had to learn to calm down, have patience, stop “worrying about everything happening at once.” He’s 24 years old! So, at the ripe old age of 20 he had to force himself to stop obsessing over not yet being hailed as one of the world’s greatest dancers, which of course he now is; he’s definitely on his way anyway. So, hmmm, weighing Bank’s protagonist’s way against David’s — I choose David’s! Definitely. I guess even if it means HEEAADDAACCHE??…

One Comment

  1. hey tonya, glad you are feeling better. Thanks for the review of Melissa Banks’s new book, I really like her first book. I want to read her second book now. I too feel the desire to be good at something and do something extraoridinary, but I am learning to accept myself. nicole

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