To prepare for my transplant, I had to undergo a series of orientations to help cope with all the crap (literal and figurative) that I would encounter before, during and after said transplant.
Most of these orientations involved me in a group of at least seven other transplant patients, along with their caretakers/family members. Often times I was the youngest patient in the group, by at least forty years. (I like to think they called me Baby-Face McGee.)
The orientation I'd like to talk about today, however, is one I call Cancer Sex-Ed. Cancer Sex-Ed involved much more than Sex-Ed for transplant survivors, but I only remember the most embarrassing moment of this orientation. The Sex-Ed part was meant to help survivors cope with their messed up genitals and their (depressing?) sex-life post-treatment.
After going over other things, like GVHD, immunosuppressants, and other typical, gender-neutral side effects of a bone marrow transplant, the nurse leading the orientation went into what women - and only women - get to look forward to after all the cancer crap. In most cases, after radiation, chemo and a bone marrow transplant women's bodies are forced into premature menopause.
"In combination with premature menopause and treatment," said Nurse-Face McGee, "most women experience vaginal dryness."
Oh, did I forget to say that I was the ONLY female transplant patient in the room?
With my mom...
And my dad...
And one other MALE patient...
With his mom...
And his dad
So, for a very brief, very embarrassing moment, "vaginal dryness" became "my vaginal dryness". And then the orientation became about my vag and how messed up it would become after my transplant.
To make matters better (worse? apocalyptic?), Nurse-Face proceeded to explain different types of lubes and jellies I could use to overcome said dryness. Did I mention my parents AND a stranger's parents were present? Listening with their ears? Thinking thoughts? Thoughts that involved my lady-bits? It was like having a pap smear in front of an audience.
I think it was also the Male Patient's birthday. Happy birthday, Strange Male! Worst (best?) present ever!
Anyway, that happened.
Moral of the story? Uh, how about, make sure you're not the only lady patient in the room during talks about malfunctioning cooters. That's why ladies go to the bathroom in pairs.