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A week has passed. I’m sitting in the exam room waiting for the results of my hormone testing. My pulse is racing a mile a minute, and I’m feeling all kinds of symptoms: dizziness, fatigue, aching, headache. It’s like my anxiety and my hormones are playing laser tag inside my body.
This past week has been especially hard. I couldn’t concentrate at work. I needed a nap after every karate class. Alex ate cereal for dinner three nights in a row. And, oddly enough, I couldn’t even enjoy the novel I’d checked out at the library– a fat, juicy romp of historical fiction set in Italy. I love to read, but my brain just felt so foggy. I found myself reading the same paragraph four times before just giving up.

Dr. Jones comes in with a flip of his tablet and parks himself on the rolling stool, like the cavalry coming in. I start to relax a little. “Well, Claire, how are you feeling today?” he asks.

“I’ve been better,” I admit.

“Tell me what’s going on. Let’s talk about your symptoms and then your lab work,” he says, eyes poring over the screen in front of him. He hands me the paper copy. “Estrogen is low. You could use some testosterone as well.” His eyes find mine. “The good news is, we can help you with that.”

I had read the brochure on bioidentical hormone replacement, so I knew where he was going with this. They would compound the perfect mix of hormones for me, consisting of estrogen & also testosterone. He went onto explain that these hormones are shaped like a size of rice and are placed under the skin of my hip. The hormone pellets would deliver what my body needed, bypassing my liver and going directly into my bloodstream. The hormones would be molecularly identical to the ones my own body produced.

“Are you ready to feel like yourself again?” he asks.

“Yes.” I feel a little burst of energy, like a kite catching an updraft.

“Are you having a hot flash now?” he asks. And I realize that I’m fanning myself with the lab results.

I laugh self-consciously. “I guess I’m so used to them, I don’t even notice that I’m fanning myself, except when my heart is racing at the same time.”

And suddenly I think about Harrison. And feel like a coffee.

We make the appointment for Thursday. Then, on a whim, I drive to the bookstore coffee shop. Nobody’s in there when I order a tall, frothy, hazelnutty beverage and sit down by the window with my book. I look like I’m reading, but I’m really watching, waiting. He doesn’t come. I finish my drink, feeling disappointment, but more than anything, relief. If he had shown up, what would I have done anyway? I’m not ready for this.

I throw the cup in the garbage, and suddenly imagine it’s my sex life going thump down to the bottom of a dirty bin, lost forever and forgotten.

Are you ready to feel like yourself again?

Dr. Jones’ words reverberate in my head as drive home, feeling a little buzzy from all the caffeine.

Yes, I say to myself. Yes, I am.

*To read other parts of this series, visit our blog.