Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The New Circle of Life

I can’t think of one woman in our circle, between the ages of 28-32, that hasn’t given birth without some complication. Literally. Not one. My cousin had a C-Section and two days later the stiches fell out. Another friend had twins prematurely then spent a month in the hospital as the second born had to fight to stay alive. Another friend had something go wrong and had to deliver early or she would’ve died. We have a friend who tried for three years to get pregnant, and another whose baby was born with a hip condition. These are educated, healthy women with bodies built to kill, in the prime of their lives. Even Kim Kardashian almost died giving birth.

I don’t get it. They eat right, go to the gym, work nice jobs, take all their pills. They live clean lives but can’t seem to get this baby-making thing right. Isn’t this 2013? What’s the deal?

My mom ate McDonald’s, smoked cigarettes, drank on weekends, pumped out kids like a champ. Same way with every one of her friends. The gym? My mother doesn’t know a treadmill from a trampoline. Nobody had problems getting pregnant back then. There were no pre-natal pills. They didn’t do baby yoga. They just got pregnant and had kids. But nowadays it’s a whole enterprise. The women are searching out pregnancy tips on the Internet, really “yuppie-ing” this process up, all to create super pregnancies, then crawling to the finish line ten months later—sometimes sooner—clinging to their life or the life of their newborn. Every woman we know: It’s been a nightmare. Am I wrong?

But it’s not just the pregnancy problems. Every day I hear about women in their 20s and 30s suffering from advanced cancer or having lumps under their arms mammogrammed. Full-blown metastatic at 29, 31, 33? When did this start? What’s responsible? Cell phones? The pharmacuticals for better sleep or less anxiety? The organic food? Grass-fed beef? Soy milk? Non-dairy ice cream? I don’t know. But I do know there was no non-dairy ice cream in my mother’s generation. They ate rocky road out of the carton. Couldn’t sleep? Have another Bud.

There’s a silent culprit that’s attacking these twenty-first-century women on a reproductive, hormonal level. I don’t know if it’s the pills with ten thousand side effects (you’ve seen the commercials) or the birth control or the organic milk. What the hell is organic milk? These white-collared women are in and out of doctor’s offices nonstop, trying to live the most-healthy lives they can, but maybe it’s too much.

The other day my wife came home with a bag of packing ice. I asked, “Why the ice?” She doesn’t trust the ice out of our refrigerator anymore. She wants cleaner ice. Honey! Baby! Where do you thinking packing ice at the gas station comes from? Some mythical fountain of filtered water? Just eat the damn fridge ice. Are we overthinking healthy?

Stem cells are being tested to cure the blind. A drug they think can beat cancer is getting ready for human testing. We can photograph earth from inside Saturn’s rings. But suddenly we can’t get a 31 yr old through pregnancy. I understand a woman’s body is far more complicated than a man’s, and thus more prone to problems. But growing up I didn’t know a single woman who suffered all these new-fangled conditions that women seem to have now. Are we just better educated about the seemingly thousands of afflictions?

Everything I’ve described isn’t happening to the women on welfare or the 400lber with Burger King bags on her coffee table. It’s happening to educated suburbanites. It’s happening to the Trader Joe’s crowd. Which leads me to believe it’s something in the high-priced foods or something you need health insurance to get: Birth control, pre-natal pills, etc. I think we need to recognize that the pharmaceutical trade is controlling modern American medicine. Who do you think provides Albany Med with their research money? A hospital is a business just like DeNooyer Chevy is, and the pharmacies are business partners. Those doctors are selling you a service when you walk in that office. If doc says take pill x would you argue?

The other day I took my lunch outside the Sloan Kettering Breast Cancer Building on 66th. Sitting behind me were two women in their fifties or sixties, talking about chemo rounds and hair loss and mastectomies. I thought to myself how sad it was to hear them talking about this potentially-deadly disease in their lives. But this does happen at certain age, I suppose. The circle of life can be cruel sometimes. But as I listened longer, I realized both women were actually healthy and cancer free. So why the grave talk? Well, they were at Sloan supporting their daughters' cancer fight.

The new circle of life.

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Brian Huba

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