Tales From the Infusion Clinic: Out of Context

Part 3 of Sound of Fury is in the final stages. Meanwhile, here’s this.

“So you said, ‘Sorry, but I’m not licking anyone!’”

Their giggles grew into laughter as the receptionist on the phone and the colleague to her right saw my bemused self on the other side of the plexiglas. For 3 years I’ve checked in at the Rheumatology side of this elongated desk* once a month for Infusion with J, the receptionist who just spoke that fabulous line above through her headset. For the last 2.5 years we’ve only seen each other masked. I feel familiar with her voice, eyes, hairstyles, humor.

“Right! I don’t blame you!”

J motioned that she’d be right with me and would explain everything as she said into her headset,

“I mean, sometimes tragedy just can’t be avoided.”

Then she looked at me, then at her colleague, smiled, listened, and … burst out laughing. I enjoyed seeing J in high spirits. She’s always been an honest and efficient part of my team at Rheumatology and I look forward to seeing her. There have been times I’ve approached the desk just after someone has been discourteous to J, if not also disrespectful, and I sense it’s probably for something beyond her control and she’ll wave it off with a Well, I don’t know what he thought I could do about that? or Some people just — or {sigh} and then greets me with a smile.

Sometimes we patients are justified in our anxieties and rages. (That’s no excuse for abuse!**) Sometimes receptionists can not only not be part of the solution, but also contribute to the problem. Especially for a sick person in crisis. These receptionists feel they are gatekeepers for their bosses, the docs, rather more than they are part of the team that serves the patients. A great receptionist like J knows how to balance the two interests with aplomb. In most cases. Can’t please everybody, of course.

Surreal image of hot air balloons, miniaturized, seemingly floating in a giant glass of water with a droplet flowing up against gravity.
Falling Up by DÅL|é

Change is afoot! I had high hopes for this anti-lupus drug I’ve been infusing monthly for 3 years now. I’ve had high hopes for treatments in the 4 years before that. But … We gave it time. More than we planned, should it fail to elicit the desired results. Next up, while also a biologic, is a considerable step up in immune system wrangling, designed to aggressively address all 3 of my autoimmune diseases. Sort of. Close enough for government work! as my Uncle Tom used to say.

My rheumatologist, Dr. K, and I were first thwarted by covid19. Then by organ damage/cancer scares. (Benign!)*** Then Dr. K got sick.

Soon after the start of 2022, I heard Dr. K had just gone on indefinite medical leave. Rumors and dates of her return came and went. Finally, in late July, I saw Dr. T, who joined the practice a year ago, I think. He’s “young” and exuberant and pretty excited about my rare disease and somewhat unusual autoimmune disease profile. I like the geeks, as long as they’re caring as well, which he seems to be. Good thing, as Dr. T told me he is now my rheumatologist, as Dr. K is officially not coming back.

So, it’s serious. I truly wish the best for Dr. K. I’ve missed seeing her these last several months. I so hope this decision and what follows work out in the best possible way for her!

“I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side.” Maya Angelou
From Word Porn

Dr. T also claimed he read through my chart prior to my appointment (Wow!) and that he was going to start work on getting insurance to approve the biologic no. 2, the one Dr. K and I discussed. Promising. Scary. With a very different infusion schedule.

I was already scheduled to receive my monthly infusion the following week. Good thing, too, considering my insurance took a full month to give the ok. It appears my memorable check-in with J marks my last infusion of my first biologic!

Speaking of which … J explained that the person on the line had rescued two tiny kittens. Despite rescuer’s best efforts, one kitten died. Rescuer was relaying to J info/advice received from Humane Society expert, who pointed out (more than once, apparently) that mama cats lick the anuses of their young to stimulate bowel movement and keep it all clean down there. Thus, prompting the protestation against licking anyone. And the wholehearted agreement of same sentiment by our lovely J.

I’m right there with them! Maybe a warm towelette?

I’m so grateful that I’ve had these years with Dr. K! After that last infusion I cried about not being able to take this next step with her, as planned. I’m truly thankful I can take it now with a new doctor and the same support team I’ve come to know and trust. Even though they’re not licking anyone! Not even to save a fragile life!

Spotlight on mutant cartoon duck: spiky mohawk, piercings, dog collar, metal plating wing, snake head on tail. “Likes to chew on pencils during meetings. Can walk through walls.”
One of my many very fine ducks, courtesy of ClusterDuck!!

September has become a difficult month for me, with occasions to dwell on the passing of a few loved ones. But this has been the second extraordinary August in a row! Last year’s was all about the most stressful business property sale we could have never imagined, intermixed with adopting a marvelous puppy (Roo!) with a nasty parasitic infection after a beloved dog (Duke!) died at the end of July.

Today, 25 August 2022, is the first anniversary of closing. Out of business, we are. Have been.

This month began with a week of migraines. One day I bent at the waist to get a bottle of water out of the fridge and was overcome with excruciating pain. For the next two weeks I was in varying degrees of debilitating and immobilizing pain and muscle spasms. Then I returned to my normal level of chronic pain, fatigue, etc. I can move! Cook dinner! Think! (With caveats you understand.) Halle-freaking-Berry-lu-jah!

And now the migraines are back, because —? But second biologic approved/authorized and now awaiting scheduling and then maybe wait a few months to make effectiveness known …

Meanwhile, don’t expect my team at rheumatology to lick anyone. They’re very good and professional. They have their limits. Good to maintain boundaries!

Small black and white puppy has nose mere millimeter from backside of slightly taller small adult black dog. Caption reads, “Learning to cue … Back it up, mate!”
Our little Roogele at ≈ 8-9 weeks of age. (Plus Draymond’s backside!)

*Rheumatology shares a long reception desk area with the Pain and Spine Clinic, which makes sense, or would, if they actually coordinated care, but they don’t. The receptionists make good use of their shared space, though.

**😇🐮! That rhymes! But also, prednisone can be an excuse for abuse. Another in my growing list of topics I mean to write about here sometime in the future. But when? I ain’t got no idea!

***I would not make you hunt for benign v malignant cancer determination in the footnotes! Who do you think I am? I will make you wait through much of 2021 and 2022 while I go through the whole process without telling anyone a thing about it, though. Yes, that I will do.

I Can’t Even … with down and up and coming attractions

I Can’t Even

I just can’t
Right now

Really, I mean
How

Does anyone
Expect
Me

And
With
What


©️DÁLē
31 De 2021
Bathroom mirror selfie. Reflection of me taking image in which phone obscures all but my shiny forehead and my gray and brown self-inflicted bob!
New ‘do, old phone. Farewell, 2021!

From Me to You in 2022!

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Indigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

At the start, I had a plan. Strategy, if you will. But, then, this happened. And then that. Followed by another and another. That. Then that. And that. That and that and that and that and that and … and …

So, I had me a bit of a shutdown, I did. I retreated. I’m ok. Rebooting, in a sense. I am writing about it and will post in time. Here’s what else I have planned for 2022 and My Good Wolf:

Structure!

As in organizational structure of some kind. Working on a menu with categories (i.e.; Lupus, Dogs, Mental Health, Unpopular Opinions, etc) into which posts will be sorted.

More Posts

More of the same: smattering or so of poetry amidst essays and other prose musings by me and my born of pandemic alter-ego, Underlying Conditions Lady.

Art and Fiction

If I hereby promise to publish my new forays into digital art, will that be the motivation I need to work through my Stuff* so that I will, in fact, post said art? ‘Tis the dream! (😇🐮! And I’m promising stories, too!)

And …

Nope. Notgonnadoit. Just leave it right there. That’s already a lot, you know. Yes, but it’s what I really want. And now that I have successfully asked for and received help, it feels doable!❤️**

Two black dogs lie side by side on bed. One is long-limbed, long-bodied, resembling a young German shepherd; the other is much smaller, sleek-coated, stocky pug-Chihuahua mix.
That’s the long and the short of it! (Roo at 6 months, Dray at 3.5 years)

*Thanks, predictive text, that word 💯 needs capitalization right here!

**{😇🐮}x2! Putting some self-love out there! On NYE while listening to celebratory gunfire, no less.

Black and white sleek dog lying belly up on sofa with back legs splayed and one front leg gracefully reaching overhead.
Roo at 6 months of age is both the most graceful and the goofiest of all the many dogs we’ve loved!

Avoidance and Punishment

Content Note: There are curse words in this post. If you’d like a version of this post without curse words, well, Sweetie Pie, you is shit outta luck. There is also a reference to a gruesome self-harm fantasy, toward the end of this overlong piece. Plus a book recommendation and a photo of a super cute dog.

I feel the need to apologize. And with it the need to justify my absence. I know this makes for a bad apology, but I’ve also been thoroughly immersed in the belief that an unexcused absence is … well, you know, inexcusable. So, if one checks out, drops the ball, retreats, doesn’t meet expectations and thus disappoints others and feels bad about it and wants to make it all right, then that personage, that disappointing lump of humanity, should just say, sorry, I let you down, I will try not to do it again, though I might because you never know based on this variable and that, meaning there’s context, but this is about you not me, so goes the rule of best amend making, excepting of course my regret and my reparations and my learning from how all this came to be, but you don’t need to know all that, unless you’re my boss or my teacher or the jury service and need a note from my doctor or, somewhat ironically, you’re my doctor and need at least 24 hours notice and a good excuse or a note from another doctor or I’m going to really have to pay!

I do apologize for that extra-super-fuck-long of a runaway sentence. I should edit that stream of consciousness crap, but I don’t have the energy and I guess I’m just not that sorry, truth be told.

Truth be told. Ha!

I am a much better liar than I profess to be. I’ve said more than once that I’m not a good liar, but that’s, of course, a lie. I do usually get caught with the straight-out lie. Historically, the consequences of my getting caught have at been spectacular and coincidental. But lying by omission, keeping secrets, deflecting, minimizing, etc. —I’ve long done all that quite well. And, of course, lying to myself is where I really shine. Maybe you knew that already. Ok, sorry I wasted your time.

Is it actually possible to waste someone’s time? Time is … a phenomenon, a dimension, a construct … Time is hard to define. Time is not something owned, stored, traded, manipulated, used inappropriately. It is relative and unstoppable. It can’t be stolen. Or replaced. There are no time byproducts. No barrels of toxic time waste buried next to vats of gravity sludge.

I’m sorry. I know I lost you all with that last paragraph. It’s just that I was raised thoroughly steeped in the religion of WasteNot and I’m having a hell of a time giving myself some goddamn, ever-loving slack! I know what I want to get done and what I need to get done and I’m getting more and more accepting — if that’s the right word and I’m just very recently not entirely sure it is — of what I can do, but I don’t know what to do about them not syncing up. My ducks are not all in rows ready for the spooning. I am sinning. Wasting resources. Time. Money. Smarts. Food. Energy. The Venial and Mortal Sins of WasteNot.

And my penance is …?

I’m a Jew raised by ex-Catholics, so I’m entrenched in guilt. And the need to punish myself. I’m not a masochist. Not literally. Ain’t no sexual pleasure involved. In fact, I’ve had me a couple of coital headaches and unholy sheeeiiit do those suck ass! (And not in a good way. No, not at all.)

If only I could quantify my energy into discreet utensil units, then all would be well and there would be no waste. Right? Sporks feel more my speed than spoons. I need at least the illusion of some stabbing power, some targeted selectivity. And the spork is my talisman for my time inside — my 8 days in the mental hospital with chair yoga, music therapy games, crosswords, and no psychotherapy whatsoever.

In sorry, but I just don’t get Spoon Theory for myself. In practice.

For example, I had some trouble walking yesterday, but my trusty Rollator got me both to and from my long-awaited Pulmonology appointment, which was a lot of questions and ordering of tests, which was what I expected. My one big thing for the day complete, I didst doth rest and so didst then perform solely duties as needs must of a less taxing variety and verily not requiring myself to be fully upright and locked in.

Yet today, I can barely get out of bed. Last time this happened I started looking at folding wheelchairs. Wanting a wheelchair brings up so much! Fear, sadness, money concerns, flooring issues, questions, more questions, fear …

Damn, woman! Stop! Ok, first I’m sorry about the “didst doth” stuff. I had fun, though. Second, Spoon Theory is great for many. I just can’t make it work for me. Total spork-less loser. Also, I’m getting a lot of internal backlash for revealing I spent 8 days in a mental hospital — and maybe even more for revealing I did not receive promised care while there — but also for having not yet written about all that which I both very much do and do not want to do.

And I lied about having trouble walking today. Actually, that was last week, when I started writing this here thing.

This week it’s trigeminal neuralgia with migraine plus neck pain and immobility that’s got me down. Way down.

Trigeminal neuralgia, aka facial pain, aka suicide disease.

In addition to every other shitty malady I have, I have to have this goddamn, motherfucking, cocksucking nerve pain with the triggering up the ass nickname of “suicide disease” too?!

(Those are the only swear words I know. In English, that is. Entschuldigung. ¡Lo siento!)

I think this post may be about fear. Have I written about fear before? I’m afraid of repeating myself. I’m also afraid I repeat myself a lot. And yet, not nearly as much as I need to. I’m afraid of not making sense. Of not knowing that I’m not making sense. That no one will tell me that I’m not making sense.

Or that they will and I won’t understand.

My mother used to laughingly say that I was a very smart person with no common sense. She was herself a very smart person. I used to believe that statement of hers was more loving than insulting. Reasonable and accurate. Nah. Sorry, Mom. You were laughing off my trust in myself, my ability to learn from my mistakes, and replacing it with fear that I lacked the basic tools most people have in common and take for granted.

I forgive you, Mom. You were raised on fear. People fed off your fear most of your 60 years.

If you are right now thinking of that FDR line, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” please know that I am harboring homicidal feelings for you.

I’m sorry! That’s another lie. Hyperbole-style. That FDR line makes no sense out of context. Look it up. I dare you! However, it has been quoted ad nauseum for decades with no hint to its original context, so that it’s truly no wonder so many jump to it when good old fear comes up for discussion. Or dismissal.

I’m sorry, but autocorrect filled in “God old fear” and that tickled my figurative funny bone.

At one point during my lumbar puncture (aka spinal tap), indescribable nerve pain shot down my left buttock and the full length of my left leg. I alerted the doc, moving only my mouth, eyelids, and all necessary for continued breathing for fear of making it worse. Doc said “tickled” my sciatic nerve. Nope, sorry, tickled is not the appropriate word here!

Fear is useful. Fear keeps people alive. Fright leads to flight or fright. Or freezing. (Sorry, that’s where the rhyme ends in English.) Make a goddamn decision! Now! Do something!

I don’t know what to do and I’m really sorry about that.

Have I chosen to freeze out of fear when it’s really not an f-word situation at all?

I’ve had this here blog for over a year now. Been thinking about it for I don’t know how long before that. I have plans for promoting it. Right after I finish this other task. And then there’s that other stuff I gots to do. Meanwhile, this thing and that thing came up. Far higher priority! Like, obv!

Sorry, but shouldn’t that be ob-v?

Self-promotion is so very hard for me. It’s always been a challenge. Was a easier when I was running an artistic company I started. Then I could promote the rest of the company and share the spotlight with them. I do enjoy receiving recognition for my work. But just me, on my own in the PR spotlight …

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I cannot continue. My internalized mother does not approve of the syntax of that last unfinished sentence of the last paragraph.

Oh, how I do enjoy punishing myself for my perceived transgressions! Probably why my mother has come up in this post, as she was likewise gifted in this realm. And really, truly, that is where I waste my energies the most, convincing myself of my lack of worth as a human being. Hurting myself in various ways — I am a rather creative person, you know (humble brag) — for somehow not deserving what I would not deny those I like the least. I know this sentiment to be true, as I honestly wanted the best, compassionate treatment for he who some might call my worst enemy.

I’m sorry I’m not more prolific with posts. And that I haven’t finished and posted so many others, temporarily lost in the fog of my gray matter. Or maybe lying in wait in a white matter lesion? Sorry, that metaphor doesn’t really work. Or does it? Not demyelinating lesions, by the way. Ruled out MS years ago. Just migraines. Occasionally, reality-bending migraines. Sanity-questioning migraines. Forgot how to tell time migraines. Fantasies of halfway scalping myself and then pulling individual hairs through the gap knowing that wouldn’t stop the migraine probably but it would be one hell of a distraction and might just get close to equaling the agony if only I had the strength and the will to do it migraines.

Oh, and also maybe lupus. Tricky wolf.

I have no excuse. I have every excuse. I tried to read an article or blog post or column or whatever on what brain fog feels like, written by a fellow chronically ill foggy brain-haver while in that unclear cognitive state, but I couldn’t do it. Yup, I was too foggy!

Last week I thought maybe this post would be about burnout, as defined by the most excellent and decidedly feminist book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, and I would disclose some past events in which I have only now realized I have not completed the stress cycle. In part, because of lying to myself. And others. By keeping secrets. Out of fear. Not the useful kind.

Anyway … maybe I’ll start that big PR campaign next month, when the big sale I haven’t written about yet is final.

If you are right now thinking about recommending a handy-dandy webinar or webpage or any such thing that will guide me through “just a few easy steps” and then maybe a follow-up task or three, then please know that I’m feeling a return of those homicidal tendencies, as it seems you have not understood at all what I’ve been writing here.

And, for that, I’m not sorry.

Face of black dog, wearing blue, illuminated glasses, and with big, open-mouthed smile.
The glorious Princess Holly Peño did not know the meaning of the word sorry. Due to her being a dog!

If You Make That Face

Hit again and ‘gain
Two-fisted hammered
My face just won’t crack

Made that face long ‘go
And, indeed, it did
It stayed that way

Now my well-made face
At once young and old
Has no home with me

Bring down the hammer
Chips off the old block
Is all I can do

Proof in the pudding
I lack the strength
To destroy myself



Copyright 21 August 2020
Revised 19 April 2021
Closeup of black puppy face with protective cone around head, looking forlorn yet adorable
THAT face is absolutely priceless! (Super Puppy Draymond survived this indignity — I swear!)

Am I Not a Woman?

I think I am a woman. Therefore, I am not a man?

Are those the only possibilities?

It’s International Women’s Day, people! How shall we celebrate?

Remember that nursery rhyme about girls being made of sugar and spice and everything nice and boys of snips and snails and puppy dog tails? (What is a “snip” in this context? Sounds like a cute but annoying magical critter from Harry Potter’s world.)

I resented the bejeezus out of that poem as a kid. I did not want to be defined as everything nice! I kinda identified as a tomboy, but that term didn’t make sense to my precocious self. Shouldn’t it be tomgirl? Either way, it didn’t really capture how I felt. I liked being a girl. I just didn’t like trying to fit into other people’s idea of what a girl should be.

(Also, what’s up with nursery rhymes and disembodied animal tails? Three blind mice lose theirs to a knife-wielding madwoman and puppy dogs have to sacrifice their tails to the formula for human boys? Mother Goose is a freak!*)

I am a cisgender, straight/hetero woman who firmly believes in and advocates for equal rights for all. I believe transgender and non-binary folks are the ones to dictate how they identify and wish to be known. (Goes for everyone, really.) I have no trouble respecting their wishes. Which is not to say I haven’t messed up a few times. I have. And, yes, I do still stumble occasionally over they/them/their in reference to an individual. Nowadays, mostly when reading. Progress — one awkward step after another. Awkwardness is a small price to pay in order to convey respect, to honor people for who they are, just as they are.

There is a new app designed to help “people who menstruate” track their periods. Some folks are incensed over this wording. Supposedly, not because women are people, but because, in the objectors’ opinions, only women menstruate. And get pregnant and give birth. (And endure endometriosis and undergo hysterectomies. Relish the joys of menopause…) These people feel threatened by non-cis folks, particularly by trans women.* Somehow, if society recognizes them for who they are and stops discriminating against them, they will not only no longer be marginalized, they will rise up, abuse cis-women, and roll back women’s rights to the early 20th Century. Or worse. (And worse?)

This kind of backlash against recognition of non-cisgender identities is not new. Last year JK Rowling* went public with her anti-trans thoughts that, among other things, only women menstruate; if allowed access, transgender women would threaten the safety (and sanctity?) of same-sex spaces such as women’s restrooms and changing rooms; and that all transgender persons should undergo extensive psychiatric testing and analysis before being permitted to transition — as in days of yore. Ah, 2020!

Sadly, none of her reactionary thinking is new. The only thing new here is that transgender people are gaining acceptance and progress is being made in ensuring their rights. Over 20 years ago(!) I listened to a group of women trot out fear-based, anti-trans ideas like Rowling’s to justify their policy of limiting participants for their women-only retreat to “women born as women.” Among the organizers were a couple self-described radical lesbians who were —how shall I put it — not fans of men. (I was a hired entertainer and had no say in the matter.) Their belief was that a person born (biologically) male, even one fully transitioned to female, could never shake the male privilege bestowed upon him by society. He/she* had the lived experience of a man for most of life so far, which colored his/her future as a so-called woman. Women at the retreat would not feel safe — maybe not be safe — with such people around.

Many of the women attending the retreat had been victimized by men in various ways. Some had been victimized by women. Some of us lucky born female types, by both sexes. I have yet to meet a person who has been physically or sexually assaulted by a transgender person. I do, however, know one person who was emotionally abused by a trans person. Which to me is a weird kind of progress. One’s gender identity or sexual orientation or race or religion or lack thereof (the list goes on) does not erase the possibility of being an abusive jerk. Or worse. Or better. Even much better.

By the time of the women’s retreat mentioned above, I had had the pleasure of meeting several gender non-conforming people, including persons born with indeterminate or otherwise unusual sex organs. All of them had experienced discrimination and most had survived more than one kind of abuse. In the years since, I have met several more such persons and all have had experiences of discrimination and some have endured abuse as well. Some of those experiences have been in women’s and men’s restrooms and locker rooms. That trans women were victimized in women-only spaces did not surprise me. As a woman, I have never felt all that safe in such spaces. Not only because I have seen Carrie and Mean Girls, but because my body and womanhood have been picked over and negatively assessed by other females in such spaces since puberty and I was once physically assaulted by a gang of teenage white girls for not knowing my place. As it is, little more than convention prevents a man, looking and feeling like a man, from entering a women’s restroom. Obviously female as I am, I have mistakenly entered a men’s restroom twice. Both times I found myself inside a urinal-lined facility, I apologized emphatically while making a hasty exit, flabbergasted at how easy it was to blithely go through the wrong door!

In justifying her anti-trans position last year, JK Rowling disclosed that she has been a victim of domestic abuse and sexual assault. In Rowling’s reasoning, this history that she shares with so many women is why she so fervently advocates for “safe” same-sex spaces. And thus, those efforts are to protect women and further the cause of women’s rights, as opposed to seeking to deny transgender persons their rights. (Or to police who is and is not truly a transgender woman.) In my opinion, Rowling’s position does disservice to women, men, and transgender people. Yes, women have a long history of being abused by men. In that history there is no such thing as a truly safe place. (Sorry, but that’s just factual.) It is also true that men are not the only abusers and women not the only victims. Awareness of the problem has grown, women have learned how to protect themselves, ensure their rights, and lead the effort (with many men and gender nonconforming folks working with them) to prevent such abuses, and the societal issues that often factor in to them, from occurring. In other words, I feel Rowling’s position, similar to the anti-trans policy of the retreat organizers, pits women against men, and sacrifices transgender people’s rights in the name of promoting the illusion of a safe and loving sisterhood of the female sex. A sisterhood that embraces menstruation, the “miracle” of birth, and a rather fragile view of femininity.

My celebration of womanhood need not narrowly define woman by bodily functions like menstruation. Nor do I need to blame “others” for what has befallen women over the years. I don’t need to have enemies to get ahead. The ongoing fight for women’s rights, healthcare, pay equity, and against domestic and sexual violence will not be diluted by including others. Quite the contrary, the more the merrier and stronger. In fact there is a lesson here in past women’s movements excluding more marginalized groups (usually fellow women) for fear of weakening the effort, only to regret it later. People’s rights are not a limited resource. A transgender person enjoying their rights does not do so at the expense of any of my rights as a woman.

And just in case it needs to be said, the idea that a transgender woman is nothing more than male privilege in women’s clothing, hormones, and maybe genitalia, is a profound misunderstanding of who transgender women are.

Yes, some people menstruate. Most of those folks are women, born as such. But not all. And some women don’t menstruate — and never did. Born with clear female genitalia but no uterus, for example. Or cancerous ovaries removed before puberty. I rather envy them. I haven’t menstruated since I was 36, when a surgeon liberated me from my uterus. (I almost wrote the uterus, but it was definitely mine.) Recovery was rough. In part because of the interconnectedness of the thing, but also due to a couple life-altering deaths that came on the metaphorical heels of that organ removal. (What kind of heels would my uterus have worn? I’m thinking impossibly tall stilettos that cause bleeding blisters, painful bunions, etc!)

I am a woman. One who has not menstruated for 20 years. I have birthed no babies. I have recently survived menopause. (For me that is very much the appropriate verb and, frankly, I want a badge attesting to same!) I am also a survivor of abuse and assault. You may share my public restroom, if you like. No matter what your gender identity, I respect you as a person. Because denying people their rights based on fear and stereotypes does not ensure anyone’s safety. I will also not let my guard down in such a place. Because I am strong and aware and am not a readymade victim because I am a woman. And because it’s a goddamn public restroom FFS!

*Don’t get me started on that Aesop fella!

*I’m using “trans woman” instead of “transgender female/woman” as the shorter is how my transgender women friends identify themselves. A couple of whom have had menopause-like hot flashes. Sorry, gals! Would have spared you that if I could’ve, but, you know — estrogen!

*Why, yes, that Harry Potter reference earlier was a foreshadowing device. Nice of you to notice!

*We didn’t use “they” back then. Even so, “she” would have been appropriate in this context, but the anti-trans women would not allow themselves to use female pronouns for trans women.