"Red Moon Waning"
Felice wanted to become a werewolf.
She felt quite certain of it --
had felt certain that she wanted
whatever Hilla was on, regardless
of any consequences, from
the first time she saw how
her friend was moving.
But everyone wanted Felice
to talk it out anyway, just
to make sure that she knew
what she was getting into.
Felice didn't care
what she was getting into.
She know what she was getting out of.
Lycanthropy would get her out of
Stage 4 endometriosis and weeks
of agony every month as her ladybits
tried to staple themselves to each other.
"There are ethical considerations,"
Hilla pointed out. "Lycanthropy
is a serious condition, and not
something to undertake lightly."
"Where do we set the lower boundary?"
Randie said. "I mean, fatal diseases
or rapidly progressing ones are
good candidates for exchange.
Lady pains can be nasty but
they aren't very deadly."
"I am in debilitating pain for about half
the month," Felice said through her teeth.
"You two are dealing with one day of
serious suck and a couple days of
bad hangover. I'll take that trade.
It's clearly the lesser evil."
"She's right about the timing,"
Hilla said. "What about intensity?
Endometriosis varies over time."
Felice brought out her binder
of pain tracking charts and
her body map worksheets --
including the one that she
had taken a lighter to.
Randie poked a finger
through the hole, soot
rubbing onto her skin.
"I think maybe I should
shut up now," she said.
"What about your family, Felice?"
said Lucille. "I know that you and Harry
have been trying to get pregnant for
years, even though your plumbing
is pretty messed up down there."
"Can werewolves have children?"
Felice asked, turning to Randie.
"I don't know," Randie said,
spreading her hands. "I doubt it.
The change is really violent. I think it
would cause a miscarriage."
"What about cycles?" Felice said.
"Human women have a monthly one,
but females wolves go into season --
what, once a year? In spring?"
"Winter to spring for natural wolves,"
Hilla said, "but we're not sure about
werewolves. Randie and I are both
bleeding on the new moon, but that
might not happen to everyone."
"Felice, now may be a good time
for you to revisit that conversation
about egg banking and surrogacy
with your husband," Lucille said.
"But that can take months,"
Felice protested, imagining
the sharp red knife of the moon
carving out even more of her life.
"It's your choice," Hilla said.
"We only want to make sure
that you've thought through
all the implications, at least
as much as we can -- we're
new at this whole project of
making werewolves, too."
Felice had come to a fork in
the road, and she really wanted
to dash down the new path that
had opened in front of her.
The future beckoned, and Felice
could actually imagine herself in it.
Lucille had a point too, though,
because Felice still wanted
to have children if possible.
"We'll help you cope in the meantime,
if you decide to wait on the lycanthropy
until after you've frozen some of
your eggs or embryos," said Hilla.
"You're good at breathing exercises,"
said Randie. "I've tried some of those,
but they're hard to keep up with."
"Felice's Lamaze coach is amazing,"
said Hilla. "I've taken a couple lessons
so far and the results are fantastic.
The change still hurts, but breathing
helps me stay in control and not panic.
Maybe we should get together a class --
there are enough of us interested, and
the coach offers a discount for groups."
"Oh, that's a good idea," said Lucille.
"Count me in if you're making a list.
Randie, are you interested too?"
Randie tucked her chin against
her chest. "I'm not really ...
comfortable around people.
There are risks."
"Okay, we won't push,"
Lucille assured her, and
the class planning continued
without pestering Randie.
Felice took a long breath through
her nose, held it for a moment, and
then breathed out slowly
through her mouth.
"I've decided to talk with Harry
about harvesting my eggs and then
hiring a surrogate. We can afford it,
especially if he sells a painting or gets
a contract to make a mural," said Felice.
"I wanted to carry a baby myself, but I want
to stop being in pain a lot more. I can wait
a few months, I just don't want to make it years."
Hilla patted her on the shoulder.
"We'll be with you all the way," she said,
"no matter how this turns out for you."
* * *
Harry Armstrong -- He has butterscotch skin, brown eyes, and very curly black hair that bushes out from his head. His heritage includes African, European, and a little Chinese. He is married to Felice. They have been trying to have children for years, so far with no success. Harry is an artist. He does large-scale paintings on canvas. He also makes murals. He works in bright colors and crisp shapes, sometimes with characters. Harry only makes occasional sales, but they tend to be lucrative. So their family budget generally uses Felice's income for regular expenses, while Harry's income finances capital equipment, vacations, and other big incidental things.
* * *
Endometriosis is measured in stages, and tends to get worse over time. It can cause infertility, but some couples still have success harvesting eggs and then using a surrogate mother for the pregnancy.
Women with endometriosis often find it helpful to track their pain and other symptoms.
Keeping a pain diary can help to manage chronic pain by monitoring changes and individual aspects. This pain scale maps 10 levels by indicating specific practical effects as well as approximate feelings. You can use any worksheets or other resources that you find useful to track different things. This pain diary has a page for levels during the day and another of body locations. Here's one with a body map, pain levels, but also lots of other symptoms. This one has levels, a body map, and lots of talk about pain management techniques. This awesome and rather amusing set of scales uses pictures to measure different factors that may affect or be affected by pain -- ideal if you are often too fried to register words or numbers alone. The McGill Pain Questionnaire focuses on adjectives describing the type of pain.
This online pain tracker has many functions such as body maps and levels.
Chronic pain management benefits from care plans and action plans. Keep these in a binder for easy access. Here is a toolkit of useful materials. This page lists your health care team. Here is one on setting health goals. This self-care plan focuses on writing down positive actions. This simpler one divides into body, mind, and spirit. This more elaborate one adds extra categories. Here is a checklist for self-soothing through the senses. This set of worksheets concentrates on acceptance through choices and distractions. This pair offers activities for distress tolerance. Here is an action planner for weekly goals. WRAP is a workbook for planning how to manage your care when you are impaired. It makes a good basic framework that you can customize according to your condition(s).
Natural wolves mate in winter to spring.
The Lamaze Method uses breathing techniques to cope with pain. Although developed for childbirth, it works great for any rhythmic pain, and pretty well for pain in general.
Mindful breathing is also good for calm.
Chin tucking is a defensive gesture.
Social anxiety may involve fears of hurting other people or being hurt by them. For Randie these are quite credible threats, but her coping methods are causing troublesome side effects. Isolation is good for neither humans nor wolves. There are ways to stop worrying. You can also overcome social anxiety while taking reasonable precautions to avoid predictable problems.
Harry makes large-scale paintings with bright patterns like these and interesting objects or people. There are tips for painting on a large canvas, making a mural, or creating other big art projects.