Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peri-Menopause is NOT a Song and Dance Show!

Warning...Hot Flashes!  This blog post is meant to be seriously funny and funnily serious. 

I hit fifty a couple of months ago and somewhere, someone flipped a switch and the woman I knew disappeared!  Whoever did that, I am gonna find you and you are gunna get it...and no jury with even just one post-menopausal woman on it will convict me.

For just about two years now, my life has been one big roller coaster ride...first, moving to Paris for what we thought would be three years, only to be recalled back home for good and happy reasons one year later...then the ride continues with trying to find my purpose driven life, only to turn 50 and have my brain turn to cotton candy, my body into a furnace and my emotions a wreck!

I used to be smart.  I could read several books at a time and in a relatively short period of time.  Now I find myself, using  .75 (yes that is a decimal point in front of the 75) reading eyes changing JUST enough to make things fuzzy and my eyes tired...but darn it...they are still old people reading glasses.  I have to re-read pages that I just read and if in a couple of hours you ask me what I am reading and who wrote it, it is quite possible you might hear crickets.

For the longest time, I have been known as the Queen of Useless Information...I am the person you wanted on your team playing Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy and so forth and so on...but lately, that cotton candy effect has totally clogged the information highway in my brain.  One of my favorite (and a wee bit snarky) "games" was to watch a movie or TV show and say to my kids and or husband, "You see that actor?  Guess what TV show/movie he/she was in!"  Then I would reveal a trivia  nugget from eons ago and smile smugly. ( A variation of that...see that actor...he's dead. yeesh...but funny in dry, morbid sorta way)  Nowadays, I can bearly recall what the heck we are watching...I recognize people and know I know them from ...ehhhh....argh...what????...when????.  It is so frustrating.  The worst though is when I am trying to have grown-up conversation and I forget what I am saying as I am saying it, or I cannot for the life of me recall a word...words...really?  Sometimes I feel so thick...stupid cotton candy brain.

For the most part, I have been going this peri-menopause thing alone...I am consulting doctors.  My new primary care physician, whom I love, is a guy and he is being a great advocate for me, but being younger, male and married to a woman still in her child bearing years, the dear man just doesn't get it.  I am meeting my new gynecologist next week...please God, let her have a functioning, cotton candy free brain...but by the grace of her ovaries, she will have a clue as to What The French is going in my body, heart and head.

As I said, for the most part, I have being going this change of life route mother passed away when she was 51 (and don't think for a moment that that fact doesn't add to my angst!), but she had a hysterectomy early on, as did most of the older women in my life so...menopause is not a topic of conversation...and that generation doesn't talk much about ladies' issues anyway!  I am surprised there are not more books, support groups, documentaries on the subject, but then again, if young women knew what was coming down the line for them...a curious desire to crunch ice, itchy skin, hair growing out of places hair never grew out of before...changes in bowel movement, aches, pains, cramps, fits and starts, weeping, forgetfulness, morbid thoughts, wicked thoughts... sleepless nights, totally gross BO (who knew a person who showers daily could stink sooo much)and of course, "PLEASE do NOT touch me!", sadly there is more...much  more...if we knew then what I know now...there would be a shortage of 60 year old women in the world!

God bless my sister-in law for sharing...but the first thing she said to me was and I am paraphrasing here...'I get it, but what you are going through is yours and your is your body and it is changing to a whole host of separate variables and timetables'.  Ugh.  We can commiserate about hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats...we talk about "triggers"...and it all helps.  The best thing though is when I share something with her, or something witchy comes out of my mouth before I even know what I said, she gets it and I do not have to apologize for going through what I am going through.

Aside from the physical challenges, probably the most difficult component of this whole thing is the sense of loss of who I am and was...I really don't know what happened, but I feel like somehow I disappeared.  Sure part of this is the fact that I am entering a new phase of life...empty nesting...downsizing...planning for a new future with my husband...but something or rather, someone is missing...and it is me.

I am still with it enough to know when I am going to be moody...and moody I will be.  I haven't figured out how to control that level of change...but when I get that feeling that if one more person does more more stupid thing that I will tear into them with epithets (why is it I cannot remember some words, but I never forget curse words?) or hit them with my seven iron, ...I can shut down and spare them the rancor or harm.  The unintended consequence is I seem aloof or worse, ticked off...but quietly so. If they only knew the alternative!

My next challenge is to stop apologizing for going through what I am going through.  I cannot help why should I apologize?  Certainly, I will own my behavior and if I behave unfairly or badly, I will apologize for that...but I am not going to say I am sorry for fanning myself, drinking gallons of ice water, or even begging off from plans made because I feel like crap.  Nope.  I will not apologize for peeling off layers of clothing (to a point) or tossing the covers off only to grab them and cover myself up again minutes later.  Don't expect a sorry if I am up pacing the floor at all hours of the night...worrying about stuff I cannot control...paranoia plaguing my thoughts and dreams...speaking of which...since that jerk flipped my switch, I have had THE strangest and most vivid dreams...there has got to be a best-selling science fiction novel in my head somewhere..fingers crossed! 

The other major hurdle facing me is trying to find balance...physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I think if I can get these in some order, then dealing with that which cannot be controlled may not be so overwhelming.  I am hoping to find grace, peace and patience, so when my husband (God Bless him) comes home from CVS with a list of any drug, supplement, cream or spray that mentions the words menopause, hot flash, mood swings, bloating, night sweats, etc...I won't want to deck him...I know he means well, but there is no pill...there is no operation...there is no is what is and hold onto your hats...this could last for...OMG...10 more years....shudder, shudder, flash just hit.

I have started to do some research and with the help of my new GYN...(please, please, please)...I will learn to live with this.  I hope I can get the people whom I love and many of you whom I live with it too.  It is the next leg of my life's journey.  And here's the hard part of it all...I am coming into the home stretch...not any time too soon...but this change of life means I am that much closer to end of life and the great mystery beyond that...and that kind of scares me.  I am not afraid of dying...just afraid that I haven't done all my living and with this spate of personal craziness...I am afraid of...what?... I don't know. 

So for the first, last and only time, I will say I am sorry I am peri-menopausal; really you have no idea how sorry I am. For nearly 30 years I have been taking care of people...most of whom I love...and now, without apology...I am going to take care of myself.  And if you come over and put a dirty glass on my counter...when the dishwasher is sitting open waiting for said glass...just remember... all I'll need is a jury of my peers and I'll be found not guilty of manslaughter...just saying.

From my heart...thank you to all my friends and family who are so 'there' for me and understanding.  I appreciate your patience and kindness...I'd give you all hugs...but please do not touch!!!


  1. For hot flashes I found that soy isoflavones have helped me a lot, and it's been over a year... (I wanted something natural)

    I get them here:

  2. I am 40 soon to be 41 and I fear I am entering the twilight zone... so much to worry over. Too little time to want to do anything other than lie in bed all day. I suffer from night sweats, anxiety, depression, changes in my menstrual cycle, paranoia, loss of appetite, who cares syndrome 'cause I don't, mean thoughts, nausea, misery, sadness, and restlessness. So I guess this is perimenopause in all its glory. 10yrs of this? Wow. I don't know if I will survive.