Monday, November 1, 2010
Yes. You are starting to go into menopause and let me tell you why.
You have days where you are irritable beyond belief. Not necessarily to me and not necessarily to anyone else but you just are. Things bother you that don’t bother a twenty, thirty, or forty year old. If someone wait’s a second longer than you think they should at a greenlight, you are irritated. If you can’t find stamps in your drawer at the office because you need to send some bills, you get irritated. If it is too windy and you are having a “good” hair day, you are very irritated. These things didn’t used to bother you but they do now but only on certain days of the month.
Another reason you are probably going into menopause is that the one monthly thing you have been able to depend on since you were probably 12 or 13 is no longer so dependable. Your body may feel like it’s going to bleed but honey…it ain’t gonna bleed.
My theory is that the blood that used to come out…now goes the other direction. What other explanation can there be for that mid-life bulge above where the jeans wrap around our waist? It’s got to be the blood going up instead of down and why the medical community hasn’t figured that one out is beyond me.
Another sign you are going “through it” is the fact that you’re hot and you’re cold and then you are happy and then you are sad and then you are foggy and then the brain-clouds go away and then it comes back. You can’t even say that you just ate something sweet so your blood sugar went whacked. Bottom line, everything is whacked. Get used to it.
But never fear…your friends are still here and even though you can’t explain it away and make any sense of it all and it drives you crazy to slowly lose control…we will always be here to remind you that this too, my dear friend, shall pass.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Grandma Toby proceeded to show me how to attached the garter-belt thing, which wasn’t a garter belt at all but a “between-the-legs” contraption which held two sides to the sanitary napkin in between my legs. I still remember what it felt like walking around her Miracle Mile apartment the first time I had that thing held in place under my pants. It was thick and uncomfortable and I once asked my mother if there was a way that I could get the doctor to help me stop bleeding until I was ready to have children.
Who wants to walk around for the rest of their life with what amounted to a folded up dish towel in between their legs for seven days out of the month, 12 months a year?
But the days ticked on and I was introduced to tampons which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Sometime in the 80’s I hailed the sanitary napkin God when a company finally came out with thin maxi-pads which stayed in place via a thin strip of adhesive. Most times they stayed in place but sometimes they didn’t and in the 90’s some smart company came out with “wings” on the sides of their thin pads which definitely held them firmly attached to the underwear for those five to seven days.
A couple of kids and one grandchild later, my “bleeding” has become rather erratic. “Will she or won’t she” has become the motto of the month. I knew this time was coming and I was going with the “flow” so to speak until my body decided to do the big period psych-out.
It started with the extreme tenderness of ‘the girls.’ So tender were ‘the girls’ that after coming home from work one of the first things I would do was take my bra off and let it all hang out. Then the bloating got so bad I felt like Violet Beauregarde in “Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” just after she ate the blueberry gum. I was moody, irritable and wanted to jump out of my skin but I knew that in a few days it would all be over. I would bleed and it would all be better.
So I waited, and waited and waited. No blood. Five days went by. Seven days went by. Ten days came and went and after a full two weeks of this without any telltale signs of the monthly menses but all the signs that I was going to ‘bleed any day now’ I thought I was going to explode…literally.
It was one particular morning during this waiting period (pun intended) when I was looking in the mirror that I saw my waist had moved up a few inches.
Now wasn’t THAT icing on the cake!
The curve that was usually right above my hips was just under my ribcage and the middle of my belly looked like it was starting to droop. Whose belly starts to droop overnight?
And then it hit me.
The reason I wasn’t bleeding was because all the blood that was supposed to leak out of me was now going up instead of down. It was gathering where my waist used to be and there was nothing I could do about it.
So many of my woman friends complain that they lose their once-svelt waistlines when they start “the change.” Is it because when the bleeding stops the blood has to have someplace to go so it circulates around the middle of our bodies?
Well, that’s my excuse.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Now that I’m in the beginning throws of menopause, menopausal thoughts take up many waking moments of my day…and night. But unlike the solid object of a car or a pregnant woman, I can’t just look around and see other menopausal women.
Or can I?
Other menopausal women will attest to the fact that one of the “benefits” of going through this remarkable change is that our middles decide to go “out” when we really want them to go “in.” The harder we hold in our stomachs, the more tired we become. If you see a woman in her 50’s looking wretched by 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, I guarantee she is exhausted from trying to hold in her stomach from the time she hit the ground running at six in the morning to when she's finally on her way home after long day.
Trying to hold in your stomach for 10 hours straight takes incredible will and strength. Combine that with a full-time job, kids who may be young adults but are not really grown up…yet…a husband who has kicked up the sex-thing because he feels he has to have as much sex as possible before he reaches the age where his parts don’t work anymore and you have the perfect recipe for a stomach blow-out.
One menopausal friend of mine says, “Sometimes I hold in my stomach so hard I think it’s going to come out my asshole.”
To which I say, “Right on sista!”
So now when I bounder around the world outside, all I see are the stomachs of women. I don’t even bother to look at the stomachs of people under 35 because I know that those women aren’t even yet thinking about why they can’t fit into their $200 designer jeans anymore.
You know the jeans I’m talking about…the ones that took you months to save up for because you finally let the desire to own a pair of well-fitting, great looking jeans take over the guilt that comes with buying jeans that are not from Target.
In my case, it was two weeks after I spent too much money on those jeans that the menopausal body took over. All of the sudden the $200 jeans refused to slip over my thighs let alone travel up my hips.
So when I’m out and about and I see a woman of my age wearing an elastic skirt or a billowy blouse, my eyes immediately go to her middle and most of the time I can tell that she is a kindred spirit…and has a kindred tummy.
“I know just how you feel,” I say to myself as I drive past her in the car, deciding whether or not to unzip my Target jeans because all of the sudden my stomach grew six inches from just eating a strawberry while on my way to work.
Friday, May 28, 2010
It was 10:30 at night and I was lying down on my bed, looking down at my belly. I did not like what I saw. Back in the day, I used to be able to take a piece of string and hold it from hip bone to hip bone while lying down and my lower stomach would not touch the string. Back then, I used to be able to pull my pants on without having to lie down on the floor to zip them up. Back then…I wasn’t about to turn 51.
I was so disgusted with the “mind-of-its-own” stomach that I decided right then and there to go on a fruit fast the following day. I heard that running on fruit for three days will give you a certain “glow.” I also heard that the stomach shrinks, things flow through the colon a lot faster and you’ll have energy like you haven’t experienced in a long time.
So this is how my first day of the “fruit only” went:
5:45 A.M. Wake up to the vibrating alarm. Try not to think about “not” having oatmeal for breakfast
6:10 A.M. Go to the grocery store and buy fruit already cut up along with two kinds of fruit juices.
6:35 A.M. Arrive at radio station with fruit.
6:52 A.M. Eat first piece of fruit before craving cereal.
7:05 A.M. Go on the air and talk about how I’m going to try and do a fruit fast for three days.
7:25 A.M. Eat another piece of fruit and try not to think about “not” having a veggie burger for lunch
7:50 A.M. Talk to weatherman on the air. Ask him if he ever did a fruit fast. He said, “no.”
8:20 A.M. Eat more fruit.
8:39 A.M. Eat more fruit. Wonder what the special is at the Mexican restaurant.
9:22 A.M. Go in back office and stare at my instant oatmeal package. Read the label to see if there is any dried fruit inside.
9:45 A.M. Are potatoes fruit?
10:15 A.M. Went for a walk with an apple. The apple just doesn’t taste the same when I know I have to eat it.
10:40 A.M. I wonder what the lunch special is at the Italian restaurant today?
11:05 A.M. Eat more fruit. Is it my imagination or is the cantaloupe making my tongue itch?
11:45 A.M. Do news and other stuff at the radio station that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time so I don’t think about eating more fruit.
12:38 P.M. Go home and open the refrigerator. Stare at my homemade corn chowder.
1:23 P.M. Does it count if you have a piece of bread with fruit spread?
1:25 P.M. “F” this fruit thing. I don’t feel better at all.
1:47 P.M. Decide that fruit is overrated.
Friday, May 21, 2010
So instead, I re-supplemented with an order of french fries or an onion bagel with cream cheese or a Three Muskateer's Bar or my favorite, pizza! Not just any pizza, it had to be thin crust (therefore justifying eating the combo of flour and water) with pepperoni and pineapple and light on the cheese. And I got the individual pizza, the one that is cut up into six small-ish slices.
"Not too bad," I would say to myself. I would justify being able to eat pizza because I was bleeding and it was a small pizza. The normal person would probably eat only two or three pieces and save the rest for a future meal but what the hell...I was bleeding...so I would eat the whole thing.
It was toward the end of last year that I had my first internal run-in with pizza. Maybe because at that time, I wasn't bleeding. Maybe it was because it was pizza from a restaurant in McKinnleyville or maybe it was because that the combo of cheese, pizza crust (flour and water) and the other stuff just didn't digest like it used to. Whatever the reason, it took days before the pizza finally made its way out of my body and into the sewer system...even with some help from prune juice.
After that very, VERY uncomfortable experience...I no longer ate pizza. Until a few days ago, that is.
We had a guest from couchsurfing.com and he wanted pizza. Who could blame him? After all, he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from start to finish. He deserved pizza. He deserved to eat an entire pizza all to himself but on that night, we all shared a pizza. The next day my system went into hyper-yuk.
You know that video that has recently been making the rounds on YouTube where hundreds of baseball-size hail spearing down from the sky landed into some guys pool somewhere in the midwest? That's how my stomach felt the day after I ate pizza.
Has menopause put a kabash on my ever eating pizza again?
So of course the next day I had to down gobs of prune juice (aka PJ) but guess what? The PJ made me sick to my stomach. Not quite, head-hanging-over-the-toilet-bowl-sick...just gross.
And to prove a point to myself (because the second half of my life will be all about proving points to myself) I had to order another thin-crust pizza with pepperoni and pineapple. And I ate the whole, individual thing.
And...well...you can guess what happened next.
No more pizza. No more periods on a regular basis. No more eating what I want, when I want.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Oh how I wish you were around so I could have asked you important questions about how your bodies worked when you were in your 50's and 60's. It didn't seem important back then because in our family, we didn't talk about things like menopause out loud.
We talked about family dramas, about my kids, about my marriage and divorce, the histories the both of you shared with me about your childhoods but never about what "the change" would be like once I got there.
I want to know if your middles seemed to grow between the time you stepped into the shower and got out of the shower. I want to know if one minute you were happy as a lark in a tree and the next minute wondering if it would make the news if you started to walk eastbound on the west side of the local highway?
I wonder if you craved chocolate one minute and then ran to find the nearest bag of Corn Nuts at the local convenience store the next? I wonder if you threw open the door to the back yard and rolled in the snow, which sizzled under the weight and heat of your body only to run back into the house piling all the blankets you could find on top of the same body that was hotter than the back of a sun-baked lizard in Death Valley only minutes before?
I wonder what advice you both would have given me? I remember when the both of you were in your 50's and 60's and nothing was said at all about menopause. At least I can't remember if it was ever brought up at family events or during phone calls.
Would you have told me to wait it out? Would you have recommended the patch? Would you have sent me to buy some organic supplement?
Or would you have recommended that I just drink tons of water and try to flush it all out?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I just got back from a wonderful jaunt back east to North Carolina (not one speck of snow fell from the sky the entire week) and saw the state from border to border. I got home and because it's been a while since I was near a computer, I felt I had to catch up on a few things...,including this blog.
I proceed to the FB page and spend approximately 18 minutes browsing, answering, reading...
I then logged out of FB, my hands poised over they keyboard...and couldn't remember what I was supposed to do next.
I turned to my scientist-type boyfriend and asked, "What was it I was going to do on the computer before I logged onto Facebook?"
He pushed his glasses toward the end of his nose and looked down at me with those piercing, blue eyes, an expression of disbelief quickly replaced with one of understanding and sympathy as he realized that my short term memory is REALLY short term.
"Your blog?" he replied.
But that moment wasn't what I was going to write about but it was all I could remember to write about. As soon as I remember my thought, I'll get to it.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
"If it's important, you'll remember," someone used to say to me when I would pick up the phone to call someone and then promptly forget who it was I was supposed to call with something VERY important to say to him...or her.
Memory has always been an enigma to me. It comes. It goes...but it always came back. And it's never been a problem...until now.
I remember the basic when it came to important things like remembering to pick up my kids from school, finishing a music clearance project, remembering to go to work in the morning, remembering to announce the right call-letters at the radio station and just remembering that I had kids...a no brainer.
So imagine my surprise!
I was in the middle of a terrific "Exhausted Parent Network" radio show. The topic of the show was on traveling with the kids. I had great in-house guests, a great back-n-forth with my phone in guests and I knew that once this particular show was uploaded into www.mammothpodcast.com it would be a hit. It was one of those "feelings" you get when you KNOW something is right.
The EPN show had a sing-a-long with Danna Stroud and I belting out, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" to the version by Peter, Paul and Mary. It had a terrific interview with Erinn from the U.S. State Department talking about international travel. Katrina from www.houseexchange.com was a positive addition with her knowledge about why it's a better deal for parents to travel with their kids when they rent an entire house, for free, in another country. And Linda Kagen, an attorney from New York has a website, www.Forms4Traveling.com that will take parents on a step-by-step journey about the paperwork needed when traveling out of country with the kids...especially divorce parents.
It was a great show!
So imagine my surprise (wait...I just said that).
I turned my head to glance into the production room to make sure the levels were okay on the recording of the show and saw that I had forgotten to press the "record" button on Adobe Audition and the show had not been recorded. Dismay is putting it likely. I almost said the "F" word on the air. In fact, I did say the "F" word on the air but I altered it, using "Friggin'" instead of ...."F"...blah blah blah.
How could I have neglected to do the most important thing just before my show?
It was as if my mind blanked out!
What could have caused this lapse in my memory? I refuse to believe that what I have to look forward to as menopause slowly leaks its way in and around my bones is this type of inexcusable memory loss.
What if I start to forget the basics? What if I can't remember who I am any more when I get up in the morning? What if, one day, I forget who that fabulous looking man is beside me in bed? My bed? My bed that is in the house of someone else?
Okay, I'm being a bit melodramatic but....WHAT IF?
I think I need to go to my quote book and find some quotes from prominent people on memory loss just to make me feel better. I do have a quote book, don't I?
I did, I know I did!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Those of you who have been doing yoga for years know that 'downward-dog' is a pose that can be hard on your wrists and elbows if you are not used to doing a pose like that but it sure feels good on the back of the legs.
The schwavanandi-type pose before downward-dog made me sweat a little bit so I was glad when it was over. Not that I'm adverse to sweating. I've been doing the sweaty thing more than usual these days. As a matter of fact, just as I was relaxing into the downward-dog pose, holding in my core (that's flabby belly for those of you who are unfamiliar with the word "core"), my body decided that while my head was dangling down and my body looked like an upside down "V," it should proceed to the hotflash I had yet to experience that day.
Did you know that when sweat pours down your body onto the yoga mat, the mat gets rather slippery? (That's slipping and falling on your ass in yoga class for those of you who aren't familiar with the word "slippery.")
Friday, April 9, 2010
And when they started to drive..."Don't forget to call me when you get to your friends' house," or "Don't forget your drivers license!"
My memory has been okay throughout the years. I remembered.....umm.....well, you know. Anyway, now.....I was just.....DAMN!......What was I......OH YEAH! My ATM card.....
I used to pride myself in always remembering where it was and to pull it out of the ATM machine after I withdrew some money but for the third time within the last several weeks I've walked away from the ATM machine without my card.
The first time I did this I was crazed looking for it. I searched all the nooks and crannies in my car, the pockets of all my jeans and jackets, my workplace and retraced my steps for hours hoping to see the shiny blue card. When I went to the bank to report it missing, it was found in the 'lost and found' because I had left it in the machine.
The second time I 'misplaced' my ATM card I searched my purse, my clothes and when I thought I would have to retrace my steps a blizzard poured from the sky. No retracing my steps with snow on the ground. So with my tail between my legs I went back to the bank and lo and behold...someone had turned it in...again...because again...I left it in the machine.
So two days ago I realized the ATM card wasn't where I usually put it, again. Before work I pulled up to the grocery store and pulled the ATM card holder out of my purse. The card holder bent. When my ATM card is in the holder, it doesn't bend.
After working at the radio all morning I went back to the bank, hoping that someone had turned it in. I was calm and collected and didn't go crazy trying to search everywhere for the card. I had a feeling I knew where it was.
"Godfrey the Teller" rolled his eyes as he saw me walk through the bank doors. I knew then and there, without him having to say a word, that my ATM card had been turned in...again.
I smiled sheepishly as he handed me back my card.
There was nothing more I could say except to remember to say, "Thank you."
I'm trying not to freak out about why my mind literally goes BLANK after I get my hands on a few twenty dollar bills. I take the money and walk away. It's happened a few times now.
Should I panic? Or should I look up that chapter in my new menopause book?
Monday, April 5, 2010
What do I say to that?
How about I can be at one with my mood swings or I can quote Sylvia Path: "I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between."
I wish I'd said that.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
7:51 pm - Walk to the front porch with my cell phone while she's still talking to cool off.
7:55 pm - Hotflash over.
8:01 pm - Hotflash not over.
8:02 pm - Get out of my jeans and sweater, put a t-shirt on and stand back on the deck. It's a bizzard outside but I don't care.
8:05 pm - Hotflash over, go back in side. It's bloody freezing outside.
8:10 pm - Wondering what to have for dinner.
8:15 pm - Go upstairs and make Cream of Wheat
8:21 pm - Hotflash back. Cream of Wheat might be too hot to eat.
8:22 pm - Go back outside on the deck
8:27 pm - Hotflash over. Back into the kitchen. Cream of Wheat has coagulated and got hard. Not in the mood for Cream of Wheat anymore.
8:35 pm - Mom calls again with another earthquake update. I'm still hungry but not for anything hot.
8:41 pm - Decide to try Cream of Wheat again.
8:45 pm - Hotflash again. Throw Cream of Wheat down the sink. Stand outside on the deck as the snow whips around my head. Not hungry.
8:55 pm. - Have an apple. Watch Weather Channel Tornado show....on the bed...naked.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
On this day, I knew what it was because several days earlier I had ordered a special book right after I had such a knarly hot flash that it sent me flying out of the radio station to stand under the falling snow, little white, flakes sizzling on my chest and arms as they fell from the sky.
The line at the post office was out the door. Not unusual for lunchtime. People of all shapes and sizes and ages were waiting with their yellow cards. I could hear the scrunching of snowboarding pants as the "dude" in front of me shifted his weight from one leg to the other. A Latino Senora was scolding her two little boys in Spanish because they were pulling out all the colorful packing envelopes from the wall display. And among the group of us standing in line, there were about twelve, was an elderly gentleman wearing a tan ski had pulled low over his ears. He was standing perfectly still. So still, that I wanted to sneak up behind him and blow in his ear to see if he was still alive. But I didn't. But I wanted to.
I bet he wasn't picking up the type of book I was waiting for. No way. Unless it was for one of his daughters who happened to be my age and who also happened to be in the beginnings of "the change."
Friendly postal worker Debby came out from the back and announced, "Does anyone have a yellow-card?" Three-quarters of the line scrambled to the front holding their yellow cards out in front of them for Debby to collect. Once the cards were all collected, Debby dissappeard again and we shuffled to the corner, waiting patiently for our gifts.
I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one in town expecting the book, "The Wisdom of Menopause" by Christiane Northrup. I had heard about the book years earlier but like I said, I somehow thought I would skip through this part of life since no other women in my family ever talked about it. It was something that "other" women dealt with. Not the women in my family. Or so I was lead to believe.
After about six minutes, Debby returned with an armload of goodies. She called out our PO Box numbers one by one and when mine was announced, I held out my right arm, letting the cardboard-wrapped book slip into my hands.
I jammed out to my car and tore open the cardboard. And there it was. The book. No, THE BOOK!
I opened to a page, any page hoping that the wisdom I read would be a sign that it would all be okay. What was the first sentence I read? "Like many other peri-menopausal women, I had hit a metabolic wall; our midlife bodies seem to hold on to fat for dear life until we learn the secrets of releasing it!"
Great. Now I have to learn secrets.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I live in the mountains. It's cold at night and mostly during the day but until January 20th, I didn't really appreciate the climate. I took it for granted...until that night.
It was about 3:30 in the morning and as I snuggled next to my man, the heat burned through me from the inside out. It started near my heart and worked its way out towards the rest of my body parts. I got up and stood on the deck of our house. It was cold. I was hot. A perfect match.
I knew this was going to happen but just like I didn't expect to become a grandmother before I reached the age of 50, I didn't expect Menopause to seep into my lifestyle. My grandmother(s) never spoke of it. My mother never had it because she went right from a hysterectomy to Premarin and I always thought I'd somehow be spared the journey.
But no, I'm not spared.
So hold on tight. It's going to be a ride that y'all will never forget.