Warning: the following blog post contains mildly graphic tales of menopausal woe. Men, you may want to move along…quickly. If not, you’ve been warned. I mean it. Girls, read on…
When I was young and heard older women talk about menopause, I would think to myself “how awesome – no periods!” Now I’m 47 and in the fourth full year of my own menopausal experience and I think to myself “I’d gladly have a period if it meant no more hot flashes.” Sometimes, ladies, the grass is greener on the other side and sometimes it’s not. “Be careful what you wish for” has never been so evident in my life. The ugly truth is that menopause sucks. Here’s what your mother or friends never told you:
• Menopause is not just for little old ladies. My symptoms started appearing at the age of 42. Sometimes life is not fair.
• Imagine sitting in your oven on the “warm” setting and thinking, “wow…it feels toasty and wonderful in here.” Now imagine that someone locked the oven door and turned it up to broil. You can’t escape, the heat is unbearable, and your skin starts to melt and pool in the bottom of your oven with that lasagna spill-over you forgot to clean up. Welcome to my hot flash.
• In the past, I could expect a visit from my “friend” around the 5th of each month. Like clockwork. Our visit would last 7-10 days, and while it wouldn’t be what I’d call pleasant, it wasn’t unbearable. We’d hang, sometimes we’d argue, she’d leave, and I’d be happy again. Now I may go for 6-7 months with no sign of said friend. She may show up for 4 or 5 days randomly or she may drop in for 44 days and almost put me in the hospital. Hateful…evil…bitch.
• Cranky? Of course I’m cranky! My body is turning on me! I have a right to be cranky!
• I’ve never had dry skin in my life, but now I have a bottle of lotion in every room of my house and in the glove box of my car. And I live in a city known for 98% humidity. I can never visit a desert again, at least not until this is all over. I’d look like Phyllis Diller at only 47, and that’s unacceptable. Sorry, Phyllis.
• For you youngsters, the answer is YES: when you go gray upstairs, you go gray downstairs.
• Speaking of gray hair, I’ve been plucking out the more obvious offenders – especially around my face where I can see them in the mirror more glaringly. One of these days, I’ll have to accept a new mantra and move on. My choices are “gray is sexy” or “bald is beautiful.” And yes, that goes for downstairs, as well.
• If they can make Grecian Formula for men that can be combed in and cover gray in 10 minutes while looking completely natural, why do they still expect women spend $150 and 3 hours getting our hair colored? Where’s our inexpensive but extraordinarily effective 10 minute comb in formula?
• I have insomnia issues now. Sometimes I sleep like a rock for 8 straight hours, but most nights I sleep for 20 minutes at a shot, throwing covers here and there, and begging for mercy from the sleep fairy. A few times a month, I find myself awake until 3:00 or 4:00am. I should tell you that The Complete Package and I do not have cable. For the record, basic channels suck like a Dyson after 1am. Once Craig Ferguson goes off, your choices are infomercials for appliances, miracle investment advice or phone services for singles who want to mingle. I’m beyond mingling, I already own a Shark Steamer, and if that investment advice is so stellar, why are you still hosting infomercials for a living? Really.
• My fingernails are forever splitting and peeling into a million thin layers. Forget manicures. Why would I want to paint my nails a color that would actually draw attention to my hands? Ugh!
• In my youth, I’d heard women speak of episodes of excessive sweating due to menopause, but I never understood it. Now I pray for blissful ignorance again. While it doesn’t happen nearly as often as regular hot flashes, it is 100 times more intolerable in my mind. Imagine randomly exploding into a sweaty dock worker. For 15 minutes, you are completely drenched in places you didn’t know had sweat glands, and your clothes look like you just ran through a sprinkler. Men have done this for centuries. Women were not made for this. I can’t claim to be “dewy” when it’s running down my shin bones. Please, someone shoot me.
• If you’ve had children, you know you get mentally fuzzy just before and after giving birth. We’re hard-wired for it. It’s a part of the science of being a woman with raging hormones during the blessed event. Newsflash: it comes back during menopause. Those same hormones that made you feel like an idiot as a new mother return for round two when you experience “The Change.” I find myself pointing at the dishwasher and barking at TCP “don’t forget to put your plate in…..that…..that THING where the dirty dishes go.” Wow. Really? How am I supposed to sound tough or bossy when I can’t remember that the lump on our curb is called our mailbox? The good news – it only happens randomly. The bad news – it happens.
• The Complete Package and I used to snuggle in bed. It helped me fall asleep, feeling all warm and cuddly like that. Now I’m too hot and uncomfortable to be touched, and TCP is bringing marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars to bed. Oh, well. He might as well take advantage of the raging inferno coming from my side of the bed. He’s clever like that.
• I hesitate to admit this, but I have a peach fuzz beard. This is my most embarrassing menopausal side effect. I admit this only because I don’t want to hide the awful truth from you, my friends. TCP says it’s not noticeable, but I notice it. When I look up close in the mirror, I feel eligible to apply for Santa Clause at Macy’s this Christmas. It’s short and soft and colorless, but that doesn’t make me feel any less of a fuzzy bunny. It has me wondering…whatever happened to Nad’s. Remember Nad’s? It was a sticky honey-like substance similar to a home waxing kit. Where is Nad when I need her?
• Did you know that menopause is actually ONE DAY? Menopause refers to the last day of your last period…or the first day of your period-free life. The time leading up to that one day is called peri-menopause. So I am peri-menopausal. That’s medical speak for hormonal female freak.
I’m telling you here and now – I am marking my calendar and counting the days until this is all over. I’m dreaming of the day when I’m over this speed bump and looking at it from the other side. I’m four years in, I’ve put in my time, and I’m ready to get off this bus. Menopause is a bitch, and I’m ready to give her a good slap in the face or put a boot up her ass. Sorry, my crankiness is flaring up again. Until then, I am your sweaty, fuzzy, graying, sleepless friend. Pray for me. Pray hard and pray often…because you could be next.