Background information: When I was 35 I had a hysterectomy. I am now almost 62 (and could that please hurry up and get here because for once Uncle Sam will be paying me instead of me paying him!) The doctor put me on hormones right away and there I stayed until April this year when I had a “mini” stroke. Whoever invented that word mini when associated with a stroke has never had one. It is as scary as if Satan has materialized right in front of you because you don’t have a clue what’s happening to you. For me it was manifested by losing the sight in my right eye abruptly while eating lunch one day. In the car. Between errands. It only lasted about 5 minutes but for 5 minutes I was completely aware that I could only see a pinpoint in the middle of that eye and I had no clue why or how to fix it. Shaking my head did not work. Blinking did not work. Calling my husband on the phone did not work. So off to the doctor I went. Many doctors and many tests. The same doctor who told me to keep taking hormones because I should be more interested in “quality of life” now said, “remember I told you if you had problems you’d have to quit taking them? Well this is the problem.” So I gradually weaned myself off hormones. I started by taking them every other day for a while. Then twice a week for a while. Then once a week. Then…..nothing. This week my body figured out it was getting no more of the good stuff.
Menopause has paused at my door. Who the heck invented that word anyway? I propose we rename it Menohurry, cause ladies believe me when I say you do not want it to linger! I am having awful hot flashes. I am the original snowgirl – my hands and feet are always cold. My husband and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum with body temperatures. My children laughed at a recent vacation picture of him and me standing in front of the Continental Divide sign in the Rocky Mountains. He had on a tee shirt and shorts and I had on jeans, a tee shirt, a long sleeved shirt and a fleece jacket. Typical, so typical. (And yes, I was still dying my hair then - you wanta' make something of it?) I wear wool socks year round in our house. I can’t stand for a fan to blow on me because I freeze with moving air. But now….now I break out into a sweat putting on makeup. I can be perfectly content rubbing on a little blush when sweat trickles down my face and drips off my chin. Several times a day you could fry an egg on my body. Multiple showers are mandatory. One minute I’m in my wool socks and long pajamas and the next I’m shedding all clothing possible. I wake in the middle of the night and I’m naked with no covers and still I’m hot. Then it passes and I’m back to freezing mode.
Today, Sunday, the day when I bounce out of bed, get dressed and head out for church where my heart fills with joy to worship and to sing and to see friends who are more family….today I got out of bed sobbing. I cried in the shower, I cried putting on makeup, I cried putting lotion on my body (well for heavens sake even if I’m crying I still have to have lotion or I’ll dry up and flake away to nothing!), I cried curling my hair. Finally I gave up and told my husband, while standing in my underwear with my hair curled but not combed and my mascara running down my face, “I’m not going!” And then I sat in my rocking chair, still in my underwear but with my prayer shawl wrapped around me, and sobbed some more. I called my sister who is supposed to be able to fix everything because she’s “medical” and you know what she said? She said, “I’m sorry.” That’s it. That’s all. Nada. Nothing. Well she did say to google hot flashes and see what natural things I could take to help. But that’s nothing because that’s later sometime when I go to the store which I cannot do right now because I’M CRYING!! Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m happy. I love my husband, I love my children, I love my family and friends and church and retirement and my house and living on the lake and stitching and my neighborhood and my town, but not shopping. I don’t love shopping any more. But do you get the picture? I’m more content than I’ve ever been in my life. I love being almost 62. I don’t love being 20 or 40 pounds overweight but that’s a moot point. Nobody loves that. I SHOULD NOT BE CRYING! Oh, and there is also the anger. Did I mention anger?
And then there’s the whole matter of bodily functions. If you’re squeamish you better bail out now. Your body doesn’t work the same any more. What used to be regular isn’t any more. Sleep all night and go to the bathroom when you get up? Nope, try waking to go to the bathroom 2 or 3 times a night. If you didn’t know better you’d think you were pregnant. At least when you’re pregnant you get something wonderful in the end. But with this you get nothing. Everything that can fall has. Things that ought to be moist and supple aren’t. Hair grows where it should never grow and quits growing where you expect it to. Sit for a while and you’re stiff when you get up.
So why am I telling you all this? A couple of reasons really. If you haven’t gotten here yet I want you to be forewarned. Get prepared. Buy lots of lotion, tissues, sleeping pills, dipilatorys, waterproof mascara, oh and a laxative couldn’t hurt. And get busy inventing a cure because you could be an instant millionaire. What am I thinking? You could be an instant billionaire!
(Photos compliments of Flickr)