Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Menopause is a Four Letter Word


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)

36 comments:

Veggie Mom said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'm not there yet, but I'm guessing it won't be long!

osagebluffquilter said...

I just read your menopause comments. I hear ya sister! But I'm at the start of that journey, just about 4 weeks ago I got my hormones. I was so durn tired of those wake up hot flashes. So I am taking prempro. I started with one a day. 10 days, no difference. So I call, they say take 2 a day, after about the 3 or 4th days WOW, I was a new woman. Then a week later the unbearable happened. A period after a year of them being bye-bye. So I call them, go to one a day, now I'm taking one about every other day. I have small very small hot flashes.

Just when we get to a point in our lives, with kids all gone, we can enjoy each others company and look forward to retirement and grand kids, that Memopause person has to come and visit.

Oh and if you find a waterproof make up market it!

Have a good week
Osagebluffquilter.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh Marlene! I'm sending you an extra big hug! It really isn't fair, and I don't look forward to it one bit. Without going into detail, there were a few months last spring that I got an early preview of it, and man, it was NO FUN! Wish I could be helpful!

And thanks for your help with my Sarah leaving the nest! Sarah loved the idea of a microwave recipe book and we've started working on it.
You're the best, hot flashing or not!
Becky

Molly said...

It's probably not fair that I'm doubled up laughing all the while I'm reading this.... But at least you can see the humour through your tears! I hope this curse hurries on up outta there!

Thanks for your quilting comment/advice last night[before the scourge hit?] I'd heard of the Fibonnaci sequence, but googled it to refresh my memory. Fascinating stuff! Will post a pic when the quilt is done. Dare I hope, by Friday? Hope you feel better soon....

Molly said...
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Molly said...

Oops! Seems my fingers are stuttering!

Molly said...
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Julie said...

Hang in there, Marlene! This too shall pass. I'm thankfully beyond the worst. The worst for me was the insomnia although my Hubby & co-workers would tell you it was the Mood swings (with a capitol EM.) Mamma always told me that I wouldn't have to shave so often 'cause the hair growth thins. She failed to mention that the hair on your head gets thinner, too! If men had menopause there'd be a cure for it by now. Some handy pill advertised on TV at all hours of the day & night and covered 100% by insurance.

Karen said...

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time. I took hormones for a number of years because of a hystorectomy. When the new medical information came out that the medication could be harmful in some cases, I still opted to take it. Finally, my doctor said I needed to give them up. I was scared to do it but weaned off as advised. I was lucky enough to have no problem at all. Not hot flashes, nothing. I wish it could be the same for you. I hope it all passes soon.

Grammy Staffy said...

Dear Marlene,
I wish I was there so I could give you a big hug.... since I am not, I am sending you a (((cyberhug))))... do you feel it? I hope so.

Like you I had a hysterectomy in my mid thirties, however I kept my ovaries and didn't have to go on hormones. I was not sure when I started menopause until I started having hot flashes at school and mood swings...but never any night sweats like my friends have. Most of the time I get any health problem worse than anyone...I'm usually the one percent that has the complications, but I guess I lucked out with menopause. Like you, my hands and feet used to be cold all the time and now my feet get so hot at night I kick off the covers....I sometimes get sad and teary for no reason like I did this week the day after my birthday, but that is about it.... all in all I guess I am really lucky.
I'm sorry that you are having such a hard time. My heart goes out to you. Take care and know that others are wishing you well.
Love, Lura

Tracy P. said...

OOH, not looking forward to that. Mine should show up right about the time my daughter starts her period. I hope our guys are smart enough to join a golf league together along about that time. Yikes!! You have my sympathy!

And I vote for a colored border. I'd pick blue, with maybe a half inch contrast on the inside of it, but that's just me. It's beautiful! Is that what started the water works? I just never know when missing my mom is gonna sneak up on me!

Blessings to YOU today, Marlene! Prayers too.

Connie W said...

Oh my goodness, we are sharing quite a few things going on here...not all of them, but many. I feel your pain ;D

(((hugs)))

Christine said...

Oh Dear, my Mom has been warning me. She went off the hormones for a while then demanded her doctor to give them to her again. I think she might be on a lower dose now. She still has issues, just not quite as bad.

I'm already having the occasional hot flash. I feel for you. Hang in there. Maybe it will get better?

Lori said...

Oh sweetie, I feel for you. I also had a hyster seven years ago at age 40 but they left the ovaries. Not sure why as they quit working soon after anyway. My hot flashes and night sweats still go in cycles, so not constant. However, God has a sense of humor, and I always seem to have my spells in the summer instead of in the winter when I could use the heat. I did find relief in Estroven over-the-counter. The bad part is it takes a while to build up in your system, like 3 - 4 weeks. Good Luck and feel free to vent anytime. I am going to have my husband read your post so he realizes I'm not just nuts, that it's a NORMAL occurence. :(

sister sheri said...

You poor soul! One of those days when you need to be nice to yourself...and do something nice for yourself! People who don't have hormonal problems never really get this... do they?

Cyndy said...

I had a complete hysterectomy at 34, I'm now 53. At my last yearly check up, my doctor cut my hormones in half!!! I was not too happy. But, when I went to pick up the pills at the pharmacy, they were the same dosage! I don't know if was the doctor's mistake or the pharmacist, but I just kept quiet. I do feel guilty, kind of like I'm cheating. But, hey, I've got a year before anyone finds out! But trust me, I've feel your pain sister! May you have a restful, uninterupted night of sleep!

Cyndy

Pat said...

Oh, Marlene, I do feel for you. I am two years older than you....I started taking those hormones when I was 40. Took them until three or four years ago. I can tell you they never did a thing for me but make me gain weight. I have had hot flashes for twenty-four years. They don't get better - that I can tell you. I notice all the doctors that tell you hormones add to your life are MALE!! They didn't add a thing to mine. I took myself off them against the advice of my doctor. I don't regret it and truthfully, I can't tell a difference. I'm pretty healthy, just having had a physical. Even my bones are good. I do have a little trouble with my "gasto-intestinal plumbing" which was inherited....thank goodness Metamucil came out with a pill and I don't eat dairy. The hysterectomy I had in '04 was the best thing I ever did. The crying thing I never had, thank goodness, although sometimes I get "blue." I take no meds whatsoever. So.....my philosophy......keep your sense of humor, do the best you can each day and keep quilting. Oh, yeah, it wouldn't hurt to place several of those dreaded fans around the place!!! If the electricity ever goes out...I'm doomed! Pat

Purple Pam said...

Well, what can I say that has not already been said above, except hang in there! My biggest problem was mood swings, but it still is a problem (and I think it always has been)! I haven't slept through the night since I had my first child, 35 years ago. I seem to cry more when an American flag goes by, or a band playing in a parade (and if there is a flag and a band together, a torrent!). I find that I cry a little more since my mother passed away. But all in all, it gets easier with time. I am sorry you must encounter all symptoms at once.

I think all females should have an old car in the backyard. When we feel one of those moments coming on, we can go outside and get the sledge hammer and swing away on that car. Our shoulders and arms might be sore, but our emotional state will be better. I am positive of that!

Hugs and kisses to you
XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Raquel said...

Marlene: I had a hysterectomy at 28. Used hormones for a few years, until all of the bad press started. Went to the doctor and he said, well, If you don't mind being a psycho, go off of them. So I did. I don't have the hot flashes so bad, but the mental thing is what gets me. Emotional rollercoaster. I get irritability mostly. Can hardly stand kids. And the hair loss, I love it on my legs, but hate it on my head! Anyway, praying for you! I now take the lowest dose of Premarin, every other day. Helps a little! I do know that evening primrose capsules help some people, as well as black cohosh. Also- do not heat things in the microwave in plastic or drink bottled water. Much love - Raquel XO

Elaine Adair said...
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Elaine Adair said...

Dear Lord:

In Sunday School, I learned that all things you have created serve a purpose.

But, exactly WHAT is the biological purpose of menopause? I have pondered this for YEARS, impatiently waiting for the answer, and then it came to me.

It is because during menopause, we women become so sweaty and unpleasantly smelly, unhappy, unstable, sleepy, and tearful that NO MAN WOULD CONSIDER COMING NEAR US TO TO EVEN TRY TO GET US PREGNANT!

Ivory Spring said...

HUGS, Marlene!

Alex said...

**HUGS** to you.

Calamity Jane's Cottage, Bonnie said...

Hi Marlen, I had to go out of town and just now getting caught up on your blog. Oh my how I can relate, I had a hysterctomy about 7 years ago and stop taking my harmones after a year. While I was on them you could have beat me with a stick and I wouldn't have cried. I have always cried at old movies, Hallmark comercials, happy or sad times. Then I got off of them and now I cry a lot and the hot flashes that were really bad lasted about 2 1/2 years. Now I get them, but not near as often.
I hope things get better, just don't move at night and you want get one. Ha!!!
Hugs,
Bonnie

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

The visuals you have created for me in the post is about more than I can handle! You've made me laugh and ponder the upcoming possibilities. I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago. The dr. nearly killed me (really), but that's another story for another day. I still have my hormones though...boy do I ever.

I'm not sure I'm ready for all of this. I cry so much already. Heavens, the boys will commit me if I get any more emotional.

By the way, I do love coming here, and you are serving a great purpose in my life! You are a friend I would like to share some coffee and kleenex with!

peace~elaine

Beckynsc said...

I am 20 years younger than you, and you have described a lot of what I have been dealing with for a couple of years. Please tell me it will go away!
Your not alone in this battle! Cry all you want. We will be here for you, possibly crying with you for the same reasons!

em's scrapbag said...

So sorry. I can't imagine hot flashes I'm already hot all the time. Probably simular to your hubby. I'm always telling my hubby and kids to put on a sweater I can only take so much off. I hope this passes soon for you. Hugs and Best wishes, Em

tipper said...

Sounds like I have a lot to look forward too! The cold/hot thing-that exactly how my husband and I are too. I freeze all the time and he sweats!

Julie said...

Marlene
I love your blog so much that I've given you an award. Accept if you like, or not. You deserve it either way!!

Heather said...

Oh, honey!! This sounds miserable! How long does menopause last?

I blame Eve...she just HAD to eat that apple and ruin it for all of us. Women are forever cursed. We can't even get excited about not having periods anymore because we become emotional and physical wrecks without them.

Great...just, great.

Kelly said...

Love this post! I can so relate! I just turned 50 and was on low-dose bc pills for most of my 40's, so I think I avoided a lot of the peri-meno symptoms, until last year...I was still on the pill, but last spring I felt so wound up, angry, distressed, teary and the constant sentence 'what is wrong with me?' ran through my head like a tickertape! I didn't feel like myself, I hated everyone and everything, and it was all I could do to not be witchy all the time! After a few months though it let up. I went off the pill a few months ago, and now have the hot flashes. Sometimes they are so annoying I just open the back door at 3am and take the dogs outside in the backyard with me wearing my nightgown just to cool off. Sleep is the worst. If I get three hours in a row, it's a miracle. I am probably awake and up 3 to 4 times a night, then wide awake at 5am!
I keep telling myself this too shall pass! Thanks for sharing, I can so relate to so much of what you are going through...all prayers sent your way!
Blessings,
Kelly

Letters From Midlife said...

I'm with you, dear! lol! I'm 51 and officially in menopause having gone through my 40's with every perimenopause symptom in the book. That's 10 years of everything you describe! It's a wonder that my family still loves me and that they are still alive considering they went through adolescence at the same time. What was God thinking combining menopause with adolesence in the same household?

Linda said...

Oh My Goodness - too funny and yet so sad too huh?? LOL I call it mentalpause - for the obvious reasons. I am blessed with a mother who tells me through her senile haze that she NEVER had a hot flash or mood swing. Yeah right --- Anyway - I can relate and I am just at the beginnng!

You asked about the black paint. I use a satin finish. It gives the look of a patina without being too glossy.

Sharon said...

Well, I've been right there with you, for a while now. I've had really bad hot flashes - so much so that they were embarassing to go in public with. And then the crying thing. Oh, and the mood swings. It's like being a teenager, only worse. I hope it goes away soon. So does DH! (Thank God the kids have left home! Too much info for them!)

boutcrazy said...

At 44, I'm headed to the doctor tomorrow for the talk on hormone therapy...I love your explanation of what it is..so true..now if I could just make my husband understand what it is.
Deborah

Ginger Patches said...

((((((Marlene))))) I have a friend in the midst of this right now and it's not fun. I haven't experienced menopause yet, but I did a bout with postpartum depression after a miscarriage and so I can relate to the crying part. Hang in there and google the natural remedies I know a lot of women who have had good results with them. E-mail me if you want some info :)