I remember when I was 17 years old. I thought that I was young and would never die. I thought I was witty, good in a pinch and a sound, quick thinker. I did things in a hurry but I did them well. It was a talent and I relished it. Now, it’s a different story. I’ve entered a different phase of my life, people.
I’ve heard some use derogatory terms like mental pause. Others refer to it in more graceful terms such as the change or the change of life. One of the names it probably should be called is, “Whatcho say?” Why, you ask? Because that’s what you ask just before going off and just after your nerves click. Generally though, it’s known as menopause.
Before I start, I want to publicly apologize to my mother. I remember when only a teen, it was so funny to see her suddenly sweat profusely for seemingly no reason. I giggled with delight when she ran through all of our names (there are four siblings in my family) when I knew full well she was talking to me, especially since I was sitting right next to her at the time. Yeah, I know. I admit it, in retrospect, it was a little mean spirited, and for that I apologize once again. But mom needn’t worry, life has paid me back – or in other words she who laughs last is the one still laughing at you when you get hacked or something like that.
Let me explain. A few years ago, I suddenly got hot. It was like a wave of heat from the middle of my back to the top of my head. Hmm…was this a flu symptom? I asked around to see if anyone else was hot. No, no one else was. I pulled off my sweater. You know it was rather big and bulky anyway. I continued to sweat and overheat.
Right after that someone joked that I was having a hot flash. Then it hit me, I really could be having a real, live, honest-to-goodness hot flash. I say it that way because before my surgery a few years prior, my doctor gave me a certain medicine that threw me into fake menopause. Thereafter, for three months I had induced hot flashes. So I knew full well what they felt like. They felt like what I just was feeling. I sat there contemplating what that meant or could mean.
For some reason I thought of roller coasters. When much younger, I used to let peer pressure force me onto roller coasters. Let me preface it this way: I absolutely hate roller coasters. You know how people smile, laugh and hold their hands up over their heads when riding? Well, not me. I dug in, white-knuckling it all the way. I kept telling myself, “People do this all the time. You won’t die. Just hold onto this really wobbly bar. That smoke from the wheels doesn’t mean a thing. Close your eyes and dig in!” I was completely miserable, but honestly, I could have either learnt to enjoy the ride or simply chose not to get on. Either way I still could have made a better choice.
Did this epiphany immediately lead me to some amazing life changing plan? Truth be told, no. Sure I realized that I a needed a plan, but I needed a little more time to wrap my head around the fact that menopause was in the offing. Meanwhile I began to experience crawly skin. Next, I started having mood swings and a foggy memory. Now that last symptom shook me to the core. Was I going crazy? Of course to the doctor’s office I go. Although my doctor is a great doctor in many ways, he was no help here. You are too young; you still have your ovaries! Blah, blah, blah. That still did not explain why I was hot, had crawly skin and was irritated to the ‘enth degree. You know the homeless people who come up to you swatting, scratching and poking at themselves? Yeah, that was me. I was fanning, scratching, rocking and talking to myself. Someone should have put me on a park bench and placed a cup next to me so at least I would get paid for the show. Sigh.
Finally, I drug myself to the person I was sure would know, my mother. As I explained my symptoms, I could see her fold her arms slowly, sit back deeply in the soft couch and try to hide the smug look just underneath the corners of her mouth. I tell you her eyes twinkled. They sparkled mind you because at that point, yes, at that point she knew. She knew full well what I was in for and she loved it. Pay back sucks. Let me tell you something else that I have not told a soul until now. If you don’t remember anything else from this article, I want you to remember this. At that point when I saw her expression, the smugness, and sheer delight across her face…I wanted to pinch her really, really hard. But needless to say, hormonal I am, but crazy I’m not.
In the end, through help from Mom (who ran a household, buried a husband, a brother and a son during the change), personal research and practical life changes, I have to say I’m doing pretty well. Yes, stickies are my friend now and I leave myself voicemails on the regular. And so what if I easily get distracted in mid-sentence? That just gives me a second chance to rethink what I was going to say to the repair guy who showed up four hours late. And so what if I forget where I was going mid-step? It gives me the opportunity to stop and look at that lone hawk circling the sky – right in downtown Memphis. If I was in my twenties, I would have zoomed by and missed that miracle for sure.
It starts with getting over the fear of the unknown and telling yourself, “Now unclench. Lift your hands over your head and enjoy the ride, lady.” Actually, after the first few incidences, I only have mild pre-menopausal symptoms anyway. But it was a jolt. It was probably the jolt that I needed to make me clear away clutter and pave a way for my new type of life that honors my being. Instead, now I feel like I’m in on the joke. I can and do laugh with other women about this uniquely female phenomenon. It’s like a private club, an exclusive tea party but without those ridiculous hats.