This post is really for certain women who are about 50 years old or older. You know who you are… The cranky ones. The hot ones. The saggy ones. The non sleeping ones. The emotional ones.
The women who are on the verge of going postal at any moment.
Otherwise known as… MENOPAUSAL women.
I am writing this blog because hormones have plagued me for quite a bit of my life. First, in my teens, I began with puberty. You remember those early days when you would be laughing one minute and literally crying the next but you had no idea why. Those days when you were miserable and you could hear your parents whispering, “It must be hormonal.” What the heck were hormones? And how did I get rid of them? Then suddenly you get your monthly period and you are besieged with pimples, cramps, more moodiness and bloating. Then it’s blamed on PMS. ( aka Pass my Sweatpants, Psychotic Mood Swings, Perpetual Munching Spree, Pissy Mood Syndrome… should I go on? Nah… you get the picture!)
As you finally spend years getting used to that maddening monthly cycle, you soon have to deal with pregnancy hormones, which is really a 9 month roller coaster ride that has stops at nausea, breast tenderness, fatigue, anxiety, heartburn, non stop peeing, swelling, constipation or diarrhea, and general discomfort. This little miracle makes your organs squish, causes you to piddle a little when laughing and makes you crave mashed potatoes at 2am which you then vomit by 3am. (But truly growing a precious human inside of you is actually amazing and miraculous.)
But that only lasts 9 months, right? Oh wait… don’t forget about those postpartum symptoms including exhaustion, constipation, tinkling a bit when sneezing or coughing or laughing, weeping at Hallmark commercials, leaking breast’s which are now the size of Dolly Parton’s, sagging body parts that were once perky, and sometimes depression can really hit hard. Add a newborn baby who is dependent on us for everything, complete lack of sleep and feeding this sweet child from your aching, saggy, leaking breast’s. Most women do this cycle of pregnancy and postpartum more than once. And we celebrate it as we should but seldom talk about the challenges of all of it. Baby blues. It’s real. It’s hard. It’s wonderful.
Now at age 50, I am an empty nester. My kids are all grown and married so no more carpools, school conferences, dinners in the car or mounds of laundry and empty pantries. This should be a wonderful time to focus again on myself and my husband.
But hold that thought… now it’s time to welcome menopause.
My internal thermometer is busted. I am either freezing and sitting with a space heater on my lap or sweating from pores I didn’t know I had. Most likely I am so hot that I can’t take enough clothing off as I lay under a ceiling fan, have another fan aimed right at me with the AC set at 60 degrees in February. Meanwhile my husband is sitting on the couch with long johns, a parka and wool socks shivering as I am stuffing ice packs in my bra. If I hear his footsteps dare walk towards the home thermostat to turn up the heat, I turn into the girl from the Exorcist as I growl, “Don’t you dare touch that.” He can put more clothing or blankets on but I literally cannot take anything else off. I’ve waited my whole life to be hot, but this isn’t the hot I hoped for! Oy vey!
Once I heard someone say, “I asked for a smoking hot body but this is not what I had in mind.”
Add insomnia to the list of menopausal symptoms. Some nights I am still laying awake at 3am. I look at the clock constantly and think… if you fall asleep now, you will get 5 hours of sleep. Okay, now you will get 4 hours of sleep. And I keep counting off the hours as I lay there agonizing over my lack of sleep all the while watching my husband happily sound asleep next to me. Some nights I just want to smack him so he can share in my misery. I don’t but believe me, I have thought about it. Finally I fall asleep and then hit the snooze button 72 times in the morning because then I cannot wake up. My days now begin around noon since they don’t end till 4am.
Forgetfulness is another fun aspect of the “change.” I spend half my day going into a room only to wonder why I went there in the first place. Of course two hours later I will finally remember what I needed only to forget again five minutes later. One day I spent 20 minutes searching for my cell phone only to realize I was talking to my mother on it the entire time I searched my house. My mom actually told me once that she purchased vitamins to improve her memory. I asked her if they helped at all and she said, “No because I never remember to take them.” Yep… that’s the menopause fog.
Let’s talk about weight during menopause? I want to lose weight and can stick to a diet for awhile but then suddenly I want to eat something sweet, something salty, something sweet, something salty… until before I know it, I consumed 20,000 calories in one sitting.
I definitely no longer have the body of my youth. I seem to gain inches in width and lose inches in height. Bloating, wrinkled and flabby replaced skinny, firm and youthful. Plus the body parts that were once perky are now saggy. Gravity is no longer my friend. I would like to wear Spanx to keep things in place but geez… they are like wearing a sauna suit and then you sweat even more in areas that are not meant to sweat.
Depression, anxiety, impatience, irritability and mood swings are one of the worst parts of menopause. I can be happy one day and the next day want to stay in bed all day with a sad movie, box of tissues and no contact with others. Or I can be smiling one minute and snapping the next. I could liken it to being Cinderella and suddenly turning into Cruella D’Ville.
Poor Steve has probably witnessed that transformation more than he would like to admit. Some days just his chewing makes me want to climb out of my skin. Steve… hopefully I will return to normal eventually. Hang in there. (Although you were supposed to stop reading so maybe you won’t even see this part of my rant.)
Thankfully this season will pass and then I will no longer have to deal with these pesky hormones. Sadly though I will then have to deal with senior moments like waking up 3 times a night to pee, passing gas whenever I move, falling asleep in my recliner as I watch the 5 o’clock news, eating dinner at 4pm and saying “Back when I was a kid…” My mom always says, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.”
In closing, I will just share a quote by the funny cartoon Maxine…
“My greatest fear is that menopause doesn’t exist and this is the real me.”
Thanks Eve… 🍎🍎🍎