Let’s set the scene….
I’m casually minding my own business while thrifting at my local Goodwill, when suddenly I feel something different. Something is starting to happen inside that I haven’t felt before. It’s a slow burn from deep inside and it spreads slowing but surely. From my core, to my chest, to my arms and my legs. This slow burn makes my skin tingle. I stand there completely frozen with heat asking myself “What in the hell is this all about?” I stand there, telling myself not to move because I’m pretty sure if I do I’m going to burst into flames. And as suddenly as it appeared, the heat starts to subside. Suddenly I can feel the air on my hands, I can move my legs and just like that “poof” I’m back to a normal human temperature.
I had just had my first hot flash.
With the heat gone, I start to do a mental check of all systems. I move my hands, I check and make sure that my legs are still working and thankfully everything seems to be check out as operational. My next thought was “Did anyone see that?” I mean it had to of been crazy to watch some small gray haired lady just achieve supernova temperature in just a few seconds….right?
Slowly I start scanning the room, looking to make eye contact with someone to see if they have a look of awe of concern on their face. The first person I see…nothing. They didn’t even seem to notice me. Second person, pretty much the same reaction as the first person. So I turn around and scan those individuals behind me. Anything? Nope, no one seemed to have noticed my single most amazing body transformation to date. Not one person in that store took notice to the fact that not only did my body temperature reach a temperature reserved for blowing glass, but not one personal took note that I had just officially entered into menopause.
Needless to say I was rather disappointed. I was expecting nothing less than a round of applause, some high-fives and pats on the back. Rounds of “Good job Lonni – you made it!”. But no – I got nothing, not even a weird look or head nod. UGH the reality sat in, this new adventure as going to be a solo journey. Just like puberty, menopause is a silent stalker that only hangs out with and fucks with the you. Oh joy. So I head home determined to do my research and find out everything I can about my new silent, heat seeking partner. I was going to outsmart menopause by learning everything I could about it.
Tap, tap, tap….Google search. Hmmmmm that’s not very concrete info. Let me try again. Tap, tap, tap…Google search. Damn, that isn’t really what I was hoping to find.
What did I find you ask? Well, this is pretty much what I learned about menopause. I’m screwed and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. What is found is there is no easy way to go through menopause. There is no magical pill to take or a magical tea to drink to make the symptoms go away. I wrap my head out this fact but there has to be more than one symptom right? It can’t just be hot flashes, what other delights am I in for? I had to find out and here’s what I found.
Irregular Periods: I had a hysterectomy years ago so this hasn’t been a problem nor will it be a problem for me now. On to the next one.
Hot Flashes: Bingo! I defiantly have this one so let’s dive deeper into this one. Dear Google: How long will these suckers last? Here’s where it get’s really fun. There is no answer to this one. Everything I read said it can last for days, months or years. The answer is “There is no answer”. It’s up to my body to figure out how long these will last. Oh joy again.
Insomnia: Hmmmmm I’m usually a good sleeper but have been having some restless nights. I checked that up to stress and having too much on my mind. Maybe it was more than that. Maybe it was new superhero power telling me that sleep in overrated and feeling rested isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. I’ll have to keep an eye on this one because like I said. I’m a good sleeper and I would like to keep it that way.
Mood Swings: Well that explains why I started crying when I drove past the bake sale for girl athletes. I was so proud of those young ladies and charging through life in a direction that is usually only geared towards men. I know now why I sobbed all the way to my appointment. Makes sense why I cry at commercials and every other TikTok. I’m not a cryer and this one is very foreign to me. I’m starting to think that the hot flashes aren’t looking too bad.
Loss Of Libido: I’ve been single longer than I can remember and for me it’s just another Monday. That’s all I’m going to say that.
I will confidently say that Google diagnosed me correctly and I’m enjoying the fruits of menopause. BUT can I do anything to help with all of these finding. Can I change something in my life to change the fact that I am now a sweaty, crying, sleep deprived 57 year old? The answer to that is, kinda. When I say kinda, I found some suggestions but no cures. You cannot cure menopause you endure menopause. What I found was this:
Quit Smoking: Did that years ago, so I’m off to a good start.
Get Enough Sleep: Wait, did you just tell me I was going to have insomnia? This one is a wash.
Get More Exercise: I like this one and will start this one.
Reduce Caffeine: No. You already took away my libido you are not touching the one thing that brings me joy. You are not taking away my caffeine. Next…
Eat A Plant Based Diet: I already do that so I’m good here.
Seek Support: It said that many women struggle with menopause and the idea of getting older.
Wait a hot minute (no pun intended). Are you telling that as a society that we are so youth based that women have to join a support group because the idea of aging is that horrible? What a sad statement and one that I refuse to get behind. This brings up another question “Are there support groups for men who are getting older?” Answer, I couldn’t find one and this is sad for two reasons. One, society puts more pressure on women to fight aging than they do on men. Two, society makes men feel bad if they talk about their emotions. There’s a lot of things that can change for the better around this subject!
So I Googled and gathered all this information and I had to personally figure out how I was going to deal with my menopause. Side Note: I don’t understand the “pause” part of that word, they really need to call it menostop. What I decided to do was to embrace my changes not fight it. I will exercise more and carry tissues for my sudden outburst of tears. What I’m not going to do is fight it or deny it. Nope, I’m going to make this my new superhero power.
To understand my power we need to flash back to the next time I was out in public and I got a hot flash. I stood there on fire with every emotion I had on high alert and trying to get out all at once. As I stood there I thought to myself “I really hope someone doesn’t fuck with me at this moment because I feel like I could rip someones head off”. And that’s when it hit me. I could use that thought, this feeling, that power, that heat for good not evil. I wasn’t going to snap on some unexacting person. No, I was going to make this my super hero power and help those in need.
I kid you not – when I’m out and about and have a hot flash I scan my surroundings looking for someone who might need help. Is there a little old lady who is being picked on? It there a lost child who needs to find their parents? A kitten who needs to be rescued from a tree? I literally feel unstoppable at those moments and if someone needs my help I’m there to give it. I might be crying and sweaty but I’m there to help. During these moments I don’t feel old and I don’t feel weak. I feel powerful.
Age is a gift that we need to learn to embrace – not fight.
My thought is this. We have two ways to look at menopause and the changes that we are going through. We can be upset and fight the fact that we are aging (age is a gift by the way) and we can be miserable every day because we are not turning back time. Or we can embrace what we are going through and give ourselves some extra kindness and compassion. We can cry when we want, we can yell when we want, we sweat and we burst into flames and we can be okay with each and every one of those things.
I choose to be okay with this. I choose to embrace my changing body and choose to make this my superhero power because not everyone gets to live long enough to endure this. We are one of the lucky ones who get to experience this. So the next time you have a hot flash I hope you go looking for that kitten and use your newfound power for good, not evil.
Until next time.