“Do you think I am perimenopausal?” I asked the doctor.
“Ha! Perimenopausal? You can take the ‘peri’ off of that sweetheart, because you are menopausal, 100% no question about it! Thanks for playing wheel of symptoms with us today, the receptionist has a nice parting gift for you — A razor for all of that nasty chin hair I noticed when I checked your lymph nodes! Hahahahahaha!!!!”
It was the maniacal laugh that jarred me from my nightmare. I sat up, completely drenched in sweat and reached up to my chin, giving it a quick rub as I checked for long hair. There was one long, fine wisp of hair that I made a mental note to pluck in the morning. I rolled over in bed, opened my iPad and began Googling, “I am in menopause – now what?”
The search was both pleasant and terrifying. The cessation of the cycle was old news, as was the introduction of hot flashes to my arsenal of party tricks.
“Hey! Mom's face is getting red again – stand next to her if you want to warm up after playing outside!”
I recall being in a meeting the first time I experienced a hot flash. We all were sitting side by side at a U-shaped table and I noticed a tingling on the top of my head. The tingling then began to radiate down to my face and then it was like a furnace blast – the sweat dripped into my hairline and that space below my bra began to dampen. Had the person next to me grabbed a stick and plunked a marshmallow on the end of it, I am certain she could have toasted it from the heat emanating from my body.
The thing about hot flashes is that you have no clue when they will rear their ugly head. It could be while you are sitting watching TV or it could be while you are standing in front of a hundred people giving a presentation. I have taken to wearing layers that can be shed at a moment’s notice and scarves are no longer something that I can add to the outfit for a bit of pizzazz. Scarf wearing is a young woman’s game.
I have no clue where the moisture seems to come from for a hot flash because another symptom of menopause is watching your body dry up like when the ocean is sucked out from the shore before a tsunami. The creams and concoctions that I used to apply "lightly" are now slathered on with my skin, not satiated, and screaming for more.
One of the funny things that can happen in menopause is when you act a wee bit dingbattyish (not a word, but should be a word). The moniker of dingbat is given when you find yourself searching for a word that you said only five minutes ago. It can be a fun party game where, “Everyone! Let’s help mom figure out the word she is wanting to say!” Let’s call it Menopause Charades!
Emotions can run high through both perimenopause and menopause because your body is screaming, “Houston! We have a problem!” The lazy river of hormones is now a mere trickle and without those important mood stabilizers, a girl might cut you! To the man who called me “Karen the Manager” recently and got away alive, let this be a lesson to you. Tell the others!
Hot flash over, the sweat has now dried and I begin to feel a chill. My eyes are getting heavy with sleep so I close the iPad, yank the covers up to my chin, and do the alligator role pulling the covers from my unsuspecting husband. I feel badly that he might now begin to shiver, but then Karen the Manager decided to show up and she said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes, and lives in Dawson Creek.