Thursday, April 17, 2008

Riding the waves...

This has become my nightly ritual on cold nights in our 60 degree bedroom:
  • Go to bed wearing flannel nightgown, cover with sheet and quilt.
  • Warm up, toss off quilt
  • Wake up boiling, rip off flannel nightgown, put on sleeveless cotton sleep shirt.
  • Wake up again freezing, pull up quilt.
  • Wake up sweating, toss off quilt, turn on fan, pull up sleep shirt.
  • Wake up naked and freezing, pull up quilt.
  • Wake up to my alarm, comfortable and cozy in a cold, cold room.
  • Hit the snooze 3-4 times because I don't want to get up in a cold room.
  • Cover myself with Partner's down comforter in order to force a hot flash.
  • Doze off all comfy cozy.
  • Wake up boiling. Fling off comforter. Turn off alarm. Get out of bed, now plenty warm from my own fakakte internal thermostat.
Fun, fun!

I wish I knew...

The problem with combining a too-long history of premenstrual total emotional chaos with having no idea if I'm even capable of being menstrual again is that I can't tell if I'm emotionally out of whack because of regular ordinary stress and lack of sleep, or if it's the old rickety emotional roller-coaster.

There is this wonderful poem that I love, the name and author of which totally escapes me right now (menopause brain), that asks the very important question, "do I feel as if my life sucks and that my partner is a jerk because I'm PMS, or does having PMS simply open me up to acknowledging that my life sucks and that my partner is a jerk?" Not that I think Partner is a jerk, but I could have used just a bit less attitude last night...

So, were last night's impatience, bad mood and tears a result of having worked a 12 hour day (night class) and feeling seriously behind on what I need to get done for work, or will do I have something to "look forward" to in a few days?

News at 11. Bleh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A summary of this journey

This is a high-level summary of my journey so far:
  • Late mid-30s: Thought I was going "ready to be long-term institutionalized" crazy since out of nowhere I'd just lose all coping skills, mental processing capabilities and patience for a few days.
  • A couple of years later: Woke up one morning, realized I'd started my period, realized my brain was suddenly clear, calm and focused after several days of pure emotional and mental hell, and finally made the connection.
  • A few days later: Mentioned this to my mom, who casually responded, "Oh, yeah, looks like you've started menopause. Every woman on my side of the family was done with menopause by the time we were 42." Gee, thanks for telling me, Mom.
  • Next several years, way past age 42: Tried vitamins. Yam cream. Exercise. Meditation. Anti-depressants. A custom program to record dates and symptoms that on certain days would pop up every time I started my computer in bright red flashing letters saying WARNING: PMS TIME!!. None of it put a dent in the intense mood swings that dominated my life and caused harm to my relationships every month.
  • Two years ago: Caused a young customer service agent to cry because I was just so outrageously nasty towards her, and finally asked my doc to put me on hormones. Started on birth control pills (*gigglesnort* yeah, me on bcp) and finally regained control over my moods. It was seriously awful to feel like such an uncontrollably evil person.
  • Next couple of years: Watched as my periods disappeared, and regained my sanity. Remembered quite well my youthful righteous indignation about how the patriarchal medical establishment tries to treat every natural event in women's lifecycles as disease and how it was total bullshit to give menopausal women hormones and that I'd never, EVER, take hormones. Gah. Oh for that clear certainty of our youth.
  • March 7th, 2008: Stopped the bcp to find out what was going on with my body. Six weeks later, no hint of moodswings or period. Is this the end?!? I feel like the person in the joke who thought that as long as he had checks, he still had money: I still have two almost-full boxes of tampons, doesn't that mean that I still have a period?!?
  • Today, April 15, 2008: Moodswings may be absent but hot flashes are kicking my ass. Exercise seems to help. Alcohol seems to kick them into high gear. I'm learning to wear cotton layers that button in front instead of fleece sweaters that pull over my head. I'm learning to take my sweater off and put it back on again every five minutes without hardly noticing what I've done. I sleep in a 60 degree bedroom wearing a thin sleeveless nightgown and with only a sheet and thin quilt over me, and still most mornings I wake up without the nightgown. I don't think the hot flashes have gotten any better than when they started, I just think I'm getting more used to them and learning ways to manage them.
I'm havin' a heat wave, a tropical heat wave...

Who am I and what am I doing here?

Almost thirty years ago, I learned that if I don't journal about things that are going on in my life and rattling around in my head, I'm going to drive myself and everyone around me crazy. Writing calms me, helps me to think through things, and gives me a place to put things so that they don't burst my brain open.

I still do a lot of very private journaling, but a few years ago I discovered that it can be good to write publicly via online journals and blogs: Even if no one reads a single word I write or gives a rat's ass about what's going on, there are times when I need at least the option to imagine that someone will read what I wrote and understand where I'm coming from, and times when I benefit from the accountability that public journaling/blogging requires. Then if someone happens to come along and say, "oh, wow, me too!" it just adds to the fun. I don't blog for page hits, advertising revenue, public acknowledgment, fame, fortune or beauty. I blog for the same reason that people put notes into bottles and toss them into the ocean: Most will sink to the bottom and become beach glass, a few might damage someone's boat or get swallowed by a whale, but it's really nice to imagine some person somewhere finding it and reading it and getting some enjoyment from it, and maybe even writing back.

My public blogs are all on special topics that only folks who are traveling the same path would ever get or enjoy: Old house renovation, local eating and green living, and now, with this blog, menopause. I also have a currently inactive blog about my partner's and my wedding plans, but that requires things like a date and an actual "yes I want to have a public ceremony" commitment from TWO people, not just one, but I digress. All of those are topics I could talk about for hours with someone who didn't tune out after ten seconds because of keen disinterest. I use these blogs to protect my friendships and other personal relationships, so that I don't have to face that look on the face of someone I care about, that look that clearly says "would you just freakin' shut up about ____ for a while?!?" ::ahem::

Anyway, I'm Leslie. I'll be 49 in just over a week and I'm having some age anxiety; while I firmly believe that age anxiety is both narcissistic and just plain foolish, I've decided that after a lifetime of being far too practical, I'm allowed a few moments of being narcissistic and just plain foolish. I'm a computer science teacher at a community college, which overall is a very good job to have. I'm partnered to the butch of my dreams, and "Abuela" to our two wonderful granddaughters. We live in and spend not quite as much time as we should fixing up an old house that we love. We share our lives with two zany rescued pugs who drive us nuts but we love them anyway.

And - leading to the purpose of this blog - I'm learning to deal with menopause, the change of life, the constant roller-coasters of my body temperature and moods, the realization that there will be no babies ever, the question about whether it's finally time to toss out what's left in that last box of tampons that I bought two years ago.

To paraphrase a popular quote, menopause is never fun, but sometimes it can be funny. I'm hoping that this blog will help me to both record this journey that I'm on, and help me to find and share what's funny along the way.