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...

No comments: