A friend of mine in her mid-40s asked me the other day what menopause was like. I was going to tell her that not every woman experiences it the same way, but mid-way through my thought, I had a hot flash and ended up saying something like, “Blpmflkpggglmdrkgy.” I am very articulate these days.
I’ve been officially post-menopausal three times. (My body kept hiding eggs at the back of the fridge behind the moldy cottage cheese.) But I’ve been experiencing hot flashes and night sweats for 11 years (started in my mid-40s). I was bound and determined not to rely on hormone replacement, especially not premarin because of the cruelty involved. After three weeks of not sleeping, however, I caved in and agreed to wear the Vivelle patch (which I wore over my left eye for a week and made three people walk the plank. That did help with the mood swings.)
I’ve been on the patch for 8 years. It works like a dream for me. I think, act, feel, and sleep like my pre-menopausal self. So of course two weeks ago, I decided it was time for me to try life without it. Surely, I’d be back to normal on my own, right? Ha, said the goddess.
I co-host a 2-hour radio program, The Giggle Spot, on Saturday mornings. Last Saturday, patch-free, I had 7 hot flashes severe enough to require immediate and almost total removal of clothing from the upper part of my body. I also came very close to shaving my head with a dull pair of scissors I found lying near the microphone. Because I have in the past accidentally flashed my bra to an unsuspecting guest, I no longer have any pride whatsoever.
The problem is that removing clothing doesn’t really help, although your brain screams out for you to do so. To paraphrase horror movies, “The evil villain is inside the house.” Unless you can actually rip off your own skin, you basically have to ride the flashes out, hoping they’ll subside quickly and without you sweating like an NBA player getting a phone call from his cheated-on wife while in a sauna. And of course, after the flash is over, you’re freezing because now you’re naked.
Nights are even more fun! I’ve never been much of a night owl, but without estrogen supplementation of some kind, the minute I lie down, the party starts. Instead of flashing every 20 minutes or so as I do during the day, it’s more like every 10 minutes. And because the room is dark and my eyes closed, before my body starts boiling, there’s a wonderful fireworks display in my head. Is it any wonder I’m not a big fan of the 4th of July? My dogs won’t sleep anywhere near me for fear of catching on fire and then drowning.
Yesterday morning, I gave up and slapped another patch on. Clearly, it’s not time for me to brave the world hormone-free. Soon, I’ll be back in the world of clothed and well-rested women. Believe me, everyone will be a lot safer.