Is It Hot In Here, or Is It Just Me?
Menopause? I’m pleased to report that me and my friends Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot and Shirley (a.k.a. The Women Who Run With the Moose) have pretty much cooled off at this point. We’ve ridden that roller coaster and have gotten off the ride, or at the very least, figured out a way to smooth the track.
Everyone, that is, except Shirley. She’s a slow starter as a rule, and menopause is no exception. Shirley is the skeptic of our group, always hanging back a little, checking things out before, well, resigning herself to whatever new experience we’ve cooked up. But once she’s committed, she’s in full-boat, and I admire her tenacity. Shirley’s still hanging in there with our Zumba lessons. Poor thing, she just doesn’t have a feel for it. The rest of us may be cha-cha-ing, but Shirley, God bless her, looks more like she’s Irish step dancing.
Shirley is six foot tall in her stocking feet, and she’s got this really low voice. Picture Bea Arthur from “The Golden Girls” — that’s Shirley. She’s our designated driver. Why? She drives a Bonneville. It's the only car that’s big enough to hold all six of us. Shirley's driven a Bonneville since I can remember. She special orders the color, aquamarine, because she thinks it matches her eyes. I can't see it myself, but we humor her.
Now, back to the menopause. It’s the kind of thing that’s different for everyone. It was a non-issue for Celeste, who had a hysterectomy in her thirties. Dotty, who’s easy going to begin with, kind of breezed through, no symptoms at all. Betty was on that horse pee stuff for awhile, then went cold turkey when there was all that hoopla about it. That was rugged, but she toughed it out and made it through. (Though I think her husband, Pat, is still recovering, poor fella!)
For some reason, Rita went the natural route. This came to our attention when all of a sudden, she started gaining weight. (Rita’s just this little wisp of a thing, so it took us awhile to notice.) Finally she goes, “I’m getting really discouraged. I read in “Woman’s Day” that wild yams are helpful for the menopause, so I decided to try it. But I’ve gained ten pounds so far!”
“Jeez,” I ask, “are you sure you’re doing it right?”
“Well,” she says, “I don’t know. I’ve been making a casserole of candied yams on Sunday, and eating a little everyday.”
We love Rita to death, but as Shirley says, “She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
Me? Well, I could tell things were changing because my PMS cranked up a notch. I didn’t notice it myself, but Charlie sure did. I was waking up in the night, sweating, and during the day I could feel myself getting a little fuzzy, you know, trouble remembering things. Not good. I began misplacing stuff, which isn’t like me. Then, I lost my car keys.
Well, I didn’t know I’d lost them until Charlie comes home from work and says, “Ida, why’s this bag of lettuce here?”
“There’s a bag of lettuce hanging on the key rack.”
I come into the kitchen, and he was right. So, I take the lettuce, open the fridge, and go to put it in the crisper. And there are my car keys, sitting in the drawer between a green pepper and the celery.
So, I high-tailed it to my gynecologist and asked for drugs. I just don’t believe in suffering if you don’t have to, and menopause was definitely affecting my quality of life. I’m not on the horse pee, though.
“Ida,” Dr. Lynda says, “you’ve got to do what’s right for you.” She’s got me on that bio-identical stuff, just a low dose. And I feel great!
Then I saw that Dr. Christiane Northrup on public TV talking about menopause, and she agreed with my doc: just a “light dusting” of hormones can make all the difference. “Light dusting” makes me think of confectionary sugar on a donut. That’s how I come to call my menopause treatment the “powdered donut approach.”
But poor Shirley’s been hit late and hit hard with the menopause, and she’s the kind of person who won’t even take aspirin for a headache.
As you know, we get together once a month at Shirley’s for movie night. That’s ‘cause she’s got one of those big, flat-screen TVs in her family room. But when we arrived this week, we found Shirley propped in front of her freezer, fanning herself with the door.
“To heck with the movie,” Dottie says. “This calls for heavy artillery.”
Celeste chimes in, “I’m thinking make-your-own ice cream sundaes.”
“Rita and me will go get supplies,” says Betty.
“We’ll hold down the fort ‘til you get back,” I reply.
So while we’re waiting, Celeste, Dottie, and me made fans by accordion-pleating paper, and every time Shirley heats up, we fanned her down.
Dottie goes, “Don’t think of it as a hot flash, Shirley. Think of it as a power surge.”
“Dottie,” replies Shirley, “if we could harness this energy, I do believe I could power an entire third world country.”
“Or at least Rhode Island!” I says.
Finally, the other girls arrive with the big guns, and the whole thing turns into an ice cream free-for-all, punctuated now and then by the five of us fanning Shirley down and singing her the chorus of that old Donna Summer song, “Looking for some hot stuff, baby this evenin’. I need some hot stuff, baby tonight ...”
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to Ida's podcast by clicking here)