Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Reruns: Hormones from Hell

(original post-date: March 17, 2010)

The first symptom of menopause came early to me.

I was not quite 39 when I started having hot flashes. And while they were tremendously uncomfortable, I gradually learned how to deal with them. It’s about dressing in layers. It’s about getting ahead of the surge.

By my mid-40’s, I was nonplussed by my body’s unique sense of seasons, and I had no qualms about making public adjustments. Onlookers be damned, I’m going to take this jacket off and put it back on as many times as I please.

The next symptom presented itself as what I call “word issues.” While I rarely had challenges at the keyboard, I would find myself frequently stumped in live conversation. I’d be in the middle of a statement, and I’d feel compelled to stop.

“The next word,” I would say to my listener, “is an adjective. It has three syllables, and several R’s…”

A few more years passed and another manifestation of menopause became apparent: insomnia. Now, I must admit that for me, this symptom is a bit hard to detect. Fact of the matter is, I am relentlessly nocturnal. (I have been since I was a kid.) Particularly when I am on a creative jag, my productivity soars when everyone else is sound asleep.

For right-brain activity, I love the nine-to-five shift that begins after most people have had dinner. BUT, if I would rather sleep during the nighttime hours, I deeply resent my inability to do so.

(Moreover, as I watch late-night television, which features countless commercials for sleep aids, I apply that resentment to the ad copy. I don’t know which of the drugs boasts enabling one “to sleep in a non-habit-forming way,” but whenever I hear that line, I absolutely want to scream. I already sleep in a non-habit-forming way!)

Speaking of wanting to scream, this is where it’s become dicey. A couple of years ago, when I was dealing “only” with the hot flashes, the word losses, and the insomnia, I thought I was doing okay with menopause. I figured those symptoms were my cross to bear, and I was glad that no one else was suffering.

But then, SHE returned. The PMS bitch. The woman with absolutely no patience for anything.

I have a favorite anecdote that best describes the PMS bitch. It comes (as so many favorite anecdotes do) from my years as a waitress. Okay, so picture this: I’m working my station at my midtown Manhattan lunch place. It’s the informal, burger-in-a-basket type of restaurant, and the day in question is one of the month’s majority of days – which is to say, I am not in need of an exorcist. I pleasantly approach the party of four who are sitting in one of my booths. I deliver the four burger baskets, and one of the gentlemen looks up to catch my eye.

“Could I have a slice of raw onion?” he asks.

“Absolutely,” I reply, smiling. “I wouldn’t think of enjoying a burger without a raw onion!”

I then skip merrily to the kitchen where I retrieve the succulent garnish, and I deliver it to him quickly and cheerfully.

Okay. Same scenario on one of two days during that same month:

I pissily approach the booth where four obnoxious, irritating people are taking up space in my station. I slam their burgers down in front of them.

One of the jerks looks up at me and asks for a raw onion.

I sneer at him, make an abrupt about-face, and stomp back to the kitchen. En route, I mutter, “Fucking asshole should have asked for the onion when he ordered the burger.”

Notice the difference? (I realize it’s subtle; feel free to read those paragraphs a second time…)

Needless to say, I never liked that hormonal so-and-so who used to possess my body and spirit on a monthly basis for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. But at least I knew when to expect her, and I knew that she would leave fairly shortly. I also knew that she wasn’t me, and that I could control – to a degree – how much she interacted with others.

That bitch is still not me, but she has become the fourth manifestation of menopause. The problem now is that she has absolutely no schedule. Soy as I might*, I cannot control or anticipate her arrival. She just shows up (most recently, in Rite Aid, when I was trying to find cotton balls).

The good news, I guess, is that she doesn’t seem to stay for very long. For that matter, I sometimes go an entire two months without a visit from the hormonal hellion.

But still… I don’t like her, and I am so over this stuff!

My sister once theorized that all these menopausal issues prove that God is a man. Her reasoning? A woman would not do this to another woman.

I don’t know… it might depend on that woman’s “time of the month.”

But I shouldn’t imply that I’m at odds with my sister’s sense of feminism. In fact, I share it. In fact, I have my own theory around the same general subject area. I believe that if men had periods, tampons would not only be free, they’d be delivered. And by now, the boys in charge undoubtedly would have found a “cure” for menopause.


*Yes, I meant to say “Soy.”


Sioux said...

I totally agree about "if men had periods." And if they did, they would not have the chance to get bitchy because they'd be too busy moaning and groaning, since they could not withstand the pain and discomfort.

Sorry. I didn't see the difference between your approach to the two tables. They both seemed like appropriate interactions. Perhaps you could tell the story again? (ha)

Lanita said...

Apparently, we share the same multiple personalities. The funny thing is I just wrote about this same topic today, but I wrote about another personality...the crier.

Green Monkey said...

so glad I read this :) missed it the first time.

I took my car in for servicing last summer. The heat warmer would turn on for no reason. Turns out the fuse was blown making it impossible for the seat to get warm. "Maybe you should make an appointment with your gynecologist" said the mechanic. YES... I DID have my way with him. My inner bitch took a big bite out of him but nothing I said could wipe the smile off his face.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this post again Katie.Still cannot claim that I have reached that stage yet. 54 seems old enough to me but hey, maybe I'll sail through unaffected - unlikely, but one can hope... :-)

Pearls said...

Great read. You would think "they" would "cure" it considering they have to deal with the hellion, too....

Oh, the joys of occassionally feeling possessed...for the rest of your life.

Lazarus said...

Katie, very funny and insightful, thanks! You're helping men understand a lot of issues that we don't pay attention to.... When my sister was at the height of menopause I likened her to Godzilla. I was out of the hospital in two days though, the concussion could've been worse the doctor said!

C... said...

I've gotten weepy as hell since I turned 40.

Jules said...

LOL, the thing I like most about my PMS bitch is the fact she makes me feel like a super-hero at times. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Linda Medrano said...

I went so goofy during the start of menopause that I had to go on HRT for a couple of years. It was that or being institutionalized (either mental hospital or prison) and those seemed unacceptable choices to pills. I'm better now. Thank God, I'm better now.

Lisa said...

Hi. Followed you back here. And yes, the unpredictability of this stage is the worst. I wore a hormone laced IUD for years and when that was yanked for good, I began experiencing this general uneven-ous that can be, at times, worse than any PMS I ever had.