Friday, October 31, 2014

me and my period

Now that the days of me and my period are somewhat numbered, I wanted to take a moment and publicly state that I'll miss it when it's gone. It's been 36 years since that first one. The one when I didn't realize I'd gotten it but my mother knew by my stilted description of back pain and brown stains. She, who against my pleas, told my dad, who brought it up as a casual conversation starter at dinner, which still ranks as one of my most embarrassing moments ever. 

Oops. I digress.

In spite of the leaks, the doubling over cramps, the at times intense mood swings, the chocolate cravings when more than once I gnawed on baker's chocolate to quell the desire, the 30 plus years avoiding swimming because I thought I wasn't supposed to, my period and I have shared one of the most long-standing, reliable relationships of my life. 
It showed up in the city, in the suburbs, at college, on vacation. Whether I was single, dating, married, there it was. My hair permed, my fashion choices questionable, whether I was fighting a cold, healing from a broken bone, practicing yoga, or writing a book it rarely failed me. 

It went missing once when anorexia got the better of me and the two times I was pregnant, then nursing. That first time, when my period stopped for no obvious reason (obvious to me anyway) I realized how much comfort I took even in the discomfort. How familiar, how soothing the routine was. How reassuring that regular occurrence was, letting me know hey! your body is working the way it's supposed to. 

Perhaps I'm glorifying it a bit now that the end is in sight. Back in the day I was mortified every time I had to buy supplies. Petrified I'd get it unexpectedly and someone would find out. I hid it beneath embarrassment and discomfort. But as I got older (and wrote a book about menstruation), the shame fell away and I was left with deep appreciation that all was as it should be. 

When my period finally stops there will be a void. Maybe the change will be for the better but from here it sort of feels like I'll be letting go of a comforting old friend. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

it's all menopause's fault

Now that I'm going through menopause I'm finding it's a very convenient scapegoat. 

My period shows up every 23 days?

Damn that faultering estrogen. 

I wake up 4 or 5 times during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep every single time?

Shifting hormones. 

My middle is thicker than it's ever been?

Change of life stuff. 

Super frizzy hair? Droopier boobs? Mysterious pains in my shoulders? Chronic fatigue? Arid sinuses? Scaly dry patches at the edges of my eyebrows?

Crepe-y skin covering my inner elbows? Angry purple streaks lining the backs of my thighs? Age spots that I remember from Porcelana commercials?

Random thoughts of death and destruction? Tearing up at that Budweiser commercial when the owner doesn't come home at night while his dog patiently waits for him and you think something terrible happened but it was just that he was being responsible and not drinking and driving? 

This nagging feeling I'll never accomplish anything significant again? 

Forgetting where my keys are? Whether or not I've washed shampoo out of my hair? Did I turn the oven off? Walk the dogs? Make the kids dinner?

That stain on my rain coat I can't get out? The F train that never comes? The fact that I still can't do a handstand? 

And the pièce de résistance . . . PEE LEAKS?

I don't want to keep pointing fingers but menopause*. But I'm on to you. 

*yes I'm aware menopause can't be responsible for all these things but being that no one can say for sure what menopause does actually do except switch up your hormones and pull the menstruation plug I'm standing by my accusations. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

40 days of menopause

I've been pondering the topic of menopause for quite some time - ever since I finished my last book, which was about menstruation. Natural next step one would think.  To be honest I've never gotten past the barely thinking about it phase. For five years.

And in those five years I've been traveling the perimenopausal path trying remarkably hard to give as little thought to it as possible.

But, whether or not I think about it, read about it, write about it, grapple with it, look forward to it, fear it, it's inevitable. And so, I thought I'd dip my toe in the water and see how researching it feels. Which, at the end of the day, means acknowledging that it's happening. 

To me. 

Right now. 

Not that that's a bad thing. 

I'm not even sure what it is yet. 

But perhaps it's time to stop not thinking.