Warning: Cringe-worthy zone for men (especially my sons) so do not read unless your a woman. You’ve been warned, but there’s no discrimination here so go head if you dare.
On Wednesday I was at a Punch Fit class held by Hammer Fit. During this class my boxing partner had to go grab a towel to wipe the sweat and take a moment. When she came back she said, ‘Hot flush”. I just nodded in sympathy, knowing all too well when this internal incinerator can hit.
If it’s not during an exercise class, it will be while I’m sitting at my desk at work. Suddenly the aircon’ isn’t high enough and I’m reaching for my can of cucumber spray mist and taking off a layer of clothes or two. I am seriously tempted to sit at my desk naked (just for a bit). Or mostly it hits of a night.
Through winter there’s sheets, and two blankets, a warm body (my husband) and another warm body (no not a ménage à trois) the dog. I start nicely snuggled, then an hour in to a deep sleep I wake and feel the flush rising through my body like a bushfire fanned by wind heading up a ridge. I kick a leg out of the blankets and it hangs over the edge. Apparently that can help regulate temperature but that’s not enough to cool my body, so I toss the covers off and lay there, arms outstretched, until the heat slowly leaves. Then the cold hits me like an esky of ice has been tipped over me. Blindly I grab for the blankets and try to snuggle again. If the 20kg dog is resting on the thrown blankets I don’t have the energy to pull them off her and suffer all night between boiling and freezing. Suffice to say – torture.
I remember being about fifteen or sixteen and my friend Caryn and I were discussing her mum’s struggle with menopause and how she was getting depressed by it. At the time I had no idea what it was just that it was something that would happen to us one day. That day is more than here and I now understand the frustration, though I don’t think mine is as chronic as some.
Back to the hot flashes (they are technically that not the more commonly said flushes) that reduce our sleep during menopause. Which in turn makes our minds sloppy during waking hours. Here’s some of my menopause-brain moments:
- I walk into a room to get something, get in the room and totally forget what I went in there for.
- I’m constantly searching for stuff I’ve lost or misplaced.
- I sleep through my alarm and don’t care. Sleep, sleep blissful sleep (I wish).
- I leave the hot plate on (more than once) and get reminded to turn it off by my scoffing son. That night I wake from a hot flash after a nightmare of my house on fire.
- I forget to take the handbrake off when driving and wonder what the screeching whistle is until my son points it out (my neighbours are across the road laughing).
- I can’t count sequences in boxing class, that are really, really simple. My co-ordination is shot.
- I find myself scoping buildings for open windows, air conditioners, fans or breezeways – somewhere to run to get cool.
- I watch someone talking and should be listening but my mind’s either blank or thinking of something totally unrelated (as in the time I’d offered a friend a lift and didn’t know anything about it, sorry Bec).
- I forget the name of someone I know really well – and I definitely do know their name (what the hell is it?).
- I call the dog by my son’s name (confession I’ve done that before menopause, so maybe that doesn’t count).
- I go to the fridge for a healthy snack like a carrot and walk away eating chocolate, cheese or peanut butter (what came over me?).
- I try any remedy to alleviate the flashes and other menopause problems like puffy eyes. (I refuse to take hormone replacements). The best so far (for my ugly puffy eyes) from 360 Degree Wellness is to boil water and soak fennel seeds for 10-15 minutes. Once cool soak cotton balls and place on eyes 2-3 times a day (tea bags can work too). Fennel seeds in a cup of tea also seem to ease my flashes.
I look in the mirror and see a fifty-two-year-old woman. Ignoring the wrinkles, sunspot skin and sags I look closer to see that there’s still a twenty-two-year-old brain in between those ears because I still feel young and know these menopause symptoms will soon be a thing of the past (fingers crossed here!).
And if the hot flashes weren’t enough I’m still getting the night itches too. It’s like a million ants are crawling under my skin. They make my thighs itchy, then they move to my arms, my shoulder, my neck and then my face. It’s my face that’s gets the itchiest, particularly my nose. Who needs dermabrasion when you can do that yourself of a night. Our skin thins as we age, so I think I may run out soon and have no face if I keep scratching every night. Repeat after me hot, scratch, cold, hot, scratch cold. Hot, scratch, cold, I sometimes feel old. Then I cheer myself up with the phrase: I’m a totally hot over 50 (tongue firmly in cheek).