Posted in Family life, Happiness, Health and fitness, Women's issues

I’m a totally hot over 50 – thanks to hot flashes

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.

hot flashes, menopause
Hot flashes feel like a bushfire raging through your body.

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).




Posted in Happiness, Health and fitness, Women's issues, Writers, Writing tips

Gifting myself time to write

Today is my birthday.

To celebrate I’ve made time to post on my blog. I love writing. On this special day, this is my treat. Write on!

I started the day with another favourite thing – boot camp (thanks for the Happy Birthday sing-a-long girls for myself and Kym, as we share the same date). Then I made Mahli’s day by going for a quick run with her before breaky and opening my laptop.

I have a wonderful boss who gave me today off to go out to lunch with my Mum and sister. I appreciate that, particularly since most birthdays I do work. A relaxing lunch later and a spot of writing right now – bliss.

Another year, another bit older but I’m feeling okay about that. It’s funny how the angst of our teens, twenties and thirties begins to disappear sometime between a fortieth and fiftieth birthday. I remember being not as in control. I worried about my body shape, what I ate, what I wore, how I exercised, whether people liked me, if I would succeed at anything and other stuff that I sweated.

I’ve been talking to other girlfriends and we all seem more content after our fiftieth. Even if our world isn’t perfect the imperfections just don’t seem to bother us as much. Perhaps we grow from them. My examples are:

I used to analyse unkind things people say in a negative way and want revenge

Now I don’t take it personally, because everyone has their own story and their own reasons for acting the way they do.  If someone is mean I just wonder what sad thing happened to make them be like that.

I thought it was important to have a big circle of friends.

Now I’m happy to have a smaller circle of compassionate, caring, encouraging, thoughtful, kind-hearted, funny, articulate, clever, awesome, like-minded friends, both old and new. I’ve re-established old relationships from my childhood and I didn’t think I needed to go back in time but I’m glad I did. I never thought I’d say it, but I love reminiscing. Maybe I am getting old.

I used to be to self-contained and I didn’t listen enough

Now I pay attention and care about sharing ideas, plans, thoughts and supporting others who need it. It’s much more fulfilling than being selfish.

I used treat myself unkindly by overeating and berating myself

Now I enjoy being both fit and health by using moderation as a motto. The less I diet (I don’t now) and stress about my body shape, the more comfortable I become in my own skin. I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves. We’re all built and wired differently. Embrace our differences. It would be absolutely boring if we were all the same.

I used to think I was better at having male friends

The older I get, the more I’m enjoying my female friendships and the great support they can be. I love women who encourage each other instead of competing with each other. There’s no greater shoulder to cry on or laugh with.

I used to think women with muscles didn’t look feminine

My perception has definitely changed. Real muscles from exercising and lifting weights (not synthetic) are beautiful. Strong women have empowerment. Experience our CrossFit Regionals one year and you’ll see women with muscle who are fabulously feminine.  Just like my Hammer Fit class at Wise Force Gym where we range from 20 year olds to 60 year olds and have all sorts of body shapes and sizes. With kicking, boxing and boot camp training we are all feeling firmer and fitter and having fun. We’ve dubbed it the 3 Fs.

I used to think superannuation wasn’t important

Now it needs to grow to sustain a long life. Now I actively keep track of it and you should too.

I used to think time went so slow and that I was invincible

Now time moves quickly and my mortality and those I love is inevitable eventually. I’ve lost some beautiful souls over the years. You never forget them or that we’ll all one day join them. (Enough of that, it’s my birthday).

I used to panic about some things I thought I couldn’t do

I proved myself wrong by driving from Newcastle to Sydney Airport alone in a manual car (I hadn’t driven one for years) with only Siri for company. I negotiated the crawling traffic of the tunnels and persistent phone calls from my son who was waiting at the airport. Go me!

I used to wonder what the fuss about menopause was

I say this whilst having a hot flush. I’m hoping it’s over soon, but I know I’m not getting it as bad as other women and have to be grateful for that.

I used to be called ‘Smiley’

I didn’t understand then what a great compliment that name was, especially when that smile sometimes hid stuff I was going through. You know what? Now I love that I can smile a lot. Plenty of people can’t (due to hardship, depression, grief and bad health) so I’ve got to count myself as very lucky indeed. If you’re not smiling today let me share my smile with you. (I used to not like my smile due to protruding teeth and I hated the night brace I used to have to wear. So thanks Mum for insisting I persevere with that).

Share your smile today. Here's mine.
Share your smile today. Here’s mine.

I used to think I would one day be a writer

Now I know – I always was and always am.

Happy Birthday to me.