Monday, April 25, 2016

Perimenopause will be the death of me.

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Perimenopause will be the death of me

Enough, already. Perimenopause sucks.

Some of you read my other post on ‘the change’ and how people have neglected to seriously discuss said changes. If not, here you go:

Anyway, I’ve had enough of this ride. Stop the train. I want off. 

I have been tracking my cycle since the last quarter of 2013. If you’re over 35, you should start tracking your cycle, too. If you visit a doctor to inquire about these types of issues, you’ll need to be able to tell them the average length of your menstrual cycle. You’ll also be able to see when changes started in your cycle. 

Back to my complaints: My longest cycle so far this year was 25 days. I know that sounds short to some, but for me that is a longer cycle. You would think those few longer cycles would be lovely, but it’s really not. It means you spend that many more days waiting for THE day, and the worry of it just gives you a lot more headaches. So, in 2016 I have had a 25-day cycle, a 23-day cycle, a 22-day cycle, an 18-day cycle, and a 16-day cycle. Now I have been blessed with a 13-day cycle. 

For those who don’t know how to count your cycle, start with the first day of your last period and count to the day before your period starts again. That is the length of your cycle. The first day of your period starts a new cycle.

A 13-day cycle - doesn’t that sound like so much fun? Yes. It’s still April and I have already had 6 cycles so far this year. For those of you who think this isn’t normal, and those who think menopause means you’ll for sure start having less periods until they just stop coming, let me tell you something: You’re probably in for a surprise. No, nobody told me this, but I’m going to tell you. What I am dealing with is more common. If you’re one of the lucky ones who had fewer or longer cycles, don’t feel the need to brag about it to me. I’m bitter, and I just might feel inclined to punch you in the throat. 

Why am I bitter? Nobody told me this could happen. People talked about hot flashes and mood swings and hair growth in unwanted places. A few talked about how good it was to stop having periods. I feel like I heard a lot of fairy tales, because this certainly isn’t what I was told would happen. I am going to attribute this to the high rate of hysterectomies performed in the last couple of generations. I am going to say they didn’t know about this part of the process, because if they did, not sharing this information to warn the rest of us is like a cruel joke. Surely they didn’t know. Surely these women couldn’t be that cruel, right?

Now I have had all the other symptoms of perimenopause. I went through some terrible night sweats and I have hot flashes from time to time. Everyone who lives in my house will tell you I’ve had mood swings. Just ask ‘em. Tweezers have been a necessity for some time now. Forgetfulness...oh, I’ve got that. I’ve had all the things you’ve heard women complain about and then some. What I haven’t heard anyone talk about was barely having one week without a period before another starts. When I say a 13-day cycle, that means I had my 5-7 day period (6 days for this one), then after I stopped I had 7 days before another started. 

I (wrongfully) assumed this was something that happened to women in their late 40s or early 50s. I started having signs in my mid-30s. I am 41 years old. I’ll be 42 in August. I didn’t expect this to be happening so soon. I’ve heard of women mourning for the passing of their childbearing years, even when they knew they had no interest in having more children. I had something similar when I had to have a tubal ligation. I assumed I would go through it all over again once menopause started rearing its ugly head. Who has time to think about that when they are rushing back and forth to the restroom fearing their cycle will show up - AGAIN - unexpectedly? Certainly not I. I’m ready for it to be done. End this. Take it away. I’m so over it. 

There will be some who suggest hormones. No. Just no. My maternal grandmother had breast cancer, and I won’t risk any kind of HRT. I don’t care that some say only certain hormones increase the risk. They thought that Gardasil vaccine was wonderful, too, didn’t they? Some will suggest birth control pills to regulate the cycle. No. No again. I am a former smoker and the risk of stroke is increased with smokers. I don’t feel that risk just plummeted to nothing the day I stopped smoking. I don’t, and I won’t take that chance. Of course there will be some who will suggest a hysterectomy. No. No, no, no. Much like the cesarean section (C-section) is used today when it’s not medically necessary, the hysterectomy is, and has been, an overused, elective procedure. I had an emergency c-section that was medically necessary. It’s major surgery and it shouldn’t be used unless it is necessary. It IS major surgery and wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. A hysterectomy is major surgery and wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. It is not medically necessary in my case and having a hysterectomy just to get rid of unwanted periods that are not causing a medical issue is entirely elective. This is a natural process. I am sure there are people who will disagree with my stance, and that’s fine. Everyone must make their own decision about what course they are comfortable with. I won’t try to convince you that your choices are wrong, and don’t bother trying to convince me that my choices are wrong because you’re not going to change my mind. 

So, here I am, sitting over here with the vocabulary of a caveman because I can’t remember simple words at times, plucking the newest chin hairs so I’m not mistaken for the bearded lady at the circus, running the air conditioning at a temperature that most consider cold (60 degrees), gobbling down chocolate and cookies while I wonder why I’m gaining weight, and yelling at the dog for breathing too heavy and breaking my concentration while I’m trying to remember what the thingamabob that you use to open the frigging door is called - all while I try to remember that I’ll need to pick up more feminine products in the next day or two. And my family wonders why I laugh at them when they tell me to remind them of something later. Thank goodness the dogs bark at me to remind me to feed them during the day.

I hope your journey during this lovely time they call perimenopause is smoother than mine, but please don’t feel the need to brag about it, okay?

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Buying Happiness

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Etienne Aigner handbag

My husband loves to shop. I loathe it. He decided to waste nearly an entire day of our recent vacation shopping. I was not happy about it. I’m not going to change my mind and say I enjoyed shopping, but something good came of it.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around my beloved grandmother, Mammie. I remember how much time she spent on her appearance when she left the house. Her wardrobe was filled with matching ensembles, and she had different pairs of shoes for different outfits. She had certain pieces of jewelry that she wore every time she left the house, like her gold coin necklace. In winter, she had a Canadian maple leaf pin that she wore on her colorful sweater. She would color her white eyebrows with a brownish-red pencil, put on her lipstick and rouge, and brush through her curly red hair. She spent a great deal of time keeping her locks red as they turned white over the years.

And then, before she walked out the door, she would pick up her purse. Mammie had an extensive collection of purses, but not just any old purses. She only bought one kind of purse, and she had all sizes and shapes in a beautiful burgundy color. Her cedar closet was filled with these purses. As a teen, I snarled my nose at her every time she offered me one of them, but oh how I wish I had but one of her beloved purses now that she is gone.

When we walked into one of the thrift shops my husband is so fond of, I decided to look through the purses and bags to find something small I could take along rather than lugging around the mom suitcase my purse had become. It was filled with tons of “hold these,” “keep this for me,” and “hang onto this” junk that always ends up being handed to you. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. After a while, a purse can get as heavy as a concrete block. I was ready for something small for the necessities. I wanted something small enough for just MY necessities.

As I looked through the bags hanging on the small rack, I saw the symbol. No way, I thought. There was no way. I picked it up for a closer look, and it was indeed a small Etienne Aigner bag. I ran my finger over the little horseshoe-shaped ‘A,’ and I looked inside to check the lining. It was the real deal. I knew the design on the lining so well after years of digging in my grandmother’s purses for butterscotch candies and cinammon Certs. I couldn’t believe I had found one on a rack in a thrift store. And there I was complaining about being forced to go shopping.

I am not going to lie and say I stopped complaining. I didn’t. What I will say is it made me smile. It brought back memories from so many years ago and caused me to let out a long sigh. I am not talking about an exasperated sigh; I mean a ‘those were the days’ sigh. It’s that special sigh that escapes when you relive a fond memory and your whole soul smiles a little.

Needless to say, I bought it. Every time I look at it, I smile thinking of the times I spent watching my grandmother get ready to go somewhere. So, if you think money can’t buy happiness, wait until you find something that touches your heart that has a price tag on it. I bought a little bit of happiness that day. Oh, and proceeds from the thrift shop supported local dog rescues, so happiness all the way around.

If you haven't already, stop by Gran's Facebook page to keep up with me and Tater Tot.

Best Wishes,