THE MAGNIFYING MIRROR
Five diopter magnifying mirrors should be banned from purchase once a woman goes through menopause, especially surgical menopause. Like the speed of light, white eyebrow hairs start appearing, hair starts sprouting from areas on the face that should only be sprouting on a man. This all happens at the same time eyesight starts to disappear so that close up vision of anything is a near Olympic feat. Is it my imagination or is the font size on everything getting smaller? I had to buy a new phone the other day and I dreaded having to read the wifi password on my modem since the print is made for, well I don’t know who it’s made for, but surely “they” didn’t have menopausal women in mind when they were emblazoning the font on the sticker.
Brown spots appear overnight from all of that sun my grandmother told me to stay out of when I was happily baking on my foil blanket loaded up with Johnson’s baby oil, listening to my am radio trying to get burned so it would magically turn into a tan before my five day Florida visit to my grandparents ended.
“Alayne, you are going to get burned, come inside,” my grandmother would mildly yell from her condo situated on the white sands of Siesta Key. She may as well have been a character in Charlie Brown because my 12-year-old head would translate that into blah blah blah. Oh Grandma, you were right. The brown spots, the lines around my upper lip staying in their lined position even after I change my expression are just a few of the post 50 changes occurring on my once smooth lightly freckled complexion.
How about the bloat factor? I long for the good old days where I could eat pizza, drink wine and have no evidence on my midsection to show my indulgences. The evidence of post menopause is apparent like there is air pump that goes off as soon as the first glass of biodynamic pinot goes in. And it doesn’t leave like the old days where I could simply eat a salad the next day and drop the 3 pounds that a night of drinking and carbohydrates added to the scale.
The scale, yes, besides the fact that I have to put on glasses to see the number, I don’t even get on the scale not because I am worried about the number, actually I have made peace with the scale number and I have found the less I pay attention to it, the less it fluctuates. I have a classic vintage scale from my other diet obsessed grandmother. It actually says the word ‘Thinner’ etched into its metal plate under the numbers. I keep it along with her mirror as a reminder to not go down the rabbit hole of fretting and worrying about my looks and my weight like she did for her entire life.
I looked at my calendar this morning to see what the week plan is and I chuckled as I saw 4 doctor appointments. 6 month mammogram, thyroid ultrasound, blood work, teeth cleaning, almost all maintenance appointments from that dreaded diagnosis a week after 50. I remember the good old days when I had a annual pap smear, an eye exam and two teeth cleanings. Now it’s the breast surgeon, the genetic counselor, the endocrinologist, the internist, I am actually laughing aloud as I write this because with menopause comes this lovely self deprecating humor that I wouldn’t trade with the 20 somethings for anything despite a cancer diagnosis.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaining themed essay. I’d like to call it an observation themed one because everyone told me that once 50 enters your world, these things start to happen at a rate of speed that one can only experience when one experiences the reality. There are so many highs of going through menopause. I have managed to successfully (knock on wood) stay out of the clutches of the pharmaceutical industry. Sorry big pharma, you are not sucking me into your evil empire.
With this crazy hair growth, comes oddly not a loss of locks, but a gorgeous full thick head of silvery hair which I am grateful for its bright color.
I am also struck by my level of fitness at this age, seriously the most in shape I have ever been in. I can begin and finish a beach boot camp and not blink an eye. Sometimes I imagine what kind of definition my body would have if I had started these fitness routines about 25 years earlier, but water under the bridge, I have learned that fitness at 52 for me is more about how good it makes my insides feel. There is nothing like the feeling of inner fitness. The strength and beauty it brings to my being is nothing I have ever experienced. Fitness forms alliances with like-minded people. I find myself talking about the specifics of the workout the previous day sharing my battle wounds with my partner and my workout friends like a badge of honor. It has replaced the war stories of previous nights of partying we used to share back in the college years.
Ah the aging process. It is so ironic that as the outward appearances do their shifting and moving about at the same time that the insides are strengthening and making their kickass selves known. Quality relationships, release of negative ones, confidence, truth, honesty, no bullshit, no drama, saying no with no remorse, wisdom, saying yes to the things I really want to say yes to, a still sparkling healthy (knock on wood again) sex drive, delight in small little pleasures, an intuitive sense of daily gratitude, these gorgeous elements of my insides happening at the same speed of light.
I’ll take this anyday.