EVERYTHING IS CHANGING
“Would you like some hot tea?” I asked a client yesterday. “No thanks, I am already too hot,” she replied and not in a way meaning her cuteness. I knew immediately she was speaking about hot flashes. The heated body blasts had just started for her she told me and her recent blood work proved that she was in fact going through the start of menopause. Not sure what the blood work says to prove or disprove, likely some hormonal measurement. I didn’t get to that because I had zero to sixty surgical menopause so hormone measurement wasn’t an option. For most of us chicks we don’t need the blood work to let us know what the deep sweats followed by intense chills multiple times happening every single night mean for our changing lives and bodies. The hot flashes have never been a negative to me, though. In my twenties, I read somewhere that some positive patty woman, Louise Hay or Christine Northrup likely, referred to them as power surges and that stuck with me.
When I had my first hot flash about three years ago, that is what it felt like and I stuck with its meme in my head. This being said, hot flashes were just the beginning of what menopause companionship has been in my life as I approach the steady incline towards fifty three. Or is it a decline? Decline sounds so dreadful, but decline is also downhill and last I checked, downhill is usually the fun part of the hill. The incline is where the work is; it is the beginning of the ride and the life leading up to my fifties. When you hear the phrase, “It’s all downhill from here,” it is with a negative undertone, but downhill is supposed to be the exciting thrill part, right? Unless you take a digger because you are going too fast, or you whip around a corner and forget to brake properly, or you twist your ankle because you missed the indentation in the road (because you can’t see anymore). But for the most part the downhill can take your breath away as the wind whips through your hair and the splash of breeze on your skin seeps into your pores and gets into the deepest part of your lungs that feels like nothing a kale juice cleanse claims to do for your health.
When I had my son, so many women said things like, “Wait till those terrible twos!” “Wait till he gets to be a teenager!” and so on with all kinds of parental warnings trying to prepare me for what was to come like it was not going to be good. I never really had that outlook as a parent, sure there were trying times, but this is life. I never bought into the notion that a certain age was going to be more or less of something and as a result I really enjoyed every age of my son and I still do. This is a great analogy for my own age. Every decade has had its bells and whistles and its melancholy foghorns. Menopause- a literal pause- an excuse to reconsider, to self analyze and self actualize- a body heat up and shake down to wake us up, to command attention lest we forget to notice in our over scheduled lives. Like the wild west in our bodies, the unknown soon to be very known as every nugget of ourselves gets magnified in the wake of its wild ride, unsaddled, unbridled, rough and tumbling. The hot flashes have become less, but what is left behind is all of the rest, the sprouting hairs, the white ones and the dark ones, the sagging skin, the inability to drop even one pound despite the usually otherwise previous easiness of the loss with just a simple diet change for a few weeks. The bloat, the figure shift that is starting to look just different no matter how many classes I take with Kathy Martin.
The other changes are my skin, the crepy-ness on the surface of my legs and my hands, the strange tweaks and aches that happen when I get out of bed in the morning no matter how much stretching, rolling, meditating or yoga. There is a regular puffiness I find in my face and the width of my upper body, but then when I catch myself noticing it I have to remind myself that I only had my final surgery four and half months ago. Swelling for a year, swelling for a year, How many times do I have to hear those words from Dr. M. or the words, or longer, from Dr. W? It is not that I feel bad, it is just I am noticing the differences and I am aware of them because they simply are. When I look at all of the youth surrounding me, I love to watch them because I know that youth passes and we all go through these stages of our lives if we are fortunate enough to make it through each one of them. I cherish them. I enjoy the lines and the changes because it means I am alive and well and I get the privilege of noticing.
This is the juice, oh yeah I forgot to mention the juice or lack there of too. Another change. Sight, hearing, sense of smell, taste, all of these sensory elements of my body composition also revving up for change and shifts and all of it is completely out of my control. Menopause gives me the excuse again to stand up or lie down and take notice. There is no free ride. Our bodies are our succinct messengers and mine is on a constant communication overload telling me every day that times they are a changing. My friends who are approaching seventy are listening to me with humor in their eyes the same way I look at my friends who are in their late thirties. The past and the future are my steady binoculars staring at the sky and the earth at the past and the future around the corner. Time seems to be accelerating as it seems I was just headed to Italy with my childhood friend, Kathy for our fortieth birthdays and now here we are thirteen years later. My grandfather would say with a chuckle, “how do you think I feel?” No shit, grandpa, I can’t even imagine because if I live to your age, it is almost like an entire second life for me. Life coming at me, this is life and all of a sudden I am seven years away from sixty. That sounds so crazy to write this, but as I think about my high school friend, Keri leaving us way to soon, I consider my good fortune and the changes are a welcome opportunity to live my life simply because I have one to live.