Can I just say, for the record, that this was NEVER meant to happen to me.
For years I have watched other women pass through this hormonal cesspool that is middle age and somehow managed to convince myself it would never… EVER happen to me. The hot flushes… the headaches… the sleeplessness… the weird mood swings and unexplained outbursts of maudlin tears.
These were things that happened to other women. These were not going to happen to me.
My body and I had made a pact, actually. I would feed and water her on a regular basis, but try hard not to go too heavy on the bread and potatoes, thereby preventing her from spiralling down a diabetic rabbit hole from which she might never escape. We would take our vitamins and blood pressure meds. We would try to eat salad instead of fish and chips, and sometimes we were even successful.
I would get to the gym… occasionally. We would stay as fit as possible in light of our occasional chocolate binges and
bottles glasses of wine… We would always be life of the party: First on the dance floor, last off. I would keep both of us looking and feeling as young as possible for as long as possible, at great risk of annoying my children by being mistaken for one of their siblings – a scenario which flattered me greatly, but never sat quite so well with my kids… go figure!
In return, my body made me one simple promise: She said she would never, ever cross that threshold known politely as the “change of life.”
My body and I had a deal, man!
So how is it that now, barely a year shy of the mid-century mark, am I here suffering through nearly endless waves of internal combustion? Oh, go ahead and laugh and clear your throats and feel all uncomfortable with this overshare. But, in the interests of human understanding, I feel duty bound to inform you of exactly… EXACTLY… what this is like. Perhaps next time your wife or mother or grandma or grouchy middle aged female teacher or co-worker is in the throes of this evil cycle, you will understand and be less eager to pass judgment on the poor soul.
So here it is, my friends. In black and white: Your definitive guide to the menopausal hot flush (flash).
A hot flush starts at the back of the neck, right above the shoulder blades, a buzzing, unbearable warmth that slowly wraps its boiling fingers around the earlobes, oozes in a lava flow down the chest and shoulders, gaining momentum with each passing second. The heat then ricochets off the solar plexus, blazing a path of sweat on its return back up the neck to the temples, squeezing the cranium in a hot vise, threatening to blow straight through the top of one’s skull to the ceiling.
The buzzing warmth then gradually and blessedly dissipates, the pressure headache fades, and one returns to normal for approximately 2 to 20 minutes before the process repeats itself.
All day. All night. All day… and all night again.
Ok. Fair enough. It could be worse… in mid life, some women go completely crackers with the sudden drop in estrogen, nervously fluttering around, talking too much, laughing too loudly, sweating like horses and flirting with younger men, making ruddy fools of themselves and cultivating new growths of whiskers and ear hair. Sure, these things do happen to other women. Some of them ditch husbands and children and decide to experience second childhoods of their own. Others go on holiday from their families and never return…
This is when men trade in their fifty for 2 twenty-fives.
I have none of these issues, so I guess that is something, anyway.
A couple weeks ago, I was moaning to a dear girlfriend about the state of being a recent inductee into the Sweaty Hall of Insomnia. She laughed, being a few years ahead of me on this journey. “You know why men look amazing into their old age and women just look wrecked, don’t you?” she asked, leaning in and answering in a dark whisper, “It is because from the age of 50, a woman never sleeps again…”
Be kind to the middle aged women in your lives, my brothers, my sisters and friends. We don’t want to be in this state any more than you want us to be. Right now, I am going to get on my knees and thank God for a husband who is kind enough to understand.
As for my body, the big, fat, hairy liar, she and I have a definite score to settle! I think I’ll start by dragging her traitorous butt to the doctor tomorrow. And then to the gym. That’ll teach her…
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Feature photo: gregsavage.com.au