My friend, Kay, asked for my thoughts on menopause. Here’s the thing. I remember when I got my first period. I milked it for all it was worth because my friends Cathy and Susan had not. I spent the day in bed surrounded by magazines ,wearing a pad the size of a loaf of bread, preaching to the girls how different I suddenly felt. I was a woman. It was all bullshit. I had cramps and it was a horrible feeling of dread; not one of victory. I totally hated it. I hated the fact that my parents knew. I felt disgusting. I had to endure, each month, like every other woman on the planet, the spotting, the leakage and the nausea that goes hand and hand with cramps. The mood swings are another barrel of laughs altogether. My mother coming into my room in the morning on the weekends and trying to haul my arse out of bed by singing “Good Morning, good morning, you slept the whole night through, good morning good morning to you”… while doing the Charleston… sent me into fits of rage, followed by complete ruin; balling my eyes out, surrounded by snot rags on the bed… devastation.
At school we had to suffer the indignation of boys constantly saying “What are you on your period?” Most of the time, I was not and simply thought they were the most irritating morons on the planet, however, occasionally they were spot on the money… or the undies, actually. I cannot even go into the anger I felt. They would never have to know the headaches and suffering that went along with “being a woman.”
I was one of those who went into early menopause. In my early 40’s the well started to dry up. My periods were becoming non existent but no less painful. I would have the symptoms of cramps and nausea but not relief. I remember thinking if only I could just get this over with. Then, one day, I experienced a royal flush, so to speak. It was enhanced by one glass of red wine. I was out having dinner with some friends and, after finishing my first glass, one of my pals said I looked like a freshly sliced tomato. I laughed and went to the ladies room where I saw an alien creature in the mirror. My face had turned into a bright red Rorschach test. WTF was happening?
That night, while sleeping, someone turned on the furnace in my stomach to a level that could have toasted marshmallow’s. My partner was confused by my kicking off all the covers in the dead of winter in Toronto. He was swearing as I quickly ninja’d my body into striking position, hovering over his face and hissing, “I’m boiling hot. Get off my back!” A few minutes later my teeth are rattling, like I’ve been locked in a meat locker, ripping the covers off of him to cocoon myself again for a few minutes and then… repeat. Good times.
This continued for years and years and still continues to this day. I, however, consider myself lucky. I remember working with someone who was going through “the change” who became forgetful and confused and was always sweating. I have had moments where, under incredible stress, my symptoms have caused me to be overheating like a car pulled off on the side of the road, but for the most part, I’ve been lucky. I was surprised when I was working on the series “Designated Survivor” when the Production Manager and Producer got together and bought me a hand held spritzer bottle that had an electric fan on it. A total life saver for me. Also an indication that my efforts to conceal my dilemma had failed catastrophically. I was also not a designated survivor on that show… another story.
So, I have to weigh the good and the bad. If I had to go back and endure having a period every month, as opposed to heating a room with my presence? I choose the latter. I’m sure there are a lot of women who would disagree with me but I feel a sense of freedom in not always having to carry tampons and I am secretly flattered when someone asks me if I have any. It’s almost like getting asked for ID when you are going into a club, but even better, because they are not required to ask you for a tampon.
For those of you, who have yet to experience the joys of mentalpause, because, at times you will feel completely mental especially after enduring the soaked PJ’s and the crying binges and the forgetfulness and the … did I mention the sugar cravings and eating binges??? OK, so there are a few details that I’ve skipped over, but it is all survivable, and you will come out the other end feeling accomplished and, like a warrior returning from battle, VICTORIOUS! At least I plan on feeling that way once I am able to sleep all through the night and guzzle back a bottle of good red wine.