I remember running with my friend, Cyndie, five or so years ago and listening to her complain about hot flashes and night sweats and the need to always dress in layers so she could strip down to a sleeveless top at any moment — even in the dead of an Erie winter.
There was a particularly humorous story about the maintenance staff at city hall making it impossible for her to open the windows in her office: “I said, LOOK, you have three women of a certain age in this office, buddy. You better make it so that we can open those windows or it’s going to get real ugly around here.” (He did.)
She’d warn us younger, running girlfriends: “Just wait….just wait… you’ll see…”
I couldn’t relate. I was in my forties and thin and always cold. I slept in fleece jammy pants, a tank top, a hoodie and thick, fuzzy socks. In winter, I usually went to bed cradling a corn-filled microwavable heating pad, and backed my butt up to my husband to capture some of the heat radiating off his body.
Fast forward a few years, and now I’m fifty and OH, my god, I get it now. Take my uterus, please.
I have no idea what happened to my corn-filled heating pad. I probably kicked it way under my bed. It’s been replaced by bamboo cooling sheets (worth every cent) and a dollar-store accordion fan:
I now sleep in a tank top and shorts, and turn the furnaces down to 66 degrees at night. I’m sorry everyone else has to freeze, but I just don’t care. Put on more clothes or blankets. I’m not playing. Hell hath no fury like a hot mom:
Cyndie warned me this was coming — the hot flashes, the night sweats, the impossible-to-loose-pounds, the need to not drink coffee after 10 a.m. — and yet nobody really prepared me for what it’s actually like.
Sort of like childbirth, right? Nobody explained that it feels like you’re trying to crap a honeydew melon and that you’re fairly certain that all of the bones in your pelvis are going to shatter. (You’re welcome, new moms-to-be — Just keeping in real!).
You know me. I say what everyone else is thinking or is afraid to say and I’m not afraid of oversharing so…here we go. Buckle up. And, for god’s sake, can we crack a window or something…
* waves face * *removes cardigan*
I wake up every hour — literally every, single hour — and I immediately kick all the covers off because I know I’m going to be on fire in about 20 seconds.
I lay there and sweat for about a minute or two. Then, I get cold because….hello, the function of sweat is to cool to body. Put the covers back on and go back to sleep for about an hour…maybe.
Those light pink lines above are when I was aflame… I mean, awake.
I did what any woman does today and Googled it. I mostly found bullshit like this, in which they tell me to learn deep breathing techniques, practice self-care, and maintain a “sleep sanctuary.” I know they mean well, but are you effin’ kidding me?
THEN I find out that the average length of menopause is 7.5 years. SEVEN POINT FIVE YEARS. And there’s not much anyone can do for you because, well, a woman’s discomfort is something that comes with the ovaries, right? It’s just another thing for us to endure silently. Doctors just sympathize and shrug.
No wonder women over fifty are “full of rage and sick of everyone’s shit.”
We are running hot.
If you need me, I’ll be sitting on my back steps chillin’ with my dog, wondering what the hell I’m going to do when I can’t open my back door and walk into a freezer.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.