Maxine calls them her inner child playing with matches. Cassy, an MSGer, calls it her own private summer. Whether you call it a power surge, private summer, or a flash, they are some of the most uncomfortable things that can happen during perimenopause and menopause. Did you know that 80% of women have hot flashes and that no one really knows the cause? Some think they have something to do with changing hormonal levels. Gimme a break, of course they have something to do with changing hormonal levels…now if you could do something about them, that would be better.
My first hot flash comes after the boys leave. I guess I’m 46. My husband and I are away during the Christmas holidays. We’re shopping in a quaint little store in Santa Barbara. The weather is perfect. We are having a good time. All of a sudden, I feel awful. My stomach is turning over. I feel weak kneed. I feel like I have morning sickness. I’m 46…this is ridiculous. What’s happening?
I make a dash for the door and head for the wuss-wagon (we still have it) and lay down on the back seat. My husband, ever so quick to see that something has happened, rushes out of the store too and says “what’s the matter?” My, that’s an intelligent statement. I’m laying down on the back seat of the wuss-wagon, shaking, my face is white, and I don’t have a clue. Later, I discover that I had a hot flash.
Boy, do I not want another one of them. Off to see the doc and find out what to do with that problem. The MSG has talked about flashes, but never like this one. They talk about sitting in their offices and all of a sudden they turn red, start dripping, feel weak, then it goes away. My flash was different. The doc says that flashes take many forms. Yep! Many forms. And now we get serious about hormone replacement therapy or homeopathic therapy. She gives me stuff to read. I search out other information. I read article after article that states HRT causes cancer, does not cause cancer, increases the risk for cancer, has not been proven to increase the risk for cancer…The homeopathic therapy sounds flaky too…putting on a hormonal cream in various places around my body. I finally decide for HRT and she gives me a patch. Sure enough the patch stops the hot flashes, but now I’m continually aroused by it. I go back to the doc. It’s fun to be aroused some of the time, but not all of the time. My husband can only do so much. She changes the dosage and the brand, and sure enough, the flashes go away AND I’m not aroused all the time.
The hot flashes now take a new form. They are mini-flashes. In the course of an hour, my body can make 100 different temperature adjustments. I’m hot, then I’m cold, then I’m just right, then I’m freezing, then I’m ok, then I’m boiling. This has to go away. I’m just sitting on the sofa looking at TV and my body is trying to find something…the magic temperature of comfort? My father in law used to say that “ladies are nice but their thermometers are broken” and now I know what he was talking about. My thermometer is definitely not working like it used too.
The flashes and mini-flashes are part of my body now. There’s no going back. My friend Cassy walks around with a small battery powered fan and uses it to stay cool. My sister has a water pump that she sprays on her when she gets too warm. In the old days, I guess women used fans, but where to get one. I finally bought one on a trip in Romania…a good invention and they don’t need batteries, take up less room and don’t look quite as obvious as a water pump does.
The list has increased again: jackets, dark colors, large purses, baby wipes, extra maxi pads and tampons, super-duty face cream, and now a fan. I know the list will get bigger before it gets smaller!