Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This long overdue entry is not for the faint-hearted, women, children or men. It is however for those who, like me, didn’t have a clue that menopause starts when women are in their 40s.

This essay will explore and explode the myths around women ‘of a certain age’ and the physiological changes they go through.

The myth
For many women menopause apparently starts when they are in their 40s. For me it started when I was 48 but I didn’t have a name for it until I was 49. I thought I would get unusually hot because I was drinking coffee, walking down the street, sleeping too much (and by too much, I mean three hours) or standing still too long. 

My best friend Jackie alerted me to the fact that I may be in menopause. She asked me a few insightful questions and like a ton of bricks it quickly became apparent, I was in the throes of menopause.

Following a number of discussions with women who are also ‘of a certain age’ I came to understand that I am indeed old enough to experience the joys of menopause.

Bloody bleeding
One of the things I didn’t know was that you get periods for days and days and days and days on end. It is times like this that only well placed expletives are absolutely appropriate. Who the fuck has a period that lasts for two fucking weeks? Where is the sanity in that? WHAT THE FUCK?!

Taking a deep cleansing breath, I am refocusing on the task at hand. Yes, ladies, your periods become erratic and you have no idea when it will start or how long it will last. Feels like I’m 12 years old all over again.

I remember asking a doctor how I could get rid of my periods. She said, it’s called a hysterectomy.  My immediate response was, okay thanks. Don’t need that.

Who needs sleep?
Another wonderful side effect of menopause is the lack of sleep. Who needs sleep anyway? I find myself waking at odd times of the night wondering what just happened and why am I wide awake? Since I am unable to fall asleep I spend my time wisely, reading mindless erotica and trolling Facebook to see who else is awake.

Hot flashing
One minute you are normal and the next you want to get naked. There is no in between mode. The most frightening hot flash experience I had was on a flight from Johannesburg to London. I usually dress warm and comfortably for long flights. About three hours into the flight, after the meals had been served and the lights dimmed, I settled in to read my book while listening to music. Suddenly the plane caught on fire. I jumped up from my seat – or at least attempted to but was restrained by my seat belt. I turned to see where the flames were leaping from since my back was experiencing intense heat. There were no flames. I looked at my neighbor to see if she was experiencing this unusual heat wave. Nothing. I looked around. It seemed as though everyone else was either sleeping or riveted by the movie before them.

I came to the sad conclusion that it was only me going through the agonizing, excruciating heat. I couldn’t disrobe because I only had on a sweater. I have since learned to dress in layers. Layers are my friend.

Exploding brain cells
I also experienced, which I will lay at the feet of menopause, not being able to think. I had to provide a client with a complex project plan that had lots of moving parts. I was in the process of finalizing the document when it dawned on me that I had spent three hours on one section and could not figure out how to make it all work. I was running out of time. I had a meeting to present the final plan to a larger group. I had to bring my game face. Luckily I had told my client of my issues and the fact that I COULD NOT THINK today. She very smoothly stepped in to provide assistance.

It was scary not being able to access that one important brain cell when I needed it.

I will start to wrap up this soliloquy with my salute to women who no longer have periods. For the last eight months or so, I have been speaking to women about my menopause issues. I have been greeted with open arms and welcomed into the fold. I have heard many stories about how others have handled all of the above issues. Many have gleefully told me, they no longer have periods and they are living in bliss (until it comes back unexpectedly after a year or so).

The surprise
My greatest surprise in all of this is my husband. I sat with him one day and told him I was starting to experience menopause. He took it all in stride and asked me a number of probing questions and offered his support. I thought that was the end of it, until he came home one day with a list of remedies. I asked how he got it. He said he was talking with one of the ladies at work … hold the presses. He was having conversations about this outside of our home? Who knew?! Anyway, he seems very comfortable addressing this topic. He often asks, how is the menopause?

I live in hope that this exciting stage of my life will yield many lessons and add to my increasing wisdom bank. As I said, well placed expletives help. FUCK!

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