Friday, June 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Hot flashes wouldn’t be so bad if you could conjure one up when you wanted one. Like when you’re running outside on a cold winter morning to retrieve the newspaper off the front step. They would actually come in quite handy if you needed to de-ice your windshield.
If only we could funnel the heat into steam we could sterilize baby bottles, save thousands of dollars on dry cleaning, and maybe even steam clean the carpets a couple of times a year. I wonder if the Pope would consider allowing hot flashes to burn off the sins of Catholic women? Sort of like a pre-payment plan.
But alas, we must suffer with hot flashes seemingly at the whim of Mother Nature. Never knowing when an assault will come. I hate being helpless.
For any non-believers in the group, let me tell you that I recently conducted an experiment. I took my temperature when I was NOT having a hot flash. 98.4… normal. Then, a few minutes later, when I felt I was at the height of a hot flash, my temperature rose to 103.6!! I had proof that hot flashes were actual physical manifestations. It didn’t do me any good, but I felt better knowing that fact.
Why don’t menopausal women burn up thousands of calories a day manufacturing all of that heat? We should be able to eat just about anything we want without gaining weight. It would only be fair, don’t you think? Good thing we can’t get pregnant. We’d have that kid baked in two weeks flat.
At the very least I think menopause should be tax deductible. Fans, air conditioning units and increased utility bills should be write offs. Grandchildren should be considered dependants. I don’t know a single grandparent who doesn’t spend more than their fair share on clothes, entertainment and schooling costs for their grandkids.
When I was younger I used to think that once my kids were grown, I’d spend all of my extra money on myself. Exotic trips to Greece and Europe. Face lifts when I needed one. I thought I’d go to a Day Spa from time to time and pamper myself. This year I took my 5 year old grandson to Disneyworld and paid his Catholic School tuition. So much for my weekly massages.
Dare I mention how much money we end up tossing to our supposedly grown children? And how many of us have to help out our elderly parents?
Is the entire world ignoring menopause? What about Hollywood? There are many famous Baby Boomers. Now that Madonna is getting up there in age, why doesn’t she film a music video based on her REAL fantasies? One where 10 Boy Toys dance around fanning her furiously with large palm branches? I don’t think Martha Stewart has done a single show suggesting how hot flashes could be put to use around the kitchen. “Forgot to take the meat out of the freezer before you went to work this morning? No problem! Simply defrost your pork chops on your lap while you drive home tonight!” I’m surprised that AOL hasn’t advertised “10 Great Hair Styles That Won’t Flop When You’re Flashing!” Or, “Not In The Mood? 7 Ways To Distract Your Man!”
Sometimes I think I’m becoming obsessed with hot flashes. I find myself wondering if comatose women get them. I question what would happen to a very sick woman with a fever of 104 degrees if she were to get a hot flash. Would she spontaneously combust? Were the survivors of the Titanic all middle aged women and those who were fortunate enough to be floating next to one?
It boggles my mind when I think of the many elderly women who have decided to retire to Florida or Arizona. Perhaps years of suffering finally leave you absolutely insane. I can only pray that burnt brain cells eventually leave you without pain.
If men had to suffer through this dismal phase of life, I guarantee there would be a cure by now. At least they would actively be working on one. What happens to them? A sudden urge to drive a Harley. An affair with a twenty something. A new convertible.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
These 'hot flashes' occur 24 hours a day. At night it's impossible to sleep through my frenzied attempts to yank the blankets off as quickly as possible and turn the ceiling fan back on high. I'm forever seeking out new cold spots on the sheets to avoid soaking the bed with sweat, otherwise I'll have to get up and change the linen. Five minutes later, after the hot flash is gone, I turn off the fan and hoist the blankets back on. Pulling myself into a fetal position to avoid touching any wet or cold spots, I lay shivering, awaiting the next assault which seems to come right after I finally fall back to sleep.
During the day, my clothes stick to me, I sweat off my make-up and my hair is always damp and limp. I'm in a constant state of dressing, undressing and re-dressing. There's not a moment of the day when I feel anywhere NEAR 'comfortable.'
In between the hot flashes, there are short lulls spent in absolute DREAD, waiting for the next cycle to begin. The syndrome takes over every aspect of my life. Besides the hot flashes there's the mood swings and the altered state of consciousness to deal with as well. Somedays I can hardly keep a thought in my head. I have NO concentration and the attention span of a plastic plant. Few of my tasks are ever completed. I'm tired and frustrated. Worst of all, I have NO patience. I could KILL anyone under the age of 40 who rolls their eyes up at me when I can't think of the word I wanted to use. The only thing I have firmly committed to memory is the location of every fan in the building where I work. Worse yet, is that other women have told me that they have been suffering with these symptoms for 15 years! I'll never make it! I'm surprised we can't go out on disability with this.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
- Cardiovascular disease. At the same time your estrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. Yet you can do a great deal to reduce your risk of heart disease. These risk-reduction steps include stopping smoking, reducing high blood pressure, getting regular aerobic exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats and plentiful in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Osteoporosis. During the first few years after menopause, you may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Postmenopausal women are especially susceptible to fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. That's why it's especially important during this time to get adequate calcium — 1,500 milligrams daily — and vitamin D — 400 to 800 international units daily. It's also important to exercise regularly. Strength training and weight-bearing activities such as walking and jogging are especially beneficial in keeping your bones strong.
- Urinary incontinence. As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, you may experience a frequent, sudden, strong urge to urinate (urge incontinence) or incontinence with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence).
- Weight gain. Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition. You may need to eat less — perhaps as many as 200 to 400 fewer calories a day — and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight. Oh goody.
- Emotional and cognitive changes. You may experience irritability, fatigue, decreased memory and diminished concentration as you approach menopause. These symptoms have sometimes been attributed to hormonal fluctuations. Yet other factors are more likely to contribute to these changes, including sleep deprivation and stressful life events — such as the illness or death of a parent, grown children leaving home or returning home, and retirement. Can it get any worse?
- Changes in appearance. Many women gain a modest amount of weight — about 5 pounds on average — during the menopausal transition. The fat that once was concentrated in your hips and thighs may settle above your waist and in your abdomen. You may notice a loss of fullness in your breasts, thinning hair and wrinkles in your skin. If you previously experienced adult acne, it may become worse. Although your estrogen level drops, your body continues to produce small amounts of the male hormone testosterone. As a result, you may develop coarse hair on your chin, upper lip, chest and abdomen. Sorry I asked.
In my experience, a hot flash occurs once an hour when some evil demon switches on a furnace in the pit of my belly. He (I say "he" as I KNOW that NO "woman" would ever do this to another) turns the thermostat WAY up, and instantly the flames roar, devouring every inch of my body. They rise hotter and higher, until I feel that I am about to explode into a ball of fire. The monster keeps the heat going for about five minutes and then slowly turns down the thermostat. This is followed by one to two minutes of a soft "glow" like hot coals on the bottom of your barbecue. My body is left cold and wet like the steel frame of a building hosed down by firefighters after a blaze brought under control. But ... that's just me. Sorry... I digress ... where we? Oh yeah...
There is currently no method to predict when hot flashes will begin and how long they will last. Hot flashes occur in up to 40% of regularly menstruating women in their forties, so they may begin before the menstrual irregularities characteristic of menopause even begin. About 80% of women will be finished having hot flashes after five years. Sometimes (in about 10% of women), hot flashes can last as long as 10 years. GOOD GRIEF! There is no way to predict when hot flashes will cease, though they tend to decrease in frequency over time. On average, hot flashes last about five years.
Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by night sweats (episodes of drenching sweats at nighttime). This may lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness.
Research shows that cigarette smoking, caffeine (including chocolate) and alcohol increase the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. But, in my own defense, if I didn't have a cup of coffee in the morning, smoke all day, eat hundreds of Tootsie Rolls at my desk and drink heavily on occasion, I'd be a FREAKIN' LUNATIC! Albeit a less sweaty one.
In my quest for knowledge I also discovered that withdrawal from hormones is strikingly similar to heroin and crack cocaine withdrawal! Heroin Addiction says heroin addicts experience being cold and then getting hot flushes - constant temperature changes, sweating / chills, feeling sad, crying at little things (even TV soaps, adverts), insomnia, not sleeping for days on end, irritability, feelings of weakness and tiredness, although not being able to sleep and elevations in blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate, and Crack withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to: agitation, depression, extreme fatigue, anxiety, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, irritability and disturbed sleep.
And the longest drug withdrawal is only THIRTY-TWO WEEKS! Compare that to FIVE to TEN YEARS!
I just wanted you to realize what we're up against! Not to mention having a few facts to throw at anyone who thinks menopause is child's play.
Knowledge is power, so they say.
Of course "they" are probably men, or women in their thirties who would run to the nearest emergency room if they ever had a hot flash at this point in their lives.
So what does all this mean? I'm getting to that ... stay tuned.