Most mornings are the same. My cell phone alarm rings, I hit snooze to get 10 more minutes of sleep, it rings again and I drag myself out of bed to get ready for the work day ahead. After making my bed I pad into the bathroom to do what I’ve got to do including showering, brushing my teeth, layering toner, serum, moisturizer and eye cream on my face and neck in hopes of prolonging the aging process, keeping the wrinkles at bay. My bathroom has a window, closed for the season, that allows a bit of the cool morning air in; the screen needs to be pushed up into its place for the winter and replaced with the storm which will reduce most of the draft. In the meantime, I wrap myself in a robe or dress in sweat pants and tee while performing my morning bathroom ritual. It’s a little chilly but I know what’s coming next.
After making coffee I end up back in my bedroom to finish getting ready. I close the door behind me, get dressed, snap the shades up to allow the air outside to circulate through the open window and have a hot flash. “Isn’t this supposed to happen to my mother?” I think before realizing I’m the age my mother was when she went through menopause. My internal thermostat heats up my chest, shoulders, neck and head. The hair at my neckline, now damp, curls in on itself; sometimes a thin trickle of moisture (sweat!) slides down the back of my neck or around my ears. My face glistens, especially around my T zone, making it hard to apply foundation or blush. I keep a Kleenex nearby to blot. I take a break, walk over to the window and, hands on knees, wait for a breeze to regulate my body temperature or the hot flash to end. I finish up, wondering when the they’ll end for good. Over the last year or so I’ve gone months without flashing then, without warning, will feel as though I’m burning up; this will go on throughout the day. At work, I’ll lean under my desk to turn the space heater off before realizing it isn’t on, it’s all me, I’m my own heat generator. If I layer my top with a cardigan or vest it’s anyone’s guess how long I’ll keep it on.
I remember seeing Menopause The Musical several years ago with a group of my friends. I’m 8-10 years younger than the women I went with; while they laughed and nodded acknowledgements to each other I couldn’t relate. I hadn’t experienced the sleepless nights and hot flashes…YET. I usually fall asleep within minutes of turning out the lights and closing my eyes, used to sleep soundly through the night. I now toss and turn some nights, alternate between pulling the comforter up to my neck and kicking it, along with the sheet, off of me.
I know this will pass, at least I hope it will. While writing this I had one, pulled my long sleeves up over my elbows and waited. I’m fine now. In between the flashes I get on with my day, grateful for what I have. I met my group this morning for our annual Halloween run where nobody noticed my hot flashes, assumed I was sweating from exertion. Maybe I was and maybe I wasn’t. Or maybe it was a bit of both.