I've never been a bake-in-the-sun kind of girl. But I have been a turtlenecks-and-sweaters-in-the-winter and wear-socks-to-keep-me-warm girl. Until the last six or nine months, that is.
My husband used to marvel at the preferred temperature of my shower -- stinging hot. And I could climb into a garden tub full of hot water and soak for long enough to watch at least one episode of Grey's Anatomy. I drank hot chocolate year-round.
Over the past several months, I've become a connoisseur of showers that border on downright cold. A garden tub full of hot water is wasted on me because after about 3 minutes, I'm sweating so much that "relaxing" is the last word I would use to describe the experience. I keep a fan running in my air-conditioned office and the last time I had hot chocolate, I put ice cubes in it.
Either those tree-hugging, global-warming-criers are right or I've entered that magical time known as "perimenopause." That's when your body begins flirting with the idea of menopause, but thinks that it might be fun to mess with you and internal systems for 8 or 10 years before finally caving to the non-fertile, non-flashy phase of life.
I'm not a stranger to hormonally-induced hot flashes. When I was pregnant with Annie, I worked for a Fortune 500 company. I would get such crazy hot flashes that when they descended on me, if I didn't get some cool relief like NOW, I would be physically sick. As in tossing my pickles and ice cream. So, when I felt one coming on, I would run to the bathroom, praying that the handicapped stall was free. Once safely inside some stall, I would start stripping clothes off until eventually I was standing in my bra and underwear, mopping my forehead with scratchy, business-grade toilet paper and praying that there were not secret security cameras capturing what took place in the ladies room.
I'm fortunate to not have hit that extreme of hot flashes, yet. But I do turn the A/C up full blast when I get in the car, no matter whose car it is. I put ice on the back of my neck and don't even flinch at the sting of the cold. I'm all for family togetherness, but don't even think about sitting right up next to me at church. Leave some room for the Holy Spirit (and for a breeze), please.
We went to visit my father-in-law for the first time since my mother-in-law passed away. I used to complain that their house was so cold -- the thermostat set to "frosty" just as she liked it. During our most recent visit, I found myself flapping around magazines to cool off and wondering if anyone would notice if I turned down the air conditioner about 10 degrees or so. I was able to negotiate about a 4-degree drop in temp. Not exactly what I wanted, but it was a good start.
Tonight, I was sorting laundry upstairs and cursing our new air conditioner because I was not feeling cool air. "I feels like the air isn't even on," I complained.
"It's not," said Mike. "I turned it off around 3pm." Seriously? Taking air conditioning away from a woman in perimenopause is like taking the remote control away from a man during the Super Bowl. The consequences can be life-threatening.
I wonder how my body will react to winter this year. Maybe I'll be one of those fools running around without a coat on. Maybe I'll stand outside on the front porch during an ice storm to enjoy the "light precipitation" and the cold air that comes with it. I'm guessing there will be no fuzzy slippers and flannel pj's. Instead, I'm thinking cotton shorts and a t-shirt.
So, just how long does this hot flash phase last? I mean, should I get rid of my collection of cotton turtlenecks completely? Or just pack them away for a few months? Will it get worse before it gets better?