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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is it global warming or perimenopause?

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?


Meredith said...

You poor thing...
I LOVE the way you right about it though... :)

My question is this...
So far is is just the hot flashes, or are you also dealing with the quick flash, get out of my way or your might get hurt, mood swings?

I am guessing no, unless you just didn't report on the resulting injury to your dear husband after the air conditioner confession....

In which case, I will be praying that it stays a matter of temperature only!! :)

Meredith said...

* write, not right. Silly homonyms.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

I'm fifty and still always chilly. So I can't help you there.

Have you consulted a doctor?

Amy said...

It's not that I'm hot all the time - I can still be cool in air conditioned places sometimes...but I DO agonize over profuse perspiration ("sweat" sounded gross!) more than I used to.

And a wise elder told me recently that you can count on those hot flashes for not months, but sometimes YEARS...aren't we lucky to be females?!

RG said...

Perimenopause or not, everyone agrees climate change IS here. They just don't all agree on whether humans are responsible. (they are).

Michelle said...

Here's the scoop on global warming: People are living longer, right? Women generally live longer than men, yes? Soooo....if the world is populated with more, older women going through perimenopause, NO WONDER it's hotter now. Capice?

Englewood Daycare said...

i totally agree to what michelle said. hahaha

Anonymous said...

You're scaring me. Not something I'm looking forward to as the big 4-0 looms over the horizon. Oh joy!

Wendy365 said...

You are too funny! I so enjoyd reading this post and can identify completely. I have been in perimenopause for 4 years and temperature regulation is an issue for me too. Night sweats are my main problem, which got so bad I started my own night sweat sleepwear company because nothing else worked for me. Now I sleep dryly and peacefully but it took 3 years of suffering for me to get the ball rolling.