Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I've got a feeling...

June 7, 2011 at 11:03pm
And I'm not listening to that Blackeyed Peas song.

No, I'm sitting here at my desk, quietly typing away.  Sitting nice and still because I've been having those annoying lower-back pains today.  The ones that make me stay in the stooped-over position every time I stand up.  And the leg is all numb (as usual) all the way to the ankle today (somewhat unusual)... so the point is, I'm sitting gingerly (no, not like a red-head... and I really need to hush this internal dialogue when I close the novel file and open the note file, oh well)... so, I'm sitting delicately on my cushy chair, typing away... when all of a sudden I feel a warmth.  Warmth that spreads rapidly throughout my body.  It would be almost pleasant if it weren't for the fact that the warmth soon turns into a raging heat, accompanied by instant perspiration and a sensation that, were I in possession of a fan and a chaise, I would surely swoon.

What the heck is this?  Some new instant-fever?  Another bizarre symptom of my already freakish autoimmune disorders? Payback for that sandwich and Pepsi I consumed earlier?  Oh.  Wait.  I know what this is.

And so I relax in the chair and wait for my first-ever hot flash to pass. It takes roughly 7 minutes before my body once more registers that yes, the air conditioning IS on and working.  It takes about 2 more minutes before the flush fades from my skin and the heat recedes.

Welcome to Menopause.

I knew this was coming.  Of course it was coming.  I no longer have the bits that have held it at bay for 40 years.  It is no longer on its way... it is here.  And it's tap dancing to old movie soundtracks.

I've already discussed this with my doctor.  Of course the discussion consisted of something roughly like this:
Doc: We'll be removing both of your ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix.
Me: *brief digression, because the addition of cervix was news to me*
Doc: You'll, of course, go into menopause shortly after surgery.
Me: Ok. How soon after?
Doc: As soon as the hormone levels drop.  It could take a couple of weeks or it could be faster.
Me: Oh, ok then.  Well, none of the women in my family have had any problems going through menopause, so I'd rather not go on any hormone replacement therapy if we can help it.
Doc: Sure.  So long as you're comfortable, I'm fine with that.
Me: Alright, guess that's it then.

So, that was the discussion regarding menopause.  Which, in retrospect, did not prepare me AT ALL for the overwhelming shock-and-awe campaign my body just unleashed.

Excuse me, I need to drop an ice cube down my bra.

Ok, much better now.

What is one to do when something like this occurs?  Why, answers are right there at my fingertips!  It's time to Google!

Ok, refine search, because whoa is Rule 34 active tonight or what?

And I find an awesome collection of sites that list symptoms and what to expect and how you know it's really menopause.

Hmm.  Come to find out, most of these sources agree on one thing.  Early menopause caused by surgical removal of the ovaries usually has "more intense" symptoms than menopause that occurs naturally.  Well. Isn't that good to know.

What do I have to look forward to?  Other than the aforementioned Hot Flashes, there is an extensive list.  And by "extensive" I mean that there are roughly 34 acknowledged symptoms of menopause.  Let's explore.

1. Hot Flashes/Flushes or Cold Flashes
     Interesting.  I had no idea these came in "cold"... may I have one of those, please?  It's already blessedly hot outside.  Some cold would be refreshing.

2. Night Sweats
     Kind of like the hot flashes, only you get drenched in the process.  Nice.  Guess I'll be using those jersey-material sheets more often.

3. Irregular Periods / Menstrual Irregularities
     Uhm. No, don't think so.  I do believe that I get a pass on this one.  After all, I suffered with this one for 19 freaking years.

4. Loss of Libido
     Well.  It's nice to know that I have something to blame that one on, should it occur. Right now I'm in a no-fly zone anyway, waiting for the okay from the doc next week.  Honestly, any loss of libido will be because I have an irrational fear of the new plumbing not holding together properly.

5. Vaginal Dryness
     That's why K-Y is in business.

6. Mood Swings / Sudden Tears
     And my current meds for that no longer work. Looks like it's time to add meditation back into my daily routine.

7. Fatigue
     This is different, how?

8. Hair Loss or Thinning: head, pubic or whole body; increased facial hair
     Again, this is different, how?  New reason for the same old problem.

9. Menopause sleep disorders (tossing, turning, insomnia)
     More of the same.  But wait, there's more!  Insomnia levels can double over those prior to menopause.  Double.  And anyone who has roomed with me for any length of time knows about my chronic insomnia.  Wheee! No more sleep at all!

10. Difficulty Concentrating / Disorientation / Mental Confusion
     So I won't be able to tell if it's the anemia or the menopause.  Lovely.

11. Disturbing Memory Lapses
     What was I doing again?

12. Dizziness / light headedness / loss of balance
     I guess I'm going to continue perfecting my art of falling.  The stairs will be so happy.

13. Weight gain
     Dangit, do I have to take up smoking or something? Why can't just ONE of my myriad of conditions include weight loss?

14. Incontinence, especially when sneezing or laughing
     How often do I laugh?  All the freaking time!  I thought I was done with feminine hygiene products!

15. Sudden bouts of bloat
     This is starting to sound annoyingly like PMS.

16. Increase in Allergies
     Say what? Lose the period, gain the sneezing... and, wait for it... sneezing will make you pee!

17. Changes in fingernails: softer, cracking or breaking easier
     Another similarity with the anemia symptoms.  Interesting.

18. Changes in body odor
     Sweat by any other name is still sweat.  Yay for modern plumbing and anti-bacterial soap.

19. Bouts of rapid heartbeat
     This one isn't good.  Considering I'm already tachy... at ~ 101 bpm, a bout of rapid heartbeat could be lethal.

20. Depression
     Probably because of all the peeing.

21. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
     Right up there with mood swings and depression.  Really, is it necessary to separate all three of these into different categories.  What is the point?

22. Irritability
     Uhm.  Judging by the comments on the last point, I think I have a bit of irritability already.

23. Panic disorder, feelings of dread or impending doom
     Been fighting this one for years.  At least I know what to expect.

24. Breast pain
     Really? Breast pain.  Even the girls are going to be unhappy.  That is just sucky.

25. Headaches
     Often called "menopause migraines."  Awww, look, they gave it a cute little name.  That's to hide the fact that these buggers are excruciating.

26. Aching, sore joints, tender muscles
     Which go right along with my RA, so nothing new there.

27. Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
     What the? I don't even know where to start with this one.  I think I need to pee.

28. Electric shock sensation under the skin or in the head
     The description indicates this can be like a "rubber band snapping in the layer of tissue between the skin and muscle."  Who volunteered to try that one out?  *snap* "Oh yeah, that's EXACTLY the sensation I was having.  Now, could you sew me back up, please?"

29. Digestive problems, gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
     So many things make sense now.

30. Gum problems, increased bleeding
     I guess the body wants to bleed from somewhere.

31. Increased muscle tension
     Isn't that called "stress"?  I'd be tense if I were peeing all the time.

32. Itchy, crawly skin
     We always called this a case of the nerves.  Been dealing with it for years.

33. Tingling extremities
     As opposed to tingling all over?  And does this include the now-chronic deadened-tingling sensation I have all down my left thigh?  Or is that still nerve damage from the surgery?  It's all so ... overlapping.

34.  Osteoporosis (after several years)
     So, menopause makes the bones degenerate.  Nice.

If I'm understanding all of this, menopause could potentially make me a hot and cold, dry, sexless, bald, exhausted, anxious, depressed, tense, tingly, itchy, aching, puking, electro-shocked mouth bleeder with bad bones and sore breasts.

Geez, if guys think PMS is bad, wait until they get a load of menopause.

I dunno.  I still think I want to throw a "menopause party"... I'll just have to keep dropping ice cubes down my blouse to remain sociable.

Congratulations if you read all 34 points.  Now you may pee.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

"Ok, refine search, because whoa is Rule 34 active tonight or what?"

Insert five minute pause for laughter.

Damn, it sounds like menopause is really code for lumping all possible physical discomforts into one giant shitstorm. Also I agree with WTF on the snapping rubber band description. Seems like someone should be waiting with an ellipsis and "Psych!" after that one.