Years ago, I worked in an HR department where menopausal HR ladies would rip off their sweaters, open the office windows, and crank up the air conditioning in the middle of winter because of hot flashes.
I’d come in from a cold and snowy employee parking lot and scream, “Why is it so cold in here? Can’t you ladies get a fan?”
The menopausal HR ladies would tell me to shut up — rightly so — and then talk about their night sweats and dry vaginas as casually as someone might chat about long-term disability insurance.
Let’s say I learned a lot about the body, so, when I started having hot flashes a few years ago, I knew what was happening: karma.
I’m extraordinarily young — or so the doctors keep reminding me — but I’ve been through the menopause. My ovaries don’t make estrogen. It’s over for me. Happened in a blink of an eye. One day I was bleeding heavily and irregularly, and then I wasn’t.
Menopause is not a medical condition, it’s a phase of life that can happen to women for a lot of reasons: age, DNA, autoimmune diseases, thyroid conditions, or hysterectomies. Mine is DNA.
It’s no big deal except I have hot flashes like those baggy old HR bitches back in Chicago, and I’m on a bunch of hormones to make me feel like a young whippersnapper.
My estrogen, progesterone and testosterone cocktail is working well. I feel pretty good and donated all my tampons to a local domestic violence shelter. Thought about cutting my hair and wearing wide-legged bohemian harem pants with sandals, too. Might as well embrace this time in my life.
But then I got my period after receiving steroid injections for my hips and remembered what it was like to be a young woman in high school with raging cramps. Heavy uterine bleeding is an underreported side effect of steroid injections. My stomach puffed out, my insides churned, and I couldn’t sit down and moderate a panel at a conference because I was afraid that I’d bleed through my dress.
People kept offering me a chair. I was like, nah, that’s okay, I prefer not to sit in my own pool of blood.
I’ve been told no menopausal journey is quite the same — and I want to vomit in my mouth for typing out the words ‘menopausal journey’ — but there is one thing that’s the same: my tendency to go first, experience something crazy, and write about it.
So, if you’re married to someone who is menopausal or going through it yourself, reach out to me.
Those HR ladies in Chicago had it right, though. Talking candidly about menopause is the correct thing to do because it educates a younger generation and also makes everybody feel uncomfortable, which is also oddly satisfying.
Thank you for reading and participating in a non-traditional source of therapy for me!