Sunday, May 13, 2007

what's eating yer drunken old housewife, part II

The hideous truth of the matter is that the number one thing causing a normally witty and likeable (albeit lazy and eccentric) woman to turn into a suicidal and insanely touchy hag is that (deep breath) I'm hot flashing like no one's business. I feel like a cartoon, like a living illustration of all those sexist jokes about menopausal witches.

Now, this is occurring over a decade ahead of schedule, and I'm cool with that. I was happy at first, since I'm unbelievably fertile and ready to call my reproductive career over. I'm so insanely in love with the amazing Lola and Iris Uber Alles that I'd be happy to have another child of their ilk, but I couldn't face another complicated pregnancy (ask me about bedrest and premature labor sometime), and of course, my schedule is so complicated already that adding any prenatal appointments, well baby visits, or source of child enrichment activities would be disastrous. It's kind of freakish, but it's to be expected I suppose, given that my older sister was done with menopause by age 40.

What I'm not cool with is constant hot flashes and mood swings. I'm also usually in the closet over this (odds of me deleting this are extremely high). It's not from any inherent shame; it's from societal pressure. I found that when I artlessly confided in people, "I'm having a hot flash right now, so excuse me" they would look at me as though I had said, "My leprosy-ridden finger is just about ready to come off, so forgive me if it falls in your lap." No one loves a menopausal woman. Why is there no blues genre which covers this?

Yes, I suppose I should entertain the idea of going on hormones, but I don't want to. First, there's the whole animal ethics thing (the more prevalent hormones are made from urine taken from tortured pregnant horses). Next, there's a complicated relationship between breast cancer and taking hormones, and I don't want to buy myself a ticket to chemo. (Not to mention that I may not be aging gently, but I have unusual green eyes and a great rack, and I don't want to lose either of those. Leave me something to be vain about, please).

I never believed in the whole crazy, hormonal women stereotype as a young feminist. I never personally suffered from PMS, and I doubted its existence. I didn't run around bashing anyone, but internally, I was rolling my eyes when a friend would bitch or share some anecdote of extreme behavior where the punchline was "And the next day I got my period!" I felt that was the sort of ridiculous whininess which held our gender back. Then I got pregnant and learned what it was to be hormonal. (Now I'd like to give all the PMS sufferers a hug and a nice chocolate bar). Back then my obstetrician told me something which should have frightened me more: "For some women, pregnancy is a foretaste of what menopause will be like." In retrospect, there should have been some kind of ominous background music swelling up as she said that.

I was really kind of insane during both my pregnancies, eating pints of ice cream, whining about not being able to have a gin and tonic, and calling my husband on the phone to instruct him about what to do in the event of my death. Then there was the time when, bedevilled with insomnia and pregnancy cravings, I made the husband go out for doughnuts around four AM, and unforgivably enough I had fallen asleep by the time he got back. Of course, he was richly rewarded for all that with children of the highest calibre. What does anyone get in return for bearing with me through the current rollercoaster?


Silliyak said...

From our experience you may save some money on your heating bill. You get more space on the couch.

Moonrabbit's experience with HRT was not good.

One downside for SH may be rolling over in bed while asleep and feeling like he just rolled into the fireplace. I've been known to scream.

the Drunken Housewife said...

That reminds me, Silliyak, that another effect is that I can't tell whether I have a fever or not.

Anonymous said...

Just yesterday I stumbled upon three older women talking about hormone therapy. Oh, you're too young for this conversation they said, and I was tempted to believe them. But, then it dawned on me that I am woefully unprepared for my own menopause, having willfully ignored all aspects of it.

And not just that, but I had dismissed its import since it's something only "old women" feel.

I was standing there with the layers of reality making small shifts inside my head, until suddenly I realized that I'd been carrying around a sexist dismissive idea that "I was better than them" (meaning, used up and old and undervalued by our culture) because although I am yes indeed a woman, at least I'm not an OLD woman.

AND SUDDENLY, I got it. I got that this is one of those things that once you cross the threshold you look back on how you used to feel and you just have to shake your head at how naive and narrow minded you were.

Like, when you become a mother and you look back and realize how many times you dismissed and devalued women with children as "just a mom". And now that you're "just a mom" you're thinking, "HEY, NO FAIR! I HAVE VALUE!!"

Or like when you have a little baby at the play ground and all those big kids are running around kicking up sand and you think those are bad kids. And then one day YOUR kid is the big sand kicking culprit and some first time mom is huddled down dusting invisible sand off her baby and shooting your kids the evil eye, and you suddenly recognize how clueless you were.

That's how I feel about menopause.

I think, I better shift my perspective and start to value those women now, if I have any hope of feeling self-worth when I get there.

Silliyak said...

BTW Happy mother's Day.

You might also be doing a mid life crisis thing. It's different but the same with guys. I had thoughts realizing the things I would NEVER do, even though I had never had even a vague interest or ability in that area. (Play professional baseball e.g.)

I recall in the movie Agnes of God, Anne Bancroft, playing a nun, laments the loss of her period, because it was the loss of the POSSIBILITY.

hughman said...

well at least your mood has a name. and not "crazy, overstressed wife with time pressures". there's been lots written about the menses. rosie talks about it all the time on the view and if she can make it through, i'm confident you can.

2amsomewhere said...

No one loves a menopausal woman. Why is there no blues genre which covers this?

Surely there has to be something in the Double Entendre tradition of blues, even if it's something about red hot stove and not a lump of coal in sight.

Hold the presses... I just remembered Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women. They record stuff in this area.


Sturdy Girl said...

No one loves a menopausal woman?

Well. The older I get the more I love me.

I said to bunny the other day,

"I am the most sane I've ever been. And now I realize the whole fucking world is crazy."

Epiphany said...

My menopausal friends absolutely swear by nettle infusions. I will send you a link for how to make the infusions in a personal email.

And definitely check out the books by herbalist Susun Weed. She has some great stuff about menopause!

Sorry this is sucking so much. Personally, I can't wait to stop bleeding.