It’s official, folks. After much soul searching, many vials of blood drawn, and countless tears shed onto potato chips being shoved into my gob at breakneck speed, I am finally ready to accept that the existential malaise I’ve been experiencing lately is due to THE CHANGE. Yes, friends, we are now in the Menopause Zone.
At first, it seemed as though my weight gain, burgeoning chin forest, and emotional turmoil might be blamed on my thyroid hormones, or lack thereof. I had a minor issue earlier in the year and I’ve been diligently getting poked, in the worst way, every few months since. And each subsequent test WAS NORMAL!!!!!
Below is a dramatized (and mostly made up) transcript of my latest endocrinologist visit:
Me: So, there’s nothing wrong with me?
My endocrinologist (who is wonderful, but also young with porcelain skin and probably has NO CLUE what a hot flash feels like): No. Well, not with your thyroid hormones. What’s going on?
Me: I’m eh.
Her (the youngin’ with the good skin): I’m going to need you to elaborate on that. *quizzical look*
Me: I’m eh. Joyless. It’s not like I don’t have any energy, but I’m blah. I GAVE UP MEAT AND I STILL FEEL LIKE SHIT. Are you sure my bloodwork is normal?
Her (she’s so young it makes me angry): What else is going on? How is your sleep?
Me: I’m 46. I flop around like a dying fish for hours at night sometimes.
Her: Well, that could be part of the problem.
Me: Yeah? You think? DUUUUUUUUUHHHHH.
Okay, the duh was more internal. I’m a jerk, but I can mind my manners when need be. We went through it all. I really do love her. She’s thorough. And after we had gone through the gamut it seemed most likely that what I’ve been experiencing is the beginning stages of menopause.
It makes sense. I am a woman of a certain age. Things have been squirrely lately, not just with my cycle, but with me. I exercise and eat right, but I still gain weight. Like my eggs, my joie de vivre is starting to run dry. I can’t think. My creativity is, er, um, lacking. To say the least. As a result, my creative confidence is in a tailspin, hence the lack of activity here.
On the positive end, menopause is great for my tumor. It’s something we’ve long been looking forward to. There will never be a time when I can say it’s over, but less estrogen to feed the tumor means at least a little bit of hope for less chance of growth. And after my last few MRIs have shown increasing cell activity, I feel like I’m in a mad dash to get there before I have another recurrence.
I can’t take any type hormone replacement because of the tumor, so HRT and birth control pills are out. I’ve known that for a while now, so I’ve accepted it. I don’t want any more kids, so I’m good there. I’ve embraced the gray hair, so I can handle getting old and wrinkled. I’m a seasoned veteran of hot flashes, thanks to my year on Tamoxifen, so I’m not worried about that.
But that malaise. That has me thrown.
After getting the news that there’s nothing wrong with me, that this is just me and it’s not going away, I felt a surprising sense of relief. This is just how it is. There is not dose of Synthroid that’s going to help. So, what are you going to do now, sister?
Bitch, you’re going to make yourself a bucket list. That is what you are going to do.
So, that’s what I went and did. I made my official menopause bucket list. It’s part joke, part real, part this is probably never going to happen, but a girl has to dream to keep from withering on the vine. And, if I do say so myself, it’s fabulous.
- Even though I’m gaining weight at the speed of light, wear a bikini with pride. Not a tankini. Like, a for real bikini that will show my growing midsection and expose my blindingly white torso to the sun for the first time in probably 30 years.
- Recreate that scene in Fried Green Tomatoes where Kathy Bates rams her car repeatedly into the car that stole her spot at the Winn-Dixie parking lot, but with a shopping cart in the grocery store to people who stop in the middle of the aisle to have a conversation about their beloved spawn who are top of their graduating class in Montessori preschool.
- Get a damn hobby, but actually do it, not just say I’m going to do it. Or the dreaded, I should do that sometime. Like, what the fuck am I waiting for? I worry about the money and the time. How will I fit it all in with work and homeschool? I could always use the money for something we need. My husband once bought a 3-D printer for literally no logical reason and did not even think twice about it. Just did it. Because he wanted to. Why the fuck can’t I do that? I can. I’m doing it.
- I’m going to color my hair some ridiculous shade of rainbow. I stopped coloring my hair after chemo to embrace my roots and simplify my life a little bit. But lately I’ve been wondering what it would be like to have all my gray go blue or fuchsia or rose gold. Because why the hell wouldn’t I want that? Why aren’t we all doing this? We should all have purple hair.
- Get real about writing again. I’ve easily got a dozen drafts that I’ve written and talked myself into hating. Frankly, I think some of them do suck. They’re whiny or repetitive, and some of them are just kind of boring. But, I can’t not write. I’m not getting from here to there by teleporting my thoughts. I have to put them somewhere and have the stones to put them out there.
- Which means I have to make time to write them, so I should probably watch less trash TV. But I’m probably not going to do that. So, that one is still being worked out.
- Go on more road trips, dammit, by my damn self. I am constantly around my family. I work from home. I homeschool my son. The dog and I are together so much I’m afraid I’m going to start dressing him up and calling him my four-legged son. And did you know there’s like an entire world out there beyond the Target that is less than a mile from my house? I mean, I could go to Targets many, many miles from my house, but I could also go to other places that don’t have a kickass dollar section and a Starbucks three steps from the front door. Scratch that. I WILL.
- If it doesn’t have an elastic waist I’m going to set it on fire. Okay, that’s a little extreme, but I’m making a statement here. I’m going for comfort from now on. I have recently bought a pair of elastic waist jeggings and I would trade my children in for another pair. Luckily they’re fairly affordable and I don’t have to do that, but the option is always open because never again will I hoist the muffin top over the button of pair of jeans for the sake of fashion.
But more importantly, I’m going to stop apologizing for me. I’m loud, sometimes crass, but I’d give you the shirt off my back, especially if I’m having a hot flash. Currently, I cry over anything that is sad, happy, enraging, or even slightly irritating. ‘Scuse me for a minute, I’m on the hormone roller coaster.
I’m angry, mostly because our president is less evolved than pond scum and the planet is on fire, but also because it’s been nearly 15 minutes since I’ve eaten something. I’m tired all the time. My joints ache. My vision is blurry near or far or whatever is in between those two. No, really, what is between near and far?
And I’m human. I’m doing my best. My body is going through puberty again, but in reverse. I have no idea if that’s an accurate statement. Someone google that for me, would you? My point is, bear with me and my chin hairs and my extra 20 pounds. And pass the potato chips, I’m going to need snacks for my future road trips.