Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 12, May 31

Do you wake up in the middle of the night dripping with sweat?  I do.  I feel like I've run a marathon, panting, trying to get my breath.  My legs stage a battle with the covers, as I struggle to cool down.

Hot flashes can turn the mildest, most gentle of women into a crazy shrew.  Some years ago, I confronted my husband and told him that either he pay for an air-conditioner or that I was doing away with him and using the insurance money to buy an AC on my own.  Wisely, he ordered the air conditioner.  When the technician came out to the house to install it, my husband (bless his stupid heart) said, "The wife is old and hot."

I was so thankful to have air-conditioning that I relented from killing him then and there

I have been known to threaten anyone who touched the thermostat at home.  I keep my car at a pleasant 60 degrees and shoot daggers at anyone foolish enough to mess with it.

I've often thought that the United States should send menopausal women to fight the war in the Middle East.  Take us out of our air-conditioned comfort and we will be the fiercest force the world has ever seen.  Pity the Taliban when faced with women who are flashing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 11, May 30

Well, we've discussed that biggie--bladder leakage.

The trouble with BL is that it can occur at any time. It takes a strong and insightful woman to always be prepared for it. My aunt used to carry around an extra change of clothing for what she called "Trouble with Her Departments," departments consisting of trouble with her bladder and bowels. Fifteen years ago, my sister and I laughed over this. Now I can empathize.

Bladder leakage is especially vulnerable to laughing, coughing, and sneezing. They sound like the three dwarfs, don't they? If you laugh, you leak. If you cough, you leak. If you sneeze, you leak.

Damn. (Pardon my language.)

Yes, BL happens to the best of us. We can only hope that we're in a position to make a quick change of clothes when it occurs

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 10, May 29

Are you guilty of it? 

I am.

I have done Kegel exercises while standing in line at the grocery store.  I have done them while waiting at the post office.  I have even done them in church when visiting with others between meetings.  Do you ever look around you and wonder who else is squeezing while they're talking with you?

If you don't know what Kegel exercises are, then you don't need this posting and should skip it.  Kegels are exercises to tighten the vagina and other parts "down there."  As a newlywed, I was told, in hushed whispers, to do them to enhance the sexual experience.  As a woman who has borne four children (all of whom were on the big side), I was instructed to do them to prevent bladder leakage.

I suppose that's all right to say in this blog as advertisements for incontinence products are all over the television and internet.  Yes, I have bladder leakage.  There.  I've said it.  You now know my darkest secret.  (Well, one of them anyway.)

Kegels not withstanding, BL is a problem.  It gives me little comfort to know that other women suffer from the same thing.  All I can think of is "What sin did I commit to merit this?"

Of course, I think that about many things that have happened to me in my menopausal state.  You'll have to excuse me now.  It's time to squeeze those muscles.  Again.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 9, May 28

I can handle, mostly,  being thought of as older, less attractive, less of so many things.  What really bothers me, though, is being less interesting.  People take a look at me, mentally file me into the middle age category, and, at the same time, regard me as no longer interesting.

The fact is, I feel I grow more interesting as I grow older.  My experiences are broader, my outlook more mature, my sense of humor sharper.  But those things are not particularly valued.

My eyelids droop, my breasts sag, and my thighs wobble.  Okay.  I accept that.  But does that mean I am no longer capable of carrying on a conversation, that my opinions are out of date, that my 'interesting quotient" took a nosedive along with my nipples?


Now if only I could convince others of that.

Day 11, May 30

Well, we've discussed that biggie--bladder leakage.

The trouble with BL is that it can occur at any time.   It takes a strong and insightful woman to always be prepared for it.  My aunt used to carry around an extra change of clothing for what she called "Trouble with Her Departments," departments consisting of trouble with her bladder and bowels.  Fifteen years ago, my sister and I laughed over this.  Now I can empathize. 

Bladder leakage is especially vulnerable to laughing, coughing, and sneezing.   They sound like the three dwarfs, don't they?  If you laugh, you leak.  If you cough, you leak.  If you sneeze, you leak. 

Damn.  (Pardon my language.)

Yes, BL happens to the best of us.  We can only hope that we're in a position to make a quick change of clothes when it occurs.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 8, May 27

With my fiftieth (and sixtieth) birthday behind me, I like to delude myself into thinking that the worst is over.  The truth is (and I know it, I just don't like to say it aloud) that the worst is never over.  Not when it comes to menopause.

Gravity will not suddenly reverse its effects.  What has sagged will  never rise again.  At least not without a great deal of surgical help.
Aches and pains are here to stay.  As are age spots, gray hair, and varicose veins.   I'd get back my twenty-two inch waist at my deathbed.  Or in the grave.  And who really cares then?

So, I sit back and, as gracefully as I can, accept the inevitable.  Part of that, at least for me, is to laugh over what is happening.  For if I don't, I will surely cry.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 7, May 26

I remember when I shopped for clothes that invited the unexpected and promised excitement.  (Well, at least as much excitement as a Mormon mother could hope for.)

Now I shop for comfort.  I shop for camoflage.  The two Cs.  Comfort is essential when you reach a certain age.  Comfort is found in elastic waists and flowing materials.  Anything too tight doesn't cut it.   Waistbands that slice in to my middle are avoided at all costs.  That leads us to camoflage.  Again, I eschew clothes that are tight.  They tend to outline things better left unoutlined and highlight the lumps and bumps that make up my body. 

And don't get me started on shoes.  Gone are high heels with pointy toes.  "You need a wide toe box," a shoe salesman told me.  Forget the Christian Loubitons.  Bring on the shoes with names Easy Stride targeted to "the active, mature woman."  (Mature is code for "geezer.")

So, here I am, in the C & C period of life.  I am philosophical about it.  Double Cs match my SS.. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 6, May 25

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder whose face is staring back at you?  I have.  I stare at my reflection and blink in surprise.  When did my right eye start to droop every so slightly?  And when did my nose develop that delicate hook at the tip?  Were my ear lobes always so fleshy?

Would a change of makeup help?   What about Botox?  Would that help my drooping eye?  Was it time for a nip-and-tuck?  Or was it past time?

And what about those lines that fan from the corners of my eyes and bracket my mouth?  When had they deepened to resemble the Grand Canyon rather than a modest arroyo?

I am trying to come to terms with the changes in my face.  I tell myself that I earned the wrinkles, that they reflect a lifetime of feelings, thoughts, and work.  Still, I'm not ruling out Botox!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 5, May 24

Well, we've looked at stomachs and breasts.  Doubtless we'll return to those body parts, but, for now, let's make a departure to another area that menopausal women deal with.

Has the shape of your lips changed?  Have your lips thinned as your middle thickened?  Mine have.  Where they used to be pleasingly full, my lips have taken on the appearance of a drawstring purse pulled too tight.

At one time, I looked at older women whose lipstick found its way all around their mouth, only occasionally touching their actual lips.  In my naivete, I thought it was because their eyesight had diminished  and that these poor souls could no longer apply their lipstick properly.  I now realize that it wasn't their eyesight that had taken a fall but their mouths.  Their lips had pulled in on themselves. 

Of course we have aids now such as collagen injections.  The idea, though, of having someone inject stuff into my lips makes me cringe.  I avoid needles whenever possible.  Also, who knows where that collagen might end up?   Would it be like some breast implants that I've read of that wander around?  I might end up with collagen in my chin (who needs extra stuff in my already double chin?) or in my nose or in my cheek?

No.  I think I'll stick with my thin, pursed lips and leave collagen to the more daring.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 4, May 23

For the last two days, we've talked about my SS (second stomach).  Today, I'd like to move a bit farther north.  If you guessed breasts, you'd be right.  Call them what you will, the girls, ta-tas, chi-chis, breasts are an important part of a woman's life.  They can also be a source of frustration, embarrassment, and laughter.

When I was in college, back in the Dark Ages, my roommates found a test to determine whether or not a woman needed a bra.  Place a pencil beneath your breast.  If it stays, you need a bra  If it falls, you don't.  Of course, we all wanted to fall into the second category, possessing such firm nubile breasts that no pencil would dare to remain in place.

Sure enough, my pencil fell  Hooray!  My breasts were young and pert.  Some years passed.  I married, had my first baby, nursed that same baby  I loved nursing, loved the bonding that occurred when I held my baby to my breast and knew that I was both nourishing and nurturing her.  Three more babies came along, with three more periods of nursing.

Slowly, but inexorably, gravity and nursing took their toll on my one pert girls.  They drooped.  They would not only hold a pencil but a whole tree branch.

My breasts are now retired, corralled in a miracle of micro-fiber and underwire.  When I am brave enough to look at myself naked, I note the the downward cast of these once proud mounds of flesh and tissues..  Even the nipples are pointed to the floor. 

I excuse their fallen state by reminding myself and others that they had been "working breasts." They did not exist for ornamentation, but had literally fulfilled the measure of their creation. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 3, May 22

If you are familiar with my other blog, "The Gratitude Project," you know that I frequently start a subject one day, only to discover that I'm not finished with it.  Such is the case with my stomachs.  And, I suppose, a second stomach deserves a second posting.

I have heard that some men name certain parts of their bodies.  It set me to wondering whether I should name my second stomach.  Surely it deserves something more than the prosaic term "second stomach."  What about Sandy?  I've always liked that name.  Then I realized that I have several friends named Sandy and that they might not appreciate it.  The same goes for Laurie, Phyllis, Janet, Natalie, Jeannie, and others. 

What to do?

Could I name it after a movie star?  Or maybe a sports figure.  I'm open to suggestions.

In the meantime, that second stomach, which we'll refer to as SS for the time being, rests comfortably in my mid-section, much like a beloved pet.  Like some pets, it has grown, going from a sweet little lap dog to an unruly mutt that demands more room, more attention.

My SS can be comforting, though.  It gives me a place to rest books, a nice shelf on which to put a plate.  It keeps me warm on cold mornings.   Yes, I fear my SS is here to stay, so I best make the most of it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 2, May 21

Did you know that cows and other ruminants have several stomachs?  I always wondered about that.  Why did they have several stomachs?  What were those stomachs used for?   I suppose I even felt a bit sorry for those animals.After all, wasn't one stomach enough with which to deal?

My sympathy has turned to empathy.  Sometime after I turned 50, I developed a second stomach.  It rests somewhere between my breasts and my first stomach.  This second stomach resembles a loaf of French bread, slightly elongated, soft, and squishy.  Despite my best attempts at exercise and diet, it persists, refusing to go away.

Rather than a clearly defined waistline, that nice curve that used to attract a bit of male interest, I am now one series of lumps.  My breasts segue into this second stomach, which, in turn, gives way to the first.  It is nicely balanced out by my rear end, which morphs into cottage cheese thighs.  There you have it:  a series of lumps and bumps that, at one time, was a fairly nice figure.

My body betrayed me.  Or perhaps it was the cheesecake, chocolate eclairs, and double fudge brownies.  Whatever the cause, I am now keeping company with cows and other ruminants.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 1, May 20

Some time ago, a friend gave me a greeting card with the saying, "Do you notice how all the troubles in your life begin with 'men'?  Menstruation.  Menopause.  Mental breakdown.

Menstruation, over 40 years, was not a fun time for me.  I did not see it as a rite of passage or any other such lovely thing.  I saw it as work.  Hard work, complete with cramps, headaches, and a host of other problems.

 Along the time I was making peace with it, I started PMS-ing.  You know what I mean.  That thing that makes you want to kill those nearest and dearest to you.  I remember one time when my husband and 5 children left a mess in the kitchen and on the kitchen floor.  I swept the floor, dumped the contents of the dustpan on a plate, told my loving family, "Here.  This is supper.  Eat it."  They looked at me in horror.  I then took the plate and dumped the whole thing back on the floor.

Not one of my finer moments. 

So we won't spend time looking at that period (pardon the pun) of life.  We'll look to the here and now.  (For those of you who aren't there,  smile smugly and tell yourself that you'll never be that way.)  And we won't look at men, except as a periphery of our own lives and how they fit in there.

Like menstruation, menopause is hard work.  Our bodies are changing.  (Not in a good way.)  Our hormones took a vacation and probably aren't coming back.  Lumps and humps, not to mention hair, appears where it never appeared before.

Join me in this journey into self-discovery.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prologue, May 19

Dear friends and family,

This is a new blog, a departure from "The Gratitude Journal."

Here, in The Menopause Monocle, we will look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of menopause.  (And believe me, there is plenty of ugly.) 

We will be slightly irreverent, occasionally serious, and always honest.  I invite you to join me as we delve in to "What in the hell happened?"