Thursday, September 19, 2013

Menopause Can Suck It

That’s right, I said it.  I know women everywhere go through it and it does me no good to complain but it’s not going to stop me from doing exactly that – right here and right now!

A year ago January I went to a woman’s clinic in PDX to see where I was in the process.  Outcome:  we’re all different and there’s no definitive way to tell based on bloodwork whether your pre-menopausal or peri-menopausal (whatever the order is, I forget).  Not at least until you’re done with it. 

A year ago August I missed a period.  Yep, I thought to myself, I’m tip-toeing through the crone’s tulips.  Versus tip-toeing through the crone’s two lips.  Hah, very funny.  Anyhoo…

Something just felt different but I let it go and then in January of this year I went to a different doctor – one that was highly recommended and she said essentially the same thing.  Once you’re there, you’ll know and then we can do something.

In May, June, July, August of this year, no periods.  Well, no real periods.  It was the ‘hey I’m going start’ warning and then nothing.  Then I figured oh well and went on about my business …but no.  No, no.  Wait because maybe it WILL start so while it’s thinking about it and I’m unguarded, let’s ruin some of Marilyn’s boy shorts just to mess with her.  Not enough to warrant a tampon and not enough to go without.  And who thinks to carry pantiliners?  How freaking gross is it not to stop that at the source and to have to deal with it externally?!  It’s hard to change 36 years of thinking.

In those four months, I learned to stop viewing it as wasting a tampon and just accept that during this transition those damn things are still serving their purpose - albeit not to their “full” potential.  Get it?  Full?  Full tamp---- never mind.  You get it.   I could still play tennis, swim, and do backflips on a balance beam and not have to worry about leakage.

Then September rolls around.  The warning bell rings and I’m ready for it.  Armed with a new box of Playtex Sport unscented in one hand and a package of Carefree acti-fresh body shape pantiliners in the other.  Suddenly I’m Tom Hanks in Splash after he discovers the mermaid split and he’s in a hurry to go find her.  I’ve hit the button for both elevators which are across the hall from one another and I’m bouncing back and forth, light on my feet, ready to spring into action.

What’s it gonna be?  Come on.   Show yourself, you scheming bitch – you can’t take me down!    “You tell ‘em I’m comin’, you hear me?  I’m comin’… and Hell’s comin’ with me!  You hear?!  Hell’s. comin’. with. me!!!”

Yeah, I know.  I just mixed two movie references.  What can I say…I’m menopausal.  I’m lucky I remember my own freakin’ name at this point.

Moving along.  So here I am armed and ready exasperatingly rolling my eyes but not mentally screaming anymore about what I perceive as wasteful.  Never mind the removal of said barely used gear (ouch).  The thing about all this will-there-or-won’t-there be a cycle is it’s been so flaky and sketchy that my mind has already moved over to wanting to forget all about it.  I mean, do we really need to drag this out?  Let me just check the box that says I no longer need my uterus and let’s shut this bitch down.

I’m so sick of waiting for this process to wrap up.  Have a cycle; don’t have a cycle.  WHATEVER…JUST DECIDE!!  DO SOMETHING!!!  This perpetual state of waiting and wondering is making me crazy.  And the worst part is it’s only just started!   I’ve got stuff to do already.  Get on with it.

I don’t wait well.  I’m like my Dad that way.  When I say I’m ready to go that doesn’t mean go finish getting ready.  It means I’m headed to the car right now and you’re ass better be in it or you can go next time.  Stop lights in San Diego.  Longest freaking lights on earth.  Seriously?  I know Second Street is a main vain but do I have to be sitting on a cross street on the waiting end of that deal every single time? 

I have zero patience right now.  And the rage.  Oh my hell, the rage.  I just want to cut a bitch.  Poor Auburn Aries.  She doesn't even say anything in the car anymore.  She hears me muttering under my breath like a crazy person about to snap and she just quietly sits there in the passenger seat shaking her head.  It’s worst when I’m behind bad drivers.  Good gawd, man, just move it already.  It’s that pedal on the right!   Stand on it before I ram you with my car. 

As a woman you hear of menopause from an early age.  Then when you hit your 40’s you hear more and more horror stories from other women who’ve experienced it you’re like yep, I’m slowly getting there.  Outwardly you may seem dismissive because you aren’t there yet (smile, nod your head as other women speak of it) but internally you’re like Elaine Benes screaming in her head on the stuck subway.  You’re like “HOTFLASHES?!  RAGE?!   A DRY GOODIE BOX?!  WHAT THE HELL?!?!   You secretly mutter to yourself how that’s not going to happen to you and you hope and pray it’s different for you.

But then by 45 you realize that time moves at warp speed and slowly getting there means you’re dancing on the razor’s edge and then low and behold the day comes and you admit to yourself and those close to you that you haven’t seemed yourself and they’re all too quick to agree and then a cycle is missed and all those things you heard are racing through your mind.  You tell yourself it’s a rite of passage and how lucky you are as a woman to experience such a beautiful experie….

Nah.  Eff that.  I’m not in a state of acceptance.  It’s the secrets I need.  It’s the ‘here’s how I dealt with it’ and ‘this helps’ and ‘try this’.  Enough of the stories about how terrible it is.  Just tell me your secrets. Goddess knows counting to 10 isn't working anymore.  

Who thinks to carry pantiliners?  Yeah, don’t ask. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Full Circle

Last night I was sitting in my Mustang waiting on Auburn Aries who’d run into a restaurant to pick up soup following some dental work.  I had backed into a spot with a view of the restaurant doors, had the motor running and had the dog on my lap.  I was listening to KGB FM when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blast their way into my car with American Girl.  One of my all-time favorite songs. 

I turned it up.  I have a great stereo system with dual amps and expensive high-end mid-range speakers with a 10” sub-woofer built into the sidewall of my trunk, so when I say turned it up I don’t mean like those people with coffee can mufflers whose license plate covers rattle.  I mean I turned it up and took it in - like a sommelier appreciating the complex bouquet of the finest wine.  It doesn't have to be crazy loud to sound amazing.  Tom and the boys were right there in the car with me and suddenly I found myself overcome with a wave of nostalgia.  And pride.  And accomplishment. 

All this from one song, you say?  Why, yes, from one song, indeed. 

I am a fan of classic rock.  Born in ‘63 I had the privilege of completely enjoying the 70’s.  The music was so great.  Growing up in San Diego was a gift my parents had no idea they were giving us kids.  Being in high school in the 70’s, dating a bass player named Tracy Wright, being immersed in what was the rock of that decade, living in a place like San Diego with the sun and surf and vibe; it was amazing.  

The song stirred something in me.  I sat there and thought to myself I LIVE IN SAN DIEGO AGAIN!  I’M HOME!!! 

I did it.  I am no longer in rainy Oregon thinking about how much I want to be home.  I am home.  

For 24 years I lived somewhere I did not call home.  Stop for a moment and think about what that feels like.  I had jobs and friends – really great best friends that I consider my family – but still there was an underlying sense of impermanence.  Like I was waiting for something. 

I sat there in my bad ass car listening to this bad ass song on my bad ass stereo on an 80° sunny evening with my kid and my dog and I felt blessed.  I did an incredibly brave thing.  After 24 years in Oregon and with a family I didn't have when I moved there, I decided and planned and implemented a move to another state.  I did it all by myself.  I’m a single parent. It’s just me.   All my friends had moved away.  I saved and I cut corners and I did it.  I loaded a 26’ Penske and put my car on a flatbed trailer, secured it and hit the road. 

I came home.

I was scared but I did it. 

I sat there in my car overcome with pride and thankfulness and satisfaction.  I made it.  My memories of the 70’s – of sunny carefree days and great music and living in moment – I felt that again.  I’d come full circle. 

Yes, there are always sunny days here but they are not carefree.  Now I’m 50 and I have a 16 year old who faces her own personal struggles (some of which I can relate to and some I cannot so helping is hit and miss on its best day); the music that was once the center of my Universe is now considered classic rock; and living in the moment means making considerations like my bank account and the long term effect of spontaneity. 

But under the extra Oregon weight I’m working to shed and under the fact that I didn't rent our dream home while the dust settles from such a big move, lives a woman who’s still a bad ass.  I am strong and funny and brave and fearless when it comes to the stuff that counts.

I’m still me and I’m home.