Hot Flash or Bubbling Cauldron?


If women could harness the energy of the hot flash it would be a super-power. Imagine being in Alaska, in the middle of the winter on a glacier in a bikini, or a nice one-piece that slims 10 pounds with properly place herring bone, and the locals are warming themselves at your hips. Global warming takes a back seat to the environmental effects of more than 20 million women flashing. Maybe those glaciers are melting when cruise ships of menopausal women get too close. Funny how so many tipping glaciers are caught on camera! “This is your captain speaking. All menopausal women below deck in the kryptonite chamber!”  Maybe scientists should be looking in the ovary for the piece of matter that blew up and created the Universe. Higgs Smiggs, I have the Milky Way’s cousin in my belly! Wouldn’t that just anger ALL men who wish women to remain silent and shrouded?

We all have different experiences, and top that with our different perceptions of the flash. To me, the heat inside ignites like an old gas stove: when the fire catches it is fast and big, engulfing all the extra gas that leaked in prior. There is no running from it- that makes it worse. I try to stay still and fan myself, or find a fan or a glacier. My face, neck and chest turn red, and I sweat in places I didn’t know glands existed. I remember reading to my senior class from The Great Gatsby. I thought it was great internal timing to get a hot flash during the scene where they first enter the hot hotel room in New York. As if on cue, I began to sweat. Who needs computer simulators? I embodied what that room felt like, and I too, just wanted a glass of icy bourbon. My students learned to ignore flashes. Or, at least they acted like they did. they looked away like it was the proper thing to do, like not staring at thebearded lady. Neither I, nor my grandmother could help it!

Night time is the worst time for hot flashes. No mattress is comfortable when the occupant is smouldering in a pre-spontaneous combustion state. Really, if spontaneous combustion were real, our fire departments would be very, very busy. I hate it. Hot, then sweat, then cold and clammy. I got special wicking PJ’s for my 52nd birthday. I was so happy. I took pictures of them and posted it to Facebook. They are more exciting than the splashes on the White Water Rapids at Six Flags. I now sleep with a fan directly on me about 2 feet from where I am on the bed, the ceiling fan and the air conditioner blasting after midnight. During the winter I do not need a heater. Remember? Alaska?

I had no idea that the heat would ignite more that just internal temperature. It also brewed up a bubbly cauldron of memories, mostly those which were of me, being less than perfect. The cauldron is a dark and scary place. I first began having memories of my mothering pop-up. I would wait until a decent hour, maybe 6-ish am-ish or so and call my girls and beg them to forgive me for whatever it was that needed forgiving at that moment. After a month or two of these calls, they asked me to stop it and that they forgive me for everything and anything else I may remember. I wonder if they just hated being woken up to “Please forgive me for…” It was weird, but I would get a very clear picture of mistakes I made night after night. I called this time in menopause the time of the bubbling cauldron of self-regret. Am I the only one?

The memories continued to the rest of my life. I have apologized to many people, written letters, found long-lost elementary buddies etc. If I have to go through a life review when I get to Heaven, I will cry “Foul!” I have already done this deed. Enough Jesus!! I cannot do this again. I picture myself telling God, “Oh no YOU didn’t!” When he pushes ‘play’ on the life review DVR.

Thanks to my doctor, the bubbling cauldron of self-regret has gone dormant. Like an active volcano, it lies there waiting for me to skip a hormone pill. I tried to “go through it naturally” with creams, black cohosh and extreme exercise, but none of that worked. Pre-hormones I was a sweating, apologizing, anxiety-filled mess. I felt as  though I was a closet Joan Crawford.  Closet. Get it? I kill me.

Today I am thankful for the new research that said hormones are not so bad, and women can take them past the five years declared safe. I am betting the researchers are men and women affected somehow by a menopausal woman. Why is Dr. Scientist afraid to go to sleep? It must be scary to wake up next to a woman saying ,”Give me the eye!” While she peers into her inner cauldron. I recently met a women who announced to me she was tossing the hormones as they made her fat. First, she wasn’t fat, but she did say she had gained 15 pounds since she began taking them. I don’t ever want to live in a place where my experience is the only one and the right one…but, I did tell her to be careful: once the hormones wear-off, just be really self-aware. If you find yourself in place that only Howard Hughes would go get out and run back to the MD.

If hot flashes burned calories, I would abstain from the hormones and join Bethany Frankel as a Skinny B-Word. One would think, with all that incineration some fat would be burned. But the only thing burned was my inner psyche…a true size 0 after it was all said and done! Thankfully, I am now back to normal size, which means my psyche is more Dove Girl than Cover Girl, but that is just fine with me!

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