Let’s be honest: perimenopause kinda sucks


image credit: pixabay.com

(**Requisite TMI warning**)

My daughter is nine years old, so she’s at the point where she’s had enough time watching me deal with tampons and pads that she’s getting a sense of what is coming for her when she gets older. One day, she may even blush when I remind her of that time we were in CVS for toothpaste or something else benign and she loudly asked, “Do you need any crotch pads???” I’m sure I heard an adult at least one aisle over snickering, but there was nothing to do except quietly suggest that perhaps that’s a question better asked at a slightly lower volume.

More recently, as she’s seen me struggle with the effects of perimenopause, my daughter has started to question how any of this works out in her favor. An exchange from the other week:

DD: "Wait a minute--girls have to have these bleeding periods, 
and we carry the babies...what do boys GET?!"

Me: "Uh, nothing, really. But they do get to pee standing up."

DD: "..."

Yeah, I know, kid, things are rough all over.

It all started two years ago, at the ripe young age of 41, when we were getting ready to head down to our first trip to Disney World. It’s not unusual for me to get cramps with my period and, like many women, I’ve gotten used to the pain being somewhere along the spectrum from “meh” to “I’ll have that bottle of ibuprofen NAO please”. I took two ibuprofen before we boarded the plane, but this seemed to be…different. The flight from Boston to Orlando isn’t long, but it might as well have been a transatlantic trip for all I cared. It felt like an ovary was exploding. I’d never felt such pain in my life (and I’m saying this as someone who has recovered from two c-sections, where you get an 8″ incision across your abdomen).

Pain radiated down my leg and there was no position that made me feel more comfortable. Chowing down more ibuprofen wouldn’t have done the trick, and I had nothing stronger. My body refused to shut down and just put me to sleep, but the pain was so intense that I ended up dashing to the lav twice to get sick. I don’t get airsick.

When we landed, it was now far enough from the time when I first took the two tablets to take a bunch more, so I gobbled down four tablets in our hotel room and waited for the pain to subside. Eventually it did; after about 12 hours, I finally started to feel like myself again. After we got back from Disney, I started to experience hot flashes on a random basis. Anyone living in New England knows that you need to dress in layers to navigate the ever-changing weather with grace, but this becomes even more of a requirement when you could have hot flashes. One minute you’re fine, the next minute you’re feeling flames moving up your cheeks and internally lighting your body on fire.

I started to do some research on perimenopause and discovered that my symptoms were fairly routine:

  • hot flashes
  • irregular, sometimes really awful periods
  • difficulty sleeping
  • weight gain

This was also the point when I learned that perimenopause is the phase of life when ovaries stop producing a steady stream of hormones, while menopause is actually a defined point in time–exactly 12 months following the last menstrual period.

There are treatments out there for perimenopause, and I talked about them with my primary care physicians several times in the last few years. The most common treatments involve the use of hormones or herbal remedies. I checked in with my nurse practitioner at physical time this year, and she admitted that the options weren’t great. I can either grin and bear it or I can pop hormones (typically something along the line of birth control pills, for a steady low-dose of hormonal therapy). Unfortunately, the hormones can increase the risk of breast cancer, and I already have a family history of that…so, yeah, no. There isn’t enough evidence that herbs solve for any of this reliably, either.

Grin and bear it, I guess.

It’s pretty terrible to think that this is how things will be for the next few years–perhaps even as long as a decade–until things finally settle down. Of course, that comes with its own emotional baggage. I have no interest in having any more kids, so that’s not an issue, but there is a strange emotional hump to get over when it comes to the sinking realization that I’m also likely halfway through my life. It’s the sense that this is all fleeting, and the last few frenetic gasps of my ovaries are only canaries in the coal mine.

Naturally, I’d love it if this would all happen with more whimper and less bang; I truly don’t need to have to wear pantiliners every damn day because I never know if and when my body will decide to declare “Shenanigans!” I don’t like having to make sure I’m never far from a bottle of ibuprofen because if I fail to take four pills when the pain start, I’m likely to go down like I got sucker punched in the abdomen repeatedly. It’s pretty annoying always having to dress in layers out of necessity, not fashion.


If adult life is about constant adjustment, I guess this is just one more set of curveballs. And, like everything else, I guess I just have to put on my big girl panties and deal (in more ways that one).

Friday Night Sillies: Most/least favorite fruits

fruit salad

source: publicdomainpictures.net

This all started on Twitter because why not?! It all began with an amusing, yet utterly random, “favorite fruit ranking” tweet–as silliness often begins–and some of us just felt the need to keep it going.

Here’s my top five and bottom of the list…

  1. Apples: super-versatile. I can eat apples every day, preferably in applesauce form (although we tend to eat our way through the orchard when we go apple picking each Fall). Best. Fruit. Evar.
  2. Bananas: another versatile fruit, though it avoids #1 status by virtue of its uncanny ability to go from ripe to over-ripe when you turn your back for a hot second. Only the avocado messes with you more when it comes to its ripening schedule (and the banana at least gives you visual cues).
  3. Grapes: potential winner of “Best Utility Fruit” awards just for their fermented goodness, grapes have been a favorite of mine since they stopped being a choking hazard. LOVE LOVE LOVE grapes.
  4. Watermelon: far less versatile than the others on the list, but boy is this a fantastic fruit salad anchor. If nothing else, you can spit seeds on friends and family, which also makes it “Most Entertaining Fruit”.
  5. Cantaloupe: sweet and also rather perfect for a fruit salad, yet not always as refreshing as watermelon. Still–A++ in terms of melony-goodness.

  1. Cherries: I just don’t get the thing with cherries. They’re a bit too sweet, they have these pits that are designed to kill you, and their primary claim to fame is either as an adornment for a child’s alcohol-free bar drink or for how their stems can be deftly tied by the tongue of a certain young resident of Twin Peaks.


OK folks: what are your top 5, and your least favorite? Use the comments below to post your list. (Please note that, for this exercise, you should ignore things that are often classified as vegetables, like tomatoes, avocadoes, etc.).

Three reasons why RESPECT is what we need most right now

Lately, it seems like we’re teetering on the brink of disaster. Every day, we hear about terrorism, natural disasters, elections so contentious that even rallies are punctuated by violence…it’s almost like we’re all collectively yelling:

[animated gif] Bill Murray in Ghostbusters: "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...MASS HYSTERIA!"

source: giphy.com

I took a step back this morning and tried to figure it out in my head. What on earth is going on? Here in the U.S., we’re dealing with a lot of anger and frustration. We’re seeing that spill over in some of the most horrific ways–both in physical violence and in emotional rhetoric. We’ve lost our sense of decency.

So here’s where I think we need to inject some RESPECT back into the world, and it’s easy enough for any of us to do. If we can just do this much, I really believe that we can start to climb out of the hell-hole that’s perhaps of our own collective making. We need to:


1. Respect other people’s humanity

I'll go with you buttons

source: illgowithyouorg.tumblr.com/

As human beings, we have some very basic needs: eating, drinking, sleeping, eliminating waste, and having sex. And yet, there are some folks that would limit certain people’s access to some of those basic needs. Exhibit A is North Carolina’s repugnant HB 2, the state House Bill signed into law that made it illegal for a person to use a North Carolinian bathroom that doesn’t match the gender on their birth certificate. As a cisgender female, I’ve never been challenged about using the ladies room. I have friends and former co-workers who are transgender, and their right to use the bathroom that matches the gender THEY KNOW THEY ARE is just as valid as my right to use the bathroom that matches the gender that I KNOW I AM. It’s not for me to say that someone is male or female. And the argument that HB 2 will prevent child molesters from picking the bathroom of their choice to set up shop is patently absurd. Do these flailing protestors think predators respect signage?

Black Lives Matter

source: storify.com

Equally repugnant is the general tone of xenophobia and racism that we’re seeing stoked by certain candidates for our nation’s highest office. It doesn’t represent who we are as a country and only makes us look like the slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging neanderthals other developed nations fear we might be.

These fire-breathing candidates (and one in particular) have helped surface and increase the general levels of xenophobia and racism enough to make a sane person want to scream at the top of their lungs. Apparently, “Driving While Black” is still a thing in Missouri, and North Carolina just doesn’t want to stay out of the news when it comes to insensitivity. Ask any doctor: underneath all that melanin and the layers of skin, we’re all the same. We’re all human. Skin color, national origin, and religion are examples of things that DON’T AFFECT OUR HUMANITY. It’s long past time to put away Confederate battle flags, plans for bullshit walls, and discussions of who’s going to burn in what plane of existence–and realize that if we don’t all start treating each other well, the Hell we fear is the one we create for ourselves.


2. Respect an individual’s right to control their own body

Causes of rape: RAPISTS

source: facebook.com

I know both men and women who’ve been raped–often by people they knew. I narrowly escaped a similar fate in college, and I consider myself lucky by comparison to so many who didn’t. Whether it’s the case of Brock Turner–the rapist who was given a scant 6 months’ jail sentence so as not to ruin HIS life–or Worcester Polytechnic Institute telling a victim that her own drinking puts her at least partially at fault for being raped by a security guard at a building they put her up in, rape victims are being sent the message that sexual violence is probably not the big deal that they think it is. Well guess what? IT IS. Both men and women deserve to have the freedom to live their lives without fear of rape, and if they are subjected to rape they shouldn’t be violated all over again by a justice system and society that are willing to shrug it off as probably being at least *somewhat* the victim’s fault. Nope nope nope. We need to stop teaching our daughters how to avoid rape and start teaching *everybody* NOT TO RAPE.


3. Respect that we all deserve a living wage


source: flickr.com

There’s been a LOT of fussing lately about cities and states considering pushing their minimum wage up to $15/hour. A lot of crying foul has been going on from small business people in a panic and dither over the fact that living wages should have to be paid to everybody. After all, if you raise wages of those who are making less than $15/hour, the cost of goods and services will go up. Yep, they will. But will they go up so much MORE that all of a sudden they’re untenable for everybody? Will tons of jobs be shed economy-wide? It’s not clear. What is certain is that income inequality is a huge deal, especially for those who find themselves completely left behind in a hyper-productive workforce where the profits of said productivity barely trickle down to the masses.

Horrifyingly, Glassdoor.com reported last year that the average CEO earned 204 times the median pay earned by their company’s workforce. Let’s think about that for a second. That means that for every $1 earned by the employee hitting that median salary (not the minimum but the MEDIAN), the CEO averages $204. If Ms. Median makes $30/hr, then two pre-tax minutes of her time can buy her bag of potato chips from a vending machine, while those same two minutes can earn Mr. CEO a hot stone massage and a generous tip for the masseuse. I’m not saying that everybody should be making insanely high wages if their jobs don’t require highly technical or specialized skills, but the cost of living continues to rise and real wages aren’t keeping pace. And while some have argued that Jimmy Fryolater isn’t all that skilled and shouldn’t get $15 per hour when Sally Teacher or Joe Firefighter gets $13 an hour, they should consider a couple of key things:

First — Jimmy probably has a boatload more patience than the person protesting his raise. Everyone should have to work food service and/or some form of retail sales. That teaches you courtesy and respect for others, since it’s rarely ever given to you when you’re in that role.

Second — why DO we let it be that teachers or firefighters (or any other critical public servants) are paid so poorly? Those responsible for educating our children or protecting our cities and towns should be well-paid. We expect a lot of them, and it’s unfair not to return the favor by showing that they’re valued.


So, what to do…what to do?

Here’s how this works in practice:

VOTE. If you aren’t registered, get registered. NOW.




Be the change you want to see, and help make change happen by working positively to influence the world around you. It really is that simple.