"You're in menopause." My doctor said calmly and with almost a little smile-smirk on her face. "Your tests have all come back -- and you're healthy. Sure a little low on iron as you typically are, but now that those pesky periods are gone -- that should just correct itself."
"Menopause? But I'm only 45. Well now 45 and a half and rolling quickly downhill to 46, but surely right now I'm only 45." I told my doctor - and not with a smirk-smile on my face but rather a more 'are you fucking kidding' me look, and my voice was less than quiet.
"Yes, menopause. I mean you might have one or two more periods but your test results show you should be done with them in about six months at the most."
Menopause. But I'm still young. Right? The only person I could think of who reached menopause in their 40s was Ma Ingalls. Remember that episode when Laura announced her pregnancy and Caroline did too -- but it turns out that Caroline was NOT pregnant -- she was just in menopause. And then she fell into a deep depression. Yeah, that's where my mind immediately went. Because I'm a child of the 70s -- and children of the 70s just cannot be in menopause yet, right?
And I drove home that day confused. There was no menopause party. There's no drink at Starbucks that seems appropriate for the occasion. Buying a new handbag didn't seem logical, and there was no one I could call. I couldn't call my husband and shock him with the fact that he's now married to an old woman. I didn't want to call my mother and join 'her club' or hear her words of encouragement as she would tell me that 'the change' is not so bad. Because I don't want to bond over anything to do with my body with a 66 year old. And I don't want advice about hormone therapy or dropping estrogen levels. Most of my friends are still having babies, counting days of their cycle to get pregnant, and chatting about diapers, and still breast feeding. And then I wondered if menopause was just something you were suppose to go through alone without fanfare or attention. Something that you whispered in passing or kept to yourself. Something you mourn when you walked past the feminine hygiene aisle at Target when just months ago you were complaining about how much you spent each month on tampons because you had to insert three at a time to not bleed through your pants. Because as much as I hate having my period...was I really ready for them to just go away...naturally?
But the signs were there. I just didn't think about researching them because I feel young and was in no way prepared for hearing that I have started "The Change." And frankly no one warmed me about the signs.
So if you are nearly my old age of 45 and are experiencing some interesting things with your body - well pay attention as something super fun is coming ....
Here are 12 signs that you might be menopausal...
1. You have a few years of horrible and heavy periods. Periods that look like crime scenes and periods that can't be stopped even when inserting three tampons at a time. Periods that make you throw away all white clothing and carry around a beach towel to sit on. Periods that last for weeks and start again just days later. Periods that control your life and girlfriends hound you to consider an ablation or hysterectomy. If you are experiencing this -- get ready for MENOPAUSE.
2. You're bitchy. Maybe you don't like the word bitchy. But you're bitchy. So bitchy you think about ways to hurt your spouse because they chew food. That's right, they chew food AND don't re-fluff the pillows when they get up from the couch. Oh, and that one time they took a nap on a Sunday afternoon -- DEATH WISH. You think about living on a desert island because everyone is annoying. No one gets you and you nit-pick everything. This might just be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Or everyone else is just an asshole. But if you are unusually bitchy - time to get things checked out. Because people must chew. Fuckers.
3. Are you gaining weight just a little too easily? Like you eat one Thin Mint cookie and gain 12 pounds and two dress sizes overnight. MENOPAUSE is looming. Or you look at a donut and your button pops on your pants...MENOPAUSE. You used to run 3 miles a few mornings a week and stayed in shape, but now you need to run three times as far and four times per day every day to stay in the same shape...MENOPAUSE.
4. Buying more razors, tweezers, and hair removal kits than usual? Buying hair removal Groupons? AND NOT FOR YOUR LEGS BUT FOR YOUR BEARD and you grew a mustache overnight. MENOPAUSE! Unfortunately I have no way to know how bad my hair growth is because I need reading glasses to actually see the details of my face - and I don't put them on very much - but when I do I'm all like "When did I turn into Tom Selleck and why aren't my girlfriends telling me to wax the stache?"
5. Are you a little sweaty and hot at night? Has your spouse moved to the guest room because they cannot sleep next to someone who feels like the planet Mercury? Those are called 'night sweats' and a sure sign that menopause is coming. Also 'night sweats' are less like 'night sweats' and more like what the ANNALS OF HELL must feel like -- and you find yourself changing your pajamas and your sheets several times per night. When this happens during the day it's called a "hot flash." Basically you just think about how awesome it would be to live closer to the arctic circle and eat ice 24/7 ALONE.
6. Do you seek out older ladies to talk to and think anyone under 30 with good hair is kind of annoying? Hate pinterest and chevron? Do you catch yourself looking at purple clothing and thinking a rousing game of bridge might be fun? Have you switched to decaf? You might just be seeking out more 'like company' as you now relate better to people of your mother's generation. Because you are in MENOPAUSE.
7. Do you feel done with babies. Like people ask you if you are done having kids and you laugh and ask what kids are exactly? Do you start getting annoyed when people bring their small children out in public? Do you wonder how it could be that you still have small children? You are probably in MENOPAUSE.
8. A little acne problem? Isn't it fun that the break-outs of high school now have followed you to your 40s with your amazing new hormonal imbalance? Welcome to MENOPAUSE -- it's like being a teen again but without the tight body.
9. Having a little memory loss problem? Like where's your phone -- you mean the one you're talking on? Why did I walk into the bathroom again? Why am I driving and where was I going? How did I end up at the grocery store? Has anyone seen my keys? My wallet? What's your name? Have you started writing important things on your hand because you cannot remember anything? What was I just talking about ? Who are you? MENOPAUSE!
10. Having a touch of anxiety that everyone is better than you and maybe you've forgotten something? Having panic attacks about everything -- that you're not enough, that nothing is enough, that THIS IS ALL THERE IS?! Do you cry a lot. MENOPAUSE!
11. Experiencing hair loss -- and by 'hair loss' I mean you have to call in a plumber twice a month to unclog the drains and you can no longer even style your hair because you barely have any hair and you then realize why 'older ladies' get that short 'mom cut' -- it's because they have no hair left! Do you find it even more important to apply sunscreen to your scalp because your scalp is now showing! MENOPAUSE!
12. Have your Google searches changed from searching out Hot New Nightclubs to finding the Best Tea Houses in the area? Are your concerts now more 80s bands in a second-rate theater than moshing with the young people at Bruno Mars? Feeling more like Adam Levine's mother than his possible girlfriend -- MENOPAUSE! Did you have to look up the word moshing? MENOPAUSE.
If you've answered yes to any of the above and need more counsel, just call me -- because I think we all need that person to call when we hear the words "You're in menopause." Like a girlfriend-done-bleeding-prayer-chain but with a lot of swear words. I want to be that swearing older experienced lady that has coasted through menopause for you. I want to buy you that decaf.
And now that the initial shock of the official diagnosis has worn off and I'm still feeling nothing like a grandma, I do think I need to celebrate this change a bit more and I'm not beyond accepting a trip to Paris if anyone wants to treat. But in the meantime I'll be upstairs in the bathroom plucking stray hairs and sweating to death while yelling at my husband to STOP THE FUCKING CHEWING.