Friday, June 16, 2017

The Heat That Shall Not Be Named

WARNING: This blog post may contain strong menopausal-related language. Please be advised.

The first time it happened I had no idea what the hell-all was going on. A breathtaking surge of heat originating at my body's core and emanating outward in searing waves. The intense, inexplicable urge to fling open a nearby freezer door and thrust my head upon an ice cube tray and/or tear off my clothes. AHHHHHH!! Was anyone else in the room suddenly hot, um, flashing like this?

Fortunately, the feeling passed quickly. Fun fact about hot flashes-- for me anyway (and side note: every woman seems to experience these differently, and some, the lucky-duckers, NOT AT ALL): they last for only like, 30 seconds.

Another fun fact about hot flashes and about menopause in general: nobody really likes to talk about it, even women who are going through That Stage of Life. Because it's embarrassing? To acknowledge that you're aging, I guess, and that you're hitting the opposite hormonal bookend to Puberty and OMG wasn't Puberty a rollercoaster o' fun and Menopause is the same except WAY HOTTER?

Or maybe we just don't want to admit that we've got a body and that body is doing things that are freaking annoying.

I get it.

I've spent the majority of my life bobbing around like a version of Emerson's Transparent Eyeball, ignoring my body and irritated when I am reminded that I do, in fact, have one. For example, when I'm doing a presentation at a school, and sense that blaze of HEAT coming on...

Some weeks I have hot flashes ten to twelve times a day and I won't get into the details about what is going on at night. I did some research on menopause because I was receiving conflicting advice from the women I asked and was curious about what was really going ON here. Discovered, to my surprise, lots of conflicting advice in books and online too, controversies about what's actually happening, hormonally, and how best to treat it or even IF to treat it.

Barely a hundred years ago doctors (read: male doctors) couldn't even agree on whether or not hot flashes were real. Some wise guy asserted that the heat was all in the pretty old ladies' heads. But then again, back then, in Mr. Wise Guy's defense, the majority of women didn't live long enough to go through menopause. They reached puberty, spent the next thirty or so years giving birth and nursing children, and then they died. Often in childbirth. The end.

But aren't we the lucky ones now, sweating our way to the other side, and still with a good forty years left to live, with the kids if we've had them, off having adventures while we are having our own adventures. It's not that big of a deal, these pesky hot flashes, that only last for a few years, a sweaty blip on the screen, and in the meantime, wouldn't it be cool if we could have little fans, something to wear around our necks like necklaces and switch on and have air shoot up onto our glistening faces?

I posed this idea to my long-suffering husband and because the man is awesome, he bought me just such a fan. I asked him how on earth he found it and he said he searched "Menopause Fan" online and this is what came up:

In case you are wondering, mine is the one in the upper right hand corner. On sale now, only $5.28 from Walmart.

It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.


  1. Right there with you! (also laughing because yep...all of this, me.)

    1. I'm sitting at my desk at work, fanning myself with a booklet, while my cubicle neighbor is wrapped up in a knitted shawl because the air conditioning is too cold.

    2. The pink necklace fan is a lifesaver Patty! I am not lying (or getting paid to promote them :)

  2. What nobody ever talks about (because maybe I'm the only one this happens to?) are the COLD flashes. They're much less frequent, but suddenly I'll be freezing and nothing warms me up. Between that and the hot flashes, it's like the body loses all ability to regulate temperature.
    I've often joked there should be "Your Changing Body" films for this time of life, much like the ones we show teens in health class. (And, for any Simpsons fans out there, narrated by Troy McClure ...)

    1. COLD flashes??!! I have not experienced this fun yet. And yes, to Your Changing Body films :)

  3. I'm not really dong flashes but the insane bloating and weight gain no matter what I eat or how much I run. Just ordered DIM--anyone tried it?

  4. You might not believe it, but as a man who is on a medication (extended release niacin for high cholesterol) that sometimes creates hot flashes, I can empathize. There's nothing more fun-NOT that feeling like every inch of skin should be torn off while you're trying to outwait the feeling and go to sleep.

    1. Oh yuck, Berek! Sorry you're having to deal with this. I am feeling grateful that there is an end in sight to mine. Hopefully!