Menopause: What A Ride!

Menopausal women are scary. No doubt about it. Just look at the abject fear on the faces around you when you start the descent on the emotional roller coaster ride.

Case in point. I’m cleaning up the kitchen after a quiet, lovely dinner. The pint of salad dressing that my husband has just made is sitting on the counter. When I try to put the lid on it, it jumps up into the air and spills. All over me, all over the floor, all over the rug in front of the sink and halfway up the wall.

I don’t know whether to curse, cry, or curl up into the fetal position. Or all three. My husband comes in, drawn by the clatter. He takes one look at me and says hurriedly, "Just wipe yourself off; I’ll clean this up." He circles me warily like a geologist trying to ascertain if a volcano is on the verge of eruption.

"I need a bath," I mutter and toddle off to bubbles and hot, rose scented water. I hear classical music as I drift off, Calgon taking me away. (My husband subscribes to the theory that music soothes the savage beast. Hey, it works.) 20 minutes later he calls in to me, "It’s all cleaned up. Are you okay now?"

Oh yeah, I am okay. More than okay. Because thankfully, I don’t have to do this alone. My partner is in the seat next to me on that roller coaster, lifting his arms high in the air and yelling, "Woo hoo, what a ride!"

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iFeel Cooler Already

My husband got an iPhone the other day and I got an iFan. Personally, I think I got the better deal.

Summertime is a beautiful season, but it IS hot. For those of us who are hormonally challenged, the search for cooling measures is neverending. One of my favorite quick cool measures is Deep Cooling Body Lotion by Emerita. (see link below) I don’t know what’s in it (except that it’s all natural) and I don’t care. It cools me off when the heat flares through me like my own personal forest fire.

I like really simple cooling measures, too, like a bag of frozen peas placed strategically on neck, face, arms, etc. And fans. Fans are low tech wonders that can take the fire out of a hot flash. Tori-Venus brought all the Venuses beautiful Japanese hand fans at our first gathering. In addition, I have an electric fan by my bed. And now I have one to wear around my neck like a mini emergency response team. It looks just like an iPod, cute and functional. My menopause-savvy husband found it at the Rite-Aid drugstore. When he presented it to me, I grabbed it to me and gratefully whispered, "iLove you."
Click on the link below for Emerita’s website and the Deep Cooling Body Lotion.

http://www.emerita.com

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Menopause Good News: The Awakening

Menopause is a rude awakening for most of us. It’s not your garden variety rude either. We’re talking Animal-House-frat-party, Fat-Tuesday-drunken-reveller, ginormous-SUV-riding-your-bumper-at-75-mph type rude. But the good news is: it IS an awakening.

Thrown light years out of our comfort zone by the physical, emotional, and mental changes of menopause, we begin to question our lives in general. Who are we? More important, who do we wish to be? How do we sustain and enrich our relationships.? What do we want to be when we "grow up"? What legacies are we leaving behind?

The examining of these questions is allowing the Venuses and their menopausal goddess sisters to WAKE UP and cultivate more joy in our lives. We aren’t waiting for "someday" to delight in new ventures, to explore our creative impulses, or to lavish affection on those around us. Someday is today. We are awake and ready! And we’re grabbing life by the throat and planting a great big smooch on it’s kisser!

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Menopause Strikes Another Match – Burning Mouth Syndrome

The sheer number of atrocities and indignities visited upon menopausal women is legion. Among the Venuses, we thought we’d pretty much experienced them all: hot flashes, night sweats, tender tatas, dry skin, eyes, and hair, emotional roller coaster rides, memory loss, fatigue, weight gain and more.

We literally thought that nothing the big M dished out could surprise us. Then Burning Lip Syndrome and its nasty little cousin, Burning Mouth Syndrome, (BMS) brought us to our virtual knees.

One of our readers wrote asking for information and/or help because she suffers this bizarre menopausal malady. Emphasis on the word suffers! Our research turned up vague, sometimes contradictory information on treatment. Sifting through the medicalese, here’s what we found.

Burning Lip and Burning Mouth Syndromes occur most frequently in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Pain may be mild to severely debilitating, even depriving one of sleep. Although it is associated with diabetes and depression, cause is really unknown. (Only one source noted that depression could result from BMS, rather than cause it. Ya think???)

Treatments include heavy-duty prescription drugs such as antidepressants (eg Elavil), tranquilizers, or anticonvulsants. Capsaicin (the hot stuff in chili peppers) actually worked for a fair amount of people, with a lot less side effects.

Finally, a substance naturally present in our bodies called alpha lipoic acid can be taken as a supplement and was shown in one double blind clinical trial to result in significant symptom improvement. Check out burningmouthsyndrome.org for details and to order the supplement.

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Bigger Than Hot Flashes

My apologies for not posting a blog entry in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know if my paucity of ideas and motivation were due to post-traumatic stress, laziness, or some weird sort of combo effect. Shortly after my last posting, my hometown was swept by a wildfire. It was huge, fanned by strong winds and exacerbated by an extremely dry winter. Summoning heroic effort, firefighters fought the blaze which threatened the entire town of South Lake Tahoe, bringing the conflagration to its knees. Over 200 homes were lost, yet it could have been so much worse. Thankfully no one was hurt. (My house was fine; several friends were not so lucky.) Strangely enough, you can’t see the scars unless you know where to look – the lake and town look beautiful as ever to the casual observer.

Menopause and midlife challenges definitely took a backseat these past two weeks to a more immediate and massive metamorphosis. Now that the process of rebuilding, restoring, and healing has begun, things are returning to some semblance of normalcy. And our more personal changes are asserting themselves once again, so expect the blog to start heating up again. Let’s hope that’s all that heats up for awhile!

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A Change In The Weather

"Middle-aged women are the people most likely to watch the Weather Channel," my husband read to me from the newspaper. "Isn’t that strange?"
"Not really," I said sheepishly, as if confessing some secret desire. "I think The Weather Channel is interesting."
"Why?", my husband asked, mystified. "You can check the weather you need to know on the internet in a matter of minutes. Why watch it as entertainment?"

After prolonged musing, I think understand why the demographic of The Weather Channel might be women of a certain age. We feel intimately connected to weather. The only thing that is changing as much as we are moment-to-moment IS the weather.
Some of the changes (in weather and in us) are dramatic upheavals – tornados, hurricanes, and the like, turning everything upside down. Other changes occur over time – prolonged heat and drought desiccates and desertifies the land. We can relate to this all too well, as hot flashes singe our individual landscapes and lack of hormonal rainfall leaves us hot, parched, and dry.

Watching the weather is comforting and reassuring for this menopausal woman. While these climactic changes are sometimes uncomfortable and hard to bear, they are NORMAL. The Earth recovers from weather’s onslaughts and new growth appears. A landscape may be trashed for a time, but it ultimately rejuvenates. It may never be as it was before, but it will be fine. And so will we.

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Jet Lag – Why Menopausal Women Should Not Fly

Memory loss is one of the more disturbing manifestations of Menopause Brain. Just when it seems that it cannot get any worse, I climb on a plane for a five + hour flight. I love zoning out for such a long time period – no one expects you to DO anything when you are traveling. Alas, my gray matter seems to be strewn across the Pacific and taking its sweet time to return home. Jet lag only complicates Menopause Brain. My memory has been getting better lately – I think…….. Can’t remember for sure.

Thanks to singer/composer Tom Rush’s memory song, I won’t worry about my forgetfulness. He makes us all laugh at an all too common occurrence. Check it out for yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yN-6PbqAPM

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I Just Don?t Feel Like Me Anymore

Will I ever feel like myself again? That is the second most frequently asked question I hear from midlife goddesses.

"I just don’t feel like me anymore," could well be the universal mantra for the menopausal woman. I’ve yet to meet any post-menopausal goddess who claims to feel like she used to. It seems that we have actually morphed into someone new. This could be good. It might be bad. But one certainty exists: we have no choice. Kicking, screaming, bitching, whining or resigned, we are traveling the paths of menopause and midlife. While there are assuredly losses, as we continue on this forced journey we find that we may actually like some of the changes.

Positive changes include speaking our minds, giving up pleasing as a lifestyle, accepting the perfection of non-perfection, feeling tolerance and forgiveness, and becoming comfortable in our own skins, no matter how baggy or saggy.

We’re changelings. We can’t go back to the women we once were, but we might learn to embrace the scary, exciting process of becoming a new "Me".

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Menopause – Dear Goddess, When Will It End?

The question I hear most often from menopausal goddesses are these. Will my symptoms ever get better? Will this ever end?

The answers are Yes and No, respectively.

Every woman’s menopause is different. Still, the worst of the symptoms seems to last about two years. The mental fog banks dissipate into light, patchy fog. The ass-dragging fatigue makes way for more energy and vitality. Memory and sharpness return, though rarely to pre-menopausal levels.

Hot flashes lessen in frequency and severity, libido actually returns (though again rarely reaching pre-menopausal lust levels), and emotional highs and lows change from tsunami proportions to small wavelets.

However, there doesn’t seem to be an actual destination on this journey. New changes unfold each and every day, whether due actually to the Big M or growing older. Rae-Venus is fond of saying that menopause is a process and it helps to approach it as such. We need to continue to ask questions and to look actively for answers. Embracing the process, even when it sucks.

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SURVIVOR: MENOPAUSE ISLAND

Some days, I feel like I’m living in a bizarre reality show as I slog through menopause. I can hear the little announcer in my head with the commercial:

Announcing a new season of SURVIVOR – MENOPAUSE ISLAND, the reality TV show where contestants (all female) are forced to participate. This is the most difficult and harrowing SURVIVOR to date. Life altering challenges await participants around the corner of every new day. Flaming ‘flashes’ of heat, palpitations, drenched sheets (and not with passion), dry everything else, lost libido, palpitating hearts, emotional tilt-a-whirls, bone-crushing fatigue, and a host of other horrific hurdles have become part of midlife womens’ daily life. The only way to keep from flipping out during a stay on this hormonally challenged island is to LAUGH and commiserate with our ‘team’ of sister goddesses. (Because the kicker is – you can’t be voted off the show. Even if you desperately wish it.)

SURVIVOR – MENOPAUSE ISLAND – coming soon to each woman near midlife. Stay tuned.

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