Menopause: When Do You Know & Must We Care?

Menopause, Freezers, Hormones & Ignorance

I’m a single, 53-year-old woman and I couldn’t tell you what menopause is or even when it’s supposed to strike. I’m embarrassed, but not half as embarrassed as I would be if I couldn't discuss healthcare or the gender gap. I can’t discuss that either, but worrying about menopause seems like a waste of time for someone like me. In case you are like me, I wanted to make sure you knew you weren’t alone.

My chief concerns these days involve questions like, ‘Am I going to die alone?’ or ‘Are my legs more cottage-cheese-y today than they were yesterday?’ It does feel a bit vapid, but I’m an animal like we all are and animals in the jungle often spend their day grooming themselves to procreate and further their gene pool. The simple truth is that I'm not going to feel any worse if a blood test proves I'm in menopause.

I have an OB-GYN who is very smart and her name is Melissa. She has kept me alive for the twenty years I’ve been her patient and I trust she’ll guide me through the peaks and dry valleys of menopause. I also have friends from whom I can gather data. Similar to apes, I can ask my friends what tools and resources they use to obtain figures. It might take a village to raise a child, but it won’t take the island of O’ahu to get me through menopause.

Related to menopause is the question of whether or not to continue taking the birth control pill. At my age sex is not a transaction that requires two people. Instead, my to-do list consists of ‘remembering to poop’ and ‘contemplate taking a look at that mole that looked weird several weeks ago.’ This might be the perfect place to admit I have no idea if my birth control pills contain estrogen and I don't know what estrogen is. I also don't know what progesterone is either and if it has anything to do with menopause.

Testosterone? It’s in men’s balls, right? I know it's primarily a male thing, but don't women have it too? Is this why after a certain age women get the occasional chin and black nipple hair? I'm aware that a sign that menopause is coming is when predictable things like my period only appear randomly. When I say the word appear I don't mean it literally. Instead of a menstrual flow, it's more of a hardly discernible tinge. If it wasn't for the excruciating cramps and debilitating headaches, I might not know I'm having it. Shout out to girl crush Brenee Brown for teaching me about gratitude. I’m appreciative of the pain that tells me I’m young enough to have it.

Similar to not knowing if I’m supposed to take birth control, I’m unsure if I’m itching my right forearm frantically in the middle of the evening because of menopause. All I know is this itch is so intense the only way it abates is if I put it on ice. Freezing my skin is often the way to go when I need a plan. My obsession with being cool continues with my blue, rectangular ice pack with the blue velcro closure. If I have a headache I put it on my forehead and pull the elastic as tight as it will go. This way I no longer have to be concerned with a headache, instead, I worry about throwing a clot. Another health mystery would be my recently diagnosed high blood pressure and if it has anything to do with menopause. My blood pressure likely has more to do with running a business alone and my concerns about becoming a bag lady.

Regardless of whether it's menopause or old age, the same process is making it hard to decern where my face ends and my chin begins. It doesn't matter to me what to call the process that is making my mid-section look like something a microwave oven comes in. Unless defining it makes it go away, I don’t care what it is called.

I'm not saying it's a good idea to be ignorant of the changes that will occur to our bodies. I don't believe that to be true, but for me, I think it's a good choice not to become obsessed with why something is getting bigger, balder, or harrier. Maybe for some of us, menopause is one of the times when self-care means doing nothing. Meaning if you’re an overthinker it might be best to avoid jumping into the menopause pool with abandon.

In the meantime, I think it's wise to stay away from those women who relished childbirth just a bit more than I am comfortable with. It’s these women who might be apt to tell me they woke up looking like a werewolf with bat arms when they hit menopause. Women have been getting old long before their OB-GYNS reminded them to scoot up a bit more and I think we will all be ok.

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