We all have aches and pains from time to time, except maybe people in their 20s who spend a lot of time drinking and ignoring their bodies without consequence, and we all hate them for it, except when we remember we pissed off people the same way in our 20s. It’s the circle of life coming to bite us in the ass.
Throughout our life, our period’s aches and pains change, but mostly they are variations on theme: sometimes you get more cramps than usual or less (ha ha, I’m just messing’ with ya, that never happens). Maybe you get a new headache or your mood swings around a little more like a drunken boxer in a ring, rather than a 1940s swing coat, but mostly it’s just a new pattern settling in. You complain to your friends for a few months, and then forget it was any different until the next shift.
All that goes on for 35 years, give or take. I heard about perimenopause, but I thought it was more of the same variations. But let me tell you, 12 years into perimenopause, I can safely say that experience does diddly to prepare you for the slow creep and then onslaught of bizarre symptoms of perimenopause. I mean this shit is wacky. Sure there are the symptoms everyone talks about and make it into the one-woman Broadway shows. Things like hot flashes that feel like Satan has decided to start a fire inside you, and I’m not talking about fiery passion. More like the fires of hell that don’t give a damn that you might be in a work meeting or on a date, or just generally trying to be a normal person.
Mood swings are also a popular topic people like to parody. I’d like to be able to say that our mood swings are directly related to all the other weird hormonal shit that’s happening to us, but the truth is, it’s random. I wanted to rip a woman to shreds with my bare hands simply because she was wearing a coat with an unusual geometric pattern. I think it was what sharks feel when they taste blood. Lucky for her and me I’d been having these bouts for a while, so when I saw her and wanted to pummel her to the ground, I understood it was only perimenopause. I shrugged my shoulders, let her be, and regaled my coworkers with my humorous insanity and we laughed about it.
But all of you who make fun of us should know that’s the tip of the iceberg of what we’re dealing with. If feels like our hormones are running amuck like drunken teenagers without a curfew, and that shit gets old really, really fast. Here are bunch of other lesser known symptoms:
Every once in a while my heart feels like it beats inward instead of out. It’s just a few beats but it’s annoyingly weird. My friend gets random tingling in her arm, and, no, she isn’t having a heart attack. She checked the first time it happened. I’ve gotten a weird thing in my hip socket where one day I’m perfectly fine, then the next day if I turn sharply right while I’m walking, my leg suddenly collapses. That’s super fun, let me tell you. I only fell once, and then I learned to catch myself before it happened. After a few days it disappears. And that’s the really annoying part. Most of these things come and go, and with each new thing, you get super worried because it always seem to resemble a serious illness. If you freak out, and get an urgent appointment with your doctor, you soon realize you’re not dying. You’re not even close. Your doctor will ask you questions that describe a serious illness, and you hear words like “uncontrollable bleeding,” “incapacitating pain,” and “excessive or no bowel movements.” You sit there with your perplexing, yet comparatively harmless afflictions, and sound like a big symptom loser.
“Well, doc, when I make a sharp turn to the right, my right leg tends to give out, but I can walk fine if I’m careful, and then it goes away after a few days.” And then she looks at me with raised eyebrows as if to say, “Are we done here? I need to attend to people with real medical issues.” At that point, I start to wish I did have full-on symptoms so she would be sympathetic and give me something. Of course anyone having the full on symptoms, say sitting in a pool of sweat at work, will want to pummel me as if I were wearing a stupid coat, which I’m not. I’m just wearing stupid.
Other symptoms include getting a nice ax-embedded-in-the-side-of-my-head kind of migraine. For a while it was a sign that my period would come the next day, so that was actually kind of useful, until peri realized she was getting too predictable, and I started to get a headache during and after my period. Thanks, bitch.
Don’t get me started with my periods. They have gotten longer and always show up early, unless they come late. I’ve yet to even get to the point where I skip some months (usually the sign that you are getting close to the finish line), and I’m 51 for fuck’s sake.
Also don’t talk to me about how much I spend on supplies–it’s obscene. I was with a group of four women, all the same age–two of us still had our periods and two didn’t. The two who finished had, of course, just stocked up on tampons and napkins. We thought we could start a charity that could take the supplies of women who finally finish and re-distribute them among those of us who are still going strong. I know I could really use that tampon money for my kid’s college tuition.
And did I mention I’m 51? I should be done with this stuff by now–is it any wonder I want to pummel people? But maybe I shouldn’t be so eager to quit. I recently saw my two older sisters. One finally stopped, but then she gained 10 pounds doing nothing differently. My other sister is sputtering and was telling me about her thinning hair. Her period comes anywhere from every three days to every three weeks. What fresh hell is this??
So go ahead, make fun of us and have a good laugh. But do so at your peril. I may not like the coat you’re wearing.