Tag Archives: hormones

The Mother of All Aches and Pains

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.

Me and My Super Freak…Acne Again

I wrote this post last year, and since I’ve had acne on my chin for two solid months, I thought it would be fun to complain about it again. Plus, now I. Am. For. Ty. Nine. Years, Old. 49. This is bullshit, just sayin’.

Last night there were two suspicious red areas on my chin. This morning I have three raised acne bumps and one hurts like hell and looks like it means business. Big deal, you say. I. Am. For. Ty. Eight. Years. Old. 48. More than two scores. Nearly a half century. Almost half a Ben Franklin. I have slowly made peace with fact that this is a time of transition. Perimenopause, life assessment, aging parents, raising a teen, facing old emotional baggage. And on a good day, I can spin much of this into an almost noble undertaking, as if I’ve chosen personal growth, rather than getting dragged to it kicking and screaming by Mother Nature. But acne? Really? There is no spinning that. It sucked when I had it as a teen and it sucks now. Do you know what’s even more mortifying? I have a bathroom cabinet full of acne products, and only one belongs to my teen-aged son.

But it’s more than that. Not only was I not told about this possibility, I was told the opposite by the dermatologist who treated my scar-inducing cystic acne when I was 20. He said I’d have beautiful skin at 50. I guess he assumed the excessive oil production causing the acne would have declined  by 1) the passage of time and 2) the drug I was taking, Accutane*, which cuts down oil gland production. His prediction meant very little to me at the time — at 20, I could hardly imagine being 25, never mind 50. But over time I came to depend on the promised beautiful skin. As I got into full-on perimenopause and my hormones were acting like drunken citizens during Prohibition, I clung to the fact that at least I wouldn’t have to deal with acne. Maybe my body was sweating randomly and plaguing me with odd aches and pains, but dammit I was going to have amazing skin!

I should have realized to not take his predictions too seriously. He also confidently and inaccurately predicted I would only need two Accutane treatments. “Hardly anyone has needed two, and no one has needed three.” To be fair, Accutane came out in 1979 and I took it first in 1984. Probably no one knew how many treatments it should take, especially for my super freak acne.

But here I am all this time later with acne that isn’t quite Accutane worthy, but is more than just a dainty “blemish” — a stupid word if ever there was one. I never thought I would actually be able to say a positive thing about having acne as a teen, but as severe as mine was, at least plenty of kids had some kind of acne, and it’s an expected teen thing. Now I get to go to work meetings and try to be professional with a bunch of angry red bumps on my chin—or on my nose or in my ear if I’m super lucky! That’s wicked fun, let me tell you. I almost envy the women who are sweating and ripping off their suit jackets. I happen to work with a lot of people in that age group, so it’s not as freakish as if you worked in say, a start-up with 20-somethings. Although, now that I think about it, they might have some acne. I should definitely check that out as a career move. At least until get my fabulous skin at 60.

*I just want to acknowledge Accutane has since become a generic drug and has had come controversy around side effects: severe birth defects and suicidal depression. I had a positive experience with it. My doctor told me flat out, “If you get pregnant on this drug, your child will have deformities and may not even have a head.” I was scared into compliance, and it did not affect my son who was born a number of years after I stopped taking it. And as far as depression, it was the really bad acne that was depressing me, and when it cleared up (after three tries), I was a new woman. Well, at least until now.

Photo credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-chinny-chin-chins-5/

Me and My Super Freak…Acne

Last night, there were two suspicious red areas on my chin. This morning I have three raised acne bumps and one hurts like hell and looks like it means business. Big deal, you say. I. Am. For. Ty. Eight. Years. Old. 48. More than two scores. Nearly a half century. Almost half a Ben Franklin. I have slowly made peace with fact that this is a time of transition. Perimenopause, life assessment, aging parents, raising a teen, facing old emotional baggage. And on a good day, I can spin much of this into an almost noble undertaking, as if I’ve chosen personal growth, rather than getting dragged to it kicking and screaming by Mother Nature. But acne? Really? There is no spinning that. It sucked when I had it as a teen and it sucks now. Do you know what’s even more mortifying? I have a bathroom cabinet full of acne products, and only one belongs to my teen-aged son.

But it’s more than that. Not only was I not told about this possibility, I was told the opposite by the dermatologist who treated my scar-inducing cystic acne when I was 20. He said I’d have beautiful skin at 50. I guess he assumed the excessive oil production causing the acne would have declined  by 1) the passage of time and 2) the drug I was taking, Accutane*, which cuts down oil gland production. His prediction meant very little to me at the time — at 20, I could hardly imagine being 25, never mind 50. But over time I came to depend on the promised beautiful skin. As I got into full-on perimenopause and my hormones were acting like drunken citizens during Prohibition, I clung to the fact that at least I wouldn’t have to deal with acne. Maybe my body was sweating randomly and plaguing me with odd aches and pains, but dammit I was going to have amazing skin!

I should have realized to not take his predictions too seriously. He also confidently and inaccurately predict I would only need two Accutane treatments. “Hardly anyone has needed two, and no one has needed three.” To be fair, Accutane came out in 1979 and I took it first in 1984. Probably no one knew how many treatments it should take, especially for my super freak acne.

But here I am all this time later with acne that isn’t quite Accutane worthy, but is more than just a dainty “blemish” — a stupid word if ever there was one. I never thought I would actually be able to say a positive thing about having acne as a teen, but as severe as mine was, at least plenty of kids had some kind of acne, and it’s an expected teen thing. Now I get to go to work meetings and try to be professional with a bunch of angry red bumps on my chin—or on my nose or in my ear if I’m super lucky! That’s wicked fun, let me tell you. I almost envy the women who are sweating and ripping off their suit jackets. I happen to work with a lot of people in that age group, so it’s not as freakish as if you worked in say, a start-up with 20-somethings. Although, now that I think about it, they might have some acne. I should definitely check that out as a career move. At least until get my fabulous skin at 60.

*I just want to acknowledge Accutane has since become a generic drug and has had come controversy around side effects: severe birth defects and suicidal depression. I had a positive experience with it. My doctor told me flat out, “If you get pregnant on this drug, your child will have deformities and may not even have a head.” I was scared into compliance, and it did not affect my son who was born a number of years after I stopped taking it. And as far as depression, it was the really bad acne that was depressing me, and when it cleared up (after three tries), I was a new woman. Well, at least until now.

Photo credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-chinny-chin-chins-5/