On dust clouds and mid-life

24 Jun

12:29 pm

So, we live in the vicinity of the Godzilla dust cloud from the Sahara, and um, it is making things almost hilariously apocalyptic. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, considering the pandemic, the BLM protests/riots, and now, one of the worst dust seasons (it is a seasonal thing) in history! I tried jogging the other day and felt like I just had to stop after two miles, I was so…heavy all over. Yesterday, we went to the beach and I almost fell asleep in my chair; this dust makes me tired, which seems like a really strange reaction to me. Sure, I can feel it in my lungs, a tight burning when I breathe; in my eyes, which burn; it gives me a headache; but, falling-asleep-tired? Stranger things have happened, and at this point, I have become sort of used to taking things as they come, in stride, and moving along.

I thought about whether I wanted to write this post, about my mid-life transition, and I am posting a truncated version of what I wrote yesterday. Yes, I want to share, but eh, not in THAT much detail.

Suffice it to say, I was finally able to follow up with my gynecologist and get all that woman stuff taken care of, including blood work to test my hormone levels. As I suspected–things changed this year, and I sort of knew, somehow, in my body/mind that things had changed–I am now menopausal (versus perimenopausal). At the ripe old age of just-turned-46. Haha. It’s all good, and I knew it was coming early for me. Actually, I feel better than I have in almost two years. My night heat (I guess my version of hot flashes will have been this intense burning up at night along with dry chills) has improved and I don’t have insomnia nearly as often as I used to.

The past two or three months, as the night heat has gotten better, I’ve found myself letting go of caring about making it better or controlling it or just worrying about it. It sucks, but I have found ways to cope (cooling showers, deep breathing–yeah, that really does work). Maybe it’s partly a sense of relief and hope–this shit actually DOES get better. When you’re going through it, and can’t find a damn thing online that matches what you’re experiencing, there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

In general, I feel like I care less about everything, am more willing to just let things go, to stop trying to control everything. Maybe it’s the series of events this year that has made me go, you know, you just cannot control everything/anything, and your reaction–and chain reaction to your reaction–is key to staying sane, at least for me (I don’t have clinical depression or anxiety, so I am not talking about people for whom it’s not as easy as “think positive”). I mean, maybe it’s what our move back to the island taught me recently–there is only so much you have control of here, and so much you can care about or try to change. Maybe it’s the changing nature of our friendships; when you “go home again,” they have changed, and you have to change your expectations (otherwise, you’re just going to be irritated all the time by expectations being not met!).

Mabye it’s the coronavirus, these protests, the fact that I was furloughed from my job. I don’t know, but I am holding on less and less to the idea that I have control or even should care–and that has done wonders for my mood! I am focusing more on the life in front of me, on the “now,” mostly because I don’t have a clear view of the past or the future anymore–I am forgetting/letting go of the past, and the future is way too uncertain to make any predictions.

On the “menopause” (in quotes, because there is no rule book) front, I think I’m relieved to have finally gotten some “answers” (my hormone tests came back showing much different readouts than last year). I am no longer in this limbo, in a way, searching for information, for some kind of absolute truth–it does not exist, and frankly, most of the information out there is conflicting. I chose a gynecologist who seems current in her knowledge and is very pro-treatment/hormone therapy. Others might choose to not take hormones. Both are OK.

The maddening search has ended, mainly because I am through the worst of it (I guess?) but also because I just gave up trying to find what I was looking for, which was my experience! I literally found zero information on my version of “hot flashes,” which are that I burn up at night, have dry chills, but as far as I know, have never had the kind of hot flash that you think of when you think of menopause (drenched in sweat, red, panicky) during the day; I have never had that kind of hot flash, actually…unless it was so slight that I didn’t distinguish it from just being hot.

Anyway, the point is that, it’s gotten better, and as it’s gotten better, I’ve started to care less and hold onto EVERYTHING less, to let things roll off me more–in all aspects of my life, it seems.

I went through a period of mourning, years ago, actually, for my fertility, for my youth; I came to the, gasp, “shocking” realization that I am going to age and die, like everyone else! (Actually, I am glad I had to confront this early on, and not wait until my 50s.) The thing that still makes me a bit sad is that I never shared this experience with anyone. For the most part, I kept it to myself. Sure, my boo knows every detail–thank Goddess, he is cool about it all and offered as much advice and support as he could. However, I’ve never told my mom (a different post, but she would just make it worse), rarely talked about it with close girlfriends, never revealed the emotional aspects to my gynecologist (she was too busy and not interested in that angle). No one seemed to care–moreso, I didn’t want to talk about it myself, actually. I just wanted it to pass so that I could move on with my life.

Yet, it was a HUGE part of the past few years and in some ways, all-consuming: What is happening to my body, why am I burning up every night, will I ever feel normal again?

I’m just glad I’m through it, knock wood. Glad my only symptoms are/were mild, relatively speaking. If there is more to come, I can keep on keepin’ on; no one is going to die, as a hilarious coworker of mine used to say in the face of the extreme–and ridiculous–concern over the building of the company’s website pages. Haha.

I have to say, being an active alcoholic for at least a decade has definitely made my tolerance for pain much higher than the average woman’s! I mean, pfft, a little burning up at night, chills, and waking up after four hours is NOTHING compared to being blackout drunk for 12 hours and then hungover for another 48 (and all the mental anguish, the suicidal thinking, that ensues). NOTHING can be worse than that except maybe paranoid delusions or drug-induced psychosis, in my opinion. So, another silver lining to having been a drunk!

On a different note: I am still off social media–since mid-April–and it feels great. It’s really working for me; literally, it’s doing wonders for my sense of calm, peace of mind, ability to focus on what I need to do, which is stay focused on a job search. And, as for our pup, she is still fighting; she doesn’t have much control anymore over her hind legs, but she is a fighter and has a strong will to live. She has always been a happy dog, a dog who loves life; so, when she lets me know that her pain (so to speak; I think she is more numb back there than in pain) is greater than her will to live, then we’ll think about next steps.

Happy week, all! Thanks for reading this post…

5 Responses to “On dust clouds and mid-life”

  1. Ainsobriety June 25, 2020 at 12:20 am #

    It’s nice to have a dr you trust.
    I’m 48. I still get regular periods. I get serious night sweats during those days,but otherwise I think my hormones are good.
    I had no periods from 2012-around 2015…I thought I had early menopause, but it was adrenal fatigue. Too much starving and booze…lol

    The dust cloud looks ominous. 2020 is quite the year!

    Take care and stay safe,
    Anne

  2. Adrian June 25, 2020 at 8:23 am #

    I also starting having hot flashes and went through menopause earlier, apparently, than my friends (~48) and so also didn’t talk much about it with people. (They’re now catching up, and I guess all I can do is smile and nod?!) I find them an excellent thing to practicing not-resisting on. Which can feel brutal if they’re the I’m-going-to-kill-you type. But it’s helpful. I also was practicing trying to surf them for a while — they sometimes are accompanied by horrid dread and fear and doom (which lasts all of 2 minutes, which is hilarious, but instructive) and in those cases I would inject a positive, happy emotion into them to try to switch their trajectory. And you know what? It sometimes worked. My emotions and the physical “causes” sometimes go both ways, which blows my mind. They are good practice for the same sort of letting-things-pass as happens with alcohol cravings; all this stuff is good life playground stuff.

    So glad you got a good dr. and some lab answers!

    And, I think that “less opinions” or “I don’t care” will become a trend in the future when we get sick of the constant outrage and opinionating. We’ll hopefully keep the angry motivation for stuff like racial injustice, but in the rest of life we will just… settle…. down….

    Hope your air clears soon. Adrian

  3. Robert Crisp June 28, 2020 at 7:10 am #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m a 46 year old man and am going through some changes of my own, as all people do, but I’m glad to read about your perspective as I think my wife’s will be similar (and already is in some ways). I’m always in awe of how much pain with wife can stand; she gave birth to both our children naturally with a mid-wife. She can absolutely had anything else.

    I’m also off the big social media sites and have been since the pandemic and riots. There’s just nothing helpful for me there. I’ve found other ways to engage with people (reddit, discord) and that’s much better. For me, at least. Take care!

  4. Lovie Price June 29, 2020 at 4:47 am #

    well, good to hear you are still doing ok offline..told ya it’s refreshing! lol..(just my own experience- not an expert). I’ve been back on since january and still wanting to take another sabbatical. Haven’t worked up to it yet..but found that since my first one its much easier to ignore the BS and spend way less time scrolling.Menopause , for me, has been a beats similar to Covid- unpredictable , scary and frustrating as hell. I had insane hot flashes for the first 6 months, then they went away. I started hormones and after 8 months of no period, started getting them again – heavy, randomly and about every other week- so stopped..then i was fine for a few months but NOW the hot flashes are back. I feel like it will never end and it’s so aggravating because i am FINALLY in a happy relationship and i don’t want to not be unable to sleep beside him because i sleep jack the Ripper style ( alternating between covers on , covers off, cant be touched and then wanting to be cuddled- i mean who will put up with that for very long?) Le sigh….praying for the end of it.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl June 29, 2020 at 11:23 am #

      I know, it has been on and off for me, too, at least for the first few years. Last couple years, it has been consistent, this burning up at night and 50/50 nights insomnia. I do know that daily progesterone (I was rx’d the lowest dose, 100 mg) has definitely helped with my insomnia, which has given me my life back. I can deal with burning up–and yeah, unfortunately, I can almost never cuddle anymore–but it’s the lack of sleep that kills me.

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