It happened again today – I was in a room with several women “of a certain age” (too young for Medicare, too old to text proficiently) and one of them said, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Everyone started commiserating about her hot flashes, and I started wondering if we’re not overstating it a bit. I mean, I wake up in the middle of the night once in awhile feeling a bit clammy, but from what I’ve read, only a small percentage of women have debilitating symptoms – and yet to hear them talk, every single one of us over 35 is spending every moment of every day and night sweating uncontrollably. Apparently perimenopause (which didn’t even exist 20 years ago) lasts 15 years . . . ?
It reminds me of being a teenager when most of my friends had started their periods – they took pride in complaining about their hideous cramps, and I, as a late bloomer, felt totally left out of the club. I actually resorted to borrowing nickels once a month because, “You know”! (Okay, even if I weren’t discussing menopausal symptoms, I just dated myself – how long has it been since tampons cost a nickel?) Once I finally started, I realized that sure, cramps happened occasionally, but not nearly as often or as universally as the other girls claimed, in their zeal to fit in.
Or maybe it’s more like the first time I got high, my sophomore year of college (yeah, I was a late bloomer here too). I was so intent on figuring out exactly what I was feeling, I took notes and kept wondering (and writing), “Is this it? I don’t know if I just feel weird or if I’m really high, nahh, I don’t think anything is really happening, although gee, for some strange reason I’m really hungry and my mouth feels like it’s full of cotton.” Likewise, I keep wondering, Is this an actual hot flash?, when actually, it's just hot!
Maybe all of us are going through the same doubts – is this really it? – and figure, what the heck, it’s fun to commiserate and to be part of the gang. Besides, it’s even more fun to complain about hot flashes and to hear someone say, But you’re way too young for menopause. Meanwhile I can look forward to the real thing (and the end of cramps!)