For many years, I’ve wondered what it was going to be like to have the heat intolerance of dysautonomia, and the hot flashes of menopause. Well, now I know. It’s like nothing else. If you’ve ever been too close to a bonfire, and felt like you were going to spontaneously combust, that’s close… but the fire is inside of you. You can’t move away from it. It takes away the ability to focus on anything else. It is all-consuming. And, thankfully, it only lasts for 15-30 seconds, hence the ‘flash’ label. By the time I get to the thermostat to set it on ‘freezer burn’, it’s over. Then it’s back to the ‘normal’ heat intolerance of dysautonomia. I’ve had the AC on since January (in the middle of one of the coldest and snowiest winters we’ve ever had). Now it’s summer, and the hot flashes are part of daily life.
Some other little treats I hadn’t expected with peri-menopause are nausea (literally like morning sickness, with no particular pattern), memory lapses (that go along with some leftover chemo-brain, and make me wonder if I’m becoming demented, but then remember that people who really are demented don’t wonder about it much), and changes in body odor. Make that a stench that one expects amongst cross-country runners in the Sahara that have never had the luxury of showers or antiperspirant. It’s awful. Like I can smell myself, and it’s a combo of nasty pits, a landfill, and chunky, sour milk all wrapped into one. Hormones, the articles say. It’s all about shifting hormones.
I’d noticed some odd chin hairs for a while, and have a pretty good system for plucking… magnifying mirror, flashlight, reading glasses, and primo tweezers. Not a problem. Or so I thought. After the family Christmas party last year, I found one that was about an inch long (did I mention the vision changes that start pretty much on the 40th birthday? I turned 50 last November, so my close-up vision is toast). I wonder how many family members saw it, and wondered if I was going ‘continental’. I figured that was a hormonal thing. But the nausea caught me off guard. Fortunately, it does get better with some saltines and nausea meds. The memory stuff is annoying, but I really don’t have to remember a lot, and the stuff I do have to remember, I write down. The stink is manageable, but still annoying. But the hot flashes? They are “special”. While I know in my head that it’s gonna be over soon, it’s intense for those few seconds. I keep wondering if I’m gonna leave charred areas on my recliner.
The dog seems to know when the hot flashes are going on, and she wants to get up on my lap with her hot furry self, and lie down on me. 😦 She’s been quickly pushed off of me a few times, giving me a look of disgust. I just want any exposed skin to have full advantage of the air conditioner when the flashes hit. She can come back when it’s over.
The hot flashes happen several times a day, but not often enough to get any soy pills marketed for peri-menopausal women (I worry about side effects and interactions with my mandatory medications). I keep telling myself that there’s a tradeoff for not having to ride the cotton pony every month. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of “No Aunt Flo”, only to see her again three months since the last visit. NO real warning, besides a day of boob aches, and then BOOM. She’s back. I’ll be glad when it’s all done, but have heard that sometimes the symptoms of menopause can be gone for years, and come back when someone is in their 70s and 80s. Seriously? I might be 75 years old, and be wracked with a fogging stench and waves of blistering heat, whilst my friends are in their rockers, with an extra lap robe and sweater on, and long-gone senses of smell? I’ll be the odd duck, I’m pretty sure of that. No point in thinking that I’ll turn ‘normal’ as time goes on…. that hasn’t panned out so far. If anything, the dysautonomia is getting consistently worse (starting with the chemo). Oh, bother.
Well, the wonder of those hot flashes is over. I’m pretty sure they’d be awful with or without dysautonomia. Seems like most women have them, with or without night sweats (knock on laminate, I don’t have those). I don’t remember how long this is supposed to last… and in some ways, I guess it’s good that it’s started, so it can get on and be done with. Until then, my thermostat is shifted more often than undies full of fire ants. And with as much urgency.