It started innocently enough. The weather was changing and I woke up drenched in sweat. “Oh, that was probably my fault,” said my husband. “I bumped the heat for awhile this morning while I was taking a shower. It was chilly when I got up!”
That sounds reasonable, right? The heat was on. I got hot. I sweated. Totes normal.
But I wake up with the back of my shirt wet most mornings lately, and I’m couponing for the first time ever just so I can stock up on all the deodorant I now need.
The back pain started just as innocuously. One day I pushed it too hard. I was on my feet too long. It was too much, and now I would pay. Completely understandable.
But it’s been months since I did anything strenuous, and I can’t remember a single day since that day when my lower back isn’t achy and sore at some point during the day. It constantly feels like I’m about to start my period. And I mean in every way. My back aches, I get twitches in my legs, I’m tired as fuck like all the time, my belly feels all bloaty, and I am snappish with every single person I’m in contact with — and sometimes even the dog. I’m not kidding. I’m not proud of it, but me being sorry for being a bitch isn’t going to lessen the fact that if you doubt for one second that I would kill someone just to watch them die, then you step over that trash on the floor without picking it up one more goddamn time tonight, I fucking dare you.
But my period is fine. It hasn’t been late. It hasn’t been spotty. It hasn’t been heavier than normal or lighter than normal. It hasn’t done anything other than what it’s supposed to be doing. And that is why I haven’t considered the possibility sooner that I am going through what my mom and grandmother used to call “the change of life.” If not for some random person in my Facebook feed mentioning it, I don’t know how long it would have been before I thought of it.
I am 39. Thirty fucking nine. My body feels it lately too, but in my brain, I am still 25. So things that my 25-year-old self would consider “old people problems” don’t even register on my radar until they slap me in the face. But once they do, I’m googling like a maniac. I must know all the things, and I must know them immediately.
First, I started googling things like, “Do I need to go to the doctor for menopause?” because do I? I didn’t go to the doctor when I started menstruating, but am I supposed to go at the end? Who keeps the book with the answers to these questions? Menopause is like a dirty word — it’s even worse than talking about your period. It only happens in hushed tones and with furtive keystrokes and frantic googling of things like “why is my lower back always hurting.” And then trying not to panic when the answer is some obscure blood disease where you only have three days to live, because menopause is never one of the answers to that question in the first 10 results of that search.
This shit happens to everybody at some point, so why am I having such a hard time finding answers to my pretty damn basic questions? Why am I googling instead of asking people I know? I don’t fucking know. Sigh. What was I saying? I can’t remember. You could tell me that I have adult onset ADD (that could totally be a thing and I wouldn’t even blink at this point), but am I really just losing my goddamn mind…or perhaps I’m just perimenopausal?
Oh, talking to people. That’s what I was saying. Yeahhh. Well, see, me and peopling isn’t going so well these days. I think part of it is that it hasn’t been that long since I said something about being hot, and my husband made a joke about hot flashes (hardy har har) and that ended with death threats and “shut your fucking mouth” because we were both in a really sweet and congenial mood that day. So I’ll stick to non-human interaction for the time being, thanks anyway.
Oh, but at the same time, while I don’t want to have anything to do with anyone who isn’t bringing me snacks or a fan and a block of ice, that’s creating another interesting problem. Two of the symptoms I am “supposed” to be having are lack of (or a declining) libido and vaginal dryness. Without getting all TMI on you, let’s just say those aren’t happening either. In fact, the opposite. He’s a happy camper. He’s also wondering if I’m a secret drug addict of some kind of new female Viagra. I’m considering buying some stock in Energizer batteries, and let’s leave it at that.
I am so confused. Nothing is happening like they say it’s supposed to be happening. Am I just weird, or are we way behind the times on this needed conversation? Is menopause (and perimenopause) such a taboo topic that we can’t even get a straight answer, or is it that we’ve fallen prey to the overgeneralizations that have been made for decades about what happens to a woman’s body as she ages because the truth is really that it happens a variety of different ways for everyone?
Or maybe I’m not really perimenopausal. Maybe I just can’t sleep, my back just hurts, and it’s so fucking hot in here that if someone doesn’t turn the air on right goddamn now I’m going to have to hurt somebody because I can’t fucking breathe.
OK, scratch that last part. I’m going with overgeneralizations on this one. And maybe making an appointment to see my doctor next week.