So on Friday evening I was sitting at the computer, minding my own business, when out of nowhere I was hit with a peculiar feeling. “It’s ridiculously hot in here,” I said to my husband. “Did the AC just stop working? What is going on?”
“It’s really not hot in here,” he replied. “No, it’s not, Mom,” my 14-year-old son agreed.
They were both obviously wrong. It felt like Death Valley. I was certain the air-conditioner had gone haywire and had begun spewing out hot air. Maybe the two of them had fevers and were chilled? I began flapping my shirt to cool myself off. It helped a little, but not much. So I flapped it harder. My husband reached out and touched my leg.
“You feel cool,” he said. “You’re fine.” I told him to touch the back of my neck, which was at this point drenched with sweat. “Oh my god! What’s wrong with you?” was his kind and empathetic response.
“I don’t know,” I answered, “but I feel like I need to rip all my clothes off right now!”
At which point my 14-year-old said, “That’s just too much information, Mom,” as he turned to leave the room with a look on his face of combined bewilderment, horror and amusement.
And that’s when I realized what was happening. I turned to my husband: “Dougie, I think I’m having a hot flash.”
“Oh,” he buried himself in his smartphone for a minute. “Yup, it sounds like it.” As frequently happens when something health-related affects me or my family, my medical knowledge flew out the window. “How long will this last?” I asked him.
“Hold on a sec, I’m checking with Dr. Google…it says anywhere from a couple minutes to quite a while.” He picked up a magazine and started fanning me as he took my hand and guided me toward an air conditioning vent (which, apparently, had been blowing full blast this entire time, not that it did me any good).
The hot flash was over in about 20 minutes. Then a half-hour later, it happened again, but this time lasted only about 10 minutes. And then I was back to normal and fine the rest of the evening and the next morning; so fine the next morning, in fact, and so full of energy, that I went out with my family to attack our weeds.
It had been a while since we had gone outside, and the garden and lawn offensive. We were out there for hours and filled six yard waste bags. It felt great. Neighborhood property values rebounded to where they should be.
But on Sunday, it hurt every time I moved. Arms hurt. Legs hurt. Shoulders hurt. Back hurt. My husband felt the same way. The kids were completely fine (and yes, they had worked the entire time with us).
So I woke up today and headed into the clinic where I am a doctor to see patients as usual. I had survived the introductory temperature dysregulation of perimenopause. I had survived the physical consequences of the war with the weeds, and I was feeling significantly less sore. I arrived early, ready to start my day, and chatted a bit with one of the medical assistants in the office. She was talking about her son, 3 years old, and I asked to see a picture. She showed me a photo on her phone. I remarked on the child’s cuteness.
Then the medical assistant asked me if I had any children or grandchildren of my own, and that was the first time in my life I had been asked if I had grandchildren. I very, very, very much want grandchildren in my future, and I am in my mid-40s, certainly old enough to be a grandmother. But I’ll let your imagination go where it may on what you think some of the thoughts running through my head might have been in response to that question.
I frequently tell my kids how I love each stage of life that I’ve reached, that life keeps getting richer and better as I age. This is how I feel deep down inside. I have earned every hot flash (although I’d be happy if they didn’t return), every gray hair and every wimpy muscle that rebels after a few hours ripping out weeds. I’ve made peace with the fact that it has been years since I’ve been carded. I’m delighted to be in the no-drama, don’t-take-crap-from-anyone phase of life.
But I would advise people to ask me about my children. When I do have grandchildren, I would politely ask that you react in surprise to such news and remark on how young I look to be a grandmother.
And please turn up the air-conditioning.