I know that most of the changes that my body is going through is thanks to the onset of perimenopause. I started getting a few hot flashes around my fiftieth birthday. At first they were just from the chest up - a brief heat wave and flushed colour and then it was over. I thought maybe I might be getting off lucky. No such luck. Within a few months it had progressed to full body and they weren't fun even though they only lasted a couple of minutes. A hot flash in the middle of winter isn't so bad as it can cut down on the heating bills, but in the summer it can be downright uncomfortable - there is only so much you can take off without causing a scene!
Several of my friends warned me about night sweats. You are sound asleep when you suddenly feel so hot that you begin to sweat and throw off the covers just to cool off. Some women actually have to change the sheets during the night. Others keep a wet cloth handy by the bed so they can do a rub down to cool their bodies.
I don't get night sweats every night, but when I do, it would be really nice if they arrived at the same time as the collect call from Mother Nature! But, NOOO! I'll get ready for bed and within seconds of crawling into bed my feet turn to ice cubes and I often get a cold chill in the hollow of my back, despite being well covered. So my whole body ends up shivering! One of those times when the warmth a male body would come in handy - but I digress! The blanket also seems to be working against me, as it thinks it is supposed to keep the ice from melting not the reverse. ARGH!
So after a few minutes, my body finally warms up and I fall into a comfortable sleep - unless of course my brain decides to kick into overdrive and keep me awake for awhile longer. Eventually I do fall asleep and generally sleep quite well - until I get an emergency call from Mother Nature who requires my presence in another part of the apartment. As one of my friends says - "at least your body still alerts you to GET up!" True - and I am very thankful for that! The point is, that why couldn't the hot flash also arrive at the same time? It would keep me warm till I crawl back under the covers. Apparently that isn't the way this aging game works. They tag team through most nights just enough to prevent me from getting a decent nights sleep. The insomnia can also decide to call in the middle of the night. I have occasionally had to function on 3 to 4 hours of very disjointed sleep and that is not easy for me as I generally need my 8 hours of shut eye. So much fun - NOT!
I've never really suffered from PMS. I've had bad moods, but they don't generally coordinate with my cycle. When I do have a bad day, I usually try to avoid people or really watch myself if I have to go out. However, this past June I did have a really rough few weeks. My mood and emotions could turn on a dime! I caught myself wanting to yell at people over the tiniest things. I was overly emotional and cried at almost anything for no reason. It felt like the world was conspiring against me.
I emailed my gal pals and told them what was going on. I asked them not to send me any "touchy/feely/sappy" emails - which I'm not a fan of anyway - but they annoyed me even more than usual. I asked the gals to send me only funny stuff from then on. They assured me they understood and that I wasn't loosing my mind. They also sent me some hilarious stuff!
I really wasn't that sure about my mind though, as I just wasn't acting or feeling like myself. Case in point: I was trying to get a recipe from a friend, but they didn't really have a specific recipe for the item that they had recommended I try and suggested I do it in the same manner as another recipe I have - just switch the ingredients. They said "it's an art - not a science!" Normally, I would have agreed and just tried it, as I do enjoy experimenting - but since this was an ingredient I'd never worked with before and my reactions were on hair trigger setting, I wanted to jump through the PC and throttle the friend! I knew I was over reacting even as this was going through my brain but I couldn't stop myself. It was like I was watching myself from across the room and thinking: "Who was this mad woman and why was she reacting like this?" Turns out my friend was right and the recipe I had worked fine but at that moment I could have slugged them!
Every woman goes through this whole process in their own way. Some sail through it and barely notice. For some the symptoms only last a few months and for others it can last for years. Some find themselves in a bizarre parallel universe and unwittingly put the people they love through a constant revolving door of emotions. Some turn to medications to ease the symptoms, but that can create a whole new set of problems. Most of us just tough it out and rely on all of our sisters to help keep us laughing and stop us from wanting to harm unsuspecting bystanders - 99% of which are men!
Luckily, we have had a cooler than normal summer this year. My body has really appreciated that. I think I've been reasonably sane for the last couple of months, but then again would I really know if I wasn't? Don't answer that. I think this may be one of those times when ignorance is bliss and I really don't want to hurt you.