Hot Flashes and temporary insanity

So. . . after approximately 15 years I am no longer taking hormone replacements.  At 35 I had a total hysterectomy and therefore went in to what is lovingly called ‘medical menopause’.  Because I was fairly young for such  a procedure they put me on estrogen replacement to help my body deal with the effects that the loss of estrogen production would have.  Long story short — I was sailing along quite happily until I discovered that taking estrogen for a prolonged period of time could seriously up my risk for developing breast cancer.  Therefore, I went to my Naturopath, Dr. Richardson, a great doctor, really, and he helped wean me off the estrogen and suggested an herbal aid for controlling hot flashes and mood swings.

Now, about 2 months later I often feel like I’d gnaw off my own foot sometimes for one of those little yellow pills I was so dependent on.

It started off innocently enough — one or two mild flushes a day.  Something just hot enough to make me take off my sweater for a minute or two.  Then, it started progressively getting worse.  Soon, I couldn’t stand the feel of my clothes when I started ‘flashing’.   My legs would feel like they were bathed in a sheen of hot, greasy sweat beneath my pants; it would literally make me want to scream.  At work, however, that would be considered inappropriate behaviour.  At home — well, I do what ever I damn well please when one of these hot flashes strikes.

The biggest problem — besides the feeling that I’m living in a blast furnace for a good chunk of my day — is the night-time.  I really don’t get any sleep anymore.  Maybe an hour or two, but then I wake up feeling so hot, so sweaty and uncomfortable that I have to get up and walk around to create a cool breeze.  Repeat this scenario 5, 6 times in a night and you can see why they also add ‘mood swings’ to the mix of symptoms menopausal women endure.

I think I have a general understanding of how the ‘frequent flyer’ method of torture works.  No bloody wonder it works — after a week of nights like that I’d confess to anything just to have eight uninterrupted hours of blissful sleep.  However, in my case, I’d want cool, crisp cotton sheets, an open window with a slight breeze blowing gently over me — just in case.

I feel tired and stressed out all the time.  I can’t focus on anything for any length of time.  I’m irritable, emotional and sometimes irrational.  All because of a lack of estrogen.

How do women do it, who go through this process naturally?  Is it less intense?  How long will I have to suffer through this?  Dr. Richardson says a few years.  Right now that seems totally unacceptable.  I’m trying something new to help control the hot flashes, I hope it works.  Or someone just might die.

I’m joking … maybe.  ‘Cause right now, I’m having one and it’s making my skin crawl.  Excuse me while I go stand out side for a moment or two.

Okay, I’m back.  Feeling somewhat normal.  Praying that the new medication is going to magically kick in.

I know I’m not the only woman to have ever gone through this, and that my symptoms are probably not as bad as someone else’s, but you know what?  I don’t care.  This is happening to me, and right now I only care about me.

I would like someone to explain to me just exactly what the medical reason for this aspect of menopause is.  Nearly everything regarding human physiology has some explanation — so what is nature trying to protect me from with these godforsaken flashes of unbearable heat?  Is it killing cancer-causing cells?  Is it boosting/protecting my immune system?  What purpose does this torture serve?  Please, someone, enlighten me.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

It’s a glorious March morning here in Bon Accord.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and my husband is ironing his work shirts — in the nude.  I know, I know, but hey, I live with him. And part of why I love him is for quirky little things like that.

I would never and I mean NEVER even consider doing anything in the nude.  Just all that exposure — can’t handle it.  He, on the other hand, revels in his ‘freedom’.  It’s like his challenge to the world — see me! — and always with a huge, crooked grin on his face.  I just pray he stays away from the windows.

Although I’ve had an extremely busy, somewhat stressful week just passed, it was for the most part pretty good.  I felt like I really accomplished some good and put in some good time at work.  We are close to Spring Break and emotions are always running a little high for a couple of weeks before.  The kids are itching to get out of school, teachers and staff are stressed about report cards and parent/teacher interviews and parents are concerned that their kids aren’t learning up to their potential or are being short-changed somehow.

Give us all a week off in the sunshine and fresh air and we’ll settle down and revert to normal.  Whatever normal is.

Personally, I can hardly wait for the break.  I need some serious ‘down’ time.  Time to get some writing done, time to read, time to start cleaning and purging.  Time to do anything but think of work.

Now, I’ve got to make a comment about the avalanche in Revelstoke yesterday.  The second one.  The first one was bad enough.  The deaths, injury, destruction, recriminations, talk of legislation, etc., etc..  My reaction, like a great many others, was: What a bunch of stupid yahoos!  How do they justify stupidity as a sport?  And how do they justify putting so many people’s lives in danger for what they call their ‘love of nature’?

Yeah, I just love the thought of people being buried under tons of suffocating snow.  I love the thought of someone’s child living without one or both of his/her parents because Mommy and Daddy died doing what they ‘loved’.  I love the thought of parents burying their child and having to explain their heartbreak was caused by a recessive gene for stupidity.   The ensuing arguments over whose side it came from must be a laugh riot.

All the bullshit that came out following that first avalanche about how these ‘nature lovers’ and  ‘thrill seekers’ are not just redneck morons, but actual doctors and lawyers and accountants and. . .  just about made me want to. . . well, I don’t really know what it made me want to do, I just know it made me insane for a moment or two.  As if looking to their ranks and proclaiming that they’ve got ‘professionals’ amongst them somehow legitimizes their complete and utter lack of brains.  An education or initials behind a name is certainly not an indicator of intelligence — merely an indicator of choice and opportunity.

Now, yesterday, another avalanche, bigger and more devastating than the first was yet again triggered by idiots on snowmobiles.  One person is confirmed dead and the search is on for more buried beneath a mountain of snow and debris.

There’s always the argument tossed out that you can’t paint an entire group with the same brush as you would one or two of its members because of stupid or reckless behaviour and questionable personal beliefs and morals.  Not all Nazi’s were bad, if you get my drift.  They just happened to belong to the same organization that sanctioned whole-sale slaughter and ethnic cleansing, but they didn’t all actually DO any of that, or, so they say.  They were, they’ll tell you, good people, caught up by an idea that just went wrong.

and if you believe that. . .

. . .then you’ll believe that snow mobilers are just innocent victims of the nature they so dearly worship and love.  They are seduced by pristine, virgin snows and clear blue skies to drive, en-mass, into the wilderness with their pollution-chugging trucks and SUV’s.

They churn up the valleys and river banks with their high-priced toys and then they leave their garbage and their beer cans, the butt-ends of their celebratory cigars, their baby’s diapers and their children’s snack wrappers littering the place they swear they revere.  They disrupt the habitat of countless species of wildlife, none of which they ever see, because they make so much noise and wreak so much havoc that the wildlife flees in desperation.

Yes, these people are not rednecks, these people are not reckless and selfish and thoughtless and moronic, these people are ‘getting out there’ , they’re ‘experiencing’ life, they’re spending ‘quality time’ with family and friends.  Somehow, I’m just not buying it.

Why, I ask, did this second group of snow mobilers go back to an area that they knew was unstable?  Someone give me an answer to that, one that makes sense and I’ll stop spewing my derision for this group of idiots.  I seriously hope that no one else was killed or injured in that massive avalanche, but I think that’s pretty naive on my part.  I also seriously hope that the government steps in and starts making these people take some responsibility for their reckless behaviour and that they make them accountable for the cost of rescue efforts and clean up.

One more thing — do you know who I feel the most sorry for in all of this?  It’s the police, the avalanche patrol, the rescue workers, the health service providers and the rational people of Revelstoke who have stepped up and provided assistance, help, aid and comfort to the victims of these preventable tragedies — they’re the true heroes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It’s been a good day.  I took the day off to get some Union stuff done — and I got it done.  Yay, me!

Heather and I went for a walk in Gibbons this afternoon.  It’s lovely along the river path — slippery as hell in some spots, but very nice.  Spring really is just around the corner, but not before we get blasted with cold and snow one more time. 

March came in like a lamb, so you just know it’s going to go out like a lion, right? 

That old saying has stuck with me since Grade 3.  I remember doing some little craft in school with cotton balls.  One side of the picture was a lion roaring and blowing icy cold breath all over, and the other side was lambs and sunshine and flowers.  Why that’s stayed with me, I’ll never know, but when ever I think of March I think of that picture that tiny little me made all those years ago. 

Speaking of nostalgia. . .

I kept lots of Landon’s school work — something from every grade.  Every once in a while I pull it out and look through it, just to remind myself that once upon a time he was small and he made things that brightened my day, my life. 

Now he’s all grown up and he (and his lovely wife, Jennifer) have made me three beautiful grandchildren.  Like he once did, they make me smile and give my life purpose.  I’ve started collecting little things they make, tacking them to the fridge and putting them away in notebooks and albums.  Someday, not all that far from now, I’ll be able to look at those things and remember the joy they gave me.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to share them with them, and the things their daddy made, too. 

Having these little connections to the past, to who we were, who we believed ourselves to be, is so very important, I think.  My husband goes on about history, as it pertains to family, and sometimes I get frustrated with him, because he’s always lamenting that it’s dying. 

I don’t think that kind of history ever dies, as long as you hold on to the little things, the things that make you smile, make your heart ache when you think on them.  Whether it’s a tiny little hockey coat, or a Christmas card made of construction paper and coloured crayons, these are the real artifacts of the life we live, the life we share, the life we celebrate as family. 

Family, as if you couldn’t tell,  is it, as far as I’m concerned. 

Once upon a time, in my wilder, misguided days, I didn’t think so.  In fact, I was often heard repeating what a very good friend of mine often said:  Family is over-rated. 

I didn’t understand then, just how stupid that was.  Now, when I look at those words I can’t believe I ever said them.  Because, to me, my family is what defines me.  It places me in the world, gives me a reference point, it roots me, stabilizes me, makes me feel I matter. 

And mattering, that’s what life is really all about, isn’t it?  Some are lucky enough to matter on a grand scale — think the Olympics, or the Oscars, or Pulitzer prize winners.  But most of us, including them, matter on a much smaller, far more intimate scale. 

Knowing that there is a group of people to whom your existence matters is like winning a prize each and every day of your life.  And collecting all the tiny bits of stuff — the pictures, the handprints in plaster or play-dough, the scribbled pictures, the favorite story and the stained sleeper — all these are the very best kind of trophies. 

The history of family never dies as long as you keep it out, keep it visible.  We have a cupboard in our kitchen filled with a bunch of old toys, and bits and pieces of stuff that came from Tim’s parents’ house after they died.  Whenever the kids come to visit they always want to look at those old, faded, chipped and broken toys.  I take them out and let them hold them, tell them a little story to go along with each one. 

Or they go to my collection of miniatures that Landon and Tim have been buying for me since Landon was little.  “I want to hold the bird bath, Grandma.  Why did Daddy give you a bird bath?”  “I like the puppy.  Can I hold the puppy?  What was the puppy’s name Grandma?”  

I never get tired of showing them, or answering their questions.  I just hope they never get tired of asking them. 

History, family, it’s what you choose to make of it.

feelin’ a little blue tonight. . .

It’s been a rough week here in Bon Accord . . .  (just borrowing a little from Garrison Keillor). 

It’s been a week of meetings and long nights.  I’m tired and I keep wondering what I’m doing.  Nice people tell me I’m doing fine, but. . .  you know how it is. . . self-doubt is such a downer. 

I keep reminding myself that I have lots, tons, actually to be thankful for and grateful for, but it gets tiresome doing all that reminding.  I just want it to all come easily, I want to wake up in the morning and feel light — not the visual kind, but the weight kind — I want to feel as though my feet are skimming the ground, not plodding through it. 

See, I said I was feeling a little blue. . .

my little pity-party will be over soon.  I’m just tired and in need of sleep.  In need of a day when I don’t have to consider a problem, consider whether or not I’m acting diligently.  In need of a day just to sleep and read and eat bon-bons. 

I love that word:  bon-bons.  it’s such an archaic, yet extremely expressive little bon-mot.  (maybe it’s just the bon part that I like?)  It brings to mind images of bee-hived hairdo’s, false eyelashes, lots of kohl eyeliner and bright, bright red lipstick and nail polish.  Finely spun cotton dresses in the style of Audrey Hepburn and elegant pearl bracelets.  It’s quasi-classy, or something, I can’t quite put my finger on it.  But saying it, writing it makes me smile.

Everyone — say bon-bon.  See it makes everything better, doesn’t it? 

Well, I’m starting to feel a little less sorry for myself, I’m so glad I sat down to write this out. 

Bon-bon, everyone!

For Sandi

Last April, I took part in a poem a day competition.  This was one of the assignments.  Was looking for something to post today.  This is it.  Happy Birthday, Sandi.  It’s tomorrow.

Day 9 Memory Poem


Kathy Larson

At the oddest of times I’ll think of her.

My long lost best friend.

“Thank You for Being a Friend”, JD Souther

On the radio, and suddenly, it’s sunny days

In the park, laughing, the future wide open

In front of us, while we stretch our legs

In the sun, hoping to catch the guys

With the football’s attention.

Or, some grainy, half-faded photograph

Reminds me of the ones I never look at anymore,

The ones where we’re hung-over, stoned,

Goofing for the camera, forever young.

There’s a wild look in our eyes in those pictures

That I don’t like to be reminded of anymore.

Thirty years under our wings, kids, husbands,

Shattered dreams, angry words, salty tears.

Fifteen years since we last spoke and still,

Whenever there’s something important to say

It goes out to her, hoping, in my coward’s heart,

She’s listening.