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.

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