ICYMI: Like a Heat Wave, Tearing Me Apart
Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?
Happy summer! We’re taking these few weeks off to relax and regroup. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this favorite post from the past year or so. Let us know! — ♥️ Jennifer + Sheryl
The first thing I learned when I had a hot flash was that whoever named them never actually experienced one himself. (You just know it was a man, right?) A “flash” makes it sound like it will be brief, maybe as long as a sneeze.
Mine average two and a half minutes a pop — and they are far from hot. Think: Arizona in August. They tend to be unpredictable, but you can always count on them in times of stress… as in, any bit of stress, like not getting enough dressing on your salad.
Tired of feeling like a grenade in a dress, I went on a mission to find a remedy for these bodily volcanic eruptions. Being a writer, I hoped that at the end of my research, I would write an article, entitled How to Get Rid of Hot Flashes.
Dina sharing her stories at The Moth.
Goal no. 1: Find a product to cool me off at night since so many of these Yep, you are going through menopause reminders wake me up during sleep. A nurse recommended a cooling pillow meant to keep you comfortably cool at night.
Sounded great… until I read the directions.
I soon realized that to get this cooling device to function, I’d need a dual master’s degree in physics and patience — not easy for someone already susceptible to spontaneous combustion.
The key to getting this product to work is to get the air out after you fill it with water. Not a typo.
Fill with water. Easy, got it.
Start rolling like a sleeping bag. Two rolls in, I am good.
Keep rolling without letting any water out, until all the air escapes. Huh?
Before I can contemplate that feat, water bursts out of the cooling pillow, splashing over me and my kitchen table and floor. And right on cue, I turn into the Incredible Hot Flash. I try again and again until I am literally a hot mess.
(I also try ice packs, but you know, ice melts. I resort to opening the window, but that means freezing all night long. To avoid coming down with pneumonia, my husband sleeps in sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt. It’s like sharing a bed with Rocky.)
Goal No. 2: Improve my diet. Could eating more vegetables like kale lower the heat?
Sleep-deprived and still sweaty, I made an appointment with a nutritionist. Her first question: How much do you drink in a week? I really hate this question, as there are just a few things I love more than wine. “You should really have two to three glasses a week; alcohol can increase your hot flashes.”
Of course, she’s right: lowering my favorite beverage intake has given me some relief. And yet, flare-ups still occur… and I miss my wine. A lot.
Much soberer than I like, my thoughts turn to my weight. Well, at least I’ll lose weight as I lose the calories hiding in wine, right? Boy, was I wrong! Another side effect of menopause is uncontrollable weight gain. Oy vey. (What’s with you, Mother Nature? Do you hate your own kind?)
So off I go to the gym — and now with COVID-19, I instead walk about 4 miles a day. Still, no matter how much I work out, I just cannot seem to lose my new 10-pound (and growing) companion. I am uncomfortable in my clothes. And yet, there is a silver lining.
Goal No. 3 Feeling better, both mentally and physically. I’ve come to a realization that maybe I was asking too much of a pillow and a vegetable. Making changes in my life like going to sleep earlier, stretching and exercising at least three times a week, drinking just one or two glasses of wine a week, and reducing stress has helped my overall well-being. The hot flashes remain but what I am doing has reduced their frequency and intensity — and returned the sense of control they’d taken from me. I am also trying out new hot flash-reducing products or ideas; it gives me hope.
And so as I pour flavored seltzer into a wine glass with lemon, I embrace the ever-changing me. I don’t weigh myself and change my wardrobe as necessary, donating anything slightly tight. Vintage stores are my new hangout; the clothes are cheap and fun. I wear big t-shirts at the gym or when I go for a walk not only to feel comfortable but to allow me room to move.
And best yet, I throw the cooling pillow in the trash with the confidence of a grown woman who knows when something is never going to work.
For a Pause
1. “Everyone’s realizing that [menopause] is a final frontier in women’s health,” says Jill Angelo, the CEO and founder of Gennev, which like Elektra Health aims to offer menopause-specific telehealth.
2. Pause Well-Aging launched last June with a skin-care line specifically designed to serve our skin from peri- to post-menopause.
3. Facebook rejected ads (“Laugh more and leak less.”) from start-up Lily Bird, a subscription startup delivering bladder leakage products to women going through menopause. "My interpretation was that Facebook put us in this category of adult products, or something that was taboo," said Sydney Larson, a Lily Bird co-founder.
4. Astinno, a London-based femtech start-up, just received a grant worth $450,000 to fund further testing of Grace, a sensor designed to detect the onset of a hot flash and apply cooling to a woman’s wrist (like running your wrists under a cold tap).
One More Thing
When we can gather once again, how about a Pauser field trip to Menopause the Musical, now in its 20th year?
“I tell you from my heart, they’re never far apart. They’re my thighs.”
Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
See you next time!
“Sometimes I stare in space. Tears all over my face.
I can't explain it, don't understand it. I ain't never felt like this before.”
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