Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
I am not a fan of spicy food. Or humidity. And I don't care what anyone says, there is such a thing as "too hot" -- both when it comes to cuisine or climate.
It's the sweating, really, that I'm avoiding. The proof of that is in the number of times I have used my gym membership, and the look I'll give you if you ever invite me to something that is seriously called "hot yoga." Why? Just... why? Beads of sweat pooling in that new hollow in my neck is just not going to make the cut.
Over these last 50-ish or so years, I've been pretty adept at keeping my cool. Or rather, keeping ME cool. No jalapeños or afternoon hikes in August. No thank you. So, when the surgeon shared the fact that after my full hysterectomy a few years back, I would be thrown into full menopause--hot flashes and all -- I was not impressed. Panic-stricken, even. Friends had shared their stories of night sweats and I'd witnessed the fanning that ensued after sharing a few glasses of red wine with them.
No. I was not ready for that fresh hell.
But wait, there's medication for that, the doc says.
Sweet Jesus. Thank you. Yes, there's medication I can take that will keep those flashes of heat at bay. Sign me up, I tell him. Give me the drugs.
And so he did -- with this caveat: "You can only stay on them really about 2 years and then you should wean yourself off."
Being the "in the moment" person I claim to be, I dismissed his disclaimer and started taking the drugs. As promised, within a couple of weeks, the night sweats and random daily heat surges were completely gone. No big deal. Just take one pill a day and I'm golden.
Three years into this pill-popping -- and without the proper follow-up medical advice -- I decided I should probably be okay now. I determined, solely on my own, that it was time to ditch the drugs and see how it goes.
I am embarrassed to tell you that I relied solely on the Internet in determining how to wean myself from the tiny pills. It made total sense to me that I would just take one every other day for a few weeks and then see how that goes.
Without any hot flashes after end of week two, I kicked it up a notch and started taking just one pill twice a week, and then, gave myself permission to just stop taking them.
Seemed like a good idea, at the time.
Well. I won't go into detail, but rest-assured, this is not the right approach. Hell and fury rained down on me in the form of all things hormone-imbalanced. I was not right from top to bottom.
Not a good idea, ladies. In case you're reading this and have any inkling that this is the way to go. It's definitely a no from me.
So I did what any rational hormone-confused 50-year-old woman in denial would do: I logged into the patient portal and requested a refill. And I've been authorizing CVS to make those calls to the doctor.. who seems unconcerned that she hasn't seen me in over 3 years. And yet, still fills the prescription without question.
Yes, I know this is bad. Yes, I'm going to find another doctor. Yes. I am. It's on my list. In the meantime, I'm cool as a cucumber.
Menopause sucks, people. I don't care how you slice it.
I think the key is (and will be for me) finding a health care provider that understands what you're going through and actually gives a shit about it. (Re: Health CARE. ) Not one who just haphazardly refills prescriptions. I take some of the blame here, of course, as we have to take care of ourselves, but it really surprises me how easily I was able to keep the drugs coming - even with the post-surgical disclaimer I was given.
What i hope for you, for all of you who are experiencing menopause symptoms, or have been in menopause for a while - my hope is that you are smarter than I am. That you have good care. That you take good care.
If you have a funny or horrific hot flash story you'd like to share, please share it with us! You can post in the comments section below or visit us on Facebook at our private group. Wishing you all a happy, healthy menopause symptom-free day!
< photo by Sharon McCutcheon >