Friday, May 05, 2006
Among the joys of perimenopause and early official menopause, OmegaMom has found, is the Hot Flash. Picture this: OmegaMom is happily ensconsed in bed with Mr. OmegaMom, snuggled up in the spoon position. Both are snoozing happily (Mr. OmegaMom snoring very loudly--but, since OmegaMom has [hopefully] fallen asleep before him, the snoring is no problem). Suddenly, OmegaMom rouses from her oh-so-restful sleep. There's a feeling, described in all the medical literature as an "aura", and OmegaMom, drowsy and resentful, knows that It is coming. What happens next is hard to describe--sort of a "gathering" inside the body--and then, WHAMMO BLAMMO, the heat sweeps across the body, up the torso, to the head, and it feels like OmegaMom's body has turned into a marvelously efficient furnace and the top of her head into a Roman candle. Flop--OmegaMom retracts from the spoon position to lie on her back. Flap--Off go the covers. Smoosh--Up go the long sleeves (if there are any). Whoosh--If it's a real doozy, off goes the pajama top. After this little dance, OmegaMom lies there radiating heat like a sun going nova. At this point, OmegaMom is no longer drowsy, but wide awake and most irritated. Then comes the second part of the dance, wherein the hot flash retreats and one is left shivering and cold. (Takes about five minutes.) Whip--Back on comes the top, or down go the sleeves. Flap--Back come the covers. Flip--OmegaMom twists back into the spoon position. Lather, rinse, repeat. On a bad night, this happens once an hour (I have checked the clock on this one.) The result is sleep deprivation. Oh, yeah, and in the summer, when it's hot, you get this lovely addition of sweat pouring off your body. All over. Leaving the sheets and pajamas nastily damp and chill. Bleah. Interestingly enough, I don't suffer too badly from daytime hot flashes. Perhaps it's simply the relative alertness factor: During the daytime, you're wide awake, you feel it coming on, you quick shuck a layer (such as a blazer), deal with the heat, then quick put the layer back on. Also, when you're awake, your body temperature is more varying anyway, as you switch from sitting at a desk (low temp) to walking down a hall (high temp) to reaching to grab reference books (medium temp). So, unlike other women, daytime hot flashes are a minor inconvenience for me--I don't worry about bright red face and deep pit stains while in the midst of board meetings (har, I'm not paid enough to do board meetings, thank heavens!). Women's response to menopause varies wildly. Some women (lucky bitches!) don't have hot flashes at all. OmegaGranny, for instance, doesn't recall hot flashes, so I'm assuming she didn't have to deal with them; she, instead, dealt with lower back cramps. It's also well-known that women in Asian countries don't suffer too much from hot flashes (though it seems that coming to the U.S. can change this pattern, which is why some folks think a diet high in soy or soy supplements can help). Other women are on the high end, like oh-so-lucky OmegaMom, and have them "up to 10 times per day" or "up to once per hour". Medicos have lots of theories about what causes hot flashes, ranging from dropping estrogen levels to norepinephrine receptor issues in the brain, and researchers are seeking ways of relief for us poor hot-flash-prone wimminfolk. Bless their pointy heads! (And their greedy pocketbooks.) The one reassuring thing that my quick googling of hot flash mechanism brought to my attention was this study, which notes that women who suffer from hot flashes have less of a cognitive decline during menopause. Hah! Take that, you lucky, hot-flash-free bitches! OmegaMom leaves the room, muttering a snotty "Neener, neener, neener!" under her breath.