Caveat for the Dudes: I’ve had just about enough of my can’t-make-up-their-mind hormones and if this kinda frank talk makes you squeamish, you better head for the hills now, because as was stated in the title: Perimenopause can suck it. Hard.
Caveat for the Gals: You may think you’re too young for this post, but perimenopause symptoms can start in your early 30s and 40s.
The German is shaking her head and giving up on ever making me into a refined lady. SHE ONLY HAS A FEW MORE YEARS! Soon, my womb will be like the kid’s room when they leave for college: ain’t nothing but dust collecting goin’ on in there.
YAY! Menopause is coming!
Or something like that…
Here’s the dealio in a hard harsh light: I’m thrilled that I’m getting closer to no longer being able to produce a baby. It’s what supposed to happen, after all. I’m embracing this part of my life. I’ve earned it. Plus, I’m in granny-mode, not having-them-myself mode.
But, the journey getting to that magical land called menopause (defined as the time-period after you have stopped having periods for 12-months straight) is akin to crossing the prairie in a covered wagon: marveling at new and joyous vistas coupled with surprise Indian attacks, complete with war whoops of rage, arrows piercing my psyche and warriors on galloping horses dragging me through the fire by my hair.
Now that we know what menopause is, what in the name of all things cray-cray is perimenopause?
Oh my babies, hang on for a scary tale of womanhood.
Wait, let me back up for a moment. Not all of us will experience the miracle of perimenapause. I personally know a woman who breezed right through all of this mess. She didn’t experience any of it and slid into home base unscathed by any symptoms. I pray that is also your experience, but if it isn’t, I’m here for you. I can nod my sympathetic head in sisterly sympathy like no other.
My doc has advised that you can look to your mom for clues as to how you might experience the years before the Big M. So, I asked The German. Seemed harmless enough…at first.
Me: How did you feel before you hit menopause?
TG: I felt GREAT! No symptoms whatsoever.
M: Um, that’s not entirely true. I remember you had some pretty fierce mood swings.
TG: LIES! It didn’t bother me at all! Why do you have to try and start something, Patti?
At first I wondered why she wouldn’t honestly share her experience with me. I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! Then it hit me: traversing the space between peri and the real deal might be like experiencing childbirth. Once you’re through it, you forget the pain it caused you.
Thankfully, we have the Internet to keep us honest. And you have me. You can count on me to tell you the crampy, pissed-off, fatigued truth.
I’ve been pretty lucky up to now (although, you’d have to ask Husband if he feels as “lucky”). My biggest symptoms to date are one fierce mood swing a month and crashing fatigue.
The Mood: The mood is a cross between The Terminator and every ticked off redneck I’ve ever witnessed. It’s ugly and dirty and mean. Luckily, I’m pretty self-aware, so I know when I’m in the midst of this mood. Oh sure, we can laugh about it later, when we’ve made sure no one has lost a limb, but in the heat of the battle, and it’s an overpowering force to behold, I’m just not myself. Sure, I have control, but it’s the feeling of wanting to pound stuff into an unrecognizable pulp that makes me crazy.
The Crashing Fatigue: Crashing fatigue is just what it sounds like: it comes on quickly and effectively. I’m a lifelong runner and an extremely active gal. I will finish a run even if it means almost passing out or puking my guts up (both have happened), but this last week, I started my run and about two-tenths in I came thisclose to turning around and going home. That has never happened in my 40-plus years of running.
I find myself mute on days of CF; it takes too much energy to talk (this is highly unusual because I like to use ALL THE WORDS!). The fatigue is not a normal tiredness; it’s exhaustion combined with muscle weakness and it comes on instantly. So, yeah, there’s that fun symptom.
I won’t go into great detail about what happens to your girly parts (yet), or that hair sprouts out of the weirdest parts of you…hello nipples!…but it happens.
Being a woman is not for the weak. We bleed regularly from an orifice, we push babies the size of small watermelons out of our vaginas, or worse, have them cut out of us, and then we get to hold hands with perimeopause from anywhere between 2-10 years (some gals enter this fun in their late 20s. Pray for them. No really. I’m not being funny. DO IT!).
I demand that each and every woman who reads this post to high-five themselves and their freakin’ womanly awesomeness for getting through each stage.
But, like I stated in the beginning, it’s not all bad. I really am looking forward to this next part of my life.
The thing to keep in mind is that perimenopause is a natural transition. This too shall pass. It’s gonna be OK. Or, if you’re in the middle of a raging mood swing: IT’S GONNA BE O-K! RAWR!
I find solace in the truth of that.
In the meantime, perimenopause can suck it.
* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.