The Ick Factor
to go: 1,088.38
waking up one
morning ... and discovering that The Little Meat Grinder Guys have
shown up in the middle of the night, unannounced.
off-guard: you thought you had at least another week to go before
*that* time of the month. More than enough time to lay in some
supplies, and to warn your loved ones to arm themselves, and to lock
Grandma's antique teacups safely in the vault. But if The LMG Guys are
here, that means you're
plunk in the middle of The
Seventy-Two Hours From Hell.
again, maybe you
shouldn't be surprised at all. Lately your
schedule has been so out-of-whack, you could be eleven months pregnant
with octuplets ... and *you* won't know about it until they start
asking to borrow the car keys.)
that you lay
there in bed for a few minutes as The Little Meat Grinder Guys pound on
your ovaries with their meat mallets ... as they twist your Fallopian
tubes into rope sausage ... as they squeeze your uterine muscles
through their Oster 400E Ultra-Grind with vicious,
going to be a
hellish couple of days.
you finally force
yourself crawl out of bed, imagine that you're nearly knocked down
all over again by an overwhelming wave of tiredness. It doesn't seem to
have anything to do with how late you went to bed last night, or how
many times you woke up in the middle of the night, or what time the
alarm went off this morning. This is a dull, nonspecific,
achey-all-over exhaustion, like wearing a fuzzy lead bathrobe.
Imagine that you crave nothing more than to slip back into bed and pull
the covers over your head and hibernate for the next eleven years. (Or
until re-run season is over: whichever happens first.)
that you look at
your husband, snoring peacefully over there on his side of the bed, and
that you want to drop an ANVIL on his head.
you manage to
straggle into the bathroom, imagine catching a glimpse of your pale,
puffy, Jiminy Glick face in the mirror. You look like you've gained
thirty pounds overnight, 99% of it in your jowls. Plus your eyes
are rabbity pink, your breasts hang on your chest like two medicine
balls, and you have two big wet zits, pupating on either side of your
jawline like a couple of beetle larvae. Imagine that you console
yourself with the knowledge that this
is temporary, this is hormonal, this will pass in a few days.
As soon as your period starts -- as soon as the floodgates open and you
are wrapped once again in the soothing embrace of regular hormonal
inflow/outflow -- everything will go back to normal again.
that you're not
sure you really believe this is true ... but it's what you tell
the ride to work,
imagine that you pick a snarly one-sided fight with your husband over
something stoopid. ("Neil
is actually adding
to my misery.") It doesn't
matter how he responds, does it? If he's gentle and considerate and
replaces the offending tape with one of your Lilith Fair tapes, he's
patronizing you ... but if he ignores you and continues forcing you to
listen to "Guilty Train," he's a cold heartless bastard. Either way,
you're sitting there in the passenger seat, sulking like a
nine-year-old voted out of the Tetherball Club. Imagine that by the
time you reach your office, you've already shed the top four layers of
spend the rest of
the day working on the remaining four layers.
makes you cry: crabby clients on the phone ... cucumbers in your
Chinese Chicken Salad ... spelling errors in your wastewater management
report. It's sort of like Inside-Out-Backwards-Day at Girl Scout Camp,
except that instead of wearing your swimsuit on the outside of your
camp uniform, you're wearing your central nervous system.
lots of other interesting ways, too. Your bladder, for instance,
appears to have shrivelled overnight to the size of a Milk Dud. When
you're not sitting at your desk, blotting mascara off the WIP reports,
you're running down the hall to the bathroom again. Or else you're
sneaking Oreos out of the lunchroom. Or else you're standing in the
doorway of the office supply closet, trying to remember why the hell
you went to the office supply closet in the first place. (Your
short-term memory having also shrivelled overnight. What
were we talking about again?) By the end of the day you're a
bleary, frazzled, overloaded mess.
You don't want to eat. You don't
want to bike-ride. You don't want to write. You don't want to do anything,
in fact, except go home and lay down on top of the bed, fully-clothed,
announcing to your husband that you're 'just going to take a little
hours later, you
wake up long enough to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner ... just before
falling asleep again.
now imagine feeling
all of this misery and malfunction and ridiculous hormonal mayhem --
not for the usual sucky-but-tolerable seventy-two hours -- but EVERY
DAY FOR FOUR SOLID WEEKS.
should give you
some idea what June was like around *our* household.
I don't intend for
*FootNotes* to turn into The Perimenopause Diaries ... any more than I
intend for it to turn into The Recovery Diaries, or The Runaway Mom
Diaries, or The Look! I'm
Riding My Bike Some More!
Diaries. As far as possible, I try to bore my readers with a WIDE
VARIETY of self-absorption.
(Plus there is the
Factor to consider. According to my mailbox, not everybody wants to
read about the condition of my reproductive system ... even people who
have actually spent time
On the other hand, my
journaling policy -- if I've got a journaling policy, that is -- has
always been this:
Let the topic find you
... and not the other way around.
It's a lesson I
early in my Internet journaling career ... back in the days
actually tried to plan *FootNotes* entries in advance. Once in a while
I would come up with what I felt was a fabulous idea for the journal:
an entry all about yellow M&M's, for instance. To prepare, I
would spend days researching yellow M&M's online ...
corresponding with other people about yellow M&M's, looking for
alternate points of view ... outlining my entry, writing snappy first
and last paragraphs, drawing adorable cartoons of yellow M&M's.
And of course I would almost invariably wake up the morning I was due
to post my epic Yellow M&M's Entry ...
... and find that all
could think about were green
The more I tried to
force the issue and write about yellow M&M's ANYWAY -- the more
I tried to resist writing about green M&M's, even though they
were clearly the issue du jour -- the more stilted and awful and
unreadable that day's *FootNotes* entry turned out.
realized that fighting it was futile. The topic had found me ... and it
going to be yellow M&M's.
That, also, is what
was like around our household. Or at least, around the Internet
journaling portion of our household.
that you wake up
in the deepest darkest middlest part of the night, more than a month
after The Little Meat Grinder Guys made their initial appearance ...
wrenched from sleep by a familiar *sensation* in your midsection. You
lay there for a few minutes, barely breathing. Could
it be? Dare you hope? Imagine
that you fumble through the darkness to the bathroom and shut the door
and turn on the light so you can investigate the situation.
Imagine that you
haven't been this happy to see your period since The Great Pregnancy
Scare of 1975. (Or The Great Pregnancy Scare of 1982 ... or The Great
Pregnancy Scare of 1984 ... or The Great Pregnancy Scare of Last Month
happy, in fact, that you have to fight the urge to wake your husband
and share the thrilling news with him, right then and there. After
everything he's been through the past month, though, you figure you
owe it to him to let him sleep. So you strap yourself into one of those
weird air-activated disposable heating pads, and you swallow a fistful
of Ibuprofen, and you crawl back into bed next to The Other 50% of the
Population and sleep the sleep of the hormonally unencumbered for the
first time in over a month.
next morning is like
waking up in a brand-new world. The sun is shining outside your bedroom
window! The sky is blue! The flowers are blooming! The birds are
are four new
colors in the rainbow!
... OK. I may be
exaggerating a molecule or two here. But you do
feel about 43,897,621% better than you've felt in weeks. (Or to be
precise, better than you've felt in 27 days, eleven hours and
forty-seven minutes.) You're feeling so
good, in fact, that you ride over 100 miles on your bike in one
weekend, without telling a single solitary Good Morning Person to fudk
of all, now that
the dam has burst, you'll be able to start taking the cycle regulators
... meaning that this may have been the very last Month From Hell you
will have to endure for a long, long time. The Little Meat Grinder Guys
may have to find another reproductive system to terrorize.
imagine that you're
probably going to have to write more about all of this stuff in the
near future ... Ick Factor or no Ick Factor. Perimenopause is one of
those subjects that a lot of people seem to have heard of but not
everybody actually understands. *I* certainly didn't,
until just recently. It's not pre-menopause.
It's not menopause. It's perimenopause: an entirely different
condition, with entirely different symptoms and an entirely different
timeframe, requiring an entirely different course of treatment. (You're
not on HRT, for instance. So although today's decision by the NIH to
discontinue hormone replacement therapy testing is disturbing, it
doesn't address what you're going through. Yet.) You definitely feel
that perimenopause is a subject that merits further research,
especially since so much of what you've found in the way of information
so far is skimpy and contradictory at best, and downright dangerous
at worst. It is certain to be one of those topics that *finds* you
in the meantime --
now that the curse has been lifted, so to speak -- you're hoping that
you can write about SOMETHING
ELSE for a change. Something fun
and happy and uplifting and as far removed from Oster 400E
Utra-Grinds and hormonal malfunction as possible.
knows? Maybe it's
finally time to drag the Yellow M&M's entry out of mothballs.
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