Sunday, May 5, 2013

The "M" Word

Menopause. There. I SAID it.

It's like nature's cruel joke. I'm not surprised it has the word "men" in it. If I didn't know better, I'd be sure to blame them for it. But currently, I find that I'm blaming IT for everything else.

For every woman, I'm sure it goes down different. I used to be under the impression that the so-called change of life happened over "years." And not until at LEAST age 50. But a few months ago, I started having hot flashes. For several years I was also under the impression that hot flashes were the same thing as night sweats. Once in a while I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched and have to get up and change my clothes. I thought maybe I was in that very-early-but-not-quite-starting-to-think-about-it-yet menopausal stage. But my older (you know, 50-something) friends would say "oh, that's a hot flash." Hmm.. really? OK. I can deal with this.

Then the real hot flashes began. Like, this-is-all-out-war-with-heat-seeking-missiles hot flashes. In the DAYTIME. During work. During workouts. All hours. Every day. I had been living with a screwy temperature regulation in my workplace that usually found me complaining and in a coat to avoid finger-numbing cold. But a few weeks ago, my good friend and cohort, Linda, saw me fanning myself and she asked me if I was ok. Oh, just a hot flash, I said. Her comeback?

She grinned and spoke these words: "Welcome to the dark side."

I don't like the dark side. It makes me crazy. My already frazzled nerves have gone to completely frayed. And so far, I have found only one upside (ONE!) to this new state of existence: my grocery bill will no longer skyrocket when I need to purchase feminine products.

Menopause has now become my excuse for just about everything. Bad race? Must be menopause. Heart rate out of control during workout? Menopause. Can't sleep? Menopause. Foot itches? Menopause. Hangover? Menopause. Ran a red light? Menopause.

I didn't used to do that. I used to desperately search for reasons why my body didn't cooperate in racing/training situations. One day after a particularly bad situation, I think I said (out loud): "I'm going to blame this one on menopause." My friend Julie was within earshot and responded with: "Sounds good to me. I blame everything I can on menopause."

And there it was. My go-to excuse.

Dropping out of races last year with respiratory infection/asthma/dehydration? No. It was actually menopause. It CAUSED all those other things.

Hip injury in Kona? Menopause.

Falling and tearing my shoulder? Menopause (for both the fall AND the tear).

And most recently, getting a stress fracture in my tibia for no apparent reason?

Yes. Menopause.

And seriously, in THIS case, this might actually BE the case. I recently read that just going through menopause can cause a bone density reduction of up to 20%. After discussing the likely causes of this particular stress fracture, my orthopedic doctor suggested I talk to my PCP about getting a bone-density test (DEXA scan). So that's the plan.

In the meantime, I'm finding ways to not run much. But I'm swimming more. And I'm learning some things about myself and swimming that I always knew but tried to deny. There may be more swimming in my future. I may even blog about it.

I know, I haven't blogged much lately. What can I say? It's probably menopause.