The Whole You: Is it Hot in Here?

July 21, 2015

Flashback Friday: Randi Rentz’s summer 2015 post from our blogging series, The Whole Youwhich focuses on a side effect that impacts a number of women in treatment for breast cancer– menopause. Get tips for coping with menopausal symptoms during our Twitter Chat on February 24, 2016, Heated Topic: Menopausal Symptoms and You.

Randi Rentz new headshot

Ah, summertime. Long, sunny days. Outdoor cookouts. Lounging by the pool.

Say what??? Make that: Long, sweaty days. Internal cook-offs. Lunging for the pool.

Summer can be difficult if you’re in the midst of perimenopause or menopause. Geez! I first experienced menopausal experiences while receiving chemo. It got worse once I went on  tamoxifen. I also had to have a hysterectomy, which totally threw me for a loop. That procedure, of course, put me in permanent SCREAMING and KICKING menopause.

For those of you who have experienced menopause – naturally occurring or induced by cancer treatment – you know exactly what I mean when I say that hot flashes absolutely STINK!! Not only do they rock your world in a moment’s notice with absolutely no warning, but they (at least mine) are all consuming and utterly UNCOMFORTABLE! Well, let me be more specific: the truth of the matter is that my mind is a wasteland of emptiness during which I am at a complete and total loss of words when a hot flash comes on. They so overwhelm me.

Irritability, mood swings, sudden burst of crying. They’re all part of this new phase in my life. I am now menopause symptomatic (a.k.a. Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho).

The number one symptom for me: hot flashes, cold flashes and night sweats. Now, these aren’t the sweats of relaxation you’d feel in a sauna, or the rewarding ones indicating you’ve just exercised This is more like: OMG, I’m on F%$#ing fire.  Call 9-1-1….Nooow!

God damn that Eve for eating the apple. I thought he was a merciful God. It’s been centuries, how long can you hold a grudge? We bleed and cramp for half our lives and then we change over to menopause! What the hell do men get? Bald? Really? Bald is a punishment? I was bald once from my chemo, and yes, for me it felt like a punishment. How is that fair? Men go through menopause, buy sports cars and date younger women. Then pretend no one notices the 30-year age difference. Women get menopause and get an early taste of Dante’s Inferno!

When I attended Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Annual Fall Conference, I was gob-smacked by one. My girlfriend noticed it coming on. She said that my neck started getting really red from the shoulders up and my makeup started running down my face. Then – BAM! – I had the “radiance” and “glisten” that is indicative of a hot flash with my hair stuck to my neck.  Although it only lasted a moment, I was crawling out of my skin. It felt like an ETERNITY!

Two other symptoms that I’m plagued by include fatigue and trouble sleeping.

Around a month ago, I was so exhausted I could barely get up the stairs to the bedroom. I fell in the bed. It was 11:30. Then it was midnight. Then it was 12:30. Then it was 1 a.m. Then a hot flash hit. The boyfriend had his humidifier on and was happily snoring away. I wanted to pour the water from the humidifier over his head. Why? Because I turned into the menopause monster. I was drenched from my night sweats and my hair was stuck to my neck and head. I spared his beautiful face and decided to turn on the ceiling fan instead. I pulled the chain. I couldn’t remember if it was one pull or two pulls to make the air cool. I just couldn’t remember. One pull didn’t seem to work. I yanked it again. It was faster but I think it was going the wrong way. I yanked it again and it stopped. I yanked it again and it went in the other direction. I didn’t feel any cool air. So I yanked it again. It went faster. I thought the first way it spun was the right way. So I yanked it again. It was spinning out of control, rocking in the ceiling like it was going to take flight at any moment. I was like a downtown hooker, I couldn’t remember how many yanks I pulled! I was tired, irritable and my hair, t-shirt, and boxers were soaked in sweat. The boyfriend woke up to find me standing on the bed hanging from the ceiling fan. The look on his face was sheer terror. I looked like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. My head did a 360-degree turn and my demon voice said, “Fix the fan or you’re going to die!” He got up and yanked the chain and it magically worked. He slept with one eye open for the rest of the night. I just levitated above the bed.

Has this ever happened to you?

This is my menopause. I have to change my underwear every time I sneeze and can’t remember what I was ranting about five minutes ago. No kidding. This just stinks.

Crying and migraines and bloating. Oh my! My physical symptoms during menopause is as long as the lines during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: headaches, hot flashes, hair loss and heart palpitations… bloating, breast tenderness and being exhausted… packing on the pounds and perennial peeing… They may be a bit scary, to put it lightly, but they’re definitely not life threatening.

When does it end? The research I found says it could go on for five to 10 years! Oh no!!!

If you have not reached menopause yet, I hope I did not scare you. If you are scared, do what I do to try and relax. I repeat to myself, “it could be worse, the lines could be longer at Nordstrom” wait, was that the Nordstrom catalog just delivered to my door by the mailman?

 Are you dealing with menopausal symptoms? Do you want to learn how to care for the whole you?Tweet with us on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 to get the insight and tips you seek. 

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