Unlike many of my female friends and acquaintances, I’d never had many “woman” problems. When women get together, we talk. We compare notes about childbirth, monthly cycles and menopause. The juicy gossip that goes on in the prime time TV shows is largely imaginary, for sure. Oh, there’s a little sprinkled here and there but it’s mostly war stories in the ladies’ “locker room”. If there were a sitcom that dealt with real-life conversation among the feminine population, it would be the same topics over and over. Not a big ratings draw, I’m afraid.
Believe me, I’m thankful I have had a relatively boring existence where my reproductive system is concerned. The worst I ever experienced was the awful disabling cramping of my teenage years. That went away with DS1’s birth. Other than a couple of embarrassing accidents, there was never anything noteworthy regarding my cycle.
Things started going haywire along about my late 40s. I’d get up feeling fine but before I knew it, I would be burning up. It wasn’t the kind of uncomfortable that 100+ degree weather can produce. It was an internal glowing ember type of heat that nothing could cool.
I recall driving down the highway in the dead of winter when the switch was thrown to the “on” position. With poor DD huddled in the front seat, I turned on the air conditioner and rolled down all the windows and I was STILL wanting to shuck all my clothes and dive into the nearest body of water. It finally subsided and things inside the car got back to normal. Poor DD bore the brunt of my awful existence.
Daytime hot flashes were more or less manageable. I could take off some layers of clothes and fan. It was the nighttime infernos that were disrupting my sleep. At first, I looked at them as an aggravation but they started taking over my life. It wasn’t long until I couldn’t remember when I’d had a good night’s sleep.
I made an appointment with one of the doctors in town. It was the first time I’d been to anyone for years. My mother hadn’t been one to take any of us to the doctor unless there was good reason to go and I kept up the tradition.
The nurse came out and took me to the exam room after ::gasp!:: weighing me. I was edging close to 145 lubs. She took my temperature and blood pressure and I settled down in a chair beside a table. Propping my elbow on the table, I leaned my head on my hand and soon I was out. Next thing I knew, the doctor had come in and woke me up.
Quizzing me about the purpose of my visit came next. I was close to frantic when I told him about my lack of sleep and the horrible furnace that lived inside me. It had a mind of its own and I wanted to get control of it. That was easy enough. He prescribed Premarin and generic Provera. Seeing as how I was fairly distraught, he also asked me if I wanted a prescription for nerve pills. I refused saying I needed to be awake at work.
I got my prescriptions filled and, for the first time since I quit taking birth control pills, my periods came along like clockwork. I could pinpoint when they would start and end. I took the little pills (finding out later the Premarin was manufactured from pregnant mares’ urine) a certain number of days, then five days off which would initiate my cycle. Then I’d take the pills again over and over and over. Like magic, my hot flashes were gone.
Hormones tend to have side effects. Of course, any drug has side effects and almost all of them are unwelcome. The list of adverse reactions is enormous. One of the side effects of Premarin is weight increase or decrease. Mine certainly didn’t decrease. It kept steadily edging up and I had to buy larger and larger clothes. I was distressed about my size but I felt powerless to do anything about it. If I quit taking the hormones, the hot flashes would come back. I was durned if I did and durned if I didn’t.
One of the women at the hospital told me about her gynecologist and advised me to set up an appointment with him. I told her I was going to one of the local general practitioners. She insisted I needed to go to someone who specialized in female parts. Because of her recommendation, I contacted the office.
I’d traded going a few blocks to having to travel many miles to see the new doctor. It was a good trade, though. On my first visit, he took me into his office and had me sit across the desk from him. He presented me with a nice New Testament and let me know he was a Christian. He believed in the power of prayer and faith.
He reviewed the medication I was on and suggested a couple of changes to less powerful hormones. In answer to his question about any concerns I might have, I told him my sister was “getting up there” and still having her monthly cycle. That was not something I wanted to do. He said, “I can fix that.” He wrote my prescription for a 30 day supply of pills to be taken without a break. It was chemical menopause without the hot flashes.
How wonderful! I was free of the Curse! There were some minor adjustments to my dosage to stop breakthrough bleeding and then life got back to normal. I could sleep. It was wonderful to go to bed at night and not wake up wet with sweat. DD could ride in the front seat of the car and know she wasn’t going to be frozen out at a moment’s notice.
I thought I was home free. Truth be told, my visits to the doctor were only beginning.