Friday, June 29, 2007

Procrastination

I took today off from work.  My son and his wife are expecting my second grandson any day now, and I had a feeling that it would be today.  Hopefully, they will cooperate.
 
While I'm waiting for the news that she's in labor, it's nice to know I have the whole day ahead of me.  There's something special about a day that was supposed to be used doing something else.  Like working.  Especially one where you have no appointments and no real reason for being home.  I could do just about anything today and Lord knows I have a pile of things that need to be done. 
 
The question is... where to start?  The possibilities are endless.  I sit here bursting with anticipation and excitement.  Home alone, there is absolutely nothing to distract me or interfere in my progress.  I feel a sense of power.  Impending accomplishment.  Since I don't get to feel this way very often, I'm savoring the moment.  I bet there are a lot of people out there envying me.  Wishing they were in my shoes.  Knowing what they would do if an opportunity like mine were to present itself.  Yes... I am one lucky girl.  I can hardly wait to get started. 
 
But, planning is everything.  I shouldn't waste a day like today on something menial or insignificant.  I'll hate myself tonight if I don't  accomplish something important.
 
But where should I start?  A List.  I should make a list of all the things I'd like to do.  Then I'll number them in the order of their importance, taking into consideration the amount of time it would take to complete each project.  Perhaps I should also include the degree of satisfaction I'll enjoy knowing that the task was accomplished.  I have plenty of time to make an exhaustive and through soul searching list.  I will put down all the things that have been eating away at me for months.  Yes, I will sleep better tonight knowing how many tasks I completed today.
 
I am not going to waste a single second.  I won't do anything that could be done on an ordinary weekend.  This is too special a day to squander  recklessly.  I could start at Ground Zero, but I feel bold today.  I can sort through the piles of bills and mail on my computer desk anytime.  Not today.
 
No sense washing the windows since it's raining.  Same theory applies to washing the car and weeding the garden.  Thank goodness.  I've been meaning to power wash the vinyl siding on my house, but I don't own a power washer.  I could always tackle the clutter in the attic, but it's way too hot for that.  Better save that job until October.  I have plenty of time to organize the basement, but the fluorescent light down there blew last week and how much can I expect to do in the dark?  Dusting and vacuuming are much too mundane to do on my Special Day.  I would end up feeling ashamed and full of regret.  I could sort though all my old photographs and put them into an album.  That's something I've been wanting to do for years, and it would certainly give me a great sense of satisfaction.  But a project of such monumental proportions would take much more time than one day would permit, so I better save it for when I have a Special Week.  Of course, I doubt that I will ever have an entire week off from work where I don't have any plans.  But you never know.  I could get hurt... and have to take a month off to recover.  I see it happen to other employees all the time.  Yes.    It's not a matter of IF... it's a matter of when.  So when I hurt myself on the job, I will definitely sort through all of my old photographs.  It's good to know that I won't be lying on the couch wondering what to do with myself if I sprain an ankle.  Ihave a PLAN.
 
But what to do today?  Surely there must be something I can put on The List.  I already cleared out my Spam Folder, and indulged in some pretty profound deep thinking this week (see previous posts).
 
I have to bear in my mind that my daughter-in-law may go into labor at any minute.  So if I start a big project, I may have to stop right in the middle of it and head over to the hospital.  The only thing worse than  an un-started project is a half completed one.  I've heard stories about people whose very lives were ruined by unfinished jobs.  No... I can't take that chance.  Hmmmmmm.... 
 
On the other hand, I can't sit around all day on the computer, wandering aimlessly from one web site to another.  Browsing through exotic vacations I can't afford to take, researching rare illnesses I'll probably never get, and entering contests I'll never win.  Then again, life is funny.  You never know when something odd might happen.  I hate being unprepared.  Somebody has to win the contest.  Odds are that sooner or later it will be me.  Should I just give up and not enter them anymore?  How pessimistic is that?  And if I did win, wouldn't it be nice to already know where I want to go on vacation?  And what if... the pain I've  always had in my right wrist really ISN'T tendonitis?  What if it's a symptom of something more... sinister?  Perhaps it could be a condition that if caught early, might be survivable?  Now THERE'S a worthwhile cause.  Saving my own life!  What's the sense in planning projects if I'm DYING? 
 
I'm glad I thought this through!  Thank God I took today off!  This  might take all afternoon!
 
I better get to it... I'm not one to procrastinate! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today

Sitting here petting one of my cats on this hot, lazy afternoon I realize that this is anything but an ordinary day for a lot of other people in the world.  This one day will change their entire lives... forever.
 
Someone will be diagnosed with cancer.  Somebody will be killed in an automobile accident.  A young man will contract HIV.  Someone will be fired from their job.  A teenage girl will get pregnant.  Somewhere a wife will find out that her husband is cheating on her.  A teenager will run away from home.    A family will watch their house burn down.  A child's puppy will be struck by a car.  A soldier will be killed.  A boy will have his heart broken. Someone will lose their last dollar in a casino.  A man will hold his wife's hand in the Intensive Care Unit for the last time.  A grocery store clerk will be held up at gun point.  A young woman will miscarry.    A man will say goodbye to the grandfather who raised him.   A child will be abducted.  Somewhere, a heroin addict will overdose for the last time.   An angry man will murder his wife.   A woman will find a lump in her breast.  A man will be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.   A drunk will pick up his car keys.   
 
All these things are happening to people just like me... somewhere in the world. 
 
Right now.  This very minute.  While I sit here and pet my cat. 
 
I am stunned.  Desperately searching for some glimmer of hope I realize that on this very same day...
 
A baby will be born.  A young couple will get married.  A lost kitten will be found.  Proud parents will watch their youngest child graduate from high school.  Someone will get a promotion.  Another will win the lottery.  A teenage boy will buy his first car.  A young woman will discover that after years of trying, she's finally pregnant.  A doctor will tell a worried family that the operation was a success.  A young woman will have flowers delivered to her door.  Two childhood friends will take off on a trip to Greece.  A singer will have a #1 hit.  A child will be returned to his mother.  A mortgage application will be approved.  A dentist will inform a 5 year old that he doesn't have any cavities, and a 10th grade girl will be asked to the prom. 
 
All this will happen on a most ordinary day.... today.
 
And then I realize....
 
That I must have WAY too much time on my hands.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You've Got Mail!

I'm going to take a break from Menopausal Exploration today and get back to reality.  Catch up on the important things that I've been letting go.  Before I tackle the Kitty Litter Boxes in the basement I better check my E-mail.
 
Whoa!  I bet I must be close to my limit!  No telling who's been trying to contact me the past few weeks. 
 
"10 Tips For a Summer Body."  The only way that I could salvage something for this year would be to pay someone to impersonate me until September.  But that's an idea for another day. 
 
"Limited Quantity- Everything Under $20".  As if.
 
5 ads for computer games.  NOT interested.  I only play one.  Pirate Poppers.  I'm addicted and I'm loyal.  I'm just a one-computer-game kinda woman.  Delete. 
 
"Investment Opportunities"... I guess they're assuming that I have some extra cash lying around collecting dust.  Delete.
 
Oh goody.  Seems I won an "International Lottery."  Maybe I shouldn't have deleted that Investment Opportunity Ad after all.   Delete.
 
Okay.... Oh!  The "Ex-Vice President Of Ugwanda" wants to entrust ME with the millions of dollars he abducted with.  All I have to do is open a bank account for him.  Yeah, right.  I may have been tempted in the past, but I'm a Lottery Winner now.  Delete.
 
Here we go.  "My Latest Matches on Yahoo."  Good grief!  He should have come with a Warning Label.  Oh My God!  This one only lives 2 miles away?  Bet I could get his  exact address if I looked up Registered Sex Offenders.  Hmmm....  If "Ready N' Rarin" is only 53 years old he must have lived one HELL of a life.  Sigh!  After all these years I'm still hoping to find a man who's looking for someone to leave all his money to, with no strings attached.  I know.  I'm just a hopeless romantic.  Delete.
 
This is interesting.  Someone signed my Guest Book at Classmates.com.  But if I want to see who it was, I have to become a Member.  I wonder who it was?  A long, lost childhood friend?  Someone long forgotten who may very well change the very course of my life if I were to contact him?  Delete. 
 
"Stop Prairie Dogs From Being Poisoned!"  You gotta be kidding me.  The only thing I'm looking for is a cure for hot flashes.  Sorry, but Prairie Dogs are pretty far down on my list of things to save.
 
"Cruise Deals on Vacations To Go."  I guess they heard that I won the lottery.  Delete. 
 
"Don't Let Congress Industrialize Our Coastlines."  Oh my God.  ANYTHING but THAT.  Permenantly delete. 
 
Hmmm... about 618 "jokes."  All from my oldest daughters best friend, Deneen.  Aww!  She took the time to send them to me and about 350 other close Internet Friends.  While she was at work, no less.  Thank God she doesn't work for me.  Where does she find the time?  Maybe I should get a job where SHE works....  Delete 'em all at once... 
 
Oh!  Looks like a personal note from my slightly younger sister...  I haven't heard from her in a while.  Nope.  Just copies of the same jokes that Deneen sent to her as well.  Delete again.
 
"10 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Fresh".  Too bad I didn't get that one before my divorce.  Delete.
 
Uh-oh.  Looks like my "E-Bay Account has been suspended."  I didn't even know I HAD one. Delete.
 
Skip, skip, skip... "Erectile Dysfunction."  Now THAT's my kinda man!  Delete! 
 
%&*#@!  I swear to God, my head will spin around and I will have projectile vomiting if one more person sends me an E-mail warning that I will have bad luck for the next 5 years if I don't send it out to at least 5 friends in the next 18 minutes!  Why do people send me these things?  I don't have enough bad luck?  DELETE!  DELETE!  DELETE!
 
Well... that about does it.  I hate it when I let my unread mail pile up like that.
 
I wonder if there's anything in my "Spam Folder"?

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Menopausal Manifest

Hot flashes wouldn’t be so bad if you could conjure one up when you wanted one.  Like when you’re running outside on a cold winter morning to retrieve the newspaper off the front step. They would actually come in quite handy if you needed to de-ice your windshield.

 

If only we could funnel the heat into steam we could sterilize baby bottles, save thousands of dollars on dry cleaning, and maybe even steam clean the carpets a couple of times a year.   I wonder if the Pope would consider allowing hot flashes to burn off the sins of Catholic women?  Sort of like a pre-payment plan.

 

But alas, we must suffer with hot flashes seemingly at the whim of Mother Nature.  Never knowing when an assault will come.  I hate being helpless.

 

For any non-believers in the group, let me tell you that I recently conducted an experiment.  I took my temperature when I was NOT having a hot flash.  98.4… normal.  Then, a few minutes later, when I felt I was at the height of a hot flash, my temperature rose to 103.6!!  I had proof that hot flashes were actual physical manifestations.  It didn’t do me any good, but I felt better knowing that fact.

 

Why don’t menopausal women burn up thousands of calories a day manufacturing all of that heat?  We should be able to eat just about anything we want without gaining weight.  It would only be fair, don’t you think?  Good thing we can’t get pregnant.  We’d have that kid baked in two weeks flat.

 

At the very least I think menopause should be tax deductible.  Fans, air conditioning units and increased utility bills should be write offs.  Grandchildren should be considered dependants.  I don’t know a single grandparent who doesn’t spend more than their fair share on clothes, entertainment and schooling costs for their grandkids.

 

When I was younger I used to think that once my kids were grown, I’d spend all of my extra money on myself.  Exotic trips to Greece and Europe.  Face lifts when I needed one.  I thought I’d go to a Day Spa from time to time and pamper myself.  This year I took my 5 year old grandson to Disneyworld and paid his Catholic School tuition.  So much for my weekly massages.

 

Dare I mention how much money we end up tossing to our supposedly grown children?  And how many of us have to help out our elderly parents?

 

Is the entire world ignoring menopause?  What about Hollywood?  There are many famous Baby Boomers.  Now that Madonna is getting up there in age, why doesn’t she film a music video based on her REAL fantasies?  One where 10 Boy Toys dance around fanning her furiously with large palm branches?  I don’t think Martha Stewart has done a single show suggesting how hot flashes could be put to use around the kitchen.  “Forgot to take the meat out of the freezer before you went to work this morning?  No problem!  Simply defrost your pork chops on your lap while you drive home tonight!”  I’m surprised that AOL hasn’t advertised “10 Great Hair Styles That Won’t Flop When You’re Flashing!”  Or, “Not In The Mood?  7 Ways To Distract Your Man!”

 

Sometimes I think I’m becoming obsessed with hot flashes.  I find myself wondering if comatose women get them.  I question what would happen to a very sick woman with a fever of 104 degrees if she were to get a hot flash.  Would she spontaneously combust?  Were the survivors of the Titanic all middle aged women and those who were fortunate enough to be floating next to one? 

 

It boggles my mind when I think of the many elderly women who have decided to retire to Florida or Arizona.  Perhaps years of suffering finally leave you absolutely insane.  I can only pray that burnt brain cells eventually leave you without pain. 

 

If men had to suffer through this dismal phase of life, I guarantee there would be a cure by now.  At least they would actively be working on one.  What happens to them?  A sudden urge to drive a Harley.  An affair with a twenty something.  A new convertible.

 

Good grief.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Menopausal Manifest

Menopause Manifest Part II
 
My menopause symptoms are much more than an "inconvenience," as assumed by some people (see comments after Part I).  I consider them an AFFLICTION.  If your house burnt down to the ground would you call it "a bit of bad luck?"  Would it be "disappointing" to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease?  Would being found guilty of a crime you didn't commit, and sent to prison for 25 years, be a "temporary setback?"  I think not.

These 'hot flashes' occur 24 hours a day.  At night it's impossible to sleep through my frenzied attempts to yank the blankets off as quickly as possible and turn the ceiling fan back on high.  I'm forever seeking out new cold spots on the sheets to avoid soaking the bed with sweat, otherwise I'll have to get up and change the linen.  Five minutes later, after the hot flash is gone, I turn off the fan and hoist the blankets back on.  Pulling myself into a fetal position to avoid touching any wet or cold spots, I lay shivering, awaiting the next assault which seems to come right after I finally fall back to sleep. 
During the day, my clothes stick to me, I sweat off my make-up and my hair is always damp and limp.  I'm in a constant state of dressing, undressing and re-dressing. There's not a moment of the day when I feel anywhere NEAR 'comfortable.'  

In between the hot flashes, there are short lulls spent in absolute DREAD, waiting for the next cycle to begin. The syndrome takes over every aspect of my life.  Besides the hot flashes there's the mood swings and the altered state of consciousness to deal with as well.  Somedays I can hardly keep a thought in my head.  I have NO concentration and the attention span of a plastic plant.  Few of my tasks are ever completed.  I'm tired and frustrated.  Worst of all, I have NO patience.  I could KILL anyone under the age of 40 who rolls their eyes up at me when I can't think of the word I wanted to use.  The only thing I have firmly committed to memory is the location of every fan in the building where I work.  Worse yet, is that other women have told me that they have been suffering with these symptoms for 15 years!  I'll never make it!  I'm surprised we can't go out on disability with this. 
 
I do try to count my blessings.  I knew another woman who used to turn bright red, and her hair would flop before our eyes, and she'd be literally dripping with sweat.  I only "glow" a little when I'm flashing.  I'm thankful that I live and work in an environment that is air conditioned.  That I don't reside in Florida or Arizona.  That I don't work in a dry cleaners.  That I'm single and don't have a man wanting to have sex with me everytime I throw off the covers in the middle of the night. That my job description doesn't necessitate carrying a gun.
 
Now that the Baby Boomers have arrived at middle age, there must be millions of women all of the US having hot flashes, 24 hours a day.  Maybe the scientists should look into THAT as a cause of Global Warming.  I know I could melt a few icebergs all by myself.  Forget about a cure for the common cold.  Who cares how bad it is when you only suffer for TWO WEEKS?  Eradicate menopause and save the god damned world!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Menopause Manifest

Three months ago I decided to stop my Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I had been taking the tablets for about three years and I was getting nervous about the high risk of cancer.
 
I can honestly say that I have never felt more miserable in my entire life.  Since there are 78.2 million American Baby Boomers out there, and slightly over 50% of them are women ... lets talk menopause. 
 
Misery loves company ya' know.
 
Since I am an RN, I feel it is my duty to present the scientific facts (before we get to the reality of it all which we'll discuss in future segments). 
 
According to the Mayo Clinic menopause is a transition that can start in your 30s or 40s and last into your 50s or even 60s. You may begin to experience signs and symptoms of menopause well before your periods stop permanently. Once you haven't had a period for 12 consecutive months, you've reached menopause.  Menopause is a natural biological process, not a medical illness. Although it's associated with hormonal, physical and psychosocial changes in your life, menopause isn't the end of your youth or of your sexuality. Several generations ago, few women lived beyond menopause. Today, you may spend as much as half of your life after menopause.  Hormone therapy (HT) has been widely used in recent decades to relieve the signs and symptoms of menopause and — doctors thought — to prevent diseases associated with aging. However, new long-term evidence has demonstrated that HT may actually increase your risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, breast cancer and stroke.
 
Okay ... but lets get to the heart of the matter.  How much am I going to suffer?   The Mayo Clinic says: Several chronic medical conditions tend to appear after menopause. By becoming aware of the following conditions, you can take steps to help reduce your risk:
  • Cardiovascular disease. At the same time your estrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. Yet you can do a great deal to reduce your risk of heart disease. These risk-reduction steps include stopping smoking, reducing high blood pressure, getting regular aerobic exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats and plentiful in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Osteoporosis. During the first few years after menopause, you may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Postmenopausal women are especially susceptible to fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. That's why it's especially important during this time to get adequate calcium — 1,500 milligrams daily — and vitamin D — 400 to 800 international units daily. It's also important to exercise regularly. Strength training and weight-bearing activities such as walking and jogging are especially beneficial in keeping your bones strong.
  • Urinary incontinence. As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, you may experience a frequent, sudden, strong urge to urinate (urge incontinence) or incontinence with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence).
  • Weight gain. Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition. You may need to eat less — perhaps as many as 200 to 400 fewer calories a day — and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight.  Oh goody.
  • Emotional and cognitive changes. You may experience irritability, fatigue, decreased memory and diminished concentration as you approach menopause. These symptoms have sometimes been attributed to hormonal fluctuations. Yet other factors are more likely to contribute to these changes, including sleep deprivation and stressful life events — such as the illness or death of a parent, grown children leaving home or returning home, and retirement.  Can it get any worse? 
  • Changes in appearance. Many women gain a modest amount of weight — about 5 pounds on average — during the menopausal transition. The fat that once was concentrated in your hips and thighs may settle above your waist and in your abdomen. You may notice a loss of fullness in your breasts, thinning hair and wrinkles in your skin. If you previously experienced adult acne, it may become worse. Although your estrogen level drops, your body continues to produce small amounts of the male hormone testosterone. As a result, you may develop coarse hair on your chin, upper lip, chest and abdomen.  Sorry I asked.
According to MedicineNet  Hot flashes are common among women undergoing menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is often most pronounced in the head and chest A hot flash is sometimes associated with flushing and is sometimes followed by perspiration. Hot flashes usually last from 30 seconds to several minutes. Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, hot flashes are likely due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels.

In my experience, a hot flash occurs once an hour when some evil demon switches on a furnace in the pit of my belly.  He (I say "he" as I KNOW that NO "woman" would ever do this to another) turns the thermostat WAY up, and instantly the flames roar, devouring every inch of my body.  They rise hotter and higher, until I feel that I am about to explode into a ball of fire.  The monster keeps the heat going for about five minutes and then slowly turns down the thermostat.  This is followed by one to two minutes of a soft "glow" like hot coals on the bottom of your barbecue.  My body is left cold and wet like the steel frame of a building hosed down by firefighters after a blaze brought under control.  But ... that's just me.  Sorry... I digress ... where we?  Oh yeah...

There is currently no method to predict when hot flashes will begin and how long they will last. Hot flashes occur in up to 40% of regularly menstruating women in their forties, so they may begin before the menstrual irregularities characteristic of menopause even begin. About 80% of women will be finished having hot flashes after five years. Sometimes (in about 10% of women), hot flashes can last as long as 10 years. GOOD GRIEF!  There is no way to predict when hot flashes will cease, though they tend to decrease in frequency over time. On average, hot flashes last about five years.

Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by night sweats (episodes of drenching sweats at nighttime). This may lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness. 

Research shows that cigarette smoking, caffeine (including chocolate) and alcohol increase the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.  But, in my own defense, if I didn't have a cup of coffee in the morning, smoke all day, eat hundreds of Tootsie Rolls at my desk and drink heavily on occasion, I'd be a FREAKIN' LUNATIC!  Albeit a less sweaty one.

In my quest for knowledge I also discovered that withdrawal from hormones is strikingly similar to heroin and crack cocaine withdrawal!  Heroin Addiction  says heroin addicts experience  being cold and then getting hot flushes - constant temperature changes, sweating / chills, feeling sad, crying at little things (even TV soaps, adverts), insomnia, not sleeping for days on end, irritability, feelings of weakness and tiredness, although not being able to sleep and elevations in blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate, and Crack withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to: agitation, depression, extreme fatigue, anxiety, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, irritability and disturbed sleep.

And the longest drug withdrawal is only THIRTY-TWO WEEKS!  Compare that to FIVE to TEN YEARS! 

I just wanted you to realize what we're up against!  Not to mention having a few facts to throw at anyone who thinks menopause is child's play.

Knowledge is power, so they say.


Of course "they" are probably men, or women in their thirties who would run to the nearest emergency room if they ever had a hot flash at this point in their lives.

So what does all this mean?  I'm getting to that ... stay tuned.