The Change

Some people might be uncomfortable with this post. I decided that I couldn’t NOT write about it because it’s an important part of my experience. If you have a misogynistic world view then please move along to Or stay here and learn something and possibly read some Gloria Steinem for fuck’s sake. Some might call me the queen of overshare but I think it’s important to communicate. My career is built around this concept and I believe in it.

Hot flashes. I know. This is your mother’s complaint. This is what sends her into a shrieking banshee fit when she is trying to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for the ungrateful crew on the couch. Well, It’s happening to me.  They happen several times in the day and at night. Last week I ripped off my wig in the middle of Target’s toy aisle permanently scarring some poor kid I’m sure because there was sweat dripping down my face from a hot flash.  I wake up with my undies and tank (all I can stand to wear to bed) soaked with sweat and I’m shivering with cold. I’m guessing this is menopause. It could be permanent or not but they warned me it was coming. The Total Body Irradation (TBI) fried the one last ovary that I had left. Women my age say “Great! No more periods!” Women 20 years older than us know that we are losing something. We start our periods at age 12 and it’s a sign of impending adulthood. At menopause we are losing a piece of our youth. As annoying as it is there is something I miss about having a cycle. With all the surgery, chemo and septic shock etc it has been awhile. But there is something primal and dark about bleeding every month that tells you that your body is doing what it is supposed to do. With the change in hormones just before the sight of blood is often a relief. Especially if you been, ahem, less than careful that month.

And speaking of that, Jeffrey will probably hate me and sneak around at work for a few weeks avoiding the group of lovely ladies there who read this blog, but yes, I’m still allowed to have fun. Things have changed some over the months. I remember at the new BMT patient education class they got to the part that talks about side effects from the radiation. If you can recall, I received 3 days of twice daily TBI treatments last lasted about an hour each. I only have vague and delirious memories of those days. I wore just my blue dot boxer shorts and did what I was told only responding to questions with a nod of my head and possible mumbling if you were lucky. My skin was burnt, my body numb and my head foggy.  I wasn’t thinking about anything except going back to my bed and going to sleep. The training class listed the immediate side effects:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • mouth and throat sores
  • pain
  • diarrhea
  • jaw pain
  • swollen salivary glands
  • dry mouth
  • skin redness
  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • low blood counts

Yeah, yeah, I got it, that’s all normal. Long term side effects and risks?

  • cataracts
  • hormone problems
  • sterility
  • vaginal atrophy
  • lung, heart, and kidney problems
  • secondary cancers

Wait… what? Go back. Can you tell which one is confounding me? As it turns out, vaginal atrophy is actually a thing. I asked the nurse to please define. She said that it gets smaller (her words). Jeffrey gave me a smirk and I knew what he was thinking but it didn’t stop him from saying it aloud. Then I asked if there was anything that could be done about that. She said there are dilators and medication. Jeffrey, still grinning, said something about finding my own treatment somewhere in my nightstand.

Turns out, that’s a part of the menopause bit. So are the migraines I’ve been getting. I didn’t make the connection before. You see, we are just women, and we are afraid to talk about the dark side except in hushed whispers to BFFs or co-workers. I’m piecing it all together from the internet and statements from nurses and doctors. I’m going to address it more directly tomorrow with the doctor. While I was inpatient the docs have attempted several times to put me on hormone therapy. I actually took estrogen for four days before I realized it and stopped. The next hospital stay another doctor mentioned started hormone replacement therapy. Did they just forget that I had breast cancer? My tumor was ER+ and PR+. This means that my tumor type feeds off of hormones. Medications with hormones including birth control and hormone replacement therapy are out for me.

So, ladies, please share. How do we deal with menopausal symptoms?


Here is a picture of my new pretty little eyebrows and lashes. My hair is growing in a dark ash color with unconfirmed grays. They might be blonde. Not sure. Either way the amazing Jon will fix it up in the next month or so. So get used to my new look because I can’t wear anything on my head right now because it’s too damn hot!



Posted on April 10, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. You look great! And your post made me laugh as always….I hope you get all your questions answered tomorrow 😉

  2. I don’t have hot flashes as much as I used to. But the main way I dealt with them when they were more prevalent was to suddenly lean forward from the couch (that was where they usually happened…..), fling off any blanket or pillow that happened to be on or near me, rip off any upper clothing that I could with a teenage boy in the room (our son was still in high school) and shriek – “NOBODY TOUCH ME!!!!!!!” It helped if I kept hydrated. And when I was having them – decaf iced tea was helpful. I also spent time with my head in the freezer….

  3. You look beautiful! I love your new color 🙂
    Thanks for the honest and funny post, I was just thinking earlier today it had been a while since you wrote. This vaginal atrophy you speak of is a side effect some men would pay for (for their wives of course:-) the rest of that list….well… Your ability to power through all of that is what makes you the amazing, strong person you are.

  4. too damn hot to wear something on your head cuz you’re just hot like that. it’s that simple. damn. that picture…hot hot hot. hot punk rock grrrl!

  5. For hot flashes – a hand fan is wonderful, and fits in many purses, that helped me in a big way. Also you should seek out a spray bottle with ‘misting’ fan – amazing for the summer. I’ve heard supplements can help, but am no expert on that. For dry lady parts there are some estrogen free products, something called Sylks (?), or maybe just some olive oils or vitamin E. And as for the atrophy… Let’s say that frequent stretching is very helpful. ~ Catherine

  6. Love your new look…beautiful as always! Appreciate your frankness in this post. While I’m not there yet, menopause does seem a mystery in some ways. I recall my Mom having the kitchen window open a lot regardless of the season when she would have hot flashes. Course I’m sure it didn’t help that we didn’t have A/C in the house then either. Hope it goes well at the doctors today.

  7. I love how my hot flashes go from: gee, it’s feeling kinda of warm to I’m on fucking fire in about 3 seconds. I’m lucky, I work with nurses and no subject is taboo so our respective daily journey through menopause is talked about inbetween compressions and wiping ass. I don’t necessarily see it as a passing of my youth since I’ve been perimenopausal since my early thirties. It is a right a passage for me and I am so grateful my (and not so grateful) that my partner is going through the same thing LOL! Thank you for the post, it’s fabulous.

  8. You have done us all a favor putting it out there in your post. Ive read that eating/drinking foods with natural estrogens like soy helps to lessen some of the “it’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes” effect. Love your new do!

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