We Have to Talk About Perry…(Perimenopause that is)

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I’ve decided to start talking about some uncomfortable subjects

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Which of course is kind of punny considering we’re talking about…erm…never mind. Anyway…perimenopause. It’s definitely a word that only gets brought up in hushed tones at doctor’s offices, late-night wine-fueled chats with girlfriends, and at Sex and the City viewing parties. I have to make an assumption about that last one because I’ve never seen an episode of Sex and the City. However, I am considering the target demographic here and I think the ladies may be all-too-familiar with the demon I refer to as “Perry.” As in Perimenopause. Yes, yes…we can discuss my wittiness later. As for now, let’s talk about this jerk.

First off, let me say, I have rarely complained about the inconveniences of being a woman

Sure when I first got my period back in middle school, I was indignant about the entire process. Periods sucked as far as I was concerned and were majorly inconvenient. I didn’t get why boys didn’t have to go through them. Yes, by the way, I am going to say period. I also might say words like breasts, ovulation, and discharge, too. If the word moist gets your panties in a bunch, you may want to bow out of this talk. But chances are, you’re here on this page because you’re experiencing some whacked-out symptoms of what may be an alien hostile takeover of your body…or perimenopause. Hard to tell the difference.

So…back to the startling discovery of what it meant to be a woman way back in 8th grade. Back then I was shocked to learn that not only did I need to shove the equivalent to a baby diaper between my thighs for a week while bleeding like a stuck pig, I was going to have to do that in some form or another pretty much every single day “just in case”, and also because the female body seems to leak some sort of discharge about 90% of the month.

There would also be cramps that were like someone constantly punching you in the gut and headaches that were like a drummer slowly keeping time in your temples. Swimming was a no-no unless you were brave enough to try to decipher the drawings that came with tampon boxes. (How do you lift your leg behind your head again???) There was period poop which can best be described as…well, let’s not even go there. Some things need to be kept sacred, right? Let’s just say that food poisoning doesn’t have anything on this phenomenon.

And don’t even get me started on the emotional roller coaster. I once threatened to stab my sister with cuticle scissors because she accidentally put my pillowcase on her pillow. This was the same day a Kodak commercial featuring a Golden retriever had reduced me to wracking sobs while I inhaled an entire box of Valentine’s Day candy singlehandedly. And dear God, don’t get me started on the zits. It’s amazing I could actually get a boy to talk to me with my pizza face that I made worse by squeezing the damn pimples and then pretending I had no idea why I had blotches all over it when my parents questioned it.

Imagine my delight when I learned that I could expect all this discomfort before and during the actual process of menstruation. Sometimes for several days after as well. And not only that…I would have to deal with that every single month for thirty-something years while actually carrying on with my life like there wasn’t a crime scene in my underwear, hormones raging war on my sanity, and stabbing pains in my gut.

I feel like I got over it really quickly considering. I adapted to the whole messy process within a short period of time (ha ha…puns!) and got on with my life. Sure, my period was wildly irregular back then and stressed me out beyond belief, but I adjusted. Okay, remember the scene in Mermaids when Winona Rider’s character thinks she’s pregnant just because she kissed that guy? That was me for most of my teen years with no valid reason to think that whatsoever. (Recall the zits?)

I didn’t complain when I was in 10th grade and being made fun of for being “flat-as-a-board”. When my flat-as-a-board breasts decided to go up two cup sizes seemingly overnight and now I couldn’t sleep on my stomach anymore (which, coincidently, was the only thing that eased my atrocious cramps that I also wasn’t complaining about), I still didn’t complain. I just quit the cross country team because no one thought to explain the concept of sports bras to me, continued to shove my boobs into bras that clearly didn’t fit, and suffered in silence.

And later on in my twenties, I didn’t complain when I had to go on the pill because period irregularity was making me bonkers. And I still didn’t complain when I had to come off the pill because of some blood clotting factor I had. And then I didn’t complain further after two miscarriages which resulted in two D&Cs, and then the subsequent IVF that I needed to have since I had no more damn fallopian tubes after they spontaneously combusted during the not one, but TWO ectopic pregnancies I had. I didn’t complain when I had to take Heparin shots every day while pregnant so that gosh darn clotting factor problem didn’t result in another miscarriage. And I STILL didn’t complain when I needed to be on bedrest not once, but TWICE since both of my darling children were so eager to evacuate the apparently hostile environment that is my womb that they tried to do so after only baking for five or six months. I didn’t complain when my cervix had to be stitched up to prevent the escape. I didn’t even complain when I gave birth without any pain medication.

Okay, that’s a lie. I totally complained. Very loudly in fact. But seriously…I felt justified while being ripped in half by their large heads that obviously come from my husband’s side of the family. Complaining didn’t happen when I discovered the clots the size of tennis balls that emerged from my nether regions for a MONTH after giving birth. Seriously, WTF is up with that??? No one tells you about that either, and when you call the OB/GYN they act like you’re a hypochondriac for even worrying about it. Well excuse me for being concerned about my possible need for a blood transfusion.

I took all of that in stride

Just like I took in stride all the yearly visits where I pretend my gyno isn’t approaching my cooch with a miner’s hat as she digs around and nonchalantly tries to engage me in chatter about politics or the weather and I hold in a fart while simultaneously wondering if my feet smell. Or when I needed to add the whole “getting your boobs smooshed between two plates” bonus to those yearly trips. Sure, I love going a whole day without deodorant and then getting my breasts fondled. (While also discussing politics or the weather…it’s like the worst first date ever…I don’t even get a meal out of it unless you count those breath mints in the candy jar at reception.) I took the fact that I can’t cough or sneeze or run on a public treadmill without peeing my pants in stride as well, something my OB/GYN recommends Kegels for. (See Just a Little Pee) Well, excuse me if I can’t remember to clench my hooha every time I’m at a stoplight or when I’m at my desk whatever nonsense she suggested.

I’VE BEEN VERY TOLERANT. We ALL have been very tolerant as we march uncomplaining through womanhood. We women put up with a lot of crap to get to our forties and the end of menstruating only to discover, we’ve got to pay the toll to get out of this $hit. And what a toll it is.

What in fresh hell is this perimenopause nonsense????

I was first introduced to my pal Perry about five years ago. I’d been having unusual hot flashes. Now let me preface this by saying I was always that person who complained their feet and hands were like ice, and I wore sweatshirts to BBQs in July. All of a sudden I was stripping down to my underwear every night just to get comfortable. My skin was on fire and the only thing that helped was the fan I had taken to running 365 days a year and sleeping with the windows open any time it was too cold to put the air on. I still woke up in a puddle of sweat almost every night. Yeah, complete 180.

Then the suddenly regular periods. Every twenty-eight-days-like-I prayed-for-in my-twenties regular periods. The HEAVY regular periods. The please-do-not-laugh-or-sneeze-because-I-might-dislodge-a-super-sized-maxi-tampon-and-bleed-all-over-myself kind of periods. I actually thought I was going to die the first time that happened to me in a stall in an Atlantic City casino where I had to use my sweater as a makeshift pad and there were literal blood splatters on the wall of the stall. It looked like the mob had put a hit on someone in the stall. Yes…it was truly that bad and I thought I’d bleed to death on my way back up to the room we were staying in.

Plus, here came the weight gain. Now in the past, I’ve been very open and honest about my constant battle to keep in shape and conform to society’s expectations about women needing to look a certain way. But add a sprinkle of perimenopause in with the $hit soup of a lockdown and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. All of a sudden I’m up two pants sizes, my back fat has back fat, my thighs rubbing together could start a forest fire, and my boobs are literally popping buttons off of my shirts. (While Hubby has not minded this side of perimenopause at all, he does mind the fact that because those giant boobs are now sore 20 out of 28 days, I don’t like them to be touched because holy hell are they sore.)

Then the headaches. Ughhhhhhhh. Dear God the headaches. I think I could take all of the other symptoms, truly. But these headaches. I would welcome back that drummer from my teen years. These headaches are the ice pick to the eyeballs variety. I get pre-ovulation headaches and ovulation headaches and post-ovulation headaches and then premenstrual headaches and then blessedly, the damn headaches stop while I’m trying to decide whether or not the blood loss is enough to question if I should have a blood transfusion or not. I don’t want the gyno to think I’m a hypochondriac after all.

How is any of this FAIR????

Haven’t we had enough torture? Isn’t the fact that we have endured well more pain and discomfort and inconvenience than our male counterparts enough? Sure, they go through a time in their lives when their voice cracks spontaneously and their faces are also acne-covered and they smell. And then they have to go through the “indignity” of a prostate or hernia exam. Okay. But that’s like a blip on the radar for them. Not every day in almost every stage of their lives.

Seriously, I’m really sorry Eve bit the apple and all that, but I bet she would have made a pie for Adam at least if she wasn’t doubled over with cramps. Why punish us all for centuries? I’m a good listener. I would have left the damn apple alone. Can we talk about some sort of reduced sentence for this perimenopausal nonsense?

Oh, a hysterectomy? So more surgery, more pain, and hormone replacement therapy???? Put your body into menopause…which I heard is also not a barrel of cherries. In this day and age of being able to clone humans, we can’t even fix this travesty that is perimenopause? There better be a separate place in heaven for us women. A cramp-less, headache-less, bloodless, apple-less place where we can be free to feel the way men do every day.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I have some blood to mop up. Oh no, not that kind of blood. Hubby made the mistake of calling me into the bathroom to complain he found a gray pubic hair. I had no idea cuticle scissors could cut that deep.

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