Something strange happens to me whether I am at home or at work.
This occurrence startles me, throws me off balance and seems so foreign that I am taken aback by it. Likewise, my family is shocked by this event, as it is so atypical for me.
Ask anyone who knows me well or has spent significant time with me, and they will deem this as peculiar and very uncharacteristic.
What abnormally strange experience might this be? I’m cold. I actually wore two sweaters to work today and the temperature was in the 40’s. This does not seem normal to me, but it’s more normal than how I used to be.
For a period of at least 10 years, no matter the season of the year, whether I was home or away, no matter how I was clothed, these two words would suddenly explode from me, “I’m hot!” It was like someone quite unexpectedly turned up my thermostat to the boiling point.
Hot flashes ruled my life. They dictated my style of clothing, the temperature of my home, and whether I slept at night or not. They ruled me like an iron-fisted tyrant sometimes keeping me a prisoner in my own home. They disturbed not only my nighttime rest, but my life and the life of my family.
They forced me to sleep with windows flung wide open even on frigidly cold nights. They compelled me to douse myself, head first, into a sink of freezing water. They coerced me into carrying a thermos of iced water everywhere I roamed. They propelled me, dressed in flimsy summer nightgown, outside onto a snowy porch in the middle of winter.
During summer vacations, they so strongly intimidated me that I slept in the hotel bed closest to the air-conditioning unit blasting air cold enough to form icicles while my family shivered under as many bed covers as they could muster.
Hot flashes caused me to banish sweaters, high-necked shirts, scarves, socks and an assortment of other too hot for comfort clothing. Warm woolies, comfy sweat suits, fleece-lined slippers sat forlornly forgotten and unworn in my dresser drawers and closet. I scoffed at blankets and quilts and hats and heavy winter coats.
All because in a matter of seconds, I could become a hunka-hunka burning menopausal maniac. There were days and way too many nights that I was convinced I would spontaneously combust and my family would find a pile of ashes instead of me or at least I could emit enough heat to cook dinner without my stove.
Cancer surgery ended the crazy cycle of hot flashes over five years ago, and now that I’m released from the grasp of the beast, I am sometimes shocked to feel chilly. I now quizzically ask, “Is it cold in here or is it me?” instead of frantically sticking my head in the freezer.
Instead of tearing off restricting heat-inducing clothing, I’m wearing scarves, turtleneck shirts and even sweaters, sometimes two! At night, I grope for the bed covers – even the downy comforter – and nestle into their warmth instead of flinging off a thin sheet to cool down a dripping, sweaty bonfire of a body.
Now on cold wintry nights, I sleep with bedroom windows closed. I’ve become re-acquainted with hats, socks and slippers, fleecy sweatpants and fuzzy blankies. And it’s strange, but oh, so wonderful to be a shivering, chilly me instead of a raging, sizzling, sweltering, oppressive horde of hormones.
So as I shiver a tad under my blanket, still dressed in two sweaters, socks AND slippers with the heat of my laptop warming me a little, I am ever so thankful to be on the other side of menopause on this 15th page of Chapter 3 in my book called Opportunity.
I’m also quite certain my family likes the new me – calm and cold not flaky and fiery.