What Keeps Me From Writing? The Fire Within, Part 2

Feeble Counter-Measures

I have tried all the known methods for minimizing hot flashes. I take deep breaths to calm myself while grasping an icy beverage when a hot flash threatens. I eat tofu, lentils, and garbanzo beans, drizzle flaxseed on my food, and drink one cup of coffee in the morning. I never drink alcohol, since a mere sip makes me feel as if I’ve been on a 3-day bender.

I sleep in skimpy nightgowns with the bedroom window open all winter long. In the summer, an air conditioner and a fan blow all night.

Each of my fifteen thousand hot flashes has its own characteristics.

There are those that alert me to their slow, mild arrival, so that just moving into a cooler part of the house prevents them from developing into full-fledged heat events.

Then there are those that show up by stealth. When I notice them, my upper body is already saturated in sweat.

My quality of life has been so thoroughly compromised over these past two+ years that I made a desperate call to a menopause counselor for advice. But, what she could possibly offer that I hadn’t already tried? Hold my nose while executing a moonwalk? Stand on my head while swallowing a live fish?

The menopause counselor (flaunting her normal body temperature by wearing a thick mohair sweater and a wool turtleneck) didn’t have new tactics. But I did learn 3 important things from her.

It’s not my imagination that I have a very narrow comfortable temperature range—from around 69 to 71 degrees.

Second, since going off HRT is the equivalent of just entering menopause, I could expect it to take two years for the hot flashes to cease. (I’m now well past the 2-year mark now, and nothing’s changed. I expect to be sticking to the sheets when I’m on my deathbed.)

Third, I can take an epilepsy drug to counter night sweats.

What About All My Other Chronic Conditions?
If I had a choice of which of my many menopause-induced chronic conditions to give up, it wouldn’t be the freezing index finger, nor the unexpected allergy to wool, nor the intense muscle pain I feel after working out 3-4 times a week.

I would give up the inexplicable, irritating, unpredictable, embarrassing (imagine the impression made by sweating one’s way through a professional presentation) hot flashes.

Ah, Screw It
I don’t want to go back on medication, but on days when hot flashes slam me a couple of times an hour I know that if this condition doesn’t disappear soon, I wonder if I should resort once again to medical measures.

Or, maybe I’ll learn to view this as one of those nasty things—like insomnia—that people suffer from for no reason at all, and quit complaining about it.

If you’re a hot flash sufferer, I hope you’ll read What Keeps Me From Writing? The Fire Within, Part 1.

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8 thoughts on “What Keeps Me From Writing? The Fire Within, Part 2

  1. Lynette: First, thank you so much for your lovely comment on my essay, “Standoff at Ronnie’s Place.” It’s the first chapter of a memoir I’m writing. If you’re interested in following along as I heal through writing, I blog about it at healingthroughwriting.blogspot.com.

    Your comment at Mason’s Road led me here. I too suffer from hot flashes, which after eight years have thankfully have diminished some by day but darned if I don’t get one whenever I stretch in my sleep or lay down or *almost* fall asleep. Then I’m wide awake. And one sip of wine? Forget about it! The upper lip starts to shine…

    Whenever my husband sees me stretched out spread eagle on the bed, naked and cooling, he says, “God I love menopause.” I find this funny enough to maintain a decent attitude, but like you, I’m eager for this “phase” to be over!

  2. Lynette –

    What a frustration for you! Of course it stops you from writing: you’re too busy taking sweaters off and putting them on again.

    My personal comfortable temperature range is nearly as narrow: 68-72. At 73 degrees in the car I have to start the air conditioning. At 67 degrees in my attic office, I flip on the space heater. I have hot flashes most nights – I sleep in a T-shirt, shut the heating vent to the bedroom, and fling off my covers, and I still wake up with wet legs and damp sheets. I hope this is as bad as it gets…

  3. You know, you’re right, Lesley. I forgot that this too interferes with the writing & should be part of that series.

    I wonder if you and I are the only ones with AC running in April, if the temp inches over 72!

    Thanks for your comment.

  4. You two are not the only ones running the A/C in April or the only ones throwing the windows open in December, if only for a brief moment. We all have to find the humor in this most deliciously annoying change we women go through. I had to give up the heavy sweaters I once wore to keep me warm.

  5. F. C.: Thanks for reminding me that there probably are humorous aspects of this situation! (You’d think that after so many years of hot flashes, I’d have learned to laugh at them by now.

  6. Hi, FC:

    Thanks for your comment and reminding me to see the humor in the situation.

    Did I send you your free prize? Just in case, I’ll send it again. Hope you find it useful. – Lynette

  7. Hi, your posts made me smile. I belong to a family where the menopause seems to arrive later rather than early. Not sure if this is good or bad. Visiting my elder sister used to be a nightmare since she’d sit there with her windows wide open as we shivered in our overcoats in her living room, mid-winter. Will I be the same? Perhaps. Maybe I’ll just sail through (well we can hope can’t we?) At the moment what keeps me from writing tends to be visiting grandchildren, 7 weeks and 7 months, but how can I complain? I have had a few ‘hot flushes’ as we call them here I think but nothing as you describe (yet). Alcohol? Couldn’t drink a drop, not even sniff it, for the ten years during which my five children were born and had to wait til the youngest was five before I could enjoy it again. Now, aged 54, I can manage a single vodka and tonic a couple of times a month (sometimes two glasses) – but how I enjoy that glass! Forget wine though … 🙂

  8. Hi, Deborah: I’m pulling for you. Trust me, you don’t want years of intense hot flashes. Thanks for your comment. I’m sending you Polish and Publish. Hope you enjoy it!

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