There is a running joke in my family, and sadly, I am the butt of it. I have been hot-natured for as long as I can remember. If I had to guess, I would say it goes back as far back as elementary school. I remember in high school, a guy I was dating asked me if I was going through “man-o-pause!” Ask my family what the thermostat will be set at all year-round; they will tell you it is set at a nice, cool, and comfortable 68 degrees. I can’t help it – I am a hottie!
Over the years, I have driven just about everyone I know crazy with this issue. I play a cloak-and-dagger sort of game with the thermostat wherever I am, whether my house, a friend or family member’s house or my job. I will sneak over to the thermostat and dial it down to my beloved 68. It will take folks a bit to figure it out, and then they will dial it back up to 72. And so the battle ensues. But about a year ago, the joke wasn’t that funny anymore. I had my annual appointment with my gynecologist, and my doctor said the words I had been dreading; “Kelly, you are in menopause.” Ugh! Now the hottie was just plain hot but not in a good way.
When I heard I was in menopause, I had no idea what it actually meant. I had heard about the symptoms of menopause, which include hot flashes, night sweats, pain during intercourse due to vaginal dryness, increased anxiety, and irritability. My mom started menopause when she was just 51, two years before I hit it. She said she experienced very few of the common symptoms, so I had assumed I would skip them as well.
Well, the good news is that I did skip many of the symptoms. The bad news is the one symptom I feared most was a reality for me: the hot flashes. It turns out hot flashes, which are sudden feelings of warmth and usually most intense over the face, neck and chest, can also cause profuse sweating that can leave you chilled (which I have not had, thank goodness). The worst part of having the hot flashes is how unpredictable they can be. One day I can have one or two and other days I can have as many as 10.
To set the scene for you, imagine me sitting on the sofa, watching a movie with my family. Suddenly, this warmth comes over me, and I am hopping up to dial down the thermostat. A collective groan comes from the family room. Within minutes, everyone else is running to grab a sweater or blanket to keep warm. And within a few minutes, I am suddenly cold and hopping up to dial the temperature back up. Another collective groan while everyone is tossing off the blankets and taking off their sweaters. This can go on through the entire movie. It’s almost like we are all having the hot flashes together!
So, the burning (hot flash humor!) question is, “How do you deal with these hot flashes, Kelly?” I have combated the issue with a combination of solutions that works for me. I dress in light layers that are easy to take off and put back on. I have also started exercising, which seems to help lessen the hot flashes. Because stress can also lead to hot flashes, I have begun a meditation routine where twice a day, I speak out loud all the things I am grateful for. Of course, what works for me may not work for someone else.
Guide to Understanding Menopause. WebMD. Retrieved December 20, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/understanding-menopause-symptoms
Diseases and Conditions: Hot Flashes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 20, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/basics/definition/con-20034883Read more in Your Guide for Menopause & Hot Flash Treatment Options