Things have been a little strange lately, I know. You’re probably wondering who I am and what I’ve done with that happy, upbeat woman you married. She’s still here. I promise. Unfortunately, she’s a little distracted because there is a forest fire raging under her skin. “Power Surge.” “Personal Tropical Vacation.” So many cute names for it, but the fact is: I’m experiencing hot flashes because I’m in early menopause.
Remember when we went to the outdoor market this weekend? You waxed poetic about how perfect the weather was – and I sat under a tree, fanning myself rapidly with the takeout menu from the glove compartment while I barked that if you really loved me, you’d pour ice water over my head.
Every night that I throw off the blankets and turn up the air…in December.
Last night when we snuggled on the couch and you mentioned my flushed cheeks while you wiggled your eyebrows.
Sorry… still a hot flash.
What is a hot flash? I’m so glad you asked. Remember that summer in Florida when you fell asleep at the pool and spent the next four days resisting the urge to bathe in ice cream? Condense those four days into 30 seconds and you’ve got a hot flash. I can be anywhere – at the store, at work, or just standing in the living room – and I’m hit with a sudden, intense feeling of warmth that spreads through my upper body and face. That’s why I’m flushed with pink cheeks and suddenly breathing a bit faster than usual. My heart rate increases, and then I start to perspire. Sometimes I get dizzy or even nauseous. It can happen several times a day or only a few times a week. It’s unpredictable, and so is my reaction to it.
Don’t worry – I’m OK. My hot flashes aren’t dangerous, and they pass. But, there are a few things I do want you to know.
Bring me water, not wine. Yes, I love a chilled glass of wine. Yes, I think you are so sweet for bringing me one after a long day. Unfortunately, alcohol can actually intensify my hot flashes. A tall glass of ice water would be awesome and make me feel much better.
We may have to skip our weekly Thai dinners. As much as I look forward to loading my noodle bowl with hot chilies, spicy foods are a known hot flash trigger. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop going out to eat completely. There are plenty of mild foods to pick from, and I can rest easy knowing my meal won’t have me drenched in sweat later that night.
Sometimes I will need a break. When a hot flash hits me, I’m just as surprised as you are. It can be overwhelming, and I may need to step away or sit down. I know this can be inconvenient, but that is the best thing for me to do at that moment. Typically, all I need is some time to cool off, use some deep breathing exercises, and collect myself.
It’s not you; it’s me. This is the most important thing I want you to remember. I go through waves of being cranky and uncomfortable because of hot flashes – not because of you. If I’m grumpy in the morning, it’s probably because my hot flashes kept me awake all night. I’m not mad; I’m uncomfortable.
The good news. This won’t last forever. I’m taking steps to help improve my symptoms such as improving my diet, avoiding caffeine, wearing lighter clothing, and staying hydrated. I’m also speaking with my doctor about additional treatment options so that I can feel more like myself (and we can get back to some serious spicy food appreciation nights).
Reviewed February 29, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Hot Flashes - Symptoms. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 26, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/basics/symptoms/con-20034883
Common Hot Flash Triggers. Everyday Health. Retrieved February 26, 2016. http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/common-hot-flash-triggers.aspx