Christie Brinkley Didn’t Get Night Sweats, and Other Things I Hate About Perimenopause

If the word “perimenopause” didn’t already give it away, this one’s for the girls…the women.
So, much like when I wrote about my annual visit to the Gyno last year, if you are one of the fourteen men who read this blog you might want to use this time to go grab a snack or scratch something or whatever else might take up the five minutes you’d otherwise spend reading this. Or read it and take an extra few moments to appreciate the female species…even more than I’m sure you already do.

Parts of the past 10 days have been hell.
Actually, if I’m being honest, parts of the past 30 years have been hell, but I’ll get into that later (something for you to look forward to).

If you follow me on Facebook and are one of the like 200 (out of 1,362) who actually see my posts in your newsfeed, you might remember that last week I was plagued with over a week of nightly migraines. Like, 8+ on a 10 point pain scale type of migraines. Like, I stopped drinking wine type of migraines. I know, it was serious.

So after a trip to the neurologist and 25 minutes in the MRI torture tube and an additional three nights of Ginger Ale chased by 200 mg. of Imitrex I realized that my hormones were telling me something. Not to drink so much Chardonnay? Ha! Don’t be silly. No, they were telling me that being a 44 year old woman sucks. The end.

I know, I know. Being a 44 year old woman is a hell of a lot better than the alternative, and I agree wholeheartedly. But recently the onset of increased cramps, flow, headaches, spider veins, age spots (they stop being called ‘freckles’ when you reach 40) and the diminishing eyesight, hearing, and hair that accompanies it all makes you have moments when you’re not so sure.

My 10 day headache bender made me hyper aware of all of the above, plus something else — the way I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night a few times over the past month wet with sweat which I just assumed was caused by too many layers of flannel.

Nope.
Night sweats.
Night sweats that are not caused by flannel or fever.
Night sweats that are caused by my new word of the week: perimenopause.

Perimenopause – noun
The period leading up to menopause which some of the symptoms associated with menopause may be experienced. It is not unusual for the duration to last ten or more years

Yesterday I had an appointment with my friendly gynecologist (remember her?) to discuss things like headaches and cramps and hormones and night sweats. She was kind (as usual) and told me we’d just have to take it as it comes and make decisions based on symptoms I am and will be experiencing. Over the next ten or more years. And then I made her hold me.

When I got home and googled “night sweats and perimenopause” (as one would expect me to do even though my doctor highly discourages me from googling anything health related because she’s known me for almost 12 years and knows the tailspin it will put me in), I was instantly directed to a site called 34 Menopause Symptoms.
I clicked.
I shouldn’t have.

Here’s are the 34 — THIRTY FOUR — things I have to look forward to over the next ten or more years. 

1. Hot Flashes
2. Night Sweats
3. Irregular Periods
4. Loss of Libido
5. Vaginal Dryness
6. Mood Swings
7. Fatigue
8. Hair Loss
9. Sleep Disorders
10. Difficulty Concentrating
11. Memory Lapses
12. Dizziness
13. Weight Gain
14. Incontinence
15. Bloating
16. Allergies
17. Brittle Nails
18. Changes in Odor (Changes in Odor??)
19. Irregular Heartbeat
20. Depression
21. Anxiety
22. Irritability
23. Panic Disorder
24. Breast Pain
25. Headaches
26. Joint Pain
27. Burning Tongue
28. Electric Shocks
29. Digestive Problems
30. Gum Problems
31. Muscle Tension
32. Itchy Skin
33. Tingling Extremeties
34. Osteoporosis

So pretty much everything horrible you could ever possibly feel is what I have to look forward to…when?…over the next ten or more years.

And by the way, I think I can safely say numbers 20 through 23 are now in the bag.

Yesterday I saw this photo of Christie Brinkley from a Wednesday night event. You guys, there’s no way she experienced any of this shit and looks like this at age 59.

FIFTY. NINE.
Her odor probably hasn’t changed at all.

 

Most of you know I have two daughters, and it’s sometimes very difficult to be a cheerleader for Team Woman when you know what they’re in for. Because a lot of it sucks. I mean, the shoes are great, but for a solid week out of every month, it sucks. It does. I don’t know a better, more proper word for it. I suspect there are a lot of women out there who think bleeding and cramping, not to mention the mess, aren’t a (very literal) pain and that they are just part of the wondrous world of womanhood, but I’m gonna go ahead and say it again: it sucks. Listen, I try to be a positive role model for my girls when it comes to all the growing and changes their bodies have gone (and are going) through (Hooray! Bloody panties and feeling like there’s hot coals in your abdomen is awesome!). But it’s hard to be peppy when you’re lying in a ball on the bed covered in heating pads one day and begging for just one more Imitrex the next. And then one day you wake up at 2 a.m. covered in a sheen of sweat that didn’t come from what it used to come from when you were 24 and you google it and are slapped in the face with 33 other things that make aging sound a lot like ten or more years of hell. Surrounded by Kardashians.

What’s amazing to me, though, is that (other than Christie Brinkley) millions of women go through it, have gone through it, and lived to tell about it. They’ve survived. Maybe barely, but they get through it. I have two friends who I was talking to at Bunco last week who just made it to the other side. And guess what? They both were standing upright, had heads full of hair and smelled just fine. One of the 382 questions I asked them was if they had experienced terrible mood swings for ten or more years, and both said no, they were pretty even keeled. I imagined their families standing behind them shaking their heads violently and mouthing, “SHE’S A LIAR. SHE WAS A TOTAL BITCH” but since they’re both so fun and pleasant I’m sure they were telling me the truth. And since we were only on roll 2 of the dice it couldn’t have been the wine talking (it totally could have been the wine talking).

But it gave me hope.
Because right now I have like 23 days a month when I feel 24 instead of 44. Sure, I have to carry three pairs of glasses with me wherever I go and my ponytail is 1/4 as thick as it used to be and let’s not forget the two pairs of pajamas I’ve been going through one night a week and the hormone-changing-induced-headaches, but I honestly don’t feel much different than I did twenty years ago. Do I sleep (or crave sleep) more than the average person? Absolutely, but that’s been true for me since birth.

So I’m refusing to succumb to the list. I will exercise and use nail strengthener and be as pleasant as always (shut up, Husband)! I will sleep on a sponge and wear ice bags in my bra and take Claritin! I will suck on popsicles and buy K-Y and wear Depends!

I vow to be as lovely at age 59 as Christie Brinkley.
Let’s just hope I smell like her, too.

Any comments, words of wisdom or advice from those of you in the same boat — or those of you who’ve disembarked?
Solidarity, my sisters, solidarity. 

 



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  • The Dose of Reality - I am PEEING with laughter…which of course is OBVIOUSLY a sign of my perimenopause! 😉 This.Is.Awesome.-AshleyReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Never too early for Depends, Ashley. 😉
      Thanks for sharing today! Appreciate it!!
      xoReplyCancel

  • Teri Biebel - Burning tongue??? Electric shocks???? WTF?????

    I don’t actually FEEL the sweating, I mean, it doesn’t wake me up (I guess that means I AM having hot flashes but not hot enough to wake me) but I swear to God I wake up soaking wet in the middle of the night. I also thought I was just sleeping under too many blankets but I do suppose it’s time to admit it’s peri/pre/menopause.

    Oh and I’ve always HATED Christie Brinkley since she dumpe Billy Joel, and now I hate her even more. Non-stinky bitch.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I know, right? MY GOD it’s like methods of torture.
      I don’t wake up until I’m good and soaked in sweat. And then it’s just gross. Change the shirt, flip the pillowcase (or switch with Husband)…
      ReplyCancel

  • Kim Turner - UGH – that list has me reaching for wine!!! I’ve had night sweats for years – it’s awful!! Thankfully, about 4 or 5 years ago I had a procedure that helped with the awful cramps and even the monthly migraines.ReplyCancel

  • christinasotomaynez - This is fantastic and besides the night sweats (knock on wood) I’m going through the same thing. The gyno finally put me back on the Pill, even though I don’t need it, to control the roller coaster periods. I’ve never ruined slacks in my life! Until perimenopause that is. Thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - My doctor did the same 9 months ago…which was great for 7 months and then BAM. The intense migraines. So I’m off again and waiting to see what happens. Fingers crossed for no ruined slacks. 😛ReplyCancel

  • Amy Flory - Remember when you were bragging about having older kids who weren’t pains in the asses like our little kids? This is what you get. Seriously, though, this entire post terrifies me.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Fair point. But thank goodness when I’m suffering from a migraine (or cramps or electric shocks) my kids are self sufficient and can take care of themselves. Don’t be terrified. Well, be terrified of the changing odor thing and the incontinence, but I’ll be here for you. Promise.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah White - I have been taking Lexapro for the last ten years for anxiety. What I didn’t know is that an off-label use controls menopause symptoms. I had NO night sweats or day sweats, for that matter, and my emotions have been on an even keel. Talk to your doctor about it. –Deb i NewhallReplyCancel

    • Michelle - L-E-X-A-P-R-O….writing it down. I mean, if this list doesn’t cause anxiety I don’t know what does. 😉
      Thanks for the tip! Will definitely keep it in mind!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Estroven and Black Cohosh are my new best friends, my husband calls them my happy pills. The females in my family are prone for early menopause (my grandmother was done by the time she was 46) and sadly I seem to be following in their footsteps (oh lucky me). In regards to the list of 34 symptoms, I have dealt with 19 (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 13 14 15 20 21 22 26 29 30) and I pray that I never see the rest. My husband has came home quite a few times and I have been standing inside our freezer cooling off. He just gave me a kiss on top of my head and walked away quietly (smart man) and talked to me after I came out of the freezer. I have to laugh at my 20 yr old daughter who complains about her cramps because I tell her that she hasn’t even begun to experience all the fun of being a woman brings to one’s doorstep.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I’ve never heard of Estroven and Black Cohosh but will add them to my google list. Black Cohosh sounds like something I may need to travel south of the border for. Sorry you’ve got it so rough. Yuck. But hey, at least you haven’t seen #18 yet. So there’s that. :S
      Thanks for reading, and commenting!!ReplyCancel

    • Laura - Black cohosh is a herbal supplement that was used for medicinal purposes by the Native Americans. You can find them at any vitamin store or at Walmart. I usually get my estroven at Target (I try not to go to Walmart unless I absolutely have to) but you can get find it at Walmart.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - Your singing my life my friend! At 48 I’ve been here for a while and it’s no picnic!! Thank you for making me laugh, I totally needed this today!! xoReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Glad I could distract you from your itchy skin and incontinence. 😛
      Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Marie Sherman - Guess what? I’m 63 yrs. old and STILL HAVE HOT FLASHES…My girlfriend is 67 and still has them every 5 minutes apart. Thanks for the hilarious laugh!!!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Marie Sherman - Think of it as wearing a wet-suit to bed. LOL!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jean Crawford - Bio Identical Hormone Replacement. That’s all I can say about it!ReplyCancel

  • Kerrie Dolan - I am laughing out loud because I’m 53 & am experiencing quite a few items on that list. I went into full blown menopause at 45 which was only about 4 years after having my kid. I am on a bio-identical estrogen patch & progesterone pills since then because I just wasn’t ready to completely shrivel up. However, it’s a balancing act! I’ll feel great for a few weeks meaning the hot flashes have settled down but then later I’ll have full PMS symptoms like depression, breasts killing me, ravenous “I will kill if I don’t have carbs NOW” & sometimes a bit of bleeding. COME ON! What is really freaking me out, though, is my memory & overall cognitive functioning!! I cannot remember the names of people or just chunks of time! I cannot concentrate as well as I used to. One of the reasons I stayed on the Vivelle dot (estrogen patch) is that it’s supposed to help protect against dementia. You guys, I have to work essentially full-time for at least 10 more years at a job where I cannot be a complete dolt. I joke about it at work sometimes but it really scares the hell out me! Any advice would be welcome! Thanks! KDReplyCancel

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