The inconveniences of womanhood are enhanced in the 5th decade. A few are familiar from a long time ago. The hard painful cramping that accompanies my period reminds me of when I was 15 years old, yet now there is an end in sight. Perhaps this is designed so that I will not miss it when menopause arrives, like the post-menopausal women who smile when they say, “I don’t have to deal with that anymore”. Another similarity is that it always arrives at an inopportune moment, usually when I am wearing light-colored pants, busy, and away from home. The difference is that it can arrive anytime, even if it was just here a few days ago. Thanks to the excessive flow, I know how my Mom felt when she had to wash my sheets several times within a week. I am stoic at this age however, and no longer believe that I may die from the pain as I did when I was a woman-child. A few years ago I listened to an emergency room nurse chuckling as she talked about a young woman who rated her menstrual cramps as 10 on the 1-10 pain scale. I felt sympahty for that girl because I remember feeling the same.
The drama queen of my younger years re-emerges the week before, but now I am embarrassed and guilty when I have acted like an out-of-control hormonal teenager. If you read through a month of my blog postings, I bet you can pick out which week it
is. I have tried taking birth control pills to regulate my crazy perimenopausal hormones, but they just made me more emotional, so I figure I will save the hormones for when I go truly mad. In the meantime I try to be aware in order to control my emotional state and apologize often because being aware does not mean I am in control.
I was famous in my teens for my ability to pee quickly or more accurately for my penchant to pee in places that you should not, so I had to go quickly. In a public bathroom with my daughter recently I could not help but notice that I was still peeing while she had finished, washed her hands, and left. It dawned on me that this is something else that has slowed down over the past few years. Fortunately Cosmopolitan magazine schooled my teenage friends and me on the mechanics of Kegel exercises, although the reasons we learned them had nothing to do with avoiding incontinence later in life. Whatever my initial motivation was, I am a pro after 25 years of working those pelvic muscles. Yet it still takes me a few minutes, so peeing on the side of the road is out of the question now.
I will save some of the other changes I am experiencing in my 40’s for other postings because some are so special they deserve their very own post. It feels as though the past 30 years of being a woman have been sort of like boot camp for this – the most challenging decade yet.