Hollie Grimaldi Flores: The ‘M’ word
What word first comes to mind when you hear the “m” word? My first thought is money, but there are so many other “m” words affecting my day-to-day existence. Words such as marriage, music, men, muscle, memory and muscle memory! All of those are great words to explore in detail but the “m” word I want to discuss today is a big one for the over-fifty set. Yes, we are going to discuss menopause. I can see the paper being put away now but bear with me. I have a girlfriend I can hear yelling from downtown, “Don’t ever talk about menopause! No one want to hear about it.” And that may be true, but it is a word avoided too often and I know I am not the only woman (or the men who love them) living with the reality of this process taking place in my aging body. It feels like another “m” word: Mutiny!
Is there any word more accurately descriptive of what is happening daily than “mutiny”? (n. an open rebellion). This body of mine is no longer responsive or compliant in ways for which I was simply unprepared. Certainly, we have all heard about hot flashes, which are most often laughed off in mixed company, but the reality of having a body that randomly bursts into flames is not something to be shrugged off. I didn’t mind them so much in cold weather, but the novelty wore off when summer heat was already repressive. And when are they going to end? The upside is that I am keeping my upper arms tone with the constant repetition of throwing blankets off my body and then pulling them back a few minutes later, over and over, throughout the night. I would say slumber, but that would mean I am actually able to sleep.
Dealing with hot flashes are just the preview for the main event, which comes in the form of insomnia. Sleep deprivation was introduced to me after my first child was born. The big difference there is that I was sleeping soundly until the noises of a crying, hungry and often wet baby brought me out of my slumber. As my childbearing years came to a close, sleep became elusive, intermittent, more like a stranger than a friend. And a bit ironic in that now I do sleep like a baby – awake every two to three hours and famished.
Another not so groovy part of this passage is the timeline. When does it end? About 20 years ago, during an annual exam, my doctor explained menopause is actually a three-part series that can last longer than “Law & Order SVU” (now in its 23rd season). First there is peri- which is when the body is thinking about the changes that will take place; and then there is pre -, when things begin to get irregular, moods change, bone density decreases while cholesterol levels may skyrocket. All the while the hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, muscle aches and joint pain begin making intermittent appearances. Eventually actual menopause occurs which means we are no longer able to bear children and thus no longer, apparently, in need of estrogen, which comes with a new set of downs, such as dry skin, depression and fatigue. And we then spend the rest of our days in the post state where the aforementioned are joined by their friends hair loss, brittle bones, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and memory lapse. What is not to love?
Is it any wonder we are not as amorous as we once were? It’s not that we have lost interest in our mates, per say. It’s more like we have just lost interest! Frankly, with all the changes going on, it’s a bit of a miracle that we recognize ourselves! It’s not called “the change” for nothing!
Miraculously, most women can navigate this process with humor and the help of medical professionals. There is no need to go it alone and if you find it becoming unmanageable, talking with your doctor is always a good idea!
Of all these changes, it really is my memory loss that is most concerning to me. Another “m” word, “mock” comes to mind, as I used to mock my mother when she would come into a room, and then turn around trying to remember why she was there! We all (all of a certain age) do it now! My children are afraid I am going to completely lose it one day (and I may), but I do find comfort knowing this sort of thing is a normal part of the aging process.
Most of us (male and female) do get forgetful. We do lose muscle and tone. It is more difficult to get or stay fit. For women, those issues are compounded with this evolutionary process that changes us at our core. And because it falls under “women’s issues,” it’s rarely spoken of in public. This life journey is fascinating and ever changing and I do look forward to whatever is coming up ahead. And that is it for my “m” word of the day. The post-menopausal life has an upside. I know it. I will find it and it will be marvelous.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at email@example.com
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What word first comes to mind when you hear the “m” word? My first thought is money, but there are so many other “m” words affecting my day-to-day existence. Words such as marriage, music, men,…