While you weren’t sleeping, you were lying in bed wishing you were sleeping, but to no avail. Then you started searching for the reasons you weren’t sleeping.
All the tossing, turning, re-positioning, thinking of things that might have put you to sleep. And all the while, you were assessing just how many hours were left before you had to get up and start your day. Tick, tick, tick. Your entire night inched by, leaving you exhausted even though you hadn’t done anything but lie there … not sleeping.
The irony is that the longer you weren’t sleeping, the more anxious you got about not sleeping. And the more anxious you got about not sleeping, the more you weren’t sleeping.
And then you tried to figure out why you weren’t sleeping.
Was it stress? Too much caffeine? That argument you had with your spouse? Or perhaps it was some environmental disturbance, like a noise or the room temperature. But, he’s sleeping soundly. There’s certainly nothing in the environment bothering him.
And then it hits you: This must be menopause!
Sure, there have been other times when you weren’t sleeping very well. The most memorable was right after having your baby. But back them you weren’t sleeping for an obvious reason. It was all about the baby. The baby was hungry. The baby was wet. The baby was sick. Even though not sleeping was tiring, it made sense that you weren’t sleeping.
But now, at menopause, the fact that you aren’t sleeping is one of the most bothersome and senseless symptoms of all.
Of course, there’s an obvious reason that you aren’t sleeping: loss of estrogen. But, unlike the obvious reason you weren’t sleeping with a newborn, loss of estrogen just doesn’t seem a worthwhile reason for not sleeping.
I mean, you weren’t sleeping when you’d had your baby, and now you aren’t sleeping when you don’t have your estrogen.
You can dissect the sequence of events that characterized your night … last night and every night … while you weren’t sleeping:
First, you weren’t able to fall asleep. Whereas you normally drifted off to sleep when your head hit the pillow, on the nights when you weren’t sleeping, it took an hour or two just to get to sleep.
But then, you had night sweats. The night sweats were like the hot flashes you had during the day. You felt a wave of intense heat throughout your body as if it was coming from the inside out. And it swept its way from head to toe, leaving a thick film of slimy sweat behind. And, along with it, your heart started pounding heavily, wildly, as if it was going to jump out of your chest.
Of course, that made you even more anxious and constituted an obvious reason as to why you weren’t sleeping.
And since the heart-pounding resolved after a couple of minutes, you thought you should have been able to go back to sleeping.
But you were drenched. Your nightgown, the sheets, even the pillow were damp. They were so damp that they were cold. So, you had to get up and change your nightgown. And once you were fully awake doing that, you realized that you had to change the sheets, too, lest they dampen your new nightgown.
That required waking up your snoring spouse, who saw no reason to care about soiled sheets. He actually accused you of wetting the bed. And that made you angry enough to bite his head off … and really wake yourself up.
Finally, after all that, you went back to sleeping … but only for an hour before the whole cycle repeated itself again.
Needless to say, you woke up after you weren’t sleeping because of all the interruptions throughout the night.
And that set the stage for a profound feeling of fatigue in the morning. Even lifting the coffee mug to your lips seemed like a huge effort. You didn’t bother to put yourself together for the sake of appearance. It was just too much work. But off to work you went, moving slowly, feeling sluggish and old.
Because you weren’t sleeping, you also couldn’t seem to remember anything. Forgetfulness became the theme of the day. You couldn’t remember what you were supposed to do or when you were supposed to do it. So you spent the entire day scrambling to make up for lost time, covering your mishaps, and forgetting the next thing while compensating for the last forgotten thing.
It was really exhausting. And it was all because you weren’t sleeping when you should have been sleeping.
Within the first couple of hours of your day, you’d had had it. You became irritable. No one could say or do anything without upsetting you in some way. You lashed out at your co-workers, and even your boss.
Then you felt badly about it and tried to make amends. You were sugary sweet for about ten minutes. But then, wham! Something made you angry again. Over and over, all day long, you had mood swings like a pendulum. One minute you were be mad as a wet hen; the next, you were be calm as a cucumber. Eventually, everyone around you … at work and at home … felt like they were walking on eggshells. So they all started distancing themselves from you.
And when you realized that you’d alienated virtually everyone in your circle of family, friends, and co-workers … all because you weren’t sleeping … it made you depressed. The full-on gloom and doom enveloped you.
And your depression made you unable to sleep.
So now, you aren’t sleeping because of estrogen loss on top of not sleeping because of depression.
It’s a vicious cycle … not sleeping at night leads to all the events that follow because of it:
Insomnia Night Sweats Interrupted Sleep Fatigue
Depression Irritability Mood Swings Forgetfulness
So, while you weren’t sleeping, a whole lot of other things were brewing to really affect the quality of your life … negatively! Not sleeping is not just a sleepless night anymore.
One of the things menopausal women hate most is the accumulation of fat around their waist. Even if you never had a fat waist before, you notice an increase in its size at menopause. No more hourglass figure. No more firm, flat belly.
Suddenly, every gram of weight you gain seems to end up around your waist. It’s as if everything you eat becomes a “waist product”!
It’s partly due to a slowing of our metabolism at the time of menopause. But it’s also due to aging. Mother Nature apparently thought it would be a good idea to make human females gain weight as we age. And it turns out that having a little bit of extra weight around our waist is evolutionarily a means of ensuring survival of our species.
Well, that’s all fine and good, but individual women aren’t thinking about survival of the whole darn species. We’re each thinking about our own waist! So, while a larger waist may be a product of aging, we view the whole phenomenon as a waste.
Speaking of waste, isn’t it odd that the word for our feminine middle is the same as the word for what’s an unimportant by-product?
When you eat food, your body absorbs the nutrients in the food and discards the left-overs as “waste products.” So, waste is junk. And the more junk food you eat, the more waste your body has to discard.
It turns out your slower metabolism at the time of menopause contributes to your waste products. The faster your body metabolizes food, the faster it uses the calories as fuel. But the slower it metabolizes food, the less efficient it is at utilizing the calories. So, more of them end up being labeled as “waste products” which end up around your waist as “waist products.”
Not only that. There’s another factor at play. It’s called “transit time.” Transit time is the time it takes your food to go from your mouth to your toilet. Of course, when you put it in your mouth, it’s food. When it reaches your toilet, it’s a “waste product.”
Foods with faster transit times produce fewer waste products. Plants fit in to this category. If you’re a vegan, your transit time is very fast … so fast that there’s hardly any time to form any waste products as the food speeds through your digestive tract on to the wasteland in your toilet.
That’s one reason why vegans tend to be thinner than meat eaters. The waste ends up in the toilet rather than around their waist.
Foods with slow transit times s-l-u-g their way through your digestive tract. As they do so, they start rotting. And all that rotting food turns in to waste products. Unfortunately, once they turn into waste inside your body, you’re stuck with them forever. Not only are they “waste products” that become “waist products,” they even wreak more havoc than that. They become something called “free radicals.” Free radicals are what cause cancers … all sorts of different cancers.
And other waste products are stored as fat. Of course, fat waste products end up around your waist. And they have a special significance of their own simply because they’re a waist product: They cause heart attacks!
So, it turns out that all this talk about waste products has more significance than meets the waist.
The waste that your body doesn’t want either ends up as a waste product or a waist product. If it ends up as a waste product in the toilet … hopefully soon after you’ve eaten it, it doesn’t become a “waist product.” But, if it takes a long time to become as waste product headed for your toilet, it ends up producing even more waste products that cause cancer or waist products that cause a heart attack.
It’s all so circular. But, no matter how you look at it, waste products are supposed to be waste products that end up in your toilet, not waist products that end up around your waist to cause heart attacks and cancer.
It would have been a whole lot better if Mother Nature had come up with some other way to ensure survival of the species as we age. Making waist products from waste products is just such a waste.
Remember the fairytale “Beauty and The Beast”? The beauty was the lovely young, feminine, elegant, sexy, desirable, kind woman who seemed to have everything going for her. The beast was a big, hairy, ugly, mean, cursed animal who inflicted pain and misery on others.
In the story, the names “Beauty” and “Beast” clearly distinguish the two characters as diametrically opposed in terms of their significance. Ahh, but the tale ends when the beauty falls in love with the beast. So, somehow, the beauty realized that the beast wasn’t so bad after all.
So, how is it that something so wonderful as the beauty can recognize the goodness in the beast? And how is it that something as horrific as the beast can actually have some redeeming qualities?
The tale of “Beauty and The Beast” was never my favorite … until I assessed it in a slightly different way.
Day after day, I hear women talk about how estrogen is bad. It causes cancer! It will kill you!
And it makes me wonder, is estrogen both the beauty and the beast?
When women make disparaging remarks about estrogen, I respond with questions:
“So, estrogen surged through your body from the time of puberty until the time of menopause. Let’s see, that was about 39 or 40 years. And it made you feminine, soft, sexy, fertile, attractive, beautiful, strong-boned, healthy-hearted, and witty. And all that time, you loved it. You felt great.”
“But then, at menopause, you lost your estrogen. And, suddenly, you had 22 symptoms that made you feel awful. You had hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, forgetfulness, irritability, joint pain, dry skin, hair loss, whiskers, an itchy and shrinking vagina, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and acne. You felt so miserable you thought you were going crazy.”
“So, you felt fantastic with estrogen. And you feel miserable without it.”
“At what point did estrogen convert from being the beauty to becoming the beast?”
The funny thing is that those women never have an answer.
So, I ask you: Can it be both?
Is it “the beauty” while your own body still produces it, but “the beast” once it doesn’t?
Or is the estrogen your body produced “the beauty,” but estrogen that you take as replacement “the beast”?
And why is it that you think it’s the beast only after you’ve lost it? Was it the beauty making you a beauty while your body still produced it, but became a beast once it didn’t?
I don’t understand the logic. It just doesn’t add up. Does it make sense to you?
If estrogen were the beast, we would expect it to make us feel terrible all the while that our bodies produce it. So, from the time of puberty until we transition into menopause, we would be sick all the time, have the cancers women attribute to it, and feel doomed to live with the beast for far too long.
And then. when we went through menopause and lost the stuff, we’d feel ecstatic. All the beastly effects of estrogen (whatever they may be) would disappear. And we’d feel better than ever before. Menopause would signify ridding ourselves of the beast.
Oh, and without the beast, we’d become more beautiful.
If such were the case, women would long for menopause. They would praise the day when they no longer had to be plagued by the beast.
But, oddly, the reality is that it’s the other way around.
So, my confusion lies in understanding how the very thing that make you feel wonderful is the beast. And how in the world did it transform from being the beauty to being the beast?
As far as I’m concerned, this story line about estrogen the beauty becoming estrogen the beast is more of a fairytale than the actual fairytale. It’s magical, unrealistic, full of fantasy, and completely irrational.
It seems that life is all about trade-offs. You just can’t have things both ways. For most matters, we’re pretty used to these trade-offs. We know we can either spend our money or save our money. We trade freedom for companionship when we enter into a romantic partnership. We accept that we have to forfeit sweet treats if we want to maintain our girly figures. These trade-offs make sense to us even though we don’t necessarily like them.
Menopause entails trade-offs, too. There are all sorts of options for which there are advantages and disadvantages. And, typically, the advantages of one are the disadvantages of another.
But one of the most frustrating trade-offs during menopause is fat. Well, not just the presence of fat, but rather it’s location. And, for most women, it boils down to a trade-off between face fat and belly fat.
Menopause is all about shifting fat.
In some ways, it’s no different than any other hormonal phase of your life. Puberty involves changes in your fat, most notably, gaining it anew. Pregnancy, too. All sorts of things get fatter when you’re pregnant. And menopause creates another instance in which shocking fat shifts occur.
But there’s one that just doesn’t make sense. It’s the shifting of fat from your face to your belly.
Before menopause, your face is full, round, and plump in all the right places to give you a smooth, expressive, soft appearance. And your belly is flat, firm, and naturally hourglass shaped.
But, at menopause they both change. And it’s as if they can no longer co-exist. You can have one or the other, but not both.
With the shifts of fat at menopause, most women notice a loss of face fat. The nice, smooth contours give way to a loss of collagen … which makes your face hollow. And since your skin now has less volume beneath it, it starts to sag. The sagging skin makes you look old. And this is without even acknowledging the wrinkling that accompanies this undesirable look.
But at the same time you’re losing that plump, fullness in your face, … you gain it in your belly!
Your hourglass waistline turns into a box. With time, it begins to look like an apple: Pudgy, bulgy, with rolls of fat that cause your skin to stretch.
So you end up with less face fat and more belly fat. It’s a trade-off.
We all hate both of these changes, so we seek to fix them and restore them to their pre-menopausal state. But what we discover is that doing so is a trade-off too. It becomes an issue of face fat or belly fat.
If you lose enough fat to be satisfied with your belly, your face looks absolutely skeletal. And the more skeletal it looks, the more your skin sags and the older you look.
And if you gain enough fat to fill out your face to its former contour, your belly is absolutely huge!
It’s as if Mother Nature has issued you an ultimatum. Face fat or belly fat; that is the question. You have to pick one or the other, and you can’t have both!
You can immediately spot the women who have chosen face fat. They waddle around with beautiful smiles on their perfectly-contoured faces … but they have long ago forfeited any hope of maintaining their figures.
Those who have chosen belly fat are scrawny, wiry, frail, creatures with boney faces covered with sagging skin.
Looking in the mirror is painful for either.
While most trade-offs make sense, this one does not. It’s a cruel trick of nature. No woman should have to choose between face fat and belly fat.
I mean, the two areas encompass completely different parts of our bodies. They aren’t even nearby one another. And, faces are a lot smaller that bellies. How did they become linked in this fat trade-off?
It would have made sense to trade off face fat for neck fat. Or belly fat for butt fat. But face fat versus belly fat? That’s just … well, unjust!
Maybe it is intended to be some sort of consolation. If your face looks freakishly thin, at least you can have a nice belly. And if your belly is fat, at least your face is pretty.
The problem is that we all want both. Face fat versus belly fat isn’t a question. It’s a curse.
It’s so difficult to get accurate information these days! Of course, the key word is “accurate.” There’s plenty of “information.” But how in the world are you supposed to separate what’s credible and accurate from what’s not?
The Internet was supposed to make information gathering better. But, has it? Historically, if you wanted to learn about something, you went to the library. The library only offered books that had been published by a publishing company, with all the vetting that went with it. To get a book published, an author had to prove his or her credibility to a publisher.
As a result, the number of resources available were limited, but the information in those resources was credible.
Nowadays, there aren’t many publishing companies. That’s because we’ve become primarily a paperless society. And, since there are fewer publishers, there’s more self-publishing.
And self-publishing means that anyone can publish anything … credible or not!
Information gathering from the Internet is even worse. It enables people with no credentials at all to promote any thing at all. So, now you’re exposed to people making false testimonials about products, unreliable people selling products, and uneducated people “educating “ you about the science and facts behind their products.
At the crux of it all is the unfortunate fact that there’s a very fine line between “ed” and “ad.”
“Ed” is educating. It’s what your teachers did when you went to school. Education is purely informational for the sake of knowledge itself. It has no agenda. It consists of principles that you can apply to anything. And education is powerful because it equips you with a knowledge base to assess products on your own. When someone educates you, they do not stand to gain something based on how you utilize that education.
“Ad” is advertising. Advertising is necessary for selling. It’s a means to get people to buy something. It has absolutely nothing to do with educating. It has to do with convincing, regardless of facts. And it includes distortions of the truth and false claims.
So, with all the resources in our Internet-governed, paperless world, you are the target of a whole lot of advertising disguised as educating.
Advertisers start out with a kernel or two of “educational” information. That gets your attention. It’s the hook. But then, they start veering off into information manipulation so that you assume they’re still educating you.
They’ve switched gears without your knowledge. And now there in the process of advertising.
But, since they’ve gotten you “primed” with the initial educational tidbit, you’re now gullible and ripe for a sale. And you don’t even realize that your “educator” has transformed into a “advertiser”!
An educator’s reward is your understanding. Knowledge is the currency. If you learn, the educator was successful. If you don’t, they failed. Not so for the advertiser. The advertiser cares only about his or her own pocketbook. The goal is the sale. If you buy, it’s a success. If you don’t it’s a failure.
With so many people being much more adept at advertising than educating, you hardly recognize the difference.
Don’t fall for this. Avoiding it is very simple: If there’s a product involved, run!
No person with any product will ever tell you the truth, period. They don’t care about the truth. They care about the sale. And they’ll say whatever they have to say to make the sale. Your knowledge is of no interest to them.
So, get your education from resources that are purely educational. Make sure the educator doesn’t have any biases, doesn’t belong to any company that sells products, and doesn’t stand to gain anything by what you do with your new knowledge.
Any person who has a personal interest in your choice of products is not an educator. They’re an advertiser.
This fine line between “ed” and “ad” is subtle. But once you know how to recognize it, you’ll spot it easily. And when you do, leave the website, turn the channel, or find another YouTube video.
And always remember, if there’s a product involved, run!
We live in an era of name changes. The reasons for name-changing
vary, but some are quite baffling to me. Let’s see, the “trash man” is no
longer the trash man. Now he’s a “waste management worker.” A woman who stays
at home rather than going to a job somewhere else used to be called a
“housewife.” But, now she’s a “household engineer.” A waiter at a restaurant is
now called a “server.” And a secretary is now an “administrative assistant.”
More interesting than these name changes themselves are the reasons for the name changes in the
first place. Most often, the need for a name change has to do with being
politically correct. Alternatively, it’s about making the people who function
in a certain capacity feel better about their job titles.
Such name changes for job descriptions always struck me as
things outside the realm of medicine. But not anymore. Now, doctors are
“providers.” But so are nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. A
distinction between them might hurt someone’s feelings.
More commonly in medicine, names for diseases change from time to time, but it’s usually due to a new
discovery or refinement of information that makes the former name outdated, or
even inaccurate. But that’s changing, too. The need for political correctness
and making patients feel good about themselves has even begun to induce name
changes for actual diseases.
Recently, the name for some of the symptoms of menopause
Two of the most bothersome symptoms of menopause are Urinary
Incontinence and Vaginal Atrophy.
“Urinary incontinence” is when you leak urine unexpectedly.
You may dribble when you laugh, sneeze, cough, jump, or lift a heavy object.
Or, you might just leak spontaneously with no activity at all. It’s very common
at menopause, and there are many ways to manage it or cure it.
means that your vagina shrinks … literally. You notice symptoms like vaginal
dryness, itching, burning, and pain with intercourse. But the reason all these
symptoms occur is because you lose the vitally important estrogen on which your
vagina depended. So, without it, your vagina cannot survive. Thus, it begins to
shrink … or disappear. And the medical term for that is “Vaginal Atrophy.”
But, it’s something that you can prevent entirely.
So, the terms “Urinary Incontinence” and “Vaginal Atrophy”
are both absolutely accurate for the symptoms they designate. I’m all about simplicity.
Why have complicated names when you can use simple ones? In simplistic terms, Urinary
Incontinence and Vaginal Atrophy are nothing but “Leakage” and “Shrinkage.”
But they both recently underwent a name change. And their
names were not changed simply to “Leakage”
Why the name change for two perfectly accurate names?
Well, for the sake of political correctness and good
feelings, of course … just like so many other name changes in our lives
It turns out that medical authorities claimed that women
found the terms “Urinary Incontinence” and “Vaginal Atrophy” demeaning. So,
they changed their names. Not only that, they merged the two entities into one
single entity … even though they don’t always or even typically occur
together. Maybe that was to make women feel like they had only one problem
instead of two.
Now, instead of having “Urinary Incontinence,” and / or “Vaginal
Atrophy” you have “Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause.”
Oh, and you can’t name anything without giving it an
So, Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause is “GSM.” That makes
it sound nifty.
Now, I have no problem with name changes. But I do have a problem with focusing on the
wrong thing. And, in my opinion, all this focus on the names of these entities rather than on education about them and
treatment of them is an example of putting the em-PHA-sis on the wrong
The fact is that, while many women suffer from these two
symptoms of menopause, no one talks about
them! And, since no one talks about them, women are not educated about them.
And if your so-called “education” involves using long fancy terms like
“Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause,” you might have trouble learning what you
need to know in order to do something about it.
I think it’s best to keep things simple. Patients don’t need
fancy, complicated names for their symptoms or diseases. What they need is
comprehension. With such convoluted, merged, modified names, patient
comprehension is lost.
If you start dribbling urine, but refuse to speak up about
it or have no idea that there are ways to correct it, what good is it to give
it a different name? That’s putting the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. It
would be a whole lot more direct and useful to just call it “Leakage.”
If you start having vaginal itching but have no idea it’s a
warning signal that your vagina is shrinking, what good does it do to change
the name to make you feel better about it? That’s putting the em-PHA-sis on the
wrong syl-LA-ble. It would be a whole lot more direct and useful to just call
I think it would be a whole lot better for women if medical
professionals focused more on educating their patients and offering them options
for these symptoms instead of changing their names.
I mean, rather than naming it, they should be taming it. Who
cares what you call it when the goal is to forestall it? Why label it when you
should just disable it? And why give it some nifty acronym to abbreviate it
when you can just alleviate it?
I imagine that this name change to “Genitourinary Syndrome
of Menopause” involved a whole host of physicians getting together, mulling
over new names for hours or even days. It would have made a lot more sense if
all that time and energy had been focused on how to educate more women about
the urinary and vaginal changes that take place at menopause and offer them
solutions. And labeling them as “Leakage” and “Shrinkage” would not have
required much of an explanation. But, every woman would certainly understand
Mama! Good ole’ mamma. She’s everybody’s favorite. She takes care of us, pampers us, spoils us, and understands us. Mama is selfless. Never does she place her needs above ours. Her schedule yields to our wishes and desires. In essence, there’s nothing Mama won’t do for the ones she loves.
Mama! What would we do without good ole’ Mama?
Mama is the like the sticker that wears a smile. She’s always making sure everyone else is happy. When it comes time to go on a family vacation, Mama declares that she’s fine with camping if that’s what the husband and kids want to do. Even though camping isn’t really her thing, she loves seeing how much her man and kids enjoy it. When they’re happy, she’s happy.
Mama keeps us all together. She’s the glue. Family time is Mama’s specialty. She creates events, schedules activities, arranges meals, and makes plans, all for the sake of ensuring that we spend time together. Nothing makes Mama’s heart sing more than surrounding herself with family. So, she plans family meals, gathers us a together for the big holidays, and goes out of her way to decorate and cook on special occasions, just for us.
Mama forms bonds between us. Whenever conflict begins to brew, it’s Mama who bridges the gaps, helps us see eye-to-eye, and brings us together so that our differences don’t divide us. Without taking sides, she validates each one of us and teaches us to tolerate one another. No matter the source of our friction, Mama smooths things out so that we can all live happily ever after.
Mama sticks her neck out on our behalves. She fights our battles. You’ll have to come through Mama to get to her cubs. She’ll lets no harm come to them. If anyone so much as utters a fowl word about one of her babies, she tears into them like a mama bear. She bears her teeth, shows her claws, and pounces on the offender.
From the time she marries her man to the time her babies are grown, Mama is the glue. In every way possible, she’s there for us.
And then one day, Mama suddenly comes unglued.
Her smile disappears. She’s not amenable to “going along with the plan.” No longer is she willing to go camping just because that’s what everyone else wants to do. Instead, she says, “Camping? Why would I leave my perfectly comfortable home to go live like a homeless person? You can all go jump in a lake. There’s no way I’m going camping!”
Then comes holiday time. But instead of putting up all the decorations and planning the menu, Mama says, “I’m not doing all that cooking for you folks. You can go out to eat for all I care. I’m sick of being the cook, the maid, and the organizer. Let someone else do it!
And, when we start bickering about the fact that Mama’s come unglued, Mama does nothing to minimize the friction between us. She sits back and acts like she doesn’t even give a hoot if we shoot each other. She makes us wonder if she wouldn’t prefer that we shoot each other.
Even outsiders can’t make her come to our defense. When the neighbors put us down or start a feud, Mama just ignores them and tells us to fend for ourselves. Problem is, we don’t know how to fend for ourselves! Mama’s always done it for us.
Mama doesn’t even stay together with regard to the things in life that only involve her! She seems to reject Dad, too. It’s as if she’s become an island. She doesn’t need any of us anymore. She just wants to be left alone.
She’s even distanced herself from various friends. She says she’s “had enough!” She’s tired of putting up with their crap. She used to be so chummy with her girlfriends. But now, she prefers to spend time alone. Recently, she’s acquired a lot of “un-friends,” “ex-friends,” “foe-friends,” “faux friends,”, and “de-friends.”
So, what’s going on with Mama? Why has she come unglued? Why has she severed all the ties that bound her?
Is it just a mood she’s in? Will it pass? Did someone do something to upset her? And how does the family “fix” her so that she’s good ole’ Mama again?
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the fact is, Mama has come unglued for good. There’s no fixing her or making her “good ole’ Mama” again. Tethers are inherently binding, and most people eventually find bindings uncomfortable. It just took Mama abut 50 years to feel the bind.
The glue is gone! … along with all the other hormones that disappear at menopause.
Oxytocin. That was the glue. It made her fall in love with her man. It made her adore her children. It made her put them all before everything else and do anything to make them happy. In essence, oxytocin was the reason she was “good ole’ Mama.” And, without oxytocin, Mama will never be the same. She’s come completely unglued.
Loss of oxytocin makes Mama say, “I’m tired of being everyone else’s doormat. I’ve spent the last 20 -30 years putting myself last. And I’m not going to do it anymore. The glue is gone! From now on, it’s all about me! I don’t care about pleasing my man. Heck, I don’t care if I have a man, or ever have sex again. I don’t even care if I get divorced. I’ll welcome the freedom. And the kids, they’re on their own. Their problems are not my problem any more. I’m over it. And I don’t need so many friends. I already have too many.”
Unglued Mama is a menopausal Mama. And she’s normal.
Oh well, such is the stuff of menopause, and the ungluing of Mama. Whether you prefer the glued or the un-glued Mama, you’re stuck with the new, unglued version. The glue is gone, and so is good ole’ Mama.
Have you ever heard of a book written by Spencer Johnson, M.D. entitled Who Moved My Cheese? It’s a tiny little book of about 97 pages, easy to read, and unforgettable. It’s not really about cheese, though. It’s about change, and the cheese is a metaphor for something that disappears, forcing those who are affected by the change to adapt.
I absolutely love that book, and I think it applies to many things in life. It certainly applies to the change called menopause. But, in that case, I guess we would call it Who Moved My Estrogen?
Who Moved My Cheese is about four little characters in a maze. Two of the characters are mice. The other two are humans. And in the middle of the maze is a big mound of cheese. Every day, these four characters wake up, go out and eat the cheese, and haven’t a care in the world.
One day, one of the mice, named “Sniff,” sniffs the cheese and notices that it’s starting to smell a bit rancid. Shocked at this change, he stands back to see the entire mound of cheese. And, low and behold, he realizes that the mound is shrinking!
“Oh, my!” Sniff exclaims. “This cheese is gonna disappear some day.” And with that, Sniff takes off and goes in search of new cheese. He foresees the inevitable. And he acts on it in advance, before it hits him over the head like a ton of bricks.
The other three creatures in the maze just keep on going through the motions: Wake up, eat the cheese, and assume things will always stay the same.
Eventually, one morning, they wake up and find that all the cheese is gone.
They’re shocked! They didn’t see this coming!
The second mouse, Scurry, says, “Oh, well, the cheese is gone. I’m outta here.” And he hits the road to go find new cheese. He hadn’t anticipated the change, but as soon as he came face-to-face with it, he wasted no time in adapting to it by leaving his comfort zone to accommodate the change.
The two little humans fume. They have temper tantrums. They stomp around screaming, “Where’s my cheese?” “This isn’t fair!” “That cheese had better come back, or else ….” They resist the change. They refuse to adapt to it
After days of stonewalling, “Haw,” one of the humans, decides that he has no choice. The cheese is gone. It isn’t coming back. And that means he must force himself to go in search of new cheese. He isn’t happy about it. In fact, he’s terrified. He’s a creature of habit. He doesn’t’ like change.
But, the way he sees it, he can either stay put and die or he can venture out and manage his new situation.
So, with angst and trepidation, he forages beyond his familiar surroundings. As he does so, he discovers new things. “Gee,” he says, “If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of the cheese, I never would have learned about any of these other things. I would have kept doing the same old thing for the rest of my life, oblivious to the fact that there are so many other options available.”
And, as Haw continues his search, he becomes more comfortable, more knowledgeable, and more excited about his future. Because he finally decided to do something productive to make the best of his new-found situation, he saved his life and actually made it better.
“Hem,” the other human stayed and stewed. He refused to budge. He had his head stuck in the sand and his feet rooted right where he stood. No one and nothing was going to force him to change. And, because of his stubborn attitude, he suffered from starvation and died.
As I said, the story is about change. And the question is, “Which of these four creatures most resembles you?” How do you adapt to change?
Menopause is change. You’re going to wake up one day and wonder, “Who moved my estrogen?” So which scenario will depict you?
Will you be pragmatic and proactive by planning ahead for the inevitable? If so, you’ll educate yourself about menopause before your estrogen disappears. That way, you’ll recognize that it’s dwindling in advance, and you’ll be able to prevent the shock of its sudden disappearance.
Alternatively, will you be instamatic like Scurry, and adapt immediately? Will you spring into action as soon as you realize that the change has occurred?
Or will you be dramatic like Haw, balking at the fact that you have no choice but to adapt, dragging your feet, dragging out the process, but figuring it out as you go along?
Or, will you be like Hem, and meet a traumatic end?
There’s no avoiding it. Your estrogen will not last forever. One day, you’ll wake up and wonder, “Who moved my estrogen?”