Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is is Hot in Here?

Grabbing up the lid to the butter tub, I fanned myself fast and furiously. Around the dinner table, my puzzled family exchanged quizzical looks.

“What? Don’t you think it’s hot in here?” I asked, noting their stares and yanking at my collar.

Their concern changed to amusement. At the time, I couldn’t quite find the humor in the situation, although I felt I could explain the mystery of spontaneous combustion—it had to be related to menopause!

While driving to the fruit market one autumn day, I suddenly cranked up the air conditioning in the car and strategically aimed the air vents directly at me. “Ugh! I feel a heat wave coming on,” I warned my husband Dick. He generously turned his vents toward me, too, and then zipped up his fleece jacket.

“Lord, help me! I’m on the brink of a meltdown, right here in church,” I fervently prayed under my breath one Sunday. Nonchalantly, I picked up the bulletin in the hopes of stirring a breeze without creating a scene.  Could everyone in a two pew radius feel the heat emanating from me? I could have easily given the pastor a few vivid illustrations on Hell for one of his sermons.

These days everywhere I go I encounter women who are searching for ways to comfortably deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause—especially hot flashes. We surreptitiously whisper condolences to each other at fellowship meals, women’s Bible studies, family reunions, the doctor’s waiting room, and funeral dinners, just to name a few. At a Women of Faith conference, I heard comedian, Chonda Pierce sing loud and clear her revised rendition of the old Martha and the Vandellas’ song, “Heat Wave”. How wonderful to laugh till I cried about this phenomenon that can sometimes frustrate me to tears.

No matter how discreetly or not-so-discreetly we may try to ward off the sudden soaring internal temperature of a hot flash, they still insist on coming—usually at the most inconvenient and conspicuous moments! Most of us girlfriends just want to know one thing. How do you spell relief?

I thought you might enjoy a laugh today, so here are some recommendations I have received.

“Try Black Cohosh—it’s all natural,” suggests my friend Roxanne.

“Drink three cups of sage tea every day,” Ginny confidently prescribes.

“Have you tried soy nuts? Soy seems to really help me,” Debi, an assistant pastor claims.

My doctor recommended anti-depressants. “I’m not depressed!” I told her. “I’m hot!”

My aunt shared the old adage, “Stick your head in the icebox.”

Though temporary, this method actually worked marvelously for me. Why not long ago, I opened the freezer, grabbed a bag of peas, and put them on the back of my neck. Leaning into the frosty compartment, I fanned myself with a frozen slice of ham. Ahhhh, blessed relief! I laughed out loud at the picture I would have presented had someone rung the doorbell at that precise moment.

My friend Debbie owns and operates a tea room. Debbie’s favorite treatment is the oscillating fan, set on high. Since she spends so much time in the kitchen at the tea room, she purchased one mounted on a four foot stand. Numerous times I have found Debbie standing directly in front of the spinning blades. With the speed cranked up as fast as possible, she closes her eyes and lets the cooling air currents whip around her. It really does work wonders, though its effects on hair could give customers a fright!

My absolute favorite tonic for hot flashes is a pint of chocolate fudge brownie low fat frozen yogurt. I keep a container in the freezer at all times. Just a few spoonfuls of this delectable concoction and I am chillin’! One word of caution: This tonic is addicting. As for whether it really works….who cares? It’s delicious!

However, for me, the very best therapy for menopause is spelled F-R-I-E-N-D-S, other fifty-something women sharing the hormonal roller coaster. Knowing I am not alone in the process helps immensely. I cling to the encouragement of 2 Corinthians 10:13, “Every test that you experience is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm. . .” (TEV)

A heart to heart talk with another woman somehow makes me feel like less of an alien in my own body. A day out with a friend refreshes my exhausted soul.  We enjoy a comforting cup of freshly brewed coffee, accompanied by a large glass of ice water, just in case. We fan ourselves with the menu and discuss the latest changes in our wardrobe styles. (We now know why scoop and V-neck tops sell so well to over-fifty females.) The mixture of our laughter and tears renews my sense of normalcy. This time of intimate sharing refuels my spirit as I traverse the undulating road of menopause with my temporarily unreliable internal thermostat.


©2011 Pamela D. Williams