Finding Community

Let me begin with thanking so many of you for sending your good thoughts, vibes and prayers my family’s way last week. My husband got through his heart surgery and everything looks great. Two stents were placed in his arteries instead of one, since they found a clogged artery they didn’t know about, but now blood is actually getting to a majority of his heart. His energy has skyrocketed and I think he may be on his way back to the living. Now he just needs to clean up his act by eating right and exercising. Not everyone gets a second chance, so hopefully with encouragement he’ll be ok and take advantage of this rare opportunity.

And now…back to running. ūüėČ

Sundays are typically my long run days. I was up to 10 miles a few weeks ago, but ratcheted it down to just 4, then have slowly been building back up again. Today was a 10K (6.2 miles) day, and although I felt good and ready when I left my house, the feeling didn’t last. I had a hot flash around mile 1, which is a weird thing to have when you’re already sweating. I felt completely depleted by the end of mile 2. I almost called my husband to ask him to bring me a banana or maybe drive me back home, but then in my head I heard my friend Heather say, “I take walking breaks. It’s really ok!” So I stopped beating myself up and walked for a few minutes and sipped from my electrolyte drink that tasted awful. But the combo gave me a bit of energy and I pushed on. By 2.5 miles, I started to feel better. I was tremendously slow and walked up nearly every hill (except the giant hill I tried to run up and then realized I was so hunched over that I could touch the ground), but the run was finally feeling good.

I was ok with being slow today, but I wanted to feel good. I wanted those endorphins to kick in. Hell, I just wanted to feel like myself. I’ve had so many moments in the past few years when I don’t feel like me. Do you ever have that? Like you feel out of sorts, like something isn’t right but you don’t know what that is? Now that I’m perimenopausal, I certainly feel like that more and more. It’s not just the physical–the hot flashes, the 15-20 pound weight gain since 2017, the occasional lethargy. But also the mental and emotional changes and challenges that are not necessarily due to perimenopause–the occasional emotional outburst, the grief, the anger, the stress of so much loss–and trying to find a way to not only take care of myself (which admittedly I’ve been pretty bad at), but also to take care of my son and husband AND to be a support for my friends and the rest of my family.

After living through the deaths of my brother and parents, watching my husband nearly die twice and supporting a stressed and grieving child, then managing to get through (and currently going through) all the logistical shit people don’t tell you about (burials, funerals, wills, estates, financial loss while recovering from illness), I have learned a lot. But I also received a HUGE load of emotional support from my friends and family. And I want to give that back in spades. I know I still don’t have the right words to say to someone after a loved one dies, but I often say that I’m here if you need anything and often suggest a meal or time together or even $20 if I have it. I don’t say any of that unless I mean it. Occasionally someone will take me up on it and ask for help. And I’m grateful. When I was desperate, I did reach out to my friends and asked for help. Nearly every time they were more than happy to lend a hand or an ear. That’s what being a friend is. (And more than once I did NOT ask for any assistance, yet some friends helped me anyway. Because they are that awesome.)

Reach out to your friends and family this week. Contact the ones you want to. I give you permission to not bother with those folks who continually disappoint or hurt you. I know that the holidays can mean being forced to spend time with people you might not want to. Admittedly, I had a great family and loved to spend time with them. Not all the time, mind you, but enough. I know our family was lucky that way. But if you don’t have that kind of family but one that is toxic and treats you badly, I hope you get to have dinner with your chosen family this week. If you can’t do that, then please find SOMETHING that makes you happy this week, ok? Preferably nothing that can harm you. Go for a hike, pet a cat, read a great book, have a glass of good wine, walk a dog, eat pie, bake a pie, have sex, go for a run, buy new shoes–whatever makes you feel good!

And if you need a hand or an ear, I’ll do my best to lend you one or the other. I’ll try to be here for you, as you’ve been there for me.

Until then, I’ll try to keep running amidst hot flashes and cold mornings. You’d think they’d cancel each other, right? Sadly, no, but at least your voices in my head will keep me going. (I’m standing up straight, Sonya!)

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. ‚̧

Menopause Eve

For some women, menopause is an ugly word.¬† I know women that felt their femininity would no longer exist as soon as their menstrual cycle ceased.¬† Personally, I think that’s bullshit, but I can¬†understand the sentiment. Being a woman has a different definition for each of us, and if bleeding each month is what defines you, so be it.

Perimenopause, however, is¬†a slightly different creature. This is the transition period, the yellow brick road¬†*to* permanent infertility, something I’m looking forward to. (I love my child but I don’t need another.) Yet like so many other transitions (potty training, puberty, newly married), perimenopause can be a bitch.

I’ve been going through this for about a year now, but these past few months have been horrific. I know there have been other¬†issues that have made a huge impact on me and my¬†emotions (lack of running, family’s health problems, etc.), but the way my moods have been swinging from high to low and even lower still, reminds me of my teen years.¬† In other words, it’s hell.

If someone asked me if I would ever go back in time to my high school years to do something different, I’d say “Hell no!” and run from the person.¬† Not only was I fat and miserable back then, but I cried for no reason and the many, many times I was angry at someone or something, I ate and ate until the anger dissipated.

Fortunately, I no longer eat away my anger, but I yell or run it out. (But since I haven’t been able to run lately….well…let’s say I’ve had to apologize a lot to both my family and my co-workers.) The mood swings though….oh man, the mood swings.¬† Today, I had a 5-minute conversation with my husband that started with happy chatting to angry barking to calm talking and finally to tears.¬† That was all from me and not him. He was happily chatting, then was¬†on alert the rest of the conversation, looking slightly baffled.¬† I apologized AGAIN, and told him it was going to be a rough 10 years.¬† A DECADE OF THIS?!?¬† No one will survive if this is how it’s going to be.perimenopause

Tomorrow, a trip to the drugstore is needed. Have you heard of Estroven? It’s supposed to be some kind of natural supplement that can help “reduce hormone-related irritability.”¬† My doctor told me to give it a try. I know folks used to use black cohosh a lot to help with this stuff, but my doc told me to stay away from it. Apparently it can cause problems with your liver, and since I had pancreatitis this summer? Yeah. Let’s be good to my internal organs, shall we?

If you’ve experienced any of this perimenopausal craziness, I’d love to hear about it and what you did to help yourself.

And if you’re emailing from a prison or a mental institution because of the result of¬†said craziness, I’ll be happy to send you chocolate….or maybe a box of Estroven.