DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

  Mental Pause and Menopause or Mutation
      She Says (M. Kathleen Williams)
            \ ... He Says (Andrew D. Tutty)


July 25, 2003


Mental Pause and Menopause or Mutation

He Says ...

Mental Pause

I am going through the change of life. Mind you it is a vicarious experience at this point. As there does seem to be some evidence to the fact that men are also susceptible to the vagaries of hormonal disharmony, the effects on women are well documented. As yet, I personally have not crossed into this battlefield of bafflement, this localized climatic cacophony, this pharmacological paralysis induced by a myriad of herbal teas and remedies not even the ancients could have been prevailed upon to dispense. It is the borderline between the old me and the new, even older me. Instead, it is my dear love, Suzanne, who has crossed the Rubicon before me in glory, albeit dragged kicking and screaming.

I do believe this "change" is a close cousin to PMS in some respects, especially as it relates to what I consider to be mostly innocuous statements which, at times, pour from me like the after effects of some scene from the Ruhr valley and the Dam Busters of World War II. It is not the response to these quips which is so astounding, rather it is the venom which issues forth from what I consider to be the most beautiful mouth I have had the good fortune of pressing lips with. Bouncing bombs are the least of my worries.

It is also disconcerting in the extreme when the response to my verbal queries have been pounded back at me like Venus Geralitis on methamphetamine well before I have had the chance to offer up my next, more conciliatory sentence. Heavens sake, if I had wanted you to bark, my dear, I would have pulled your hair.

I am now forced into full retreat, backpedaling out of the kitchen as only I know how, arms raised in defense against the rising maelstrom which whips what little hair I have left into an unadulterated frenzy. As any good general would admit, when all seems lost, retreat! If only to save some tattered remnants of your once mighty armies. Once invincible artillery pieces are reduced to a smoldering ruin and any ammunition which may have been forthcoming to provide a last minute desperate counter, serve only to remind one of the ineffective nature or my munitions against this indefatigable adversary. They lie derelict, destined to be plowed up by some future farmer where they fell, impotent and unexploded in the field of battle.

Ding. Round one goes to Suzanne. I, however, consider it a victory, as I am yet standing; shaky and knock kneed but still bipedal. Dazed and wary in the aftermath of this recent barrage, I retreat to man's one and only true solace. The hockey playoffs! Under normal circumstance this could also provoke additional retribution. These are not normal circumstance and over the past 2 months of playoff action I have learned to sit contentedly watching grown men chase something that bears a remarkable resemblance to what is left of my dignity.

Round 2 sees Andrew victorious due mainly to the fact that my foe did not present her self for battle and therefore, was not engaged. Man's second salvation. Overtime! Once complete, I now move my body forward with trepidation, I put one hesitant step on each stair, cringing as each betrays my attempt at subterfuge with a creak.

I can now clearly hear the deep breathing and my body reacts instinctively. Clan of the Cavebear or what? Adrenaline pumps through my veins, my heart races as my breathing becomes more laboured. Fight or flight response is in full automation. At the slightest sign of movement, my muscles will react to the new threat, catapulting me from harm's way.

But there is nothing save the rhythmic rise and fall of the bedspread. Whew! Slipping under the covers I relax and slowly fatigue takes over and I slip peacefully to sleep.

This is the real heart stopper! From my deep sleep I am suddenly and without warning awakened as I feel the rooms air being evacuated. Whoosh! The blankets fly off my partner. The heat rising from her body is enough to assuage the courage of any astronaut attempting reentry! Swoosh! The blankets are fumbled for in the dark and are returned, with much disarray, to cover the former Mercurial Suzanne whose body now seems to shake with a chill that has forced me to keep my skis on hand. This performance goes on through the night. No intermission whatsoever. Round 3 to Suzanne. It's a TKO.

In the morning I crawl out from what was once a bed but now resemble a mountain formed from a 50/50-cotton blend. I am bedraggled and am a mere shadow of my former self. I feel like Bill Murray in "Ground Hog Day", as I know the day will unfold as it had. My senses are blunted due to the lack of REM, essential to maintain one's sense of reality. My eyes have sunk so far back into my head I can see my frontal lobe, drooping and losing cohesiveness amidst the onslaught. I have been reduced to a babbling, murmuring idiot. Not that anyone would notice the difference.

I am not complaining. I have come to understand that the squeaky wheel gets greased.

Andrew D. Tutty

She Says ...

Menopause or Mutation

The following is the dictionary definition of the condition widely known as Menopause!

men·o·pause Pronunciation Key (m n -pôz) n. The period marked by the natural and permanent cessation of menstruation, occurring usually between the ages of 45 and 55.

Categorically speaking, at age 51, I'm almost all the way there! As a 'baby boomer' living in a 'First World' country I have had the benefit of years of research and medical excellence from which to prepare a line of defence regarding this oft touted mutation of the feminine genus.

The Shock and Glow process of Menopause for many women is a battle they are ill prepared to engage in. When we do learn of it's existence we are literally bombarded with a litany of 'horror stories' on just what occurs before, during and after menopause.

For example, before this demarcation line is reached, you are likely to see your cycle interrupted, giving you a false sense of relief that perhaps your monthly budget will show that $20.00 you would have spent on toiletries, as a credit rather than a debit.

You find out the next month that this is not a complete cessation but rather a preparatory anatomical kind of x's and o's, that no matter where you place your mark, because you are playing yourself, you will never get the true result. You continue on 'in the mode', with "a just in case", attitude of, "I had better make sure I keep my little 'stash' of cycle cigarettes in my purse".

So you plod on forward playing along with your body's need to be a Roulette Wheel. Months, and years go by and you become accustomed to the unpredictability of the dwelling in which you are housed twenty-four/seven.

Suddenly one night you wake up because you are sure someone has turned on a giant heater and placed it next to your face, neck and chest. Barely conscious you can feel the glow turn into perspiration and then a full frontal assault of sweat. By this time you are awake, very wet and looking for the phantom heater and upon realizing that it does not exist, you momentarily panic thinking you are having some kind of heart attack or stroke.

Minutes go by and the 'flash' passes, but the shock stays. Now you are awake. What do you do at 2 o'clock in the morning when the rest of the house is quiet and dancing in their dreams? It wouldn't be fair to wake the entire household while you fixed yourself a cup of tea. You try to fall back to sleep, but it is impossible because now your senses are sharpened as you await the possible sudden attack of another wave of heat.

Finally sleep does overcome you, but you awake in the morning feeling as if someone has pulled the stuffing out of your entire body. You are still tired, because your sleep had been interrupted and your psyche is still on 'red alert'.

After a couple of nights and the incident does not recur you are lulled into a sense of surety, thinking that the hot flash wasn't all that bad and you can handle this part of the so called 'change'. Guess again!

Before long this nightly visitor makes it's presence known in the daylight hours as well and you become a 'steam' engine with the throttle fully opened. You grab books whose titles hail the advent of 'The Change' and magazine's articles, that have been torn from the comfort of their covers, are magnetized across the sides and front of your refrigerator, replete with anecdotal remedies and treatments that best suit 'getting through it'. You leap at the television channel changer, clinging maniacally to it, so no other person in the house will change the channel of your new alter of information . the Medical Channel. You are sure in the belief that any scrap of information can be used to explain, excuse and forgive your rapid shift to demonic status with those who used to love you!

The doctor takes blood and runs the usual tests to determine if indeed you have been placed into the 'ghoulish' category of creature from the Black Lagoon! His pronouncement, delivered in a monosyllabic sound, barely pierces your brain, as you quickly begin to calculate just how you are going to deal with this new phenomena.

Okay, here's the deal. You can't change, fix, manipulate or circumvent this event. This your brain has reconciled to be true. You have to do as all your female ancestors have done before you and that is to live through it.

So what and how is the best methodology in doing so? Do you faint at every misgiving like some Southern Belle in distress? Do you remain stalwart like some Victorian Matron, replete with 'stiff upper lip', while the others are drooping? Or, do you do what the 21st Century woman does? "I am Woman, hear me roar" and stand and face the inevitable and work with it. Use the part of your body that hasn't yet thrown you a curve ball. You've got at least twenty or so more years until creeping senility becomes your new Mantra!

Yes, yes, by gum, you've got it! You claim your shaky podium. You stake out your ground. You tell everyone you know to "Back off .. I'm having a bad day", and you do it without regret or remorse! You glow, perspire and sweat until they all think each space you occupy comes with it's own version of a swimming pool!

You have your temperamental mood swings and if they don't like it, then they can go swing somewhere else! You heat up the entire city with your presence, day or night, and shed unwanted clothing as required. And who cares if some old codger yells, in the middle of some local Restaurant, "Take if off, baby" as he watches you drop layer after layer on the floor beside your seat!

You head for the nearest drugstore, health food store, or love shop for all the prosthetics, supplements and maintenance and love potions, enhancers and preservatives that you can find. It's your right!

You've come a long way baby, and along with every grey hair, undeniable wrinkle and cellulite pucker you've earned the position of Menopausal Molly!

Occasionally you will look back and see that much traveled road laden with the remnants of what used to be your husband, lovers and children. So what? So be it! Take no prisoners! You are making a transition .. a transition to another plane of womanly existence, and if the rest of the world takes issue with your making the trip, then the rest of the world can wait for the next shuttlecraft to the moon! You are going there at light speed and under your own power! And what a trip it will be! A fast and wonderful ride that only a woman is privileged to take. One where the seats on board are reserved for only she! Enjoy and know that the first class seats are there for all of us, you only have to claim yours!

Balk, and balk loudly and strongly when pundits attempt to convince you that this natural female metamorphosis is a disease rather than a condition, much like they used to do with the condition of pregnancy.

Refuse their 'magic pills' and opt for nature's best soothers. You have the finest tuned instrument in the orchestra and the music it plays is always the most original and sweetest sounding. A Stradivarius should not be subject to just any old polish. Remember that your Goddess Temple should only have the finest offerings presented to it.

Put yourself on a regimen of consistent and body renewing exercise. Treat yourself to foods that are nutritionally sound and add to your sense of well being (strawberries dipped in chocolate served as a side dish to a crystal goblet of Champagne would provide a wonderful escape from the mundane). Compliment this with the proper vitamin supplement intake and lots of natures best liquid .. water, a veritable fountain of replenishment and youth. Do relaxing exercises whose intent are to set your mind at ease. Find a quiet Buddhist monk to give you solace, or a handsome Yoga Instructor if the former are all in Tibet. Have manicures, pedicures, massages, and facials. Take care of those hangnails, calluses, tight muscles and unsightly whiskers resulting from the diminished levels of estrogens in your body. Take the high road in everything.

Remember that you have spent a lot of years putting this body, that has not only housed you but a few others as well, through the 'works' and it's time to be good to it, to sanctify and assuage it. Don't opt for the time saving chemicals that 'they' insist on pushing on you. Just say 'no' and walk away and walk in the direction of a natural transition.

"To thine own self be true", as Shakespeare bid us should be the catch phrase that projects your self sufficiency. Always remember that those who insist that one little pill will turn you from Mad Queen Mab into kindly Mrs. Wilson have their own secret agenda.

Make this journey cleanly, safely and with the knowledge that women don't die from Menopause, even if it feels like the Grim Reaper has moved in to your home. The "quick fix" is not by definition long lasting and thus delivers only what may otherwise be the cure that we will choke on, much like happened to Snow White when she was offered that beautiful, shiny apple!

M. Kathleen Williams



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Page last updated July 25, 2003