Menopause Made Me Lose My Job and Blow My Money
“What do you want for your birthday?” My doctor asked.
It was my fifty-fourth birthday, and there was only one thing I wanted.
“Menopause.” I replied.
She laughed. It was one of those laughs that people do when they don’t get it, “ha ha, haaa uh ha,” that last bit fading out.
I looked at her youthful face, not even a hint of a laugh line, or crow’s feet.
Her neck, smooth and tight, breasts perky and round, and her hair-still her own color. My hair was gray, dry and dull. My breasts had slid down to explore my navel and had decided to stay.
My neck, loose, lined, a bit pink, and to my horror there was a bit skin jutting out like a wattle. A classic turkey neck. When the hell did that happen?
In my youth, I had wondered why women of “certain age” wore a scarf around their necks. As a child I liked that look, to me it was sophisticated and elegant. A sigh escaped my lips; better start investing in pantsuits.
My doc was writing something down in her notes. That’s when I noticed her hands. They were absent of gnarly blue protruding veins under wrinkled skin stretched over little hills and valleys of the bones. Her hands could be in commercials, blemish and wrinkle free, all satiny smooth. I found myself shoving my hands under my ample butt.
She was too young to understand. I had had my kids. That part of my life was completed. I remember my life at her age. My desire for children was powerful, a physical need. I swung my feet around in circles, thinking of those days.
By now Dr. Davis had finished the exam and her notes. You have high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis but, hormonally, there are no signs of menopause. (Gee, Happy birthday!) She excused herself to her write my prescriptions–another present that aging brings. Oh, joy.
Fifty-Four and Still No Menopause
At forty I started having hot flashes and mood swings. Now I am fifty-four. You would think there would be at least some hormonal signs. I told the doc that in the past couple of years my period had gone wonky, sometimes arriving late, showing up for a brief visit lasting maybe a day and a half (that rather rocked) or lasting two weeks (that sucked). My appetite changed as well. It was enormous now. What the hell? Where was that appetite when I needed it? Like when I was dancing zillions of hours a day as a ballerina? I burned up so many calories performing that the seamstress could barely keep up with taking in my costume. That was “evidence of my body preparing for “the change,” she told me. And yet, hormonally, there is no indication of menopause. What the heck?
Fast forward one year.
Menopause Made Me Lose My Filter
I had hit the snooze button for the third time. My work schedule was making me punchy. I was a part-time nanny for four girls ages five, eight, and ten before and after school. The twins were a handful by themselves. Their younger sister was delightful, but hyperactive and headstrong. The oldest girl, their best friend, was the easiest of the lot.
I thought it was the fatigue of having to be up so early to get the girls ready for school. I also retuned every afternoon to sit in the carpool waiting my turn to collect them, take them home and help with homework. That took the patience of Job. Man, teachers can never leave math as math. It is ether new math, mental math, or drive the nanny mad math. Add that to three girls with learning disabilities and A.D.H.D., un-medicated to boot. It was a nightmare. Everybody cried.
The school year began to drag. My fatigue grew. Then my filter gave out. You know the one you use to prevent yourself from saying inappropriate things? Well, mine quit on me along about October.
There is something freeing about being filter-less. I was in a wonderful mood, all the time. I just said whatever came into my mind. Um, that was not really a good thing to do at work. Did I notice or think about that? Oh hell no. I was having fun.
Little girls are maturing at alarming rates these days. I was stunned to learn that most were in bras by second grade and starting their periods in fourth grade, maybe fifth. When I was growing up the average time to get “the curse” or be visited by “Aunt Flo” was seventh grade. I found it astounding these girls were maturing so early. Of course, I told my little charges this information. Thus, commenced a series of discussions and talks about their changing bodies. These girls were going to be informed! No encyclopedias for them or fears of bleeding to death like many from my generation because such talk was taboo and embarrassing. Hmm, if we were going to discuss puberty may as well discuss sex too. I knew the twins had explored several “adult” sites already. No way were these kids going to think that that was what sex was all about.
This was when the parents started calling me at night to inform me that I needed to refrain from teaching their children about sex, menstrual cycles, or anything else they considered to be “R” rated. I was baffled. The girls watched “R” rated movies often and as a family. They had seen all of Tyler Perry’s Big Mamma movies. I told them, of course I would comply. The next day when the kids stared asking questions, I went right on ahead and answered them, any topic, any subject. No filter and no memory of the previous night’s chat with the parents.
And then the day came when I let the Christmas cat out of the bag. At breakfast I was off on one of my tangents. The last thing I remember telling the girls was that only one of them was mature enough to have a cell phone. That was Mary. She was the oldest of my charges and the most responsible. The others, at five and eight years old had no business with one. As soon as the words left my mouth, I remembered that was the Christmas surprise…oops.
Menopause Made Me Lose My Job and Blow My Money
There it was, at work I had run my mouth and at home I had run my credit card…cards. Amazon had become my best friend. I was having the time of my life shopping. I shopped online, offline, at the State Fair, anywhere there was cool stuff to be had. Later, my roommate would inform me that boxes arrived almost daily form Amazon that year.
I had asked for menopause for my birthday that April of 2014. It turned out that was the last menstrual cycle I would ever have. When I made it to April 2015 I had accumulated the proper number of months (twelve) consecutively with no period for my doctor to declare, “Menopause!” It was official! Woohoo, was I thrilled!
In its wake, twelve months of racking up alarming debt and loss of my job. I had been oblivious to these issues until I had made it past that twelve-month mark and my hormones settled down adjusting to the new change.
Looking back, I can’t help but think somebody should have warned me. No one did. Nobody warned me. I am warning all of you. Are you in the midst of “the change”? If you are, give all your credit cards to your significant other, give him or her the financial responsibilities of the household, or to a trusted friend (as long as they are not menopausal). Single? Freeze those credit cards and hide them in the back of the freezer or lock them away somewhere, cancel the internet, don’t watch commercials! Better yet, ditch the TV! Do not go to the store unattended. Beware! You too may lose your mind, your job and your money!
It’s April 2017 and all is back to normal. The pre-menopause years are long gone (ten years of that) and the menopause year took a toll. But, now I have, as Cesar Millan would say, “a calm state of mind.” My finances are under control although I am still paying off that credit card debt that I racked up during my year of lunacy. (It is a miracle it wasn’t in the thousands and thousands of dollars) I am clear headed, focused and finally, fulfilling a life-long dream of becoming a writer.
Now, pass me those potato chips please. I’m still hungry.