You know me, I love a great conversation, I love a great conversation starter. My mother taught me to avoid conversations about money, politics, and religion. Generally, I do. Unless someone is really “wrong”! There are other topics I seek to avoid in conversation; ailments, illness, aches, pains, disease, dysfunction, diagnoses, treatments, prescriptions, and bodily functions (other than sex, eating, and drinking, of course). Truthfully, I try to avoid anything negative. And especially negative conversations about health and aging. Affirmation, energy, repetition, belief, truth, reality. That’s the progression. The more we speak of our frailties, the less well we become. True, or not, I choose not to take the chance. I prefer powerful, purposeful, ignorance, plain, outright, denial, on all things aging, ailments, pain, and frailties.
My mom is a nurse, a retired R.N. She loves nothing more than a diagnosis. Hers or someone else’s. When I went off to kindergarten, all the other kids giggled and talked about poo poo and doo doo, which I only knew as a “B.M.”, short for bowel movement. That firmly and permanently planted me in the nerd trench. My mom still talks bodily functions while I’m cooking, which grosses me out. I really don’t want to know what she had for dinner is doing to the consistency of her poo poo. It’s just TMI.
As I, heaven forbid I admit this, age, my peers oft speak of their aches, their pains, their illnesses, their conditions, their medications. All I want to do is say “shut up”, for their sake as well as mine. Of course, saying “shut up” almost works these days, it now means, “are you kidding me?” Take it how you wish, I truly mean “stop talking now.” Don’t dwell on your aches, pains, illnesses, conditions and medications, and you’d be surprised at how much better you feel. Quit convincing yourself you’re sicker and older than you are. Just shut up. It’s just TMI.
Any time a group of women gather, there are bound to be “birth stories”; gruesome tales of the birthing of children. I’ll admit, I get sucked in to this, a bit, because my experience is so different than most. As I often do, I let everyone tell their tales of terror; hours of labor, contractions, broken water, ripping, tearing, stitches, etc. When the stories have all been shared, they look to me, to which I reply, “both breech, both scheduled C-Sections, never felt a single contraction”. They say “shut up”. If I wanted to give TMI, I could tell them the story of how the epidural didn’t work and I felt the incision being made with the scalpel, and because I didn’t want them to knock me out, I very calmly said, “Excuse me, I can feel that”. I got a second epidural. It was better. I’m sorry, was that TMI?
Now that I’m in my early fifties, my girlfriends, some of whom I’ve known since engaging in poo poo talk on the kindergarten playground, are all talking about symptoms of menopause; mood swings, sexual side effects, weight gain, and hot flashes. I look on in horror, disbelief and incredulity. I’ve experienced none of this, and, I’m quite convinced, with my strong, positive state of mind and my commitment to fitness and good physical, mental, and emotional health, I’ll somehow fly right through it, at the age of ninety, with barely a care. I am most certainly not going to dwell on it, worry about it, or speak of it. What’s so bad about it, anyway, no more periods, no more birth control, no more babies. TMI, anyway.
So, if I’m not talking about it, why do I mention it? I’m currently in bed, correction, on bed. I’ll be back in bed in a few minutes. I think I’m having hot flashes. Or I have the flu. Conversation starter; hot flashes. Go. Or TMI?
Now when someone says to me, “you’re so hot!” As I smile, I’m thinking, “you have no idea!” The place I sweat the most? My shins. Right? And between my boobies, which seems way more normal than my shins.
Last night, during one of these little episodes, I looked in the mirror. I looked a little red, like maybe I’d just run up the stairs. With two bags of groceries. Full of bottles of wine and large format beer, and maybe bricks. Heck, there were veins protruding from my neck, like I’d just been to cross fit and accomplished some super human feat. The only thing I’ve accomplished here is living to an age where childbearing functionality ceases. TMI.
Here’s the cruel twist; I live with my ninety-one year old mom, the nurse, who suffers from some chronic, incurable form of anemia that requires injections and periodic transfusions. She is cold all the time. I’m so hot! Mom is also quite frugal, a child of the depression. Historically, the house was kept just warm enough to ward off frostbite. Now, I could bake a frozen pizza without putting it in the oven. TMI.
After this discussion, here, I’ll not be thinking of, acknowledging, or speaking of any of this again. So, I had to get my research out of the way. I visited the worst, the nastiest, the most forbidden, suggestive and insidious website for information; WebMD. The list of symptoms, and my relative age, confirmed my initial diagnosis (which is why I HATE WebMD); hot flashes, probably not from the flu, but from menopause. Smite me. I scrolled down to causes. We know what causes them, menopause, but what triggers them? The list describes my typical day: caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and “stress”. I don’t think my life is stressful, others do. What many consider stress I like to think of as “interesting, fun, adventurous, spontaneous”. Smoking was on the list, too, but while I may be smoking hot, I don’t smoke. Very often. TMI.
I scrolled further down to treatments. Of course, there are drugs, referred to as HRT, hormone replacement therapy. Mom asked me if I was going to “take anything”, she knows me, I’m as organic as possible. Other than all natural, organic, fair trade supplements, carefully researched, of course, and the occasional Excedrin for a particularly rough hangover, I’m drug free. The girls? One is on HRT, another had a hysterectomy many years ago, and yet another is opting for a “natural remedy” consisting of some herbal potion she smears on her hoo hoo. Whoa, TMI. And while the hoo hoo potion sounds the least invasive, the least dangerous, the most appealing, and, well, frankly, pleasurable in application, I think I’ll abstain.
WebMD, aside from describing a typical day in my life, provided some suggested “natural” remedies. Vitamin B and E (be, just be), deep breathing, which I call meditation, keeping cool (obvious), soy, and regular exercise, which, again, describes a typical day for me. I think I’ll add to the list, “firm and steadfast denial”. After I get this all off my glistening chest, I shan’t speak of it again, except for my once a year visit to my lady, lady doctor (as in female OB/Gyn). TMI. I was hoping for different remedies, like, perhaps, more frequent sex, (so, like twelve times a week instead of eleven? Or is that TMI?), or, maybe, “at first onset of hot flash, immediately go shoe shopping”.
So, if you see me and I’m all red in the face, sweating, panting, etc., do me a favor; rather than suggest I’m having a hot flash, assume I’ve been running, drinking, dancing, having hot monkey sex, or perhaps just ate a particularly spicy curry. Or maybe all of the above. I am not having a hot flash. Not that I’d admit it, anyway, that’s just TMI.