Please consider this my note of warning to the world at large. (With all apologies to Kate, who I mistakenly told I would never write about this topic again.)
My sense of humor about hot flashes has expired. Been deleted. Run out. Dried up, flaked off, gone bye-bye.
So the next woman who giggles in a cute way and says, “Oh, honey, they aren’t hot flashes–they’re power surges,” is going to get punched in the face. Because there’s nothing powerful about them, unless you count the force with which perspiration is rolling down my face, spurting out of my armpits and making a river down my back and into my underwear.
I don’t feel powerful; I feel homicidal.
They’re like tsunamis and serial killers and bad haircuts–you never know when they’ll strike or where you’ll be. You could be talking on the phone, talking to your kid’s principal, talking to your mortgage broker or talking to the voices in your head, and all of a sudden there’s a raging inferno dancing up your spine. You could be buying a bottle of wine, or chatting up the handsome sales boy at the Womens Expo who wants you to buy some useless kitchen tool. You could be getting your teeth cleaned or your eyes examined.
And it just sucks.
They aren’t so bad in the winter. Kind of nice, in a perverse sort of way, to be sporting a t-shirt when everyone else is donning a sweater. And dressing in layers has taken on a whole new meaning. Now it has to be layers that can be removed as quickly as possible while driving, texting, grocery shopping, reading the paper or watching a movie. Stuff that can be shucked instantly. No more small buttons. In fact, snaps would be preferable. Easier to operate when you’re worried about spontaneously combusting at any second.
And if you’re going to give me advice, give me something I can use. “Take a cool bath or shower” is not particularly handy when I’m volunteering at school or driving down the freeway at 75 mph. “Maybe it’s time to invest in air conditioning” is another one. Can you have it installed yesterday? And what if I can’t afford it? Or what if I have slider windows, which your normal, inexpensive Megalomart AC units can’t fit into? You have to either buy one that costs three times as much (I’m way too cheap to do that), or build a clever little wooden frame to hold the AC in your window.
Give a hormonally corrupt, angry, sweaty woman some power tools? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m pretty sure our homeowner’s insurance strictly forbids women of a certain age from even owning an electric drill.
“Wear lighter night clothes.” I’m sleeping in a 30-year-old Arkansas Razorback t-shirt thin enough to read through. The only thing lighter would be if I could convince the spider living under the bed to spin me up something.
“Avoid alcohol and caffeine.” Seriously? Did you not read the homicidal part? You want to take a hot, angry, sweaty woman and add jittery and tense to that? It’s bad enough that my morning cup of tea is now my morning cup of hot flash. Do you know what it’s like to read the paper in the morning when your forearms are sticking to it? Or you rest your arm on the table and the sweat adheres the placemat to you? It’s a lovely sensation, I assure you.
I got one strange piece of advice that was actually useful. It said to take a small freezer pack, the size you’d pack in a lunch bag, and put it under your pillow. When you wake up all hot and aggrieved, you can turn your pillow over and voila! You have a cool place to lay your weary head. And it works. I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and stick my head under the cold water faucet before I can go back to sleep.
Now I’m going to buy some more fans.