The Pause in Perimenopause by Melanie Bates

October 28th, 2012

Oh. Dear. God. Above…

I think I’m having hot flashes.

Is it menopause? Perimenopause? Just-o’-pause?

Come on baby, light my fire?

I’ve never worried about the “change of life” before. Ever. I mean I’ve actually looked forward to it after years of Stage IV Endometriosis and cramps that have left me crying, cuddled in the corner like Baby on crack. But, that was before I knew I was going to be pushed up to the very razor’s edge of spontaneous combustion.

It was definitely before I knew I was going to burst into flames at any possible second.

It was most assuredly before I knew that the blazing inferno inside of my body was going to reach the surface temperature of the sun about eight times a day with no warning.

Picture it…

I’m sitting there watching reruns of Frasier, cuddling with the Kr8z, eating Big Hunks, and suddenly I feel this warmth in my torso that quickly turns hotter and hotter and spreads throughout my whole body until I’m gasping from panic and lack of oxygen. I’m afraid to open my mouth to let in any cool air because I’ve watched Backdraft about a million times so I know better.

I’m not sweating profusely or anything so there is that. But I am waking up a couple times a night and my yellow Dr. Seuss “One Fish, Two Fish” pajamas have melded to my body like molten gold. I lay there panting with So-Kr8z trying to lick the sweat from inside my mouth. It’s all very Animal Farm meets Suzanne Summers without her yams in the Mojave Desert in August.

I always thought that when you went into menopause you’d then graduate to Crone status; you’d be all wise and sage and have this crazy depth. I’m certainly not feeling very wise. Just yesterday I had Cap’n Crunch for dinner.

Picket Signs?

I visited Dr. Google looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. I’m only 42 and my guess is that, due to my endo, I only have one lone ovary up in there and she was probably struggling to keep up with my estrogen demands and went on strike. I can see her brandishing a picket sign painted with neon pink letters that read “Overworked and underpaid.” Or perhaps she jumped off my uterus due to loneliness and splatted to her death. Who knows? But, there is no way I’m going to swallow a single drop of horse pee. Plus, my dearest friend lost her mom due to a blood clot from those drugs and it was heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, my research didn’t uncover much. Some studies have shown flaxseed to be helpful and another study showed that it doesn’t do shit, though apparently it makes you need to shit. Then we have Suzanne’s yams which, apparently, don’t do a damn thing either, plus yams are meant for bathing in brown sugar and butter during Thanksgiving time.

I’m not wholly sure what it all means. Perhaps it’s time to take a pause. Perhaps it’s time to buy a fire extinguisher. I dunno. But… I’d love some tips for unfanning these flames. What works for you, aside from Equus ferus caballus urine? Have you experienced this inner pyromaniac phenom in your body? I’d so love some sage words of advice.

seni grandi

22 Responses to “The Pause in Perimenopause by Melanie Bates”

  1. Kim says:

    I have the beginning symptoms of “something-O-pause” and the hot flashes are there but not as fiery as you describe. I too would love some advice as I am not into the hormone replacement. I still have a mirena implant shooting progesterone in my body to reduce my fibroids.. do not need to add to that.

    :) Thanks for a great post Melanie!

  2. Ah, Kim… I know it’s not helpful, but it’s nice to hear I’m not alone. Hopefully we’ll get some wise sages up in here to help 😉


  3. the Indian.. says:

    As a man…(white doctor voice)…
    That’s the best damn description I have ever-heard loved it!
    Growing up in an all women family i couldn’t understand physiologically what the hell was going on with my aunties talking about hot flashes like baking, living in an oven, in the middle of summer.
    you painted a picture that is perfect for me as a dumb dude to have common sympathy…

  4. Midge says:

    Marvelous Melanie,
    It’s interesting you mentioned wanting “sage” advice—because one of the herbs that helped me tremendously was a tincture of sage. Wicked tasting stuff, but what the pharmaceuticals don’t sell won’t hurt them, plus I took it in my alternative medicine closet. I have been happily assisted these many years (apparently, I’m a slow transitioning crone—all in good time, my pretty) through this change with the help of our family naturopathic doctor. There are bio-identical (plant derived) hormones as well so no need for horse pee anymore, but be aware of all potential risks (you know, the fine print full of scary warnings). I had the gamut and sweated through the gauntlet, but I’m nearly through now, and I can tell you that it is a wondrous place to be.
    Fanning you with my crony words,

  5. Oh, Indian… if this blog served no purpose but to paint you a picture, and hopefully make you laugh, its done its job. Loving the white doctor voice.


  6. Amazing Crone Midge,

    I LOVE your advice. And how appropo. I wonder if I could just make a whole lot of Thanksgiving stuffing? I jest. Seriously, thank you. I can’t wait to land in that wondrous place, though I will say I’m going to try to enjoy this ride in the meantime, I just may need to blast the AC for a while.

    xoxo & blessings to you, wise one.


  7. Nope, I haven’t had a single hot flash yet; they sound memorable. I can’t give any sage advice but I’m open to learning as much as I can for future reference since I’m pre-just-o’-pause.

    Great post!!

  8. Allison Crow says:

    I did do a series of biodential hormones–made from plants…(all the REGULAR docs frowned up on this). the testosterone helped a bit and I did NOT get any weird hairs, vitamin B shots worked too.
    I have a girlfriend that swears by the topical and sublingual (under the tongue) bio-dentical hormones. After all that I had a breast cancer scare— 7 lumps last Feb…so I stopped everything… The night sweats and the fatigue were the worst…. I feel ya.

    As of now, most of my symptoms have lessened….and I’m getting back to a plant based diet (with a side of mac-n-cheese).

    My advice…. ask your body what she needs…. and listen.
    and…. I send you my sympathies. Been there.


  9. Sera says:

    Hi there – one of the best ways of getting rid of all these things, cramps, hot flashes, mood swings is to get yourself on some Shatavari! “Shata-what?!” Yep. This “sister” of the asparagus plant is used in Ayurvedic medicine and is considered to be a girl’s best friend. Gently, it balances the hormones and can be used from the time a girl starts her period, to a frustrated mom who isn’t lactating enough, to banish hot flashes during peri-and full throttle menopause. Try it, you’ll like it!!

  10. Loved your blog! and as fully fledged Crone I can tell you that it does get better. There is a product that I used to sell when I managed a health shop called Estrosoy by Natures Way that lots of women with hot flashes swore by. It uses fermented soy and black cohosh to help with the sweats ans balance the hormones.
    I’ve been lucky enough to avoid that symptom myself. I figured since I suffered through ten years of debilitating periods the the Goddess of Periods cut me some slack!!!
    I also use a herb called Maca which has been used for years in south america for balancing the hormones. Its not replacing them its just triggering the master gland to get them bakc in order. It is also great for the adrenal glans, boosts energy and stamina and boost the libido in men and women. Yup all that from one little herb!! Oh and its full of B vitamins, calcium and potassium.

  11. Oooh, Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing! I’ll definitely check those out. And… I think the Goddess should be sparing me too. For sure. No question :) This morning I found myself trying to tell myself (it’s very me, me, me) that I just have SARS and a fever and it’s going to go away :)


  12. OMGoodness. Really? I love asparagus. I didn’t as a kid, but I do now and will eat it three or four times a week. Where would one get such a thing? Just the store? Can I bake it drizzled with olive oil and then cover it with lemon juice and an herb blend? Ha… this is definitely better than mare pee.

    Thanks, love.

  13. Ah, thank you Allison. I think the fatigue happens because you wake up 60 times a night on FIRE 😉 The other day I was told to go get some OTC Pro-Gest. So… I go to the store and ask the pharmacist and they’ve never heard of it. I think that’s odd, so I go scanning the shelves myself and can’t find it, of course. So I go back to said pharmacist and ask them to look it up. Check this: “Our vendors are only showing 5 entire products available for menopause.” WHAT? Methinks all the baby boomers are experiencing hot flashes too, supply can’t keep up with the demand. I almost bought a damn yam and made my own cream.

    Love you!

  14. Mo,

    You’ll heat all the spirits right out of your house. Your aura will be on FIRE. Call me when it happens. We can cry together.

    Love you,

  15. […] I want to thank everyone, beyond oodles, for all the amazing advice and sage wisdom they gave me on my last post. […]

  16. Anita Dyrbye says:

    Hi Melanie:

    Millions of women will experience symptoms of early menopause as a result of the disease endometriosis. The decline in functioning ovaries is a common cause of the early onset of perimenopause. During perimenopause, hot flushes can be very intense but also sporadic. Please note that this is normal, albeit it can be difficult to deal with. It is important to understand that it’s time to become acquainted with all the changes occurring in your body and handle these changes with modifications in your life style. Alcohol, stress, and spicy foods can trigger those hot flushes. Natural remedies can be helpful but it is important to choose products that are of good quality. Black cohosh, Red Clover, St. Johns wort and Rhodiola Rosea are four examples of herbs that can be effective to minimize those symptoms. Melanie, I was in your shoes ten years ago when I too suffered from endometriosis resulting in early menopause. So I brought a group of scientists, naturopaths, and herbalists together and took six years in developing a product for myself and for all women that does not contain hormones, but rather pure, efficacious herbs that are full spectrum the way I believe nature intended it to be. We are just about ready to hit the market. I’ve been consuming the product we’ve developed with fantastic results. We’ve have several other women try our product VIVACA too and are pleased to report that it has made a difference for them too! I’ll be happy to keep you posted when our product enters the market place in late January of 2013! In the mean time the best of luck in putting out that fire! Kind Regards, Anita

  17. julie says:

    Hi Melanie:
    Perimenopause is the worst….so sorry you are going through this hell. I know bio identical hormones are popular with many women; unfortunately, after three months of bio identical hormone treatment, I developed a blood clot in my arm, and had to clear the clot by taking an anticoalgulant
    for three long months. Lovenox, the anticoagulant was horribly expensive, $3000+ and that’s with insurance, and I had to inject myself with this med twice a day for the three months. I ended up in the emergency room twice; I bled so much from the anticoagulant (although my periods were already nightmarishly heavy once I hit perimenopause), that I required a blood transfusion, a D&C surgery, and a three day hospital stay. I racked up a $6000 bill just for the urgent care, ER treatment, labs, ultrasounds, surgery, and hospital stay. I then had to pay an extra $1000 for a specialized ultrasound for my arm (to see if the clot dissolved) after completing the 3 month treatment with lovenox. I then paid more money for genetic testing, to learn if I was genetically prone to developing blood clots. Turns out I am genetically predisposed….my father developed a blood clot in his leg when he was in his early 50s; sadly he passed on his propensity for blood clots to me. Long story short, if you decide to try bio identical hormones, just make sure your doctor knows enough about identifying clots (my doctor at the Clear Center in Marin Co. prescribed the bioidenticals, but when I showed him my swollen arm, he said the swelling was nothing to worry about. One of my mentors, luckily is an MD, and he was alarmed by the swelling in my arm, and accompanied me to urgent care at UCSF. I was given an ultrasound exam, and the clot was found; from urgent care, I was sent to the ER, and was then hospitalized for one day so I could begin lovenox injections under medical supervision.

    For the past year, I have not bled, knock on wood…..but perimenopause has been really tough for me in the weight department. I gained a ton of weight, and am slowly getting myself under better control by switching to a gluten and dairy free diet.

    Melanie, am keeping my fingers and toes crossed, hoping you will be feeling better very soon. Oh yes, I for got to mention…..I spent $400 on a deluxe model fan at Best Buys….best investment ever.

  18. Wow, Julie, that sounds like an utter nightmare, I’m so glad you’re okay. I’m not sure I’ll ever want to take hormones of any kind. They scare me worse than the hot flashes. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, it’s definitely good to know about this!


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  22. […] I want to thank everyone, beyond oodles, for all the amazing advice and sage wisdom they gave me on my last post. […]