Rational dread, existential lullabies, hot flashes, and the changing of seasons

I posted on Facebook the other day that while sleep may be my super power, hot flashes are my kryptonite.

“So hot flashes, I’m not a fan. Usually I’m too cold so I thought they might not be so bad. But flinging off the blankets doesn’t help. Cold water doesn’t help. It’s like you’re heating up from the inside. I also had hoped this might miss me. I pretty much survived pregnancy three times with no bad effects. But peri-menopause, you win.”

Nat chimed in, “Ugh. Sorry. They totally suck!! Mine also come with a feeling of dread/panic. Good times.”

You see for me they are also accompanied by dread and panic. But it’s hard to tell how much of that is hot flash related. Yep. I keep waking up thinking the world is ending. Okay, the world, the planet, will be fine. It’s human beings I’m most concerned about.

Doesn’t help that I am actually worried that the world is ending. Rational dread. My fave.

It’s also the fall, my sad season.

Here’s a Kathy Bates lullaby to get us back to sleep, Nat.

One of the things that kills me is that all the usual medical websites say they really don’t know what causes flashes. I read that and thought, really. Really?

The Mayo Clinic unhelpfully says,
The cause of hot flashes isn’t known, but it’s likely related to several factors. These include changes in reproductive hormones and in your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus), which becomes more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature.

It’s one of those things where I find myself thinking, there’s no way men would put up with this. There would be research institutes, public awareness campaigns, and an urgent cry for a cure. They just wouldn’t put up with it.

It also put me in mind of a great piece over at Hook & Eye about breaking our feet and walking anyway. Don’t do that!

Finally, I’m also reading Susie Strachan’s piece (she’s an old friend from my Canadian University Press days) Managing Menopause.

You can tell me what worked for you. I’ll listen. Your stories interest me. But I’ve got a family history of breast cancer that makes hormone replacement therapy unlikely. I’m also still the woman menopause forgot because it’ll be months before I’m officially menopausal.

2 thoughts on “Rational dread, existential lullabies, hot flashes, and the changing of seasons

  1. Yes yes yes– it’s absurd that medicine and medical research says “uh, we don’t know” about he cause of hot flashes. Has it ever occurred to them to do a little work on this?

    Okay, now to suggestions. One is to swing a different pharmacological sledge hammer at it– I took neurotin (gabapentin) for a couple of months and it flat out killed the hot flashes. It is a powerful drug, designed as an anti-seizure medication, but it also regulates body temperature (and mood). It is commonly prescribed off-label for menopausal symptoms, and my doctor recommended it.

    Apparently everyone’s sensitivity to this drug (and effective dosage) varies wildly. I took 100mg a day at night, then upped to 200. At 200 I slept like a log– for 10 hours if I didn’t set an alarm– and felt too groggy. Back to 100, I still felt too groggy. YMMV. I went off it (I had to taper off, which was a drag). My hot flashes seem to be mostly gone now, although I still run hotter than I used to (I’ve increased my short sleeve shirt collection to include fall and winter colors…)

    I still keep my bedroom really chilly, which helps a lot.

    People take supplements like Estroven (I took this for a while) for symptoms, but it was unclear to me whether it worked or not. There’s some clinical evidence that it works a bit, but it’s weak.

    Finally, I absolutely allow extra time in my schedule for sleeping– say 9.5 hours between going to bed and getting up– in order to get enough sleep, and to allow for wakeful/hot time (I used to do this– not so necessary now– yay).

    I’m looking forward to hearing about others’ suggestions and experiences.

    1. Thankyou, this is brilliant. My hot flushes started a month ago – with an allergy flare up & having my Mirena pulled out. I’m 46 and unimpressed. I also can’t believe that I know NOTHING about menopause. How can this be? I’m a feminist with a PhD. This has slayed me 🙁 🙁 :(. (Also, for me it’s like milk let-down used to be – I think about it and it happens! So I’m having a massive hot flush reading this!)

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