The Menopause Sucks!: A Series of Rants*

This is a blog about our plan to transition from being a couple raising children and owning a home to a couple sailing around the world on a yet-to-be-determined boat. As we reflected on our Who Are We page, we are firmly in the middle of life. This has its pleasures, more free time being the biggest one. But this can be a dark time for women, a dark and dreadful time. This can be a time filled with horror and fear, and not just because Halloween is closing in on us. What, you may be asking as you shake in your shoes, could be causing this otherwise sensible and even-tempered woman to be filled with horror and darkness? Is it criminal activity in her neighborhood? No, sweet readers. It is not. It is criminal activity in my body. This criminal is known by the sobriquet ‘The Menopause.’

‘The Menopause’, as we call it in our house, sucks. I am not making this up.  No one could possibly make up the cosmic joke that is menopause. I am the first woman in my family to go through ‘natural’ menopause. While the the other women in my family have had their lady parts taken out, I still have mine, not that they are doing much for me. Therefore I had no idea what to expect.  I avoided reading about it  because on some level I must have known it was going to be filled with expletive-type experiences.

Craziness. It’s not just for PMS anymore.

What, you might be asking yourself, does The Menopause have to do with sailing? It has absolutely everything to do with it, even down to the fact that after menopause there is no need to take up three square feet of space storing those unmentionable feminine hygiene products. So far this is the most positive result I’ve experienced. Consider the following chart of accurate data:

What is needed in order to be an effective sailor: (a knowledge of the boat and sailing basics is assumed)

  1.  Use of language
  2.  Memory
  3.  Emotional strength and containment
  4.  Muscles
  5.  Body visibility, ie the ability to be seen by others
  6. Bladder strength

What The Menopause will take from you without your permission: 

  1. Use of language
  2.  Memory
  3.  Emotional strength and containment
  4.  Muscles
  5.  Body visibility, ie the ability to be seen by others
  6. Bladder strength
Are you seeing an overlap here, a pattern? Do we need to break out the Venn Diagrams?

Lest you forget what you learned in Algebra I.  In this case, imagine one circle directly over the other circle. That’s right, you’re catching on! It would be just one huge circle with a thick edge. If you are a math type, then in my case A=B.

I started to do one massive post on this topic and then realized that I had way too much material. Really, The Menopause offers so many rich opportunities to rant, whine, and stomp my feet in frustration that there is simply no way to say it all in one post. So there will be multiple posts fleshing out some of the subjects so accurately stated in my data charts above. It may be that I will come up with more. I can’t remember everything just now. Or ever.
Not much has been written on the interweb about the effects of menopause on sailing and/or vice versa. Doing the ‘google’ on those two topic words produces an irritating number of websites devoted to ‘sailing through menopause’. As if. They have nothing to do with boats and are useless to me. Suzanne Giesemann, Navy Commander, World Sailor, and professional Medium/Psychic,  wrote a blog post about her ennui due to Menopause Mood Disorder™ back in 2009. I felt I’d found my kindred spirit! But then she followed up in the comments section that she found a little supplement that made it all better. Oh, come on! Really, Suzanne? I mean, you are one of my personal heroines! I’ve read all your books on sailing! Hell, I OWN your books! Your name is the SAME as my middle name! Et tu? I was crushed with disappointment.
I feel like The Menopause is a good topic for this blog on occasion. Think about it. Many of the women who are out there cruising around are middle aged women. They’re either looking forward to menopause, are in the middle of it, or have already said goodbye to it. I wonder how some of them are faring? (And their partners, too.) If I had a research grant, I would perhaps do some study of the effects of the sailing/cruising lifestyle on the  sufferings of menopause. My hypothesis? Cruising might make a lot of it better. On the other hand, having a hot flash down in the tropics cannot be anything but hell on earth.
Between this series, the product reviews which are still in the works, and the series on cheap tricks, I should so busy in the coming weeks I might forget to apply my hormone creams. Be warned. We try to keep this blog ‘family friendly’, light and fluffy like marshmallow cream,  but emotions run high on this topic and you’ll note number 3 above regarding emotional containment. So if you are the sensitive type, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I may have to break out choice expletives to get my points across as sometimes those are the only words that manage to surface through my menopause fog. I’ll try to remember to disguise them with the use of ***, but no promises.
*Your experience may differ, and if it does, consider yourself lucky.
  

23 thoughts on “The Menopause Sucks!: A Series of Rants*

  1. Haha … love it! As a woman in my late 40’s who has been in what I believe to be “peri-menopause” … I feel your pain! I often walk around in a fog, and I swear just yesterday Ken told me he’s worried about my recent “memory problems” and what I’m gonna be like when we’re cruising! I assured him this is only temporary and I’m not totally non-functional … LOL! I swear I have a lot of “brain freezes” lately. I can deal with the night sweats (not too often yet), but I really hope my brain fog is not something permanent. Love your idea of posting about this topic … and mixing humor in with it too!

    • Well, you know what they say: you either have to laugh or you have to cry. I’ve done both and I prefer the laughter 2:1. Stay tuned!

  2. I feel for ya Melissa. I both look forward to it and dread it at the same time. I’ve got a wonky thyroid so I get a little glimmer into what will be coming my way soon enough. Frankly, I think menopause is a bunch of BS. It makes me think there must be a God and he must be a dude because no female deity would not only give women years of PMS but then deal the final coup de grace that is menopause.

    • Indeed! I try not to think of it as punishment for being female. But then there is the whole ‘pain in childbirth’ thing. On the other hand, nothing gave me more joy than giving birth to my kids. Wacky thyroids are no fun at all.

  3. I’m in the middle of my second pregnancy right now and all I can think about is how much we women get suckage in life. Periods suck. Pregnancy sucks. Don’t get me started on birth. Post-partum sucks. Breastfeeding hurts. Oh, and let’s add insult to injury with menopause. Good times. Good times!!!

    • Hi Charlotte and welcome! I think I replied to you on the women’s sailing group but in case you don’t see it, I think you’ve paid your dues with having a miserable pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding experience. Keep a good thought! Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones and menopause will be a breeze for you. I loved all things pregnancy related, except for the pain of the birth, of course. I fully expected to “sail” through this time after my easy pregnancies.

  4. I look forward to reading of the horrors to come, hopefully horrors that are many years away as I’m still yet to be hardened in the fires of pregnancy, childbirth and breast feeding and all the other fun parts of raising children while cruising.

    • Here is hoping that all those things will be east for you! I wish we had cruised when our kids were small. I think it must be a great way to raise kids.

  5. Might be small comfort, but I enjoyed a “post-menopausal zest” in my mid-fifties and sixties. I am so glad you are pursuing your dreams NOW so when your zest hits, you’ll be out there sailing! I am waiting for my “elderly zest” to hit, but my daughter just told me not to wait for it, to make it happen. 🙂

  6. I know some swear words in several languages if they would be of any help in your meno-mauling-moments. Also standing in the middle of a large room – stitch,stark,naked and screaming every four letter swear word you have ever – said, thought, heard, or read offers a dandy release from the head of steam building up from the fires within…..as it were!

  7. I have been there done that. I am done with the big M at 54. Thank you Jesus!!

    I actually had it relatively easy… two years of hot flashes but not so hot that I turned beet red like some of my friends (it’s more my skin type I think – I rarely blush). Night sweats but not unbearably so if I had a ceiling fan or a fan on a stand. I think if I had hot flashes down in the Caribbean it would actually be easier because I’d be in a bathing suit most of the time and could just hop over the side to cool down.

    I had/have the memory thing… but then I think I’ve had that since I gave birth the first time so nothing too new there.

    Yes, women DEFINITELY get the short end of the stick when it comes to this sort of thing…. AND AND we gain weight easier than men and it’s harder for us to lose it.

    Some things just suck.

    • I think you said it. some things just suck. I’m also 54, but I just keep on truckin with the hot flashes and stuff. Oy Vey!

  8. Sorry to hear you are having such difficulty, but I admire you for writing about it. The internet and sailing community needs this. I am quite a ways away from Menopause but will enjoy reading about your experiences.

    My mom went through it with hardly any problems, she said, so hopefully it’s genetic and i’ll get as lucky!!

  9. I am so glad I found this blog. I evidently am one of the lucky ones. I was only moderately miserable with hot flashes and moodiness. I am single, in the healthcare field and learned quickly to dress in layers ( to make everyone else happy in the work environment). I succombed to the fact that I could no longer wear the sexy Victoria’s Secret silk lingerie. I learned quickly to sleep naked or in cotton and that KY jelly was my best friend! And to you girls that are against the SSRI antidepressants for mood swings … reconsider. In my work I was fortunate to have access to samples. My co- workers would occassionally come to me and say……. ” are you out of your lexapro samples? ” And you know what the answer was….. Yes! Now I am post menapause and DELIGHTED!

    • Welcome to the blog, Ellen! I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Glad you are firmly on the other side of that most miserable passage!

  10. This is a great blog! Menopause –

    And then there is that middle ear thing with hormone changes that may make one more susceptible to sea sickness… So perfect for sailing. A half of Benadryl is my friend.

    Yes, the experience of going through menopause is interesting. At 54 and thanks to my bio-identicals I feel sane most of the time and my memory works. What sucks is that I can’t drink coffee or eat chocolate any more (triggers a panic attack – fun). But at least I can drink red wine!

    Raspberry tea is great for uterine health as the lining thins and spotting happens. I have found lots of other natural remedies as my menopause journey has unfolded and symptoms/effects have changed. Sometimes I feel like a walking experiment.

    It’s all good though. Something to laugh about, groan about, and roll my eyes at. Having an incredible husband that can laugh with me is the best though.

    The best part of this interesting and ever changing journey is the empowerment I feel. Maybe it’s because I really understand I can’t control anything (especially menopause). Maybe its that at this age I am reminded that life is only lasts so long so I should be purposeful about how to live it. Maybe it’s that I actually am settling in to my authentic self and not afraid to say what I think. This might sound all “self help” bookish, but there is something about growing into one’s skin that maybe the not so fun experiences of menopause provides.

    After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Right?

    • Isn’t it funny how the body changes what it does in response to things like food? So sorry that you cannot eat chocolate or drink coffee, two of my very favorite activities! But I can no longer drink coffee after noon, and now my body has never seen a carbohydrate that it won’t hold on to in the form of fat. Yes, it’s all good, though, and about that ‘coming into your own power’ thing: I couldn’t figure out how anyone who felt as miserable as I felt could possibly feel ‘powerful’. Now that I am on the other side of this thing, I believe the power comes from not really giving rat’s a** most of the time. Maybe that’s just the learning, as you say, that has to do with knowing we are not, in fact, immortal after all. Welcome to the blog!

  11. I LOVE this post!

    My biggest problem is that I was NEVER the calm, serene, even tempered person in the first place! Honestly, though, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought… although I think I’m still in the beginning stages.

    • That is very lucky! I wish you all the best going through this phase of life. I thought I would be one who would breeze right through it without skipping a beat. i was pretty disappointed in my results with that. But your mileage will surely vary! Maybe you’ll be one who actually benefits from the changes. i will keep my fingers crossed for you.

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