From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Go with the Flow

When I have to choose between two evils, I
always try to pick the one I haven’t tried before.

Mae West

Menopause hit me fast; everything I ate automatically went to my waist, my mood swings sadistically pushed me to see how high I could fly, and the night sweats began at dusk and ended the next day at 5:59 AM. No wonder other symptoms came on with such a vengeance, like my memorable moment at the grocery store after a mega-emotional day at work.

As was habit, I obeyed the sign to “start with a cart.” With shopping list in hand, arranged in my usual path through the store, I dashed off, hopeful to complete my appointed course without having to wait too long at checkout.

Please, God! I thought to myself, Let me grab and go without meeting anyone I know, or who knows me. It had been a horribly hard day, and my moodiness was elevated due to many frustrating menopausal moments.

My basket began to fill with toilet paper, Kleenex, and paper towels as I pushed toward the pet products. Pausing to check the sale price on kitty litter and designer cat food, I got that all-too-familiar feeling. Okay, stand still. Hold on, ignore that tabletop water feature at the end of the aisle. As I lifted a twenty-pound bag of kitty litter, the urge instantly became too strong. I gotta go! I gotta go right now!

Taking a deep breath to get my bearings, and also to avoid an accident, I did a U-turn to the back of the store. Please God, let there be an open stall, I prayed. I parked my cart by the stand of old-lady canes and waddled through the door to the women’s restroom. God must have been listening, as the restroom was empty.

I took care of my business then returned to my waiting cart. Now, where was I on my list? Pelligrino, ah, straight ahead on aisle four. I picked up three bottles and added them to the cart. Pushing onward, I wasn’t but halfway up aisle four when that “light-bulb” went off in my brain, AGAIN! I had this sinking feeling that bladder control was becoming a menopausal issue, which was apropos, considering I was surrounded by disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, incontinence supplies, and bottled water.

Feeling as though my security depended upon my poise (sorry for the play on words), I knew it was time to check out the “grandma” diapers. I looked both ways first to confirm I was alone, then pretended to look at the Pampers, which were next to the incontinence products.

I became confused studying all the products and had a hard time deciding which one to try. Which is better? Super absorbent, ultra long, light pads? Or adult pull-ups that fit and feel like underwear? Or adjustable ones with and without buttons? How about worry-free with odor control? And what about the all-important disposable? Do I need super, long, or special blue lining? What’s with this product that can be used by both men and women? I always thought pink was for girls and blue, for boys. God knows there was no way I was going to ask the grocery staff for help selecting the right diaper!

I almost settled on getting the Poise pads, but they didn’t have wings, which I preferred. Exasperated with not knowing what to purchase—and more so due to the fact that I had to purchase these things in the first place— I decided to return later that night just before closing. Good plan! I can get the forty pounds of kitty litter, then bury the Poise pads beneath it!

I exited aisle four and headed for the deli. Too late to cook dinner, I picked up a rotisserie chicken and some potato salad, then headed for checkout. I did return later to finish all my shopping—and I mean all of it.

Each night, I pray that my menopausal body and soul settles into a more serene routine, one without valleys, hills, or even those constant waterfalls.

Nancy Withers

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