From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

God, I’m Shvitzing!

“So, what did the doctor say?” I asked as I entered our bedroom.

My wife, Lisa, reached over and gave me a soft “welcome home” kiss. I could tell the news was not going to be good. “He saw signs I may be going through perimenopause.” “Perimenopause?” I asked. I knew about menopause, but what the heck was perimenopause? Noting the confusion on my face and in my voice, she immediately answered, “It marks the period that begins the transition into menopause.”

I learned from her that perimenopause symptoms vary from woman to woman; however, they can include hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, loss of sexual arousal, sleeping problems, and, of course,mood swings. When she told me that this could last anywhere from two to eight years, in addition to the actual menopause period, chillswent up my spine.

“Eight years!”

“Yeah,” she replied. The unspoken sadness in her voice was louder than any of her words. She would soon be entering what is commonly known as the “change of life.” She was barely in her forties.

“Eight years,” I repeated in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding!”

She wasn’t, and it was a stupid question, even for a rhetorical one. I was going to enter somewhat of a change of life, too. And as hard as I tried to resist, my mind visualized the various clichéd situations I had seen in numerous movies and television shows. But reality would soon alter my perspective.

Yes, the mood swings were touchy, but I soon got accustomed to them and tried not to take them personally. Sometimes this was not an easy task.

Yes, the lowered libido was troublesome. But like the famous car rental service, that meant we just had to work harder, but with care.

But the hot flashes. This was what made my heart truly ache for her. No matter how many times you hear about them or see comedy made of them in movies and sitcoms, you have to go through it with someone you love to really know it’s not a laughing matter. It seemed like pure torture. Even on the coldest nights we would find ourselves on the opposite spectrum of body temperature. I would be wearing warm clothing and still feeling a chill. Meanwhile, Lisa would be sitting in her nightgown, her face glistening with beads of sweat while moaning, “Feel me, I’m drenched!” Moments later, she’d be under the covers saying, “It’s so cold.” Throughout the night, her side of the covers would flop on and off repeatedly, while I would be comfortably tucked in.

Once, at two in the morning, she rolled over and exclaimed in frustration, “God, I’m shvitzing!” Now, I’m not Jewish, but I’ve picked up a few Yiddish words being married to her. In this situation, “shvitzing” would be translated to mean, “I wish these darn hot flashes would give me a break! They’re making my life miserable!” That’s a loose translation, of course.

I kissed her on her forehead, for I knew that as difficult as it was for me to deal with, menopause was a hundred times more difficult for her to live with. It caused me to remember something I agreed to sixteen years ago,”. . . for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do we part.” And even though this was not a sickness but a normal phase of life, I knew she was going to need me now more than ever.

Through the darkness, I saw her beautiful eyes filling with glistening tears. I said to her softly, “What’s eight years? We can do that time standing on our heads.”

Lawrence D. Elliott

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