From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

True Love

Life is all about finding the right pill.

Shayla Johnson

I was forty-nine years old and in the throes of menopause when I first met Ed. We were sitting outside when he spotted a woman wearing a T-shirt that said, “I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun.” He laughed. I said, “That’s not funny.” The expression on his face reflected confusion and fear. I explained to him that without my estrogen I could go a little crazy. Thankfully, Ed didn’t jump up and run away.

I was on a monthlong vacation when this wonderful man entered my life. So when he asked me to stay two additional weeks, I happily agreed. Until, to my chagrin, I realized I had packed estrogen patches for only thirty days. Our host town was very small and had only one pharmacy. I immediately called my doctor and requested he send a new prescription.

The next day Ed and I went to pick up my much-needed hormone. I explained to Tom, the pharmacist, that I was from out of town and my doctor had called in the prescription. He went to his computer, typed in my name, then said, “I have no record of this.”

I thought, Oh my God, what am I going to do? I worried unnecessarily, but it became immediately apparent that Ed’s fear was greater than mine. I had the luxury of standing back as Ed leaned over the counter and very calmly but firmly told Tom, “You’ve got to find this prescription; we can’t leave here without it!”

Tomrealized this was a serious situation. He said, “Okay, let me check.” After a few moments he said, “Wait. I do remember seeing this order. I didn’t recognize the name and threwit away.” Ed flewbehind the counter and started rummaging through the trash basket, papers flying.

Finally, Ed said triumphantly, “I found it!” He handed the valuable document to Tom, pleading, “How soon can you fill this?”

“Two minutes,” said Tom.

Knowing a calamity had been avoided, all three of us took a deep sigh of relief. At that time Ed had no idea what the ramifications of menopause were, but he was smart enough to know he didn’t want to find out. We’ve been together ever since.

Unfortunately, hormone therapy does not cure all of the menopausal side effects. Poor Ed still finds it baffling when I go from crying tears of joy to tears of unhappiness in a split second, and absolutely nothing has happened to provoke either reaction. I explain through sobs and tears rolling down my face that I am fine. While my goal is to assure him I’m okay, I just confuse him more. Over time he’s learned to wait patiently, knowing this emotional state will subside as quickly as it arrived.

Many times, I look in the mirror and still recognize the reflection, but have no idea who I am. One moment I’m a calm, sane, loving woman; the next, I’m wound as tight as a rubber band, ready to snap. I scream at everyone within earshot for no apparent reason. This is also frustrating for Ed; he isn’t sure if he is living with Mother Teresa or Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” mode.

I live in a constant state of confusion, not sure if I’m coming or going. My memory has taken a leave of absence. Being so forgetful, I’ve been given an exercise program, whether I want one or not. I walk upstairs, then can’t remember why. I think hard to recall my purpose with no success. I give up and head back down the steps. Just as I reach the last step, I remember my original goal. I don’t want to go back up the stairs, but if I don’t do it now, I’ll forget again. This aspect of menopause gives Ed an opportunity to tease me by saying, “Now are you ready to buy a one-story house?” He’s no doubt earned the right to poke fun at me. For Ed, it was a positive menopause side effect, when, out of exhaustion, I finally agreed to move.

It’s impossible to discuss menopause without mentioning hot flashes; Ed fears some night I will spontaneously combust and has taken out extra life insurance on me just in case. In addition, he is in search of flame-retardant bed linens to ensure he too doesn’t become a casualty of menopause.

Fortunately, we both have maintained the most important ingredient for enduring menopause—a sense of humor. I’m very blessed to have such an understanding man in my life. Seven years after the drugstore scare, he still marks his calendar to make sure I refill my hormone prescription, not only because he loves me, but for his own self-preservation as well.

Tena Beth Thompson

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