From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Keeping Abreast of Change

“You’re in perimenopause,” my gynecologist told me at my annual checkup.

“But I feel so lousy! I’m tired and moody! And my brain cells seem to be in the midst of a mass exodus!”

“Don’t worry,” she reassured me. “That’s normal. Perimenopause means preparing for menopause.”

What kind of babble was that? Is periwinkle preparing for blue? Being informed that I was not yet experiencing menopause did not assuage my hot flashes, fuzzy memory, moodiness, fatigue, or occasional panic attacks.

“Let’s speed this up,” I said.

“You can’t,” she answered. “Your blood work confirms that you’re just one of those lucky women who will not reach menopause until your mid-fifties.”

WHAT? How could I be fifty-two with miles to go before reaching this new period (or lack of) in my life? My sister, who’s three years younger, had already passed menopause with flying colors.

I wasn’t pleased. My doctor advised, “Just let nature take its course. Eventually, your symptoms will become more noticeable, your periods erratic, but you’ll muddle through.” Muddle through? I was not happy.

Soon after, I was rushing to prepare for an early-morning business meeting. In between getting my kids up and dressed, feeding them breakfast, and walking my youngest to the bus stop, I was trying to determine which outfit camouflaged the most body flaws while still qualifying as “appropriate business attire.” I opted for black pants, chunky black heels, and my favorite crème-colored silk blouse.

Once the kids were gone, I slipped out of my sweats, showered, and donned my slacks and black knee-high hose. Despite limited sleep (another perimenopausal perk) on this particular morning, I was at full speed by 7:30 AM, or so I thought, until I started to slip on a sports bra before remembering that I needed to wear a “real” bra!

I needed to leave by 8:30 but still had to address my hair, makeup, and nails. I somehow had the presence of mind not to risk getting foundation on my blouse. I left it on the hanger and slipped into my short white mini-robe, tying the matching belt into a bow. I blow-dried my hair in front of the mirror and once it was dry, I placed it in a ponytail atop my head (à la Pebbles Flintstone) while I waited for my electric curlers (from 1976!) to heat up. What a sight!

The phone rang. My husband was out of town and needed help. A sample had accidentally been shipped to our home instead of to him. He asked if I could listen for the FedEx truck, due to arrive any minute, sign for the package, then get to the FedEx store and pay for an overnight delivery to his hotel. “No problem,” I told him. We chatted briefly, wished each other a good day and hung up.

I returned to the mirror—my lower half dressed, my upper half protected by my mini-robe—when I realized I hadn’t plucked my eyebrows in a very long time. Funny, they didn’t seem to need it, I thought. My eyebrows, along with my lips, were getting thinner. I was happy to see that at least something on my body was going in that direction! I never enjoyed the sting from plucking my eyebrows and was happy I didn’t need to pluck now (at last . . . a perimenopausal perk!).

Relief had just settled in when I first caught glimpse of . . . it! A thin, baby-fine piece of hair was stuck at an odd angle underneath my chin. I tried brushing it off. It remained. To my horror, I realized that it had, unbeknownst to me, taken up residence. Eyebrows are thinning near the top of my head, but hair is now sprouting on my chin. How long has it been there? Am I the last person on the planet to notice it?

“You’re going DOWN, suckah!” I said, grabbing my magnifying mirror and tweezers. I tried to grasp it. What a sly little bugger! The clock was ticking. I finally managed to grasp the wispy thing and yanked it out. YOUCH! My eyes teared. The underside of my chin was completely red! I wondered if it would grow back . . . or worse, bring friends! Like I’d seen my husband do many times after shaving, I grabbed a small piece of Kleenex, ran it under cold water, and placed it on my sore chin, deciding to wait until the redness disappeared to apply my makeup. I hurriedly painted my nails. Just then, the doorbell rang.

FedEx! I’d forgotten! I raced from the bedroom to the other end of the house, shouting, “Be right there!”

When I reached the front door, I carefully, but swiftly, opened the door, quickly letting the doorknob go to protect my wet nails. As the door swung past me, the larger belt loop of my minirobe silently slid over the doorknob, and the belt untied. There I stood, in front of the delivery man and the world, in black pants, hose . . . and . . . ta da . . . my beige bra. I was so busy trying to protect my nails, sign the form, and grab the package, several seconds passed before reality hit.

“Uh . . .” the FedEx guy stammered.

I was mortified. As I reattached my robe, I tried to say, “Do you need my signature?” but somehow the words came out, “Would you like my autograph?” The poor man, probably thought I was a faded striptease artist craving attention. He stared at the floor as he shoved the clipboard into my hand. (Where are sinkholes when you need them?)

My only solace after my “morning outing” was that at least he didn’t see my chin hair! (FedEx now delivers to our neighborhood in the late afternoon!)

Debra Simon

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