The Daily Aches and Pains of Aging: Feeling 59 and Strong
Today, I am 59 years old. This past Thanksgiving weekend and part of last week — I had my period. I still get my period at 59 years of age. Sometimes, I feel every single day of all those years, with aches and pains that appear without rhyme or reason. These are the daily reminders of aging, and while I may not be as spry as I once was, I consider myself a healthy and strong woman for my age. Each day brings something new, although it’s not really new — nothing is new in this aging body.
The Assumption That Left Me Feeling Older: “You STILL Have Your Period?!”
A few years ago, I had a conversation with a younger member of my extended family. I mentioned having a headache due to my period, and I couldn’t help but notice the shocked look on her face. It seemed to scream, “You still have your period?! I assumed you were in menopause!” That moment left me feeling a bit older than I’d like.
It is important to challenge the assumption that a woman’s stage in life can be determined solely based on her age. I am 59 and have had my period regularly since I was 14 years old! I still have to worry about pregnancy – just like I did when I was a teenager. On the other hand, a younger woman may face menopause much earlier in life due to medical reasons, when most women are typically in the prime of their reproductive years. These instances highlight the need to consider individual circumstances rather than making assumptions based on age alone.
The Elusive End: When Will My Cycle Finally Stop?
Lingering questions continue to haunt me, especially as I approach the age of 59. Despite being in the throes of perimenopause for over a decade, I find myself knowing little more than I did when this journey began. It’s perplexing how elusive answers can be when it comes to such a natural phenomenon. In the past, there seemed to be a scarcity of articles to peruse, or perhaps I simply hadn’t discovered them.
However, it seems like a positive shift is underway, with more women beginning to openly share their experiences and engage in discussions about menopause. From hilarious videos that add a touch of humor to informative articles shedding light on the subject, there is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps in the near future, there will be an abundance of information available, ensuring that women no longer feel isolated in their unique situations.
The Night Sweats Saga: An Unexpected Introduction to Perimenopause
The onset of night sweats hit me like a tidal wave, and it just had to happen during a trip to sunny California with my kids as we embarked on the infamous college tour. I suddenly I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling like I was doused me with a bucket of water. I mean, seriously?! And to make matters worse, I hadn’t packed nearly enough nightshirts to combat this unexpected deluge.
My goal the next morning was to find suitable replacements, resulting in a collection of quirky t-shirts that became my unlikely sleepwear companions. With the sweat-soaked shirts piling up, I couldn’t help but find the whole situation hilariously. It was a memory that’s vividly etched in my mind, reminding me that life has a funny way of making even the most mundane moments memorable. Ah, the joys of parenting and personal climate control!
Denying the Sea of Perimenopause: Coping with the Unexpected Changes
At the time, I didn’t immediately recognize that these were night sweats and marked the beginning of perimenopause. Denial — forget the river — I was swimming in the Sea of Denial. It was hard to recognize because my periods were as regular as ever, coming like clockwork.
Stripping Down to Beat the Heat: Managing Night Sweats with a Sense of Humor
A few months later, it happened again, this time at home. Wet nightshirt — yuck! But finally, a lightbulb went off. Duh! You are going into menopause. I didn’t even know the word “perimenopause” until talking with my gynocologist at my yearly checkup.
That was over 12 years ago, and the night sweats have come and gone and come back. When they start, I swiftly rip my nightshirt off and sleep naked. I’ve read it’s the best way to combat night sweats, and it works for me. I can usually catch it before my nightgown is soaked. I sleep naked for a few nights afterward. Mark loves this, and I have to give him fair warning – “It’s not a sign. Sorry, sweetheart.” Well, it is just not the sign he was hoping for. Eventually, the nightshirt goes back on; after all, it’s New Hampshire, and it can get cold. Plus, we have dogs that jump on the bed and adult children who visit occasionally.
The Confounding Brain Fog: Menopause or Self-Inflicted?
Ah, the brain fog — it’s so hard for others to understand unless they’ve experienced it. It could explain a few things. But is it menopausal brain fog or something else? I listen when told or read something — only to forget shortly afterward. Mark gets frustrated with me because he knows he told me whatever it was — we even talked about it. Yet the next day or even later that same day — I will look at him like I have no idea what he is referring to. Weren’t we high when we were talking about that? By the way, where did I put my phone?
A Life Unfolded: Taking Responsibility
But maybe it’s just the culmination of decades of self-abuse to your body and mind catching up to you. A history of early drug abuse in high school and college + decades of continued marijuana smoking + overtiredness due to single parenting + stress + age + grief + the pressures of everyday life = brain fog. I take responsibility for my part in this demise.
The Path to Mindfulness: Nurturing Inner Peace Amidst the Fog
The challenges of perimenopause and the haze of brain fog have led me to explore a path of mindfulness. Over the years, I’ve delved into various practices, from Buddhism and Taoism to Transcendental Meditation, guided meditation, and mantras. Daily meditation has become a cherished ritual, providing me with a sanctuary to calm and focus my menopausal mind.
In the stillness, I have discovered the profound power of self-awareness and inner peace. Mindfulness has not only helped me to navigate the ups and downs of this transitional phase but has also enriched my life in unexpected ways. It’s a reminder even as I age, the journey inward continues to unfold with new insights and serenity.
The Joy of Lifelong Learning: A Personal Revelation at 59
However, at the ripe age of 59, I’ve discovered a few things about myself. I love to learn, and I’ve made it a point to learn new things as I age. You’re never too old to learn something new, whether it’s acquiring a new language, taking a course in something that interests you, or simply reading books that entertain you. The brain needs to be exercised; learning is how you do that.
Recently, we have added 20 minutes of Tai Chi to our morning routine. It’s something that we have wanted to do for a while but for one reason or another never did it – until a couple of weeks ago.
Embracing the Journey: Aging with Resilience and a Sense of Adventure
My life at 59 may bring challenges, but it’s also an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. From perimenopause to brain fog, these are just chapters in the book of life, and the key is to navigate them with resilience, humor, and a thirst for lifelong learning. Embracing the aging journey, we find that each day holds the potential for new experiences and insights, making the road to 60 and beyond an exciting adventure.