The Post Menopause Nocturnal Twist

I did not know that when I got this far into the middle years that I would be learning a new dance.

Not that I am adverse to learning new dances. I love dancing. I still kind of want to learn how to tap dance. Randy and I dance all the time. Just not as long as we used to. Also, our bones make some scary ass noises.

The nocturnal twist, however, is a shitty fucking dance.

Finished with menopause?

A few years ago, when I went for my yearly lady doctor exam, the nurse read my chart and told me I was post menopausal. Post. Like, finished with it.

I was not happy. I didn’t mind turning fifty. I’m not worried about turning 55 next month, but I fucking hated being told I was post menopausal. That just sounds old, man.

Anyway, since I am post menopause, I thought that meant smooth sailing from here on out.

You know, the worst of the hormonal eruptions were behind me. I could settle into cronehood, serene and wise. I would no longer get those ridiculous zits on my chin and my left boob. I would finally sleep again. My mood swings wouldn’t get quite so much air.

I was mistaken.

Actually, the zits are gone. I didn’t really consider this until I started writing this post, but it’s been months, maybe even a year since I’ve had a zit.

Reasonably sure I will have mount Vesuvius on my chin in the morning. 

My mood swings are more calm. Not gone or anything, but definitely better. My Xanax prescription doesn’t have to be filled quite so often.

The sleep thing, though. Fucking hell. Is this how it goes?

We just never get a good night’s sleep ever ever ever ever again?

Such bullshit. You know who needs their sleep? Fucking old people. Old people with jobs which require deep concentration. We need sleep.

One thing I was super happy about, was getting through menopause without the horrifying night sweats and hot flashes. I did have some wicked hot flashes, but I managed. No night sweats, though.

Turns out, the hot flashes and night sweats don’t have the same understanding of “post menopause” as I do.

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and was terribly confused. My arm, face and hair were soaked. My first thought was “waterbed” but I haven’t had a waterbed since 1987. Then, I thought one of the cats peed on me.

Nope. I was just sweaty. Which doesn’t really cover it. I was sweaty like I had been playing volleyball in the sun and then spent 20 minutes in a sauna. This certainly adds a few new steps to the nocturnal twist.

The moves are basically taking the covers off because you’re dying of heat, and then 10 minutes later putting them back on because you’re freezing to death. Throw in a few spins on the 3 to 4 trips to the bathroom because your bladder has apparently shrunk to the size of a walnut. And now, sometimes you have to change all your clothes because you even sweated through your underwear.

Also, there is shimmying back and forth, trying to get that itch on your back that you can’t quite reach. Don’t forget to randomly kick your feet in frustration because the alarm is going to go off in 2 hours and 56 minutes and you haven’t been able to fall asleep yet.

Which brings us to just a few minutes ago, after I took a shower and asked Randy for his help.

Me: My skin is dry as fuck. It kept me up last night. Will you put lotion on my back?

Randy: Is it that sticky lotion?

Me: No, it’s the other lotion.

It was totally the sticky lotion. 

Me: Shit. This is going to be cold. Could you warm the lotion up in your hand first?

So, Randy squirted the lotion onto his hand and immediately applied it to my back.

Me: Not better. Not better. Dude! You have to warm it up in your hand first.

I looked to my left and could see him in the dresser mirror standing behind me with a big ass grin on his face.

Me: Asshole! You like that part!

Randy did not respond, however, I could see in the mirror that has grin had gone from “shit eating” to “full on Cheshire cat”.

Me: Asshole.

Randy: That was the sticky lotion.

Me: I can’t believe you like putting cold lotion on my back.

Randy: I enjoy bringing excitement into your life.

Me:…

Me:…

Me: Asshole.

I have to hand it to Randy, though. He has his own insomnia issues. There are nights he gets out of bed at midnight and stays up the rest of the night. He does sleep sometimes, though. I have no idea how he manages to sleep when I’m doing the nocturnal twist all night long.

 

Photo courtesy of Matheus Bertelli

 

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  1. Onlyme says:

    Two things – you want the good news or bad first? OK, bad. I’m 70 and still having hot flashes. My doctor told me, with a sardonic shrug, “some women have them the rest of their lives.” Great. I hate her. The good news is Tylenol – yep, plain Tylenol – actually helps me sleep through the night. Really. I swear. Or else I’m very susceptible to suggestion. Which might be true. But, whatever works, right? Try it.

    Reply
  2. Emily says:

    So that’s what those night sweats are! I learn something new every day; thanks for that. They don’t keep me up, though.

    One thing I love about being post-menopausal, though, is no more periods!! Plus my underarm hair vanished. Whee.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      I had my uterus burned out around 6 years ago (maybe 7, time is a blur to me) so I haven’t had periods for years. I love it so much. I still have the pit hair, though..but I am part sasquatch. Someone in my lineage fucked a yeti, that is the only explanation for my degree of hirsuteness.

      Reply
  3. Melinda says:

    Yep. Basically ALL of the physical shit about aging sucks balls. All the good bits happen to your psyche and the wisdom center of your brain. (NOT the memory center, oh no, that would be too much.) My doctor told me the exact same words that Onlyme got…maybe they all had to take How to Phrase Bad News 101 at OB/GYN school. So I’m resigned to sweating/freezing, TB and generally waiting for the third night so I can take a fucking antihistamine (“sleep aid”) and actually pass out for 8 hours. And yeah, I need like WAY more real estate in bed for the dancing than I used to. Fuck aging.

    Oh well, whaddyagonnado. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      You know, you reminded me though, how much I love the changes in my head. I’m still a fucked up ball of anxiety, but I’m better. I enjoy life so much more now and the best part is not hating myself anymore. That is amazing. Worth the sweats. Barely.

      Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    My name, Woman on Pause, is because I was diagnosed “Post Menopausal” at 29 years old. I am currently 40 and haven’t gotten rid of it yet. It is INSANE. I took hormones for years to control the horrific hot flashes and night sweats. Then my doctor and I decided that putting patches on my body that may, or may not cause cancer might not be such a hot idea. Pun intended. I take Estroven now. Over the counter stuff. It takes like 5 weeks of taking it nightly for it to kick in but it helps about 75%. I still don’t know how I managed a decade with this, with no end in sight. But sister, I feel your pain.

    Also, I haven’t slept well since before my pregnancy with my son. 2001.

    😉

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      I haven’t really tried anything yet. Someone suggested this place that evaluates your needs and gives you hormone supplements, but it was like 300 just for the evaluation. Fuck that.

      Reply
  5. Nancy Hill says:

    I have to be positive on my blog, part of the brand, you know. But in your comments… No holds barred… nah, I will be the sweet little old lady (five years older than you) persona. I have to let you in on a few more aging secrets withheld from the young. Perhaps no one has told you yet, but, your hair will thin, your ass will drop, and ugly shoes will start to appeal to you. But on the good side, you quit giving a shit, oops, I mean a *hoot* about what people think and become rather zen. A zenish crone… or is it a cornish hen…

    Reply
  6. Spiked Lee says:

    Twistin the night away — isn’t this what the song was talking about?
    But worse than the hair thinning is the SKIN thinning. I swear, my skin is so thin and brittle and fucking delicate I hate it. I actually started seeing a holistic doctor for this skin shit. I take heaps of vitamins and amino acids and fish oil and it has gone from about a 95% bad to about a 60% bad. Better, but could I have one minute when I didn’t feel like clawing off my own skin?
    It got worse because of the stupid cancer meds blocking ALL my hormones, including testosterone. Which also gave me hotflashes to die from, but those I can survive, they’re only an hour or less at a time.
    If I try and be positive, I’ll tell you that all the supplements helped me loose weight too. And lucky me, my insurance covers *part* of fancy doctor and his tests. But not the supplements, or the fancy skin cream. I actually like the skin cream, it’s olive oil, calendula oil, and beeswax. I get it from the local organic market. I’ll put a plug in for calendula, it’s the stuff they give you for radiation, and it really is a good healer.
    Also, pro tip, you can get lotion/diaper cream warmers in the baby section that warm the stuff, and then Randy looses his Cheshire.

    Reply
    • Deborah says:

      My doctor proscribed a progesterone cream for topical application for vaginal atrophy (thinning skin down there). A pea-sized application, every couple of days, has really been helpful. No more tearing or dryness. And the amount used doesn’t cause the side effects (sun sensitivity and breast tenderness), just makes it so you don’t feel like you have a chronic yeast infection. Would you mind sharing what supplements seem to help with the overall skin condition? I think it’s important for women to share information. Menopause, and post-menopause used to just be referred to as “the change” and it seems women were pretty much on their own. We can change that. There’s also a site I like called “Menopause Mondays” with tips for dealing with different problems from medical and holistic approaches.

      Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Brilliant!!! Lotion warmer. I love you.

      Imma look up that lotion

      Reply
  7. Deborah says:

    I’ve heard good things about Estroven too – but yeah, don’t expect immediate results.

    I have often gone to bed with two changes of clothes nearby. For a few years, I took to falling asleep on the couch, because I knew I’d be up once or twice with sweats and my husband is also an insomniac. Once awakened, he doesn’t sleep. He’s like the Hulk – you wouldn’t like him when he’s sleepy.

    But the couch sleeping caught up to me. Pinned in one position, I developed a frozen shoulder, which I was told was common in women of middle age. I thanked my doctor for his optimism, “does this mean you think I’ll live to be 104?” So we invested in a custom-made sofa bed, all for me. Everybody got their own bed (except for date nights). It was kinda nice.

    Unfortuately, my 11-year-old, autistic son recently went from sneaking into my bed for morning cuddles, to moving in for the night. We needed to break the habit, but there really is no rationalizing with an autistic mind. Even though he’d promise to stay in his room, he’d be out to try to get into my bed every hour, on the hour. So, we decided we had to eliminate the living room bed. Back in “our” room we could lock the door.

    We both resigned ourselves to losing sleep, while our son gets back in the habit of staying all-night in his own room. We’re sweaty, sleep-deprived, angry zombies, but good parents, right? I’m going out right now to buy some “Estroven.” You should get some too. And while you’re out, pick up some “Replens.” Your doctor can share the good news about what that’s for at your next visit.

    Reply
  8. Deborah says:

    I responded to your other commenter with what “Replens” is for – vaginal atrophy. I also shared that I think it’s important we talk to each other, frankly, about issues and solutions. Menopause is still this big void we all enter, with no real preparation or information. It’s more like, “oh, yeah, you’ll wake up nightly thinking you went for a dip in the pool and your vajayjay will turn into the Saraha – that’s totally normal.”

    Reply
  9. Rena says:

    I’m right there with you. I had a hysterectomy which put me into menopause overnight and I’ve been trying to get my bearing ever since. Hot flashes, night sweats, memory problems. Sometimes I think they should have just shot me lol.

    Reply
  10. Mary-Anne says:

    Not night sweats – but every single night I have to get up and pee around 3:30am. No matter what I have eaten or drunk before bed. Every. single. night. It never gets old. (But it does keep being uber frustrating).

    My husband never does the lotion thing – he hates getting his hands goopy.

    Reply
  11. Doug in Oakland says:

    Not being female, I think I’ll just sort of shut the fuck up on this so I don’t say anything too stupid, and just be glad that having to get up and pee three or four times a night is the worst sleep-related pain in the ass I seem to have wandered into…

    Reply
  12. Elaine says:

    Yas! The night sweats started with pregnancy and never ended. Just now considering going BACK on the pill to treat them.

    Reply
  13. Jenn says:

    I take a nightly 1mg of Xanax. Delightful sleep.
    I also take Premarin (pregnant mare urine that is so fucking expensive) so I no longer sweat like a pig.
    I have also put on 30 pounds and my cholesterol is stupidly high since my hysterectomy but at least I’m not sweaty (but I may die of heart disease or cancer. Win some, you lose some.)

    Reply
  14. My night sweats seem to be getting better, and I am 55, but I take herb supplements i find online, so I dont know if its only in my head or they actually work..
    The worst part as Nancy Hill mentioned is the hair thinning, the ass drooping, the skin getting wrinkly but I sure as hell wont go do botox and get the frozen look.

    Just yesterday I saw an older woman in the mall and she stood in the middle of the walkway and let out an almighty fart…. then walked away without giving a shit.

    My hero…

    Reply
  15. Leanne says:

    Hormones have a lot to answer for Michelle! I’m still waging war with mine – seesawing from one end of the spectrum to the other – so glad we can laugh about it though!

    Reply
  16. Laurel says:

    I was “peri-menopausal” for 10 years, menopausal for 2, now 6 years of post, the sweats still happen. I have found 3 things that sort of help.

    Cotton everything. Sheets, underwear, sleepwear. This was my mom’s suggestion and it helps. I also wear a big scarf instead of sweaters or coats. Fast to through off and easy to wrap around when the chills start.

    Try to track if foods or medicine (even OTC) set it off. Antihistamines and some others cause hot flashes within 20 minutes of taking.

    Separate beds…well, we were lucky enough to get one of those adjustable beds. It’s basically two twin beds stuck inside a bigger bedframe. This way we each get the sheets we want (Flannel for him, cool cotton for me), I don’t wake up when he goes to the bathroom 2-3 times a night. And he doesn’t wake up when I’m throwing off my sheet or, have restless legs – a new night time pleasure. I love that bed.

    Know that so many are with you. When it starts to get to be too annoying, I pretend I’m living in a sitcom and that somehow this misery is funny. Weird, but it’s how I cope!

    Reply
  17. Val says:

    My bladder wakes me at least once nightly for so many years now, I’ve lost count. It’s the extreme exception for me to make it 7 hrs straight, generally it’s about 2-3 AM (after about 3-4 hrs sleep).
    But after last spring’s bloodwork which revealed low magnesium & Vit D levels, I’m resting somewhat better since I found a new trace mineral supplement (free plug – it’s called TruZMA; I get a good laugh since I found the best price on the bodybuilding.com website, AS IF!!!)
    My nightly “stack” (that’s what the muscleheads call their supplements, ar at!) now consists of 3 TruZMA caps, 6 mg of Unisom, & a 5000 unit Vit D cap 3X per week. The other night w/stressful news coming from my boy, I added a cup of kava tea & a 30-min meditation. Still had to get up at 3 AM to pee but it was a decent night’s rest.
    My thermostat remains erratic, swinging from night sweats to freezing to death at a moment’s notice… But we’re all in this shit together, amirite?!?

    Reply
  18. Why does this shit always happen when we’re asleep? Okay, I know hot flashes happen all through the day–I went through those myself–but it’s weird that the night sweats only seem to happen at night.
    And I’m a big fan of sleep and I know insomnia is a terrible thing–I’ve never had it, and in fact have the opposite problem of having trouble staying awake sometimes–but I really think we could get a lot more done without it. At the very least it would be nice if it were optional.

    Reply
  19. I’ve had some trouble sleeping since I became a parent nearly 15 years. The first 4 years were because my son wouldn’t sleep through the night – colicky, night terrors a clusterf*ck of issues that made sleep elusive. Not sleeping well became the norm. Throw in travel anywhere in a different time zone – totally f*cked. Went to Hawaii in 2009 didn’t sleep for two solid weeks when we got back. Numerous trips across the pond, same thing. I tried Ambien and that shit will melt your brain. I have had night sweats for 10 years now (10) and my bladder is thimble sized. So I basically have not slept for more that 4 hours straight without some disruption since 2002. I get it.

    Reply
  20. emelle says:

    I’m going to be 52 this year, and I was on Depo-Provera shots for the last two (?!) decades or so… so I’ve only had occasional menstruation (when leaving one insurance plan for new coverage has caused a lapse in timely injections) in that time, no pregnancies, and no noticeable hormonal changes.
    HOWEVER. Last injection was more than a year ago (honestly, who can remember that far back?) and I’m still not bleeding, so I must be out of the woods, menopausally? Right? Like, Fucking Depo-Provera was my absofuckinglute Saviour?
    I have RARE night sweat episodes (but yeah, hot as hell and then freezing my fucking ass off). I almost ALWAYS wake up to pee, but my Kegels are still tight enough that I “hold it” until morning, most nights. But I don’t sleep through the night because
    .
    ..

    CATS.
    Those fuckers only ever walk across my body or my head when they know I’m exhausted or dead to the world. It takes every ounce of willpower to NOT respond to the pawing/meowing/scratching/chirping that says “I’m awake and you should rub my belly NOW”. Some nights, I win. Some nights, Cocoa wins. Some nights, Smokey wins. Some nights, they wake the husband, and since he doesn’t seem to own a whisper, EVERYBODY FUCKING LOSES.
    I’m really hopeful that the D-P did, in fact, just skip me right on through the other horrible side effects of feminine aging. I know for a fact, though, that I do need to get some treatment for what looks an awful lot like a basal cell carcinoma, which is going to cost a pretty penny, considering I currently have neither a primary care physician nor any health insurance. DAMMIT, aging!

    Reply
  21. mydangblog says:

    Thank god, I’m not the only one who has the roasting/freezing/itching thing going on. Not every night, but often enough that I never feel rested. And the bladder thing? Yup. My doctor tried me on estrogen but it made me so sick I had to stop. Oh well–the upside is not having a uterus, so.

    Reply