Late that afternoon, I had another hot flash while seeing patients, and I realized that I just didn’t feel like myself.
I am usually even-tempered and totally predictable, especially at work. And after years of running a trauma center and dealing with serious medical and surgical issues, I had become good at listening.
I did not pass judgment, and I worked at thinking things through while providing lots of support, love, and comfort to my patients.
Yet on that particular day, I noticed I had less patience than usual. I attributed my change in behavior to too much work, not enough sleep, having teens in the house, and worrying about too many chores and responsibilities.
I was right, but only partially.
The reality was that nothing had changed regarding the level of stress in my life.
But what was different was my tolerance level, ability to cope, and — unbeknownst to me — hormone levels. I had suddenly, without any formal announcements, pomp, or circumstance, found myself entering menopause.
The short of this story is that it took me another week to figure it all out. It may sound strange, but even though I was working with women in menopause and knew more about it than the average doctor, I never thought it would happen to me.
And so it goes.
No woman likes to think it will happen to her, but the fact is that it does.
And if we live long enough — and fortunately these days most of us do — we’ll all have to go through menopause, usually in our late 40s or early 50s, or perhaps sooner if we have undergone fertility treatments or experienced premature ovarian failure.
So we might as well know all we can about it and welcome the changes well-prepared.
A patient once told me that when she went into menopause she felt everything in her life just went down the drain. She envisioned her mental and physical faculties in low supply.
She came to see me after suffering for almost five years and told me her litany of symptoms: unbearable hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, loss of libido, depression, palpitations, mood swings, weight gain, irritability, itching, depression, brain fog, recurrent urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness, joint and muscle pain, forgetfulness, bloating, heartburn, food intolerances, rashes, and crazy allergies.
Unfortunately, all of these symptoms are part of menopause.
Posts by Erika Schwartz, M.D
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