I’m in Perimenopause…..and it Ain’t No Picnic!

by Magnolia on March 10, 2011

Today’s post is a guest post by Debbie Lamedman.  Debbie is a playwright and freelance writer who found her way to The Perimenopause Blog when it was featured at MSN Health. I thought it would great for Debbie to share her story and experience with perimenopause.  With great style and humor of course!  Be sure and check out Debbie’s blog at www.thingsdebbieneedstosay.blogspot.com

 

I’m standing in the shower.  Sweating.  Seriously.  And it’s not a hot shower either.  It’s a cold shower.  So I’m standing there, in a cold shower and did I mention it’s the middle of winter?  I’m standing there sweating and holding a clump of hair in my hands.

A big clump. Of my hair.  Every time I try to rinse out the conditioner, more seems to come out of my head in clumps. And then of course I proceed to cry because, really…what else is there to do?

It seems irrational to burst into tears over my fluctuating body temperature and the natural shedding of my hair. But of course, these days, irrationality is my middle name.  Because, you see…I am a woman coping with the symptoms of perimenopause.

I was late…..But Not to the Party

It has been going on for awhile, but the symptoms have gone up a notch these past six months.  Up until this past December, my periods had been pretty regular.  I’ve always been one of the lucky ones who had a regular 28 day cycle ever since the early days of menstruation.

I went 71 days without a period, and then when I did get it, she seemed to be making up for lost time.  I won’t even go into the horror of what happened during those 71 days.  Okay…I’ll go into it a little bit.

I was late.  And then I was very late.  And then the pain started.  Ridiculous pain and bloating.  Breasts so tender I was coming out of my skin.  Anything gently brushing against them caused me to wither in pain.  I felt like I was going insane.

And then of course, it occurred to me, that maybe I was pregnant.  A friend of mine suggested it after I told her about my symptoms and I was highly indignant about it.  “Don’t be silly. Of course I’m not pregnant.  I’m too old to be pregnant.  It’s menopause.  I’m sure of it.”

But then the doubt started to creep in and I began to do intense research.  I’ve never been pregnant…didn’t know what it felt like.  But I’d never gone through menopause before either, so how could I know what was happening to my body?

I took two OTC pregnancy tests that turned out to be invalid.  That did nothing for my self-esteem.  I couldn’t even seem to pee on a stick correctly.

I was crying uncontrollably every day, and since I am like many Americans without health insurance, I was investigating  local clinics to see if I could get my questions answered.

Eventually, my period arrived complete with a very heavy flow and debilitating cramps.  But I was very relieved to see her anyway.  I wasn’t pregnant.  Thank goodness for that.  But I was undoubtedly entering my menopausal phase.  There seemed to be no question about that.

I Didn’t Sign up for This

Who knew stopping something would be so painful?  Would it have killed Mother Nature to ease us into this change of life?  But no…we literally have to move on to this next phase kicking and screaming.  Well, some of us do.  I’m trying not to, but believe me, I’ve been doing my share of kicking and screaming.

It does no one any good, and doesn’t particularly make me feel any better, but sometimes it seems like the only way I can let off some steam.  My body feels like a traitor.  I don’t recognize it.  Belly fat and cellulite seem to emerge overnight even after eating healthy breakfasts like yogurt and fruit and nutritious dinners like veggies and chicken.

I’m tired all the time, and it’s not the kind of tired you feel after a long eventful day.  It’s an ache in my bones and a thorough and total lack of energy.  Attempting to accomplish the simplest of tasks seems arduous and inconceivable.

My brain is always achy and fuzzy as well. I’ve always had a sharp mind and a terrific memory.  But lately? Achy and tired and fuzzy…oh my!  My only question these days is “when is this going to end?”

Oh, YES! It’s Real!  And I’m NOT Going Crazy!

I felt very fortunate to discover The Perimenopause Blog.  I didn’t have a lot of people I could discuss these problems with, and to realize that so many women were struggling with the same issues as me was reassuring.

Not to say that I was happy to hear of all the suffering women…but just that I wasn’t alone in my misery.  That I wasn’t going crazy and these symptoms were real and not something I made up in my head.

Some days are worse than others.  I have noticed that exercise definitely helps my mood (though it doesn’t seem to do much for those annoying hot flashes.)  I figured if I was going to sweat, I might as well get some exercise out of the deal too.

I am researching herbal remedies and things I can do to help ease the symptoms.  I’m about to start drinking apple cider vinegar as it appears to be helpful in remedying the hot flashes. I’ve tried ACV in the past for other health-related issues and it did seem to work.  Maybe it will work again!

There’s Hope

I remain hopeful.  There’s nothing else I can do.  Coming to terms with middle-age may be the hardest issue of all to deal with.  I don’t know where the time went, but here I am and boy…I’m being ushered into this phase of my life with a vengeance.

As of now, I continue to sweat when its 32 degrees outside.  I continue to cry over the most minimal of circumstances.  My memory is not what it used to be, and my thighs will never look the same again.  But it’s life.  It’s my life.  I will find a way to get through this challenging time even if it’s with a clump of hair in my hand and sweat persistently running down my face.  I shall prevail.  You can too!

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Susie April 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I’m NOT going crazy! I am so happy that I have come across this blog. I have cried all day and I can not even pinpoint why! Well, maybe it started when I was at the gyno last week and was informed that I really needed to start considering surgery to fix my bladder and remove my uterus due to the fact, I am 2nd stage prolapse! My brain only functions when it wants too…..LOL!! I am constantly making notes so that I don’t forget what I need to do. Please don’t ask me something that happened 2 minutes ago…..I can tell you now…..I will not remember! My kids are at a loss, they just look at me and have no clue what to say to me. Please give any advice you can. It will be greatly appreciated!!

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Magnolia April 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

Hello Susie,

No. You’re not crazy and you’re not going crazy. But, it sure feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it? Short term memory loss and fuzzy thinking is attributed to fluctuations in estrogen. How old are you? I assume old enough to be experiencing perimenopausal symptoms?

And yes, the fluctuations in both estrogen and progesterone will trigger mood swings, weepiness, depression, irritability and anxiety – just to name a few. Are you using any bioidentical hormones? Supplements? While supplements and hormones will not cure everything (because it’s really a total life approach to helping rebalance hormones) it is definitely a good place to start.

I still some issues with short term memory loss, but not as bad now that I’m officially menopausal. But, for a while there, it was tough. Really tough.

If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Magnolia

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Susie April 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Thank you so much for this blog! I am not taking anything. I have heard that B-12 is good for you, but I am not sure. This is all new to me. I will be 45 next week and I guess I need to get used to this stage of my life. From what I have read, menstrual cycles will become out of whack. I really don’t like the fact that I am pretty regular and wake up to find that mine started 10 days early. I am just thankful that I have a very supportive family.

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Magnolia April 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Yes, the B-vitamins are good for you. Depending on your symptoms, there are several supplements that are helpful. Nothing replaces healthy food, PLENTY of exercise, lots of water and sleep.

Of course, it’s hard to get sleep when your hormones are out of whack, but calcium/magnesium, serotonin, and progesterone all used at night can work wonders.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have specific questions.

Magnolia

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rarnyc April 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I want to kill myself. Or maybe somebody else. This is the most horrible experience imaginable. Somehow, knowing that I am not alone in this makes it the slightest bit less horrific. I was not AT ALL PREPARED for this in my life. I am 46 and feel like I have been hit by a truck with the perimenopause. It started with my hair falling out last year along with vengeful, heavy periods. Periods so debilitating that I could not leave the house for several days, it was like being held by a terrorist. The hair thing has really been the tipping point for me. My hair has fallen out and what is left has turned to thin cotton candy. It is unequivocally the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. The belly fat is probably the number two worst part. I look at my body like “what the hell happened?” all the time. I also have an enlarged uterus that is pressing on my bladder and is uncomfortable 90% of the time. I am getting a sonogram next week. I hate the way I feel. And I hate how much I HATE everything. I am so utterly filled with rage and negativity and it is just toxic. I was completely unprepared for the depression and mind fog. The one thing that I have found that helps is yoga. And fresh air. It’s the very least you can do for yourself during this time of Woe. Thanks for reading this, sorry for sounding negative. I hate feeling like this, I truly do.

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Magnolia April 29, 2011 at 7:24 am

Hello Ruth,

First of all, you are not sounding negative. You sound like a woman who has been turned inside out and upside from perimenopause. For the heavy periods, I can’t recommend bioidentical progesterone enough. I too had them so bad I couldn’t leave the house. In fact, very often, I couldn’t even leave my master bedroom. I was running through an entire package of over-night super pads in about 4 hours. Not to mention the soft-ball sized blood clots I was passing. Yuck. I can still feel that exiting my body.

I knew enough about estrogen dominance that I realized I need to balance the estrogen that was taking my body hostage. So, I used a very strong formula that Oasis Serene sells (and I sell it on my blog). I used it for one month and ever since then, which has been approximately 12 months now, I’ve had one or two VERY light periods. It was exactly what I needed. So, please do not suffer needlessly.

Diet changes and exercise will help with the belly fat. I have a lot of recipes on my blog, plus you can purchase a book called “From Belly Fat to Belly Flat” which will help with foods that aid in balancing your hormones. I also sell that book here as well.

Hair loss is associated with hormone imbalance. In fact, all of the symptoms of perimenopause are. Some could be adrenal fatigue, others hypothyroidism, others from estrogen and progesterone imbalance. The book Hormone, Health & Happiness is an excellent read if you want to understand what is happening to your body right now. It’s informative and easy to read. It’s by Dr. Steven F. Hotze. Again, you can find that and many others on my blog as well.

The rage and mood swings are also part of (what else?) the hormone imbalance. Progesterone will help with that, in addition to helping to improve your sleep. The yoga is an excellent thing to do. Walking briskly everyday will also help clear your head. Of course, nothing will be the magic pill, but if you are pro-active and attack this thing, you can and will get relief.

Please peruse my blog. There are lots of resources available. And always feel free to drop by!

Magnolia

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Brenda May 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Is what I’m feeling part of perimenopause? Lets start with my age – i am 39 and will be 40 in 3 weeks I started having heart palpitations in august of last year and went to the doctor thinking I was having a heart attack or suffering from some kind of heart disease. After blood work and an EKG, I was told I was fine and to give up ALL caffeine and stimulants of any kind (I.e. Energy drinks) That seemed to help considerably. But then there is the random and occasional waking up in a cold sweat, crying during every movie, horrible cramping like I haven’t had since college, and feelings of doom for lack of a better word. I’ve been late a few times this year, but only by a few days. I used to be like a virtual calendar clock. 28 days every time. I had another heart flutter today and have felt awful since. The more I read about the lovely PM, the more I wonder if that’s not the problem. would love any insight you might have!

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Magnolia May 13, 2011 at 6:37 am

Hello Brenda,

Yes, what your experiencing is symptomatic of perimenopause. I started perimenopause when I was 41. I had a phantom period that came out of nowhere. Like you, I had also been like clock work with my cycles and never, absolutely never, had anything wonky or weird. Unless of course, I was pregnant. That was the only time I ever missed a cycle in all of my years of fertility.

Heat palpitations are more common than people expect. Unfortunately, a lot of physicians either do not know or are not interested in thinking that they are. Because, many things can cause heart palpitations. But, it defnintely happens for a lot of women. At your age, lab work may not be such a good indicator. You could be just beginning perimenopause and your estrogen/progesterone levels may not be significantly out of balance at this point. Which means as long as you care cycling, your FSH levels (follicle stimulating hormone), which is a hormone that physicians look to be “high” if you are in perimenopause, will be considered “normal”

However, I would be willing to bet that you are most definitely beginning perimenopause and it will take some time before the lab work confirms what you are already beginning to experience. Besides, how many times have women known they were pregnant and yet kept getting false positives on blood work?

So, please do not let one lab test tell you what you are feeling. It is a common complaint of many women who are your age and older, experiencing symptoms of perimenopause and yet are told their lab tests say “normal” and are dismissed with a prescription or two for meaningless and worthless drugs.

If you have any specific questions, please ask. In the meantime, I would highly recommend that you become pro-active and educate yourself. There are resources EVERYWHERE.

Don’t take this lying down.

Magnolia

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Brenda May 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Thank you so much for all the advice! I will start my search and try not to worry so much. I really appreciate it!

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Magnolia May 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

No problem, Brenda.

What you are feeling is perfectly normal. No one enjoys perimenopause. It’s a butt-kicker to be sure.

But, also to be sure, the more you know, the better able you are to deal with the situation. that is why I beat the drum for pro-active, self-education.

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Di July 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I hate how NO ONE talks about this. I have been peri since 32…I’m 45 now. It’s horrible. My husband wants me to work (which I do, also) but how do you work with FLOODING periods? Last month it was horrible. I am still spotting after 6 weeks. I am off to the gyno when my medical insurance kicks in….
Right now my chest is killing me and my back is hurting. I alternate symptoms and no one is listening. Forget mood swings. When I am bleeding badly I am a miserable ***#!. I am trying to eat better and I do exercise and do not drink or smoke but this is the pits.

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Magnolia July 2, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Hi Di,

We are talking about it here. I guess we need to speak louder to have someone listen to us. Have you tried progesterone for your periods? It helped mine tremendously.

If you need someone to listen…..I’m here.

Magnolia

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Mary March 1, 2014 at 6:00 am

Lookng at all posts feeling same as all headaches bones aching moods bruising and generally fed up seem to have all sympton loved walking but hsbe fallen arches at minute I was very but going feel like screaming but nice to have good moan am 50 periods have gone crazy too is there light at end ears playing up lol nth poor husband doesn’t know whites this woman is but keep fighting it what my friend’s tell me

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Magnolia March 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

Hi Mary,

yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep swimming. :)

Magnolia

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Jennifer June 18, 2014 at 3:39 am

not helpful. i believe that women of this age are of no use of anyone or anything. we suffer. we hurt. we do our best to survive each waking moment. how in the world can you justify living like this?

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Jennifer June 18, 2014 at 3:40 am

not helpful. i believe that women of this age are of no use of anyone or anything. we suffer. we hurt. we do our best to survive each waking moment. how in the world can you justify living like this?

“duplicate comment detected…it seems as if you have already said that” was the auto-response I got. Perfect.

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Karen October 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Misery….can’t think of a better word to describe this. Crying at the drop of a hat…feeling there is no more purpose in life…I’m divorced..kids are grown and on their own. Menstrual cycles have always been around 26 days…no there is no gauging them and when they come..omg.

I agree with Jennifer…doing my best to survive every waking moment. No health insurance on top of it so I’m doing what I can to find alternative remedies. How do you go from here??????

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Pamela October 23, 2014 at 3:04 am

At 55, I feel I should be through with all this nonsense by now. No chance. I’ve been in perimenopause for what seems like forever but the last 7-8 months have been pure hell. I was getting my period every 14 days and finally went to the gyne after my boss starting questioning my sick days. She gave me something to regulate my period – like the pill for oldies. But then before I had a chance to take them, my period regulated itself and started coming every 23 days. But now I’ve been having phantom periods – the worst cramps imaginable but no bleeding. I wish I would bleed because I think that would make me feel better somehow. All the joys of a period (but much worse), but no blood. I am dizzy and sick to my stomach, sweating bullets, and feel like a rat is eating my uterus and ovaries.

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Jill January 26, 2015 at 10:13 am

Pamela
Oh Lady, I am right there with you! I’m 54 almost 55. Have been dealing with this off and on for a few years. The bleeding was so bad I had to be put on meds to help slow it down. My insurance wouldn’t pay for an ablation. Now I go 3 or 4 months with no period and then will have one out of the blue. The last few months I have the feelings that it is coming, the cramping and what feels like someone is ripping my insides out but no period. I also have fibromyalgia so I am in pain a lot and the stress of this and not sleeping because of the night sweats are making it hard to even function. I’m pretty overwhelmed with it all right now. I can’t stand to be in a room full of people making conversation. I feel anxious that I will start to sweat and then I start to feel like I am going to pass out. This is the worst! I feel bad for my husband because he loves to go and do things and I keep saying I don’t feel like it. Then I feel like a horrible wife. I am exercising as much as my body can tolerate (because of the fibro if I do too much I pay the price with horrible pain). I was always thin but have gained a ton of weight. I crave sweets but try really hard not to over due with them. It’s awful. I just hate myself these days. I have friends on hormones but because there is so much cancer in my family I am scared to death of them. I have also heard that the hot flashes and symptoms come back after you go off for a while and I don’t want that. So frustrated. Dr wants me to go to a hormone specialist but I can’t afford it because our delectable is so high I have to pay for it out of my pocket. :( I just want this to be over and I want my life back. I have a grandbaby coming in the spring and I’m worried at this point that I will feel so bad when he comes that I won’t be able to enjoy it because I feel so bad and out of it when I am doing things. It’s like my brain is on hold and I can’t do anything. I’m not working these days and honestly I don’t know how I could this is so bad. I hate to leave the house these days. Thank you ladies for sharing your stories. I hate that you all are going through this too but it helps to know I’m not crazy.

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Tina October 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I’m 49 years old. My periods are all over the place, I never know when it’s coming. My breasts are huge and hurt so bad. I’m so bloated and have gained 20 LBS in the last year and a half. I’m so very tired all the time. Is this normal? Do people really gain this much weight. The hot flashes are terrible! It’s so hard to get ready in the morning because of the sweating!! Any suggestions?

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Peta April 25, 2015 at 3:01 am

Ok ladies i know your pain i gained 15 kilos even while training for my blackbelt in martial arts and low carbing i started with irregular bleeding headaches weight gain moodswings muscle and joint pain hot flashes chronic fatigue brain fog to the point of forgeting what i am doing half way through doing it

I tried black cohosh stopped hot flashes but made me gain weight fast vitex gave me rashes and itchy skin tried wild yam it gave me a regular period but after bout 6 months the cyclic hedaches and pain with period got so bad couldnt get out of bed .My doctor put me on pill told me to skip placebo pills so wouldnt get period.I bleed for 4 weeks no pain but it was nasty …but now i have to say i feel better no bleeding no headaches no hot flushes no mood swing i am starting to trim down slowly….i still had bad brain fog so i take half teaspoon of tyrosine in mornings now i actually have a brain again yay!!! Actually studying part time so can think again the pill i taking is levonogestral i am 40 and have 4 kids i really hope my story will help .Feel better everyday still get muscle tension in neck muscles but everything else is heaps better.

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Coco May 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Hello, sisters-in-hell. 😉 Same here. I’m looking down the barrel at 50 in a few months, and I just skipped my first period. I’ve been experiencing many of the PM symptoms for a few years too — night sweats, heart palpitations, periods going from a steady 28-days to maybe 21, maybe…51 (I do hope it gets here, so I can stop freaking out). Weight gain too. I have never been so physically active in my life and eating so well — it’s shocking, really. I have also found that 30-50 minutes of aerobics (even just walking w/weights) has knocked out any hot flashes, and it definitely has elevated my mood, though, I cannot believe what I hear myself saying to people sometimes — strangers! I actually got into a fight w/a guy who threw his coffee cup on the sidewalk in front of my building! Screaming like a harridan!

I am worried for my neighbors, Ladies!

And the obsessiveness. On and on and on in my own head about the dumbest things.

No kids, rich life of the mind, smart (thankfully understanding) husband, a dog, who keeps me moving even when I’m so tired, I cannot believe I’m going to have to endure my 70s, if I’m lucky. How do they do it?? Life is good until those hormones start their Marx Bros routine.

The black kohosh helped w/a lot of symptoms for me too, but I’m reading that it also causes weight gain. I had no idea. That and osteo-biflex are like my two boyfriends in the morning.

Last month, I had every single annoying symptom of my period, but w/o the most obvious blood (which is ok, since it’s been like a crime scene over the last year), even down to the egg white delight that usually comes a few days after it ends. Is that what a phantom period is?

They never told us any of this in fifth grade!

I feel like I’m 12 again only w/a car, a credit card, and a vendetta, apparently. Seriously, if it weren’t for the hormone fog and irritating forgetfulness, it would be perimenopausal women running the world and winning the wars!

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Dimi May 14, 2015 at 5:15 am

Hello everyone!!

I am 49 years old and I had my period started on 25th of April. The first 6 days everything seemed OK but I am still spotting….I went to the gynecologist (6 days ago) who prescribed progesterone. However, it does not seem to work and as you understand I am very upset! Have any of you experienced something similar??

Thanks for listening

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Maggie June 2, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Hello Everyone – I am 50 years old and I am having so many of the same symptoms. I’ve had the most severe cramping for about the last 2 weeks, the bloating has started about a week ago, however, no period. I’ve only had 2 periods this year, one was very light and the other was like hoover dam letting go. I’m so tired all the time and it seems no matter how much I sleep, I am always still tired. I have not had hot flashes, but then again, I’ve always been hot even in the winter months.
I too don’t have insurance due to the extreme increase in premiums and deductibles, so I am trying to suffer through this. I’m divorced and my kids are all grown and on their own. I really don’t know what to do anymore. It seems that these symptoms keep getting worse with no end in sight.

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