Glanced at the calendar and see I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts. It’s been about 15 years. Hard to tell exactly. The start up date sneaks up on you when you’re not paying attention. Too busy with marriage, kids and work. My early-to-mid-40’s. Josh and I at his High school graduation, 1993. Where and when it began, ugh.

Mine started out in a minscule way. I was working at McDonald’s, my hours had increased and I was starting much earlier in the morning. Suddenly I never needed to set my alarm clock. I know people get used to waking up at a certain time, but this was ridiculous. The only time I ever set an alarm was when I was flying somewhere and needed to be at the airport at like 4 a.m. You could safely bet I would be up long before the alarm went off anyway. Even better odds, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, all it took was rolling over in bed, adjusting my pillow to find a new cold spot. A random thought flitting through my head and I’d be done sleeping for the night. Might not have bupkus bothering me, no bill worries, no serious illness, but something would niggle in, not letting me fall back to sleep. When-and-if I did fall asleep, it was lighter, disjointed, and often accompanied with a vague sense of unease. Somewhere during this light doze, something weird would start in my fingertips, move slowly up my arms and torso, getting hotter by the second. Plus uncomfortable to the point of being painful. Throw the blankets off and wait for the pain to subside. In case I ever forgot these new-low-standards-for-sleeping, no matter how ditzy I had become, a reminder would be sent every night for a decade just in case.

I had always been able to do several things at the same time. Bake, watch the Cubs lose, yak on the phone. Discovered I was unable to do anything more than breathe, plus one other task. If I was taking on the phone, I’d glance down at the bowl half filled with ingredients and wonder, now did I put the soda in or not? Nuts. When the phone rang, had to stop what I was doing, and just talk on the phone. The TV was always off now when I was in the kitchen. Way too much of a distraction. OK I confess. I found I could still do one 3-way. It was possible (and probable) to breathe, watch TV and eat at the same time. Why was I not surprised?

One day I was getting my hair cut and noticed there wasn’t much hair on the floor. “Umm Dorothy, you didn’t take much off did you?” She looked down at the floor, continued sweeping and said, “Same amount, you just don’t have as much hair as you did a couple years ago.” Shut up! Was it possible that I hadn’t noticed that oddity cause I had the interest span of a gnat? How could I not miss losing a third of my-thick-coarse-as-a-horse-tail-hair? OK, now I’m losing my mind and my hair! A couple days later during supper I was telling John about my scary hair loss when I noticed a funny spot on my right hand. Now how did I do that? No, it wasn’t a bruise. It was more brown/beige than black and blue. I tried hard but was unable to rub, scrub, or scrape it off with soap, lemon juice, and emery board or John’s electric sander. Great, my first age spot.

Though my mind was working at the speed of sloth, the dang lightbulb finally clicked on. Think it had been on a delay, with the dimmer switch switch turned down. I was going through menopause!! So this is what menopause felt like. Out of sorts, cranky, can’t concentrate. Hot cold, hairless, with funky colored polka-dot spots on my hands. And what was up with John? After 30 years, thought I knew the guy. All of a sudden he couldn’t do or say anything right. (Might have been me instead, hmmm?) How odd that he chose such a traumatic time in MY life to be such an opinionated jerk! Men-can’t live with them, can’t kill ‘me.

There seemed to be no pattern to my hopeless sleeping habits. One night I couldn’t fall asleep, next night it might take an hour, but I’d wake up at 3 and just know I was done for the night. Plus those creepy, painful feelings coursing through me were just a bugger. One good thing though, because I couldn’t concentrate on anything longer than 2 minutes, I didn’t dwell on all this negative stuff very long. It was wildly satisfying however, to finally have a proper name to blame for all my faults and forgetfulness!

A couple years later I picked up my 3 year old granddaughter Peyton from pre-school. Her dad was varsity basketball coach and riding the team bus with Landon in tow. Mom was in graduate school and meeting us at a game in Lansing. Peyton and I were patiently waiting for the game to start when she became totally fascinated with my neck (wrinkly and chickeny) and my hands (wrinkly too, plus several new attractive age spots). To be honest, she thought them (or me) unsightly. I’m right there with you on this one Kiddo. She strongly suggested that I close my hands in tight fists to eliminate the wrinkles. Try it, it really works. For my (her) neck issues, she told me to turn my head up towards the gym ceiling. All night I looked as though I was seeking help and guidance from above, while preparing to kill someone in the gym. I started wearing a turtleneck and gloves when I was with her after that. Looked kinda strange with my swimsuit at Lake Michigan, and I got some bizarre looks. My tan lines were a hoot. Thanks PJ. Every time I think about that night, I have to laugh.

End of an era for me and the baby making machine too. Huh. Once that option is taken out of your hands, it does make you feel different. Maybe a little sense of freedom. Moving on to the next phase of my life. I always said, no-babies-for-me-late-in-life. Then suddenly at 48, (it does go by lickety-split) that option was no longer mine to ever make again. I was OK with that. Done with that chapter of my life-period…

One thought on “Mental-pause-oh…

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