In the crusade to get my blood pressure back to a normal number, I have been having regular visits with my doctor. During one of our discussions about why my numbers might be up, I disclosed a few things that have been making me feel anxious, things that never were even a blip on my radar a few years ago but now sound alarms like I am at Defcon 2. I am nervous about driving at night. I now take my dog to work as often as I can in the winter because I am paranoid about the heater in my basement catching fire and Callaway being trapped inside the house. You get the idea. My doctor merely smiled and nodded, leaned back, laced her fingers together and told me I was experiencing “The Grandmother Effect”.
Never having had children of my own, I was mildly perplexed as to why I would be showing symptoms of a phenomenon that I should not be experiencing. She went on to tell me that “women of a certain age” begin to worry more about the things that had never bothered them before. It comes part and parcel with the beginning stages of the dreaded menopause, or as a dear man in my life used to say, “the meno”.
Women’s bodies are finely tuned to develop certain idiosyncrasies as they reach certain ages and their minds are hard-wired to react to those stimuli. I am certainly at an age where I could be a grandmother and, with an imagination like mine, I could begin to conjure up all kinds of horrific scenarios that may happen to the next generation of my family, had I had children. Or perhaps I am projecting those fears in regards to my nephews and worrying about them as they navigate their way through this life. As my doctor explained it further, I could truly comprehend why I was having these irrational feelings and worrying about things that had never bothered me in the past.
The “meno” is coming. It is inevitable and a necessary step to get to the next plateau of my life. I have experienced my first full-on hot flash in the middle of the night. I can only say it was like being on fire but being soaking wet at the same time. Sadly, the water didn’t extinguish the flames. I have decided that, from now on, I will refer to any future hot flashes as ‘my personal summer’.
Knowing that my worries are explainable has helped to slightly ease the stress. Now I can only peer into the opening of the “meno” tunnel and hope it is a quick trip to the other side.
I have been watching this happening to my mother and to those friends who are about a decade older than me. It hasn’t quite happened to me yet but, when it comes to hot flashes, I am an expert.