Menopause, O’ Menopause – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
I may be going through menopause and I couldn’t be happier about it!
My Gynocologist wanted me to get a blood test to determine how far along I was in terms of coming close to menopause or actually reaching it. My last blood test was two years ago and I was definitely pre-menopausal. It’s my assumption that I am either at menopause by now or at least at the cusp. I haven’t heard back from my Gynocologist’s office yet regarding the test results.
The woman who had taken my blood said she was devastated when she finally went through menopause. From what I have heard, that seems to be the consensus. I piped up and told her that if these blood tests showed that I was in menopause, I would be having a party and I would gladly invite her. She looked at me oddly and asked why would I say something like that. I began by telling her that for starters, I was supposed to have had the blood test several days prior, however my period just refused to stop. When I called the doctor and told her that I was going on day 12 and still bleeding, she said to come in for the blood test and then go back on my meds immediately. This was not uncommon for me. I sometimes would get my period three times in a month about a year ago – this with being on birth control pills! I needed to add estradiol to stop all of the breakthrough bleeding.
All this talk about periods got me reminiscing about my own period…
I remember that it all started on a day in November. I had such grueling cramps, I was home from school for three days; a pattern that continued for the rest of my junior high and high school days. I was only 11 years old. Probably one of the youngest in my class to first get their period. I was allergic to aspirin and I don’t think Tylenol had been on the market yet. Not that it would have helped this overwhelming pain. I just moaned and groaned for three days every month while my mother filled hot water bottles for me to hold against my abdomen and offer me tea.
This was so long ago that I remember my mother having to show me how to use a garter-type contraption that held the humongous pads in place! Thank goodness “modern technology” invented and marketed, “TeenPad!” The first pad that actually had a strip of adhesive going down it so that you could press it into your underwear and not wear a sanitary pad-strap-contraption!! They were twice the price of regular pads and the economy was not doing well, yet my mother knew how liberating it was for me to wear those adhesive pads over the garter-type pad holder. Bless you, Mom, for finding a way to get the extra money to buy me those adhesive pads!
As the years went by, my periods only became heavier and worse. Unfortunately, my mother was extremely old fashioned and refused to take me to a Gynocologist nor even go for herself. She was way too modest to allow a man to give her, nor me, a check-up. What a horrible mistake, as she died of ovarian cancer just several years later, after me just having turned 19.
Mothers of close friends urged me to get a check-up and even went out of their way to find nice, women Gynocologists a year later. By this time I was entering my 20s. My periods became worse month by month, year by year. I missed college classes because of my period. Tylenol was now on the market, but literally did nothing for the kind of pain I was having. I used to kid by saying that labor could NOT be any worse than my cramps. Turns out I was correct!
I did see a female Gynocologist who said I would benefit from birth control pills to sort of mellow-out and regulate my periods. At the time, I was going weeks not get my period and then be in bed for days. Ibuprofen came out but it turned out that I was allergic to all versions of that med as well. The monthly suffering continued.
After switching from one type of birth control pill to another, by the time I was in my late 20s, I came upon an article in a woman’s magazine that described a newly recognized medical condition that thousands of woman probably had but didn’t know it: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I had a very sweet, understanding Gynolologist at the time. When I asked her to order the blood tests the article advised, she was happy to oblige, but told me that I most probably didn’t have the disorder. To her surprise, the tests came back positive. To my dismay, every Endocrinologist she sent me to knew little to nothing about how to treat this disorder. I didn’t “fit the pattern.”
I took matters into my own hands. Since I lived close to New York City, I rationalized that there HAD to be a researcher in the NYC area who not only did research and knew about the condition, but also treated patients who had this disorder. I did an internet search of anyone who did research on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and found three in NYC. Two of them saw patients. I read their articles to get an idea or a feeling as to who these Endocrinologists were as people as well physicians. One stood out glaringly. This wonderful Physician is still treating me to this day.
It turned out that although I have this disorder, I have many distinguishing characteristics that are counter to what is typical. For instance, most woman who have this condition have too much bodily hair. My hair was falling out practically in clumps. Many women have adult acne; I had none. I had the condition, but I was in the minority of women who had more “atypical” characteristics. That is why none of the other Endocrinologists could effectively treat me.
Years later, I was at a party of women I didn’t know very well. One of them took out a pill the size of Nebraska which I quickly identified as the same pill I take for my PCOS. She announced that she forgot to take her pill earlier, and since you must take it with food, she decided to take it then. I asked her if the pill was the same one that I take. She surprisingly said yes and asked if I have PCOS. I told her I did. She said she did also. When PCOS was heard by women near to us, two more woman said they had it and I already knew the hostess of the party had it. Five women in a room of about 30 women. High odds for a condition that no one had even heard of a decade before!
So here I wait for my test results. I’m done with these ovaries. At almost 49, there are no more children in my future. My one son is more than I could ever want or need. I am ready to say “adios.”
I’ll invite all our readers to my party if the test turns out to be positive!