Hot Flash! Heat takes on a new definition when approaching midlife.
Sitting still, I can feel the heat rising from my toes. “No not now, please not now. I am the cool mom.” My 14-year-old son and his buddies look over at me as the dealer passes out three cards during our card game. “Mrs. McGee are you ok?” How would I explain that I wasn’t ok? Right before their eyes I was going through a metamorphism. Soon, the cocoon would break and there wasn’t going to be a pretty butterfly on the other side.
Hot Flashes: There's No Escape
The sweat beads instantly form on my head and I feel the trickle as the water begins streaming down my back. All I can think of is my mother and her "oriental" fan. Poor mom, going through her own midlife crisis had to deal with the teenager who knew it all when I would look at her like something from Creature Feature. Her cheeks would blush crimson and the green and white "oriental" paper fan adorned with women in kimonos would emerge from her purse.
Fanning herself in a brisk style, she would look around at us and apologize. “Sorry kids, mom is having another hot flash.” Looking away in embarrassment, I was sure my mother could control those flashes. What would my friends think?
The first time I experienced my own hot flash, I was in denial. Beginning to feel flushed, I thought I might be coming down with a fever or the air conditioner stopped working. Perhaps there was a warm front moving through? There was no way I was old enough for this to happen.
Now, when I look into my purse and see the neon colors from my own China Town fan that has replaced my light blue tampon case, I cringe. How could I not have had empathy for my aging mother?
Since that time, I have learned a lot about these unwelcome visitors. I have learned that they come in two varieties: day flashes and night flashes. During the day, I feel them coming and have learned to deflect attention by jumping on one foot, running in circles. “A bee.” I will yell out. “I am being chased by a bee.”
At night, however, there is no getting away. Cuddled underneath my cushy blanket, someone sets off the switch and it begins like the blinking red road sign announcing the approach of danger. In one motion, my hand goes straight up, flinging the covers clear across the room. The steam from the sauna begins to emerge from underneath my blanket, right before the Mississippi River dam breaks.
In our younger days, my husband would interpret my shirt zipping past his head as a green light for immediate attention. Now, he realizes that I need attention of a different kind, and runs for the wet vac. Last week, my sister came for a visit. We had a little reunion with my sister, my mom, and I. Sitting in a circle, we began to chat over a glass of wine. One by one, we reached for our fans as if this were all a normal part of life- three once-young girls sitting in tandem fanning away.
At the end of the day, there's nothing we can do about hot flashes. They're unavoidable and undeniable. Once you start to embrace them, acceptance will follow.
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