Menopause

My Theater Debut: Costumes!

Preg Pillow The play is gearing up! Twelve days until opening night. I’ve enjoyed every minute. And since I love clothes, I’ve had a great time with my costumes.

Our director Lisa has a keen eye. She found the eighties-style maternity dress (above) at a local thrift shop. It’s been fun to be pregnant again with the help of the pillow.

In the final scene, I’m seventy-seven years old. Artistic and spunky, my character, Jeri Neal McFeeley, keeps up her sense of style. I went to My Secret Closet, a consignment shop, to find her a jacket to wear. My Secret Closet

I came home with a jacket and  a necklace to match!

Necklace I also picked up a bracelet for Scene Three, when Jeri Neal, newly married, sports a black and white top with a black miniskirt. At the start of the scene, she flirts with her husband on the phone. “You sound like a mother speaking to a child,” Lisa said. “You need a sexier voice.”

That evening I practiced on Cliff. “Is this real or the play?” he asked.

Bracelets

In the last few weeks, I’ve had trouble deciding, too, when I’m Jeri Neal and when I’m my regular self. I’ll miss her terribly when the show is over.

But that’s a problem for later. Right now, back to the script for more studying! I’m still messing up some lines. While I study, I might just sport the frog slippers that Jeri Neal wears with her pink polka dot bathrobe (peeking out from beneath the maternity dress at the top).

Frog Slippers

For anyone local, here’s the link to Orange Community Players with info on how to buy tickets. I’d love to see you at the show!

Menopause

St. Rictrudis, Speak to Me

Saint Rictrudis

When I visit art museums, I like to see if the art speaks to me.

Of course art is supposed to speak to us, in the more general sense.

But I want the people in the art to use real words. I tried to get a menopausal tip from this painting by Rembrandt. I hoped the hand poised near her abdomen was a sign she had something to say girl-wise, but alas, she did not speak.

 

rembrandt154

 

Rictrudis, the lovely lady who resides in statue-form at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, was French and lived in the seventh century. She married Adalbald, a knight. Together, they produced four children.

But into every life, rain must fall. Rictrudis’s parents weren’t happy with the marriage, so they murdered Adalbald. Yep. Talk about conflict with the in-laws.

But Rictrudis didn’t let such tragedy curtail her energetic spirit. Defying pressure to remarry, she started a convent at Marchiennes and became the first abbess.

I stood in front of her. Our trip to the Nasher was my first venture into the world after cancer surgery. I’d spent the last three weeks mostly on the couch. Tonight the museum felt so real, so colorful, so filled with treasure, so alive.

Speak to me, St. Rictrudis.

Rien. Nothing.

My French is tres mauvais, so if she had used words, I wouldn’t have caught them anyway.

But beyond words, the look on her face and Rictrudis’s story tells me this: When life gets tough, the tough keep going. I knew that.

But it’s helpful to be reminded by a wooden lady carved centuries ago.

 

Another Shot

To learn more about Rictrudis and the work done to restore her statue, check out the article from the Nasher Museum of Art.

And BTW, I did have a statue smile at me. Cliff said the other day, “I thought you made it up!” No! This truly happened, albeit the sun was bright.

Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Six

Women

A whole new year full of ladies room doors! Here we go!

The lovely red door above is from the Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar on the mall in Charlottesville, Virginia.

My friend Susan found the elegant door below in the lobby of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin.

Hotel Adlon Lobby

And Susan bumped into this one at the McDonald’s near Checkpoint Charlies in Berlin.

McDonalds

Blog reader Judy went to Ireland in the fall and met up with this sign in a pub called Hole in the Wall in Dublin.  Mna is women in Gaelic.

Irish Pub

and Judy saw this at Nancy’s Hands Pub in Dublin.

???????????????????????????????

My friend Margot discovered this door at the Charleston Crab House in South Carolina.

She crabs

And from inside that bathroom, I present a first for Friend for the Ride: decorated stall doors!

Bathroom in Crab pot in Charleston

 

???????????????????????????????

On a recent visit with daughter Kath and grandson Mazen to the Pediatric Associates in Charlottesville, I admired these way cool unisex doors.

 

Lots more to come!

And please, bring your camera to the potty and send me those doors. My email’s on the right.

Menopause

Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

Jen bling from Zoe

 A post by Jennifer Delabar

I want to thank Barbara for inviting me to share my tale of woe about menopause.

What can I tell you about menopause that you don’t already know? My story, I’m sure, is a common one. It started with my missing a period here and there starting around age 40 (when my gynecologist advised me that I was just “getting old”), to the present day, when I’m 48 and not too happy with Mother Nature.

I’m too young to be in menopause” I kept expressing to anyone who would listen! I was under the mistaken belief that only women over 50 had to think about menopause.

No one can prepare you for what happens to you when your period finally stops coming. You actually miss those horrible cramps, ruined underpinnings, Dorito binges and black rage weeks. At least with the menstrual cycle there was an end in sight. With menopause there is no hormonal drop at the end of the cycle. It’s crazy-time all the time.

I had gone to my mother as most of us do, for some answers. She told me “I don’t remember going through it”. Thanks, mom.

Back to square one. I was desperate to talk to someone about what was happening in my life. I would be in line at the bank or the grocery store, beads of sweat forming on my forehead and under my eyes, and look at the person behind me and say, “They should really turn up the air conditioning; it’s so warm in here.” Hello blank stare. It was January.

Garage sales were always a big draw for me. Lots of people milling around, there must be other menopausal women there that could commiserate with me! But the only comment I ever received was a disheartening “Oh yeah the hot flashes never go away.”

So alone with nowhere to turn! It’s been three years and countless buckets of sweat have escaped from my pores since my last period. I no longer look for answers from strangers. I have found that most women don’t want to talk about it. We are like a secret society that no one wants to belong to!

I tried to talk to my friends about menopause.They were still getting their periods, and they couldn’t understand what I was going through. They didn’t know how to respond. I could feel their fear and pity looking back at me. Secretly in my evil menopausal brain, I couldn’t wait until they entered menopause and then they would come crawling to me, looking desperately for the answers to those “why” questions.

Why so many hot flashes, why the crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of feeling feminine?

I will look at them lovingly and say “I don’t remember.”

Jenifer Delabar is the divorced mother of one awesome son, who is 22 years old. She’s a student of Buddhism. She lives on Long Island and works as a legal secretary and has a degree in funeral service.  Jennifer loves to read, learn, practice yoga and never stops asking questions.

From Barbara: I too, found that many women either didn’t remember menopause or didn’t have much to say when I asked them. That’s why I started this blog. I thank all of you for chiming in with your own experiences!

Menopause

Downsizing: Up to the Attic!

Puzzles

I’d love to travel back in time! My first choice is America in the first part of the twentieth century. Second would be dinosaur days. I’d bring my grandson Mazen with me, and we’d watch the dinosaur world from the top of very safe mountain.

This summer, Cliff and I climbed into a real time machine. We went up the ladder to our attic and dealt with thirty years worth of stuff.

I was amazed at our discoveries, including posters from my high school bedroom; sturdy wooden puzzles just right for grandson Mazen; my great-aunt’s tray table, now on the back porch; and Katherine’s Jem lunchbox, a prize for giving up her pacifier at age four.

gem4-e1401795939176

Why do attics hold such mystique?

Things stored in basements or garages may be part way out the door, but if it goes up in the attic, someone has made a decision that the item has merit, often of  a sentimental nature. And once an item is up there, it hides away until someone comes looking.

Attic

Our attic is now empty except for Christmas decorations and American Girl doll clothes and accessories, with hopes of a little girl in our future. I kept some of the treasures we found. The rest went to Goodwill and the recycling shed.

Empty Attic

As much as I was itching to tackle our attic, I’m feeling wistful now that it’s empty. Clearing the attic, like a milestone birthday or a child’s wedding, reminds me that a lot of years went by really fast.

But at least I’ve got the puzzles and posters to prove it.

 

Menopause

Experience 2015! Number One: Shoe Shine

Superior Shine Sign

Women report that menopause emboldens them, making them brave, brave enough to try new things. So, I thought this year, we’d experiment on me (and hopefully you’ll join in with some experiences of your own).  I’m going to call this blog project “Experience 2015.”

Here we go with Experience Number One:

I was at the airport, enroute to visit my mom. I looked down. Yuck! My klunky winter walking shoes looked awful. Airports have shoe shine guys! I’d seen them all my life. I turned a corner and there he was. Would I feel shy sitting up in that big high chair?

I stepped closer.

“I don’t do ladies,” the shoe shine man said.

“Really?”

He grinned. “Just kidding, ma’am.” He offered his hand and I climbed up.

Chair

“Why are you taking photos?” he asked, noticing the click of my phone a minute later.

“I’m going to blog about this. It’s my first shoe shine. May I take your picture?”

“No, ma’am. I don’t mess with the Internet.”

In Process

I turned the conversation away from blogging and asked shoe shine questions. We talked about shoe shining techniques and the fancy shoes that business people wear. I glanced at the sign. “So you do tennis shoes?”

“Nah,” said the guy. “That’s not our real sign. Best to put your tennis shoes in the washer.”

I didn’t quite get how it wasn’t their real sign but decided not to ask.

Shoe shine Kit

I loved peering into his shoe shine box. It reminded me of my dad’s, who did his shoes at home.

“Beautiful,” I announced, poking out a finished foot. Then the shoe shine man offered me his hand to climb down.

Shiny Shoe

That week, when I told friends and family that I’d gotten my first shoe shine, most seemed underwhelmed to learn of my new experience. ” *

But not me!

Sign

I spent four days in Baltimore admiring that superior shine.

Lesson Number One: A lot of problems (like yucky shoes) can be solved quickly.

Lesson Number Two: Treat yourself! Let others help you. Thank them with enthusiastic words and a good tip.

(In all truth, I had the shoe shine at the very end of 2014, but since it sparked this blog idea, I’m counting it for 2015).

*Shout out to my friend David, who told me he loves shoe shines, and that sadly, it’s hard to find shoe shine guys anymore. Must be like maps. On our recent trip to Charleston, Cliff and I learned that you can’t bop into a gas station and buy a map anymore. Gone are those days…

Menopause

My Cancer Story: The Estrogen Patch

Confused Lady

(Continued from the last post)

A week later, I stepped into my gynecologist’s office. “Just having a bit of snack,” Dr. Fried said. “Have some.” He passed crackers and a jar of peanut butter across his desk.

I dipped the knife into the peanut butter and spread it on a cracker. I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. What luck to have a doctor with snacks!  Next, I thanked Dr. Fried for saving my life. Then we got to the purpose of the visit. “I think I’m experiencing gloom and crying jags from lack of estrogen.”

He shook his head and said that it’s unusual for a post-menopausal woman to have mood swings after a hysterectomy. Then he began to speak about cancer. My endometrial cancer. His colon cancer as a younger man. “Cancer changes you,” he said. “You worry about recurrence. Even though your prognosis is good, your thinking patterns are different now.”

I took in a mental breath and told myself not to tune him out. But as he spoke, it didn’t click that cancer was the cause of my low moods. Sure, I’m worried about recurrence. But my dark spells seemed too erratic, and they never focused on the cancer.

“Before the surgery, I felt like my body was still affected by estrogen,” I told him. “I’ve continued to have some breast pain and other PMS-like symptoms. I appreciate what you’re saying, but I think I’m suffering a second menopause emotionally.”

Dr. Fried believes estrogen is a good choice for many menopausal women, especially for the prevention of osteoporosis and dementia, so he was willing to have me try it. “We’ll start you on the estrogen patch then,” he said. “You’ll know in two weeks if it’s working.”

Yes! This might not be the solution, but it was the approach I wanted to try first.

“I’ll  speak with your oncologist,” he added, “to make sure she thinks estrogen is safe for you.”

He called a few days later with the okay from Dr. Gehrig.

Estrogen

The estrogen patch is easy to use. You peel it from the backing and stick it onto your abdomen. The patch gets changed every three to four days.

Patch

Amazingly, the patch survives showers and clothes rubbing against it. Even more amazing, within twenty-four hours, I was better, a lot better. I’ve got concerns about taking estrogen when I had an estrogen-fed cancer. For now, I’m bowing to the expertise of my oncologist, who says the studies bear out that it’s safe.

After Christmas, Cliff and I headed back to Bald Head Island and I visited that lovely ladies room. Best ladies room visit ever!

closed-door

Top Photo: I found this lady at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas when I went to the annual conference of the North American Menopause Society. I’ve been saving her for just the right post. Since she’s covered with patches, this is the one!