Menopause Journal: Menopausal Mishaps

I'd like to think that menopause is having no ill effects. My hot flashes aren't that bad. It's as if I previously had an automatic thermostat that adjusted to slight changes in temperature. Now I do it manually, throw off the covers, sometimes the nightgown, the sweater or jacket, only to retrieve them two minutes later. But in the scheme of things, that's not bad. I don't have insomnia. I am heeding my breast man's advice; I'm not taking hormones and seem to be surviving.

I haven't lost my pound yet, but I am trying to walk a couple of miles three days a week. My eating habits haven't totally improved. I add soy nuts now and them. It's the subtracting that's hard. After all, it's the season for caramel apples. But overall, I'm thinking I'm pretty much on course. Except, there's mounting evidence that some fog may be lurking in the background.

Apparently foggy or forgetful thinking is a common symptom of menopause. My friend Karen says she forgets what she's said and has adopted the slogan, "There's no such thing as a repeat performance." My cousin, Carolyn, has a system. She asks friends to hold up the number of fingers to indicate how often she's told the same story.

As usual, my glasses and car keys require routine searches. I can't remember where my purse is and find it hanging on my shoulder. I bought a cell phone, but I keep leaving it at home.

Recently, when the room temperature seemed unbearable, I found myself unbuttoning my shirt. When my son, who was here with his fiancée, said, "Mom, what are you doing?" I realized I had only a bra underneath.

Those things are embarrassing, but I've lived with the Allen gene  and, consequently, an embarrassing self most of my life. But could the Allen gene be exacerbated by menopause? Just this summer, I took us way off course on a sailing trip. I forgot to pay my car insurance and suffered the consequences. Other bills needed emergency attention.

Worse yet, I was scheduled to be the mediator for small-claims court in Belfast and I completely missed the date, leaving the court without a mediator and myself with a tarnished reputation. I don't know why it wasn't written in my book (upon which I depend for all scheduling), but it wasn't.

Last week, I parked my car across from the Buck's Harbor Market. When I came out, it was gone. Down the street I saw a commotion. The owner of the market and the garbage man who'd interrupted his trash pickup were at the town's only intersection and my '89 Volvo wagon was on someone's lawn. "What happened?" I asked.

Menopause Madness

"Rolled down the road through the intersection," said the garbage man.

"Was anybody hurt?"

"No, but you're on top of the STOP sign," explained the market owner, who was squatting and peering underneath.

"Someone's going to have to pay," said a passing woman.

I was able to drive off the rather tall stop sign with no apparent harm to the car. The two gentlemen righted the sign, which now has a twisted facade. "The state'll come along and fix it," commented the garbage man.

But how did it happen? Could it have slipped out of park? Or didn't I even put it in park? Was this a menopausal mishap due to menopausal fog?

If so, I'm worried. I don't even realize I'm in the fog until I've had a mishap. I confessed the rolling car business to my sister. She laughed. "Then you left the scene of the crime, I mean, accident."

Was I supposed to stay?

Maybe I need help before I accidentally turn into a criminal.

Fog on the ocean can be dangerous. The wisest way to handle it is to settle in and wait for it to lift. Once this summer, I awoke to a pink fog. It was the early morning sun shining through the mist and the effect was a warm intoxicating light. I didn't think about it being fog and I didn't want it to burn off. Maybe that's what menopausal fog is like.

I'd like to settle in, spend my days dreaming, writing and painting, waiting for the fog to lift. In fact, that should be part of the menopause prescription: time out to futz around in your fog. But I'm not sure the powers that be are ready for that. Until they become enlightened, am I doomed to become a menopausal menace to society? Or will I spiral through mishap after mishap into menopausal madness?

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