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Things change and shit happens.
When I first approached this change in my life referred to "scientifically" as menopause, I found myself dismayed, somewhat excited and anticipating what was to come. I had gone to a doctor, because of some changes in my body that worried me. Tingling in my hands,sudden changes in my body temperature, erratic menstrual flow (sometimes heavy,sometimes miniscule, sometimes lasting for two weeks,sometimes lasting for two hours). This doctor (a male and young enough to be my son) upon hearing my age immediately decided that I was now a medical problem. He talked to me of pap smears and hormones. When I questioned the use of hormones, he acted as if I had questioned a superior being who knew more about what my body needed than I did. I immediately understood that I had no need of a doctor.
I have always enjoyed change. I revel in it! I anticipate it! I understand that change can usher in negative experiences (as in the old Chinese curse that says "May you live in interesting times"). I also know that change can usher in whole new worlds. Hell, the changes of adolescence were confusing and often frustrating, but knowing I was blooming into an adult woman made it all worth while. Thereafter, I went through many changes, most not as dramatic as the teen years, but life became more interesting and more exciting as my knowledge base grew and new experiences enchanted me. Children,marriage and career, (for me those were the priorities) frightening and wondrous, were to keep me busy for the next 30 years. Then one day my children were grown,the grandchildren started coming along my husband and I more in love than ever, started looking forward to our future. We purchased a recumbent tandem bike and started taking 20 - 25 mile rides through some of the most beautiful bike paths Minneapolis has to offer. I went from doing sit-down work to being a weight lifter and personal trainer and took up kick-boxing. I started seeing this new change in life as a sort of rebirth. My emotional and mental health was never better, sex was never better and the joy of being alive and being a woman was never more savored as I entered into a new phase of the "circle of life". My intellectual and spiritual life were in harmony and I felt a self-confidence in myself and my place in society. I knew I had much to contribute, because of all the experience and knowledge I have attained through the years. As I spoke with other women (many with the same intuitive reasoning I had come upon), I discovered we all had different methods of dealing with the changes.of getting older. Some were going through hormone therapy and others were using herbs,diet and exercise to cope with the less thrilling parts of these changes. Hormone therapy (extra estrogen vs. estrogen replacement), known since 1937,became a cause celebre in the '60s and'70s as menopause was looked at as a 'deficiency disease'. Promises of youth,sexual enhancement and mood elevation were beckoning to women,who were convinced that their life was now at an end. Drug companies put an all out effort to find ways of promoting hormone therapy. Reports came out about how Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) could protect women against osteoporosis and heart disease. The studies prove to be "iffy" at best and it seems it will be quite a while till all the evidence is in on estrogen and the various combinations thereof. Some studies have already shown there are risks as well as benefits. Long term use increases risk of endometrial cancer and "small increase" (perhaps as high as 25%) in breast cancer. Withdrawal from these hormones, after a long period of use should be done gradually. Then there is the question of whether there are other methods of reducing heart disease and osteoporosis. When I went in for a checkup a year after pumping iron, boxing and some dietary cha nges, my vital signs showed that I had the blood pressure and heart rate of a young athlete. I also have built bone and muscle mass. At 5'1 and 118 pounds (a drop from 150 lbs) I bench press 75lbs., I curl 15 lb. dumbbells-doing 3-4 full sets of 10 repetitions. When I first went into lifting (2 years ago), I could not lift a 25 lb. barbell to my chest. More important I now take long hikes with my grandchildren. When my granddaughter, Laura (who weighs forty pounds) came running to me, I was easily able to lift her and hug her. When she got tired I put her on my shoulders and carried her to the Dairy Queen. My back problems, which were severe are gone, allowing me to stride down the sidewalk with the ease and gait I used to enjoy in my teen years. I would never want to go back to my chronological youth. I enjoy the knowledge and experience that I have gained through the years. I do enjoy the vigor and health of that youth. I know that life is fatal and nothing will make me live forever, but while I am alive I want to relish and participate in all the changes life has to offer. My friend Virginia, who is 80 years old, tells me there is more to come. I can't wait and I'm ready.
Having said all this, I realize that within the circle of women, we are quite varied and must do what makes each one of us feel comfortable. If we talk to each other and continue to exchange information, we may have a great legacy to leave to our daughters and sons. I would love to form links with other people on the net. Please feel free to E-mail any information and questions. We in midlife have great opportunities to expand our life choices. We are productive vital people, with creative energy and we are this way,without drugs, cosmetics and plastic surgery. Remember menopause is a change, not a medical condition. So Power On Duddettes.
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