“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” (Sylvia Plath)
I’ve been avoiding medical advice.
DW is anti-doctor and my familiar doctor is at least half an hour away. Six years ago, she was close. It felt like cheating to change doctors after ten years, plus it gets harder to get naked in front of people you hardly know the older you get. But unfortunately, I have been feeling quite odd and uneven.
I fight fatigue all day, sometimes succumbing to a nap unexpectedly. My joints ache and pop. The worst though, is my left shoulder. A dull, constant throb that sometimes extends down to my elbow, causing my left ring finger and pinky to go numb. Occasionally it increases in severity, trickling down my whole back, keeping me from sleeping on my left side.
“Go to a chiropractor,” DW says, “take Advil.”
Being in constant physical unrest, and the added demands of a maturing family, have put my emotional and digestive health in overload. I feel unsettled. I feel needy and reflective. I feel critical and less patient. My stomach aches and cramps more often than not and I am constantly blaming the dog or nearest child for emitting toxic fumes.
And my favorite jeans don’t fit.
Since it’s time for my annual check-up, I finally decided to seek out a closer physician. This will also be the first year
insurance will approve I have a mammogram. I also chose a doctor in our same hospital system, hoping it would make the transition smoother and my records more accessible.
When scheduling the appointment, I was very clear with the receptionist to provide adequate time with the doctor. Being a new patient, I had some questions.
“Of course,” she assured me, “Just come prepared with your questions.”
I came prepared. With a list.
- Joint aches and pains
- Dryness everywhere I don’t want to be dry (and I mean everywhere)
- Excessive sweating everywhere I want to be dry (and again, I mean everywhere)
- More frequent mood swings
- Very irregular and infrequent monthly cycles
- Weight gain
- Trouble remembering simple things
- Trouble getting “in the mood” spontaneously
- And of course, my shoulder issue
The doctor took notes, smiling between each concern.
“Well, there’s a lot here to discuss,” she said slowly, “but other than your shoulder pain, everything else is right in line with Peri-menopause. It’s all perfectly normal. So let’s just focus on your shoulder today.”
Her best guess was a pinched nerve, resulting in a prescription of a strong anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer.
“Call the office back in a month if things don’t get better and we can set you up with a shoulder specialist.”
I stood there dumbfounded.
“Everything else will hopefully just even itself out,” she added quickly, handing me my mammogram paperwork.
So that’s it? Peri-menopause.
I’m stuck in the in-between.
I’m treading water in this season of hormonal imbalance.
If this is my new normal, then it is going to be a long, cold season.