After my father died when I was 15 my mother went into menopause. Well, actually it didn’t quite happen just like that. In fact there may have been a good year or so between events. I don’t actually know because I lost most of my memory for awhile after my dad’s death so everything is sort of this big age 15 – 18 stew. Some things are in proper order … most aren’t. Sometimes I’ll try to place an event I think happened while I was heading off for college and it turns out to be a mere week or so after my dad died. And once I told my mom I didn’t think she should have dated The Cheese (that was my name for him, not hers) so soon after my dad’s death and she told me it was a year later. A year? Jeepers. So time, for me, at different points in my life, just doesn’t seem to work. And since this post is about me apologizing for something that happened more than 20 years ago, I’m hoping this is one of those times.
Mom, I’m REALLY sorry I didn’t take those hot flashes of yours more seriously.
For the past few weeks I’ve had a serious affair going with the thermometer. One of the most important things to make sure of while your being treated for cancer is that you aren’t getting an infection. So they have you worried all the time that you may run a fever. Watch for all the signs! they say and Take your temp often! they say. I did this. Sort of. Until a few weeks ago when I was sure a fever was spiking because in one moment I would go from perfectly content temperature wise to stripping off my clothing and using ice cream as a hat. The heat would last for a little bit and then came the chills. Classic fever symptoms. This went on for days. I took my temp hundreds of times. I, however, never had a fever.
At my next appointment, I mentioned it. My doctor was rather nonchalant when he told me I’d been thrown into chemical pre-mature menopause and these periods of near spontaneous combustion were actually hot flashes. He, in fact, seemed to want to move quickly past the subject and get out of the room. This could be because I was beginning to further undress and fan myself with the paper sheet at the same time.
Never has something been so misnamed. Hot is okay, I guess, although somewhat understated for my taste. And flash is just not even in the ballpark of close. Flash makes it seem like it comes and goes quickly. Or like it is just a little blimp of heat. Not true. It should be called a HOT FRIGGIN FLASH or a DEAR GOD MY EYEBALLS ARE BOILING MOMENT or something that conveys the intense heat. Oh my lord the heat! I’m not the first woman to write about hot flashes nor do I suspect I will be the last so I won’t go into too much detail but let’s just say I was experiencing one today during a discovery channel show about volcanoes and while watching hot lava ooze down the side of the mountain I found myself saying “gee, that looks refreshing!”
And then, just like that, it will pass. It may last for a two minutes, or ten, or longer but eventually, it goes and I’m left with an ice pack in each hand and a frozen dinner down my pants.
So I know there were many things, Mom, I didn’t understand growing up. I know there were times I caused you pain and worry. I know there were moments of less than adequate compassion on my part. I know I underestimated what you went through. However, in this one area, dear woman, I understand.
And as I sit here in this moment channeling a fireball and sweating so much I’m making my own gravy I want you to know I am so very sorry for that time I said “MA! It can’t be THAT bad!” Forgive me.