Thursday, 11 June 2009

Hot sweats

My sister in law sent me this piece, written by Lonnie Schlein in The New York Times.

Having a husband on hormone treatment for prostate cancer, and going through the menopause myself, this rang more than a few bells....

As my wife and I sat on the couch one night this past winter, reading and half-watching the inevitable HGTV, I started sweating hard and my face got so fevered and flushed that I felt as if I were peering into an oven.
I turned to Deb and said, “Man, I’m having a wicked hot flash.” And she said, “Me, too.” Then we laughed. You laugh a lot — unless your hormones are making you cry — when you’re having menopause with your wife.

"I was in the middle of treatment for an aggressive case of prostate cancer last winter, and it included a six-month course of hormone therapy. My Lupron shots suppressed testosterone, which is the fuel for prostate cancer.

When your testosterone is being throttled, there are bound to be side effects. So, with the help of Lupron, I spent a few months aboard the Good Ship Menopause with all the physical baggage that entails. It’s a trip that most men don’t expect to take.

The side effect that surprised me most were the hot flashes — not that I got them, I was expecting that, but by how intense they were. They often woke me in the middle of the night and made me sweat so much that I drenched the sheets. In midwinter I’d walk our miniature poodle, Bijou, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I sometimes felt as if Deb could fry eggs on my chest. (It’s also a bit disconcerting when your hot flashes are fiercer than your wife’s.)

When it comes to hot flashes, ladies, I salute you. After my brief dalliance with that hormonal phenomenon, it seems to me it’s an under-reported condition. And it’s certainly under-represented in the arts. Where are the great hot flash novels or movies? How come there’s not a Web site or magazine called “Hot Flash Monthly”?
Hand in hand with the hot flashes came the food cravings. I lusted after Cheetos and Peanut Butter M&M’s, maple-walnut milkshakes, and spaghetti and meatballs buried in a blizzard of Parmesan. Isn’t it funny how cravings very rarely involve tofu, bean curd or omega-3 oils?

Then there was the weight issue. During the six months I was on Lupron I gained about 25 pounds. That was partly a byproduct of the cravings, but it also stemmed from the hormonal changes triggered in my body.

And I hated it, hated it, hated it. I had never had to worry about my weight, and I began to understand why media aimed at women and girls obsess over weight so much. It was strange and unsettling not to be able to tell my body, “No,” when it wanted to wolf down a fistful of Doritos slathered with scallion cream cheese.

When I wasn’t devouring a king-size Italian sub or smoldering from a hot flash, it seemed that I was crying. The tears would usually pour down when I got ambushed by some old tune: “Sweet Baby James” and “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” by Carly Simon and, yes, “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore. Not only was I temporarily menopausal, but it appeared that I was also turning into a teenage girl from the early 1970s.

There were other side effects, too, like headaches and fatigue. But when I started drinking Diet Coke for the first time in my life, my son Owen couldn’t take it anymore. He said, “Dad, are you turning into a chick?”

So, what else did I learn during my six months of hormone therapy?

Even though I only got to spend a brief time on the outer precincts of menopause, it did confirm my lifelong sense that the world of women is hormonal and mysterious, and that we men don’t have the semblance of a clue.

And, guys, when your significant female other bursts into tears at the drop of a dinner plate or turns on you like a rabid pit bull — whether she’s pregnant, having her period or in the throes of menopause — believe her when she blames it on the hormones.

One more thing. I don’t really know whether menopause likes company — you’d have to ask my wife that — but I do know that it really, really likes HGTV and Peanut Butter M&M’s."


 

20 comments:

rosiero said...

I think more men should have hot flushes and have babies, then maybe they understand a lot more. By the way, someone I know peels off their outer clothing and says they are having a tropical moment. I've adopted that saying now. It's so true.

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lane said...

That's a great article fp.

I am *so* not looking forward to those hot flushes:-(

cucaracha said...

What a brave man! When I was menopausal, people would get very embarassed if I took out a fan to cool down, or [more frequently] removed LOTS of layers...

My husband is about to go on hormones for prostate cancer too - but I shan't show him this, it would bother him too much; him being very English and repressed [I'm neither...]

Flowerpot said...

Rosiero - I so agree. And I love the tropical moment!

Sexy - ????!!

Flowerpot said...

Lane - well you may not get any. Lots of people don't - and I don't though HRT helps of course.

Cucuracha - good to meet you and thanks for dropping by. Good luck to your husband (and you of course) re the hormone treatment. In fact my husband's changed medication so he doesnt get the flushes any more so your husband might be OK!

Debs said...

That was so interesting. I agree that it wouldn't do men any harm having the odd episode of hormones to remind them how strange life can be when you're female.

Akelamalu said...

I wouldn't wish prostate cancer on any man but I wish more of them could experience all that the menopause throws at us, maybe they'd understand then!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

All men should experience those hormone changes even if it is just for a day. How else can the understand the complete irationality of crying one minute and chasing them with a knife the next! Very interesting post.

Flowerpot said...

Debs - I so agree!

Ak - That would certainly even things up a bit. That's evidently why my husband isa lot more understanding about my hormonal problems!

Flowerpot said...

MOB - I thought you might be interested in this one!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I've been there. That's why I went on HRT. Nice to know some men know what it's like (though, sadly, because they have cancer). How is Himself doing?

Flowerpot said...

Wakeup - thanks for asking. Himself is doing OK. He doesnt get hot flushes any more but there are other side effects that aren't much fun. Still, his PSA count is down to normal which is great.

Liane Spicer said...

FP, this was really interesting. Men can be so dismissive of 'hormone stuff'.

'Sexy' has been plaguing the blogosphere for awhile now. 'He' visited my blog earlier this week but I'd been warned by another blogger: Do not click on 'his' link! It takes you to some kind of Japanese or Chinese porn site, I think. Just delete the comments if you can; one friend could not delete hers but I had no trouble getting rid of mine. :(

Flowerpot said...

Liane - thanks for the info. Sexy has now gone!!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Men! They haven't a clue! Can't say I'm looking forward to the inevitable.

CJ xx

ChrisH said...

I found that article very touching - bad enough to have cancer, let alone to worry that you're turning into the opposite sex! Glad to hear that Himself is stable and well, that's good news.

Flowerpot said...

CJ - not everyone suffers badly with the menopause - several friends of mine haven't had any troubles at all so fear not!

Philipa said...

Oh what a brilliant post, FP! Thanks so much for stopping by my place and dragging me away from holiday thoughts long enough to read this. One man finally understands.

"Isn’t it funny how cravings very rarely involve tofu, bean curd or omega-3 oils?"

I craved boiled cabbage when I was pregnant. Just when I had the best escuse in the world :-/

One thing he didn't mention is before the menopause, when your body wants to get pregant and you want to finish the filing before you catch the bus home and eat Pot Noodle alone? Don't miss those days.

Flowerpot said...

Chris - yes, hormones have mixed blessings - for both sexes!

Phil - glad you enjoyed it. Sorry to hear about your boiled cabbage cravings - as you say, what a waste! I trust you have made up since?!