I hesitated. I had to think about it. And then I said, “You know what, it has been a year. I haven’t had my period since last June.”
“You have reached menopause,” she said, “next year we will have you get a bone density test.”
“Should I start taking calcium supplements?” I asked my doctor, even though I had started to chew Viactiv calcium supplements awhile ago. They taste pretty good and they are chocolate.
“Actually no,” doctor S said, “you may not need them. Wait until we do the test next year and see if you need extra calcium.”
So, last week it was official. As I walked out of my gynecologist’s office after my pap test, I said goodbye to my perimenopausal days and officially became branded as a menopausal woman. I’m so glad I purchased a copy of Dr. Christiane Northrup’s newly updated and revised edition of “The Wisdom of Menopause.” I definitely am going to need all the advice I can get as I enter this new phase of my life.
Dr. Northrup says that the hormone-driven changes during menopause ‘affect the brain.‘ (Ooh, this is scary.)
Dr. Northrup says that these hormone-driven changes ‘give a woman a sharper eye for inequity and injustice and a voice that insists on speaking up about them.’ (Ooh, ooh, I wonder if I will start to be bold and brazen in my 50+ years. Let’s see, what inequities and injustices do I want to speak up about? Hmm,hmm. I’m sure there will be plenty of inequities and injustices to speak up about as my hormone-driven changes kick in.)
According to Dr. Northrup, if I keep silent during this time, ‘it will be like putting the plug on a pressure cooker.’ (I know what that is like. I used to have a pressure cooker when I was twenty-something. I never liked cooking with it. I always thought the top was going to blow off. Ooh, ooh, just the thought and image of that pressure cooker makes me want to pop. No wonder I have so many tension headaches lately. I guess I’ve been putting the plug on my voice box and not speaking up for what I want. Wonder if my headaches will go away as I start to express myself more?)
Dr. Northrup says to prepare for this transformation, ‘we must be willing to take full responsibility for our share of the problems in our lives.’ (Am I ready to do this? Do I have the courage to admit my own contributions to the things that have gone wrong in my life and stop seeing myself as a victim of something outside of myself? Do I? Do I? Do I? I want to. I want to. I want to. Yes, yes, yes. Ah,ah,ah, I feel better all ready!)
By doing this, Dr. Northrup says it will help me ‘change, heal, grow, and move on to a more fulfilling and joyful life.’ (I’m getting excited. This menopausal gig might be just what I need in the second half of my life.)
Oh,no. Oh,no. Dr. Northrup says that there is another requirement for transformation and it is more difficult. The second requirement is that ‘I must be willing to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of my life that I am leaving behind.’ (Well, I know how to do this. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. Unfortunately, I now know what it’s like to lose a spouse, to let go of a marriage that lasted 24 years, to watch my children grow up and leave the nest, to become comfortable on my own at 50+. Dr. Northrup is right, it is difficult to leave those parts of my life behind and start anew.)
I’m only up to page 17 in Dr. Northrup’s book and I’ve already gained so much menopausal knowledge. Wait, I have to read this next paragraph out loud. I have to yell. Here goes:
‘THE EMOTIONAL CHANGES THAT COME ABOUT IN THE YEARS LEADING UP TO AND DURING MENOPAUSE CAN FEEL EARTHSHAKING AND EVEN TERRIFYING, PARTICULARLY FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO THINKING WE’RE IN CONTROL. IT’S ONE THING TO RESIST CHANGE FROM SOME EXTERNAL FORCE. IT’S QUITE ANOTHER WHEN THE CHANGE IS COMING FROM WITHIN, AND EVERYTHING YOU CLING TO THAT’S COMFORTABLE IN ITS FAMILIARITY, INCLUDING YOUR VERY IDENTITY IS METAMORPHOSING FROM THE INSIDE OUT.’
Now I have to yell and scream again in my own words,
“THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I FEEL! THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I FEEL! WHO AM I? WHO IS THE NEW JUDI?”
I’m like a caterpillar that is turning into a butterfly. Wait a minute. Wait…a…minute. I like butterflies more than caterpillars. Yes, I do. Yes, I do. Butterflies are prettier than caterpillars. Butterflies can fly. Butterflies can move faster than caterpillars. Caterpillars can only crawl.
Maybe I am ready, as Dr. Northrup says, ‘to live a life based on true freedom and joy!’
Red light. Green light. One, two, three. Ready or not, I’m moving forward into the next phase of my life. Goodbye peri, hello meno. Hello. Hello.
I can’t wait to read the next chapter and learn more about what more menopausal wisdom awaits me.