At the tender age of 31, long before I finally got pregnant, I took a real-life tour of menopause, and I am here to tell you: I have been to the fires of hell and back.
It forever left a special place in my heart for the 27 million women between the ages of 45 and 64 in America going through this uncomfortable process each year.
So you’re probably thinking, "Menopause at 31? How?" When I was diagnosed with a fibroid the size of a six-month-old fetus in 2011, my doctor put me on hormone-suppressing injections, in an effort to shrink the tumor. The drug works by essentially reducing the amount of luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones in the body. I was scheduled to have the fibroid removed through the da Vinci Surgical System, a minimally-invasive robotic surgery that leaves a few small incision scars on the abdomen and offers a quicker recovery time than a myomectomy, which involves sizeable "bikini cut.”
At first, I was reluctant to take the injections after learning the common side effects included hot flashes, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, breast tenderness, insomnia, forgetfulness, dizziness, increased growth of facial hair, chills, swollen ankles, reduced sexual interest, and depression.
I had pictured 31 much differently. It’s a time in your life when you can finally afford to start eating at better restaurants, take decent vacations alone and when you’re finally comfortable enough in your own skin to break up with idiots who don’t appreciate what you bring to the table. It’s not a time when you should have to worry about drenching your trendy new satin blouse while in the middle of a big presentation at work. I was 100 percent in sync with Alicia Keys singing, “This girl is on fiiiiire.” One night I had to change my pajamas three times because I kept soaking through them while I was attempting to sleep.
I was on the menopause-inducing drug in 2011 only for a few months. During that time, I continued to work my day job as a journalist while experiencing every side effect on the warning list. I will never forget interviewing John Stamos when he was traveling to Palm Beach for a show with The Beach Boys when I had broken out into one of my worst sweats. I was unexpectedly at a funeral when he called, and I stepped outside to do the interview. The cold chills came and then the hot flashes and dizziness. This was seriously a dream moment of my career getting to talk to my Full House hero, Uncle Jesse, and my menopause was once again trying to upstage me. I got through the interview (he was lovely) and many others after that while quietly suffering from symptoms.
I continued to cover fashion shows and sweat down red carpets to get quotes from supermodels, fashion designers, and major Hollywood stars. But far more exciting was the countdown to stopping the drug and having my surgery.
When it came time for the surgery, I was bummed to discover my fibroid didn't shrink at all, and my doctor claimed it was now "too squishy" to successfully be picked up by the da Vinci robot hands. So, I ended up having to have an emergency myomectomy anyway, halfway through the procedure. Great.
Now, when 50-somethings whine to me about menopause and how I’m too young to have any idea of what they’re going through, I smile and secretly acknowledge that I have hopped in a time machine to travel there and back. I have felt your pain, sisters. Your body may be burnin’ up like a Disco Inferno, but this too shall pass.