When I first read The MadWoman in the Volvo - My Year of Raging Hormones, I was 54, in full swing menopause and freshly divorced. Meaning, for several years, I’d already been experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings (the worst!). And, due to my excellent life planning, I also had two children in the midst of puberty. I was f*cked up. I considered starting a F*cked Up Anonymous club along the lines of AA. ‘Hello, I’m Pam and I’m f*cked up’. It was a dark time.
The MadWoman in the Volvo (TMWItV) was a bright spot for me that year. I can vividly remember listening to the audio book, while I was cleaning my basement, trying to get everything up on bricks to prepare for the annual flood. Yeah, life was so good back then… Anyway, down in the dungeon basement, listening to Sandra Tsing Loh I found a kindred spirit. I laughed out loud. Many times. So rare.
As Tsing Loh recounted her misadventures, mine didn’t seem so bad. Although, in retrospect, I do sort of wish I’d wound up at Burning Man, like she did. There are so many hilarious moments, she inspired me to reconsider my own divorce - like reframing it from Nora Ephron's point of view. It would, no doubt, be heartbreakingly funny as a Nora Ephron story.
Shouldn’t there be a menopause guide? What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Anything Anymore?
But humor aside, there is also an overarching theme which is how hard it is to find good intel on menopause. Shouldn’t there be a menopause guide? What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Anything Anymore? Way back when, I found a book on bioidentical hormones - by Suzanne Somers! There was a big splashy picture of the author on the cover and I took it off and threw it away, because I didn’t want anyone to know that I was seeking menopausal advice from fricking Suzanne Somers. At the same time, I recall that Dr. Andrew Weil didn’t really think that loss of sexual appetite was a symptom of menopause and was recommending yams. Seriously.
So, TMWItV provides loads of dark humor, but also gives us some science, some referrals, and actual good advice. She describes coming out of your child bearing years as getting back to normal - rejoining men, boys, and young girls. Meaning that I no longer am drawn to attract attention. I don’t care if you like me. I don’t care if you find me attractive. I’m no longer wired to consider how I fit into the whole procreation game because, I’m out. It’s all about me now. Am I satisfied with the way I look? Do I like me? What do I like? I like the sound of that. Hot flashes might even be worth it.
During her research, Tsing Loh found The Wisdom of Menopause by Christanne Northup and kindly summarized that 600 page tome. It was a great book for it’s time, but please note Dr. Northrup has gone all QAnon and we can’t really trust her wisdom anymore. Thirteen years later, it’s a bit easier to find information on menopause. Preparing to write this blog, I found a great list of ten books on menopause, all by women. And this is a list, compiled by Ada Calhoun, of books recommended for women in midlife, generally not centered on menopause, but some reading here where we might recognize ourselves. There are four menopause specific books at the end. And lastly, here’s a nice round up of blogs focused on menopause.
I’ll close with a few pieces of advice from my own journey. Shatavari for hot flashes. Estring for vaginal dryness. If you’ve got kids entering puberty, it’s best if only one person is having a tantrum at a time. Trust me, words to live by.
Please join Amy and I and Sandra Tsing Loh for our February Book Club when we’ll be reading The MadWoman in the Volvo - My Year of Raging Hormones.