Painting attempting to show what a menopausal hot flush feels like

The Hot Flush

Painting attempting to show what a menopausal hot flush feels like

The Hot Flush

I went to China in 2012 with a friend and had a pretty awful time of it all for various reasons. When the highlight of the Yellow River cruise was when the boat deliberately smashed into a floating dead pig, that kind of sums it up, yeah? I digress….

China was the first time I really noticed what a hot flush was even though I didn’t know what it was, I knew I was having something awful (ah the joys of perimenopause). In retrospect I’d been having them earlier  and a lot. I think I notice them on my holidays cause you tend to be at the mercy of your environment more. If I’m hot at home, I remove clothing or put a fan on or go outside or have water – I have control over changing my environment, and this just isn’t the case on a holiday. If I’m waiting for a flight in an airport in a foreign country, I can’t reduce the temperature as well or go outside or whatever….(other than douse my arms in water in the ladies room, which is what i ended up doing). Also you are more aware of your physical needs and so you are more aware of things that are not just able to be explained away by habit, or whatever.

We took a sleeper train to Guilin and for hours I lay on that bunk sweltering and burning up and wondering how everyone else could be sleeping under Doonas. Doonas are torture devices to me, always have been, but especially now (Duvets, if you’re not an Australian, we call them Doonas here. Its’ a bit like those from the UK referring to vacuum cleaners as Hoovers – it’s a brand name and it’s stuck pretty firmly now as the generic name too).  I remember wondering why it was just me who was so hot  and everyone else seemed to be quite comfortable.

Since those Halycon days of the horrors of being a tourist in China the flushes have increased to the point where it’s almost occurring for large chunks of the day and almost every night (though some nights are fine and nothing nada). I always have a tendency to overheat at night anyway ( i sleep under four sheets pretty much in winter and 1-2 in summer, just don’t get that cold) –  and I have not used a doona other than on nights that it’s REALLY cold; but sleeping with light covers is different to waking up coated in sweat and being so hot I’m unable to get back to sleep even with barely a sheet on.  Apparently insomnia is a big problem for menopausal women. I already have one sleep disorder (i never go into deep sleep), I don’t need another one, ok? Oh.

For me flushes tend to happen in fits and spurts but are also triggered by certain things, stress and unusual situations where there is temperature control but just at a temperature higher than I like, sometimes chili, sometimes alcohol, sometimes just eating anything at all, can be a trigger. Like when I went to see Chess and i just sat there radiating heat.  Or at work every freaking day this week. One of the ladies I work with has been through (and is going through it) and she’s given me a little fan to wave if i need it!

I have discovered too that if you go wandering around Melbourne in winter in a sleeveless top (and thus at a comfortable temperature), you get  most people all rugged up and in scarves, and that teeny tiny little portion of the population of women over 40 also wandering around in no sleeves. It’s like a club! There are a lot out there. It’s like when you’re on crutches, the world slows down and you notice all the other people out there on crutches who you just don’t see when you’re walking ok.The world is different and to be fair, slightly more interesting at the same time as being rather more uncomfortable.

So basically this picture was trying to get across the feeling of the physical sensation of the hot flush when everyone around you is oblivious and rugged up.