How Menopause is Like Apollo 13

Recently a reader challenged me to find more positive things about menopause — to see its beauty, its purpose, its goodness. I’m taking that challenge very seriously, and spent the entire evening writing a letter to menopause to thank it for all of its gifts.

Here is my first draft.

Dear Menopause:

I realize that my sarcastic humor has not always been fair to you. I tend to complain about your little side effects, rather than appreciating the positive things. So I am putting together a gratitude list that I can read every single time I complain about you. Here it is —  

  1. I no longer have to deal with periods. No more monthly bad moods, no more cramps, no more worries about having the necessary tools when needed. 

That’s my entire list. I spent another hour trying to see how perks like hairs growing out of my forehead were positive, but I just couldn’t do it. I’m reminded of the time I told my young daughter that she had to say her prayers even though she was furious about something. She bowed her head and said, “Dear God, thanks for nothin’.”

During my contemplation, I did realize that menopause is a spectacular reminder that the body shuts down anything that is no longer necessary so that it can focus on the parts that we use on a regular basis. Remember in the movie, “Apollo 13,” where they had to start shutting down certain elements in their engine’s system so they would have the power to make it back to earth?

That rocket was a lot like our bodies, trying to endure sudden escalations in heat followed by spectacular drops in temperature without falling apart. [quote button_text=”Tweet the Quote”]There are times when a hot flash hits, and I swear my body shakes just like the Apollo 13  rocket when it hit the earth’s atmosphere and almost burst into flames.[/quote]

So, maybe our menopausal bodies are like an amazing computerized rocket, shutting down anything that is causing a problem or doesn’t serve a purpose.

Of course this makes me worry about the other messages I might be sending to my body through sheer lack of use.  Right now my body might beef up my ass muscles and let the arms and legs go, based upon the fact that I sit for about 87% of the day.

I will try to give menopause a break, as it is lightening our load so we can find the energy to make it to splashdown. The less than reassuring part is that we do have to, eventually, face splashdown. Maybe we’re not yet ready to rust out in the ocean. Perhaps we have some suggestions to improve menopause before we accept it as a “special time.”

Here is my new letter to menopause.

Dear Menopause:

I now understand the miracles you are working to keep me around. If you don’t mind, I would like to make a request.

Could I have some switches reignited?

Perhaps you could flip the moisture switch back on so that I don’t disappear one layer of skin at a time.

Or you could restart the civil behavior so that I don’t keep having to expand the list of public places to which I can never return.

I would appreciate it if an engineer could review and fix the hair-growth button. I think it has a short in it, because right now hair is growing in all the wrong places. 

And I believe someone, inadvertently, flipped off my energy switch. If you could just flip that back on I might be able to get out of my chair. 

I’ll accept the miracle of menopause with the addendum that a few little adjustments be made to the system before splashdown occurs. That’s all.

Conditional Love,

Dame Donna