Menopause: Welcome to the Club

Written by: Suzie Lawyer (Jenny's sister!)

Being a woman is NOT easy. There are so many things that we have to deal with: hair, make-up, dresses, friendship drama, emotions, PMS, periods, childbirth, nursing, and ….. MENOPAUSE! And the thing is, most of these things are ongoing. As women, we have to find ways to cope and adapt. Just being a woman is a full time job!

Menopause is extra special though. It’s this mysterious thing that seasoned women talk about and bond over:

“Oh, the hot flashes!” or

“I had to take the covers off in the middle of the night because I had broken out in a sweat!” or

“I was a raging lunatic today when that car cut me off!”

And all of the women just nod their heads with that look like, “Oh honey. We get it!”

I always thought of menopause as some ritualistic club. Members only!

Yeah, until you get to be part of that club. And sadly, the initiation doesn’t happen instantly. This club has an on ongoing welcoming process that lasts for say, YEARS!!!

It should not have come as a surprise to me that I was in what is called “peri-menopause.” I mean, I am 45, and my body has been through the ringer with all of the childbirths. This is the stage (read as YEARS) leading up to the actual event. And it is not joyful in the least!! We are talking totally irregular periods that are so heavy at times, you can’t leave the house. Night sweats that truly leave you saturated requiring a middle of the night pajama exchange. Emotions that are literally all over the map. Brain fog. Fatigue. Breast pain. Horrible sleep. Sounds like good times, right?!? NOT!!

So when I went for my annual GYN appointment, she listened to my issues and offered me some suggestions on how to remedy them. One option was birth control pills, but I get migraines from time to time, so that was out. She really promoted an IUD called Mirena. It contains some hormones that help to regulate things. The doctor assured me that women love this thing AFTER they get through the first couple of months with bleeding and pain. UM…. NO!! There was cervical ablation. And then finally, a hysterectomy. Gee… so many options. OR I could just suffer through. I mean, I am tough.

Not being a huge fan of medications and hormone therapies, AND not really wanting to go through a surgical type procedure, I asked her about Reflexology. I had literally gotten a reflexology treatment the week before my appointment, and the Reflexologist said that it can help with menopause symptoms. So my doctor looked at me and said, “Oh yes! Reflexology can work wonders to alleviate menopausal symptoms. And if you couple it with acupuncture, women report great success.” I’m sorry, what?? She knew this little secret and withheld it, trying to offer me medications and surgery first???

Well, thankfully I am a take charge of my own medical care kind of person, so I nodded and told her that’s what I would be doing. I started researching reflexology and acupuncture right away.

Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person's general health.

Well, let me tell you, I love it!

Not only does it seem to be measurably helping with my pre-menopausal symptoms, but it is totally relaxing and a huge stress reliever. My first session was only a half hour, but now I am going for an hour. I wondered how in the world that a person could work on feet for an hour straight, but it is absolutely glorious! In fact, the hour flies by. It feels like the best foot massage ever! She also presses on parts of my head and ears. I remember her saying that I would feel “more awake” when she was finished the session. Honestly, it’s true. I was so relaxed, but yet I felt more alert and awake when I walked out. I have been going every week for several weeks now, and am loving the results.

Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, filiform needles through the skin at specific points on the body with the intention of manipulating Qi (pronounced chi). I don’t really understand the whole theory behind it. I do know that I am a fainter and slightly freaked out by needles. Before my first acupuncture session, I read all of the potential side effects. Sure enough, fainting was one of them. So when I headed there, I packed smelling salts ( I am dead serious), a snack, and plenty of water. I had no idea what to expect.

The needles are inserted in the oddest places. The first time I went, she put the needles down the sides of my spine. I was ready for it to hurt, but it didn’t. I braced myself before every stick, but I never felt it! She let me marinate with the needles in for like 20 minutes. As I hung out on my stomach with needles in my back, I started to panic slightly. 'What ifs' raged through my mind! I told myself to relax and began to breathe deeply. I totally calmed down and began to think, pray, process, and rest.

The acupuncturist returned and removed the needles. When I flipped over, she put them in my feet and wrists. Yeah, that was kind of freaky. But again, while I marinated, I savored the quiet and alone time. I couldn’t move because of the needles. I realized that being so still was super hard for me.

Finally, the needles were removed, and I was able to get up. Get this, I didn’t faint! In fact, I wasn’t even light-headed. It turned out to be a really sweet hour where I was forced to just chill out! AND it too, seems to be helping!! I am so excited for how I feel and for that fact that my insurance is covering it!

I really can’t explain any of this. All I know is that I have slept so well and the pre-menopausal symptoms have dissipated. For real!

Placebo effect? Maybe! Maybe not? These types of medical treatments have been around for a really long time, AND I have never seen a commercial on TV saying, “If you have had reflexology or acupuncture and are experiencing the following symptoms (insert all sorts of horrific symptoms here), you could be entitled to a legal settlement.” These treatments are not invasive. I would much rather start here and see where this goes before jumping into other means to manage the symptoms.

So for now, I feel like a new person, and that’s what matters to me the most! 

Hi! I'm Suzie Lawyer, and I'm a 45-year-old widowed mom of six kids! I love to read, cook and travel. Shopping is my obsession (along with chocolate), but I also enjoy barre classes at the gym! I have a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.S in Counseling. I'm excited to write for sheKC and share my struggles and successes as a woman, mom, friend and fellow sojourner on this thing called life!

 

Before beginning any type of alternative treatment, check with your doctor. Choosing a qualified and certified acupuncturist and reflexologist is really important. Always be sure to research their credentials. To find a Nationally Certified Reflexologist near you, go to the American Reflexology Certification Board at ARCB.net and the Reflexology Association of America at reflexology-usa.org.

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