Tuesday, February 9, 2010

change is hard to swallow

We were having a bit of a catch up, a friend and I, over lunch the other day. It had been a long time. The emails, birthday and christmas cards and occasional phone call allowed us to keep in touch in a superficial way, this time we got down to the nitty gritty of our life changes. And it's not always pretty. My friend described how she can change into a "shrew" at the drop of a hat, or a glance. Her temper can flare up like a light switch, without a dimmer. One of my greatest fears was that my moodiness, depressive periods and irritability would only increase. And would I notice? Instead, I find they have decreased. I am much less irritable and way more placid than I believe I've ever been. Perhaps too calm. Maybe the depression hasn't vanished...

What I have found, is a new understanding of why women of a certain age suddenly have short hair. Who knew your head could sweat so much? And at so many inopportune moments?

I can no longer drink wine without getting a hot flash. So far, caffeine is okay, though I notice I don't crave coffee nearly as much as I used to. Chocolate, of any kind - even a chocolate chip cookie - can give me a headache. It has been about 15 years since I used to get migraines from chocolate, red wine and cheese. This isn't nearly as bad, but it is there, a dull ache and stuffy head.

And whenever I eat spicy foods I discover I get the hiccups. That is new. It doesn't even have to be very spicy, the mildest mango curry, or a hint of chipotle, and the hiccuping starts. Or the indigestion. That one isn't so new.

After lunch we went to the market, where I bought some wonderful bread (basil and parsley sourdough) and some peameal bacon. Because that's what you do when you go to the market.

Now, I've always been more of a "sour" type of person than a "sweet" type. Cut a lemon in half and I will suck the juice out of it like an orange. Yum! Put an eclair in front of me, and I'll eat it out of politeness, but I would never actually ask for anything so rich and sweet. My cravings generally run towards the salt over sugar.

I knocked on my neighbour's door the next night and offered her the rest of the bacon and the luscious sourdough bread that was topped with boulders of rock salt.

Seems I have now developed an oversensitivity to salt. I noticed it with the ready made dinners, and certainly on frozen pizzas, so I stopped buying them, assuming that there was just too much sodium. But I hadn't realized just how sensitive I had become. I could not taste anything of the bacon sandwich except salt.

No more Indian food with a beer to wash it down with (no, really, I haven't had too much to drink). No more side orders of french fries topped with lots of salt and vinegar. And that expensive bag of Mayan Hot Chocolate - the one with chilies - from Soma? Well, I can't give up everything. Mmm, what a warm up potion after a long walk outside.

Meanwhile, I am entertained with these commercials as companies scramble to make their foods sodium reduced and healthier. You can now order these little 'sidekicks', Salty and Pep (if you live in Canada), presumably in case you want to add, say 10% more salt from the 25% reduced.

check out these links for cuteness overload


  1. It's odd, as I never pictured you as the "irritable" type. When we met last June, you were quite calm, collected, and lovely. It's a good thing that when we went to Sinbad's you didn't order anything spicy.

    So, I guess that means anything remotely related to deli smoked meats are also out of the picture for you?

  2. I know! Aren't you glad I waited for that calm demeanour to kick in!!

    This salt thing is relatively new. I'm still getting used to it.

  3. i know a lot of these feelings. I hate waking up sweaty like I sometimes do.

  4. You should hook up with Dave1949 who can only taste salt these days since his chemo treatments and its driving him crazy. I've always found Indian food way too salty. Sometimes it's just a matter of what you've let yourself get used to. Even a few weeks without sodium-laden food and all the salty stuff will begin to taste unpleasant to you. But that's a good thing. And like Mr. Nighttime said - I also found you to be calm, collected and lovely!

  5. Char: when that started with me, I installed ceiling fans - they don't help with nightsweats, I discovered (that's when I realized it wasn't the heatwave...)

  6. I'm knocking wood on the hot flashes, I haven't had many yet. But if wine starts bringing them on... well I guess I'll have to drink wine nekkid.

  7. XUP: strangely, I am not one to over salt my food willy nilly, though I like lots of salt on my fries and would eat them when I needed a salt fix. I made pasta the other day and did not put any salt in the water to make it palatable.
    Now, a couple of years ago, I would have been a mess over the fact that it took so much longer to drive to Ottawa, than I expected.

  8. Jazz: and have Mr Jazz nearby with a fan of palm fronds....

  9. Ahhhh, entering the charming period of perimenopause....how lucky you are! ;) Thank goodness, I'm through all that nonsense. Now all I have to deal with is the dry skin and eyes and other nefarious regions. And the hair that must be yanked, waxed, tweezed...whatever it takes.

    During my "fun time", I also developed a hyper-sensitivity to salt. I couldn't go out to eat at all, because almost every restaurant uses way too much for me. I still have it to some extent.

    And, yes, I turned into a harpy shrew-bitch as well. So much fun for husband.

    Don't worry...I'll be here to hold your hand...no matter how many years it takes! ;)

  10. I'm with you on the mellow and the salt. And thanks for pointing me to those cute commercials because I love the Knorr noodles but had started to think they were too salty.
    Unfortunately, my mellowing is only pleasant externally, and not internally because now instead of thinking "They are wrong! I must convince them!" and then trying to do that, I just think, "Poor them, they are too stupid to know better." and then don't bother trying to "enlighten" them. hee hee. (Still evil and grouchy, just keep it to myself)

  11. Geewits: I'm glad you checked out the commercials. I love when Salty cries, makes me laugh every time!
    Keeping your evil grouchy self to yourself is an a nice thing to do.

  12. It's strange how we can pick up on our changes. You've certainly gotten a lot of yours in order! I think I'm still at the fathoming them out stage!

    My head has always been prone to sweating a lot because of my thick hair which I don't suit short. I'm a summer hider....!

  13. Lena: it actually took me months (!) to figure out the nightsweats, I truly kept thinking it was either the heatwave, or my bedroom was too hot, or the cat was sleeping on my head....

    the weird part is how these symptoms will disappear for months then suddenly reappear.

  14. Hot flashes is not much one can do about - black cohosh does not take it away, but takes the edge off (at health food stores) one can only take that for half a year).
    But depression can be vary from mild to deep/violent, because it has to do with a hormonal change! So, if you don't want to take medication, get some knowledge about herbs.
    The book The Silent Passage from Gail Sheehy is an easy to read, but very informative book that helps people a lot to understand the whole thing.
    Take care, this tunnel does end!

  15. Oh dear! At the end of all the hot flashes comes hair...in places God didn't mean for women to have!! I mean a beard?? A mustache?? Seriously? I am getting my zapped nowadays. Sigh!! Yes, as the song goes, It's only just begun.....!!

  16. Jeannette: yeah, I've been through the mild to severe depressions and have learned to read the signs. I was taking some hormonal balance stuff from a naturopath, for the other stuff, not sure how useful it was.

  17. SueAnn: oh, yes. I've seen a few of those!

  18. I started perimenopause a couple of years ago (my OB said it could last about 7 years!) but my only symptom was heavier and more frequent periods. The answer for me was continuous birth control. I'm hoping the fact that I never had a hint of PMS symptoms means I'm in for an easier path. (But I'm with Jazz - no way I'm giving up wine!)

  19. SAW: this has been going on for a few years, though this salt thing I only noticed recently. it takes awhile to sink in what is happening when the signs are so erratic. sadly, I find I can't even drink much wine any more. one glass and I've had enough.

  20. Oh dear. Red wine gives me a bit of a glow now too...I assumed it was just my 'age'. Maybe it's a power surge?

  21. Sagittarian: if it didn't also make me very sleepy, I'd look on it as a power surge! Interestingly, now that you mention it, it is more with red than white wine that causes the intense heat. I think. Maybe I'll do a test this weekend...


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