Image by m kasahara via Flickr
One of my friend posted a question as her Facebook status during the holiday season: What was the best present you ever received for Christmas? I tried to remember the gifts that I had received over the years and I drew a blank. I'm going to say that it is because of brain fog, or maybe chemo brain, that I have such difficulty remembering what I have gotten for Christmas. It can't be because I have never gotten an awesome Christmas present...
Oh wait, a stray memory popped up and I remembering getting a Weeble's pirate ship that was a shared gift among me and my siblings. Can that really be the most memorable present I got for Christmas?
Well this year, Santa brought me something that I have been waiting for for several years now. I just got confirmation of it today from my doctor. The change I've been expecting is finally here. Yes, Santa brought me menopause for Christmas.
I'm not surprised. In fact, as I think about it, this turns out to be regifting. I went through early menopause once before after I finished my chemotherapy treatments back in 1988. Turns out, this chemically induced menopause was a temporary situation, which I discovered after, of all things, the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. (Gotta laugh at the ways God communicates with me.) My gynecologist at the time thought this meant that everything was back to normal, which it was not. A second opinion in 2004 set me straight and predicted a return visit by 2007.
It's ironic that a few days after Christmas I woke up one morning drenched in sweat and I immediately thought I had H1N1 swine flu. I took my temperature and it was normal, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is when I thought, 'This has got to be menopause.' Then I realized that hot flashes, night sweats and other unmentionable symptoms were going to be part of all my tomorrows. Joy!
Once again, I come face-to-face with yet another legacy of my cancer treatment: early menopause. As much as I try to remember that chemotherapy = no cancer = longer life span, being a cancer survivor, or rather suffering from long-term and late effects of cancer treatment, sometimes just sucks. How naive was I at 22 to think that after I finished treatment I would be returning to a normal life?
I'm not sad that menopause is here. I was much more upset about the fact that chemotherapy took away my ability to have my own biological children and that chronic illness is now taking away my chance to family build in other ways. I do feel a bit concerned about how this new development is going to affect my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms. It's already a problem that I don't have the energy to shower as often as I would like, now that I am having hot flashes several times a day. That and I am going to drive my hubby crazy with "I'm hot, turn on the fan/air conditioner." and "I'm cold, turn on the heat." every few hours.
Santa would give me a gift I can't return or exchange.
(Like I said, gotta laugh at the ways God communicates with me.)