Stunned as I listened to NPR the other day. Yes, It was International Menopause Day! Who woulda thunk it?!
Corporation heads and business people lamented missed opportunities to help their employees traverse menopause — mood swings, hot flashes, and the like.
And why hadn’t they given their employees a monthly day off to deal with menopausal issues?
Twenty years ago, such a day would have been unheard of!
Thirty years ago, we barely said the feared word. Some of us were terrified that we would go crazy, our personalities would transform, ad we would become more irritable.
When the storm came some of my friends had such horrible night sweats they had to change their sheets.
What was menopause like? My Mount Desert Island women’s group wondered back in the early 1990s.
What would happen to us? We knew very little about “the change of life” because older family members never discussed it with us.
Those women suffered in silence. Or not. We just didn’t know.
I had to know. I would sponsor a Menopause Festival at my OZ Bookstore in Southwest Harbor, Maine.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of “The Wisdom of Menopause” (1999), and other important women’s health books, agreed to come from Falmouth, Maine, to be the festival keynoter.
Packed with more than 200 women and a few hardy men, Northrup spoke of “the change” bringing positive opportunities to women’s lives. Go out on your own. No need to take care of kids or the house full-time. Pursue creative ventures. Live life without the monthly curse!
The good doctor suggested we eat a small piece of dark chocolate between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The magnesium would be especially helpful to women during that chunk of time.
For the remainder of my work mornings, at 10 a.m., I opened my desk drawer where I stashed a purple pill holder filled with my morning meds.
I’ll admit it. Chocolate was enough for me to deem the festival a success.
Southwest Harbor didn’t quite become a mecca of learning about the hot subject. But some old-timers were hopeful when they heard about the upcoming festival.
“What do you suppose Sheila will do? Lead a group of naked women down Main Street?”
I wasn’t that hot.
Teaching during the late 90s, I often asked, “Is it hot in here or what?” My sly high school students replied, “It’s just you, Ms. W.” Many of their mothers were asking the same question.
We didn’t march down Main Street but we helped uncover a secret in many women’s lives. New possibilities were available to us all.
On the NPR segment I heard the other day only one in five ob/gyns have been trained in menopause care.
I recall the first George Bush making fun of Geraldine Ferraro, Democrat Walter Mondale’s vice-presidential candidate, the first woman ever chosen for that post.
“Oh women are just too moody to be in such a high government position, so close to the presidency,” he said. Hardy, hardy, har.
Ferraro hurled the harsh criticism right back at Bush 1, when he went ballistic on national TV about some concern that I can’t remember.
And just today, Nancy Pelosi, at 82, resigned her role as the exemplary two-decade Speaker of the House. The first woman to serve as Speaker, history — or herstory — will recognize her as the best of the best.
International Menopause Day? We’ve come a long way, baby.