If you sneeze next to our Christmas tree, needles crash to the floor in stunning numbers. The limbs are curled with premature age: lifeless, shriveled, sad.
My doctor phoned with a shocking medical diagnosis yesterday: I'm menopausal. At 38! While I'm still nursing.
I can't help but see myself when I look at the tree now.
The diagnosis, confirmed by a blood test, actually explains a lot: the night sweats, the anxiety, the sleeplessness. I skimmed a list called the "35 Symptoms of Menopause" and felt like I hit the repeat button: have that one, that one too, yup, yes, check. Feelings of doom and dread? Disturbing memory lapses? OH I'VE GOT THAT OUT THE WAZOO!
All told, I have 18 of the 35 symptoms. I'm not on the fence about them either. Always the overachiever, I manifest many of them in the extreme.
In truth, the diagnosis - "premature menopause" - doesn't come entirely out of left field. There is a family history. But it's still a stunner, right? I mean, it's like overnight you're forced to change the who that you think you are.
I've never experienced the death of an immediate family member, but perhaps it relates. One day your a daughter; the next you're not. One day you're a wife; the next you're a widow.
Becoming a parent, obviously, changes who you are and how you define yourself. But you have a good nine months to ease into the transition.
There was no easing into the idea of "the change of life." By the way, who coined that phrase and why weren't they hung from their fingernails for it? I hereby tap it third most offensive euphemism of all time. I'd tell you the first and second but I just forgot (See #13 on the symptoms of menopause).
Our Christmas tree still looks beautiful despite the wizened limbs, topped with a gorgeous gold bow my mother made and twinkling with white lights.
Surely, I can find beauty in the diagnosis too.
First, it helps to know there's something physiological driving at least part of my raging battle with anxiety. Second, it convinced me yet again of the absolute, jaw-dropping miracle of our crazy family - particularly Tobias' arrival 15 months ago. He may have been, must have been, my last egg. How precious.