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Is It Hot in Here Or Is It Me?: Personal Look At the Facts, Fallacies, and Feelings of Menopause, Aby Gayle Sand
Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneFirst FlashI experienced my first hot flash in Los Angeles at a very trendy sports club where they have a machine for everything except menopause. If you thought your body was a temple then Sports Club L.A. is Mecca with valet parking. It's a square block of postmodern glass and steel devoted to the worship of perfect fitness, the adoration of spandex, and the elimination of cellulite.When I first stepped inside the place I couldn't believe it. It was health heaven. Saunas, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, swimming pool, track, health bar, tanning salon, boutique, and rows and rows of color coordinated exercise machines designed to work every body part from your little pinky to your big toe. Everything was bigger and better than anything I had ever seen before. This was no ordinary gym. This was a gym on steroids.Upstairs in the aerobic section rich guys in Reeboks and Rolexes rowed like galley slaves, while captains of industry made deals on their cellular phones as they climbed the StairMaster. There were celebrities everywhere. Some were easy to spot. Dyan Cannon wore a weight belt that spelled her name in four-inch block letters, just in case you didn't know who she was. Others were more difficult to identify. A constant chant echoed through the gym. "Who's that? Who's that? Who's that?It was all very intimidating, but most intimidating was the locker room. You are naked and you are surrounded by very young, very tanned women, breasts at attention, buns bearing magnetic north, posing for some imaginary camera. This was no place for amateurs. Here you had to be in shape just to get in shape. At my previous "club," the Twenty-third Street YMCA in New York, I was considered a 10. HereI am lucky if I'm a 5. The women wear full makeup, designer spandex, and they never sweat. I took an aerobics class with them five times a week.On this day the aerobics class had a new instructor. Not more than ten minutes into the class I started to sweat profusely. As rivulets of my sweat started forming dark blue puddles on the light blue carpet I thought, Boy, this instructor is great. When I looked around it was obvious that nobody else was sharing my experience. The pink spandex to my right was bone-dry and her carpet was still light blue. The gold Rolex to my left didn't have a bead of perspiration on her face. When I realized I was all alone my heart started doing a flamenco dance against my chest. It felt like my thermostat had been kicked. Perrier was pouring out of me. The more attention I paid to the sweating the hotter I got. I felt like I was in the sauna. I kept looking at the smoke alarm above me praying I wouldn't set it off. What could it be? Faulty sweat glands? Malaria? Could this be global warming? I hoped so. Then as quickly as it came it went away.Later that day I was shopping at Gelson's supermarket. As I opened the glass and metal door of the frozen food locker I was hit with a blast of fake Arctic air and once again I felt that warm clammy feeling and my heart started dancing. Here I am leaning into a freezer, surrounded by rock-hard boxes of frozen foods, and I am defrosting! I had been in this case a thousand times and nothing like this had ever happened. Obviously it wasn't that new aerobics instructor. What could it be? Could I be having a hot flash? Aren't hot flashes and heart palpitations one of the first signs of menopause? I remember reading GailSheehy's book "Passages, in which she described the waves of heat and chills. They are called vasomotor instability and they occur when the brain's temperature-regulating center goes haywire, causing blood vessels that are near the skin to dilate, which triggers a rush of heat and perspiration. But is this possible? I'm only forty-seven years old and a member of Sports Club L.A. Maybe it is. Maybe that missed period wasn't too much exercise. Maybe this experience is a hot flash. Maybe I'm beginning menopause. I panicked. In L.A. nobody experiences menopause. In LA. menopause is considered a terminal illness.As I wheel my cart to the checkout counter I pass rows of neatly stacked, perfectly ripe apples and plums and peaches and pears. The produce at Gelson's is selected very carefully. It is then washed and buffed and shined until it is moist and wet and beautiful. If it is overripe or blemished, or flawed even in the slightest way, it is thrown out.In L.A. women are treated a lot like produce and their shelf life is about the same as a quart of milk. Here they appreciate vintage wine, respect old money, collect antique cars, and trade in menopausal women. L.A. is definitely not a menopause town. If it were, women would be driving around with vanity license plates that read Ht Flsh R Or Chge 0 Lifr Or O.Period. In L.A. you "do" lunch, not menopause.When I walk outside Gelson's it is cool and dry. I am hot and wet. I now have my own weather. I haven't sweated this much since the time I missed my period and thought I was pregnant. I keep asking, "What is this? What is going on? What is happening?" It is the first time I have talked to myself in many years. Until now I had no reason to.Since puberty, everything had been going just fine.I am upset and puzzled by the Gelson's experience. When I get in my car I calmly roll up the windows, scream at the top of my lungs, fasten my seat belt, and drive home. Home for me and my husband is one of the many luxury high-rise apartment buildings that form a corridor along Wilshire Boulevard. In this part of L.A. even the buildings are in show business...
Here at last is the real lowdown on estrogen slowdown — a witty, warm, candid journey through menopause, filled with the latest medical information, written with humor and sensitivity by a woman who knows her way around a hot flash.
Since Gayle Sand had her first hot flash in L.A., where menopause is considered a terminal illness, she has sampled treatments from age-old to New Age and has seen more gynecologists and climbed into more stirrups than Dale Evans and Roy Rogers combined. In Is It Hot In Here or Is It Me? she shares her experiences, no holds barred, and delivers an up-to-date, down-to-earth, intimate firsthand account of the facts, the fads, the ups, the downs, the emotion and commotion of menopause. From the effects menopause can have on relationships and ego to an effortless education on hormone therapy, alternative treatments, nutrition, and postmenopausal health concerns such as osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease, Sand covers it all with humor and heart in this must-read book for women — and the men in their lives.
About the Author
Gayle Sand has been a columnist, restaurant critic, and editor-at-large for a Florida newspaper. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida, and New York City. This is her first menopause.
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