I didn’t have bad skin as a teenager. By some genetic fluke, I remained nearly blemish free throughout nature’s most awkward years. On the flip side of that coin was a penchant for fly away wings, tapered leg jeans and a rapid teenage weight gain. The universe made sure to punish me.
For over a year I've been making jokes about being premenopausal. The night sweats, hot flashes, thinning hair, cravings for sweets, wacked out monthly cycles and erratic hormonal shifts - they all point to the same thing: the dawn is coming!
I'll joke with my beloved boss, Charlie. The teasing between us initiated years ago, I've grown to love our relationship full of laughter. Most of the jokes are at my expense - but I'm the one normally leading the charge. It’s funny stuff and if you can’t laugh at yourself, hmmm, well I guess laugh at someone else. :) But I usually laugh at myself.
Carole: "Dude, I am on a freight train to menopause! I can't stop crying and I woke up sweating this morning in my 30 degree room...."
Carole: "…my periods are now 2 days of nothing and then a day of Niagara Falls!"
Charlie: "Maybe you're just a freak?"
Carole: "No way, I'm menopausal!"
Charlie: "Probably so. You're old!"
Most of the women in my family encountered perimenopause in their late 30's, so I've been more than ready for this. Bring it on!
Oh yea? Bring it ON, Carole? Crazy hormonal shifts, indeed....
This brings us to nearly two weeks ago, when I woke up with a little malfunction at the junction of Skin and Pore Streets. Or as I say, at the corner of Holy and Shit. I wouldn’t have paid it much attention, but it was the day before I was to leave for Portland to attend some important meetings for work. My to-do list had said nothing about an angry adult zit, so I was wholly unprepared. I did a little internet scouring about homeopathic remedies and came to the conclusion that putting toothpaste on my face was just a poor decision.
I needed to do whatever necessary to stop the spreading of this sucker. By now my one huge zit had turned to three! **PANIC**
Were zits contagious? Were they like plantar warts that spread if you touched them? I had little experience with this.
I bolted to the store to pick up a tube of goop. In the skin cream aisle I was confronted with a whole list of products that had previously never crossed my radar. Wrinkle cream, exfoliants, face masks that promised to devoid you of puffy eyes, the whole lot. I bypassed them all, looking for something, anything, to scoop out the byproduct of my geritol-needing hormones. I grabbed the tube promising to do the trick (plus it would help with vaginal itching? BONUS!).
That night I put a lump of the goop on my face, right over the huge red mountain. Then I attacked the other two molehills. I kind of smeared it around everywhere, thinking that if one pore had instigated a riot, it was possible that others might join in the fray. I brushed my teeth and put my suitcase beside the door. I laid out my airplane clothes and packed my purse with essential reading material. Then I crawled into bed and turned out the light.
At 3:27am I woke up from a dream where someone was dropping lighter fluid on my face while I tried to light an outdoor grill. It took me a minute to realize that the lighter fluid was code for HOLY BALLS MY FACE IS ON FIRE. I jumped out of bed! In the bathroom I grabbed a hand towel, shoved it under the cold faucet and pressed it against the side of my face, only to watch perfectly circular swatches of skin be wiped away with blood welling up in the wake of the hand towel.
It took me nearly half an hour to get my face to stop bleeding and another fifteen minutes before I had calmed down enough to go back to bed. The scene wasn’t any better in the morning, either. The nickel-sized ulcerations had spent the rest of my slumber scabbing over, something near impossible to cover without industrial strength makeup and a healthy dose of Photoshop.
Without enough time to drive to MAC Cosmetics, I resigned myself to dabbing thick layers of loose powder over my face. I figured one of the airports I would be in that day would surely have some liquid heavy duty makeup.
Not so much. So that day I got to introduce myself to everyone with a plague on my face that looked like someone had put out cigars on me. It looked like I had leprosy. With every new introduction I wanted to explain that the scabby looking monstrosities were not an indication of my usual appearance and to please forgive me for looking like I just took up a meth habit.
Cheers to my social career-defining day… and, of course, the journey to Menopause!