Debilitating hot flashes lead to near breakdown
| I'd feel the
flush and lift my arm from the meeting table, only to have to discreetly
wipe away the pool of sweat left behind.... I wonder if I'm coping
more now because I know that if it gets too bad, I have a kind and
understanding manager to confide in. I've managed to avoid travelling
for now - sometimes at a risk to my career - but without having to
At age 47 my hot flushes started, and have come and gone, along with
periods stopping for 2-3 months then starting again. Last September to
November I had a terrible time. Not only was I travelling away from home
during the week for business, but I was getting hot flushes more than
once an hour. During important meetings I'd be up and down closing and
opening the window (thank goodness it opened) but the worst time was trying
to peel off my beautiful silk-lined suit jacket. It was glued to my sweating
arms and I felt a fool struggling to get it off in front of a group of
5 men. On other occasions, I'd feel the flush and lift my arm from the
meeting table, only to have to discreetly wipe away the pool of sweat
left behind. Staying 4 nights a week in a hotel room with a window that
opened less than a couple of inches (no air conditioning) was too much
to take, even with the weather getting colder and colder.
With increasing feelings of embarrassment, exhaustion from a lack of
sleep and an overwhelming feeling of despair (I'm sure my husband thought
I was going to leave him) I cracked. With my suitcase packed, I called
my manager and sobbed. I was a pathetic wreck. I couldn't speak except
to say I wouldn't be travelling to work that week. We spoke later when
I had calmed down and I told him the truth. My menopause symptoms had
taken over. I needed time to get sorted. I had tried so hard to keep cool
in a pressured situation and felt a fool and a weak woman.
I was so, so pleasantly surprised to hear my manager tell me that he
understood. His wife had been having a terrible time too. He covered
for me, and within a couple of days I started working again, but this
time from home. I'm sure everyone in the office thought I had some dreadful
medical problem, but the work continued and I completed my assignment.
The flushes went away, the anxiety decreased and I felt great! Energised,
full of life.
I had a couple more months like that and now the flushes have returned. Interestingly, they are far less severe this time—still too frequent—but apart from a colleague noticing how flushed I looked, I'm coping.
I plan my time better so I can work more from home (although questions
have been asked—not by my manager). But they can ask away. I am determined
not to crack!
I wonder if I'm coping more because I know that if it gets
too bad, I have a kind and understanding manager to confide in. I've managed
to avoid travelling for now—sometimes at a risk to my career—but without
having to make excuses. I think I needed the confidence that I could take
control of my career if it really came down to it. And my manager will
(I hope) support me again in future if I find it's all too much. In retrospect,
I came pretty close to a real breakdown. Thank goodness for understanding
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