Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Body is Changing, I'm Getting Older

I'm officially past 47.5 now. I hit the halfway mark last month. It was at 47 that I started feeling my body change and looking in the mirror and seeing the changes in my face, in my skin. I'm getting older. I love a quote that says, "Do not regret growing older. It's a privilege denied to many."

Me at 34 and 47. 

In the top picture I had just had Seth. I sure bounced back pretty quickly at that age! I was still young enough to have kids and my face looks radiant, like someone who just created a life. In the bottom picture, taken a few months ago, most people would say I still look great. Believe me, I appreciate it. I know I look younger than some people my age. However, I also know the reality that I'm growing older.

I feel like we aren't always allowed to talk about aging. Either people are embarrassed to acknowledge it or we're told to shut up, age is just a number, be grateful for what you have, etc.  I get both those points of view. Sometimes aging is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. And I get being grateful. My older sister passed away at 42, my mom at 69, and I've had family, friends and acquaintances who have died young. I get that I should be grateful to be alive and I AM. I try to practice gratitude every day and I think about something that I'm grateful for.

None of this changes the fact that I am getting older and that yes, it is happening to me. I don't know why it's such a big deal to acknowledge that. It's a fact. It's happening to all of us and there's nothing we can do about it. I find it hilarious that even the word "perimenopause" is highlighted in red on this blog program as if the word doesn't even exist. Yes, it's real and all women with two ovaries and a uterus are going to go through it.

I miss my mom. I miss being able to ask her questions about menopause and when did she first see the signs. All I can do is try and remember events and conversations I overheard from my childhood and I do the math as to how old she was then. I guess she started heading towards menopause at 47 based on a very clear memory I have of her having an embarrassing incident out in public. I remember conversations I overheard about her going through "the change." I was around 8 years old and that would make her 47. I'm 47.

They say that often women start menopause around the same time as their mothers. Based on that math I'm pretty much on target and I can feel the signs. There's the irregular periods, the super long periods that don't make sense, and how hot my body feels sometimes. I've never been irregular since I started having kids at 31. That was something that used to happen to me in my teens and early 20s.

Of course all this has to happen right when my OBGYN of over 20 years retires. So I went to see my primary care physician right after a two week long period. She sent me for blood work to see if I was pre-menopausal but instead of focusing on that she was distracted by other things she wanted to check, like my blood sugar and my cholesterol. When she called me with my results she told me those and then promptly hung up. I had to call her back to ask her, "Hey, what about menopause?" She had forgotten that was the main reason I had gone in. (Once again I wished that Dr. Miro hadn't retired.) She told me that the blood work didn't show signs of pre-menopause. She had already said to me in the office that if that was the case she recommended that I find a new OBGYN. Exactly what I didn't want to have to do.

I know my body. I know what's happening. I'm so ready for it too! I'm ready to embrace this new phase of my life. I just wish it didn't come with the discomforts that come along with it. Like why do I have to feel warm all of a sudden? And why do I have to feel anxiety? Nobody told me that was a side effect until now. It's either one of those secrets or one of those things I ignored when it didn't pertain to me. Surprise! As I've gotten older I started feeling anxiety and I didn't know why. It probably started a couple of years ago, well now that I'm moving towards menopause I feel it even more. Apparently it's the hormones.

Then there's my face. I look at myself in the mirror when I'm washing my face or putting on my make up and I can see the elasticity of my skin changing. It's so weird! I see it in some pictures more than others. I see the skin under my eyes has changed too.  I think, "Here I am. I'm getting older." And it's amazing. Where did my youth go? It was over in the blink of an eye.

In the words of Colette all I can say is, "I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer." I will just have to roll with it and ride this crazy wave.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Post Hurricane Harvey from Houston

A lot happened between my last post on August 20 and today. The kids did not start school on August 28 as planned and they are now starting on Monday, September 11. Hurricane Harvey is the reason.

Although Houston was not directly hit by Harvey when it made landfall on Friday, August 25 the rain started out slowly that night. It was so slow in fact that some people were fooled on Saturday into thinking that maybe it wasn't going to hit us as hard as they had been saying. Some even went out to watch the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight on Saturday night and were trying to get back home when the deluge happened.

Downtown Houston- Photo by Edward Isamu Nicholas
People found themselves stranded on bridges or they had to turn around and go back to friend's homes. When we woke up on Sunday this is what our city looked like. People had to evacuate their homes and some were rescued in boats by the fire department and first responders. As they day went on ordinary citizens called the "Texas Navy," like my friend Kim Maraldo took their personal boats out and helped save people from their homes. They were amazing.

Stude Park off I-10 & Studewood- Photo by Mary Ann Marucci

In the aftermath of this horrible devastating storm the city and state has really come together. People have been tearing their houses apart, cutting out the wet sheet-rock, throwing out all the damaged things in their houses. 

Yesterday I took Miranda to volunteer at one of her lacrosse teammate's home. The neighborhood I was in was filled with people's belongings, wood, sheet-rock, basically, their homes. It broke my heart. All these people out there working on their homes. 

A Home in the Braeswood neighborhood

I parked on the side of the street to see if she was going to stay there or go to another home and as I was sitting there a woman came up and asked me if I needed anything. She and her husband were out dropping off food and water to people working on their homes. When I went back to pick up Miranda the mom of the home told me one of the mattress companies had just donated 4 mattresses for them.

Ordinary people have been out helping where they can. A friend of mine's home was flooded and a group of my friends went out to help her. I found out too late because I was taking Miranda out to help her friend. When her sister, also my friend called me she was telling me how a woman from the neighborhood just stopped by and asked how she could help. Just like that. 

Businesses all over the city are doing extraordinary things. Jim McInvingvale, or Mattress Mack as he's also known, has opened up two of his locations as shelters. He's letting people sleep on his brand new furniture and providing them restrooms, showers and his restaurant. He also volunteered his company moving trucks to rescue people from their homes and highways. His trucks were out from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday rescuing people. Amazing! 

We were extremely blessed. I woke up on Sunday morning to the downpour. I'm not an early riser but I was up at 6 a.m. and I went out into my foyer, between my back door and my garage, to film the rain and our street. The video is dark but you can hear the water coming down hard and you can kind of see how full the street is. The water only got that far and never even filled my yard. It was like a regular heavy rain day for me. Our neighborhood, Lindale Park, is built higher, our homes are built even higher, and many, like mine, are on pier and beam. I know I have so much to be grateful for. Others, like friends of mine, have not been so fortunate. If you can, please consider giving and donating what you can to the shelters or to people you know. Giving gift cards to people you personally know is a great idea and the money will go further because you're giving directly to them.