Apr 18 2010

The Hot Flash Chronicles

Big sky
View, from a 40-foot crane, of a crane operator, and of my fascinating roof.

Bizarre hot flash anecdote of the day:

The time: 3:30 in the morning. Spinster aunt was awakened from moist and fitful sleep by hot flash accompanied by usual aura of hopelessness and impending doom (by the way, the Spinstitute for Post-Hysterectomy and Oophalectomy Studies is researching this fucking doom-aura: please contact the department if you, too, have been rudely separated from your reproductive organs and regularly experience the Despondent Melancholic Aura along with your hot flashes).

Anyway. Unable to go back to sleep, I flipped on the TV. The show was PBS workhorse “This Old House.” Some strawberry blonde dude was converting a purlin into a hex-jig, or installing a new blart box in an old neffit; I don’t really remember on accounta I was in a stupor at the time. All I know is, I watched through swollen, sleep-deprived eyes as the strawberry dude effortlessly pulled heat-sensitive galvanized conduit through a wooden alloy breezeway and had the new helicopter landing pad or low-voltage window-washer all up and running in about three minutes flat. Impressive!

The next thing I knew, the phone was ringing. It was my mom, who thinks nothing of calling me at 7 in the morning with results from “Dancing With the Stars.” However, this morning her news was even less dire: some shady ‘collection agency’ was threatening to kneecap her unless she could convince me to call’em up and give’em a blank check. My mom did not grasp the scamminess of this dealio. So would I please call them?

“Chin up, Mom!” I said. “Don’t let’em take ya without a fight!”

The next thing I knew, there was a young assistant TV producer named Tristyn on my doorstep.* This was fairly unusual. I have erected fences and laid land mines and taken other antisocial measures specifically to keep assistant Tristyns off my doorstep. But still, here she was. Having sprinted the mile or so from my front gate, she was moist. Would I mind giving her the gate code so the rest of the crew could get in?

It all came rushing back. It turns out that last month, in a moment of weakness, I foolishly agreed to let some home improvement show come around to videotape footage of my rainwater collection system, which system is apparently endlessly fascinating. I had forgotten all about it, because along with hot flashes and fucking auras of doom, my memory banks have been battered, deep-fried, and served with blueberry mustard on accounta all the chemo and radiation. But the zero hour had arrived, and here, of a bright spring morn, were a bunch of TV-people, infesting the Spinster Compound with cameras, lights, on-air talent, and, yes, a 40-foot crane.

Tristyn introduced me to the crew. They were were all very pleasant (Tristyn had even brought me a coffee), which immediately made me suspicious. I found myself giving one of’em the old eyeball with particular intensity. He was handsome and outgoing. He was genial and sparkly. He had strawberry blonde hai– hey, wait a minute! Things had taken a sinister turn indeed. This was, in fact, the same exact dude from the PBS hot flash incident a scant 4 hours before!

Now that television personalities have begun squirting out of the TV into my living room to exude good-lookingness, congeniality, and a convincing interest in my roof gutters, I am going to have to take security up a notch around here. I have instructed Phil to install a robotic machine gun, and of course, to double up on the Gilligan’s Island-style camouflaged spring-loaded net traps. The gate sentries have orders to shoot to kill any 40-foot cranes.

Well, that’s the end of the anecdote.

*As a patriarchy-blaming side-note: young Tristyn was the only woman in the production crew. It was her job to run herd on 5 adult males, and to mediate between them and the outside world. Naturally it was she who had been sent on foot to traverse the mile of rough terrain between the gate and my front door, and who later was dispatched to the nearest town to pick up lunch, a hour’s drive away. While she was gone everyone stopped working and lapsed into a coma. She schlepped a giant notebook full of production and travel-related paperwork and intimated to me that her head was about to explode.


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  1. m

    poor Tristyn!
    It’s weird how imo I often seen women in groups doing all of the work, but men always complain about women using their feminine wiles to get out of work.

  2. jaded

    Good to know I’m not the only one who is thinks over-perky people are human equivalents of helium baloons. Also, Tristyn seems like the Female Worker Bee everywhere. Hope she is getting paid enough

    You could just sit around in a snuggie . Not only is it completely weather/hot flash inappropriate, it is also very creepy. This should do it if the robotic machine guns fail.

  3. Comrade PhysioProf

    You need a spring gun.

  4. Simply Sutton

    Yes! Me, too! In fact, it is often the middle-of-the-night panic attack about something entirely irrational that wakes me up first. It is like an aura preceding the sweat-seizure. I go ahead and throw off the covers as sort of a whatchamacallit strike, which is the other thing that happens. I cannot think of the simplest of words, never mind really good ones.

    Weirdly, though, I was rudely separated from my reproductive organs over 10 years ago. Why, oh why, am I still going through this?

    Oh, yeah. Pre-emptive. That’s the word I was looking for.

    This morning’s panic, and mine are always precisely at 3:15, even when we change to or from Daylight Savings Time, had something to do with my mother not getting here on time to prevent some awful catastrophe. Never mind that my mother is not expected, is not needed, not wanted here, and can’t go anywhere under her own steam any more anyway.

    I wish I could blame the Patriarchy for this, but somehow I don’t think it is their fault. Too bad.

  5. admirerofemily

    I think 3.30 is just Doomtime anyway. Having had neither chemo nor my female organs removed, nor hot flushes, I can report that it is still possible to feel doomladen at that hour. Which often disappears around 6am. That being said, it is entirely likely that the aforementioned matters can add to the sense of doom.

  6. Pinko Punko

    That beats any anecdote about the weirdness of discovered the internet site “lasertits” and wondering about it all. You also need to get some of those brush covered pits where people can collapse into unawares. Or maybe that Conan thing that drives a stake through the 40 ft crane.

  7. ashley

    concealed rattler pit covered with bluebonnets.

  8. veganrampage

    One thing is missing from your antisocial measures- human heads on pikes!

    If it was good enough for Vlad, it’s good enough for me.

  9. Jezebella

    This seems as good a time as any to report that, in the middle of a flexeril-induced weirdo dream the other night, I found myself on a bicycle in Texas, realized I was somewhere near the spinster compound, and tried to find it. You’ll be pleased, no doubt, to hear that your security measures were effective, as I was unsuccessful.

  10. Kiuku

    that’s friggin cool

  11. Gayle

    “*As a patriarchy-blaming side-note: young Tristyn was the only woman in the production crew.”

    Good catch. I was shocked to read the “This Old House” team had a young women named Tristyn on it at all, even if only in a lowly PA position. That production team doesn’t hire women.

    I typically don’t watch the show for that reason but I’d suspend my boycott to see your show. Can you let us know when it airs? They should notify you in advance.

  12. Jodie

    I have hot flashes, but luckily no impending doom. Of course, doom usually seems to blindside me. I never see it coming.

  13. Gayle

    I meant to write: young woman named Tristyn. Yikes.

    I still have my lady bits yet I awake at all hours of the night in a state of panic. The lack of sleep makes me foggy, indecisive and, obviously, unable to write grammatically correct sentences.

    I’ve been told not to watch TV during my bouts of insomnia as it can agitate and excite the brain, increasing sleeplessness. Something tells me “This Old House” could be an exception to the rule.

    PS: The strawberry blonde host was discovered when he agreed to have his house featured on the show. They liked him so much they hired him. He had no previous TV experience.

    Please replace him!

  14. yttik

    I wake up with impending doom syndrome, too. My friend tells me it’s just the ancestors annoyed because you haven’t paid them your respects. She suggests I get up and pour salt water across the doorsteps. And I do it too, even though opening the door at 4AM in my neighborhood is likely to invite doom right in.

  15. bellacoker

    As a more nocturnally inclined person, I generally wake up with a feeling of impending doom sometime around 10am, and then am kept from going back to sleep by birds chirping sweetly and such shit.

    Also, I am very jealous of your current lack of rain. Here is further north Texas, it has been raining for FOUR days straight!!

  16. Jill

    “They liked him so much they hired him.”

    Precisely. The dude is Affability itself.

    I hasten to point out that I am not personally in the show. They asked me to hold forth on the virtues of rainwater collection, but I declined. It has been my not inextensive experience that TV cameras only amplify my idiotogens. Besides, I could give a rat’s ass about rainwater collection. I only collect rainwater because it’s the only way to get wet around here.

  17. Comrade Svilova

    Your description of the role of a (female) producer made me laugh ruefully. I just finished up a ten-day shoot on which I was usually the only woman on set, lugging notebooks, snacks, water bottles, actors’ clothing/blankets/robes, and keeping everyone organized and working. Something needs to be fetched? More often than not, I’m the one running after forgotten items, additional gear, etc. And when I would voice concerns about the safety of something on set, I was called “mom.”

    And feminine wiles to get out of work? I assume that when people talk about women “getting out of work” they mean avoiding tough physical labor. Well, in addition to everything else, I still had to help haul hundreds of pounds of gear into and out of location each day.

    What an industry. Is it better to be involved and try to break down barriers, or just get out because it’s so desperately annoying?

  18. nails

    Comrade Svilova- You should search for “Charlie Brooker career in telly” in google and watch the video. I can’t access video at the moment, if I could I would link you.
    It is about working in TV and how much it fails. All of his vids about television and media are pretty good actually, and since it is bbc material it doesn’t get pulled from youtube on our side.

  19. terese

    That reminds me, quite a while ago I had a dream I was as a folk festival and stumbled across a tent housing the ‘Twisty autoharp band’.
    So, how’s the autoharp working out for ya, Jill? Ready to upload some video for us?

  20. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Hot flashes chez Niebieszczanski would be greeted with laurel wreaths, rose petals, great joy (and possibly a 3-day feast). At the ripe ol’ age of 50, my ridiculous reproductive organs continue their jolly 28-day cycle of shits-n-giggles, stupidly more regularly than ever. Never having heard the ticking of my “biological clock”, I wish the fucking things would just quit already. Also, I have grown a crop of gigantic fibroids which cause me no small amount of pain at least 5 days outta the merry ol’ 28. Lemme tell ya, chronic pain messes with your mind in previously undreamed-of ways.

    Oh, and a few of you may remember my last bout with a clot in the right branch of my pulmonary artery. Due to this monkey wrench, no reputable doctor will separate me surgically from the offending organs. Consigned to a lifetime of blood thinning medication (that shit is rat poison, dontcha know), my monthlies leave me as drained and anemic as a Victorian maiden after a night with Count Dracula.

    Sorry to wallow so extravagantly in the Pool of Self-Pity. But really, I’m exhausted.

  21. SargassoSea

    Holy shit. Where to start?

    Standing up to be counted as per DMA. Mine usually comes at 2:35 but that could just be the 100 mile long freight train barreling through town at roughly 76.4 mph.

    Witness, Antoinette! However I was lucky enough to be able to ditch my bleedin’ bag this past xmas. Best. Present. Ever.

    @ Comrade Svilova: “What an industry.” No kidding. I was a Boom Chick-a-boom (hardy har har) about 20 years ago – set down that teaspoon and went with option #2.

  22. Jill

    “So, how’s the autoharp working out for ya, Jill?”

    The dam thing keeps going out of tune, and 2 of the keys are ineffective. By which I mean, more out of tune and ineffective even by autoharp standards. I knew I should’ve sprung for the upgraded model.

  23. OlderThanDirt

    @Antoinette Niebieszczanski: Have you discussed endrometrial ablation? It saved me from basically bleeding to death.

  24. Amananta

    Ha! Once in some terrible bottom of the barrel retail job, where the rules were “don’t lean on the counter or ever look like you aren’t being the center of industriousness!” I, as the only female worker there that day, was dusting picture frames in a desultory fashion when I realized the 3-4 other (higher paid) male workers in the store were standing over me and I crouched on my knees to do this pointless task. I looked up at them with some nervousness, since no woman with an ounce of sense wants to be on her knees surrounded by standing, grinning men. Said the manager, “Hey, let’s all stand here and watch her work!” I didn’t know what to do, so in a semi-terrified state, I went back to dusting the picture frames while they laughed at me.

    Poor Tristyn.

  25. Kali

    Now that we are all post-feminist in the post-patriarchy, it means that women get to do all the heavy lifting for the men. So everything is equal now. What about the low pay, you say? Well, that’s just our choice.

  26. Liza

    I too have hot flashes which are preceded by an overwhelming sense of impending doom (good way to describe it, actually) but still have all my organs.

  27. Saurs

    Seconding nails’s suggestion to search out Brooker and his program Screenwipe*. Episodes available on that youtube place.

    *NB that Brooker has a tendency, some might reasonably object to, to remove his pants and feign furious masturbation whenever something bothers him.

  28. Linda Atkins

    No way! What a coincidence (about the strawberry-haired dude). Wild, man.

  29. ew_nc

    Normally I love consulting Susun Weed on all matters menopausal, but she refers to the hot flash/impending doom phenomenon as a “power surge.” Fuck that.

  30. Kiuku

    3am is the time when the Ether is thinnest to the darkest part of the afterlife: hades. So no I haven’t woken up in hotflashes, but I can definitelly sympathize with the doom and scaaryness.

  31. Kiuku

    if you’re going to kick the bucket you really want to aim for around 5am rather than 230-3

  32. Josquin

    My hot flashes are also often accompanied by a feeling of impending doom. Highly annoying to get both the claustrophobic, clothes-tearing-off, core-meltdown heat sensation, but to have it also linked with a flippin’ feeling of impending doom is just too cruel. And mine don’t even yield affable TV personalities. Not a one.

  33. Melissa

    Impending Aura of Doom has been my friend ever since I started my period. Some months are worse than others, but it’s always the day before onset. (With friends like that…)

  34. kristyn joy

    Holyshit, Like many other blamers, I too suffer from the Despondent Melancholic Aura. Still have all of my organs, save tonsils, but I hear the old female parts don’t work the way they should.

    Whatever that may be. Until we get more female doctors and/or reclaim our own health, in other words until hell freezes over, we may never know.

  35. Fliss

    ‘ne thing is missing from your antisocial measures- human heads on pikes!’


    I think women who do all the work while men sit there doing nothing reflects how men are around the house, their child- like, leave it all to her attitude. Men always will expect women to do a billion things at once while he enjoys sitting back and nobody giving a crap. Men are like the dumb kid looking to a woman as the mother who does everything. Gotta love how this changes when there’s a bit of dick swinging to be done though.

    Along with cringe-worthy egoism, this is why men are bad for the workplace.

  36. Kiuku

    ” men always complain about women using their feminine wiles to get out of work.”

    there are so many pervasive negative memes (archtypical story lines and things that aren’t true) about women, and hardly any about men. Society really hates women.

  37. Siren

    A man operating a crane — from what I understand — has to do some sort of proprioceptive realignment so as to experience the machinery as an extension of his own body. There seems to be something ironic, as in totally hilarious, about imagining you looking out at a bunch of dudes in the yard who are in turn watching another dude manfully raise and lower a 40-foot-long extension of his own body.

    To inspect your gutters, no less.

    Can’t say why this strikes me as so funny, but I’m pretty sure there’s an “I blame the patriarchy” in there somewhere.

  38. RKMK

    there are so many pervasive negative memes (archtypical story lines and things that aren’t true) about women, and hardly any about men

    From what I can tell, nearly every negative stereotype about women comes from projection from men. Women are “shallow” and “obsessed with looks and status”? In my experience, women are far more likely to date/marry men who might be judged as less conventionally attractive than men are willing to date (let alone marry) “less attractive” women – and men seem to be the ones who obsess about competing with other men for status and/or money and privilege. Women’s moral fortitude is questionable, and they’re so lacking in sexual self-control that their sexuality must be monitored and controlled at all times? Which gender does that ACTUALLY sound like? It goes on, and on….

  39. speedbudget

    I am too young for hot flashes, but I usually wake up around 3:00 for a long, long pee. It feels really good, so the attendant doomliness is short-shrifted.

  40. kristyn joy

    How has endometrial ablation worked out for you folks who have had them? They don’t get rid of the hormonal things, but I think I can handle being pissed off and psychic for a few days every month if I am also not bleeding buckets at the same time.

    Also, are they covered by public health insurance? For those of us blamers who live below the poverty line.

    Finally, This Old House magazine is decent reading. Sometimes has some good DIY tips, although -not- for those of us who live below the poverty line. However, one can dream about refurbishing one’s own falling-down house … and one often does, if one is me.

  41. kristyn joy

    Also, Jill, in terms of instruments that keep going in and out of tune — you are not alone. There is a banjolele player among the blametariat.

    It is an old banjolele that has a nice ring to it, but it cannot stay in tune for the life of its performer. It stymies all but the local instrymint repair shop, which has come to know the accompanying blamer as “Lady Banjolele.”

    There is still probably a shortage of gaffe tape, though.

  42. speedbudget

    kristyn, I used to be on Medicaid. The things that were covered were legion. You can always call your local Social Services office to find out, but I would be surprised if a medically necessary procedure were not covered.

  43. polly

    Sudden drops in oestrogen cause depression. This is because oestrogen is a neurotransmitter. Waking at 3 in the morning with a feeling of doom is a symptom of said depression.

    I speak from personal experience – a sudden plunge into what I was fairly sure was early menopause left me constantly weeping and feeling suicidal. An idiot male doctor assured me I was “too young” to be menopausaul and told me I had reactive depression until the blood test I insisted on proved otherwise. HRT fixed it for me – almost instantly, I took the pills, I immediately stopped crying and wanting to kill myself. HRT is not appropriate/possible for everyone to take, in which case it may be worth trying an antidepressant. The only other solution is to grin and bear it until hormones stabilise, when the symptoms should reduce for most women (but not all).

  44. kristyn joy

    speedbudget, you are perhaps more optimistic than I.

    It’s been said that I am a candidate for hysterectomy, but of course no doctor is willing to perform this surgery on someone in their twenties (in my teens, when it first came about).

    Cue, “Well, you may not want to have a baby now, but you’re young and I’m sure you’ll change your mind someday,” and “What if your husband wants to have a baby?”
    Because it’s not like I can adopt, or that I’m queer or anything.

    It’s good to know exactly where I, and all women, stand in this ol’ P. Somewhere in between a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, and an incubator. Except a little lower.

  45. speedbudget

    Oh, I hear you kristyn. I would have had ye olde tubes tied in days of yore. Or even today. But they won’t do that until I’ve had kids or I’m too old to have them. You know. Cause I’m just bumbling around here going on INSTINCT or some shit. Funnily enough, my Nigel has his tubes tied. Nobody made him jump through hoops either nor questioned the fact that a future wife might want kids. Patriarchy. It’s IN YOUR FASE at all times.

    I didn’t realize your treatment involved hysterectomy. I thought you were looking for something more endometriosis-like involving cauterizing or something.

  46. kristyn joy

    I think it’s more cauterization-level, but I’d like them to just take the whole damn thing out. It’s political and always has been. I refuse to be an incubator.

  47. pittiho

    You folks are a RIOT! I had my first doom wrapped hot flash today and I was searching the internet for an explanation of what had befallen me…and I found your site! Kizmit! I have a hairdressers head in a birdcage on my back porch…Can I join your club?

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