Workin’ On My Night Sweats

17 Nov

I sing that title, Bob Seger/Liz Lemon style, to Chris pretty regularly now.

Sometimes I’m a menopausal lady.  When we took my ovaries out, to you know, take out the cancer, we effectively shut down my body’s estrogen factory.  I still produce minimal amounts of estrogen in my liver, adrenal glands, breasts and fat cells, but we took the big guns out.  This launched me into a cataclysmic menopause overdrive, or the change of life, as Dr. Great calls it, at the ripe old age of 24.

So what is that like?  Well, by the time I checked out of the hospital, four days after my surgery, I was having regular throw-my-blanket-off-me-get-red-in-the-face-dripping-sweat hot flashes.  I don’t know why, but I thought the whole menopause thing would take longer to set in, so I spent most of this time convinced the small fever I’d had after a blood transfusion was back and raging.  I made the nurses take my temperature a whole bunch.  Turns out it was the flashies.

I’m one of the lucky oophorectomy kids, though.  My cancer was an estrogen producing cancer (which makes me think I must have really been cruising on an estrogen high what with the softball sized tumor and all).  Because my cancer produced estrogen, as opposed to feeding off of it like some breast cancers, I’m allowed to use estrogen replacement therapy.  I don’t need full hormone replacement therapy with progesterone, because I don’t have a uterus anymore and that’s all you need progesterone for anyhow.  Once we figured out that I was starting to flash away like rudolph’s nose, I started using my estrogen patches, which I’ll use for the rest of my life.  Without them my doctors said I’d probably start seeing signs of osteoporosis in five years, my skin would start to lose it’s elasticity and get wrinkly, and I’d basically age like Robin Williams in that movie Jack.  Lack of estrogen can also make you feel pretty blue, and who needs that?  I’ve heard that menopause can also make you pretty cranky.  I have to say that overall, I don’t feel that cranky, but when I am it’s hard to say what makes me feel that way these days…the cancer, the chemo, basketball season, baldness, boredom, etc.

Now, this is all well and good…unless you sometimes forget to change your estrogen patches on time….then you end up sweating and panting and trapped under the layers of winter clothing you put on.  Oh and chemo gives you hot flashes too.

Hey, at least I don’t need birth control anymore.

And at least I’m not wearing that blue snuggie, Liz Lemon, looks like a hot flashaster.

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4 Responses to “Workin’ On My Night Sweats”

  1. Liza November 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Your kidding?…..So you have been walking around w/ a high all these years?! That explains all the smiles…….
    What does it mean when you say you are an “oophorectomy” kid? Does oophorectomy mean estrogen producing cancer….? How does cancer do that….? That seems like an interesting side affect many people would want to get their hands on…..There is a TED talk from a young women doing cancer research (at Stanford I think) where she discussed how cancer can be harnessed to effectively destroy other diseases in the body. I am comforted to know that they know the specifics of so many cancers (estrogen producing vs consuming) so that they best know how to treat your specific condition!! Glad you are in the study!!

  2. Siobhan November 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Hey Colleen-
    I’m right there with the night sweats, although for me it’s ALL day long!! It sucks getting old—–My herbal supplements, twice a day, have really helped. Love reading your blog. You’re already sounding like Dr. Kerrigan!! Keep learning, keep writing and thanks for sharing.
    ~Siobhan

  3. Mama-Zebra November 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    Cranky? As our friend Omar would say: No doubt. Indeed.

  4. jen November 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    man, now i have night cheese stuck in my head…

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