If jumping to conclusions qualified as aerobic exercise, I’d have the body of a supermodel. My personal blend of creativity and anxiety allows my mind to conjure up a myriad of possible outcomes for any given situation. While the creativity comes in handy for problem solving, the anxiety morphs those problems into some pretty far-fetched worst case scenarios. Despite what appears to be a pessimistic tendency to imagine catastrophes, I prefer to think of myself as an over-prepared optimist. I hope for the best, but prepare for calamity. If I panic ahead of time by considering so many possible outcomes, I’m happily surprised when things work out. If one of the less desirable outcomes presents itself, my anxiety has already been spent and I can focus on dealing with the dilemma. While this may not be the healthiest mental game plan, it has worked for me so far.
Oregano has seen this side of me and accepts it. He is usually even amused by it. When we were newlyweds and our first cat, Scooter, developed a large bump on his tail, I was concerned. On the way to the vet’s office, my eyes welled up and I started sniffling. Since I’m not normally a crier, Oregano looked over at me with great concern. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m worried that Scooter has tail cancer and we’re going to have to put him to sleep.” I whispered in a barely audible voice.
Oregano looked at me like I was insane. “Tail cancer?! Is that even a thing? Why on Earth would you think that he has tail cancer?”
“I don’t know if tail cancer is a thing, but why else would he have a big lump on his tail?” I asked trying to make my absurd concern seem rational. In all fairness to my anxiety, he did ask what was bothering me. I was just telling him. He hadn’t asked me to evaluate the plausibility of my concern.
“We don’t know why he has a lump on his tail which is why we’re going to the vet. Besides, if it is tail cancer, he can always live without his tail. We won’t have to put him to sleep tonight,” he said attempting to calm my fear.
As it turned out, it wasn’t tail cancer. It was a big, old goose egg he got from running around the house sliding into the walls while chasing his toys. It’s been more than 20 years and we still don’t know if tail cancer is even a thing, but since then, Oregano has learned to find the humor in my creative anxiety.
A few weeks ago, I started waking up at 3 a.m. drenched in sweat and unable to cool myself off. This is a rarity for me. I’m always cold. During the winter, I sleep on a heated mattress pad in long pajamas and socks. Oregano is always hot, not in the smoldering sexy way, more like the human space heater way. The first night I woke up sweating, I looked over expecting to find him splayed out on top of the blanket. When I saw him sleeping soundly without any sweat beading on his forehead, I knew it was just me. Eventually I cooled off and fell back to sleep convinced it was just an isolated incident.
The morning after my fifth consecutive night of nocturnal perspiration, I woke up and announced to Oregano that I had gone into menopause, He looked at me with the same mixture of concern, disbelief and amusement he always has when my mental train goes off the rails.
“Really? Menopause? Just like that? That seems unusual. I thought it was more of a gradual thing,” he said.
“Well, I am a woman of a certain age. I didn’t think it was supposed to happen so suddenly, but I’ve never done this before, so who knows?” I replied seeming quite logical. “I guess this means the end of my youth,” I announced with dramatic flourish.
Stifling a laugh, Oregano asked, “What makes you think you’ve instantly entered menopause overnight?”
“It wasn’t overnight,” I replied defensively. “It started on Saturday. It’s been five nights now.”
“What’s been five nights now?” he asked.
Trying to explain myself I said, “I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. sweating and unable to cool off. Look! I even had to take off my socks.” I lifted my bare feet in the air and wiggled them. “Night sweats are a symptom of menopause.”
“Oh, well, if you had to take your socks off because you were so hot, that must be menopause,” he kissed my head, chuckled and got out of bed.
As I was getting ready for work, Oregano called up from the family room. “When did you say your sudden onset menopause began?”
I yelled downstairs, “Saturday night.”
“You said it happened around 3 a.m.. Was it the same time every night?” he asked like a detective trying to solve a murder.
“It was,” I replied.
“Didn’t you think it was unusual that it happened at the same time every night?” he bellowed from the bottom of the stairs.
“No,” I said irritated by the inquisition.
“Our new furnace was installed this past Saturday. Do you think that might have something to do with your night sweats?” He was not letting this go.
“I doubt it. If it was the furnace, you would have woken up sweating, too.” I countered making what I thought was an excellent point.
“Maybe not,” he responded. “You sleep in the little heat cocoon you’ve created for yourself.”
Finally, he was quiet and I went about my morning routine.
“You can relax. It’s not menopause,” Oregano yelled up the staircase. “I just checked the programmable thermostat. It must have gotten messed up when they installed the new furnace. The heat has been coming on at 2:45 a.m. and it is set for 74 degrees. The upstairs has been warmer than usual in the middle of the night and since you sleep like a baked potato wrapped in tinfoil, you woke up sweating, but I didn’t.”
Oregano reprogrammed the thermostat to our regular settings. That night I slept sweatless through the whole night. When we woke up, Oregano asked, “How was your menopause last night? Any better?”