I don’t know if it’s because suddenly I have more time under a pandemic quarantine or if it’s because the bathroom in our new house has more light, but I’ve been noticing some unpleasant things.
I will admit to not using any kind of face cream until I was in my 20s and 30s. Never once. My skin was great. I had youthful glow. I used to be told I wasn’t aging, that I looked as good as I did when I was a teenager.
Around 32, I noticed the skin under my eye was thinning. I think. I mean, I wasn’t really sure so I did what we all do: I crowdsourced information on Facebook. Needless to say, I was horrified. I had women telling me about sagging necks, wrinkled chests, droopy eyelids, menopause, drying vaginas, etc.
You guys. Aging sounds scary.
Like a virgin? Like a used car, you mean.
I’ve said for a long time that there are far too many books on pregnancy and raising children. Most of them are the same information written in different ways and it gets overwhelming. But when was the last time you’ve seen a comprehensive book on aging? I’m not talking estate planning; I’m talking about vaginas that dry up. Bladder slings. Incontinence disposable underwear. Outrageously-priced eye cream. Your body turning into a clunker as if it was a car you’d be looking to trade it in.
After my Amniotic Fluid Embolism, my body seemed to work completely differently. Its like when you get an update on your computer and then you realize you don’t have a clue where anything is–I was restarted and had no idea how anything was supposed to work. Sitting on the floor? Good luck getting up, grandma. Eating fast food? Better have ample reading material in the bathroom, you’re going to be there awhile. Want to get frisky with your husband? Slow your roll princess, better go get your prescription cream for your desert-dry vagina.
I wouldn’t be so upset if I knew what to expect ahead of time. Instead my body is springing this on me. Remember when we were little and we learned about getting our periods? It was such a big deal and the school showed those embarrassing videos, our moms talked to us, you get the pamphlet from the doctor office during your checkup and it felt like a real rite of passage? Some of us looked forward to it because it meant we were really a woman.
Aging isn’t like that. I mean, I had a general idea about the concept of menopause and roughly how old my mom was when it descended and what her symptoms were. What I didn’t realize was how severe the symptoms actually are. In theory a hot flash means your body warms up. That happens if I wear a jacket in the mall, no big deal.
Bit in reality, BIG DEAL. It feels like someone has set you on fire. You have to try to act cool through it because when you fan yourself in the frozen foods section at the grocery store you get looks. (Shout out to the woman who once told me to go by the ice cream because those ones are colder. She gets it.) You have to open your bedroom windows and turn on the fan on in the dead of winter because you’ve already changed your pajamas once for sweat. My poor husband looks like Jack from Titanic, teeth chattering on his side of the bed insisting everything is fine when he’s clearly freezing to death.
I remember when I went to Mayo Clinic to talk about my hormones (I have little-to-none post-AFE because of Sheehan’s Syndrome and a broken pituitary gland). The doctor–a very nice woman–was very frankly explaining to me the dangers of a dry vagina and how you have to keep it moist. My 36 year-old self was trying to keep it together and not laugh because of course your vagina is moist but also, she said “moist.” Then she made me watch a video on how to properly moisten everything with a special cream.
I think that was the moment my youth actually died. I had to demonstrate how to apply cream to a plastic vagina so the doctor could be assured that I knew what I was doing. Any dignity I still had also dried right up.
On the down low? More like downhill.
I am 38 now and while looking in the mirror this morning I realized I have wrinkle lines on my chest–those big horizontal ones. I’ve got stretch marks on my boobs and now I’m worried they really will touch my lap when I sit. I have what my friend calls “turkey neck”–the skin is getting looser and I noticed wrinkles starting. My eyelids are droopy so eye makeup doesn’t look quite right. I used to have a really cute bubble butt that I thought looked great in all pants. It has definitely deflated, and now my jeans are baggy back there.
I wish I had a book to reference like the What to Expect books. Like, “Year one: expect droopy boobs. You will need to buy a special bra like this (example).” But no, there isn’t anything like that.
I recently had my gallbladder out and since then things are not quite right with the digestive system, if you know what I mean. I was worried because I was going on a trip to DC/NYC and having to be in the bathroom for long stretches was very much not a possibility. The doctor actually recommended adult diapers. DIAPERS, you guys.
She even said they make “sexy” ones so it feels like real underwear.
And that? That is aging. You, too, will be offered sexy adult underwear and you need to know this ahead of time. If you are in later stages of aging, you could make a lot of money by writing a book on what is going to happen to us. The good, the bad, the ugly. Don’t hold back–we all need to know.