Because stumbling blindly through menopause is less fun than it sounds

Gearing up for my 10-year Menoversary

Posted by Robin Donovan

Ten years ago in October I had a hysterectomy and started down my menopausal journey. In many ways it feels more like 30 years ago! So much has happened – correction – so much has had to be dealt with in that 10-year time frame.

Looking back on these past ten years the dominant feeling has been one of frustration. Dealing with a body that has changed, and not much of that change has been positive! I don’t even feel as joyous over the lack of a monthly cycle as I’d expected – man, I thought that would be a celebration every month – but it feels as though it’s just kind of faded away. Sometimes I try to remind myself of the discomfort and inconvenience just so I can feel triumphant – but it falls kind of flat.

What I do experience is the greater difficulty in losing weight (not that it’s ever been easy), the night sweats and the hot flashes. The ever present need to check my “freshness” on pretty much every front. In short, I kind off feel like a walking, clammy blob. It’s not great!

Do I sound whiny? Honey, I’m just getting started, but I’ll guarantee those around me would be crabbing about the broken record who’s been overgenerous with her TMI!

In fact, I’m lucky. I have a great doctor who monitors my hormones and works to improve my symptoms, a wonderful chiropractor who helps me with symptoms as well as controlling scar tissue from my surgery – that’s been a huge (and most unwelcome) presence in my life!

I’ve said it before, menopause doesn’t end. You’ve lost key hormones in your body and they don’t just come back after a bit – they never come back. I’m convinced that the clinical definition of menopause being over is the body accepting that death is inevitable and that decay leading to death is only natural. It’s not like having the flu and having it be over!

Sadly, one difference that has occurred over these past 10 years is that I used to be quick to point out that I was in surgical menopause – because I went into menopause earlier than the average – I was very young. Now, 10-years later I’m quick to point out that I may still be IN menopause (doubtful, but you prove I’m not!) – because I’m too young to be finished with menopause. Damn, the years are unkind in so many ways!


I could use your help.

Posted by Robin Donovan

I need to sell 95 copies of my book (Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?) directly through this link in order to help my publisher meet her goals:

How is this related to menopause you ask? My protagonist is a menopausal business woman turned amateur detective.

Renowned author, Sharon Love Cook has this to say about the book:

The title alone tells you this isn’t a cozy about embroidering or making fudge. The central character, Donna Leigh, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. But even when she finds herself in trouble, she never lacks for a witty response. This amateur sleuth compares herself to Miss Marple, albeit a “younger, hotter ” Jane Marple. And though she may unwittingly do ditzy things, such as propping a ladder against the dead woman’s house, thereby attracting the attention of the police, she is a savvy businesswoman. In fact, part of the book’s charm is the insider look at the world of advertising. Author Robin Leemann Donovan is part owner of a high profile advertising agency in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting of this mystery.

There’s something for everyone: fashionistas will love the descriptions of clothes worn by Donna Leigh and colleagues, a coterie of women who aren’t afraid to pile into the car and go investigate a murder. And though they’re bold and daring, they don’t always think before they act. Impulsivity runs rampant in that office. Nonetheless, they’re fiercely loyal, the kind of friends any woman would love to have in her corner–providing they remain in the corner.

Is it Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? is brimming with madcap fun, dark deeds, humorous musings and asides and old fashioned suspense along with a victim you love to hate. The protagonist is a whirling dynamo who never slows down, and never lets the reader down either.


Don’t hate me because I manage to avoid holiday shopping

Posted by Robin Donovan

Okay, go ahead and hate me if you want – I would!

It helps not to have kids. Let’s face it – that’s probably where the majority of you spend your holiday shopping time. And having a very small family helps as well. Don’t get me wrong I have a great family – there just aren’t many of them – and there are no young kids anymore.

With the little family that we do have living half a country away, a lot of our holiday gifts are in the form of things that can be shipped like wine and floral arrangements. My husband and I have agreed to share something for the household – and he will schedule it and get it done.

During the year, when I check out various craft fairs, etc. I purchase trinkets I like that could easily serve as holiday gifts for any of the few women that are in my family.

So all things considered I really only shop for my Mom. And she’s so tough to buy for I do that year round as I find things I think/hope would appeal to her.

The holidays are so crazed. Business is demanding, holiday parties are grueling (whether I attend them or throw them) that perhaps the best present I give myself – is to avoid holiday shopping.

And from a menopausal point-of-view, the thought of traipsing through a department store, or in and out of stores at an outdoor mall sends a shiver of terror up my spine equal to none. Have you ever – in the years since menopause has descended – been on an epic shopping expedition without major hot flash, sweaty, tear your jacket off and fan yourself with your gloves moments? I haven’t.


What a difference a day makes

Posted by Robin Donovan

I have been known to complain from time to time – don’t be shocked. Life after menopause has not been all peaches and cream. I have also candidly admitted that it might not all be due to menopause – I’ve had a few random health issues that could easily have contributed to my dissatisfaction with the way my body functions.

Very recently a few things happened that seem to be making a pretty big difference for me.

My hormone doctor and I have been going round and round on my thyroid medication. I keep telling her that my dosage is too low and she keeps telling me that she doesn’t want to take any chances with overmedicating me (the AMA doesn’t believe I should have ANY thyroid medication despite the fact that I’ve had the majority of my thyroid removed). I appreciate her caution – but my body does not!

I finally convinced her to up the dosage. She said “okay, I’ll double the dosage, but every time I do that we wait a few weeks, take a blood test, and end up lowering it again.” I was willing to take the chance.

From the moment I started taking the increased dosage I underwent a metamorphosis. It was like a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation. No longer was my greatest decision on the weekend whether or not to lie on the couch or the loveseat while watching HGTV and dozing. I even organized my shoe closet!

Thankfully, the blood test came back in agreement with what my body was telling me.

Then, a few weeks later, a good friend told me about a fruit and vegetable cleanse. I tried it for two days and lost 8 pounds. I feel a million times better!

Those two changes have made a marked impact on my life.

Am I exactly where I want to be weight wise? Hell no, but 8 pounds is an awesome start – and I plan on doing that cleanse on and off throughout the holidays to help stave off holiday creep.

So what’s the point of my little story? Just a few small steps in the right direction can make a huge improvement. You can re-energize and feel much better long before you achieve all of your aggressive goals. Go ahead and try healthy improvements and take your victories with gusto – no matter how minor they may seem!

The End of Menopause

Posted by Robin Donovan

Menopause doesn’t end. Menopause starts when you stop menstruating. At that time the hormones that were so much a part of your life have now dwindled significantly, and in some cases completely.

Once those hormones dwindle you have two choices, find ways to replace or mimic them in your system or let them go. If you choose to replace or mimic them you may keep your body functioning in a fashion similar to how it functioned before menopause, for a time. If you let them go – your body will never function in quite the same way again.

Before menopause I heard all kinds of commentary and conjecture about the length of menopause. Menopause is not a journey – it’s a destination. Once you’re there you’re never going back – trust me!

That makes me wonder what the hell those folks were talking about when they said things like “oh it can last as long as ten years.” Were they talking about hot flashes? Hot flashes are not menopause, they are one of several possible symptoms of menopause. Are they considering menopause to be the bridge between pre and post menopause – which is just more menopause? This makes no sense to me.

I went into surgical menopause at the age of 48. I have been struggling with trying to balance hrt to reduce a variety of unpleasant symptoms ever since. I don’t pretend to understand everything related to the physiology of menopause, but I do know one thing: Menopause does not end! There is no going back!

After menopause come thoughts of retirement and decisions about where to live

Posted by Robin Donovan

Where do you want to retire? I’d like to be near the beach – so Florida? Seems like a natural but I’ve heard some negatives about their available healthcare. You have to think like that when you’re planning for retirement.



Maybe I should pick up stakes and move back to the Northeast where I originated. The healthcare there is good – but is the quality of life? Just life related to healthcare is a challenge when I hear about the hour and hours spent in waiting rooms. I don’t want to spend my golden years being stressed out and fighting the crowds!

Should I stay in the Heartland where I’ve been for the past 14 years? The quality of life has been exceptional, the healthcare has been better than expected and sometimes there’s no wait at all to get in to see the doctor of your choice? But will I be giving up those “resort-like” amenities? Life is good here – it’s not a giant pain in the butt that some of the more crowded metro markets have become. I’m kind of spoiled. But will it be enough?

It’s a lot to think about.

My husband would opt to be in the mountains out west where he can ski the days away – but do I want to be in a place where lots of snow is the order of the day for far more days than it is in the Midwest, no matter how breathtaking the scenery? I’m not sure. Not having to brave icy streets to get into an office would certainly make it less stressful, but I’m not sure I want to dress like Nanook of the North and clomp around in Uggs every day! Although admittedly I would be tres chic!

We talked about getting a place out west AND a place in Florida – but transporting three dogs back and forth would be challenging. My husband suggested sticking with the place out west (big surprise!) and maybe finding a “beachy” place further south within a day’s drive. He even went as far as to suggest we might be able to rent the “beachy” place rather than buy. Yeah, right, who’s going to rent their beach place to a couple with three active bulldogs?

What I need is a place that gives me great skiing access, some beach time, excellent healthcare that’s also convenient, affordability and a high quotient of stress-free living. Does such a place exist?

I’m almost starting to envy those folks who have lived their lives in one place. They don’t have to think about where to retire – there IS nowhere else. For me, there are so many choices – now I just need to make the right one for us!







How Does A Menopausal Woman Eat?

Posted by bozell

We all know a large percentage of menopausal women have a tendency toward weight gain, but many of our doctors tell us that if we buckle down and do the work we can fix that. Do we need to tell these docs to get their heads out of their “Clavens” and face our reality?

I’ve tried it all. I mean recently. Over 30 years I tried it all and much of it worked. It was hard work – but it paid off. Not so much now.

I work my butt off eating all the right foods and exercising and results are just not forthcoming. Thankfully I love fruits and vegetables, but let’s face it you can eat only so many garden fresh tomatoes before your complexion turns that fire engine shade of really bright red!

Okay, I exaggerate, but nothing is working for me right now and it’s making me crazy. I’ve tried gluten free, wheat free, carb free, starch free, low cal and whatever else you can think of – and nothing. And let’s not even talk about the bloating – I’ll just sob!

The next doctor that tell me that two months isn’t enough to gauge whether or not X will work is going to get my boot in their ass! I know gluten free folks who claim to know within a week or two – so when absolutely nothing happens over 6 – 8 weeks – I know someone is blowing smoke up my skirt!

What’s even worse is that when I’m on full swing in my “recommended diet du jour” and am lamenting about a discernable lack of positive reinforcement, a well-meaning friend/acquaintance, who clearly puts little effort into life-sustaining behavior will always manage to chime in with “well, if you didn’t drink diet soda, you could probably drop those extra pounds.” Let me just say in the calmest and most rational voice I can muster “I want to drop you into a tank of piranhas and then throw the remains into a fiery volcano.”

Does that seem like an overreaction to you?

Vaginal Dryness or The Road to Forced Celibacy!

Posted by Robin Donovan

How did we get so lucky? In our youth we never really expected to reach menopause since we’d never be old – but we knew if we did there’d be no more monthly periods! How could that be bad? No more muss or fuss!

Oh how naive we were! Without all of that “other” stuff we often lose the moisture that makes so many good things really good! There’s always a price – isn’t there?

Well some folks are looking into better ways of beating this bane of the menopausal woman’s existence. We know there are creams and gels and other kinds of solutions, but there’s one company working on something kind of high tech (I know, that sounds a little scary, but it’s kind of interesting).

I was recently contacted by Jana Morrelli, an MBA student completing an internship for a new women’s health company called ReJuVey and she has asked for our help. They are strictly at the research phase of their product creation and would appreciate having menopausal women complete the survey listed below? It’s a rare opportunity to be heard in the development of a new solution for vaginal dryness.

“ReJuVey is developing a sonic-based device (similar to a sonic toothbrush - only I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go where the toothbrush goes) and non-estrogen based proprietary gels to help relieve women of the symptoms associated with vaginal dryness and painful intercourse due to atrophy.

As we develop this product, we want to make sure we are addressing real women’s needs so we’re doing a survey! We would love to survey women age 45 plus – those approaching menopause, peri-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women are all welcome.The survey is completely anonymous – but if you would like to receive information or would like to help out with testing just enter your contact information at the end of the survey and we will add to our upcoming Newsletter list! Also, we’d love you to stop by and like our page on Facebook at
Survey Link:

The Menopausal Woman’s Greatest Summer Travel Hazard

Posted by Robin Donovan

What else? Losing your luggage.

As I pack my meager little bag in anticipation of a flight back east to visit family and friends I am fraught with mixed feelings.

I want to look the best I possibly can when I see the folks I’m lucky to visit once a year. But do I want to risk losing my prized possessions? The handful of garments that look good enough (at least in my perception) to enable me to put my best foot forward? It’s a huge risk!

precious luggage

precious luggage

And trust me, there are a handful at best!

In my twenties I feared lost luggage because I knew the airlines would not compensate me enough to replace lost wardrobe items. Not that they were all that expensive – especially back then – but rumor had it that airlines barely cover the cost of the actual luggage itself.

The garments themselves were not a big deal. Such a loss would give me a chance to shop and buy all new – I’d like that. I also had enough attractive options back home that I would barely notice the loss of any specific outfit.

Not so now. As I fold my precious jeans and place them in the suitcase my hand trembles. How many painful shopping trips, trying on pair after pair that either aggravated the scar tissue from my hysterectomy, looked like crap or were so loose they would barely stay on without suspenders?  How many purchased pairs that seemed like the perfect solution and turned out to be painful in a sitting position, stretched to clown pants after a few hours?

I had a lot invested in those jeans – would I trust them to the folks who fly the friendly skies?

Then there were my dress slacks. Even after eschewing zippers many years before, the perfect pair – the one that flatters with an elegant look, i.e. never saggy, baggy or bunchy – is just not that readily available. And beyond that, what about that rare pair of slacks that meet all the criteria AND are in a business-acceptable color other than black? So few designers offer those flattering and comfortable styles in anything other than black; and although black is my “go to” color – you can only have so many pairs of the same style black pants without giving the impression that you never wash clothing! There are just not that many fabric choices.

I just can’t afford to take that rare pair of non-black slacks with me!

Even the jammies really matter if a/someone might stop in for morning coffee, b/you’ve had to get up on more nights than you can remember to change because of night sweats (those breathable fabrics can be a lifesaver) or because the waistband is cutting off your circulation even though they were perfectly comfortable the night before!

Are you starting to see a trend here? Finding clothing that works for me, post surgery, post menopause is a major challenge – letting even one piece go is a life changing event. The thought of losing an entire suitcase worth of vacation clothing is terrifying!

I’m thinking airlines will have to start offering the menopausal woman a seat and an accompanying shelf for her wardrobe. When you consider the buying power of the menopausal baby boomers – they damn well should make sure they take care of us! Don’t you think?


Are You One of The Lucky Menopausal Women?

Posted by Robin Donovan

Are you a lucky menopausal woman? Or just a lucky woman? How do you know?

Do you feel lucky?

I feel lucky. Does that mean I don’t have bone crushing business issues? No. Does it mean I am thin and gorgeous and look twenty years younger than my age? No. Does it mean my friends and family are not riddled with some form of strife or another? No. Does it mean night sweats are a thing of the past? Hell No!  Am I wealthy and planning on buying a caribbean retreat? No.

Are you lucky?

Are you lucky?

So how am I lucky?

I have so much.

I have a roof over my head and enough food to eat. I even enjoy my roof and most of my food (dieting puts a damper on the food at times). I have a husband who’s not perfect – but he’s a good guy and I enjoy being with him.  I have three beautiful rescue bulldogs who love me very much. I have a Mom who loves and supports me and makes me laugh. I have a business that makes me proud – not rich, but proud! I have been fortunate enough to have my book published – It’s not setting sales records by a longshot, but at least it’s published!

How much luckier can you get than that?

At this stage of life, when so many of us are questioning the value of what we do have and in some cases contemplating scary changes – it is so critical to stop and think about why we’re lucky.

Some seem to have so much – and some so little. Most of the people I know are facing major challenges of one form or another. I am facing major challenges – but that doesn’t mean I’m not lucky.

Will we ever be completely free of wanting other than what we have? Hell no! Will we ever have most of what we want? How about if we win the lottery? The really lucky ones know that we already have most of what we want – challenges notwithstanding. And the rest will always want something more – even if we win the lottery.

How about me? When I’m candid with myself I know I’m very very lucky. But after that minute passes I’ll always want more!

And I really want that caribbean retreat – dammit!

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