Handling Hot-flashes

From Chapter 5  

Most of my students had no choice but to recognize me as though I were a different species from the rest of their professors. I was different. Physical features, of course. But unlike my colleagues, I endured irregular monthly cycles that would often trigger hormonal upheavals. Some women may be able to hide a hot-flash while standing in front of a class. Not me. I would suddenly become overheated, my face turning red as I gripped the podium. It might happen two or three times during a class or not at all. I quickly learned to take them in stride and carry on. I had borrowed a toy from my little granddaughter—a hand-held, bright-colored, battery-operated cylinder with a duck on top. Press the button and the duck would rapidly flap its wings. I would have preferred standing in front of an air-conditioner, but the flapping wings actually helped—and it alerted my students to the fact that Mama was having a hot flash.

 Sometimes I would need to walk to the back of the room and open a window for fresh air, but I always managed to keep things going without noticeably disrupting the class. In fact, some of the more talkative students recognized this as the perfect opportunity to jump in and take over. With my colleagues, however, it was different. Before that fateful night when Henry fired me, I enjoyed faculty-room fun and debate. We laughed and joked and discussed virtually any subject that came up. Never menopause, however. “It’s no surprise that the impact of menopause in the workplace isn’t much discussed,” writes Anne Loehr. “Most organizational systems were built by and for men, rarely with women in mind, let alone women with menopausal symptoms. So there’s an inherent sexism and bias built into organizations.”

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