Football and Menopause

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We celebrated Super Bowl Sunday with some homemade pasta this year, and capped off the fun with a in-depth discussion on menopause!

Growing up, I thought Super Bowl Sunday was an actual holiday. My family always had an elaborate meal to celebrate. Back then, I think the game was earlier in the day, because I seem to recall having our meal during half time. Typically we had Cornish hens and rice pilaf. It was so exciting because each of us got our own hen! I vividly remember the plate in front of me, looking all fancy.

It was a delicious meal and a special day, even though I couldn’t care less about the game. I was not then and am not now a football fan, so I rarely paid attention. I did enjoy lounging around all day, smelling the meal being prepared in the kitchen and listening to those watching the game yell at the TV. I don’t remember commercials or half time being a big deal back then, but I could be wrong as I was a bit of an oblivious child.

As a teenager I began to realize that we were not normal. My friends would call and ask me to do something, and I would say “I can’t. It’s Super Bowl Sunday!” Naturally they didn’t get it, and it gradually dawned on me that this wasn’t actually a holiday. When I left for college, my first Super Bowl Sunday away from home was heart-wrenching, as if I was spending Christmas far from family. My new friends did not understand the significance at all. Now that I am 52 and have my own family, I treat it as a holiday in our house, even though I’m still not interested in watching the game. As you know, I embrace any reason to celebrate!

We spend a lot of time thinking about the food we’ll have on Super Bowl Sunday. Some years we have had friends or family over and made an abundance of typical game day food, and other years we have gone the fancy pants Cornish hen and rice pilaf route. There is never a theme around either team, because I have no idea who is actually playing. I will admit, if the Cleveland Browns ever made it this far, I would definitely be aware and might actually watch the game. My decorations would be all orange and brown and we would cook enough to feed an army. But I knew that wasn’t the case this year, because I never heard people running through the streets screaming in delight in the days leading up to the game, and my husband and dad weren’t acting all emotional. So in honor of just a non-Browns, perfectly normal Super Bowl celebration, we decided to treat ourselves with some homemade pasta.

Homemade pasta takes time, so there’s lots of chatting in the kitchen. Lately our girls have been complaining about the temperature in our house, which is set at 67 degrees. They always seem to be freezing and complain about it incessantly. We like to point out that they wear tank tops and shorts and maybe if they threw on a sweat shirt they’d be more comfortable, but that’s too logical for teenage brains to process. One of the girls mentioned how strange it was to see me without my signature comfy old green sweater, usually a staple in my home wardrobe throughout the winter months. “You used to always complain of being cold too!”

It’s true. All my life I have had an extremely narrow temperature comfort zone between 70-72 degrees. Anything above and below and I would complain. Now that I’m a mature woman, however, my comfort zone has changed. I’m usually the one who is warm. Hello menopause!

Dinner Table Doctor was more than happy to explain the symptoms of menopause in great detail, as if I didn’t already know! Our children did what they always do when a long medical explanation is coming and they are not captives at the table, and slowly meandered out of the room while making excuses. Surprisingly they had no interest in learning about the potential horrors that await them after years of painful periods. Alas, creating homemade pasta is easier with two people, so I could not escape with a clear conscience. I nodded in agreement and tried to pay attention to all the information DTD offered about my stage in life. I have taken the liberty of adding some of my own descriptive elements to his informative medical explanation, which follows:

Menopause is the eventual semi-glorious time in a woman’s life when she ceases experiencing gut wrenching monthly periods which literally drain the life out of her throughout her teenage and much of her adult years.

During menopause a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs and stop making the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age is 51. Much like the jarring experience of having a period for the first time and dealing with monthly cramps, menopause is inconvenient, physically challenging, and confusing for an extended time. Bleeding may become less frequent and lighter, or it may become more frequent and heavier. A woman may start skipping periods, constantly wondering and worrying if she’s pregnant and will be approaching 80 with a kid in college. Or she may have unexpected periods, following no schedule and no rhyme or reason, so she is forced to carry pads and tampons wherever she goes at all times and lives in fear of the dreaded “backside stain” in public. Many a pair of underwear and sheets may be sacrificed throughout a woman’s life. Also there’s the expense of pads and tampons, which some countries wisely provide at no cost for all female citizens.

Common symptoms of menopause may also include:

Hot flashes – These feel like a wave of heat that starts in your chest and face and then moves through your body. Hot flashes usually start happening before you stop having periods and could last for years. Sometimes you need to stand in front of an open refrigerator just to have a few moments of relief.

Night sweats – When hot flashes happen during sleep, they are cleverly called “night sweats.” They can make it impossible to get a good night’s sleep and your sheets get soaked.

Sleep problems – During the transition to menopause, some women have trouble falling or staying asleep. This can happen even if night sweats are not a problem. Basically you’re screwed because you will ALWAYS be tired and still expected to function normally and even be pleasant to people around you.

Vaginal dryness – Menopause can cause the vagina and tissues near the vagina to become dry and thin. This usually starts a few years after menopause. It can be uncomfortable or make sex painful, because apparently mature women aren’t expected to enjoy anything – ever, not even something as basic as sex.

Depression – During the transition to menopause, many women start having symptoms of depression or anxiety. That’s especially true for women who have been depressed before. It’s a basic continuation of the depression and anger you may have experienced due to the hormones during the many years when you had periods, and during and after any pregnancies, so at least you’re probably used to it by now.

Trouble concentrating or remembering things – This might be caused by lack of sleep that often happens during menopause, or by the lack of estrogen. Some experts suspect that estrogen is important for good brain function. Again, you may be used to this from experiencing things like pregnancy fog and the general overwhelming mental state of motherhood.

If you are 45 or older and having any of these symptoms, know you are not alone. If some of these symptoms really bother you – such as you cannot sleep because of night sweats, or it is hard to work because of your hot flashes, or if you feel sad or blue and don’t seem to enjoy things anymore – please visit your doctor! There are treatments for these issues and you don’t have to live this way!

You should also see your doctor if you:

●Have your period more often than every 3 weeks

●Have very heavy bleeding during your period

●Have spotting between your periods

●Have been through menopause (have gone 12 months without a period) and start bleeding again, even if it’s just a spot of blood

Menstruation is something no man could ever fully comprehend and if men were the ones who had periods, the world would be a totally different place. Sanitary pads and tampons would be free for everyone, and monthly sick or “mental health” days would be the norm. There would be NO SUPER BOWL because any of the football players having a period would be incapacitated.

A good doctor (yes even a male doctor) should be able to help you navigate the symptoms of menopause. I promise you, on the other side of menopause, when you’re all done with periods forever and have successfully managed any annoying symptoms, you’ll enjoy a new beginning – a fabulous, fresh start and exciting stage in life that every woman deserves after the hormonal hell she’s been through.

On that note, let me share our fabulous Super Bowl menu! We made homemade fettuccine, which is not as hard as you think and very worth the effort. There are simple recipes online, most requiring nothing more than flour and water, although some add eggs and oil. We have a new pasta machine which we love and is pictured below.

We also made braciole. There are many versions of this recipe, depending on what part of Italy it comes from. My mom and dad always made it by wrapping flat pieces of round steak around a hard boiled egg and Parmesan cheese. You brown the rolls and then cook them for hours in sauce. So yummy! The recipe we made was a new one for us from David Rocco’s cookbook Dolce Famiglia, where you take flank steak and roll parsley, cheese, pine nuts and raisins in it. Then you cook it in a wine and tomato sauce. It was delicious and completely different from my parents’ method.

Pair homemade pasta with braciole and a nice salad and some crusty bread, and you have a feast special enough for the Super Bowl. Congrats to the winning team and be thankful men don’t menstruate!

This is the cookbook with the braciole recipe we used. He also has very simple homemade pasta recipes. It’s beautifully illustrated and we use it often – I highly recommend it! You can find it here: Dolce Famiglia

This is our new pasta machine next to an old one that was handed down in my family. They look so similar, but the new one is a heck of a lot easier to use! My parents have a pasta attachment on their KitchenAid mixer which is nice too.

We bought ours here: Mercato Atlas pasta maker. We DID NOT pay the price it is currently listed at! We bought it before the pandemic and it was much cheaper. I’m guessing that many people are now making pasta at home and this is the top-rated pasta machine, so the price increased. While it is great, there are also cheaper options on Amazon.

There are many different brands in a variety of price ranges that offer a KitchenAid attachment. Pasta Attachment for KitchenAid

If you’re going to eat pasta, you have to have a nice big pasta bowl for serving! This one has been in our family and was passed down to me. Anytime we’re having a special pasta dinner, this is the bowl I use for serving. If you want to splurge and have a beautiful bowl to pass down in your family, I suggest this link. Hand painted pasta bowl

You can also get a less expensive and nice pasta bowl . We honestly have several! Find one here: Pasta Bowl

If you’re struggling with menopause, this is a book I just purchased. I haven’t received it yet, but based on the cover alone I’m looking forward to it. I know, I know – I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…but that title with that picture is what sold me the book! If nothing else, I plan on leaving it on the coffee table to scare guests so they don’t get sassy. Menopocalypse: How I Learned to Thrive During Menopause and How You Can Too by Amanda Thebe

  1. Loved this one girl! Football – I do like! Wish it was more celebratory in the family tradition…Come ‘on Browns! Next year!!! Menopause – sadly I know too much about that, But will have to check out this book! And I’ve always been scared to make pasta! I will have to try it sometime. Just married into these Italians! LOL But I do love my pasta bowl – which dd come from another Mary Gallo! It makes any store bought pasta even taste better!

    Like

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