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The Battle of the Thermostat: How I Negotiate Hot Flashes With My Family


Carajo, it’s HOT! 

So sings Doña Claudia in the hit movie musical, In The Heights. All summer, I find myself belting along to it, loud and off-key — much to the chagrin of my family. While my beloved NYC is famous for its heat waves, the DMV (the DC, Maryland, Virginia area), where I’ve been for the past 11 years, is no slouch when it comes to hellacious hotness. After all, Washington DC was built on swamp land, so there’s an extra layer of mugginess and bugginess to it. (Remember the plague of Brood X cicadas in June? I’m still traumatized by their love-starved screeches day and night and the tens of thousands of alien-like carcasses.) In other words, the southern heat is purgatory for a perimenopausal woman like myself. And while I’m trying to be nice about it, I’m about to go to war in my household over it. Meet the players: 

It’s not like my family hasn’t been aware of what my body is going through for the past three or four years, as my period plays long-tail hide and seek with me. They just can’t empathize. And so I suffer alone. 

He: Loves the heat. Says it opens up his pores. Makes him feel alive.

Me, I want to die. She: The eldest, is always cold. Walks around in a hoodie in dramatic protest. Not an ally. 

They: The youngest, are usually on my side. But they’re known to defect. 

Then there’s my 52-year-old ass: Always hot. Averse to sweat. A victim of my battling hormones. 

I pry the windows open. But the breeze isn’t cool enough. I need recirculated air. To not rock the boat, I settle for an oscillating fan parked directly in front of me. I convince myself we’re saving money. With two adults and two teenagers at home all day due to the pandemic, the electric bill can be a son of a bitch. 

The hotter I am, the bitchier I get. If I’m sweating, I’m yelling.

At night in my bedroom, the fan stays on high, regardless of whether it’s fresh air or conditioned air. My limbs spread out like a starfish, I lie naked, on top of the covers, and let the zephyr blow over me. 

The problem is, I never know when a hot flash is going to rear its ugly head — or remember when my last one was. (Brain fog is real, people!)  Could be in the self-checkout line at the grocery store. Or while getting a mani-pedi. While I’m sleeping. Or worse, as soon as I get out of the shower — being newly clean yet sweaty is probably in the top five suckiest feelings in the world. 

The hotter I am, the bitchier I get. If I’m sweating, I’m yelling. Last summer during a heat wave, our A/C conked out on a Friday, and we couldn’t get it serviced until that Monday. I thought I was going to kill someone. I was so miserable I almost abandoned my family and checked into a hotel.

My motto is: I refuse to sweat in my own damn house. But I have to consider other people whom I purport to love, so I compromise. At least I warn them when I finally announce: “I’m turning on the A/C!” OK, so I may have won this round, but every day during the summer is going to be a negotiation. Bring on autumn. As Doña Claudia says, paciencia y fe.

Tell Us in the Comments

Do you have thermostat battles at home or at work?

One Response

  1. Jan Zahrly

    I understand completely! The only good thing I have to say is that it passes. It really does. peace, janz


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