In episode 10 we left Cath with her marriage bed filled with fun again, thanks to her new HRT patches. Preparations were underway for an epic family holiday in Orlando. Would the patches survive the hot, sticky Florida sunshine? Would they behave themselves and stay put while Cath played in the water parks? Read on…
No! I’m not old enough…
That’s the sound of another apron string severed. Surely I’m not old enough to have a child leave school? Apparently I am. It seems no time at all since Cost Center 1’s first years in primary school. And here we are, waiting to see if she gets into university. As ever, the exam season is a fun time in the Dean household. Everyone seems to be able to get on everyone else’s very last nerve, especially mine. Currently I can explode at the drop of a hat, or even the merest hint of a hat heading for the ground. I blame it on my hormones, as does everyone else. Sometimes I feel like I am Mrs Bennet in the BBC’s television version of Pride and Prejudice. I dig out the DVDs to see if my suspicions are right. Yes, I do think Mrs Bennet was in the throes of perimenopause. In those days it was perfectly acceptable to retire to ones chambers, recline on a chaise longue, waft a fan or have a maid mop one’s fevered brow. I’d love to be able to do this. On investigating the price of a decent chaise longue I settle for a fan. At least I’ll look the part if a hot flush attacks!
While we’re on the subject of chaise longues, Mr D and I have booked a whole weekend off to celebrate our wedding anniversary in style this year. Hooray! We are off to the Lake District and have a lovely suite with a balcony (here’s hoping for sun) and a chaise longue! I let my imagination run riot as to what to do with a chaise longue. I can’t wait to test out my theories.
Buggrit! My clothes have shrunk!
In preparation for our break and our big holiday, I have a huge tidy-out of my wardrobe, beginning with the summer clothes. Normally this is a joyful activity, heralding warm weather. But this year it depresses the heck out of me. All, and I mean all, of my summer clothes have to go to charity shops. Every item seems to have shrunk! Not one article fits anymore. How can this be? I’ve been on a diet for weeks as well as regular exercise. I could cry. Actually I do.
‘It’s not fair. What is the point of dieting and all that exercise?’
Sobbing about the injustice of it all, I fold a my favourite clothes into bin bags, ready for the charity shop. In a fit of self-recrimination, I wonder how I’ve let myself go. All naughty foods have been banished, glasses of wine have been replaced with spritzers, yet the scales are going in the wrong direction. Maybe they need to be recalibrated. I actually test them to see if they are working properly and unfortunately they are. I have to face facts, I am fat.
My anxious mind is on overdrive again, convinced I have some terminal bowel disease due to continually swinging from having the runs to rabbit droppings. This can’t be right. Hello again increased anxiety and look, you’ve brought a friend, a bottom grape (haemorrhoid), a grape of wrath! Having promised my doc that I wouldn’t Google things, I make an appointment to have the grape checked out. My medical file must be swelling like mad with all the trips I’ve had to see him. Just before the appointment, a period turns up after an 83 day absence. What an effect this has on the scales. 4 pounds simply fall off without much effort. This is cause for celebration as I am close to being my target weight for our anniversary trip and holiday.
Rant alert (again)!
How timely! I am invited to complete a questionnaire from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on what we women would like to know about menopause. Well I jump on my soap box (again!) and vent my fury at the lack of education for women for the menopause and the lack of education for our GPs, our first port of call when dealing with all these changes. We see conflicting opinions in the press, both medical and general. How are we supposed to stay sane and fully operational when we don’t know what is going on half the time? When we do visit our doctors, we are more likely to come out with a prescription for antidepressants than HRT, even though we are not actually clinically depressed. It feels like we are being fobbed off with a prescription to numb our feelings, making us more pliant to deal with.
A battle with the ‘What If’ gremlin
My trip to the doctor does nothing to alleviate my anxiety. After a thorough examination I am now the proud owner of an internal grape, a tiny fissure and a small rectocele. He also wants to do some blood tests as a precaution. Great. Now I am in full panic mode. What if it is cancer? What if it is Crohns? What if, what if, what if? By the time I get home I am in tears. I hope I will be fine for our holiday. It’s a big one and I really want to enjoy it to the max.
As it turns out, Disney holidays are perfect for rediscovering your inner child. I love roller coasters (how funny, perimenopause is often called the peri roller coaster)and waste no time in making sure I ride every single one of them. The thrill of whooshing at break-neck speed, backwards, upside down and generally not caring which way I’m going, is liberating. We also have tickets for Universal Studios as the Dean family are Harry Potter fans. I prefer the vibe in Disney parks more than Universal parks, but as both Harry Potter sites are in Universal Studios, we need both sets of tickets. When the Hogsmede area first opened, we were there. This time we’re back to visit the new Diagon Alley area. My inner kid is having a ball. She’s now the proud owner of an interactive wand, and has been practising her spell work wherever possible. Looking around, I see many other inner kids having just as much fun as me. I’m so absorbed in the fun, I don’t notice my family beginning to flag. In the end I have to be dragged out of the park by a tired and hungry family.
To answer the questions about how the HRT patch would cope with the holiday, here’s what happened. The heat and humidity had no effect on its ability to stick to my butt. Even chilling out in the pool at the end of the day did not shift it. However it is possible to unstick them, but only under extreme circumstances. It came unstuck on a flume ride. I can only assume that the five storey drop at the end of the ride, coupled with the reverse flow of water in the run-off to slow you down, was simply too much for the poor little bit of plastic. I hope it washed into the drain and didn’t attach itself to the man who was behind me in the queue!
If I was worried about my size and shape I needn’t have bothered. By comparison to most folks wandering round the parks I am positively skinny. No wonder. Visits to the supermarkets are such and eye-opener. It is easier to find cakes and fizzy drinks than it is to find the fruit and veggies!
The Dean family, on returning to the UK, is waiting for results. Both Cost Centers are waiting for exam results and I am waiting for blood test results. On the eve of results day, Cost Center 1 finds out she has secured her place at university before the results are published. The results database transferred the data to the university applications database, triggering offer emails. She was so shocked she came through to our bedroom to ask us to double-check the text message. Yes, our baby girl is off to university in September. I am so delighted for her I go into major shopping mode for her accommodation. Cost Center 2 has had some mixed results (not unexpected, due to minimal effort on his part) and decides that the best course of action is to repeat the year. I bite my tongue to make sure the words ‘I told you so’ stay inside my head.
I get my blood test results back showing me to be fit and healthy. Phew! The doc is amazed at my sense of relief, asking me what I thought he’d find. I reluctantly confess to being worried about bowel cancer. He tells me that cancer was the last thing on his mind and is surprised that’s what I am worrying about. He’s such a kind man that he offers to set up a sigmoidoscopy if it would make me feel better. I will think about it. In the meantime he has given me daily mediation to make sure things move more smoothly, placing less strain on the system. All the worry has dropped my weight to my target but instead of doing my usual victory dance I am wracked with more worry. My follow-up appointment was interesting. As I am still very anxious he wants to put me on anti-depressants but I want to change the patch dose to see if this helps. Reluctantly he agrees on condition that I come back in one month to see how the new patches are going. I’m beginning to wonder if I might need to see Dr Siskin again.
In episode 12 we see how Cath adjusts to life with Cost Centre 1 at university. Does she take up the offer of a sigmoidoscopy? Does the increased HRT dose help? Will she restart therapy with Dr Siskin?