Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Cath’s adventures in Perimenopauseland Episode 9 – Caution! Stormy waters ahead

In episode 8 Cath manged to get herself off the beta-blockers and changed to a lower dose HRT. What she hadn’t factored in, was how her husband, Mr D, was coping with her perimenopause. In short, he wasn’t. He’d decided to give her some space. This space took the form of no cuddles, no spooning, no snuggling up in bed. In short, no contact. Why? Because he didn’t want to feel like a sex pest while Cath was experiencing a wilting libido.

Let’s rejoin the story and find out what, if anything, Cath does to jump-start her flagging love life.

Time for a revamp

Dragging out the full length mirror, I take a long hard look at myself. Not liking what I see, I need to make some changes, for me. I grab a notepad and draw up a list, starting with a new hairstyle and updated clothing style. Armed with bin bags, I sort through my entire wardrobe. Two big heaps emerge, one for charity and one for recycling. It’s a therapeutic clear out. Even old undies are destined for the recycle bag. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a denuded wardrobe. Just as well my annual bonus has arrived. I’m going to need it to replenish my clothing.

I used to love a good clothes shopping session, but now, the whole idea leaves me feeling overwhelmed. I don’t know what suits me, where to start, who to take with me. In the end, I make an appointment with a department store personal stylist. I’m going to do this right and take my time to choose things that make me feel good from the inside out.

After Mr D’s unexpected withdrawal of affection, I’m out of my corner, mitts up, determined not to go down without a blooming good fight. Let’s see hubby resist the new, stylish me. As I am striking while the iron’s hot, I book a hair appointment, asking for a radical new hairstyle.

While the revamp is under way, Mother Nature sees fit to bless me with yet more bizarre menopausal symptoms: head zaps and an intolerance of loud noises. The zaps feel as if somebody has twanged an elastic band between my eyebrows. Loud music, and whingeing kids get on every last one of my nerves.

Oh my God! I’ve turned into Grumpy Old Woman!

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To make matters worse, HRT has yet to make me feel like Wonder Woman. I can’t help thinking it is making me feel worse instead of better. I’ve given it a good go… 9 months is surely long enough to see if it will work. I can honestly say I wish I’d never started it. I think the wildly swinging hormones, coupled with additional HRT, are actually making me feel yucky. It’s hard to tell what’s actual menopause and what’s HRT. Well bugger this for a game of soldiers!

Going cold turkey

I discuss my concerns with the Nurse Practitioner at my next appointment. She advises me to stop taking the pills. Go cold turkey! As I’m at the beginning of a pack it won’t make much difference to the cycle. I’ve to stay off HRT for three months, come back and have more bloods tested, and go from there. She reckons I might do better on patches instead.

And with that, I am off HRT. I let the ladies on the menopause forum know, but as they are mostly pro-HRT, the news is met with a mixed response. The more scientifically minded members are very sceptical of any treatment that is not Western Medicine related, and strongly advise me to keep trying different preparations. My gut says NO! I’m going with my gut for a change. A week later there’s nothing nasty happening. No hot flushes, no night sweats, and no morning dreads. I’ll take this as success.

Meanwhile, in the mental health department, I am so thankful for my weekly sessions. At least I can pour my heart out there. Since starting treatment, I have dealt with several bullying incidents at school so that thinking about them no longer has me feeling all the terrible things I felt at the time. It is a bit like looking at my memories in monochrome. They are still there but I have repositioned them so they no longer physically affect me.

There were a couple of major incidents, involving my mother, that took many more sessions to resolve than the bullying incidents. As I’m feeling more settled in my mind (almost normal) and more confident about coping with menopause, I decide it is time to bring the sessions to an end. I know I can always go back if I ever feel the need again. It’s like having a safety net. An unexpected side-effect of therapy is a massive surge in creativity, as side I’ve kept hidden for too long.

Going DIY mad!

It doesn’t take much to persuade Mr D to undertake a DIY project and our family bathroom is the ideal target. Before you can say ’tile cutter’ I have mood boards and  tiles chosen! Once the plumber has finished his part of the job, we get our hands dirty, doing the tiling ourselves. It is fun to start with but after a few weeks of sharing our en suite with Cost Center 1 and 2, we are more than ready for this project to end. One big push (i.e. tiling all weekend) and the room is finished. It looks like a high-end hotel bathroom suite! Who knew I had a talent for tiling?  The bath is so spacious that two people can fit it.  By design (mine) the edges are wide enough to hold wine glasses. Oh yes, sometimes it pays to be a details person.

No matter how detailed I am sometimes things are overlooked, even important things. Yet again, even though I promised myself this wouldn’t happen, we have missed celebrating our wedding anniversary. Added to the current state of affairs, lack of bedroom olympics, I fear for my marriage. I make use of technology and pair our phone diaries so that anything either of us saves in one diary is replicated in the other’s diary. I block-book the days either side of our anniversary next year and hope we are still together.

As if to test my resolve to be cool, calm and collected, things at work become even more stressful than usual, colliding with exam time in our household. It seems that everyone around me is ready to bite my head off. And our summer holiday is fast approaching, bringing with it preparation stress. The departure date coincides with the end of school term, something I usually avoid like the plague. Wow! I really messed up those dates too.

Due to Mr D’s work commitments I am left with all the packing. At the same time I bid farewell to Dr Siskin. I will miss the weekly protected ‘me time’. But I have no time to dwell on this as the departure day arrives… in the middle of the night. Determined not to get stuck in the Great Getaway, we leave at 3 am, with travel mugs of coffee to keep us going. The Cost Centers literally crawl from their beds into the back of the car, and before we’ve left the village, are sound asleep, while Mr D and I take it in turns to drive south.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

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I can’t wait to see the sea again. Camping in Cornwall is my favourite holiday. Purposely booking an unserviced pitch means we get to unplug from technology. I love the simplicity of camping and the fun of chasing waves with my body board. There’s nothing more grounding that digging your toes into the sand and splashing along the shore line. The weather is so good we spend nearly every day at the beach. Such is my love of the sea (I am a piscean) that I have to be dragged out when it’s time to eat. I feel like a kid again when I’m out on my board. The combination of fresh sea air and body boarding means that insomnia is no longer a problem. I sleep like I log!

As with all things, good or otherwise, they come to an end. I hate leaving Cornwall and can’t wait to go back again. Even my body is sad, creating more breast cysts and a lump in the downstairs ladies department, resulting in two trips to two hospitals to get everything sorted out. It’s an eye-watering experience having the boob cysts drained, but I am relieved when the surgeon says all is well. I also get the all clear from the gynaecologist. It was a blocked duct which requires nothing more than to ignore it.

Sharing good news

Brimming with good news I phone Mother to tell her. I think she might have been worried about me. My good mood is short-lived when she does not listen to my news, talks over the top of me, wittering on about anything and everything. I had hoped for a more caring attitude but she has her own agenda and I’m not on it. My mood is further compounded when I arrive home to discover the house has been hit by a tornado. Well that’s what it looks like to me! Asking the Cost Centers to help is met with a flat NO! Well that works both ways kiddos. I am now on strike so if they want to eat, they can cook it themselves. Mum’s kitchen is closed for the foreseeable future, or at least the rest of the day!

As we leave the summer behind, heading into long, dark evenings, Mr D and I have something to look forward to. As part of my fight to reestablish our sex life, I have booked a two night stay in a small, cosy country hotel. I am not ready to give up on our marriage. Using every feminine charm I can muster, new matching undies and a few ‘props’, we have the time of our lives. Woohoo! Everything is back in working order. It is so much fun to simply be husband and wife again after long years of being Mum and Dad. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t be without Cost Center 1 and 2, but it is time to be us again, as they start to spread their wings, snapping apron strings with every milestone achieved: exams, driving licenses, proms etc.

Welcome to Frustration City. Population – me!

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Just as well that bit of my life seems to be back on track. Work life goes from bad to worse, to the point where I am fed up propping up a project (and a lazy colleague) and am tempted to let it fail, just to demonstrate who is not pulling their weight. But the conscientious perfectionist in me can’t do that. In the end, I do the extra work to cover for my colleague. It sticks in my throat to do it but I will not let customers down. And just to add to the mix, my periods, no longer under the control of HRT, are totally unpredictable. Early. Very early. Weeks late. I can feel anxiety creeping up (not a surprise with the work situation), I ache from head to foot first thing in the morning, and I have a headache every Friday.

Looking back through my diary, right to the beginning of the year, I can’t find any entries for  personal care such as a facial or massage. I’m not taking any time out in the day to just sit still and be me. At least things seem to be a little more positive in my head regarding marital relations. Or so I thought. My boobs are sore again which is a sure sign that hormones are on the move again and I feel sexier than I have in ages. One night, while both kids are out, I make a move, hoping to take hubby by surprise but he surprises me first by completely rejecting my advances. Is my marriage on the rocks? Did I do something wrong?Shit! Shit! Shit!

Here we go again…

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The following morning I suggest a long walk in the countryside. A frank talk uncovers some hidden issues. Yet again Mr D has decided to park up his libido until, as he says, mine is back to normal. I wonder what will happen to us if normality never reappears? What is normal anyway? I say nothing and let him talk, too scared to say anything in case I say the wrong thing and totally bugger everything up.

On top of this, I find out just how bad things are at his work. He decided not to share this with me at the time because he felt I was in my own world of trouble and didn’t want to add to it. I can see where he’s coming from but I am still hurt and sad that he felt he couldn’t at least confide in me a little. I thought we were a team. This is not how teams work.

As for the libido issue, it breaks my heart to think he feels he must deny a part of who he is. With impeccable timing he leaves for a business trip the day after, so I don’t see him all week. While he’s away I am in a pit of despair. Suddenly I don’t know how to ‘be’ with him. How should I behave when he comes home from his trip? My usual instinct is to hug him fiercely and snog the face off him, but for the first time in all our years together, I stop as I have no idea what to do.

He tells me he will come out of retirement once I am back on track. What the hell does this mean? There’s so much pressure on me to ‘perform normally’. How can I perform normally with all this going on? Taking a deep breath, I decide I will do whatever it takes to keep my marriage together, even if I have to fake it. A small piece of me feels it’s being punished for something that is not my fault. I could do with understanding not withdrawal of affection?

Tune in to next week’s episode to find out if this is the end for Cath and Mr D, or do they find some workaround to keep both parties happy and feeling loved.