Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Cath’s adventures in Perimenopauseland Episode 12 – nest emptying!

Previously in Episode 11 we found out that HRT patches are sticky little buggers, sticking to knicker elastic as well as butt cheeks. We also discovered that flume rides can remove them! As the Dean family prepare for the departure of Cost Center 1 for university life we join Cath as she adjusts to an emptier nest.

Hands protecting an empty bird's nest

… and then there were three!

With a heady mixture of excitement and sadness, Mr D and I drop Cost Center 1 off at her university halls. Her room is pretty and much better appointed than the room I had at university all those years ago. I still can’t quite believe I’m old enough to have a child at university. After much hugging and soggy goodbyes, we arrive home. As I go to her room to put some things away, I glance at the empty wardrobe and burst into tears. Not my usual quite sobs but full on howling and bawling my eyes out. I can barely breathe. With Cost Center 2 spending all his time with his girlfriend, the house is so empty, and for the first time since CC1 was born, I am completely on my own through the week.

I keep myself  busy with evening classes and yoga, anything to avoid being on my own. In quieter moments I wonder who am I? I am not needed to be the mother I’ve been for the past 18 years. With Mr D away through the week I am not a wife either. So who am I? What am I? At the moment I feel I am a complete mess. As predicted by my doctor, the increased patch dose has not helped one little bit. Sleep is more elusive than ever. When will this rollercoaster ride end? Surely all this crap is not menopause-related? Or is it? Maybe I should see Dr Siskin again. I think I have more stuff I need to work through. Maybe that’s the root of all this turmoil.

red and orange fire

Damn you, Hot Flush! Bad timing!

To cheer up the dark nights, Mr D and I book a night away in a country inn. A day wandering through the countryside followed by a romantic meal and who knows what afterwards. It sounds idyllic, just what we need. The reality is somewhat different. Wandering around an old country estate followed by a pint of local beer and a crossword was so relaxing. So far so good.  The evening meal was delicious, the mood hot and suggestive, right up to the point where desert was served. Out of nowhere came a rush of heat and the overwhelming need to escape the room as soon as possible. I excused myself and headed outside, feeling nauseous. What a terrible advert I must have been, hunkered down by the back door, retching. The cold night air was just what I needed but I began to shiver shortly after. On returning to the dining room, I was hit by a wall of heat again. My heart hammering as if I’d been chased by an angry wasp, I tell Mr D what happened. We finish our meal and head back outside for more cool air. I have still not cooled down yet and am feeling very out of sorts, and a little scared.

‘What the heck was that?’ I wonder, ‘I’d no idea a hot flush could make you feel sick too. It’s like a feeling of impending doom!’

We decide to skip the nightcap and head to the sanctuary of our room. I try to get my head in the zone for some bedroom olympics but my body has other ideas. With adrenalin still zooming round it becomes apparent that a night of passion is now off the menu. Bugger!  Mr D falls asleep quickly and easily (boy am I jealous of his knack of falling asleep within seconds of his head hitting the pillow) but I am left wide awake, feeling as if I have ruined our evening. Why do my erogenous zones not have the sensitivity they used to have? It’s not as if I’ve fallen out of love with Mr D. I long to feel sexy and carefree in the bedroom again, but at the moment I feel a fat failure.

Not that horrid old chestnut again!

Following our somewhat ruined night away, Mr D has declared, yet again, that sex is off the menu unless I am able to have an orgasm. I kinda see where he’s coming from (oOo! pardon the pun), but what if I can’t? What if it’s stopped working? Does this mean we can never have any intimacy ever again? It seems a very extreme stance to take, given that all is in fine working order with himself. What if I’ve condemned him to the life of a monk for the rest of his life? It seems unfair. What is also unfair is the pressure on me to perform. If I don’t perform I am denying poor old hubby any pleasure. How on earth do I sort this out? A messy head certainly doesn’t help the situation. Such is my distress that I actually discuss this at my session with Dr Siskin. I’ve asked to restart regular weekly appointments again. I will be damned if I am going through the rest of my life feeling this shitty, guilty and anxious.

view of operating room

Time for some bravery

Even when I feel a glimmer of sexiness I am now so unsure of myself, and how things are between Mr D and I, that I don’t dare approach him in case I make a bad situation much worse, irretrievably worse. My innards are in agreement, still alternating between being chockablock and whoosh!. Time to be brave and ask the doc to book me in for the sigmoidoscopy. I guess I will be seen early next year as Christmas is fast approaching.

Meanwhile, my own hormones are jumping up and down so much that my periods are coming sooner than expected, even with the HRT. They are actually overriding the patch and arriving when they feel like it. To add to the fun, the old breast cysts have flared up again. I feel as if I’m having breast reduction by syringe as I have them drained yet again. Even the breast surgeon is surprised at how much he managed to extract in one sitting!

white and brown sailing ship

Taking advantage of an unexpected trip to London for the weekend (Mr D’s company Christmas do), I pack some super-sexy matching undies, stockings and killer heels. It’s not exactly stocking weather but I don’t care. I’m going all out to entice Mr D back into my arms. However, the body language on the train journey south indicates that there’s no change yet. The physical a gap between us looks small to the observer but to me it is a gaping hole. He is more interested in his phone and iPad than he is in talking to me. I can see it in his face. He smiles but the smile does not reach his eyes.

Baby it’s cold outside…

That evening I find myself knee-deep in young people, all looking beautifully turned out and I feel like a frump. The lovely matching underwear and stockings remain unpacked as Mr D told me not to bother, just wear tights (yuk) as it was cold outside. Now I know I am in deep trouble. Up til recently, he’d never pass on the opportunity to admire my stocking-clad legs. Once again I fear for my marriage. Has gone off me as I am getting old and useless as a wife? Look at all the beautiful young women he works with. I now know what it is to be lonely in a room full of people. Normally I’m up for a good night out on the town, especially with all expenses paid. But this time I can’t wait to get back to the hotel to escape the pitying gazes of the beautiful, sexy women.

Dusting off my bravery the following morning, I decide I have to say something.  I can’t let my marriage just fizzle out without trying to mend it. In a tear-stained heap, I spill everything to Mr D. I tell him how old and unattractive I feel, how unwanted I feel. I understand that he does not want to feel like a sex pest but if we give up on being close and intimate we will lose. I make up my mind right there and then that this bloody menopause menace will not beat us. I will find a way to fix it one way or another.

Unexpected invitation…

Well something is getting fixed sooner than I thought. My appointment with the bottom clinic (flexi-sigmoidoscopy) has arrived and is scheduled for the day before Christmas Eve. What fun! I hope to put the bowel worries behind me. At the moment I worry when my bowels are too loose, to concrete, what it looks like (yes I am even worrying about that too). You name it, I can worry about it.  Note to self, do not binge on beetroot! That really scared the hell out of me. The patient leaflet allays one fear… what if I have to “prepare” before heading to the hospital… it’s a 40 minute drive? What if I get caught short on the way? Fortunately all the pre-exam preparation takes place at the hospital, in a private room with en suite facilities. Phew!

woman doing yoga pose on pink yoga mat

Who knew that practising yoga breathing would be so useful?! Even the doc was impressed with my level of relaxation. This is a major achievement for a worrywart, lying there with the equivalent of a garden hose stuck up her butt. As an early Christmas present, the surgeon pronounces my colon to be squeaky-clean and the picture of health.  I tell you what,  after the preparatory enema, you can be sure I am exactly that – squeaky clean.

It is the best news I’ve heard in months. I’m so relieved I hug the nurses and the surgeon, much to his surprise. As a parting comment, he warns me about the after effects.

“Mrs Dean, there will be much rumbling and gas still to escape as the day goes on. Please do not assume that what needs to escape is purely gas, it may just be accompanied!”

Aha, I will need to employ the old pelvic floor muscles if I’m going to avoid accidental sharts! Practicing some yoga moves helps the remaining gas to move on (in a safe environment away from naked flames!), as does sipping mint tea. With a clean bill of health I can now get on with Christmas. It is so long since I felt this relaxed, relieved and happy.

bunch of white oval medication tablets and white medication capsules

It also turns out the family have been keeping a close eye on me. They all think I need to see the doc for some anti-depressants. I agree I am not at my most chipper but disagree with the medication idea. I mention this to Dr Siskin in my next session so we do some bench marking tests to see what’s what. Yes, I am clinically anxious, but the majority of the symptoms also appear in the list of menopausal symptoms. Given I am well and truly in the grips of Perimenopause, it seems like a better idea to deal with the root cause, not mask the symptoms with medication. For the majority of my adult life I’ve done nothing but put stuff down feelings and look where it’s got me. It is time to face the causes head on. So far it has been five years since the first perimenopause symptom reared its ugly head. How much longer till it stops?

Tune in to episode 13 when Cath tackles the approach of her 50th birthday, faces down her fears in therapy, and comes out of her corner ready to beat perimenopause to a pulp!

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Cath’s adventures in Perimenopauseland – episode 3, Battling the bulge!

adult architecture beautiful bikini

Episode 2 closed with Cath recovering from successful ablation surgery. She was no longer popping pills like sweets while carrying enough sanitary protection to mop up a garden pond. This week she battles the bulge and plays hunts the libido.

In search of the beach-body

‘You know what we need?’ announced Mr D with determination, ‘We need a proper holiday this year. Let’s go all-inclusive and next to a beach.’

A few hours later we are booked to go to Turkey. The hotel looks amazing, right beside the sea too. I can hardly believe it. The stresses and strains of the previous year seem to melt away at the prospect of two weeks in the sun. It’s the much needed incentive to get cracking with the diet and fitness. After all, two weeks in the sun requires a beach-body. After a shaky start to the year and an operation, I know I need to drop at least ten pounds. All I need to do is get back to my tried and tested healthy eating plan and running.

As I restart my regime Mr D announces that he will be away for business on a long haul trip. Great for him (he gets to go business class) but ultra-stressful for me. I worry about each flight and generally can’t relax until I see a text from him to say he’s safe. It’s a lot of waiting and worrying for trips to Australia! And then there’s childcare. Cost Centres 1 and 2 are not at the fully independent stage in life and my new job can take me away from home to deliver training. I request to be based near home for the duration of Mr D’s jolly (oops, sorry, I mean business trip) but Mr Horrible, my bully-boss is furious and takes it out on me all week.

Unsurprisingly, at the end of the first week of the beach body campaign I lose a few pounds, more than I was expecting in one week. I guess this has more to do with hubby’s trip away and the atmosphere at work than my diet and exercise. Still, it brings me all the closer to my target. Every cloud has a silver lining. At this rate, all I need is for Mr D to have one more trip away before our holiday and I’ll hit my target. Seems a bit extreme, but such is my mind-set!

Running into speed bumps!

Now that Spring has most definitely sprung, I’m in the mood to run again. I haven’t trained in years (I used to do half-marathons!) so I take it super-gently. At least I thought I’d been gentle. By the third run of the week my hips are complaining so much I hobble home again.

‘Bugger!’ I curse, limping back home, ‘I  was counting on running to help shift the pounds.  Stupid hip joints! What do they know? I’ll limit the maximum distance to 5k as a compromise. There. Don’t say I’m not good to you!’ The smarter thing would have been to stop, but as you can see, I was more focussed on being slim than being sensible.

Hooray! Mr D is back home safely from his business travels. Unfortunately his arrival home has coincided with the departure of something dear to me.

‘Oi! You! Libido! Yes you. I’m talking to you. Don’t you turn your back on me. I know you can hear me.’ Libido continues to run away. ‘Hey. Don’t you leave me. I’m not ready. I have plans for tonight.’ but Libido disappears over the horizon.

‘I know. I’ll tempt it back. I’ve got some toys we can play with.’ smiling to myself as I hunt for toys and sexy undies. But Libido doesn’t want to play and isn’t even remotely stirred by the lingerie.

‘It’s so unfair. I want sex!’ (Oooo! Sounding slightly nympho there, Cath) but my body seriously can’t be bothered. I try every trick I can think of but nothing happens. It’s as if the connections between all my erogenous zones have been cut off. Welcome to Asexualityville, population = me!

‘Oh God! Am i doomed to spend the rest of my adult life like a nun?’ The thought fills me with dread. ‘What about Mr D? Should I tell him something’s wrong with me, or should I fake it? I guess I’m not the first to ask this question.

selective focus photo of magnifying glass

Has anyone seen my mojo?

And no wonder libido has gone AWOL. I’m having an awful time trying to sleep.

‘Hello Insomnia. I see you’ve decided to join the party. Let me introduce you to Anxiety, Weight-gain and Joint-pain. I’d introduce you to Libido but she’s done an runner’ I mutter, staring forlornly at the clock.

‘What is it with 3:00am? Why do I keep waking up? And why does my brain think that this is a good time to start thinking about all sorts of crap? What are these horrible thoughts of doom? Am I losing my marbles or am I really ill?’

And to cap it all, now I’m having nightmares, so even if I do get to sleep, it’s not restful at all. It seems like there’s no escape.

My days pass in an absolute daze, as I try to keep up appearances of normality. It feels as though I am trying to keep lots of plates spinning at the same time, terrified in case I drop any of them. If I can keep all the plates spinning I’ll be amazed but I can’t help wondering which one I will drop first.

In answer to this question, the plate marked ‘Able to tolerate other people’s crap” is the first one to drop following an unexpected visit from the in-laws. With my patience wearing thin, I find I want to speak my mind, unfiltered, with no concern for with making everyone feel comfortable. Wow! It turns out I have a feisty nature that’s been under wraps all this time. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. All my adult life I have bitten my tongue, smiled through clenched teeth to keep the peace. I wonder what this is all about. Maybe I’m just too tired to be nice.

Damn you, scales! Why are you lying to me?

The latest weigh-in does not bring me good news. Far from it. My usual regime of diet and running clearly isn’t working. Not unless the scales need new batteries.  Yes, that’s it. The scales need new batteries. So I change them and try again. Nope. Still lying. Maybe they’re not working properly. I test them with some dumbbells. Bugger. They’re fine. It’s me that’s broken! I decide to up my distance to 10k, partly to keep me sane and mostly for weight loss. The trouble is the more I run the more hungry I feel by the end of the day. This does not bode well for attaining a beach body. At this rate I am more likely to reach the size of a small killer whale.

On one run I realise another plate has dropped. Our Relationship plate. Actually, I’m not even sure I had it spinning in the first place. With horror I realise that half the year has gone and Mr D and I still haven’t had one single date night. Nor have I booked in any self-care (facials or manicures).  I don’t feel like it anyway. The house is so full of stress with CC1 and CC2 both taking exams that I don’t think I could relax and enjoy anything. The exam season is in full swing, with two teenagers alternating between hating each other and hating me. You would think exams are my fault!!

As our summer holiday approaches, the scales reach a new level of dysfunction.

The final straw

“How can this be right? I’ve been so good. Stuck to my diet and exercise program and yet more pounds are attaching themselves to me, particularly my middle bit. This is so not fair!” I wail at my reflection.

In a rare moment of peace and quiet I do a little situation analysis on my general health and wellbeing.

  • I am tired all the time – insomnia will do that to a person
  • I have no energy – could be linked to no sleep
  • I feel like an angry person when I’m not in full-blown anxiety mode – so not me
  • My cycles are all over the place. Clockwork regularity has been replaced by lateness and earliness
  • Libido has done a runner
  • Boob cysts are flaring up too
  • I can’t seem to shift the weight no matter what I do
  • I lie awake worrying that something serious might be wrong with me.

This can’t be normal? After a quick discussion with Mr D, I book in to see my GP. Maybe he will prescribe wine and chocolate and tell me to stop worrying about my weight. Because I am so forgetful I write a list of worries to take with me in case I get foggy brain and forget to tell him something that turns out to be crucial.

Armed with my list of doom, I go to see the doc, fully expecting some dire pronouncement. What actually happens is this.


No! Seriously?!

‘Will you please stop googling your symptoms. You’ll have yourself measured up for your coffin, doing that. Dr Google never went to medical school. Let me take a look at your list.’ laughs the doc.

Not laughing, I hand it over, expecting the worst.





Smiling as he looks up from my list he says ‘Relax Cath. I’m pleased to say you are not dying. I fully expect you to live to a ripe old age, providing you stop fretting all the time.’

‘So what the heck is going on? I feel like I’ve totally lost my grip here.’

‘Menopause. Or to be more precise, perimenopause.’ I note he is typing this into my notes.

The shocked look on my face must have said it all.

‘Everything you’re experiencing is all normal.’ Really? You should try ‘normal’ from inside my head doc.

He continues, ‘It’s just the hormones bouncing around. Your treatment choices are antidepressants, or HRT, or both. It’s entirely up to you. Take this leaflet home with you. Read it, make up your mind and come back in for a full check-up next month.’

Well I wasn’t expecting that!

So now it’s official. It’s in my notes. I am going through the change. Oh great, at least I am not going loopy or dying of some horrible disease (note to self, stop googling). However, I can’t help feeling a tad resentful towards my doc. One, he’s a man so no experience of the fun that is female hormones, and two, he’s left the treatment decision to me, a hormonally challenged, sleep-deprived woman who wants someone else to make the decisions.

The Biology bit

Having promised the good doc I wouldn’t google symptoms anymore, I do some research on perimenopause. Here’s one of the links I read and was amazed at the length of the list. I’m not even sure it captures everything a woman can experience at this point in her life. I can add a few more myself. It sure is a long way off what I thought would happen; you know, the usual sweats and flushes, a bit of dryness in the lady garden area. I most certainly wasn’t prepared for the psychological symptoms! I’m not sure any of us really are.

What happened next?

Did I choose HRT, or did I plump for antidepressants? Or both? Did I reach my holiday target or did I get towed out to sea, mistaken for a beached whale? And what happened to Libido? Tune in to episode 4 next Friday where all will be revealed.