Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Tales from the other side – Does it ever stop?

The changes we undergo in perimenopause… do they stop once we enter the postmenopause zone. This is a hot topic amongst my friends… and Mr D too.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are the top 3 questions asked by my younger friends (and their partners)

Once I’m through the menopause will the night sweats and flushes (flashes for my friends across the pond) stop?

Photo by Gustavo Almeida on Pexels.com

In my experience they become less ferocious. I still get them, but don’t feel like I could run the central heating on one flush. Imagine how much we could save on our energy bills if we could somehow store the heat generated from our inner power surges! To help deal with these power surges I wear layers and carry a fan. Light layers are easy to remove as a surge hits, and easy to replace when it goes, leaving me with the inevitable chills. The fan comes into play if I’m unable to remove further layers without committing indecency! In addition it gives you a certain air worthy of a Jane Austin novel!

Have I finished changing mentally and physically?

Nope! I think I’ve got a better handle on when I’m succumbing to a bout of health anxiety. You can imagine what’s going though my head today as I have a cold! Everyone keeps asking  if I am sure that’s all I’ve got. Yes I am, thanks for scaring the crap out of me!

Since the start of perimenopause I’ve developed an uncanny knack of catastrophising at the slightest physical change. This hasn’t changed. What has changed is my approach. I use the STOP technique.

  1. Stop what I’m doing – just take a moment to be still
  2. Take a deep breath (or as many as it takes to feel a little less frazzled)
  3. Observer – what is going on inside and outside. Where has my mind wandered to? What am I really feeling?
  4. Proceed – mindfully move on in a more constructive way.

On the positive side of change, I’ve noticed an increased drive for creative projects. Redesigning our master bedroom suite, redesigning a section of our back garden, creating a dry riverbed with a self-contained water feature to name but a few things. Even our kitchen has seen more action that it’s used to. I try at least one new recipe a week. It turns out that my body and nature knew how to do all these things… I simply needed my intellect to catch up!

And finally, what about ‘you know what’ … the bedroom department? Will things still work?

Yes they do. Will you need some help to keep things in tip top condition? You might. It varies from woman to woman. There are a variety of options open to you. In my case I opted for a localized treatment twice weekly prescribed by my doctor. Whatever you choose to use, the doc had one additional piece of advice, ‘use it or lose it!’ The more we practice, the healthier the tissues down there remain. Mind you, I did go to see her fairly soon  after symptoms became an issue. Early intervention is key to successful outcomes. I hope this makes sense as I am trying to keep this post safe for work!

Please feel free to share any other words of wisdom for fellow menopause warriors and their partners in the comments section.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy weekend.

Cath xx (cyber kisses are the safest at the moment!)

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.

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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.

‘Mmm’

‘Interesting’

‘Yup.’

‘Yup.’

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.