Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Signs of positive change at last!

This post is a full-on ‘menopausal mutter’. I’m giving you fair warning now. Feel free to close this post down now and browse through my other posts.

Are you sure you want to go on? Menopause alert!!

Still with me? Ok. Here we go. At the end of last month, the UK Government made a monumental decision which will affect menopause treatment costs for 51% of our population. Not only that, but a task force has been set up to address the appalling lack of support for menopause in the workplace. Medical schools are adding this neglected subject to their curricula and HR departments are being actively encouraged to develop policies to help everyone in the workplace, not only those of us going through these unavoidable changes.

Med school curricula will be upgraded to include menopause

My last brush with HRT was quite an expensive one – even though the product was one tablet, because it contained two substances I was charged per substance, not per prescription! The new charging scheme looks like we pay once for a years’ worth of repeat prescriptions, and those preparations with two substances will only incur one charge. This step is not as far as most of us wanted it to go, considering we have no choice in the matter. It’s not as if we can avoid menopause. But for now, it will do.

I’m five years postmenopausal and still having the odd flush and night sweat. In a cool yoga studio, I was the only one removing layers. The more mature ladies in the class noticed and said, ‘enjoy your trip to the tropics!’ Five minutes later the layers went back on as my thermostat went the other way and I felt like a flexible block of ice.

Most days these temperature fluctuations are more or less manageable, if a little embarrassing. What’s not so manageable are the other things menopause brings with it. Brain fog, loss of self-confidence, inability to focus. I could go on, but I’ve misplaced my list. An odd thing just happened as I typed the word ‘list’. As the letter ‘u’ is right next to the letter ‘I’ on my keyboard, I accidentally typed the word ‘lust’. Maybe this was my subconscious having a little laugh at my expense. She’s not wrong either, more’s the pity!

Did I say that out loud?

Five years ago, I would have simply accepted my lot. Back then HRT was demonized, held in reserve in case of persistent patients, and even then, only for a short time. Fast forward to today, and I’m delighted to report a complete overhaul of prescribing pathways and duration of treatments. Not only that, but it also turns out that there are more benefits than previously understood… the balance of risk versus benefit has swung back in favour of benefits. 

This information has yet to percolate all the way through to our local GPs. My grumpy/feisty self won’t let me be fobbed off easily, so I’ve decided to bypass the local doc in favour of seeing an actual menopause expert privately. I realise that’s not an option for everyone, but I can, and so I will. It’s a measure of how much we need more of these services when I’m on a waiting list to join the patient list!! While I wait, they’ve sent me a link to download one of the few NHS-approved apps for my phone. I’m now taking part in various observational projects looking into post-menopausal symptoms and treatments. What fun. My first experiment is looking at the use of medical-grade daylight lamps and improvements in sleep and mood over the dark months. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I wish you all a safe and healthy weekend.

Cath xx

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Time to re-brand retirement

Bring it on!

Some of you lovely readers have already made the change from full-time employment to non-employment, and some are a long way off. For others, the finishing line is almost in sight. This is where Mr D and I are. We have just turned the final corner and can see the finishing flags waving in the distance.

Yet it doesn’t seem that long ago that retirement felt like a long way off. The very mention of the word filled my head with images me, silver-haired and chilling on a rocking chair with knitting to hand. With one word I’d aged myself by at least a couple of decades. Then I thought about my parents. Both of them were lucky enough to have decent ‘golden handshakes’ for pensions and be comfortable.

But what did they do with their time? My dad, for all intents and purposes, has fossilized at home in front of a computer, rarely venturing out unless he has to (even pre-COVID). My mum, while she was still with us, was more adventurous. Circumnavigating the world, snowshoeing, ice fishing, mushing with huskies, etc. It’s a long list. In fact, I’m going to need to put some effort into my own retirement if I want to live up to her standards.

My retired friends, who are close in age to us, are more adventurous now than they were in their employed years. This is why I think we need to rebrand retirement. The word itself is loaded with negative connotations. For example, here’s the first few results I got when I checked an online thesaurus:

  • Stepping down
  • Giving up
  • Departure

Hmmm? These aren’t the most inspiring words I’ve read, and not what I had in mind for our post-employment years. Mr D and I have no intention of stepping down… handing over the baton, yes, but a downwards move, absolutely not. As for giving up… giving up what? Life? Not on your Nelly! Departure? Not for a very long time if I can help it. The only departure I’m prepared to entertain is when we head off somewhere fun. I’d like to become well acquainted with departure lounges around the world.

Further research on how to rebrand retirement shows I’m not alone in thinking we need to retire the word ‘retire’. I found this article in the Financial Times which looks into this very subject. The author describes how his American friends coined a new term, Life Two. Life after full-time work. LAFTWO. It was a bit of a mouthful but morphed easily into Life Two. I like it. Life One is the bit where you do all the adulting stuff like career, child rearing and home making. Life two is whatever you want it to be… no more Monday morning alarms, not unless you choose to set one.

Personally, I’m happy to be on the home strait. I’m relishing the last few miles, but Mr D is not. As he’s two years younger than me, he isn’t quite so close. In fact, he can’t touch his pension fund yet, but I can. He’s not happy to see the finishing line at all because he wants to have crossed it already, not interested in enjoying the view. That’s the fun of being a couple, yet two separate people. 

If you were in charge of retirement, how would you rebrand it? For those of you already across the line, do you have any advice for those of us on the last few miles? Share your wisdom in the comments section … please!

I hope this post finds you safe and healthy.

Cath xx