Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Five years on…

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Where was I? (A common question for the hormonally-challenged)

Now that I am officially ‘on the other side’, one of the most frequent questions I get from my younger friends is do things calm down once you’re on the other side? Hence the subject of today’s blog.

It’s almost five years since I made the transition from Mother to Crone, aka hit menopause square in the face. That almost sounds like a one-time event. The reality is more like riding a rollercoaster you didn’t know you’d boarded! Highly unlikely in real life, but here we are nonetheless, having survived the ups, downs, stomach-churning inversions, steaming full ahead, free-falling backwards, and all the other possible directions in between.

It’s enough to make the most cast-iron stomach reel with nausea and disorientation. I’ll never know how humans can pilot fighter-planes and rocket ships. Whoever coined the old adage about it being all to do with the journey and not the destination, clearly hadn’t experienced gravity-defying transport or the menopause rollercoaster.

Back then, I was terrified of my body, the changes and perceived lack of future. What I mean by that is, the physical changes were so extreme I was convinced I was dying of some horrible disease, leach of which changed from one day to the next, one week to the next, one month to the next. The fact that I’m still here, wittering on in my blog, should tell you that I survived in spite of my worst predictions. No ghost-writers here!

Where am I now? (Another common question – similar to the ‘where did I leave my …’ question)

Fast-forward to today, I’m pleased to report that while health anxiety still creeps around, perches on my shoulder like a wee gremlin and whispers the occasional doom-laden word or two, I’m better prepared for it. Goodness knows it tried its hardest to derail me last year, what with COVID and my mother’s death. Yet here I am, in Lockdown 3.0 (England), coping well on most days, and learning to be kind to myself on the days when that blooming gremlin has delusions of grandeur.

I’m thankful that I decided to have EMDR during the worst of the perimenopause days, and that I followed up with cognitive analytic therapy. These two combined created some strong mental foundations to rely on when days are tough. On the physical front, I still get the occasional power-surge, handy on snow days, night-sweats (no electric blankets needed) and palpitations. But that’s just me. Some women continue to experience these things well into their later life. And some lucky ladies sail through without the slightest issue.

They are a minor inconvenience and can be breathed through with some clever yoga breathing techniques. So to answer the question about how things are on the other side, I’d say they’re definitely more calm, more manageable that pre-menopause. At least it seems that way to me. You may have to consult Mr D and the Cost Centres (aka kidults) for a more independent assessment.

Hopefully, post-COVID, the world will be my oyster
(other molluscs are available)

What’s next? (Nope – no smart comment here!)

In short, no idea. Hormone-wise, I guess more of the same. Some days will be fine and others may test my mettle. In the grander scheme, once we humans can mix freely without fear of catching COVID, I feel an adventure coming on… to discover somewhere completely new to Mr D and me. Oh, and I will change my employment status to foot-loose and fancy free. I’ve already started the countdown… 25 months to go!

Stay safe and well my friends.

Cath xx

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

A much-needed kick in the butt!

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Those of you lovely readers who follow this blog may have noticed the distinct lack of Menopausal Mutterings. I’ve managed to keep up (more or less) with weekly challenges hosted by Linda G Hill. Where would we be without the wisdom of One-liner Wednesday and the nuttiness of SoCS? These two weekly prompt challenges have kept me sane, giving me something to look forward to when my inspiration had all but disappeared.

2019 was a life-changing year for me. At the beginning of the year my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She has secondaries in her lungs, skin and bones. It hit our family like the proverbial ton of bricks. Dad took it hard. He blamed himself for being a smoker for years until a series of mini-strokes gave him the reason to quit for good. I dread to think what he would have done if the primary cancer had been in Mum’s lungs.

All the usual questions go through your mind. How long does she have to live? It’s breast cancer… what are the implications for me and my sister, our daughters too? With all this happening, it’s no surprise I had little room in my head for writing. In truth, it made me extremely scared of any change my body felt it needed to make. Here’s the thing. Even though I am officially post-menopausal my body is still changing. You can see the dilemma.

With each tiny, relatively insignificant alteration I had myself measured up for my own coffin! Meanwhile, Mum had started her treatment. Two cancer drugs and a daily injection to counteract the lung cancer’s tendency to throw blood clots into the mix. Dad was a star at learning how to administer the meds. He’s such a technophile… alarms on his phone for each med. Just as well he’s super organised! Now all we had to do was wait for scan day to come around, hoping to see positive changes.

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… and then wait for the multidisciplinary team to meet, review the results and deliver the news. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. By this now it’s June and the Dean family are on holiday in our beloved Cornwall. This holiday has always been a technology-free zone except for sat-nav (even then, I tend to go with the old paper map to avoid being sent down the world’s narrowest roads) but I kept my phone with me at all times, only leaving it behind for boogie-boarding.

The news came through as we strolled along my favourite beach on a plastics clean-up mission. As soon as I saw the caller ID I knew what was coming. My sister would be the one to deliver the results. I trust her level-headedness. She keeps her cool in the worst of situations, listening closely to what is actually being said. And the news? The best. The secondary tumours had shrunk, the primary was the same size (slightly disappointing but not too bad as things go) and all blood test parameters were in the healthy zone. The medical team told Mum she could look forward to living out the rest of her life with the cancers under control. She would likely end her life with them, not because of them!

Go Mum! Unfortunately, whatever is going on in her head (she refuses to say) she has stopped living, just existing from day to day. It’s exhausting trying get her to do anything for herself. Eating and staying hydrated are daily battles. Even trying to hold a conversation with her is draining. With me living so far away I rely on video calling, but even that is a draining experience. Each call leaves me feeling mentally exhausted and, I have to confess, a smidge angry with her. Not for being ill, but for wasting each day she’s given. As it was pointed out to me this yesterday, we do not live once. We die once and live every day. This was the spur I needed to get me going again. I cannot put myself on hold in the vain hope Mum might grab life with both hands. It’s her choice, and I am making mine… carpe diem!