I first noticed my periods were slightly different to usual in 2012 when I was 44 years old. My menstrual cycle had always been regular as clockwork every 27 to 28 days, but that started to subtly change to include slightly longer cycles of 30 days.
In 2013 my cycles became a bit more erratic, ranging from 21 days to 30 days. I had a word with my GP and she told me that once periods had started to change I’d be in menopause within two years. I have no clue WTF doctors are taught in medical school but this is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. While some women do transition through peri-menopause and into menopause swiftly and without problems, for the majority of us it’s a long, slow, sometimes tortuous journey which can take a decade.
I’m now eight years down the line and Aunt Flo is still stalking me. She goes AWOL for a bit, then I’ll wake one morning to find her lying on my couch with cigarette in hand. Her longest absence so far has been 129 days, giving me a glimmer of hope she’d gone for good, only to turn up again causing mayhem. I’ll be 53 this year and am starting to despair that she will ever fuck off and leave me in peace.
The symptoms of my peri-menopause are constantly changing. There are some positives, such as:
- Having been literally tortured by endometriosis and adenomyosis since I was 11 years old, I now rarely have gynae pain. Gone are my 4 weekly periods, where it felt like there was a man with a blow torch in my pelvis. I can’t begin to tell you the relief of that.
- Two years ago, my boobs were like footballs and so swollen they rounded a corner 3 seconds before the rest of me. I had a couple of years of permanent breast pain and tenderness, but now while my breasts are still larger than they’ve ever been in my life they are no longer painful. Hurrahhh!
- But one of the biggest positive change is currently to my Mast Cell Disease – I’ll write my next post on that so keep an eye out!
Over the years the negatives have been wide and varied and having written about them before (look at the Categories menu on the right-hand side of my blog and choose ‘Menopause’ for previous posts) I won’t go into them again. Current issues include:
- Being hot, all-of-the-time. I’m still not getting traditional hot flushes, I just feel like I’m uncomfortably close to an open fire 24/7. I wouldn’t be sleeping a wink without my ceiling fan on all night.
- I am exhausted. It’s totally different to the chronic fatigue of hEDS, or the ill, fluey, pole-axed fatigue of M.E. I’m simply knackered and want to blob on the couch all day watching repeats of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and munching Haribo gold bears.
- Over the last 5 years I have put on a stone (14lbs) in weight, despite eating no differently to normal or taking less exercise. My previous hourglass figure has disappeared, to be replaced by a pear-shaped figure, fat rolls and a pot belly which makes me look 4 months pregnant. One is not amused.
- My skin has aged overnight and I now have jowls and a turkey neck. I’m not so much wandering gently into old age, as hurtling towards it at 500mph in a Boeing 747.
- In the last 6 months my migraines have gone off the Richter Scale. Recently, I had 9 migraines in 12 days, some of which were so bad I literally couldn’t move all day because it felt like my head would explode. I have one now, lurking away behind my right temple and making me feel queasy. Of all my current symptoms, this is the only one which is really getting me down.
- My brain fog is so bad it scares me that I’m starting with early dementia. I’m not kidding.
- I’m still having stinging nerve pain in my legs and feet, which seems to start just as I decide to settle down to sleep.
- My current back and hip pain is making me walk like a constipated duck and also keeps me awake at night. I’m using my crutches most days and am considering a second mortgage on my house to pay for all the Kinesiology tape I’m going through – I’m probably Amazon’s no.1 customer.
- My GERD is rampant. Stomach acid is coming back up into my oesophagus and entering my lungs, which means I have a permanent, irritated cough. I am on medication (40mg famotidine + Gaviscon double action liquid) and it’s not keeping the acid at bay. I can constantly taste it in my mouth and am worried my breathe reeks, so am swigging mouthwash like an alkie swigs cider.
- My appetite is up and down like a bride’s nightie. I’m either ravenous and stuffing my face like the Hungry Caterpillar, or living on Weetabix and bananas because I’m not hungry and can’t face food.
- I’m having random dizziness episodes for no reason I can fathom.
- It goes without saying I’m not sleeping well.
- All of my joints are as stiff as a board and any kind of movement is difficult. Bye-bye hypermobility, my lifelong companion!
Other than all that, though, I’m good 😁.
My peri-menopause is definitely trundling along, but it’s going at a snail’s pace and I’m so over my hormones I’m considering applying to the Courts for an eviction order. So far this year my cycle lengths have been:
- 60 days, 26 days, 50 days and 28 days so I have zero clue if, or when, Aunt Flo is going to rock up.
I’m currently on day 37 of my cycle with no sign of her imminent arrival, but then last month she showed up completely out of the blue with no warning whatsoever. When is the bitch going to realize she’s not welcome and fucking do one?!