Tag Archives: peri-menopause

Treatment of peri-menopause

When you’re going through any change in your life, particularly if it’s health related, it’s often comforting and reassuring to read about other people’s experiences and/or to read up on the facts.  I’ve sometimes felt a bit isolated and bewildered during my peri-menopause because when I’ve asked older women I know about it they’ve either looked embarrassed and changed the subject or told me they didn’t even notice their transition and simply stopped having periods (!), so I’ve had to resort to Google and forums to find out if my experience is normal.  It’s such a relief to read that other women are having the same issues as me though of course no two experiences are ever the same, but some of the advice I’ve heard from so-called experts, including female gynaecologists who should sodding well know better, has driven me insane.

I’ve read from several websites that “lifestyle” choices can “treat” the brown discharge I’ve experienced this month.  Apparently I have to drink more water, exercise more and improve my diet.  Oh do fuck off.  Having a bleed replaced by brown discharge when you’re nearly 51 simply signals the end of peri-menopause and the start of actual menopause – no amount of Perrier or walking up a mountain is going to ‘cure’ it.  It’s natural and no treatment is needed.

The only cure for the pain I’m experiencing is a hysterectomy, due to the fact I have severe endometriosis and adenomyosis.  Unfortunately, due to my MCAS and almost total drug allergies, this isn’t feasible otherwise I would have had it done a decade ago and saved myself years of torture.

Peri and actual Menopause are natural, if oftentimes not particularly pleasant, times in a woman’s life and not diseases which need to be treated.  Obviously for some women the symptoms become unbearable and they absolutely need hormone and other help, but for anyone to suggest that drinking more water or eating more leafy greens is going to provide relief is ludicrous.  Neither food, drink nor exercise is going to replace our dwindling hormones.

Instead of giving out bollocks information I wish there was a website that just told it like it is.  Which explained that many peri and menopause symptoms aren’t very nice but to just grit our teeth and get on with them cos they won’t last forever.  Or, if the symptoms are really bad, pointed us in the direction of effective treatment, eg which is the best hormone cream, the differences between cream and pessaries, how long to use them for and what side effects to expect.  Now that would be useful.  The thing that would be most useful, however, would be large scale research on what actually happens to women during peri and menopause so there was some proper understanding of the symptoms, the phases, how long it lasts and what’s normal and not normal.  Yes we’re all different but there are common themes as anyone who reads the message boards can see.  The current inaccurate advice seems to be to ask your Mother, because your menopause will mimic hers.  We’re not clones for heaven’s sake!   My Mum’s menstrual history is worlds apart from my own and her Menopause and mine have been polar opposites.  We aren’t just made up of our Mum’s genes we’re also made up of our Dad’s, so maybe I take after my paternal Aunt or Grandmother or maybe I’m just unique!  Some up-to-date research on the effectiveness of HRT for symptoms like hot flushes and vaginal atrophy is also sorely needed, and the truth about the risks of using hormones after the menopause in terms of side-effects or increasing female cancers.  We’re not supposed to have hormones after our 50s, so what are the consequences when we artificially replace them?

However, as with most things which affect women this information isn’t available.  A few years ago my Mum was having issues ‘down below’ so was referred to a very nice, and honest, gynaecologist who told her that historically women haven’t routinely lived to their 80s so we’ve no clue what’s going on with their hormones at that age or how to treat the problems older women experience.

On the one hand we’re told menopause is normal so isn’t worthy of research and on the other every Tom, Dick and Harriet is trying to ‘cure’ us with bullshit or unsubstantiated advice.  I don’t want to read about bio-identical hormones from someone who has a book to sell either – I want impartial information from Doctors who aren’t making a profit off my misery.

Unfortunately should this information ever be available it will come too late for me as I’ll be through Menopause and out the other side.  I feel, therefore, it’s important for me to discuss my transition which, for some bizarre reason, seems to be one of the last taboos – we openly discuss puberty and pregnancy these days but periods and the Menopause are still firmly in the closet.  It still amazes me when I mention my peri-menopause that people look shocked, like I’ve admitted to urinating in public or something!

A female MP this week was late to a House of Commons debate on period poverty because she was unwell due to her period and it made headline news.  It’s the 21st Century FFS – women shouldn’t have to hide their periods like it’s some kind of dirty secret!  Even some women discussing it were unsympathetic, told her to stop being a wuss and to be more professional.  I’m disgusted with them.  Some lucky women sail through their lives with perfectly healthy periods they barely ever notice, but for others periods are a kind of living torture.  I’ve suffered with endometriosis since I was 13 years old and by the time I was 40 was so exhausted from the suffering that I literally wanted to top myself.  Why can’t these judgemental women have some compassion for those whose experience is different to theirs?  I wish more women discussed their periods and menopause in polite society because then it would be the norm and we wouldn’t have to try and act like nothing is happening.

Menopause isn’t a disease, just like pregnancy isn’t a disease, but oftentimes there can be problems and it’s hard to treat those problems when Doctors have hardly any accurate information to go on.  Considering Menopause is something every woman on the planet will go through it’s gobsmacking that it’s still in the relative dark ages when it comes to research and understanding.

 

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Weekly roundup

The UK is enjoying a heat-wave and we may be on trend to have the hottest summer on record.  It’s been over 30C here in the North, which is virtually unheard of, and we’re having the most prolonged hot spell in over 40 years.   I luuurve nice weather but this is too hot even for me and the temperature in my bedroom hasn’t dropped below 26C all week despite a huge fan going full pelt, consequently there hasn’t been a huge amount of sleep happening and I’m now feeling pretty wiped.

Monday, one of my photography buddies and I took advantage of the sunshine and went down to the river with our cameras.  To be fair we didn’t get any useable shots but had a nice time anyway and ate our picnic lunch in a wild flower meadow.  In the afternoon I had to take Bertie to the vets.  He’s had a herniated spinal disc since he was about 3½ and now and again the pain gets really bad, so he’s been put on Gabapentin.  He’s had it before and it It usually helps but this time despite both that and daily paracetomol the pain still isn’t under control so I’m not sure what the next step is going to be 😦

Tuesday my Dad had his long-awaited appointment with the spinal team and has thankfully been referred for surgery.  He’s always been super fit but 18 months ago started with back stiffness and leg pain and is now unable to walk around his home without a stick.  His MRI showed spinal stenosis which can happen as we age, but his seems to have progressed at an alarming rate of knots.  I just hope he doesn’t have to wait too long for treatment.

Wednesday I received a call from one of the men at my Camera Club.  Can you remember we were given arranged seating at our annual dinner the other month and I was placed opposite a single, middle aged farmer who bored the arse off me all night?  Well it was him, telling me I had beautiful eyes and inviting me up to his farm.  I go to my camera club for help with my photography – if I wanted a boyfriend I’d join a dating app.  I had to let him down as gently as possible but it’s now going to be bloody awkward when we next meet up.  I could sodding well kill the woman who organized the dinner and placed me on a table with no less than 3 single, middle aged men I’d tried all fucking year to avoid.

Thursday I had lunch at a lovely local cafe with another camera club buddy.  It’s so fabulous to be able to eat outdoors, although all the goddamn flies are annoying and despite wearing insect repellant I have several, large, angry, I-want-to-scratch-my-skin-raw bites.

Aunt Flo this month has been a bitch.  I’ve had period, endo, bowel and back pain for 10 days now but no proper period.  I had brown gunk for 3 days then 1 day of light bleeding.  Nothing for 2 days followed by anther day of brown gunk.  The pain has been ridiculous though and has included shooting pains down my legs which have kept me awake half the night for most of the week not to mention the fact that I can’t sleep on my favoured left side because it sets off wicked bowel/ovarian pain, and to add insult to injury I’ve had no less than four migraines.  FFS I’m so over it.

With the pain, heat and lack of sleep I’m flagging this weekend so have just had a quiet time not able to do much of anything.  I’d had a couple of photos in mind though which I’ve worked on in the evenings, while simultaneously eating my body weight in Haagen Dazs and binge watching old episodes of the Kardashians to avoid the torture of eleven men in shorts chasing a ball of air around a field, otherwise known as the football World Cup 😉

 

 

 

Weekly roundup

All my wisdom teeth came through in my early twenties and have never caused me any bother, but recently one of the bottom ones has been painful and when I woke on Tuesday morning with a really sore throat and swollen glands on the same side I thought I’d better get it checked by the dentist.  Thankfully there was no abscess or infection but the gum was severely inflamed and needed to be packed with an anti-septic and anti-inflamatory dressing.  It tasted vile and was so minty hot my mouth was on fire for the rest of the night but it helped and that’s the main thing.  As you all know, though, I’m flaring at the mo and I did have a small reaction driving home in the car, which I now know was nothing to do with the drugs in the dressing and more likely due to simple exhaustion and the stress of the procedure.

I continued to feel unwell on Wednesday and was very MEish.  The Dentist said the sore throat was nothing to do with my tooth so I probably had an unconnected throat infection from which I’m still suffering, and for the first time in ages I was on the verge of collapse by lunchtime so had to go back to bed.  I felt both sick and ravenously hungry at the same time, which is usually the warning sign I’m getting a migraine, and sure enough by 8pm my noggin was thumping and the pain kept me awake half the night.

Thursday I’d arranged to meet my best mate for lunch but when I got up at 6am my head was still banging and I wasn’t well enough to go, so I risked taking some junior ibuprofen suspension which calmed the pain down and allowed me to drive.  I’m glad I managed to go despite feeling like a limp lettuce because I really enjoyed the goss and it was nice to be out of the house.

That night I was kept awake half the night with tummy ache which felt suspiciously like period pain.  I was only on day 16 of my cycle, though, so dismissed the notion and thought instead that maybe it was just collicky pain to which I’m prone.  Nope, it actually was my period – at least I think it’s my period.  I have all the symptoms: backache, period pain, nausea, migraine, exhaustion………… but no bleeding, just thick brown gunk.  Apparently this can happen when there aren’t enough hormones to cause thickening of the womb lining, which I’m hoping is a good sign that my peri-menopause is moving on towards actual menopause, but it’s cruely ironic to have looked forward to my bleeding stopping only to still have every period related symptom known to man. FFS!  I’m also monumentally unimpressed at having a ‘period’ only 2½ weeks since the last one.  Pleeeeaaaase God make it stop.

Friday I was back at the Dentist.  I’d had the appt booked for ages as it was just for a routine check-up but my gum was still inflamed so he put another dressed on and we’ll see if that finally does the trick.  This time I had no reaction at all, which is how I know my first reaction was nothing to do with the dressing.  Friday evening I started with another migraine (I always have migraines during my period) so was, for the third night running, awake half the night in pain. This week has been hard work.

As if all that wasn’t enough to be dealing with, I woke up Weds morning with a painful index finger on my right hand – I have no fucking clue why.  I already have my right thumb and wrist strapped up and now I’ve had to buddy tape my finger, which means using the laptop is tortuous.  My one distraction from all my woes is my photography, however using my editing tablet is aggravating the pain so I know I should be taking a break but I honestly think I’d go nuts, so I’m carrying on regardless and probably making the situation worse.  Here is an owl we saw at the flying display I went to a couple of weeks ago, which is still one of the best days of my life:

The good news is that my Mum had her latest test results back and her anaemia has improved to within the normal range.  She also had a bone density scan, having been diagnosed with osteoporosis 23 years ago and never having had a scan since, which shows her bones are much better than they used to be and she is now classed as having osteopenia rather than osteoporosis.  She was on bisphosphonate tablets for two decades then switched to a 3 monthly injection, but is now deemed to no longer need them and just has to take calcium & vitamin D supplements.  Maybe if she’d been monitored and had regular scans she might have been able to come off them years ago :-/  I was told off by a GP who used to follow my blog when I said that Doctors don’t monitor their patients properly but from my experience they absolutely do not.  It was my Mum who requested the scan – if it had been left up to her GP she wouldn’t have had one as long as she lived and carried on taking drugs she no longer needed.

 

Weekly roundup

The sun is shining for a change, hurrahhh, and Bert and I have had a couple of lovely walks down by the river wearing a t-shirt for the first time this year (me that is, not the dog – the dog thinks clothing is for wusses).  At least they would have been lovely if it weren’t for the fact that I feel like death warmed up.  I have had a week of hormone hell.  Not sleeping, not eating and so emotional I’ve felt like I was losing my marbles.  One minute raging, the next minute weeping and generally just feeling overwhelmed and like I’m crawling out of my skin.  I hate not being in control of how I feel and am so exhausted I could sleep on a washing line.  When is this Menopause shit going to be over?!

Thankfully I’ve had a fairly quiet week which is a good job as I’ve barely had the energy to shove a meal in the microwave, however my cleaner didn’t turn up on Wednesday so despite the fact I’ve only just got my back pain to settle down I had to start changing the bed sheets (the dog had been in the river then come home, snuggled actually in the bed under the duvet and left a huge muddy wet patch where I sleep) and washing the floors (I swear they are so dirty they must be hazardous to human health).  She’s let me down so often now I think I’m going to have to find someone else.  It’s all been legitimate – she was off work 3 months with a bad back, various weeks when her daughter was off school ill and now her Dad is terminally ill with cancer – but I think she forgets the reason I have a cleaner is that I’m not well!  She also took on walking Bertie two days a week, which lasted all of 2 months before she decided she didn’t like it and quit.

The Doctor rang me about my Dad but thinks that none of his symptoms are linked to the kappa paraprotein in his blood.  I’m still not convinced as she couldn’t explain his chronic fatigue, but she has referred him again to the spinal unit to have another look at his back so I’ll mention my concerns to them and see what they say.

Stuck in bed and feeling bored I decided to write an article for a national photography magazine on overcoming obstacles.  I’m disabled with a hobby which involves being mobile and skint in a hobby which can cost the sodding earth, so I wrote about how I’ve managed to find ways round these limitations.  The magazine editor happened to belong to a Camera Club in southern Scotland and he liked the piece and my photos so much he’s asked me to go along and give a talk one night at his Club.  Gulp!  I hate committing to stuff because I never know on any given day how I’m going to wake up feeling, but at the same time it’s flattering to have been asked.  My lovely friend John has offered to drive me so I think I’ll give it a bash and see how it goes though it won’t be until after September when the new season starts.  Without my photography I honestly think I’d be losing my mind at the mo.

My elderly neighbour Sam and I were talking about Scampi the other day.  She said she’d had some Whitby scampi and how nice it was and I mentioned I’ve never tried it, so two days later she rocked up at my house with a packet for me.  Aren’t some people kind? 🙂

Today is my parents’ Ruby wedding anniversary.  40 years of bickering and having absolutely zero in common 😉  My Mum was with my biological Dad for 18 years before that, so she’s been married for nearly 60 all in all.  Blimey.  My step-brothers, aunt, uncle, nieces and partners are all going out for a meal tonight to celebrate.  I can’t stand my Uncle, who shoots beautiful wild animals for fun, or my eldest brother who in 7 years has never once offered to do a thing for our parents, but I’ll grin and bear it and a least I’ll be eating food I haven’t had to cook myself!

 

 

 

Symptoms of Peri-menopause

According to this website there are 34 symptoms of peri-menopause, some like hot flushes most of us know about and some which to me have come as a huge surprise.  So that you can all compare your Change to mine I thought I’d go through my experience of these symptoms but, more importantly, talk about the ones which I haven’t as yet had.  When you read about peri-menopause online you only really get the horror stories but it’s not inevitable that you’ll turn into Norman Bates’ evil twin – no, it’s much more likely you’ll just become a grumpy old git with a disappearing waistline 😉

Common Menopause Symptoms

Hot Flushes/Flashes

Remarkably I haven’t had these as yet, for which I am truly thankful.  However, they are actually more common in the first two years after Menopause, ie when periods have stopped, so there’s time yet!  Having said all that, as I’ve recently documented I’ve definitely been having vasomotor symptoms which feel a bit like I’m having a stroke and are massively scary – I just don’t flush.  So maybe I’m having my own, unique, version of the flushes just without the heat.

Night Sweats

I’ve had night sweats for about the past 7 years, but only in my period week.  Strangely enough, now I’m approaching Menopause they aren’t as bad as they used to be, so this symptom is again not one I’ve had huge problems with.

Irregular Periods

When I’ve been reading about peri-menopause online I’ve often seen the question “how do I know I’m in peri-menopause?” and think to myself “really?!”  If you’re in your forties and your menstrual cycle starts to change in any way, the likelihood is that your hormones are off to pastures new.  Of course there are other reasons for period changes, but when it’s peri-menopause related you kind’ve just know.  My cycles are currently all over the place, with last month’s being 40 days and this month’s being 22 days.

Loss of Libido

Hell-to-the-no 😉  In fact, there are times in the month I am so horny I could shag the dog.  Being single, of course, my rampant sex drive is wasted which seems a bit of a shame, however in reality my endometriosis is so painful sex would probably be out of the question.

Vaginal Dryness

I’ve definitely had this, but only at certain times of the month – it’s not currently permanent.  It doesn’t feel like I expected either and for me I only know it’s happening because my undies rub and irritate me and this can cause my lady garden to become sore.  A smearing of K-Y Jelly, which stings like a son-of-a-bitch when first applied, has been helpful.

Mood Swings

Over the 7 years of my peri-menopause I’ve had five massive rages however they were all due to my alcoholic Mother so would probably have happened irrespective of my hormones.  There are times of the month I can feel a bit weepy or tetchy for a few days, but then I’ve always been like that so it’s not something unique to peri-menopause.  I feel hugely thankful that my mood has so far been fairly stable, though of course this may change as the actual Menopause gets closer.

Other Changes

Fatigue

As I already have severe chronic fatigue I haven’t noticed this as a symptom anywhere near as much as if I’d been healthy.  However, a couple of years ago my fatigue became absolutely poleaxing but this turned out to be because of low ferritin stores and has improved dramatically following iron supplementation.  So if fatigue becomes troublesome look for alternative explanations – low iron is common in peri-menopause as bleeding can become heavier.

Hair Loss

I’ve never had thick hair but started losing my hair in earnest in my mid forties.  MCAD can also cause hair loss so I’ve no idea if I would have lost quite so much hair if I didn’t have that, but it’s not something I’m going to get hung up on.  Hair extensions and wigs are brilliant these days so I just bought myself some fake hair and got on with it.

Sleep Disorders

Again, because I already had insomnia due to my ME and MCAD it’s hard to know how much my sleep has been affected by peri-menopause.  I actually went through a couple of years of sleeping brilliantly, probably the best for 20 years, but now I seem to have insomnia again in particular waking at 4 or 5am and not being able to drop back off.  I just accept it as one of those things and am so used to being sleep deprived it doesn’t hugely affect my day.

Difficulty Concentrating

Yet again, I’m already completely brain fogged due to my existing illnesses and don’t think this has gotten massively worse.  When you’re not sleeping well it affects daytime concentration too, so my focusing problems are probably as a result of many factors not just peri-menopause.

Memory Lapses

Er, what was the question again? 😉  My memory has definitely gone to shit.  It was never good to start with, 25 years of M.E. brain fog has seen to that, but there are now days when it’s so bad I feel like a Dementia patient.

Dizziness

This has been one of the worst symptoms for me.  I can spend whole weeks feeling dizzy and disorientated every waking second of the day.  In fact, the second I opened my eyes this morning and the room swerved I knew today would be a dizzy day.  It’s just something I put up with and pray eases soon.

Weight gain

I have gained half a stone (7lbs) in the last year, which doesn’t sound a lot but has meant I’ve had to go up a dress size.  The reason for this is that I have the raging munchies and go through cycles where even Bert’s dog biscuits look tempting.  I have zero self-control, even though I know that once the weight is on it will be really hard to shift, and these are the times I’m glad I live 7 miles from the nearest shop otherwise I would have gained 10 stone 😉

Incontinence

Thankfully I can still hold my wee, though the fact I’ve never given birth has probably helped.  I pee for England, including having to get up at least once in the night, but don’t leak.

Bloating

The word “bloated” doesn’t do this symptom justice.  My breasts are, at times, so swollen I could float on water and I looks 5 months pregnant.  I pee, and pee, and pee and still look and feel like the Michelin Man.

Allergies

My life changed forever when my hormones started to decline and my mast cell activation took up residence.  Enough said.

Brittle nails

My nails, like my hair, have always been rubbish and I can’t see that peri-menopause has made a huge difference.  In any event, who the fuck worries about their nails?!  Get a life.  Having said that, a couple of years ago I noticed my toe nails has started to split right down the middle and the ends had all flattened out.  This is a symptom of anaemia and sure enough my iron stores were really low, so if you notice these kids of signs my advice would be to get some blood work done.

Changes in Odor

I live on my own, so I’ve no-one to tell me if I’ve suddenly started to smell like rotting fish.  I am aware, though, that body odor can change during middle age so am more liberal with deodorants and perfume than I used to be, but I think this applies to both sexes not just women – my Dad certainly has an “old man” pong no matter how often he showers.

Irregular Heartbeat

This is one symptom I can definitely relate to and is really common.  I’ve had palpitations as part of my M.E. for donkeys years but they got so bad in my mid forties I had a 24 hour holter monitor done.  I was convinced I had some kind of heart problem, but although the ectopic/skippy/thumpy beats showed up on the test they were deemed to be normal and just part of the peri-menopause.   They’ve thankfully now settled down a bit and aren’t as frequent or severe as they were.

Depression

I’m so thankful that I haven’t suffered with this symptom and mood-wise am just my usual grumpy arsed self 😉

Anxiety &/or Panic

I’m not an anxious person in general, but have definitely noticed I can become suddenly anxious for absolutely no good reason.  Anxiety can be a symptom of mast cell activation too though, so I’m never sure whether it’s my hormones or my mast cells that are playing up.  It hasn’t been too troublesome though and I just accept it as part of the process, tell myself that “this too shall pass” and try not to panic over the fact I feel panicky, which is often easier said than done.

Irritability

All I will say about this symptom is that Victor Meldrew and I must be related only in my house there’s a lot more swearing 😀

Pains

It’s been the pain symptoms of peri-menopause which have come as a shock to me as I simply wasn’t expecting some of them.

Breast Pain

Holy Mary Mother of God my boobs are sore.  Chronically, stupidly sore, all of the time.  I hardly ever wear a bra these days as they’re so uncomfortable and have been known to rub Ibuleve gel into my breasts to try and gain some relief.  It’s like PMT breast tenderness on steroids.

Headaches

My battle with migraine is well documented and is mostly hormone related.  My migraines haven’t become particularly more frequent as a result of peri-menopause, but they’ve definitely become more painful, last longer and now often include vomiting.  Along with my endometriosis and adenomyosis this is one symptom I’m praying to God will lessen when I’ve finally gone through The Change.

Joint Pain

My joints went to hell on a handcart when I first started with peri-menopause at the age of 43.  Obviously I also have hEDS, so I’ve no idea if my joints would have been so badly affected if I were healthy, but I’m definitely doing the old lady thing of “oompfing” as I get out of the chair and can no longer bend to put on my socks or shoes.  I feel like I’ve aged 20 years in the last 5.

Burning Tongue

This is another tricky symptom, because I have GERD and if acid backs up into the oesophagus and/or mouth it can cause a burning sensation so I’ve no clue if my burning mouth is due to my reflux or my hormones.

Electric Shocks

This symptom was completely unexpected, particularly as it only affects my breasts.  The stabbing, electric shocks became so bad that my GP sent me for an early mammogram last year as it’s not something widely considered to be linked to the menopause, but all was fine and the pain is less frequent now than it was a couple of years ago.

Digestive problems

I have digestive issues by the truck load already and haven’t noticed they are any worse than they were five years ago.

Gum problems

Many people in middle age start to suffer from receding gums, so I personally wouldn’t say this is down to peri-menopause, just age.  Yes I lost my first adult tooth at 48, but then my best mate’s hubby did too and he isn’t peri-menopausal although my mate says he’s definitely having a mid life crisis 😉

Muscle Tension

If you have depression, panic or anxiety as a symptom of peri-menopause it stands to reason you will notice muscle tension so I’m not convinced this is a symptom in its own right.  I also think that even some healthy women have mast cell issues during peri-menopause, with things like new allergies, hives, eczema and itching, and again muscle tension is a symptom of mast cell activation.  I have definitely noticed more muscle spasms in the past five years, but then my MCAD has gone nuclear so it was fairly much inevitable and not down to peri-menopause per se, though my hormones are probably the reason my MCAD went nuts.

Itchy skin

My itchy skin drives me bonkers some days, but it’s part of having MCAD so again it’s not a symptom I associate with peri-menopause.  Having said all that, the one symptom not mentioned in the list of 34 is dry skin, which amazes me because it’s something nearly all menopausal women notice and dry skin can also be itchy.  I’ve always had beautiful, flawless skin, it’s the only good thing about having hEDS, but I feel like my skin has aged ten years in the past two and is horribly dry and lifeless.  My whole life I’ve never had the need to bother much with moisturizer, but now I put it on twice a day otherwise my skin feels as tight as a duck’s arse.  My skin has also sagged and wrinkled at an alarming rate and I suddenly look, and feel, every one of my 50 years.  Yay.

Tingling Extremities

Having had pins & needles in my hands and feet for the better part of a quarter of a century I’m probably not the best person to ask about tingling extremities.

Osteoporosis

My maternal Gran, my Mum, her Sister and a maternal Cousin all had osteoporosis by the time they were 52 so this is something I’m probably going to develop.  On the NHS bone density isn’t usually checked until a woman is over 50 even with a family history, however as hEDS is also a risk factor I’ve already had two bone density scans in my forties which were thankfully both fine.  It will be interesting to see, however, what my next one shows in two years time as by then I should be post-menopausal.

Excluded Symptoms

There are some symptoms which, IMHO, have been left out of the list of 34.  One is dry skin which I’ve already mentioned and the other is changes to flow.  My periods don’t last any longer than they always have, but they are definitely heavier and often really clotty.  Other times the blood can be bright red, like I’ve cut myself, and I’m also more prone to sluggish brown smears/spotting both before and after my actual period.  Even if your cycles are still regular, if you’re in your forties and start noticing changes in the consistency of your flow chances are you’re starting in peri-menopause.

Your body also changes shape.  Even if your weight stays the same your waist may suddenly disappear.  I’ve always had a curvy, hourglass figure with a well defined middle but seemingly overnight my waist did a bunk and I now I’m starting to look matronly and chunky.

Something else which hasn’t been mentioned is apathy.  I don’t feel in any way depressed and I’m not lacking in motivation but some days my get-up-and-go simply gets-up-and-leaves.  Maybe this is a fatigue thing but I just can’t be arsed to do stuff, in particular housework or cooking………in fact, any of the “shoulds”.  I know I should be doing the laundry and instead I’m either sat on my lardy arse stuffing my face with Wine Gums and watching Teen Mom, or I’m in my ‘studio’ taking photographs, which is fine until I go to get dressed and realize I’ve no clean pants.  Or socks.  Or much of anything else, which turns into an excuse to stay in my jim jams and watch more telly.  Maybe getting old isn’t so bad after all 😉

Conclusion

So far my journey through peri-menopause hasn’t been the hellish experience my Mum warned me about and I seem to be doing OK.  I personally think it’s all about expectation.  By the time I was in my mid forties I expected to be starting peri-menopause so that when it happened it didn’t come as any kind of shock.  I’m gobsmacked at the amount of women I read about online who are 48 and seem surprised their periods have suddenly gone awry – surely to goodness all women expect to start The Change by their late forties, and it actually begins much earlier for many of us.

Already suffering from chronic illness also prepares you for changes to your hormones.  Healthy people who suddenly find themselves exhausted, itchy, stiff and in pain, and who develop palpitations, dizziness and insomnia, must think their world is coming to an end, but when you’ve already had these symptoms for years it’s just business as usual for the most part.  Trust me when I say I’ve been way more sick than I am now.

There are definitely parts of my transition which are crap, like my migraines and dizziness, and they have absolutely affected my life but not to the point where I feel like I can’t cope.  I’ve been hugely lucky so far in that my mood has remained fairly stable which is one of the things which worried me the most, and so far the dreaded hot flushes haven’t put in an appearance.  Of course, no-one could predict that my waning hormones would set off my dormant mast cell disease causing all hell to break loose and I was clueless as to the fact that it would impact my hEDS quite as much as it has, but my M.E. has so far been largely unaffected though I know that’s not the case for some.

I was anticipating becoming a depressed, irritable, exhausted, fat mess by the time I was 50 and although there’s still time for this to happen so far I’m just grateful I still feel my usual kind, happy but grumpy self albeit a bit thicker and saggier around the edges.  It could be worse.

Weird head symptoms

This is another peri-menopause related post, so feel free to skip it if you’re male, a younger female who doesn’t want to know what the future holds or a jammy older woman who has put menopause hell behind them 😉

I’ve been having a new symptom and it has not been pleasant.  Several months ago, while teaching software to a group of people at my Camera Club, I suddenly felt like I was having a stroke.  I know that sounds dramatic but trust me when I say it was dramatic.  Out of the blue I felt my brain lurch inside my skull and all thoughts ceased.  I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak and I felt like I was going to pass out.  I have no idea how I kept functioning for the remaining minutes until our coffee break, but I somehow coped then made a hasty retreat to the loo, where I sat on the throne with my head in my hands wondering what the hell was happening.  After five minutes or so I started to shake and feel ridiculously hungry and I realized my blood sugar had tanked, so went and got myself a brew and ate some biscuits.  Later I managed to drive home, albeit feeling crazily spaced out, but for days afterwards I felt really dizzy and disoriented.

Most people would have rung the Doctor but I just figured if it was a stroke I seemed to be recovering and if it wasn’t a stroke they wouldn’t have the foggiest clue what it was, so I couldn’t much see the point.  My almost phobic fear of the medical profession and being labelled bonkers outrode my fear of what was happening to me.

That was back in September and this week it happened again, this time while I was sitting quietly in bed watching the telly.  I genuinely felt like I’d been coshed over the head with a blunt instrument, saw stars and then felt ridiculously woozy for the rest of the night.  For the next four days I kept having weird head rushes, a feeling like my brain was lurching in my skull and felt constantly woozy like I had some kind of concussion.  I also had a low level thumping headache and my brain actually felt sore, a bit like it was bruised.  On day number five, ie this morning, I had some mild head rushes when I first got up but then seemed to brighten up and didn’t start feeling woozy again until around 7pm.  It’s now 8pm and every time I move my eyeballs I feel dizzy – writing this post is making me proper nauseous.

It’s been quite scary if I’m honest, but I did realize that this week I should be ovulating so I’m assuming it’s some kind of hormonal problem.  I Googled “menopause weird head symptoms” and came across dozens of pages, but they were mostly accounts of dizziness rather than the violent brain lurching I’ve experienced, or women who were having anxiety and/or panic attacks which is something I’ve thankfully never suffered from.  From the women’s accounts they were having symptoms which only lasted an hour or two at most,  or symptoms which came and went, not lasting days on end like mine have been this week.  I have had quite bad dizzy spells on and off for a couple of years now but this feels very different – more woozy and with disequilibrium rather than vertigo, plus the head rushes and brutal, sudden feeling like I’ve just been battered on the nonce.

To be honest I’ve no freakin’ clue what’s going on and currently have no intention of finding out.  I’m so sick of Doctors looking at me like I’m nuts, or giving me all sorts of tests which always come back normal then looking at me like I’m nuts, that I’d rather suffer the weird head shit than put myself through the trauma that is medical care.  The symptoms have two choices – they will either go or they won’t and if they don’t and they become unbearable I’ll have to have a rethink.  I’ll probably be offered drugs I can’t take in any event, particularly if they’re migraine related, so I can never much see the point in going to the Doctors.  I’m just hoping it’s my hormones and will settle down soon – keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

Peri-menopause penultimate phase

I have become a bit obsessed with my waning hormones so apologies if I’m boring you all rigid but to actively watch your body transition into the unknown is both scary and fascinating.  I think I’ve reached a milestone this month, which I thought I’d be doing cartwheels about, but it hasn’t turned out quite as expected and now rather than being joyful I am sodding terrified.

I’ve skipped my first period, which means it’s the beginning of the end and I am probably in the final twelve months of peri-menopause.  I thought I’d be jumping for joy as I’ve been wanting my horrendously painful endometriosis and adenomyosis filled periods to end since my teens but instead I am flamin’ miserable.  I started with the usual period pain, backache, painful boobs, insomnia and exhaustion on about day 22 of my cycle and after five days of symptoms was more than ready for my period to start so that they’d bugger off, but I am still waiting.   I am now on day 40 of my cycle with no sign of bleeding, but the burning, stinging period/pelvic pain is intense, my breasts are killing me and my back pain so bad I have barely slept for a week now.  WT-actual-Fuck?!!

I’ve read that it’s very common for women to experience period pain but have no bleed while they transition into Menopause, but most say that after a week or so the pain just disappears – sort of like having a phantom period.  But mine is not only not going anywhere it’s getting worse by the day 😦  Surely to God I don’t have to put up with this agony for a whole month until I go through another cycle, or even more terrifying the symptoms won’t stay around forever?!

I feel hugely cheated.  I have looked forward to skipping my first period and knowing that finally, finally my monthly torture is coming to an end, but no.  My body, traitor that it is, has once again made the situation worse not better.  I could weep with the injustice.  Have I not suffered enough?

The only good news is that emotionally I am fine, if understandably fed up.  No sign of PMS (not that I’ve ever suffered much with that anyway thankfully) and no migraines.  I so far also seem to have by-passed a symptom suffered by the vast majority of women in peri-menopause – hot flushes.  I had one back in 2012 sat in a cafe, during which I stripped down to my t-shirt even though it was the middle of January and snowing outside, but other than that nada.  I’ve had night sweats leading up my period for years, but nothing so drastic they’ve kep me awake at night or forced me to change the sheets or anything, for which I am grateful.  I do know, though, that the situation would have been vastly different if I were still eating a diet high in histamines.  I used to flush after every meal and am convinced that if my diet had remained the same hot flushes would have been the order of the day.  So I guess that’s a silver lining, though to be honest I would have preferred the hot flushes over the excruciating ramp up in pelvic and back pain any day of the week.

So I shall see what develops.  The only other time a woman’s body goes through this sort of monumental change is during pregnancy, but at least you kind’ve know what to expect with that.  There are a million books on the subject and each woman’s experience is broadly similar.  Not so with the Menopause where the most advice you get is “every woman is different” which is no sodding use whatsoever and you’re basically just left to white-knuckle it, doubly so if you already have other health problems.  I have absolutely no idea how all this is going to affect my M.E., MCAD or hEDS and even though I thought knew how it was going to pan out with my endo and adeno it turns out I was clueless.  I did find a few books on peri-menopause on Amazon, one of which was written by a man (a man!) which is like the blind talking about sight, while others were written by women who haven’t gone through the menopause themselves which is akin to a childless woman writing about giving birth.

It may be that I am not going to actually skip my period this month it is just monumentally late, in which case it needs to hurry the hell up and put me out of my misery.  I don’t know and it’s not like anyone else knows either.  Watch this space, or look away now, I wish I could!