Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Yayyy! Menopause!

Hormonal warning t-shirts
available from Zazzle.
I have the ultimate secret weapon against Piglet's impending teenage hormonal mood swings. Menopause! Being an older mum, I will be able to out-hormone her.

I had a couple of years to get used to the impending 'Change'. A little while back, I started getting irregular and unusually heavy periods. I sensibly called up the NHS Helpline and went to see my doctor. Medical professionals spoke to me like this: *hushed whisper* "It's your age." ??? "It's the CHANGE!"

Barbie and Ken as Apollo 
and Daphne - available on ebay.
Sheesh, I felt like I was not human any more. As if I was about to metamorphose like some ancient Greek maiden being pursued by randy Gods or evil Fates, turn into a laurel tree or waves on the ocean shore or something. But then I reflected that half of the population goes through this 'Change'. There seem to be a lot of human-looking ladies walking about with elegantly coiffed white hair. I figured it must be survivable.

In fact I wasn't menopausal at the time. When I pointed out to these medical professionals that surely in that case my periods would be getting lighter if not disappearing, not getting heavier, they said: "Oh ... yes," in disappointed tones. At one point I did think I was having a hot flush, but then I realised it was just that Piglet had racked up the heating in the car. I had a tiny fibroid, which disrupted my periods badly and sometimes left me feeling washed out and exhausted. Medical intervention was felt to be inappropriate as the fibroid was so small, and would disappear when I became menopausal i.e. very soon. So I have been looking forward to the menopause, when my body might settle down.

I think this probably is IT. I checked out my symptoms on the NHS website. To start with, my periods have disappeared - although I expect they will make a brief spectacular come-back at some highly inappropriate moment. The second key sign was that I became subject to mood swings. I felt very anxious, irritable, tear-y. Of course, being a community-minded mum, there were many reasons for me to be emotional: friend finally getting to move into safe new home, Piglet kicking off about next to nothing, the state of welfare provision - actually, don't talk to me about that right now.

From Wizard of Oz fan page
It's June so the weather is warm, but these feel like hot flushes. Luckily I'm not getting the breaking out into a bad sweat thing (yet). I can imagine the way I feel could be disruptive but I am just going with it. If I don't stress up about it, it's actually fun to go round in a sort of pink glow, panting lightly. Some people would pay, LOL.

(If it gets too distracting, I will go and ask about Hormone Replacement Therapy.)

I feel curiously more feminine, not less - more aware of my body. I am wondering a bit what additional changes are going to happen. When exactly will my hair get grey and stringy?  I have been lucky and my hair is still dark, although with silver streaks. I figure this is my last chance to wear it long. When hair is grey, I think it looks better with a short crop. I have good skin too. (For now? Maybe I need to go shopping for a luxurious perfumed lotion, and have tea and cakes.) When hairdressers try to persuade me to dye, I laugh and say: "No, I like to look at least half my age." I am just sayin' - if you think my hair is getting scraggy, tip me the wink so I can finally go for the low maintenance short sharp look.

I do have the short term memory and sleep issues too. Yesterday I forgot to give Piglet her dinner money and snack money. Last night, I just stayed up watching half a  film and doing ironing - but I went to bed forgetting to switch the iron off! I just have to be a bit more mindful, which is not that easy when the mornings are a mad scramble to get the Piglet ready and out the door. Still, she is old enough now for it to be a training exercise: "You really should be able to get your own school things together." (Actually, she mostly can by now. Phew, I'm glad I did that bit of parenting in good time ahead of secondary school!)

From FatCatArt
Oh, and I have been carrying a bit of extra weight which I was surprised didn't shift. After we recently moved house, Piglet and I had a much longer cycle ride to school and I did think I would lose the chub as I knew I was getting fitter. However, the cycle ride unfortunately goes right past a cafe with fantastic cakes. I think that probably is the real explanation for my maintaining a stubbornly Rubenesque figure, LOL.

McNeill Whistler's Princess 
from the Land of Porcelain.
All in all, it reminds me of having periods. The clumsiness, the feeling of being slow. I was lucky enough to be part of a black women's poetry movement in the 1990s when some fantastic poetry was being written about PMT, like Patience Agbabi's It's Better Post- Than Pre-. Wise women's words helped me realise that if I rushed around, I felt irritable, anxious and stressed during my period. If I took things gently and enjoyed the extra awareness of the world which comes at that time, it could be a sensual and pleasurable experience.
Poster from PrintsCharming

I think Changing to become more in tune with my body and the world is probably a more human experience, compared to rushing through trying to do more and more every day. I shall wear loose flowing clothing more flattering to my mature figure and buy an attractive fan to languidly wave when I am all aglow. Possibly a matching hat. And chocolate - I'm sure I ought to have a craving for chocolate too. Anyway, chocolate is always good ;).

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