Menopause is supposed to be something your mother has. When my mother first started ‘whinging’ about the effects of menopause, I’d roll my eyes and sigh. “Yes, we know, you’re hot. We get it.” Only I didn’t get it. I was a self-centred, mean spirited young thing who had absolutely no idea that my mum wasn’t just hot. She felt like she could combust at any moment. I wasn’t supposed to understand that until at least middle age, but there I was, 34 years old, wondering why the hell I was sweating only on one shin…
Of course I didn’t figure it out myself. I’d come home from the hospital in early December, so the very beginning of Summer in Australia. I was recovering well but being out in the heat of the day was exhausting me. Every time I went outside it felt like I was being smothered with a lead blanket and I just couldn’t function. When I told my mum this, she smiled knowingly and said calmly “Menopause, darling,”.
It was a lightbulb moment. Everything made sense. The sweating from weird places (including my outer upper arm and my eyebrows – though only one at a time), the aversion to warm weather, the changing moods and changing body parts. There was so much to navigate in terms of my surgery and then recover that I’d completely forgotten that I’d had a hysterectomy. Despite my youthful exterior, my body had officially entered older age.
For me it wasn’t an upsetting reality. I had already decided not to have children and I knew going into the surgery that it was likely my reproductive organs would be removed. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it would be for women who still hoped to have children of their own.
The upside of all of this of course is NO MORE PERIODS! Woot woot!! Honestly, having suffered with PCOS my whole life, I was glad to see the back of my reproductive years. Before my surgery, one of the doctors came in and very gently explained that they’d only take what they needed to and if they could they’d leave my ovaries and uterus. “If I wake up and they’re still in there I will find you and I will hurt you,” I told her. I wasn’t surviving this to suffer with period pain for the rest of my life. No thank you.
I’ve been on and off of HRT – chemo, further surgery and laziness all playing their part in my haphazard approach. The 7-day patches appealed to my forgetful nature but the adhesive bothers my skin. The Sandrena satchets suit better but I am so forgetful!
Of course, this means that my moustache is starting to set in and my partner keeps suggesting my nose hairs need a trim. And I’ve noticed that my skin has changed, as has my hair but any or all of that could also have been chemo. But hey, no period and I’ll take that any day!