It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about menopause and me, I’ve not wanted to tempt fate really, but on World Menopause Day I figured it was as good a time as any to write down what I’ve been thinking and hoping for lately. Menopause and me – nearing the end of perimenopause? Am I nearly at the point of turning a corner in my own menopause journey I wonder?
So this is me, 54 and half years of age and last year was pretty grim for me on the perimenopause front. Brain fog, well to be frank, total brain failure a lot of the time. Hot flushes, not as bad as some of my friends, but not pleasant. Suddenly unable to cope with hot weather, something I’ve always craved. Still suffering from the monthly rollercoaster of emotions. I was so thankful to be working from home on some days when I just wanted and needed to sit in a corner and cry, for no real reason at all. Thankful for a boss who gets ‘it’, who is on her own journey, and who never made me feel that she felt the way I’ve often felt about myself. No confidence, in fact, sometimes almost total paranoia that I was totally useless at everything I touched and that everyone around me knew it. Grrr. And the heaviest periods I have ever had. Totally flooding through super plus Tampax, pads and my clothes twice, sometime three times a day. Debilitating.
My boss suggested a menopause supplement so I started taking that, I think from early last year, might have been the year before, what was that I said about brain fog? Memory, what memory? I think it took a few months to notice small changes, but I’m still using them and the hot flushes at least have pretty much faded away. But the periods were really getting me down.
Eventually, even I had had enough of me and I spoke to my Doctor, she wasn’t suggesting HRT but was suggesting the coil as a way of stopping the heavy bleeding. To be frank, I wasn’t so keen. Although the bleeding was getting me down, I did at least know what my body was doing. I still wanted to know what was happening. Does that make sense?
Anyway, whilst I was thinking about it all, she wanted to run a few blood tests to make sure that nothing else was going on. Just as well she did. The tests showed up that my vitamin D levels were very low – ironic considering how much walking I’d been doing. I’ve never exactly been an indoors person. But now I take a vitamin D supplement daily and have a blood test annually now that the supplement has proved to do the trick and has brought my levels back to an acceptable level.
But not only did the initial tests show up the issue with vitamin D, but they also flagged an issue with my thyroid. I’d had a lump on my thyroid when my son was little, it had been aspirated and I hadn’t thought about it again. I wasn’t aware I even had an issue this time around, I couldn’t feel or see anything, unlike last time. But my levels were very low and something was going on. So I had an ultrasound which thankfully showed that the nodule wasn’t cancerous but the consultant still wasn’t happy so off I went for another scan, this one was called a nuclear medicine scan. The consultant started talking about surgical options but that we’d review everything after this scan and another set of blood tests. Sounded scarier than it was but it would show what was happening with my parathyroid gland and this pesky nodule. The scan proved that the toxic nodule (it even has its own name) is causing the issue. I needed to have another thyroid function test and then we’d discuss the options. I got my results a couple of weeks ago and they were a surprise, so I had a list of questions ready to discuss with my consultant yesterday. My levels had gone up and were in the normal range for the first time. This had to be good, didn’t it? Weird but good. Really good phone consultation yesterday, I’ve got to go for a bone density scan to make sure I haven’t got osteoporosis, something that can be brought on by issues with the thyroid. Then if that’s ok, I’ll have blood tests every six months, and as long as I don’t have any issues with very low levels or other hyperthyroid systems then I should be ok until I’m 65. At that point, I will almost certainly require surgery as the issue I have won’t be fixed by medication alone, but a lot can happen in 11 years so we will just see how well it all behaves.
But no surgery right now, which is a bit of a relief. But I’m so glad I actually went back to the GP, or I would have no idea regarding vitamin D or my thyroid.
And as for my periods? Well, I’m glad I didn’t go for the coil option. Ironically I’ve not had a period since 3rd December 2021. So I ask the question once more, menopause and me – nearing the end of perimenopause? Me? Maybe. I take my Tampax with me everywhere, I still have the monthly emotional rollercoaster and each month I’ve been rather surprised when ‘nothing’ happens. I hope I haven’t jinxed it now by putting this down in writing, by saying it out loud. Almost 12 months without a period. So blooming close to the next part of my journey.
I still have brain fog, still have some days when I feel totally overwhelmed with life and feel totally inadequate in my abilities and dread those days clashing with a day when I have to be in front of other people, functioning, professional. Please god, let me be me next month at a work event when I really will need to be on top form! But good days are good days, and there are more good days than bad. I get tired easily, I don’t function the way I did 10-15 years ago. But I wasn’t a mum 13 years ago either. My life was different, is different, it’s probably unfair to compare me then and me now. I’ll be 55 in April, how the hell did that happen?
My best friend is a year older than me and she’s not impressed that I appear to be further down the road with all of this than she is. Everyone is different, with different bodies, and different experiences but we have a shared voice. It’s healthy to talk about this phase of our lives, it doesn’t have to be the only thing we talk about, it doesn’t have to define us and hats off to you if you’ve been through the whole thing without one single issue – you are a rarity I believe. It’s good for our kids to know what’s happening, why and when and for questions to be asked. My son probably knows more than he’d ever want to about my journey, but I wanted him to know, that none of this is him, because of him. He often gets the worst of me, and for that, I’ll always feel guilty about that whole older mum thing. Menopause and pre-teen hormones – boy it’s been a fun ride. It’s not over, but I can see a flicker of light and I’ll grasp that with both hands.
So how about you? Where is your journey taking you?