The time of my life or welcome to the wilderness........
Oh my, what a trigger the news has been lately and it's been all over the news, the shortage of HRT that is! I truly feel for all those ladies of a certain age, struggling to get their daily fix of normality in the face of a thousand debilitating symptoms, which is typically societally cruel.
I didn't have the pleasure of HRT, no, I was told bluntly by the 'witch doctor' who'd just ripped my my ovaries out, that the best she could do was Amitriptyline! With that offer she kinda said 'get over it', well, that's what I heard anyway. At home, I had a house full of kids, a B&B to run, a husband that wasn't going to be talking about the menopause anytime soon, a heavy online presence and I saw absolutely no way out of 'just getting on with it'. I did get on with and it was hard, it was brutal and sadly it would get much harder throughout the years.
When I re visited the cow bag of an ovary stealer for help with migraines, she told me with that all to familiar stoney face, that she'd had to remove a huge cyst off my right ovary which had been attached to my bowel and that I had obviously suffered years of endometriosis, a complete surprise to me frankly! I just got the sense that the operation hadn't gone as smoothly as it should have or fitted the allotted time slot and she was totally pissed about it!
My peri menopause started at around 45 I think, but to be brutally honest, since the birth of my first child, hormones and I were at loggerheads. To be fair, pregnancy was never easy for me and I suffered Hyperemesis Gravidarum every time. Sick as a dog day and night. Back in those days I was plied with drugs to 'help'. Lord only knows what they were or how they affected my hormones down the line?
On my 46th birthday we were in Berlin for several weeks and I was just super uncomfortable. I feel the best fit description of my then predicament of being 'all over the place' perfectly describes my emotions back then. My period didn't arrive like clockwork anymore and all I did was moan and cry. It was hell, I was hell!
I used to try and thank my lucky stars that I wouldn't have to go through ten of more years of the bastard M. I mean, mine was over quickly, 'shock and awe' and all that, or so I thought. It was a smoke screen really and many years later, I wondered if anyone had ever thought to speak to ladies missing their ovaries early, how are they doing? How was it for them?
I find myself envious of the ladies, surviving those many rollercoaster hormonal changes with a little magic pill, patch or gel! I'm totally rooting for the them to have never ending supplies of this wonder drug! Lives depend on it, relationships depend on it!
I truly wish I could have joined in, I really do. I still to this day don't understand the reasoning behind HRT not being suitable for me? I have just deduced that the surgeon felt I wasn't a suitable candidate, I wish she had told me why? I wish she had been kinder. I also wonder if I had any other options bar loosing my ovaries? I guess I will never know.
I remember visiting her office for the initial consult. No examinations. A quick chat about how I was feeling about those 'manic monthlies' and the increasing 'monthly rage' then she turned to me po faced and said 'you sound unhinged, I can only suggest we remove the source of the trouble'.
Just a few weeks later, I was wheeled into the operating theatre and next thing I'm throwing up but I'm back in a non discreet cubical, curtain left half open. It felt less than real, not so caring, more conveyor belt surgery and very per-functionary. I remember the surgeon popping in and telling the nurse off. 'Why isn't she sat up and dressed yet? I have a 'thing' at 6 sharp' and so I was duly dressed, propped up in a chair, still throwing up and barely awake. She discharged me with an irritated tut.
I should have complained, but I just didn't have the time or the inclination, because it was my eldest daughters 21st birthday (she's 29 this August) and I felt guilty not being there for her. I'd left the other kids in charge of celebrations and would join in when back in the land of the conscious. Only, I couldn't join in when home, because I was still very much under the influence of the general anaesthetic.
A mothers guilt never ends but here's the thing, I hated doctors anyway, still do and I tend to avoid Dr's appointments at all costs. I call them 'middlings'...getting in the way and delaying diagnosis. I have no time for Dr's, having had to fight for my daughters mental health for years. Of course its always the parents fault eh!
That battle left scars bigger than the tiny scars on my belly. By the time the big M struck, I could barely cope with doctors and I had so many symptoms, I'd turn up to the surgery reluctantly with a long list. I got laughed out of the doctors office by my fellow females, more than once. I guess the last time I went to that particular surgery, having had the gall to complain to a senior partner about previous treatment, is exactly how I ended up on the conveyor belt of ovarian death!
There were many post ovarian removal symptoms. The first was feeling very flat which is still an issue all these years on. The second was migraines and feeling shaky every mid afternoon. I remember driving myself to A&E more than once as I felt I couldn't swallow. Everything felt very inflamed internally. These symptoms lessened with time, but I gained a lot of weight around my middle, so much so I hated myself. I hated looking and feeling like a stuffed pig. My already fragile digestion system just died a death. I had chronic constipation or much worse, I would just loose control of my bowels.
To conclude this blog, I would love to tell you that all is well now nearly 9 years on but it would be a lie. My health has been poor ever since that operation and thats the truth. I know that just like the topic of mental health, we are now 'talking' openly about the MENOPAUSE BUT I think thats where it all stops. We desperately need to move forward with a 'cradle to the grave' approach to women health. Just like we have sexual health and fertility clinics, we should have menopause clinics and soon. We need a place to go and be heard. We need a place of kindness and safety. We can't avoid the changes in our hormone health when we are still in the thick of bringing up kids and holding down jobs and we shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of of asking for help.
Writing this made me cry.