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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pinky's A-Z Guide to Menopause

NB: This is not a post by a medical expert, just a dreadfully, grumpy old woman.

A- Accept the fact you won’t be having any more babies. You will however, grow a plethora of small, bristly chin hairs you can nurture should you get clucky. I’ve named each of mine Rachel, Monica and Phoebe.

B- Bloating. This won’t be happening every month but will be a constant presence in your life. Embrace elastic waisted clothing and psychedelic kaftans.

C- Contraception. There’s now (joyously) no need for hormones to be pumped into your body or copper wire contraptions shoved up your clacker to prevent any unexpected, little Freddys arriving with the stork. Unless of course you’re one of those unfortunate women my Uro-Gynaecologist warned me about who don’t have a period for two years then discover the meno-bloating was in actual fact a six month old pregnancy. Shudder.

D- Disturbing Feelings. I have the recurring sensation on my left shoulder blade of a large insect/worm crawling around underneath the skin and I promise you I haven’t been taking hallucinogenic drugs. The insect/worm has been doing it for a few years now so I suspect it might be eating me from the inside out. My husband can’t see anything when he examines the area so I guess it’s all part of a medically recognised menopausal symptom called ‘the creepy-crawlies’. Either that or it’s an errant tapeworm who leaves my intestines occasionally to have a chat with my shoulder blade. I've named it, Gunther.

E- Eggs. Yours are depleted. You can no longer put all your eggs in one basket because you don’t have any, except you will have scrambled eggs for brains but because your kids are becoming independent you’ll be able to build up your nest egg again unless one of your kids is acting like a bit of a rotten egg, then you’ll end up with egg all over your face.

F- Follicle Fallout. Ever been standing at the check-out and found yourself staring in a horrified fascination at the grey strands of hair barely covering the bald head of the dear, little old lady in front of you? Oestrogen deficiency causes your hair to fall out which is perhaps why my Nana mysteriously wore a wig for all those years. On the bright side, hair falls out from the pubic area as well, so you’ll save on those expensive Brazilians.

G- Gums. Your teeth will survive the onslaught of menopause but the gums holding them into your head won’t. Floss as much as possible unless you want your teeth to flap around when you open your mouth in a slight breeze.

H- Hot flushes getting to you? As soon as you feel one coming on (and you’ll know what I mean because there is a particular ‘aura’ you feel before you get one) start overtly fanning yourself and complain loudly to anyone in the vicinity about how hot it is. Never suffer in silence. Come up with funny names for them and announce it to the world. 

“Community alert! Pinky is having a Tropical Moment!”  

If you have a hot flush (or ten) during the night, violently fling off the bed covers and swear loudly so you wake up your husband. Why the hell should he sleep when you can’t?

I- Impending Doom. The sense of impending doom is one of the symptoms in the aura before a hot flush. Don’t worry, you aren't about to die… you’ll just feel really fudging hot for a few minutes. You may gain some relief by scaring everyone else in the vicinity and shouting out the Hail Mary and maniacally blessing yourself over and over until the feeling passes.

J- Jumpiness. Anxiety was one of the early symptoms for me. When the phone rang I’d jump ten foot in the air and scream out, “Oh my fudging Gawd! What the fudge has happened now? I can’t take any more!”

Mind you, most menopausal women have teenage children. Do you see where I’m going here? What comes first; the Children or the Dead Eggs?

K- Krankiness (sic). You will find you develop an extremely low tolerance for voices calling out, “Muuuum” from another room in the house, people who leave empty milk bottles in the fridge and your husband’s toenails touching you (ever so slightly) in bed.

L- Leakage. Unfortunately, things start to sag during menopause (including your innards) which means urinal incontinence can occur when you sneeze, laugh, cough or lift heavy objects. That’s why they have those awkward ads for incontinence pads. Crossing your legs and assuming the crash position can stop it a bit but might alarm the passengers in your car.

M- Medication. If you buy over-the-counter menopause medications don’t read the warning labels because you might read that in very, very rare cases the herbal medication can cause liver failure so then you’ll just shove them to the back of your bathroom drawer and drink a bottle of Vodka every night instead.

N- Nausea. This is also part of the aura before a hot flush… or perhaps a hangover from all the Vodka you’ve been drinking.

O- Oestrogen Cream. This is perhaps the best thing about menopause. 

Meno stuff.

Warning: Read the label because if you apply it too often and in too large a quantity after you’ve been drinking it may cause you to have multiple orgasms in your sleep. 

Not that it ever happened to me but someone told me and not that I tried it out after they told me either because that would be silly and irresponsible. 

If you use the special applicator, you’ll be able to deliver the precise dose but if you find the applicator on the bedroom floor, all chewed up by the dog, go and get another one from the chemist, don’t just guess the amount you need to apply. 

Also check to see if your dog has grown boobs.

P- Pseudo Menopause. Nothing annoys menopausal women more than when their early-forties friend says they think they might be going through the change because they suspect they had a hot flush and they’ve been a bit cranky of late. Let me tell you right now: you don’t suspect you’ve had a hot flush. If you have one you’ll fudging know it.
Q- Quote about Menopause. 

Mid-life is when you can stand naked in front of a mirror and you can see your bottom without turning around." Unknown.

R- Racing Heart. Sometimes palpitations precede a hot flush. Personally I think it’s your body trying to run away from itself. Don’t worry about it too much because you’re about to feel like vomiting any second (see Nausea) which is much more unpleasant. 

Really when you think about it, a hot flush parallels the symptoms of an Irukandji marine stinger; rarely fatal but most unpleasant.

S- Savings. You will be saving a lot of money on tampons and pads unless you have a daughter who begins to menstruate just as you are finishing which will negate any fiscal bonus. It must be nature’s way of reducing the number of menstruating women under the same roof… or due to the fact you were already pretty old when you had her.

T- Tears. You will cry when you watch movies like Atonement, The Notebook and Frozen. You’ll cry when you see old people holding hands and when you see cute babies smiling at you from their shopping trolleys. You may even cry when someone wins Family Feud.

U- Unpleasant Smell. Because of excess sweating and hormonal changes some women detect a change in their body odour during menopause. I am fortunate in that I don’t sweat during my hot flushes except for a slight, Victorian shimmer on my upper lip. 

I’ve developed an obsessive, almost Tourette-ish swipe with my index finger to wipe away the moisture which makes it appear to an observer I’m sniffing something distasteful on my finger… fifty million times a day. Friends have even called me on it. For the record I am not nor ever have intentionally smelled my finger. Why would I?
V- Vulvovaginal Discomfort. I’ve always found sheepskin to be much more comfortable on that particularly delicate area than leather as it doesn’t get as burning hot in the sun… wait… what?... Ohhh Vulva! I thought it said Volvo! Well anyway, the same thing applies. Don’t wear leather undies.

W- Where the Fudge am I? What the Fudge am I Doing? Syndrome.

You’ll suffer the indignity of spotting your friends swapping surreptitious glances because you’re telling them a story you just told them the day before and they’ll be too polite to tell you and laugh again with less enthusiasm and sincerity this time. You’ll drive to work with a hair curler in your fringe or spray Glen 20 on your hair instead of hair spray; in other words you’ll lose part of your brain.

X- Xtra Weight. As long as it’s within a healthy range I figure I’ve earned the right to be a bit fat around the middle. One of the things I loved about my Nana was her big, soft arms and belly when she hugged me. It’s part of our womanly design to become velvety, squashy old carrots so we get more hugs as we get older.

Y- Youth and the Loss of. Some women like to have their faces plumped back up and their lines smoothed out and tightened in order to cling to a semblance of youthfulness. Each to their own, I say, but the truth is you can ALWAYS tell. Some women should have, ‘Do not place near an open flame’ plastered on their foreheads.

Z- Zzzzs. Many women complain they don’t get enough sleep during menopause. They wake up a lot or just can’t get to sleep in the first place. I think this is probably where the term ‘Nana Nap’ came from. Nanas need naps. Go take one, you deserve it my lovely.

What do you think? Anything I missed?