When I was in hospital for my brain (you remember this fun period of mine – start from the bottom; it’ll be fun), I had a tonne of tests: blood tests, heart tests, brain tests, blood pressure tests twice a day…. and so on. On one occasion, when I was getting some blood test results, the doctor said, flippantly:
DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE PERI-MENOPAUSAL?
I write it in ALLCAPS deliberately. It’s a clever way of assuring both of us that I see the irony. You know, shouting something so private to a patient without, you know, giving them a lollypop or something. Like you wouldn’t walk into a room where a patient has been waiting and say:
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR CANCER.
You just wouldn’t.
And I know menopause is not like cancer. I like to use extreme examples so I can get my point across quickly.
So because I had a Mirena coil, I had no idea when my last period might have been, so I just thought:
Meh. She’ll be right.
But she was not right and after a few years of night sweats, of both the fan and a warm doona over me in winter. Of the fogginess and memory loss. Years of rage (and I mean rage of a different colour than the usual). Tears and whatever goddamned else I experience everyday and regale my loved ones with. After all that, I went to my doctor and said:
We need to talk about menopause.
And the look on her face said:
Come to me. I’ve got you. I know exactly what you’re going through.
It was real and moving. So we talked about menopause. I asked about HRT because my memory of HRTs in the media was that they caused cancer. But times have changed. Science has been upgraded (is that what science does? I don’t understand it). Women do not need to suffer the side effects of estrogen depletion. We live longer, want better lives. And lookit, I suffered through more than 25 years of 21-day cycles, sometimes less, only to be infertile. I refuse to have my hormones dictate to me any more.
If you relate to this, I urge you to see your doctor.