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It's difficult to know where to start. I had always been reasonably fit and healthy and had been quite thin all my life. About 7 years ago a routine smear test showed a small cervical cyst, trip to the gynaecologist who told me during the procedure that I was perimenopausal. Never heard of it and confused it with menopausal and, as I had no symptoms, I thought I was just going to sail through. Big mistake. Shortly afterwards I developed a strange symptom that I haven't come across in this forum or anywhere else - smelly feet. Now this might seem trivial but my feet could clear a room, the smell was strong and sickly sweet and no amount of showering, bathing or deodorant would stop it. I lost count of the pairs of shoes I had to get rid of because the smell transferred to them. It stopped at the time of what turned out to be my last menses in March 2010 to be replaced with the REAL symptoms.I piled on 2 stones in weight in next to no time and looked and felt like a badly stuffed pillow with bulges back and front and thighs that a body builder would be proud of. My stomach was painful under the strain of bloating and I felt generally under the weather. Mother Nature (The Bitch!) still had lots of plans for me. I started with migraine, something I had never experienced before, they were happening 2 or 3 times a week and the Migraleve recommended by my local chemist was not really effective. I had problems with painful joints - particularly my hands when my fingers would swell to the size of sausages. So my husband shipped me off to see the GP who was surprisingly unhelpful. She told me there was nothing she could prescribe for migraine that was any more effective than the OTC Migraleve and referred me for an Xray on my right hand. When I rang for the Xray result I was told the doctor didn't need to see me again - and she hasn't. I felt I was being treated as a neurotic attention seeker.
The hot flushes and night sweats were in full swing and it was time to decide whether I was going to live with the menopause or was the menopause going to live with me?
I tackled the migraine with paracetamol combined with a travel sickness tablet (Kwells) to deal with the awful headache and nausea and found out this really worked for me. My husband helped out and came home with a copper bracelet and vast amounts of Glucosamine gel. He looked up different supplements and vitamins and I tried things like black cohosh, St. John's wort and a host of others including Evening Primrose. The combination I came up with was
A minimum of 1gm timed release Vitamin C - useful for weakness, bleeding gums, bruising, joint pain and energy
Basic multivit with iron
Vitamin D helps with absorbing calcium
Vitamin B complex
15mg Zinc (well, who wants to catch a cold ?)
But I found the best effect was when I added Sage capsules (300mg twice a day) the hot flushes went from twice a day to about twice a week and they didn't last as long
I didn't change much diet-wise although I did find that red meat slowed down my digestion which could cause constipation so I made sure I ate a couple of small easy-peel clementines every day. The potassium in a daily banana helped regulate my heart rate, I found the knock on effect was my anxiety levels went down.
Under no circumstances would I give up chocolate...
Practical issues for dealing with hot flushes and night sweats for me included wearing lots of lightweight layers that can be removed quickly ( you don't want to be struggling to get a tight sweater over your head when your body is steaming). Get a dual control electric blanket, keep your side switched off. Ditch the nightie and sleep au naturel, kick off the covers as soon as you feel the hosepipe has been turned on.
My lovely husband helped me a lot, but I think he struggled a bit with the mood swings and the tears that came from nowhere and there were times when I felt I was the loneliest person in the world.
Okay, that was then but this is now...
I realised months ago that I couldn't remember when I last had a hot flush, a skirt I bought when the weight piled on dropped down to my knees, my side of the electric blanket is now switched on at night. I feel better physically and mentally than I have for years, the lethargy and anxiety has lifted. I can run up the stairs now instead of dragging myself up.
There is little or no support professionally for the menopause and no handbook could ever be written to guide us through it. I can't say that anything I've written will help you through, I hope it does. But there are things that I can say with confidence - it really does not last forever and in the not too distant future there will be lots of you writing on this forum as "Menopause Survivors"
Good luck and a big hug to you all
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