Being a fifty-something blogger, it may surprise you that I have never written about the Big M. Not the Big M in Marathon – obviously I have written far too much about that – no, the Menopause.
My lack of noise on this subject is not because I think I should remain silent – indeed, it comes as a huge relief to hear my sisterhood talking about it so freely in the media – but simply because I just do not ‘get it’. It seems to be a mammoth female design fault; I just do not understand why it happens when it does, and why it has to be so flipping challenging or last so long. It is a marketeer’s dream.
Selfishly, I want to know how much longer I need to grin and bear it (Clearly I am not grinning; I am far too irritable through sleep deprivation). I tell my younger friends that I am out the other side, and then just like storms Dennis, Ciara and Jorge, back came the dreaded night sweats. My bed linen believes it resides in a high flood risk area and I assure you that this is not because of any Tena Lady accidents.
I used to believe that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow; now I believe that this menopausal woman could be soley to blame for the high water tables in the South West.
It is probably evident from my tone that I didn’t sleep well last night. If Greta Thurburg wants to get in touch, I can certainly rally up some other fifty-somethings who will be more than willing to contribute to heat our planet in a good way, a zero carbon footprint guaranteed. As soon as my local pub opens its beer garden again after the recent flooding, I know they will want me to walk between their al fresco tables all night; I am much, much greener than a patio heater apparently, take up less space (unless they pay me in bar snacks) and I can remind the punters to top up their glasses as I pass by.
Before I discuss the design faults inherit in pre, peri and post big M, I must acknowledge that really I have nothing to moan about when I know the most exceptional ladies who have been stoically catapulted through the Menopause prematurely and at a rate of knots to cross off the last ‘t’ in cancer treatmenT. Total brutality. If it isn’t bad enough being subjected to weeks of gruelling chemo and radiotherapy, the melted icing on the cake comes in the form of an enforced big injection-induced M. Naturally we want those cancer critters on the run but to flash forward in a hot flush on steroids when your body is just coming back up for air feels like a sick joke with no punch line. (Blame the glut of mixed metaphors here on my lack of medical training).
My sister – one of those stoic women – was always typically Pollyanna-esque about the Big M; watching me strip down to my underwear and whip out a portable fan in a restaurant once as a hot flush descended over cocktails, she commented, ‘I was so lucky to get all that hormone nonsense out of the way in one big hit. Shall we get an ice bucket sent over to go with your G&T?’
Anyway, look away now if you realise you are reading the wrong blog, are male or are years off the menopause; sadly I have little in store today to cheer you up.
I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to take full advantage of all the good things that Oestrogen can provide (namely two smashing young adults – FS and FD – who will be pulling a face if they are reading this), but now she has done her job, Oestrogen is free to move on to a younger model. I would like her to leave quietly with no drama. We don’t need to make this a long goodbye. We have been good together, we have had our moments on a monthly basis, but it is surely time for her to to move on now.
But Oestrogen can be a vindictive departing guest; a proper drama queen. She keeps calling in the middle of the night, making me anxious, giving me cramps and raising my internal heating, The resulting desire to open any window, throw off my duvet (sorry Favourite Man) and find a drink to get my fluids back up before she hits again, are not good omens for a chirpy Mama J to be jumping out of bed next morning.
No, Mama J is likely to be tetchy, tearful and quite frankly often cantankerous. (Again, sorry FM)
I fight on with every weapon in my armoury (exercise, mindfulness, natural fabrics, water, soya blah, blah, blah) but my brain is left so foggy that I have difficulty even researching what the big M is all about. I start the research and then forget what I am researching. I have a little cry. I want to research why my metabolism isn’t like a teenager’s when I am combusting so beautifully at various points of the night and day, but I am too exhausted to find out; I reach for some dark chocolate and stay away from the bathroom scales instead.
Those with clearer brains than I tell me that the big M is Nature’s way of handing over to younger females. I can cope with this. What I struggle with is that Nature has hopefully left us with another third of our life to live and if she wants us to be useful and help out as grandparents and caring elders, surely she would be better off allowing us to sleep so well that we don’t need to run in the opposite direction every time we hear a child cry. And, if Nature allowed us to keep a thick head of hair and not store a spare muffin top around our disappearing waists then we might feel less like scaring off these gorgeous young ladies turning up to date our young men?
I do vaguely remember from my foggy-brained research that even scientists are conflicted about whether the Menopause is a design fault or not. This is some comfort. My grasshopper brain also remembers that it is not only humans who have to travel through this ‘post-reproductive life span’. Asian elephants and killer whales, have you any advice for us? Someone is surely missing a marketing opportunity here?
I can not tell you if I am ‘nearly there’ yet, or whether I will be this cantankerous, hormonal bundle for a while to come, but at least accept this blog as something close to an explanatory apology.
As I lie awake at night, my latest biggest fear is that the Menopause does not actually exist and that this is the real me. Thankfully, I will have no recollection of this thought as I battle through the day tomorrow and will be too absent minded to read your comments later…