‘Fuck it!’ Lists

Going through the menopause is a bit shit but it is better than the alternative!! Without being too maudlin – getting to an age where you experience it is a privilege denied to many.

So i have decided to celebrate instead of having my usual whinge. I have have developed a ‘Fuck it!’ list.

Everyone has heard of a Bucket List – things to do before you die. Usually quite big things like jumping out of a plane over the Grand Canyon. Or hiking up Machu Picchu. Or volunteering to count frogs in Costa Rica.

But a ‘Fuck it!’ list doesn’t have to be anything major – just things you always fancied doing but kept putting off without really being sure why. It can’t be things like losing weight or drinking hot water with lemon every morning or anything like that. The test is to put Fuck it before the thing you are going to do – eg You wouldn’t say ‘Fuck it I am going to eat 1000 calories a day and drink 2 litres of water for three months’. But you might say ‘Fuck it I’m getting my belly button pierced’

So now – with more of the runway of life behind us than in front of us – has there ever been a better time to say Fuck It? To face people who sneer – and say I’m going to do it anyway!

My first ‘Fuck It’ came when I went to get a new car. I am a sensible driver – always had a wee car – cheap for petrol, low tax, low insurance. But I was passing a showroom – and a bright purple Lexus sports car was in the forecourt. I went in. Two litre engine. Leather Seats. Purple… Did I mention purple? I love purple. And I thought – a wee test drive wouldn’t do any harm. And I just though Fuck it – I am having it. 9K more than I can afford but Fuck it. I WANT IT. And I got it. And I love it. My colleague calls it a clit extension as opposed to the male equivalent of a dick extension. But do I give a shit? No – I LOVE IT.

Then I was on a roll. I always wanted bright red toenails and fingernails but never got them. And I suddenly remembered my lovely Granny saying women with red nails were whores. Has that stuck in my mind? But she also said that I’d go deaf if I had a bath when had my period. And that wasn’t true. So Fuck It! An hour later I was driving my purple sports car with lovely red talons.

Tattoo is next on the list. Ten years ago I collapsed as my guts burst through my chest wall – it was like something from Alien. I was in Barcelona and rushed into emergency theatre to have my chest ripped open and everything crammed back in and stitched back up. I have little memory apart from the surgeon saying to my friend ‘if we do not operate now she will not last more than a few hours’. I have a massive scar as a result. I am not ashamed of it – it is part of me and without it I would not be here and it reminds me of the kindness of family and friends (and strangers – will never forget the loveliest Spanish girl who put herself out to translate, sort insurance, sort flights, visit me, reassure me and so much more when she had only met me a few hours before). It reminds me of experiencing vulnerability for the first time. I like bluebells and bumblebees lots – so am playing around with a design – the scar will be the stalk of the bluebell. Someone told me I need to think about what it will look like when I am 80. If I get to 80 I won’t give a fuck what it looks like tbh. And I doubt anyone else will give a shit either.

My Fuck it list is growing – I want to sleep outside one night under the stars. I want to go up Calton Hill at sunrise and have Bucks Fizz as I watch the sun come up. I want to go to Iona and out to Fingals Cave. I want to sit on the beach at midnight with a glayva and ice and listen to the waves. I want to have a go on the back of a motorbike along a coastal road (almost sorted that one – just getting a helmet coz I’m just practicing being wild at the moment and one must be a little sensible) It is a continually developing list – it will be updated, rejuvenated – a bit like myself.

Oprah Winfrey says that the menopause is a moment to reinvent yourself after years of focussing on the needs of everyone else. And who are we to argue with the lovely Oprah?

Kim Cattrall says the menopause is the start of the next fabulous phase of our lives. I mean ‘fabulous’ might be a bit much – but I get the general concept.

So let’s raise a glass to the women who never made it this far and let’s do one Fuck It thing just for them.

Because if they could give advice they would tell you to have as many Fuck it moments as you possibly can.

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HRT Day!!

So that’s me been on the HRT for about a week. Been thinking about it for months and had the prescription for about six weeks. But anxiety about all the scare stories around strokes/breast cancer etc made me hold off. But the deciding factor was the menopausal day from hell.

Before I tell you about that day… let me tell you how I envisage my days to be post HRT:

7am – bounce out of bed full of energy and grab Sweet Dog. Run round the park with her merrily wagging her tail and skipping along beside me

7.30am – throw my gym bag and carefully prepared yoghurt fruit and oats topped with chia seeds breakfast into the car

8.00am – quick swim before work. Out and apply light attractive make up and dry and straighten my hair. Will have straighteners and make up as will have laid them all out the night before and not forgotten them. Ditto clothes – will pull them on and smile ruefully when I realise my size 12 trousers are just a bit too loose and I may need to shop for 10s now.

9.00am – day starts and I run meetings without forgetting what I am saying or indeed forgetting that an actual meeting was taking place. I sip from my 2 litre bottle of water infused with cucumber and mint.

12.00pm – feeling good having laughed and joked with colleagues all day while still achieving a huge amount of productive work. Light lunch of quinoa and Kale followed by a brisk 15 minute walk round the office grounds.

5.00pm – finish work having had a productive afternoon workwise and never ever uttering the phrases ‘have I already told you that?’ or ‘Have I already said that?’ during conversatons. I have also drunk my water and a peppermint tea

6.00pm – sit with my partner and enjoy a lovely dinner of organic veg and steamed fish. Chat about politics

7.00pm – full of energy we skip out with Sweet Dog and climb up Arthurs Seat feeling full of joy at the late light nights. At the top we snack on grapes and a banana to keep our energy levels up.

10.00pm – fall into bed giggling and have fabulous sex before falling into a long deep sleep

So that’s how I want the day to go – but this is how the day in question actually did go (and to be honest most days in the last year):

7am – Alarm went off – hit snooze about six times as exhausted from menopausal wakefulness which only progresses to a deep lovely sleep ten minutes before the alarm goes off

7.20am – Stagger downstairs and into kitchen – it is ROASTING!!! Sweet Dog is panting but still wagging her tail to greet me. I’ve left the feckin oven on. ALL NIGHT! First CRAFT (can’t remember a fecking thing) moment of the day. Full of guilt that poor Sweet Dog might have heat stroke. Give her lots of biscuits and cuddles and feel guilt increase as she stares lovingly at me. Every menopausal woman should have a Sweet Dog.

8.00am – run out the door for work having piled hair up into a ponytail and pulled various bristles out of my chin. Have randomly thrown ball for Sweet Dog all over house as no time to walk her. She looks sadly through the glass door as I wave to her telling her the dog walker will be here soon. I drive and suddenly feel anxious – did I switch the feckin oven off? Did I?

8.15am – turn and go back to check bloody oven. Sweet Dog is overjoyed having zero concept of time and believing this must be me back from my days work. Give her another biscuit – oven is off so was a pointless detour from my point of view (but not from Sweet Dogs)

9.15am – arrive at work. Bypass the porridge stand in favour of sausage and tattie scone roll with ketchup.

9.30am – second CRAFT moment – what the feck is my network password. Think think…try three times get locked out and spend half an hour with IT begging them to reset it. Spill some ketchup down front of my top.

9.45am – start to feel intensely irritated by co-worker who on every third breath makes some weird pressure cooker noise out his nose

10.00am – increasingly frustrated with pressure cooker nose person. Move scissors on desk to other side of office in order to avoid impulse to stab them into co-workers nose. Do not want to go to Cornton Vale

10.30am – Hot Flush hits. Sit still willing it to go. Feel the sweat running down my back from my head

11.00am – Go to toilet and look in mirror. Cannot feckin believe I have been sitting like this for half an hour. Look like I have been feckin jet washed! Turn on the hand dryer and dry hair and pretend I am like Madonna in that scene in Desperately Seeking Susan. Joan from Finance comes in as I move onto my Beyonce impression – throwing my head back and let the air rush through my hair for a final dry. Feel faintly embarrassed. Stop at vending machine for chocolate to cheer me up. Have pie chips and beans for lunch to cheer me up. Buy some millionaire shortbread for the afternoon to cheer me up.

3.00pm – having spent most of the day doing all I can not to tell people to fuck off I decide to leave early. Have had 3 coffees and four diet cokes – have a headache. Have organic grass fed lamb joint I took out of the freezer last night to cook for tea. Want to cook it slow and easy and am already savouring the taste

4.30pm – home and cannot find lamb joint. I ask Sweet Dog if she ate it and she looks very hurt. I hunt the fridge, the cupboards, even inside the washing machine where once I found some beef olives that I thought I had left at the butchers. Every where. Not to be found. Give up and head to tesco for stir fry with Sweet Dog. Buy a couple of pairs of size 18 leggings to wear under my tunics as they don’t mind how fat
you get – they always got you! Half way back and realise Sweet Dog is still tied up outside Tesco. CRAFT moment number 90 zillion. Run back and Sweet Dog leaps about with joy. (seriously get a dog – they adore you whatever the menopausal madness throws at you). This is not the first time this has happened but resolve it will absolutely be the last.

7.00pm – partner wakes me up – I’ve been asleep on sofa for about an hour. Am totally completely utterly feckin knackered. We decide to call a pizza and open the wine as we wait. We fine the lamb joint inside microwave where I remember now that I hid it to defrost to stop Sweet Dog eating it.

9.00pm – fall asleep in front of telly before staggering up into bed and falling asleep instantly.

So it was time!! I am fed up with days like this and if a patch can help me have more days like the first description then feck it – why not.

Opened up the packet – read the instructions. FFS – two different patches – one set to be used for two weeks – change on third day then on seventh day. Then other set to be used for next two weeks on third then seventh day. I had to check Google to see if it was 2018 or 2019 this morning so following these instructions may be somewhat of a challenge. But I am not to be deterred – open first patch and whack it on. The list of possible side effects is long and actually reflective of they symptoms I want to be rid of eg. flushes/mood swings. But feck it – gonna do for three months – will come off if rubbish

That night I am in the shower – can’t find the patch! It has fallen off somewhere. How can that happen? They are supposed to be stuck like glue to your arse. I start hunting for it but it is see through and god knows where it is. I check the instructions and it says just whack another on. So I do then go to talk to Sweet Dog. As I stroke her I find the bloody patch. Stuck to her furry tail. How did that happen? Have massive panic – what will that do to her? I peel it off and stick it in bin. I google the patches and discover it is not as simple as just whacking it onto your arse. Nope – you have to make sure it is nowhere that clothes ie knickers might rub as that will cause it to fall off.

Sit cuddling dog and having a wee chat about our day and my phone goes. I answer and it is my aunt. She is very concerned about my HRT use and ‘shoving terrible toxins in your body’ and says she managed just fine with a spoonful of hemp oil every day and rubbing aloe vera into her temples and says she will send me some hemp oil and an aloe vera plant for my birthday. I am tempted to agree just to get her off the phone but I don’t want a birthday present wasted on bloody hemp oil which she is convinced Doctors should give to everyone as a first line of treatment regardless of the illnessl. I try to move her towards maybe a spa day or something but this reminds her of a menopausal retreat she has heard about where women all rub each others feet with cannabis oil and share their menopausal stories and sing strong women songs. She thinks this will be uplifting and change my life. I beg to feckin differ! I make a non committal noise and mention Crieff Hydro as a possible and actually much more preferable alternative.

So far I have not noticed a huge difference in taking the patches apart from wildly vivid dreams about having children. In one I had a baby girl that I wanted to call Shirley but the registar office put Squidgy on the birth certificate and I was furious. Then I had another baby but posted it by mistake into a huge red letterbox and had to wait for the postman to come and let her out. Then I had a baby boy and left him with my mum and forgot about him for four years when I saw a photo of him going to school and was devastated I had managed to forget him. Each time i wake with a massive start and my heart beating. Mad dreams are not listed in the leaflet so maybe unrelated.

Will let you know how it goes……

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Menopausal Love Island

I was watching that Love Island the other night and it got me thinking – what would it be like if they moved all the girls out and replaced them with menopausal women! I think it might go a bit like this:

Voice Over Man:

Welcome to Love Island. Sponsored by Tena Lady.

Tensions are brewing in Paradise tonight as the 10 menopausal women brought in yesterday to replace the previous female contestants make their presence known.

We have to share the sad news that Jack has made the decision to leave the show. His experience of 3 years living with a menopausal mother is taken as an acceptable mitigating circumstance.

Big Mags is on the warpath

Cut to the Island with most of the contestants sitting round the pool.

Big Mags appears from the house:
“Where the FUCK are my tweezers and my magnifying mirror”?

Wes and Jack are quivering slightly – Wes more so as he knows he broke the mirror yesterday when trying to make a fire with it and the sun and some paper thinking it would make him look all Bear Grylls and he might get his own TV series after the series.
“we don’t know honestly Mags – we don’t. Your eyebrows look fine to us though Mags”

Big Mags:
“Not for my fucking eyebrows you twats – for the pubes on my chin”

Wes to Jack:
“Pubes? Do women have pubes? I thought it was just us blokes”

Jack:
“News to me mate – never seen a pube on any girl I’ve ever dated – not on their chin or anywhere”

Jack and Wes ponder this strange concept.

Charlie wanders down to join them rubbing his eyes with tiredness. He was paired with Lou last night. He had tried it on with her having heard a lot about ‘Cougars’ and their sexual prowness. But she had told him to piss off and if that wasn’t bad enough he did not sleep a wink due to her nocturnal flatulence and snoring.

He is not the only one to have not slept. Sam is curled up on a sun lounger dozing and refusing to ever sleep in the same bed as Rose again. He has been to the Diary Room and shared his concerns. Just before he entered the Island he had completed a thesis on spontaneous combustion and explains it to the producer “it occurs by self heating due to an increase in temperature due to exothermic internal reactions” he says ” then it is followed by a thermal runaway then finally autoignition”. The producer tries to be patient but has just discovered that the 90 packets of maltesers he had stored away had disappeared and only the wrappers remain -and his assistant has told him that Rose and Lou have ate them all and are showing no remorse. ‘Can you get to the point Sam?’ he says as kindly as he can as he racks his brain to think where he can get 90 packets of maltesers in time for the live special ‘Who can stick the most Maltesers up Their Bumhole’ competition in just 2 hours time.

Sam is very concerned ‘It’s Rose – I think she is in danger of Spontaneous Human Combustion’ he hisses. “her body was well over 100 degrees last night on several occasions”

“Oh Fuck Off” says the producer making a mental note to edit his less than sympathetic response out. Sam is petulant and says he refuses to sleep in the same bed as someone who may ignite and set him on fire.

Big Mags is complaining about everything. Wes asks timidly why she doesn’t just leave if she is so unhappy.

Big Mags tells him it’s because she forgot to get a fucking pension and the appearance fee will mean she can afford beans to go with her toast. Wes isn’t too sure what a pension is but feels it would be a mistake to ask.

Cut to Break
Adverts for tweezers, magnifying mirrors, plus size clothes and vaginal moisturiser are shown

Voice Over Man:

Back to our Contestants. Jane is here to steal one of the menopausal womens men

Cut to the garden where the menopausal women look like they couldn’t actually give a flying fuck.

Jane appears – she has been on HRT for 4 weeks and her libido has returned with avengance. .

Idris is keen to impress and starts to gyrate – ‘Whassupppp’ he says ‘you so pretty – your gorjus’ he says. He is determined to get some action and this normally works. Jane isn’t interested. She has heard there is a Doctor and feels that at her time of a life a Doctor is of more use. So she chooses Alex and they pair off. Liz breathes a sigh of relief she can feck off with her appearance fee and get back to reality. She was starting to get really worried that her hormones would make her do something that might end up on the news.

Alex and Jane disappear and arrive back two hours later. Jane is dishevelled but has a smile as wide as the River Clyde and Alex looks shocked having learned more about a womans body than he did in 7 years in medical school!

PS

To follow this blog scroll to the top of the post and click on my face … xx

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All by Myself

I’ve been fancying a solo retreat for months. Pouring over the pictures of mountain top retreats; imagining healthy tasty food served up by top notch chefs; fantasising about long walks along a sunkissed beach; beauty treatments that will reveal a younger more beautiful me; yoga perhaps to bring a state of stillness and calm to my monkey mind.

I saw an article with the beautiful Amanda Holden returning from a Jason Vale Juicing retreat just looking so gorgeous and it inspired me to look further. SIX GRAND!! Are you kidding me?? SIX GRAND!!! My car isn’t even worth that.

I check my bank balance and can just about afford £35.46.

I share my plight with a friend – and he has a great suggestion – I can have his caravan by the sea if he can use our house for the weekend. Houseswap. Not quite a Portugese coastal Health Spa but more in my price range ie free!

So off I go – alone. But not lonely. In fact can’t wait for some feckin peace! spend my £35.46 on ready made juices as cannot be fucked cleaning the juicer out five times a day. I also get two face masks and an intensive oil treatment for my hair. I find a lush bath bomb in the bathroom cabinet – a Christmas present I had forgotten about til now. I decide I will also have 2 days break from all social media as I noticed one of the retreats offer that. (have a feeling they are maybe just too tight to pay for wifi). But a digital detox sounds the way to go.

I get to the caravan and load my stuff out, I have never been in a caravan before. Caravans are small. I am tall. I throw my bag on the bed and as I fall forward I headbutt the side of a shelf. I fall forward and clutch my head rolling on the bed in a way that would make an English footballer proud. FFS!!. I lie there in agony literally seeing stars before I get up and look cautiously in the mirror. A tiny tiny red dent. How is that possible? I feel really sick – but cannot be sick due to my bodys determination to hang onto every single calorie it possibly can.

My clumsiness has certainly increased since hitting menopause. A ‘funny’ birthday present from my partner was a ‘Mr Bump’ book. How I fucking laughed!! Though I do seem particularly talented in sustaining head injuries. And am furious at whatever idiot decided to put door handles at hip height. Changes in estrogen levels causes loss of co-ordination and clumsiness advises my Menopause guide book. No shit Sherlock!! I so admire women who can still wear heels at this age – I can trip over my own feet in sketchers! I am quite literally an accident waiting to happen! I have been wondering about pitching the idea of a Ms Menopause book to the Mister Men franchise.

I have one of my juices and head to bed still feeling a bit sick. I am determined to have a nice 8 hour sleep. After ten mins I am wide awake – menopausal anxiety has kicked in. What if I am concussed? What if there is no mark on my head because I have internal brain damage?. I feel my head – it is sore to the touch. I go back to the bathroom and examine my head in the mirror – still nothing. I debate getting my phone from the car (left their to keep out of temptation) to ask all on social media if I should head to the nearest a&e. But fall asleep before I can decide

Fortunately I wake up and am alive. I head to the bathroom and gasp in horror. There is a purple lump the size of half an egg between my eyebrows and a massive black eye is forming. I stare in morbid fascination. Fuck it – I have to get my phone and take photos and send to my nurse friends who are totally unsympathetic and say it will be fine. I toddle out for my phone and the couple in the next caravan stare at me and give me a kindly smile – I smile back. ‘you ok love’ the husband says – ‘yes I say’ – how lovely caravaners are! I try to google concussion but there is feck all wifi.

It is odd to be alone but I carry on with my plan – five mile hike today. I decide that a juice won’t cut it so will have a full breakfast at the caravan park pub – as the pub also has wifi. The waitress in there is so kind and keeps putting her hand on my arm and asking how I am. I am attracting kindly yet pitying looks from all others. I wonder if I have dropped beans down my top. Nope. Then I go to the loo and the penny drops. I come out and I swear everyone is looking at me and it isn’t just menopausal paranoia. Everyone in the caravan park thinks I am a domestic abuse victim – I am sure of it. Like Julia Roberts in Sleeping with the Enemy but fatter and spottier.

I start my hike and the wind whips up – typical after months of sun it is now a gale force wind. I struggle through then something – I think a bird – bashes across the back of my head. I scream and turn round. No-one. Nothing. I keep going and it happens again. WTF? Then I realise – it is my bloody rucksack – the clicky buttons to hold the top down aren’t working so the wind is whipping it up against my head. Am getting annoyed now and resist the temptation to take it off and do a Basil Fawlty on it with one of the many sticks lying around. I do a mile more and think Fuck it – take a few selfies and lie on the beach reading my book for a bit. A completely gorgeous deserted beach. I could get used to this.

Finally get back at 5pm. And realise it was hot today. Very hot – but the bastarding wind had hidden that fact. I am burnt to bits – face, ears, shoulders all in pain.

I want to have a cool bath with my Lush Bath Bomb but I did the bath is about 2 foot square – so have to settle for cool shower. I am on fire!!

Next day I am more than ready to go home but decide to sit out and enjoy the sun for just a little while (keeping burnt bits covered). I realise the stones that are holding the awning bit down are hot. Very hot. And have a great idea. I pour some olive oil on them and wait for it to heat up. I rub the resulting hot oily stones on my legs (arms too burnt from yesterday) and it is heavenly. And completely free.

Last cool shower and I head for home. Looking less Amanda Holden and more like a Burns Victim that has just done 3 rounds with Mike Tyson. Not exactly the image I was aiming for.

Being alone is very good for the menopausal soul. Though being alone in a Portugese spa for a couple fo months would be even better!

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Andrea McLean and Me – Facebook Live – Tonight

Fancy joining the lovely Andrea McLean and I for a chat about the Menopause? We would love it if you came along on Monday 9th July at 9pm (UK time) for “Is it Just Me?s very first “proper” (as opposed to the “practice” ones some of you watched with great amusement as I grappled with the technology) Facebook Live.

We will be talking about our experiences and Andreas new book “Confessions of a Menopausal Woman”.

All you need to do is call up this facebook page and wait – http://www.facebook.com/menopausalwoman (the page is called Is it Just Me?) about 9pm

Look forward to seeing you then.

See more

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Visit to the Menopause Clinic

At long last my appointment for the Menopause Clinic came around. You may remember when I told you about having to pretty much stage a menopausal coup at the GP’s surgery to get this referral. (you may also NOT remember this if you are anything like me and suffering regular CRAFT (Can’t Remember a Fucking Thing) moments). But in any case the coup was successful due to my relatively recently developed skill of complete obstinate stubbornness. I simply refused to leave the surgery til I had the referral.

So it’s taken six months from then to this momentous date. I decided to get up early and walk. Am determined to get my 10,000 steps a day in. So 40 minutes later I am almost at Chambers Street with 10 mins to spare. But I can’t bloody find it. I check… OFFS – it isn’t Chambers Street it is Chalmers Street. Chalmers Street – WTF – I check my Google Maps and find it – thank god for technology. I have forgotten my earphones so will just have to play the directions out loud and if people don’t like it they can feck off – it will make up for the number of times I have had to listen to crap coming out of other peoples mobiles.

‘STARTING ROUTE TO… CHALMERS SEXUAL HEALTH CENTRE’ Oh God Oh God – where is the volume – I forgot I had put it up when I was listening to Spotify this morning and dancing like no-one was watching to my new favourite singer Florence and the Machine. A bunch of workmen smirk but say nothing. It is Edinburgh after all. If it was Glasgow I feel the response may have been rather more raucous.

I am sure this isn’t the right way and am starting to get irritable. Very irritable. Stupid Google Maps is only showing driving instructions despite me hitting the walking person symbol several times. I have had a hot flush and am soaked. I am knackered and my foot is hurting from all the walking. And I am going to be late. And I don’t want to have to wait another six months for another appointment.

My phone rings – well ‘facetimes’. My niece downloaded it for me as I am clueless and here she is – brill she knows Edinburgh like the back of her hand. ‘Hi Honey’ I say – waiting for her cheery response.

“I AM LOOKING AT YOUR EAR AGAIN!’ she shouts.

OFFS – I keep forgetting that with facetime you don’t put your phone to your ear. I swing it back round.

I remember taking the piss out my mum when she got her first computer and carefully printed a letter out then tippexed over the mistakes. I suspect the younger generation look at me in a similar way.

Anyway she hasn’t a clue where Chalmers Street and although that means I am still lost – I am very glad she doesn’t know where it is. She hangs up when I ask if she saw any wax in my ear – I worry a bit about this as my hair is up a lot just now due to the heat and hot flashes.

I see a taxi – thank god – and flag it down. ‘Where to Love?’ the Driver says.

Oh No – I can’t say the Sexual Health Centre. I can’t. So I say “Chalmers Street please – number 2”.

But he is not deterred. ‘Is that the Dental Clinic love’ he says. Oh god this is soohhh embarrassing. I decide I will try and come across as a Doctor – that will work – I am a Doctor with a very important job at the Sexual Health Clinic. and I say confidently ‘actually I’m off to Sexual Health Clinic’. Then I start worrying about something my partner said the other day – ‘if there was a gift I could give you it would be a higher self esteem’. I said I’d prefer a bottle of Chanel Number 5 or some of that lovely blue Clarins hydrating moisturiser. I thought my self esteem was ok but here I am trying to be a Doctor because I am worried the taxi driver will think I have VD so maybe they had a point.

My phone pipes up interrupting my musings. “Turn RIGHT for Chalmers Sexual Health Centre”. The taxi driver glares at me in his rear view mirror – ‘are you checking the route hen’. I notice I am no longer a love.

‘Sorry Sorry – stupid phone” I say and wonder about doing a pretend call to a pretend secretary about pretend patients. Then I remember I am nearly fifty and then i worry that perhaps I have Walter Mitty syndrome.

Finally get there. Why is the bloody Menopause Clinic part of a Sexual Health Centre? WHY? WHY? It’s like a sick joke – haha menopausal women who are likely to be feeling fat, ugly and with no desire in sex whatsover – come into our sexual health clinic. I am a little jealous of the young who are waiting – because at that age I wouldn’t have needed a sexual health clinic as .. well basically I wasn’t having sex. I regret that now – if I had my time again I would shag whenever the desire took me and wear my grass stains with pride. Feck my body was smoking then and my libido was high. Why didn’t I just give myself up unto the moment? And have lots of moments one after the other. Instead of ‘waiting’. And after all that waiting ending up with a Fucktard with zero Emotional Intelligence. Nah – get out and sow the wild oats is my advice (unless you are my niece in which case hang on til at least the age of 35)

And finally I am seen. And the Doctor is so lovely and kind that I start to cry. This is a new menopausal symptom – I am much more familiar with the mood swings the temper and the irritability.

She is patient and gives me tissues. I can see myself in the mirror behind the Doctor and it’s not pretty. I wish cried like Sinead O’Connor in that video – solitary tears dropping gracefully one by one. I just look like a weeping blotchy burst couch. And my hair has gone all funny.

Anyway we have a lovely chat in the end. Well she talks mainly and I sob and hiccough a lot. I do think if they gave a cup of tea and maybe a couple of jaffa cakes the experience would be much more enjoyable. She shows me the leaflet – A Guide to HRT and the Menopause for Women in Lothian. I am wondering why it is for just Lothian – is it different if you are a Glaswegian? I am distracted wondering how Glaswegians and Edinburgh people would differ in their treatment so miss the next bit of the conversation – I reconnect just as she says having too high standards can sometimes be an issue – she clearly hasn’t seen the state of my home and doesn’t know that I haven’t ironed in 3 years and that I spent most of my working day yesterday on Facebook. But I nod and agree that it is a curse and I will try and lower my standards. This will mean no standards to be honest. But if that’s what the Doctor orders! She recommends HRT patches and I agree. She is so lovely I think i would agree if she suggested that sticking a frogs leg up my nose would help. Am not high risk apart from being a bit of a fatty which I am working on so why not. I have done extensive research – I have watched famous menopausal women on telly and in OK magazine then checked if they took it. Well Davina McCall, Lorraine Kelly, Carol Vorderman & Andrea Mclean all took it – and they all look fab and can string whole sentences together without forgetting what word comes next. (yes I know this isn’t proper scientific research but I feel it is an evidence based approach so good enough)

So Hot Flushes…Disturbed Sleep….Mood Swings…Chronic Tiredness…..Joint Aches….BE GONE WITH YOU… Me and HRT will conquer.

As soon as I am brave enough to stick the first patch on…..

Confessions of a Menopausal Woman

I am very excited today – not just because I managed a full uninterrupted 6 hours of sleep…. not just because my morning mirror check revealed only 2 chin bristles needing attention…not just because I managed a full week at work without telling anyone to F off. (Particularly proud of last one as it took a level of self control I thought I had lost when the menopause struck!).

No – I am excited because the lovely Andrea McLean is doing a guest blog today. I love Andrea for what she has done to stop the menopause so taboo. Her book is amazing – it is the book I wish I had 2 years ago when my menopausal symptoms really started to kick in and I was convinced I was going mad. Brutally honest, down to earth and funny – definitely worth a read. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a book like this got to Number 1 – raising the profile of the menopause even further?

So – I won’t ramble any further (challenging though that is!) – and hand you straight over to the lovely Andrea McLean:

Guest Blog Post by Andrea McLean
Why Confess?

No one wants to put their hand up and say they’re old, not least when they’re only in their forties, but that’s what admitting I was going through the menopause felt like to me. The menopause was something that old ladies got, something Les Dawson-style caricatures did, leaning over a garden fence, nudging their amble bosom , nodding and winking as they moaned about sweating and problems ‘down there’. I did NOT want to be seen as one of those women!

I however didn’t have the luxury of choice. Because I work on the telly, when I had to have time off for my hysterectomy back in 2016, it was pointed out to me by lovely friend, Birds of a feather actress Linda Robson, that I would have to explain why I wasn’t going to be around for a while, as (she quite rightly put it) “People will think you’ve been fired!” I hadn’t even considered that; I’d told my boss, my friends and family, but I didn’t realise I’d have to tell the whole world as well. So, after an on-air prompting by Linda, who wasn’t going to let me squirm away from my ‘confession’, I did, and less than 24 hours later I was on the operating table while my engine and hormonal source was removed.

When I came round, and was sent home a day or so later, I was told that after my announcement, TEN THOUSAND women had got in touch, wanting to know how I was coping, why I’d had the operation, and what I was doing about my menopausal symptoms? I was overwhelmed. And I also realised that I had been looking at this all wrong. I’d been afraid to talk about it for two reasons – firstly, I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business, who would want or need to know about stuff like this? But secondly, I didn’t want my employers (the media industry) to think that I was old or past it. I work in a business where being current, relevant and vibrant are all expected of you. They are expected to be a given, and anyone over the age of 30 starts looking out for the younger, fresher replacement who will tap them on the shoulder and tell them their time’s up. Never mind your experience, talent, knowledge or wit – men can keep working till they keel over from old age, but for women it’s not so easy. So, the idea of willingly telling everyone about what was happening to me was crazy. But I had no choice. And, in that weird way that life has of taking the worst thing you’ve ever gone through and turning it into the best thing you’ve ever gone through, that’s exactly what has happened to me.

That announcement and the response that followed started a conversation about the menopause and prompted my decision to write my book ‘Confessions of a Menopausal Woman – Everything you want to know but are too afraid to ask’. In the weeks following my surgery, I got up every day and wrote. I tapped it all out; the endometriosis that led to the hysterectomy, the painful recovery, the hormonal fallout, the relationship challenges with regard to mood swings, anxiety, painful sex – all of it, with brutal honesty, and at times humour (because hey, you gotta laugh!) flowed from me onto the page. I asked the women who had contacted me what they wanted to know from the book, and how they would describe the various stages of the menopause that I was writing about. I got in touch with them through Facebook and Twitter, and was honoured that they replied, and were refreshingly open about how they were feeling.

Then I finished the book, and typed ‘THE END’. That in itself it a very satisfying feeling, but I wanted to keep the conversation going! So, I started my website ‘This Girl Is On Fire”. It took us a while to come up with the title; we wanted something that would give a nod to the menopause but not overpower it, and would also embrace the fact that women are incredible! So when This Girl Is On Fire popped into our head, my husband Nick and I looked at each other and laughed out loud – it said everything we wanted it to say, and makes people smile, which is exactly what we want it to do. The website grew from a place for women going through the menopause to continue talking about their experiences, to get advice and give it, to somewhere that all women can visit. Because it occurred to me that I am not totally defined by being a menopausal woman – that’s just a small part of me! I am still a woman in every other way; I am a wife, a mum, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a colleague… I wear all these hats and I have a thousand interests that have nothing to do with what stage my body is at. I like looking good and I think about what I put on my face, what clothes I wear, how to stay healthy and listening to the interesting stories that people have to tell. I also have a sense of humour, and if something makes me belly laugh, then I want to share it. So we came up with the idea of selling slogan T-shirts and merchandise, that menopausal women (and anyone else who likes the look of them!) can wear with pride. It started with ‘Hot Right Now’, ‘Flush’ and ‘#StillHot’ and of course ‘This Girl Is On Fire’! Anything that pops into my head, or I overhear people say, I jot it down and think about whether it would work on a T-shirt.

Did I ever think, back on that day when my lovely friend Linda Robson outed me on national TV and made me tell the world I was going to have a hysterectomy, that I would have a best-selling book and a website that has become the love of my life? Never in a million years. But, as my granny used to say, “What’s for you won’t go by you…” even if you don’t quite see it at the time…

Andrea’s book ‘Confessions of a Menopausal Woman – Everything you want to know but are too afraid to ask’ is available now from Amazon, Asda and WHSmith. goo.gl/5G2yC6

Andrea’s website: www.thisgirlisonfire.co.uk

Thanks for reading! It will be back to Jennifer for the next post which will be about her visit to the Menopause Clinic and trying to decide whether or not to start the HRT prescribed

PS (from Jen) – Tell me one of your confessions of being a menopausal woman

xx

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