Menopausal Snakes and Ladders

“Life is like a box of chocolates” said Forest Gump

“Menopausal Life is like a game of Snakes and Ladders” said me!

If I manage to get up a ladder – then its just a matter of time til I encounter the next snake and down I go!

Take Friday – I get up after a miraculous full 7 hours of sleep so full of elation I hit the top of my first ladder of the day.

Then it’s time to use the eyedrops. The latest condition to hit my aging body is Blepharitis – so eye drops and very expensive ‘hygiene wipes’ are now making friends with the HRT patches, thyroxine and magnesium tablets in the toiletries bag. (I swear there is someone somewhere dishing out odd conditions to menopausal women and cackling away to themselves ‘think that’s bad wait til you see what I have waiting for you next!’). Anyway – I scream as my eyes start to burn and race to the taps to rinse them out. WTF? After ten mins of splashing cold water on my eyes I put my specs on and look at the eye drops. Which aren’t eye drops but cuticle cream. In the exact same shape and feckin colour! Wheeeeee – down the snake I go.

Off to work next and glance in mirror to check my red eyes out – and almost crash the car as I realise that in the night I have gained a desperate dan chin. Out with the tweezers (there are sets everywhere – bags/bathrooms/glove compartment) and wheeeee down another snake.

Renew my car insurance – £156. Feel very smug as friends 18 year old is having to pay just over £1600 for hers. It is a minor victory but I am taking it as a ladder and head on up again.

Then I make an appointment to get my helix pierced. Been wanting it for a while but now at age where I am saying ‘fuckit’ a lot more often and not ‘waiting’ any more. So up another ladder.

Head off to a meeting and two men barge in front of me and into the lift. I step in and they hit Floor 12. I hit floor one. Just before I exit I let out a silent but deadly fart and hit every button from 1 to 12. My menopausal superpower of invisibility allows me to do such things. I smile and move up the ladder as I imagine them jolting up every floor one at a time while surrounded in non too fragrant air (I had tandoori last night).

But then it’s down a snake as I can’t remember what feckin room I am supposed to be going to. Slide down a snake as I wander aimlessly til I see someone I recognise.

Then down another snake when half way through the meeting for no apparent reason I start to well up remembering the lovely little turtles in the amazing David Attenboroughs ‘Blue Planet’ that kept going to the lights of the town instead of the light of the moon and got knocked down/trodden on/fell down drains. I start a little pity party in my head when I realise I am one of those turtles – never quite sure what direction to go in and often going the wrong way. Fortunately no-one notices as I am still invisible.

Head for home and stop for Zumba. Hide at back of class as usual. But perky 17 year old stand in instructor Chelsea decides to play an oh so hysterically funny game and runs to the back of the room and gets us all to turn round. So I am now at the front and wonder who the old fat woman is in the front. I realise it is me just as Chelsea with the ‘thigh gap’ starts dancing away and I with the ‘thigh slap’ start sliding back down the the next snake.

Pick up my HRT prescription next. The woman at the pharmacy tells me proudly that she managed the menopause completely naturally and would never touch the stuff. Resist temptation to tell her that HRT is the only thing stopping me leaping over the counter and poking her in the eye with my car key. See this as a win of sorts and go up the ladder.

But I suppose the thing to remember is – every time you end up at the bottom of a snake, your next move could just take you to the foot of the next ladder……


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Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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No to New Year Resolutions!

So the chat at lunchtime at work was around New Year Resolutions. After weeks of living as a Christmas Sloth where a box of after eights with a baileys feels like an acceptable breakfast, I find this conversation something of a challenge. So I just nod along to claims of going to the gym three times a week/eating vegan/attending zumba/climbing kilimanjaro etc.

tbh for me – if I can manage to write 2019 at the end of the date instead of 2018 then I am going to see that as a win. I have not achieved that yet. But I am proud that today I was able to do my work trousers up this morning after 3 weeks in pajamas (this has more to do with a terrible flu bug and a broken tooth than willpower over the Christmas goodies – and yes someone like Victoria Beckham might not see being able to do up a pair of size 18s and still being able to breathe as a ‘win’ – but I do). I am lowering the bar I suppose – but I am absolutely not doing some bloody ten point plan to ‘live my best life ever’. There is just no point in saying I won’t eat pizza or buy any more shoes as it just takes one of those promotional Dominos emails offering me 2 big pizzas for £15 or Schuh to announce a sale and it’ll all go pete tong.

I found my New Years resolutions list for 2018 during a clear out and hadn’t achieved anything on it – indeed if I just put a line through 2018 and put 2019 I could have my resolutions for 2019 – except instead of losing 3 stone I need to make that 4 as 2018 didn’t really go to plan weight wise.

So I had a whole year of underachieving.

I come back from my daydreaming to join the conversation just as Joan from Finance is talking about a Buddhist retreat and wants to know if I fancy it. “Nah don’t think so” I reply. The only thing me and old Buddha have in common is our BMI.

But now it seems that everyone is on a mission to have me develop a resolution or two.

‘Why don’t you just list all the things you did last year and put the word Give Up before them?’ said Spreadsheet James sobbing with laughter at his wit. It is my turn to get the afternoon teas and coffees this afternoon. He always has a diet coke and I resolve to give the can a bloody good shake before handing it over to them – we’ll see whose fecking laughing then!

So everyone then has to join in – ‘how about you wear one of your 15 pairs of trainers to the gym instead of just to look cool’ says the Graduate. I laugh along coz I don’t want to admit the trainers aren’t to make me look cool – I’d love to wear lovely heels but a dodgy hip and painful lower back has kicked that to the curb and mean Sketchers are the way forward for me.

Then we all have a good laugh about when I tried a kettle bell class and dropped kettle bell which made a dent in gym floor. Again to be perfectly honest – if the instructor did not want marks on his floor then they should not hand me anything that weighs more than a family sized galaxy.

Let’s face it – making resolutions is one thing – but actually following them through is quite another!!

Happy 2019 to all the Galloping Catastrophes out there still with their heads in Quality Street tubs bingewatching Netflix. I salute you!

twitter: @gallopingcatast

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Is it just me?

Becoming a Menopausal IT Consultant!

“What would you like for Christmas Mum?” I asked brightly this morning.

“I’m thinking maybe an ipad” she responded

I feel palpitations starting – a relatively new menopausal symptom often made worse by stressful situations.

“What about a spa day?” I whimper

“No I think definitely an ipad. Joyce has one and loves it – oh by the way we need to pop round there later as she wants you to put Gardening Pokemon on it for her”

I push down the menopausal irritability – “I know nothing of Pokomon” I say and try and fight the hot flush that is kicking in at the thought of a repeat of smartphonegate. I did not realise that getting my mum a smartphone for her 75th birthday and setting her up on Facebook and Whatsapp meant automatically nominating myself as her (and all her Silver Surfer friends)personal IT Consultant. Menopausal brain fog is not conducive to such a role.

The last six months have seen my mum attempting to embrace the digital era and has done little to quell my menopausal moodiness.

First there was the #metoo saga – just after I set her up on Facebook I noticed she was writing #metoo in loads of her posts. I called her up and it went a bit like this:

Me: Mum – why are you putting #metoo all over your Facebook?
Mum: Oh it’s what you do when you agree with someone – didn’t you know?
Me: No – that’s not what it’s for at all.
Mum: Oh yes it is – look I put it underneath Joyce’s picture of the sunset she liked
Me: No – no actually Mum no – have you heard of Harvey Weinstein?
Mum: Yes – he isn’t a very nice man is he?
Me: Oh God….

Then there was the Whatsapp incident. I set up a group for all the family and a few days later I am half way through a meeting at work and I look down to see a message from my mum to the whole family. “Uncle John Dead”. I had to leave and phone her and explain why this isn’t an appropriate way to inform people of a family members passing. A barrage of questions then followed on what was and wasn’t acceptable. ‘Yes mum it’s ok to tell everyone about the Dine in for a Tenner offer being back at M&S”. “No Whatsapp isn’t the right place to suggest Uncle Johns Funeral be moved as you and Auntie Pat have a spa day booked on the proposed date. Actually it’s not OK at all to suggest that in any form – yes I know it’s a Groupon deal but even then a Family Members funeral always trumps a Spa day. Just one of those unwritten rules Mum”

Then in the John Lewis cafe (of all places!) she announced that her neighbour had set her up with a threesome with her two friends in Australia. Which turned out to be simply a Skype conversation. The word Skype seems to be missing from her vocabulary – she refers to it now as a ‘Talking Postcard’ which is infinitely preferably.

Anyway – turns out Joyce wanted a Gardening Podcast rather than Gardening Pokemon – so it was relatively straightforward. I download Spotify for her and we listen to a bit of Etta James and I am impressed at her ability to master it. Until we get to the end of the playlist and she asks how to turn it over.

‘How to turn it over?’ I repeat confused

‘Yes – how do you turn it over to listen to the other side?’

I leave

I drink a lot of Jack Daniels

Which is a mistake – because that leads me to the on line Apple store.

Her shiny new ipad will be here in time for Christmas Day….

I am now considering doubling my HRT dose

And the last remaining shreds of my sanity will likely be gone by Boxing Day….

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Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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Is it just me?

The Menopausal Woman’s Hangover

If Carlsberg made hangovers … then they would make menopausal woman’s hangovers!!

FFS – what has happened – I used to get a bit of a headache after a night on the sauce – but now there is a minimum 3 day recovery period!

But unless I stay pissed for the whole of December (which seems a lovely idea but may well result in January looking for a new job, new liver and new lover) then they are a necessary evil.

Not drinking isn’t an option – it is actually a medicinal need to get me through the party season where I am obliged to change out of my pajamas of an evening and if making a special effort to take my hair out of one of my many scrunchies.

The hangover I had Sunday was epic – starting with waking and hearing a deep sigh behind me… FUCK! I was home alone this weekend – surely I had not brought someone back… .. NO NO NO.. Someone nestles into my neck then I remember. Sweet Dog… Sweet Dog was in a huge huff when I came in having been left alone for 5 hours and I didn’t want to be in bed myself so broke the very last ‘dog rule’ (the other ‘dog rules’ of not allowed to be on sofa; not allowed to jump up on people; never to be fed from our plates being broken a long time ago) and brought her up with me. I laugh at the thought I’d seriously thought for a minute I’d pulled – a Domino’s pizza and the remote control and my bed companions of choice at the moment.

I am not bragging here but I reflect and suspect there are many people might not be talking to me now. I vaguely remember someone pointing at some mistletoe…And I think I told him that I’d have to be under anesthetic rather than mistletoe to kiss him. Menopausal honesty moments are rather more frequent when drunk.

I also have a horrible feeling I might have shown some people the HRT patch on my bum.

I remember the start of the night – fairly tame at Wagas. I check Facebook. Shit – forgot that I had thought it would be hysterically funny to pretend to pluck my chin with the chopsticks.. Fortunately Pauline has put a picture up on Facebook and tagged everyone lest they forget.

I decide to spend the day in bed determined that the only thing to get me up today will be my bladder. But Sweet Dog is not for it – insisting by patting me on the head less than gently with her paw and frantically running to the door and back. Feck sometimes I think kids would be easier – can’t shove Sweet Dog in front of Peppa Pig with a large bag of chocolate buttons.

So I head out in my pajama top and my jeans from last night (still got some standards!). Within 3 mins Sweet Dog is doing the most massive slimy poo I have ever seen. For the first time ever I seriously consider not picking it up. But I just can’t. So I scoop it up and retch so much I look like a woodpecker making my way to the DogShit Bin. Opening it to make my deposit brings a whiff so bad I start to shake. I don’t puke due to my bodys incredible capacity to never part with a single calorie. Ten minutes later she shits again – I swear to god I can see her smirking – teaching me a lesson for leaving her all alone. I vow to make her watch Paul O’Gradys Love of Dogs on catch up so she can see how blessed she is!

I may have overestimated my ability to party as off out again tomorrow. But this time I am NOT drinking. Nope… Sparkling water and maybe a J20 to shake ti up. But that is it. As I am NEVER drinking again. EVER!

Well maybe one Jack Daniels.

Or two – as it is Christmas…..And it’s Karaoke. And I do a fabulous ‘Fairytale of New York’ which I swear I sing so much better after a Jack or two…

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To Santa, Love from a Menopausal Woman

Dear Santa

It’s December – so time to write that traditional letter to you all the way up there in the North Pole.

So, I’d like to start by asking for a bit of clarity on what exactly you mean by ‘good’.

I will remind you of the time 42 years ago where you made an error and brought me a pink bike with a flowery bell on it when I explicitly asked for a BMX. But anyone can make a mistake and I hope you can forgive me in the same way I (eventually) forgave you when deciding if I should go on your naughty or nice list this year.

I appreciate my regular thoughts of hitting my partner over the head with a frying pan and stabbing colleagues in the eye may perhaps make me a candidate for the naughty list. But I am keen to point out the mitigating circumstances of menopausal moodiness and in my defence clarify that at no time did I give in to these desires even when met with extreme provocation.

Also, I note that you are advising that we do not shout or cry or sigh. I would like to point out that this criteria is a little harsh on the menopausal woman – and ask that you consider leniency towards women in this stage. These are essential survival mechanisms for us. Please take this into account or you might otherwise be accused of being judgemental and in this day and age that could get you in the midst of a Twitter storm which may damage your pristine reputation.

And yes I accept that popping all the chocolates out of my advent calendar to scoff them during a particularly bad hormonal moment in November can’t be viewed as ‘good’ but again let me refer you to the justification in the paragraph above.

You have also mentioned that you can see when I am sleeping and see when I am awake. So you will be very aware that I am often, like many menopausal women, awake when I should be sleeping I hope that may also be taking into account as a mitigating circumstance when you are checking your list. And checking it twice. (this is an opportune moment to ask if you know about GDPR – you might want to google it as I am pretty sure it will impact your list creation).

I have also had a few, well let’s call them ‘menopausal honesty moments’ and aware the recipients of such moments may be keen to put me on the naughty list too – but I think overall honesty is a good thing – so let’s see that as a positive and a tick for the ‘nice’ list.

So – now that we have that sorted – here is my list (please can you read it carefully as I do not recall asking for a fat belly or a hairy chin last year – and yet here we are!):

I would like:

* A libido
* Legislation that gives all menopausal women 6 months fully paid meno-leave
* A pension (the government stole mine)
* An alibi if I do every give into my desires to stab certain people
* A gastric band that requires no surgery
* A Jo Malone Candle (I regularly ask my partner for this and am rewarded with a feckin pretend TK Maxx one – I am trusting you to know there is a difference)

Thanks Santa. I will leave your usual beer and mince pie. And some carrots for Dasher and Basher and Crasher and Flasher (or whatever their names are – menopausal brain fog is an issue at the moment).

I believe in you Santa – so how about you believe in me?

Lots of Love

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Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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20 Things Not to Say to a Menopausal Woman!

1 I just sailed through it no problems at all

2 I have heard it can take about 15 years to go through it

3 Have you forgotten your HRT today hahahaha

4 Are you taking part in Movember?

5 We have ran out of chocolate

6 Ohh I didn’t want to say as I wasn’t sure – but you are
aren’t you.. you’re pregnant!

7 Don’t you think you are maybe overreacting

8 Let’s put the heating up a bit

9 It could be all in your head – after all ____ and ___ didn’t
have any problems at all

10 We have ran out of wine

11 There is something stuck to your chin.a hair or
something.. .oh um – it seems to be attached…
umm..oh sorry

12 Nice whiskers!

13 Calm down!

14 WoW! You have gained wei… umm I mean – wow you
look well

15 Let’s go out and stay up til 3am

16 It can’t be that bad!

17 Let’s go to bed – not to sleep – but to shag all night.

18 My Granny is going through it too – you are just like her

19 We seem to have no alcohol in the house

20 Check out what Gwyneth Paltrow is saying about it all

Twitter: @gallopingcatast

In Therapy

So I am officially ‘in therapy’. A decade or so ago ‘coming out’ in this way would have resulted in me being branded a Fruit Loop. But fortunately things have moved on. My aunt declares they have moved on too much and uses the example of the kids in school that now get therapy if the curly fries run out before they get to the front of the canteen queue. I am not sure of the accuracy of this but mental health does seem to be much higher profile now and for that I am grateful.

So what prompted this? Well I went for my HRT check up at the menopause clinic. A 30 min session that lasted 90 mins due to very very very high blood pressure. Which the doctor was concerned kept getting higher every 15 mins when they retook it. This may have been because I was anxiously checking with Dr Google between checks and realising a stroke or heart failure was just round the corner.

Anyway – upshot is I may have to go back to au naturel methods. And while I can just about cope with the physical symptoms, the biggest fear (from me/friends/partner/dogs amongst others) is the emotional turmoil. I searched through the alternatives to HRT, skipping past the daily Kale Smoothie/Spoon of Hemp oil etc and landed on CBT – Cognitive Based Therapy. I had a short term relationship about 30 years ago with a psychiatrist and it has always put me off a bit – especially the night out with their esteemed colleagues. All were totally utterly bonkers. It was bit like going out with a Al Anon group while they all got pissed out their heads.

But then in the Summer a friend had a spare ticket for Susie Orbach at the Edinburgh Book Festival and so I tagged along. She was the antithesis of the ex – cool, calm collected and giving an aura of ‘I will fix you’. And she wore the most amazing sparkly shoes. The psycho glitterati were asking highly complex questions so I did not feel able to ask about the glittery shoes. I did whisper to my friend if it was appropriate but got a hard long stare so I took this as a No. But I tweeted after and she replied telling me where to get them.

So on this admittedly rather flimsy evidence of her credentials, I looked her up and although it said fee negotiable, I’m not sure I could persuade her to drop as low as £2.45 which is all I could afford as she is in London so I’d also have to pick up the commuting costs from Edinburgh. So I had a wee listen to her podcasts instead. She seemed to say ‘hmmm’ and ‘ummmm’ and ‘uhu’ a lot. So at least I know what to expect.

So decided to look a bit closer to home. Feck – it is a minefield. First the cost – £75 an hour seems standard! Thats 3 bottles of Jack Daniels and a massive galaxy – and I know for a fact they make me feel better. Therapy is more of an unknown.

I draw up a list of non-negotiable criteria to narrow it down:

* Must be over 50 – am not spilling my guts to any snowflakes
* Must have lots of letters after their name – don’t want someone who just did a 2 hour course on a Saturday afternoon at the local tech analysing me
* Must look quite wide awake (Joan at work went to a therapist and was raging when she realised the therapist wasn’t reflecting on her poignant musings but had fallen asleep half way through the session. To be really fair I often feel the eyelids drooping when Joan starts banging on but for £75 an hour I’d make more of an effort)

I then look through the pictures. In one the therapists is wearing a jumper with bows and kittens. Seriously? I instantly rule her out. And the one with hair pretty much covering her face. And the one that looks suspiciously like a serial killer. And the one that has a very very low cut top on – like so low cut I still wonder if she had another career and got the photos mixed up.

Then I have a panic – what if there is a Loony List somewhere – and I end up on it due to something I say in the sessions. I google again. Apparently the only time a therapist breaks total confidentiality is if the patient says something that may cause them to be a danger to themselves or others. I resolve not to mention the many times I consider banging my partner over the head with our heaviest frying pan. Or the notion I have sometimes to take to bed for a year with just boxes of Galaxy for sustenance.

Finally I find someone who seems to be relatively sane and sorted. I buy Psychologies magazine and have a good read as I want to appear knowledgeable and as if I do this all the time when I rock up. I also treat myself to some glittery sketchers as it seems appropriate.

When I get there I am thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have gone. I am not a Fruit Loop. I am perfectly OK and normal. I might be ay ok without the HRT. I might not resort back to screaming at people who drop litter or don’t pick up dog shit/telling various people at work to eff off/crying at Save the Donkey campaigns and giving them all my money. Maybe that was just a little blip in my otherwise sane and sorted life.

I get in and the therapist gives me a big form to read over and sign. She is talking about data protection and other stuff that goes a bit over my head as I am not really listening as I am thinking more and more this was a mistake. There is an open box of tissues and I look at them knowing I won’t need them as I only cry when it is totally inappropriate and unnecessary. I have forgotten my glasses and for some reason don’t want to say – so do a passible impression of reading the form and sign it with a flourish. Then am slightly anxious that I have just signed up to 50 sessions and will have to remortgage my house to pay.

She doesn’t say umm and ahh like Suzie did… she blethers on for a bit and I am starting to get a bit bored and am digging my nails into my hand to stay awake. I am wanting to tell her that I need her to stop me eating lots of Galaxy; telling people to feck off; bursting into tears for no reason; and wanting to stay in bed all day a lot. But then she says something – and I don’t know what. But I am talking… and talking… and talking… and talking. And by the end of the session I feel I have diagnosed and cured myself. I sit back very proud of myself – waiting for her to issue me a refund and say no point in coming back.

“Hmm Let me just reflect back some of the things you have said” she muses – and starts to say things. That apparently I have said. But she must be making them up to drum up more business – surely I did not say such things. But they do sound a little familiar.

So I think I may go back – the glittery shoes aren’t quite the deal breaker I thought!

To follow me – scroll to the top and click on my face then on follow 

Twitter: @gallopingcatsast

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