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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Is it just me?

VLCD for the Menopausal Woman!

So this is a picture of my dinner.

Because I have decided that a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) is the way to go to shift this menopausal beef.

I used to think it was a really unhealthy way to lose weight but I watched a thing on the telly last week that seemed to suggest otherwise. And my pal kindly said that it would be ok for me to do it as I am obese as opposed to just overweight. So that and studying the before and after pictures of celebrities who have done a VLCD concluded my research. (though tbh I would have been v happy looking like their ‘before’ pictures)

Everyone knows being a fatso isn’t good at any time but especially so in the menopause years when the fat migrates to your belly and thus gives far greater health risks than if it were more evenly distributed around your frame. And you have a tendency to low moods anyway and this is made much worse by having to shop in the plus size lines.

I just can’t be arsed with the one pound off.. half a pound off stuff. And I am a woman of extremes. So decided to give this a go.

I found my ‘Consultant’ by searching on the website for someone that looked like me. Bingo. Found someone that was the same height as me and started when she was two stone heavier than me. She is now 3 stone lighter than me and looks exactly like I want to look. Even her frame is similar to me.

So I rock up to the office fully focussed and determined. I was going to get all the stuff then head to Tesco for a last bingefest before kicking off (Sometimes I do wonder if all these pre-diet pigouts are actually responsible for my fatness)

The first surprise was that the woman bore a lot more resemblance to her ‘before’ picture than the ‘after’ one. I am pretty sure she is heavier than I am now. I am not sure how I feel about this. Isn’t this the equivalent of turning up to AA and finding the leader is pissed? But I am too British to comment.

I get weighed and she proclaims me fat enough to go on the diet. I listen to all the mumbo jumbo then choose my products. Lots of powders and bars. Sixty quid later and I am ready to go.

But I haven’t got a bag!! Totally forgot – and I am really wanting to save the bloomin planet but once again I have forgotten. No worries my Consultant says – I have a nice big plastic one here. Yes she does – a huge brightly coloured plastic bag festooned with the name of the diet company.

‘Um – don’t you have any others’ I ask rather shyly. ‘Nope’ she says cheerily. FFS – so I have to march through town clutching my bag that proclaims to the world I am a fatso and on a major crash diet. Does she know the areas I have to walk through on my way home? Then I remember – Tesco – I can hardly go in there for my last big pigout and put my cakes and biscuits and curry into this bag – it would be mortifying.

So I find a quiet spot and pull everything out – turn the carrier bag inside out and refill it. Then I twirl it tight at the top – round and round. Thats better – I can walk without embarrassment.

I buy a few wee treats as my final hurrah before 12 weeks of powder and shakes. I buy a nice big Tesco bag and put my VLCD stuff in the bottom. Then I take them back and scoff them while I read the smallprint for my new diet. It would appear that nausea, hair loss and bad breath are possibilities. But for the degree of weight loss they promise – that seems to be a small price to pay.

I start my first day full of promise. I decide to have what the consultant described as a lovely cold chocolate milk shake. Except there is no chocolate. And there is no milk. And it isn’t lovely. So I beg to feckin differ. It is powder with water. And the powder is all clumpy and lumpy. And it tastes disgusting. OK – VLCD Consultants – I challenge you to take a big glass of cold full fat milk – add some hot chocolate powder (proper stuff – none of your options shite) and a huge scoop of chocolate ice cream and shove it in a blender. WHIZZZZ. Then when done put some scooshy cream on the top with a crumbled flake on top of that. Trust me – your shake aint ever gonna win a taste challenge against that.

Oh well – off to work and I take my bar with me for lunch. It looks most forlorn in my bag but it will have to do. I am a little worried about the evening as I am off out with friends. My consultant said it would be fine to take a powder and tell the kitchen to make it up for me. I suspect that may have as much truth as the ‘just like a chocolate shake’ comment. Maybe Madonna can have chefs whisk up her special meals but can’t see Pizza Express doing it tbh. I decide to consult the facebook page I have been added to for advice. Before I do so I delete off the slimming world, weight watchers, and various other pages I was a member of before realising that VLCD was the way forward.

Hmm – the advice in general seems to be just don’t go out and instead go home and have a bath and an early night. I can’t not go out for 12 weeks! I read through more of the comments. ‘Just order water and say you ate earlier’ says Mary who has lost 19lbs and looks slimmer but sadder in her after picture. Well I am gonna look a complete fanny if I do that – ‘oh yes I knew I was coming out for dinner so decided to eat before I came’. I decide it is my first night so I won’t have booze or pudding and choose a salad.

And I pretty much stick to that apart from just one glass of wine, a side order of chips and half of my friends sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. But apart from that I did well. I go home after a couple of hours because generally speaking when people are pissed they talk shite. Which is fine when you are also pissed and talking shite but not so much when you are sober. I may have to get some new tee total friends.

You have to drink loads and loads of water. I am finding that a challenge. Up til now I only found water tasty if I woke up with a raging hangover. Then it is the most beautiful gorgeous drink in the entire world. But – when I am sober – it is just meh!

But I am a trier – so I bought my big water bottle that says things like ‘oh keep drinking’ and ‘well done half way there’ to encourage you and feel well cool stoating about to meetings swinging it like all the other health conscious people. I hadn’t paid much attention before but some peoples water bottles are MASSIVE and I am starting to pick up on water bottle envy. Who knew a water bottle could be a fashion statement. Also – drinking a lot of water has other problems. There is no input without output. I have to go to the toilet a LOT.

The week progresses with me working my way through the products. Here is my helpful guide to some of them:

Pecan Porridge – billed as a ‘delicious option to have any time of the day’. Nope – it is feckin disgusting and the texture and taste resembles wallpaper paste

Bolognaise – billed as a ‘classic italian dish’ Well it is feck all ‘like your mama used to make’. If you have ever had bolognaise then threw it up then eaten the vomit then thrown it up again – I would imagine it tastes a bit like this

Spicy Couscous – billed a a ‘truly authentic dish’. Well it is authentically disgusting but the consolation is that it is so spicy that your mouth will burn so much you probably won’t notice.

Chicken and Mushroom soup – billed as ‘warm and inviting’ — hmm about as inviting as a runny dog turd

Macaroni Cheese – billed as a ‘mouthwatering classic’. Just don’t.. Trust me – just don’t!!

Vanilla Rice Pudding – billed as ‘fluffy light with a delicious vanilla undertone’. See comments on pecan porridge above.

Bars – billed as a ‘lovely naughty chocolatey treat’. Nope – a galaxy bar is a lovely chocolatey treat. These are like cardboardy yuckiness

You get the picture.

It is weigh in tomorrow. And I am not sure I can carry on with it tbh – I stuck it coz had spent £60 on the stuff and had no money left for real food. Well when i say stuck it – I mean apart from the extra things in Pizza Express and a packet of prawn cocktail crisps and a few of my partners chips. And a slice of birthday cake at work because it would have been rude not to. And a Jack Daniels. And a Glayva. Apart from that I have been spot on.

I have worked out that if I had a mars bar and a packet of crisps and a Freddo Frog every day that would be about the same in calories as this stuff. Not nutritionally sound perhaps but much tastier.

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Menopausal Cyclist

So in my ongoing fight against the symptoms of the Menopause I have taken up…..cycling!

Lots of reasons. As we go through the joy that is the Change (a pretty seismic change!) our body composition begins to wage war. We are all aware of the menopausal midriff that causes us to walk around as if we have an inflatable swimming tube around our middle that seems to get pumped up a bit more if we dare to as much look at a galaxy chocolate bar. But I didn’t know we also start to lose lean muscle as our estrogen declines. Also i didn’t know that the changes to our bodies hormones is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease… and osteoporosis!

And I am still thinking of the HRT option. According to NICE guidelines (don’t know what they are called that as often they are not really very nice at all!) around 23 in every 1000 people will get breast cancer between the ages of 51-59. If you are on combined HRT that goes up by 4 – so you have a 27 in 1000 chance of getting breast cancer. However…. if you are obese you have a 48 in 1000 chance. But if you take more than 2.5 hours of exercise per week then the chance drops to 16/1000.

So I am very good at hard sums and I calculated that if I do the exercise and lose the beef then go on HRT then everyone’s a winner – as overall my risk level will still have dropped despite taking HRT. Result!

My Exercise in Menopause guide says pick an activity you like. I had to think a lot as drinking wine in bars is something I like but they don’t mean that. Also I like eating maltesers in front of the television. They don’t mean that either. And then I remembered that joy as a kid of jumping on your bike and roaring off with pals, doing wheelies, at 8am to explore returning ‘when the street lights go on’ with just a few sausages wrapped in tinfoil and a packet of potato puffs (before the days of fear of predators and quinoa and kale salads for 8 year olds).

So it was off to the bike shop. Too old to care what the 12 year old staff think or if they take the piss behind my back – I give my requirements. Must have a MASSIVE seat – am not sawing my arse in half with those stupid ubiquitous skinny seats. Must have proper upright handlebars – as not doing a Lance Armstrong (tour de france not the drugs thing) and my back can’t take the bending over. It must be a nice colour. I must have panniers coz not sweating with a wee rucksack on my back and need to carry water and stuff. An hour later I departed and cycled back full of joy along the cycle path.

Which started well enough with little skippy bunnies and cherry blossom. But it would appear that most of the cycle path back to my house is littered with bad intentions! Fag packets… syringes…..a ripped bed base…an old couch….group of drunk men drinking Tennants Extra and shouting ‘oan yoursel – move that fat arse’ as they staggered along beside me. Various bugs bite me and blind me. They also fly into my bloomin mouth so I end up unintentionally upping my protein intake – that’s karma you feckin buggy midgie things. These are things I do not recall in my childhood cycling memories!

Anyway today I decided to cycle to work. Get fit and save cash. It is only 6 miles to work – what could go wrong? My colleague kindly rocks up to accompany me. He has very smooth legs and I wonder if he maybe is a transvestite and maybe I can get an invite to one of those shows. But turns out it makes him go faster on his bike? Apparently. Suspect he may be taking the piss though he assures me he isn’t. I will see how I go and maybe shave mine too – I know I need all the help I can get.

FUCK – Six Miles is a long long long long way!! A LONG WAY! After 2 miles I am sweating due to one hot flush and feckin being exhausted. Thank god there are showers in our office.
My colleague keeps charging ahead then waiting for me and I finally catch up and he tears off again til he is but a dot in the distance. Sometimes he turns and cycles back to get me. I should feel supported but instead tell him just to feck off and I will get there in my own time. So off he goes. I cannot believe how weak I feel. So I park up at the newsagent and buy a couple of galaxy bars. I think the calories burnt will make up for it.

I toddle along more sedately after this and the sugar definitely helps. I was going to have one galaxy bar every 2 miles but in the end I just ate them all before I left the shop and it seems to help.

I have to stop to tell my boss I will be about 60 mins late as the time estimated by my colleague turned out to be overly ambitious.

Then half a mile from the office – DUNK – the feckin seat just goes all the way down. I am sure I have whiplash. I stop and pull it up – get on and it falls back down again. Stupid thing. So I have to finish the journey with my knees hitting my chin on every turn of the pedal. Apparently you need keys by someone called Alan to fix it but the stupid bike shop didn’t think to mention that.

But finally I make it…. Finally – I draw in and feel so cool and sporty just parking in the cycle bay and heading to the shower. I take my bag in and it is the best shower ever. I get out and dry off. Then go to get my work clothes. Except – except and I almost cry – there are no work clothes in my bag. None. Feckin menopausal brain fog – they are neatly piled up on my bed but not in the bag. I have no choice but to put my clean body into sweaty damp disgusting leggings and t shirt. I frantically google trams and bikes and sigh with relief when I realise you can take bikes on the trams

Can’t possibly go to work like this – so another call to my boss to say it will be a half day for me today. Then it’s up to the tram. I stop at the baker for some pain au chocolat and cycle the five mins (downhill) back to my house. Then scoff them with some hot chocolate and cream. I am fairly sure I have burned those calories off so it is fine.

I think I might need a bit more practice before I do that again. And possibly an oxygen tank. And a commitment from Lothian buses that they will keep all their buses off the roads while I am on the half mile stretch that isn’t a cycle path.

I might possibly cycle to the tram and back for a week then work up from there.

And take some sausages and potato puffs and maybe do a few wheelies.

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Menopause in the Workplace

My pal sent me her company’s recently developed ‘Menopause Policy’. ‘How enlightened!’ I thought. Until I read it. Six pages of twaddle with only one meaningful tangible item of support. Well, when I say meaningful – I mean ‘menopausal women can be offered a fan as long as it is environmentally friendly’. That was it!! Clearly they had not actually consulted with any menopausal women otherwise I feel the policy may have looked very different!.

So as a free gift to all the HR and High Heid Yins out there – I have developed meaningful Menopause guidance that you are welcome to copy and paste into your existing HR policy documentation – saving you time and money that you can spend on providing free wine to Menopausal Women at the end of each shift.

Here we go…

Menopausal Women at Work: A guide for Managers

Introduction
The menopause can affect how a woman performs her work and her relationships with colleagues. For example she just may not want to be arsed working sometimes particularly if she has been up all night with hot flushes. She may also often refer to her colleagues using such terms as ‘Dicktard’, ‘Fuckwit’ and even the C word. It is imperative therefore that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made to accommodate her needs at this time.

Guidance
All managers must adhere to the following guidance:

Cases of minor misconduct or unsatisfactory performance is best ignored. If, using the case above as an example, the menopausal woman does refer to a colleague in a derogatory tone then pause to consider if she is perhaps justified and that colleague is indeed a twat. Indeed you may want to use this opportunity to remove all fucktards from your team as hormones can mean that the menopausal women can be prone to actions that may see her end up in prison and this is to be avoided at all costs. Honesty is one of the benefits you can reap from a menopausal woman. If you want honest 360 degree feedback then rather than refer to the made up crap your subordinates write just in case you can track it back to them – simply ask the menopausal woman. It is imperative that you foster a safe environment for the woman to say exactly what they think.

If, after careful consideration, you do decide that action must be taken against the menopausal woman in these cases we would suggest a paid day off or bottle of wine as potential acceptable responses. Such kindness will be appreciated but possibly responded to with tears of gratitude so ensure you have tissues ready just in case.

More serious cases such as posting ‘XYZ company is full of twats and arseholes’ on social media or punching a colleague in the face are probably due to mitigating circumstances such as hormonal fluctuations and perhaps self medicating with wine and gin. Therefore the usual social media rules will be relaxed for the menopausal woman. Indeed the firewalls will be removed from their logons to enable them to talk on Support Forums when they feel the need and to order expensive shoes if they feel that is necessary as both can be a great support at this time of change.

Central to this policy is the ownership of temperature control – it should be handed entirely over to the menopausal woman. If others in the office complain that it is too cold then they should be asked to wear a jumper. It is imperative that the menopausal woman is able to regulate the temperature around her as there is fuck all she can do about the raging inferno inside her. If budget permits then for a fee, Sam Heughan and/or Helen Mirren can be employed to waft large palm leaves as and when required.

Headphones and access to carefully selected Spotify playlists will be provided with tissues in case they cause a hormonal woman to start crying when they realise every line means something.- nothing by Adele as it might make them cry and nothing by Eminem as it might make them angry and nothing by Kanye West as he is a twat. A focus group will be created to come up with acceptable songs for inclusion.

If the menopausal woman is expected to wear a uniform then it must be able to be adapted. If she would prefer to wear a loose smock with birkenstocks rather than pour herself into a tight skirt and blazer then this should be accomodated. Indeed, she may choose to simply come to work in her pajamas and this should not be discouraged as it is entirely appropriate at this time of life.
A bra is unlikely to be worn – not in a sexy Kardashian way but more in a tits swinging round the waist ay – and this should be considered totally appropriate.

Exceptional circumstances should be considered and responded to appropriately. For example a menopausal woman may find it beneficial to just piss off from everyone and everything and sit on a beach in Greece either to write bad poetry by herself or to shag the waiter like in Shirley Valentine. Every menopausal woman is different so there is no structured guidelines around this but we would suggest a 3 month menopausal career break on full pay as a minimum standard to aim for. This leave may not be shared with a partner even if they beg – they must stay and keep the home fires burning.

Fully flexible working will be encouraged as it is very likely that the menopausal woman will only find a cure for her insomnia three seconds before the alarm goes off. So it is best if she can simply hit the off button and return to sleep til she feels able to come in. Or just work at home watching Loose Women if she feels that would be a more supportive environment.

Organisations would be well advised to review their benefits and perks policy. It is a cruel truth that as the menopausal woman’s eyesight starts to deteriorate their facial hair will start to increase. Laser eye surgery should therefore be offered as a tax free benefit as well as high quality tweezers. Tena ladies should join the sanitary protection in the toilets and vodka should join the chocolate in the vending machines. Note – JOIN – not replace.

Mandatory training will be given to managers to help them implement this policy (unless the manager is a menopausal woman in which case she can have the day off to lie beside the river and read magazines and drink those wee cans of pims you get in Tesco. There will be pre-course work – which is likely to involve being kept awake all night by an incessant chatter in your ear about every little thing you ever did wrong or messed up in your life. You will need to dress in your warmest vest and coat then twice in the night your electric blanket will be turned to full and you can make a decision whether to just lie in it or get up and change fully before experiencing the same thing two hours later. The next day you will attend a full days immersion session to enable the manager to fully empathise with the menopausal woman. Such sessions are not restricticted to, but will likely include: standing in front of an industrial oven on full blast for 15 mins 4 times during the day to develop empathy for the hot flush – followed by being put in a sealed room with lots of midgies to feel that unbearable itching. A temporary full frontal lobotomy will be given at the end of the course and not reinstated for 24 hours so the manager can experience brain fog and forgetfulness at first hand. It is recognised that additional training in conflict resolution may be required and this will be an optional module that we believe most managers will choose to take up.

We believe these measures set the tone for a positive working environment for the menopausal woman. To ensure the long term success of this policy any transgressions will be dealt with by a forum of menopausal woman headed by Big Mags who is permanently hangry due to trying to get rid of the menopausal midriff but this keeps her focussed on the importance of dealing with any infringements of due process.

Menopausal ambassadors will be around to help where required, with stocks of hankies; numbers for therapists (six sessions provided free of charge); vouchers for plus size stores; wine; chocolate and access to the menopause room which is equipped with cool comfortable beds that rock you gently to sleep when you need it most.

The End

Managers and Companies Everywhere – you are WELCOME! No charge – simply make a donation of a bottle of wine or gin or large box of chocolates to the next menopausal woman you meet.

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It’s OK not to be OK

So next week is Mental Health Awareness week and like 7.6 million others I watched the emotional episodes on Coronation Street about Aidens suicide and the devastating aftermath. Corrie has been utter shite for a while but it seems they got this plotline right with discussions in newspapers and television praising their handling of the topic.

It got me googling to find out the suicide rates in the UK – and one fact on the Office for National statistics page was a real shocker. The most common age for female suicide is 51-55 years. And what is the most common age for menopause? Yep 51-55 years! Is this just a coincidence? I googled more trying to find any studies on the potential link – but nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I find that shocking.

Maybe there is no proven link, but let’s face it – when you are entertaining anxiety, insomnia, low mood and irritability amongst others – is it any wonder that depression wants to pop along and join the party? Add to that the pressures women of our age can often be under – grown up children leaving home (or not leaving home!!); not having children and realising you never will; caring for ailing parents; financial pressures; pension worries; realising that you are no longer young and suddenly being aware of just how much society values youth etc etc. And you have the perfect storm.

There is no doubt that falling estrogen levels can affect your mood. The physical symptoms can also start to affect your mental health. Those hot flushes can lead to panic attacks and not wanting to go out in case they hit. The lack of sleep can make you feel down and make it hard to see things clearly. The irritability can make you start to alienate the very people you need around you – at one point I was telling so many people so often to fuck off that I worried I may have tourettes!

Every woman is different – with different circumstances and different responses to the the menopause. What will help one woman won’t necessarily help another. What definitely doesn’t help are stupid comments from half wits that I sometimes read on line such as:

🙄oh get on with it and stop making such a drama
🙄every woman goes through it – your are no different
🙄its just natural
🙄FFS – can you just stop going on about it – you’re not the only one.
🙄Some people are so much worse off than you – just get on with it

Bollocks – all bollocks – at this time of life it is absolutely ok to not be ok about everything that is going on in and around you.

Carol Vorderman has been honest and spoken out about experiencing suicidal thoughts and depression during the menopause. Gillian Anderson said she felt her life was falling apart around her and was completely overwhelmed. Lorraine Kelly has said she just didn’t feel like herself and could not see joy in anything. And good on them for being so open – I think the more people that speak out – the easier it is for others to talk about it and start seeking help.

My niece asked me what the menopause was and I answered honestly – she thought about it for a while and then said – ‘so it’s all the rubbish bits about being a teenager but you are also old’ So that fair cheered me up!! But it does kind of sum it up. On the flipside it can also be a time to fully evaluate your life and what you want to make the rest of it the best of it. Oprah Winfrey described it as your moment to reinvent yourself after focusing on the needs of others for so long – to get clear on what matters to you then to pursue it with all your energy time and talent.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ – every menopausal woman needs options tailored to themselves. Some women (very few) sail through without an issue, others experience minor symptoms and for others it is extreme. Apparently only 50% of women who suffer actually go and seek treatment – I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because not so long ago the hormone changes were seen as a sign of madness. Are women scared of putting it out there? Worrying if people will judge? Scared people will think less of them? Attitudes to mental health are changing (thank god) and there are a wide range of options the GP can discuss or refer you elsewhere when needed. There are tons of on-line forums where women are talking about their symptoms and supporting each other. The more we talk about it the less of a taboo it will become, so let’s talk about it.

You are not alone.

#endthestigma #corrie #suicide #menopause

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Menopausal Symptoms

So I had another wee trip to the menopause cafe last week – I would definitely recommend and not just for the free cake (though there is a very varied selection and they don’t mind how many slices you eat) and the goody bag (lots of nice things in there including chocolate and a little packet of love hearts in the last one).

Bit of advice though – put your glasses on and look carefully at the packaging of the treats in these goody bags – I spent 20 mins with my face covered in lube as the pack closely resembled a free facepack sample. To be fair it actually did quite a good job – my skin looked really good and glowing. And I suppose if it is sensitive enough to be used down there then it will be fine on your face. But don’t think I will be making a habit of it.

The conversation at my Menopause Cafe table had turned to a heated debate over what was the worst menopausal symptom. I cannot recall what we decided the worst one was but let’s face it – there are quite a few to choose from. The Menopausal Fairy really is a gift that just keeps giving.

I was making use of the bright sunlight this morning by positioning the mirror in the sunniest window and plucking out the hairs from my chin and for the first time also my neck which was an odd experience and trying to remember what we agreed the worst symptom was. There were a couple that complained about the excess hair that comes from the fluctuating hormones but that isn’t the worst for me. I mean – if it wasn’t for my supply of tweezers and focussed attention I would resemble that bearded lady in The Greatest Showman (apart from the singing bit because I can’t hold a note) but it just takes a bit of work and it is generally fine. I was going to tell these women that as they were visibly hirsute but I managed to restrain myself which is unusual – as many women will testify the filter between brain and mouth often goes missing during the menopausal years

The hot flushes were keenly debated – if you haven’t had one you just can’t imagine it – after my first few I was googling ‘spontaneous human combustion’ as I seriously thought I might be a candidate for it – because I just could not believe that that level of heat in your body was natural and normal under any circumstances. But I am pretty sure that came second in the list of crap symptoms.

The menopausal midriff is a bit crap too but that is what smocks, loose tops and pregnancy jeans are for.

That bone crushing exhaustion that hits you like a ten ton truck when you least want it to. That exhaustion that pulls down on every bone and every fibre of your being when you just have to lie down before you fall down. When you truly can’t believe you can keep going for another minute.

Meg Matthews and a million other celebrities banging on about their ‘terrible menopause’ and how they solved it my spending ten million quid at a Harley Street Doctor and taking 2 years off work and just resting, going on retreats, having a personal chef whip them up lovely plant based meals and a personal trainer to keep them in shape – and recommending we all do the same kind of gets on my tits too. And Meg Matthews kindly organising a big conference that we can go to for just £95 or £150 if we want the VIP package – I mean did she forget a feckin pension plan or something so decided to make a few quid by converting from ‘Britpop icon’ (her words not mine) to Menopause Advocate (her words again – I mean who would advocate the feckin menopause ffs).. I know that’s not really a symptom but it pisses me off so I am going to include it. Feck off with your glossy hair and your slim bodies and perfect skin – feck off feck off feck off – stop telling us all how we can be just like you. We can’t – we don’t have millions of quid and if we don’t show up at work for two years we’ll end up on the streets selling the Big Issue – which to be fair would stop us worrying about the menopause I suppose…

Anyway I digress – and I have just remembered. The worst symptom – forgetfulness!! Or at least that is the worst for me. Everyone is different but this is certainly the one that has the biggest impact on my life. I could write for hours on the various episodes that have blighted me since the Menopausal Fairy decided to raid my memory but here are a few highlights:

🤔This morning I was walking back from Tesco convinced I had forgotten something. I had made a list but I had forgotten it – so had to rely on memory. I ran through the things in my head – bread, bananas, eggs, bacon (not doing the vegan thing anymore), washing powder. Racked my brains. Got home, made a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich. Then I realised there was no slevering dog trying to get a bit.. – the dog!! OMG I had forgotten Sweet Dog. Sweet Dog was still tied up outside Tesco waiting for her rubbish useless owner. Oh dear god… that dog already has abandonment issues (she is a rescue)…. what have I done. I had to leap in the car and tear down to find her like Naebodys Wean – patiently waiting but with a sadness in her eyes that made me cry my eyes out all the way home. It made me think of Greyfriars Bobby and that made me cry even more. Forgetting is awful but then remembering you forgot is even worse.

🤔The other night I stood clicking my car key at the door getting increasingly frustrated it wasn’t opening. Then realised I was trying to open my front door. Thank god none of my neighbours witnessed that debacle.

🤔Last week at work I could not remember where I had parked the car. Our car park is HUGE and goes on literally for miles and I could not remember the section I had left it in. I wandered round pressing the key button hopefully looking out for the flashing lights. Nothing. Finally in frustration I decided to get the bus back home then return late at night when it would be the only feckin car left and easy to spot. So I waited at the bus stop… Then remembered – I’d got the feckin bus in that morning as I was going out for a drink with a friend. Which I had also forgotten but at least remembered in time to still make it.

🤔 The other day I went to someones desk at work to ask something and when I got there I hadn’t a clue what I went to ask. And just stood looking at them like some wierd stalker. I have lost track of the number of times I have stared blankly at my screen trying to remember what the feck the password is… that blinking cursor mocking me as I try to remember if I made a note of it anywhere and if so what it was.

I could go on (and on) but I won’t …

Because I have forgotten all the other things I have forgotten..

What is the worst symptom for you?

PS – you can also join the 22K people who follow me on facebook and regularly comment with their own experiences…https://www.facebook.com/menopausalwoman/

Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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