The Big M Self-Care Journey.
So, no one told me about THIS!
At 52 years young, I have started a new chapter in my Self Care Journey! Well it probably started several years ago, but the penny has only just dropped!
For about 5 years I have been having heart palpitations. I have been to the doctors had all sorts of tests and they found nothing. I was offered beta blockers – I took these for 4 weeks and then stopped, I didn’t understand why I needed to take them if there was no diagnosis to do so?
If you have read my previous jpouch blog, about Ulcerated Colitis, and my jpouch surgery, you will understand that for me, taking drugs for something no one could explain, in my eyes is not ok.
Over the Christmas period (excuse the pun) I started with hot flushes, along with feeling down, tired, low libido and aching joints. It would appear that I have reached the BIG MENOPAUSE time in my life, so I have started to research it, and wow, why did no doctor at any time suggest that my palpitations and other symptoms could be down to me being peri-menopausal?
So far, I have discovered many new words, and I am learning all about the symptoms and side effects of this massive hormonal change that is having such an impact on my body and on my life.
"Who else has had any experience?"
Why does no one talk about all the different symptoms? It feels that we just don’t like to talk about the menopause or being peri-menopausal! I have to say it does sound quite very terrifying to me, and everyone is different, and it can last for years and years and years!
So, I have bought a book “Make Friends with the Menopause” by Sarah Rayner & Dr Patrick Fitzgerald, I am half way through and it is an informative read for anyone about to or all ready going through this personal journey. I have also purchased Vitabiotics Menopace Max – thought I would just go straight to the strong ones.... Well after a week of taking them (with food or after – or they make you feel bit sick) the results on the hot flushes have been an improvement, but I need more help with the aching joints, lack of libido and being tired and grumpy.
Having a jpouch means I very rarely sleep through the night without at least one toilet trip, so I am used to waking and going back to sleep, but I can understand why the lack of sleep can be devastating to others.
So, what has everyone else done to combat the hormonal changes? I am not a chanting and incense type of girl, but just now I would be willing to try anything even the purple magnet you can clip in your knickers! Yes, the Ladycare and the Ladycareplus a purple menopausal magnet that is supposed to help with the symptoms... it could be worth a try!
I personally think we aren’t talking about this, because initially we don’t recognise some of the symptoms. For me now looking back I have been having palpitations, aching joints and limbs, a lack of self confidence in myself and my work and becoming anxious about general day to day things. This has been gradually getting worse over the last 5 years but it reached a new level this Christmas! The hot flushes have started but not too bad yet so let’s hope they don’t!
I have always been very active, I walk on average 5 miles a day with my gorgeous Labradoodle Mali & do Pilates several times a week, so why is my body aching when I stand up and sit down. And now I have developed Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot and guess what – yes, the menopause can cause this too! Can you believe it – my body is falling to pieces because of a drop-in hormones. I will be giving my body 6 months of vitamins, healthy diet, paying particular attention to food groups that are meant to help but if I see no improvement I will be seeking out the help of my GP.
"I know HRT isn’t for everyone, but after doing my reading, I could be like this for years and years!"
No thanks, I may not be here long and having been ill for 18 years with ulcerated colitis I have no intention in wasting any more years feeling terrible. If there is something else I can do to help with the symptoms sign me up! I think my partner will be behind me as well as let’s face it he must live with me too.
Let me know if and what you have tried during your journey or if you have experienced anything similar or different that we can share and lets help each other to #selfcare. The #selfcaresquad are interested in learning more on how to help us all get through this chapter of life.
To Summarise, here’s a small list of some of the symptoms we can experience in the run-up to the menopause.
Changes in taste and smell
Anxiety and panic attacks
Formication of the skin e.g. itchy sensations
Thinning hair and skin
Inability to concentrate.
It’s the fall in our oestrogen that can trigger pain and affect muscle tone - which can, in turn, trigger problems such as indigestion. This fall can cause a drop in our collagen — this naturally occurring protein is a main component in the skin, joints, hair, nails, bladder and vagina. Hence we get thinning hair, skin problems and a dry fanny!
The panic attacks, depression & lack of confidence are also due to the lower levels of oestrogen which affects the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Then the big changes with hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and irregular periods, did I forget these symptoms can last for years!
So this journey so far is feeling a little epic, and I just know that it is going to be so important to change and adapt my self-care routines, but I do know one thing, when I come back I am coming back as a man!
When Roz emailed this piece to her mum, this touching and wonderful note accompanied it!
“Well my darling, I thought it was very interesting, but as you probably don’t know, my symptoms were very similar to yours. I had a very busy job and staff to look after, and I was about 50 years old when it started, so I did not have time nor energy to cope with hot flushes, bursting into tears, aching joints etc (all your symptoms). So off to the doctor who immediately prescribed HRT tablets. I confess I had tried all the vitamins etc suggested to me by friends to no avail.
From first few days of taking them, I was back to my old self, Very Bossy but in control of my life again.!! When it all starts to happen to you, you feel as if aliens have taken control of your body. So, my advice to you is...go to doctor and get help with HRT.
I took it for over 20 years and your skin improves, keeps you younger as you feel fitter and better than ever.”
Loads of love
Please don't forget that all of these symptoms can be related to other health issues so please always check in with your GP.
Roz Ashton is a Co-Founder here at Self Care Psychology. Roz manages our Facebook page, you can read her bio here, and find her on her twitter @rozboardbabe.