Monday, 3 February 2014

Early menopause and Electric Shocks!

In effect, at 63 I've outgrown the menopause.  Mine began at the age of 39 with some mild symptoms such as a fuzzy head, grumpiness and a change in my flows together with different levels of pain.  I had no idea what was happening and neither had the GP.  "You're far too young to be starting the menopause" he tried to reassure me.  "But tell me about your mother.  What age did she begin hers?  It may have some bearing".

I cried then, with grief and frustration.  This was just another question about my genetics that I couldn't answer.  You see my mum died at the age of 58 when I was 28 with a young baby.  As neither of us had foreseen her premature death, we hadn't talked about menopausal stuff like that.   There should have been plenty of time for a natural progression into such conversations, and at that time she was just thrilled to be a grandmother.

I'll talk about mum in a separate post.  She deserves one of her own.

So, no knowledge of the female family history of the menopause meant I was out on a limb.  The doctor was so convinced nothing was happening with my hormones he didn't see it necessary to send me for a blood test.  Despite my tears, he sent me off and suggested I come back if I noticed further changes in my periods.

Not to be outdone, I left it a few weeks, went back and saw a different GP.  A lady this time.  She too, was sure it wasn't menopause but did agree to a blood test.  It came back showing I was in the early stages.  She called it perimenopause.

We talked through a general list of symptoms and I confirmed I had at least 10 of those including bloating, weight gain, rather disturbing memory lapses and irregular periods.  The positive thing that came out of it was at the ripe young age of 48 it was all done and dusted!

Carol E Wyer has published a great book titled Grumpy Old Menopause.  Here's a synopsis from the Safket, the publisher's website -

Grumpy Old Menopause
To be administered in one large dose for maximum effect

Have you started to write post-it notes with your kids' names on them? Do you need to change your underwear after every sneeze? Guess it's time to read this book then. It'll help you get through "that" time in your life with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
With numerous suggestions, sensible advice and amusing anecdotes, Grumpy Old Menopause will help you sail through that tricky part of a woman's life with ease and humour. It should prevent you from turning into Mrs Crabby or worse still, a demonic monster.

"An excellent mix of humour and sound advice. This book is a must-read for all women ... I highly recommend Grumpy Old Menopause. It is the perfect blend of humour and excellent advice to help all women sail through the menopause." - Nicky Snazell, Fi STOP Consultant Physiotherapist in Spinal Pain, Fellow of Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain. International Lecturer in Pain and Health.

I enjoyed reading Carol's book for not only it's humour, but her empathy together with hints and tips about how to cope. 

Electric Shocks
Carol touched on an area of the menopause that doesn't often get recognised or spoken about.  Electric shocks, folks.  Not the kind that you get when you touch bare wires - well come on, you just wouldn't.  Would you??  No?  Good lass!  The electric shocks she refers to are of the hormonal kind.

I have very vivid memories of my own personal experience with them and they seem to baffle everyone including the GP.  (Do I have duff GP's at my practice?  Seems like it upon reflection!) 
Anyway, I'm digressing again - let's get back on track.  About 5 years into the menopause, I found myself one day getting jabbing pains on the top of my head, just to one side.  They lasted a matter of seconds but were so intense they upset my vision a little.  A short while later on the same day, I had a massive stabbing sensation in my upper left arm, quickly followed by a similar feeling in my abdomen.  I was worried enough to chuck a sickie from work that day and hurtled straight round to the GP's thinking I was having a stroke or something!  He told me I was suffering from stress and wrote me a sick note for 2 weeks off work.  I don't recall that I was particularly stressed, at least no more than usual, but hey, who was I to argue about having a fortnight off? 

However, the pains continued sporadically, always with some intensity and I found that I was also getting them at my cervix, in the roof of my mouth and in my tongue as well!  A further visit to the GP to get the new pains checked out resulted in him telling me to change my job as it was obviously stressing me out.  I'm glad I ignored that piece of advice as I liked my job.  My colleagues were wonderful, if a little baffled themselves about my bizarre symptoms.   One lady in particular said to me that daft as it seems, this could be hormonal.  I thanked her and followed up her suggestion.  Sure enough, a little research unearthed a website that indicated all my symptoms as hormonal electric shocks! 

It was such a relief that someone, somewhere had written about it and I felt reassured that the pains would eventually  run their course, along with most of the other menopause symptoms.  I apologise here as I have lost sight of that website, but here's one for you to consult if you wish to read in more detail.

For anyone out there who is suffering from these shocks, I hope the writing of my own experience helps to reassure you.

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