I have mostly just mentioned my menopause in passing. There certainly aren’t many times when I have tagged the word. But this post makes reference. This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt asks us to elaborate on a story or blog post from before. My Wicked Wednesday then is about my experience of the menopause first time around and how it feels to be going through many of the symptoms again.
I was approaching my 50th birthday when the first signs appeared. Hot flashes and night sweats were the main symptoms. Of course, my age told me exactly what was happening. I was reluctant to see the doctor and ask for HRT straight away. Firstly I thought I should see how things panned out, but also at the back of the mind were thoughts about links to breast cancer.
Almost immediately my periods stopped. Dead. Just like that. To be frank, that was something of a relief. Already they had reduced down to a day or so, though had remained regular. One day though, I had a period and never had one again. But I continued to suffer from PMT for a while longer, until that too disappeared. So far so good.
The main issue really was the number of hot flashes I experienced in any day. Plus the fact they came on rapidly as soon as I was under the slightest pressure. That might be a meeting, but equally could be when my boss approached me for a report. I didn’t even have to be particularly anxious for one to descend. Then there were the ones at other times, in the shower, eating dinner, just minding my business watching TV. But at least they weren’t keeping me awake.
At night I would struggle to sleep, then as soon as I drifted off, I’d wake with perspiration dripping off me. I got myself something called a cool pillow which worked, but wasn’t comfortable for sleeping. Looking back I managed with broken sleep most nights for months and months. If a baby had come along unexpectedly, I’d have been ready! But there was also the vaginal dryness and pain when having sex I’ve spoken of before and will link to when I find the posts.
Gradually over the past 18 months though the symptoms disappeared, or certainly were too infrequent to worry about. Then I got breast cancer.
Menopause take two
My breast cancer was hormone, especially oestrogen dependent. I had assumed that being post menopausal and no longer menstruating that I would no longer produce oestrogen. That wasn’t the case and while levels are lower, women continue to produce the hormone after the menopause.
So once I had recovered from surgery I was started on a tablet called Letrozole designed to completely stop the production of oestrogen and so prevent a recurrence of the tumour. These tablets have many potential side effects, including joint pains. Thankfully for me the effects are restricted to menopause type symptoms.
This time round the hot flashes and night sweats are pretty mild. I have noticed I feel hotter in general than I used to and prefer to be too cool than too hot. I have a low threshold for taking my coat off when in a shop or coffee shop for example. The feeling of being overheated is very unpleasant. I don’t get as many hot flashes as I did in the midst of the menopause but enough to be annoying. And while I don’t wake up with a soaking pillow, I do find myself outside of the covers more than I am under neath them.
Of course it is a small price to pay and I would rather do all I can to minimise the risk of recurrence. But that doesn’t mean these symptoms aren’t irritating and sometimes embarrassing. But, oh well. Menopause take two it is.