(To those of sensitive disposition, look away, now).
It is a truth universally acknowledged by my family that if I sit there, and say "Anyone else hot, or is it just me?" I will get a chorus of "Just you" in response. This has been going on for a few years, so I've got quite used to it.
However of late, my hot flushes, because indeed dear reader, that's what they are, have accelerated up a gear. Where I used to get them once in a while, in the last six weeks I've been getting them every day, several times a day, sometimes several times an hour. It's difficult to know how they rate to other people (nearly everyone I know my age seems to be similarly suffering), but they are becoming noticeable enough to be a nuisance. I have suspected I was heading menopause-wards for sometime, but now, quite frankly, I seem to be hurtling towards it. I did one of those Are You Menopausal tests online, and suddenly realised I had the majority of the symptoms. Some things, like horrendous periods have been going on FOREVER (quite frankly if they stopped tomorrow, it wouldn't be a day too soon. 38 years is quite long enough, thank you.). But others, like blinding headaches (and even a migraine, which I've never experienced before), and a scary level of forgetfulness are new. And as for lack of libido, I thought that was down to general tiredness, until it dawned on me, that I used to at least like the idea of it, whereas now, quite frankly I'd rather have a nice cup of tea. I am most definitely NOT feeling hot in that department. And there are other, more personal issues, that I had noticed, but seem to have crept up on me unawares.
So yesterday, I took myself to the docs, who confirmed, that yes, I am in the perimenopause stage. And after an examination it turns out I may also have fibroids, and possibly need surgery for another delicate female problem at some stage (I could gross you out, but I won't). Oh deep deep joy. It is so bloody wonderful being a woman sometimes.
Having said that, it was a great sense of relief to discover my symptoms aren't the product of a fevered imagination, but this is actually happening to me. I had visions of being told (in the way that I was every time I went into labour) that it wasn't quite happening.
Having read a lot of this online, apparently for a lot of women, there is a mourning period as they realise the reproductive stage of their life is over. I can honestly say I don't feel like that at all. I am of course immensely fortunate that I have children, so I might feel differently if I didn't, but for me, though there are the inevitable thoughts about aging etc (and I do hit 50 next year, which feels qutie a milestone), it feels a bit like a liberation. For the first time in my working life my reproductive abilities won't be an issue AT ALL. I think that's something to celebrate, personally. I've also had stonking support from people on Facebook - some of whom I don't even know. And everyone has such good advice. Plus I've realised that so many people I know are either going through it, or have been through it, it's just another part of life's rich pattern.
At the moment my GP feels it's too soon for HRT, and I honestly don't think my symptoms are such that I need it anyway. (I might feel differently in a few months of course.) And citalopram which I take for anxiety, is apparently very helpful (I suspect that being on it has held at bay some of the palpitation/anxiety issues that some women go through..) I also feel much calmer then I have done in years, which is another bonus, as I have suffered quite badly fromhormonal lows, and it's nice to resort to a less stressful modus operandi.
It seems to me, that (so long as I continue to be lucky and things don't get worse), this is potentially a good time in my life. My children are getting older, I don't have a lot of the responsibilities I used to have, and soon I will be free of the monthly torment that every woman has to endure. What's not to like?
I appreciate this might not be the way other people feel about it. But apart from maybe getting the heat away from my face and back in the bedroom, I'd say, so far, being perimenopausal actually feels quite empowering. I could do with more energy (maybe that will come back? she says hopefully), but in the main (which might be weird of me, as I'd always thought it would seem a negative thing), I feel quite positive about it. So... exhaustion aside, I'd say it can't happen a day too soon. In fact... bring it on, menopause, I'm ready and waiting for you.
(With HUGE gratitude to all the lovely FB friends who've offered support and advice. It is great to tap into the fount of female knowledge.)