First off, I’m not in denial, I’m 50, I’m probably peri menopausal, I can’t confirm that though as I had my periods stopped in January 2021 as I have iron deficiency anaemia, it’s a malabsorption problem and I require regular Iron Infusions. Without them I get tired, confused, don’t sleep and my migraines I’ve had since I was a small child get worse. Yep all signs of being peri menopausal and so many people keep telling me this is what it must be.
This includes a GP I saw last week after a ferritin test in December shows my levels are dropping again, not enough for an infusion yet, but my migraines have returned and I merely wanted a repeat prescription of Beta Blockers as I started a new job this week and I’ve been having migraines since Christmas that last 9 days monthly.
I’ve been on a wheat free diet since September 2019 which has reduced my migraines from 2-3 a month, to 1 a month lasting a couple of days.
I often require hospital treatment for migraines which often present as meningitis and after numerous lumber punctures, I’m grateful my husband is now able to speak on my behalf to get me the treatment I need in this situation.
After a particularly bad migraine in 2016, routine blood tests threw up a high white blood cell count, which was unexplained and led to tests for Leukaemia, a bone marrow biopsy, mammograms, MRI’s and a comprehensive internal examination and biopsy’s under anaesthetic and having a coil fitted to stop my periods, to prove there was no link with bleeding that was causing my iron deficiency anaemia and no link with hormones and migraines.
My medical records are disjointed with the initial treatment starting in Dubai where we were living and the past 2 years of treatment in the UK and Dubai. I was also advised of the importance of regular smear tests as I hadn’t had one since 2009. I’ve had them every year since I’ve been abroad and emailed those plus my other records to the GP with a full vaccination list also, which doesn’t show on my records or the NHS app.
The GP assumed that all my issues are related to me being peri menopausal and that I am in denial. I said yes, I’ll explore all the links you’re sending me but today I’ve come for medication for migraines I’ve had for 45 years. No, I don’t have hot flushes and I’ve already told her that the not sleeping was only linked to low iron or my husband snoring. The rest of the time I sleep solidly for 8+ hours.
So yes, I was defensive which led to ‘do you have a lot of stress in your life?’
Well ‘yes, we’re having a kitchen fitted and selling a flat, waiting for our 3-month-old grandson to have surgery and I’m starting a new job.’ But she pushed ‘well we relocated to the UK last year, husband retired, we had to ship our entire lives, had to do 11 days mandatory hotel quarantine, we were apart for most of Covid in different countries, travelled during the pandemic’ so yes, I think I’m stressed.
But then she pushed some more back to when the blood cell count was high. ‘Life was good then, we travelled freely, went to Hong Kong, South Africa, Egypt and the UK, then my father died and whilst I’ve come to terms with his death, I’ve never been able to shake the pain of sitting there and watching someone die and being so totally helpless.’
At this point tears were flowing freely and I was sobbing. She then asked about further back and I said enough.
I left with a link for a bereavement charity and several links for understanding and accepting the menopause and my prescription for Beta Blockers.
Two days later she sent me a text asking to book a blood test after she’d read my notes.
They took bloods for liver and kidney function, infection markers, ferritin levels, phosphate, B12. All the things that keep randomly going out of sync. As one gets sorted and falls back into range another one rises or drops, causing concern. All my tests are blood led, the only symptoms I have are fatigue, itchy skin, confusion. All I manage apart from the migraines, which I do need medical help for.
I know many women aren’t getting help with being peri menopausal, I’m also aware of women being dismissed as being peri menopausal. Yes, I’m aware I’m probably that woman right now, but I was upset that the GP took one look at me, decided as I was 50 and I was fatigued and get confused that it was just the menopause and I was to accept it and get the right help.
The right help I needed was medication for migraines, ferritin levels checked again, a possible iron infusion and I’d be ok for the next few months, until the ferritin dropped again, the migraines returned and repeat.
What I don’t need is anyone telling it must be the menopause because they have the same symptoms. I don’t need a t shirt saying I’m menopausal and I don’t need links to websites that help me accept I’m menopausal. I know I probably am and I’m blessed that I had a good gynaecologist who recognised that stopping my periods would help when I reached that stage and agreed that it would help with a medical diagnosis with the ferritin as suggested by the oncologist I saw for 5 years.
So here I am journaling as recommended by the GP to help me get things off my chest. I told her I actually blog and publish online and talk openly about ‘women’s problems’ already. She just said I should try it, it would probably help to talk to someone. I tried talking to her, but she just wasn't listening.
Update: Message from GP, ferritin levels dropped.
My response: (in my head) this is what I told you at the beginning.