Not in denial, not even sure if it's happening or whether it's happened and as the GP pointed out 'it's not helpful'
In 2015 I had a cancer scare, with a high white blood cell count that was picked up during a migraine through routine blood tests.
Since then I've been under the care of an oncologist, had a bone marrow biopsy, diagnosed as Iron Deficient and received regular iron infusions. no cause known, blood test results still haphazard. I've had a coil fitted to stop my periods to see if it made a difference to my inability to produce ferritin, but it hasn't made a difference at all and I've still needed infusions.
I have few symptoms other than severe fatigue and breathlessness (can't walk upstairs without having to lie down) when my ferritin stores drop. It's the blood tests that keep calling me back into the GP to have further tests or medication adjusted. I've developed two new symptoms of double vision and pins and needles and numbness in my hands that are being investigated.
When I went to see the GP to ask for a new prescription of my migraine preventative medication for which I've been having since I was a small child, she informed me that they'll get better once the menopause is over, she then pushed me to accept I'm menopausal, told me about hot flushes and insomnia that she could prescribe medication for to help me with. I didn't mention hot sweats and Insomnia as I don't get them. Sometimes I don't sleep if I've been travelling, am unwell or my husband is snoring, but otherwise, if left in peace in a darkened room, I can sleep for 10 hours solid. I get at least 8 hours sleep per night.
Then there's the media, TV advertisers and Davina McCall 24/7 telling me I'm menopausal, promoting medications and lifestyle options, telling me how I must be feeling, how I must be thinking. It's not me. It doesn't represent me.
Then the worst is the people who are around my age who say to me when I sneeze 'oh that's a menopausal symptom' and go on to tell me how surprised I'd be to learn that any illness, any symptom, anything and everything is now actually a symptom of the menopause. If I yawn 'that's the trouble at our age' if I make an 'ooh' noise when I stand up, if I pop a tablet for my migraine. It's all menopause, full stop.
I know a lot of people have symptoms that interfere and effect their everyday life. I know for many that finding out it is the menopause, being treated and listened to has been a great help and relief both physically and mentally. But it's not me. There's more to me than the menopause, just because I'm 50.
I had my hair dyed grey in 2016, it's since grown out to be natural grey now. I go to the hairdressers and they cut it every time in a certain style, for women my age. A neat bob with it tucked behind my ears or a pixie cut. The same hair cut given to every woman between the ages of 50 and 70 who has grey hair. The same happens with clothing and shoes. I don't want to dress like I'm 30 so I end up with a choice of shoes and clothing the the over 70's wear asa uniform. So in an attempt to be different I clomp around in DMs and wear jersey dresses, jeans, trainers and hoodies.
I have kids in their 30's, I'm married to a 64 year old, I have grandchildren. I automatically fall into the discussion about perimenopause, about colon cancer screening home tests with the assumption I'm actually older than I am. Mid to late 50's and constantly told I look good for my age. I'm 51 this month.
Apart from my chronic migraines and a 26 year old neck injury from an assault which causes chronic pain flare ups and does interfere with my sleep, as it always has. and my iron deficiency anaemia I'm fit and healthy. I work full time, cycle to work, swim and go on long walks with the dog. The hot weather isn't a problem, but then neither is the cold.
I'm sure there will be quite a few of you reading this who sigh 'of course you're menopausal' I probably am, I'm not in denial. I just don't want to talk about it every day (oh the irony of writing this post) I just don't want people thinking it's ok just to start a conversation with me, assuming my only topic of interest is the menopause. I just don't want the assumptions made I'm menopausal. There's more to me and every other woman than just that.
I know there is nothing to be ashamed about, we should talk more, we should be more open. We shouldn't be embarrassed to discuss this issue in front of both male and female colleagues of all ages, but I just don't want it to be the only topic of conversation.
Does it define you? Is there more to talk about?