Monday Menopause update!

I just have to ask… How do career women balance peri-menopause and work and family and friends? Seriously! I am blessed with not being moody, in terms of cantankerous. Although, I am periodically suffering from eye leakage at cute duck and puppy videos on Facebook and am sometimes voluntarily cuddling babies.

As for my career, I have set up my work life at the moment to enable me to work from home most days. Amazing what bosses will offer you when they like your work and really want you. Very empowering too. So today I am madly designing a survey questionnaire and realise I have worked 6.5 hours without a break. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for me as I tend to get into workaholic mode very quickly. So, using what scant will power (another thing that seems to vanish as part of the whole end of the hormone business) I have I decided to stop for lunch. (And I must digress a bit because it was a fabulous lunch, because I’m married to the Most Darling Man who loves to cook. In fact, while writing this he has just gone out to the garden and picked fresh lettuce and tomatoes for my evening salad.)

So there I am, feeling nice and full, starting to contemplate my winter waistline, and I think I will have a quick power nap. This was at 3pm. One hour and twenty minutes later I wake with a fright and leap up and race to my computer to log in for my afternoon vid conference just in time. The vid conference went well except for the fact that in my rush to log in I didn’t check my appearance and had the most dreadful case of bed hair. Thank goodness I go without makeup most days otherwise I could have had panda eyes as well. I was also busting to go to the bathroom. A new feature of this peri-menopause business is that my bladder thinks it is full as soon as there is more than three drops of urine to get rid of. What is that deal?

So, why did I sleep so long in the middle of the day you ask? Had I had a late night? Had I had an early morning start? No, it is because I had absolutely zero sleep last night. True! I spent my night like this: I’d just drop off to sleep and wake up because I was cold, I’d fumble for the electric blanket and just as I was warming up my temperature irregulator would soar to the other extreme and before I knew it I was blazing hot and kicking the bedding off to run naked (something I’ve not done previously, well not since my 20s when I had a body worth running naked in!) to stand in front of the freezer on the cold kitchen tiles. I would then chug down cold water and head back to bed. And then just as I was drifting off I would need to go to the bathroom. I’d stagger back to bed and the whole cycle would repeat.

Now you may recall that I have been trying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to control the worst of the symptoms, and I have to say it is working, and most nights I get a reasonable amount of sleep, but I think I am looking for a miracle cure. As in zero symptoms. The TCM Dr has changed the dosage of my medication and stuck a few more needles in me for good measure so hopefully when I return from my meditation retreat I will be more balanced.

So, if like me you are going through 1 or 34 of the symptoms of peri-menopause … hang in there … estimates are that it lasts from 3 to 15 years. Oh, and to the woman who offered me Christian comfort the other day as ripped open my fan and fanned myself down while shrugging out of my hat, scarf and coat, thank you very much for your kindness and clear empathy. It was most welcomed, and I did read your pamphlets out of politeness, and, after spending six years in pubescent hell as a teenager, countless years with bloating, weird days where I felt everything was wrong until I woke the next day and realised that my “friend” was about to arrive, late arrivals and early arrivals and short stays and long stays, and heavy stays while wearing skinny white jeans, don’t even get me started on the agony of childbirth, and now that I am lining up for the switching off of my hormones, I would like to say “the female body is NOT an example of intelligent design”.

That’s pretty much all for today. I wish you all a wonderful evening and a beautiful restful sleep.



Menopausal Madness & the Working Woman

I always wondered why women would take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) especially when all the news linking it to the development of cancers started arising (see link below). That is until changing my bed linen became a daily occurrence and the slightly strange moods morphed into feelings of being overwhelmed or disengaged and unmotivated, we won’t even discuss the bizarre feelings of anxiety! I have always prided myself on being a strong woman that will always step up to the plate when needed. I am the person who makes the hard decisions. I’m the person the family calls on for answering questions like “should we turn off the life support”. Serious. That’s me. I’m the Aunty people call when there is a problem that needs a person who can act sensibly and responsibly under pressure. Not to mention being the super-organised one at work who just rolls up her sleeves and gets on with it. Now I find myself with eye leakage at cute puppy and kitten memes. As I dragged my jumper off for the nth time yesterday, I wondered how professional me would be coping.

Currently I have the luxury of working from home and videoing in for meetings. During my last face to face meeting I was only having slightly warm flushes of an evening. Now the most recent ones are noticeable. So, how does the professional woman manage, in a room full of clients, peers and subordinates to not rip off her shirt and madly fan herself with the most recent financial report? How do you deal with brain fog? What are the alternatives to HRT? Because, I have to say that a couple of days ago if I was working in a corporate environment I would have considered it.

When I went to the TCM Dr she commented that “I’ve caught it early”. This means in terms of treatment my menopausal symptoms will respond better. I now have 15 little black ball shaped pills to take twice a day and acupuncture once a week till I get some balance back. Given I am a holistic health coach myself, I understand that unlike harsh Western medicine, I will not see immediate results. I am also a firm believer in not trying multiple therapies at once, so I am not trying any essential oil or homeopathic treatments; as yet. But I can assure you that at 3am, with zero sleep and another flaming hot wave sweeping through my body I could easily set aside my do no harm principals and eat the heart of a frog, or drink the urine of the endangered long-eared bat! And, and this is an important AND, I am NOT having severe symptoms, not only am I in the early stages, my  plant-based (mostly organic) eating habits mean that I am less exposed to hormones and chemicals in the food chain.

I have been doing a bit of research. By this I mean I activated the female friendship tree and got some tips. I have heard that I should wear waterproof makeup that allows you to sweat, no ladylike glow here, or where no makeup at all, or get your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted (something I already did until my recent accidental conversion to plant-based eating). Put a bundle of tissues in each armpit and leave your jacket on during meetings. Keep a diary to see if you can time the flushes and only schedule meetings when you think you won’t have one (can you imagine what that notation would like it in your diary? 9am Meeting with CFO, 9.45am Hot flush …). Drink as much water as possible. Avoid eating foods that cause your body to smell when it is sweating. In fact, try and avoid altogether because apparently you can just get smelly. Oh, and one last one, always wear at least a panty liner, because minor incontinence is also on the cards. Menopause Australia list 34 symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause. If you weren’t depressed at the thought of menopause, read the list, I promise you will be at least sad and apprehensive. On the upside, you will be informed and better able to manage and make tough decisions.

On a professional note, I recommend being open, whilst you don’t have to discuss each and every symptom, which would also be tactless, you can do what I do, drag out my trusty fan and fan myself. I say nothing unless someone looks at me questioningly, at which point I simply say “that time of life” and move on. You will also be surprised at how accommodating men of your age group and older are. It appears that as we get older there are less and less social taboos. I had a man at the airport the other night regaling me with stories about his wife’s flushes and how he often ended up on the couch!

On a further professional note, it is worth your while to be familiar with these symptoms as we all manage or work with a diversely aged population. To date I have worked with: women going through IVF and men whose partners were; colleagues with children and with children facing difficulties; women going through “the change”; and people my age and older dealing with becoming grandparents (sometimes very unexpectedly) and often at the same time becoming the carer for an elderly parent. All these outside engagements can affect performance. To keep employees productive we need to be understanding and able to provide a flexible and harmonious workplace. Who knows, it might be you who needs a special consideration one day!

After my meditation retreat I will be recommencing my martial arts training. I am hoping that meditation and the discipline of martial arts will assist me in regaining and retaining my focus and sharp thinking.

Some further reading on menopause…

Menopause Centre Australia:

Cancer Research UK

A little happy note from me…

I wish that all of you whose meanderings in the Red Dust have brought you to the menopausal stage of your journey are able to embrace it as the next big adventure. I personally am looking forward to seeing how the way I view and respond to the world changes. And while I probably can’t dance like I used to (in fact, after my nieces 21st recently, I know I can’t), there is always a dance to be found! So I will continue wandering my Red Dust Way and hope I can bring you some wisdom from my menopausal journey.