Meh-nopause

Let me start by saying – my blog, my experience, my opinion, so I understand that other mature women will probably have very different ideas on the topic. In fact I know I might feel very differently about menopause myself in a year or so, once I get more used to it – but right now this is how I feel about it all.

Right now I’m finding that menopause feels meh. And when I say ‘menopause’ I don’t mean that whole extreme peri-menopause period which felt a bit like puberty in reverse – all dramatic hormonal upheaval and irregular bleeding and mood swings and hot flushes and night sweats forever and a day. I mean the what comes after that, the ‘pause’ bit.

Without a doubt peri-menopause was difficult enough to deal with in that I found the long-term erratic disruption of my natural, familiar bodily rhythms both physically and emotionally draining. Because for me, forty-odd years of monthly menstrual cycles only ever interrupted by three straightforward pregnancies didn’t go at all gently into that good night, but most definitely raged and then raged some more against the eventual dying of the light!

It was certainly a tough time, which coincided with several other tough times in life, and emotional upheaval was the name of the game for a good few years until my now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t hormone levels finally gave up the ghost for good, and at the end of last summer we marked the end of that extended period of life turmoil by selling up and moving to where we live now. So now here we are, happily living in the house we intend to make our forever home, able to settle down properly at last.

And then only a few months later coronavirus came, and now here we are in lockdown… And lockdown feels meh too. So for now, for me, the combination of getting to grips with the realities of menopause and the too-much-time-on-my-own-to-think closed-in-ness of lockdown means life feels altogether a bit too meh for my liking right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love that we live here, and I love that all the practical upheaval of difficult stuff is over at last.

I love that I don’t have a diary punctuated periodically by coded symbols indicating bouts of bodily bleeding. I love the money I save in not regularly having to buy sanitary products any more. I love no longer having unsightly hormonal skin breakouts every month. And I really love that I don’t feel like a screaming banshee on steroids anymore, or end up dissolving into floods of tears every five minutes or so for no reason at all, just because my huffy hormones are in a strop.

So no more up-and-down-in-mood menstrual cycles for me, and no more all-over-the-place peri-menopausal symptoms either. Instead I’m simply left with the interminable flatness of menopause, made all the more noticable right now by the interminable flatness of life in lockdown where every day for me feels like groundhog day. I spent so long wishing for a peaceful life, inside and out, and it feels like now I have it, I don’t actually know what to do with it.

I know I’ll get used to it eventually, the flatness, and no doubt in time I’ll find it liberating to be free of the stormy upheavals of hormonal fluctation. I’m sure I’ll come to love the internal peace that such a flat calm brings to the previously undulating turbulance caused by the natural ebb and flow of female life. But right now, for me menopause feels meh, and there’s nothing I can do to make it feel better but wait until it does… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Mature

Older But Not Necessarily Wiser

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks:

‘How old are you and how old do you feel – older or younger than your actual chronological age? Do you generally act your age? And what does ‘Acting your age’ mean to you?’

What a fun question! I’m 56, and will turn 57 towards the end of the year. And do I feel my age? Well, yes and no.

My body is clearly ageing, especially since I hit menopause – my depleted hormone levels also seem to go hand in hand with the depletion of whatever lubricaton allows my joints to move smoothly. Additionally I’ve got a growing collection of niggly ongoing health problems I didn’t even imagine existed when I was younger.

And my skin has visibly sagged and wrinkled quite a bit, my hair is greying and my eyesight has deteriorated so badly I need reading glasses to see anything at all close up. I know in general I definitely look as well as feel my age these days. Or rather, I suppose I look and feel just like an overweight, post-menopausal middle-aged grandmother, which is exactly what I am!

But on the other hand, my husband and I have known each other since childhood so can often be found giggling like teenagers at something stupid we find amusing, and somehow the years just melt away. It does feel strange sometimes to think back to when we were kids and realise just how many decades ago that was. We watch history programmes about stuff we actually remember happening, and look at each other and think – shit, when did we get so old?

I suppose I act my age in the sense of being a repsonsible adult and behaving in ways any responsible adult would – I don’t have to think about putting any effort into ‘adulting’ anymore, it just happens that way automatically. But then, I’ve been a mum since just before my 19th birthday so having to behave like a grown-up has been part of my life for a long time now.

But do you know, the thing that surprises me most these days is that I just don’t care if anyone else thinks I act my age or not – I have three grown up kids and six grandkids and I’d probably be the first to admit I may be older, but not necessarily wiser, and that’s just absolutely fine by me… 🙂

Age-Old Dilemmas

Dementia and delirious,

High fever and forgetfulness –

Such stressful times I must confess,

Hope nothing more nefarious?

With virus deadly serious,

Clear diagnosis undefined

Leaves worry keeping pace behind.

No matter what my dad has got,

Infected catheter or not,

Bewilderment meets rambling mind…

My dad’s been in hospital for the last three weeks. He turns 84 in the middle of next month, has survived four strokes and has vascular dementia with a noticably progressive deterioration over these last few months.

He was initially admitted with a bad UTI (urinary tract infection) and after a course of antibiotics to clear the infection was fitted with a permanant catheter to help make things easier for him to be back at home with my mum, where he desperately wants to be. But in spite of the excellent care he’s receiving he’s now developed another high temperature along with another UTI, so has started on another course of antibiotics but for obvious reasons has also had to be swabbed for Covid, although it’s highly unlikely he has it.

He’s already been in a room on his own in the hospital and has been barrier nursed from the start so for dad, the only real immediate change for him will be there will now be absolutely no question of him going home for at least the next two weeks, just to be sure. And at this rate it seems he might not even get home for his birthday. Or for mum’s birthday a few days later. And the thought of my mum and dad each having to spend their birthday on their own after nearly 60 years together makes me feel so sad.

It’s tough enough not having been able to see either of my elderly parents for a while due to lockdown, but now with dad in hospital it feels even harder. I’m torn, because I know he’s in the best place for now, but I know he hates being away from home and in unfamiliar surroundings. And I know it’s giving mum a much-needed rest from it all, but still I can’t help but worry about him all on his own in hospital.

I know there are many families across the world separated from their loved ones just now, some in truly dire, life-threatening circumstances. I know that in the midst of a world pandemic, my dad is just one increasingly frail old man with dementia who’s already lived a full life, who now finds himself stuck in isolation in hospital because of ongoing problems with his waterworks, but he’s still my dad and I love him more than I can say ❤

Lost Youth

Sometimes I really enjoy being thoroughly middle-aged – these days I find when I’m out in public I’m almost invisible most of the time, a regular menopausal fat and frumpy fifty-something Mrs A N Other with poorly-styled hair and unfashionable but always-comfortable clothes.

I mean, no-one checks me out or pays me any attention any more when I’m walking down the street – no annoying wolf whistles or cat-calling from men, no sidelong judgemental glances from other women – surely that freedom to just be myself without comment or criticism has to be a good thing…?

And yet…

At other times part of me bemoans my long-lost youth. My previously voluptuous curves have lost their ample firmness and fallen foul of gravity, my skin has sagged, wrinkled and dulled, my blonde hair faded to grey. Menopause has in many ways left me feeling as flat as my failing female hormone levels. I feel a little lost, in limbo, emotionally entangled in an existential identity crisis I didn’t even know existed until it hit me…

And yet…

My three amazing children are now all adults, well into their 30s – in fact my son turns 37 tomorrow – and I have six beautiful grandchildren helping to turn my on-off middle-aged misery into myriad magical moments. Nothing can possibly beat this fantastic family feeling, and I know that without doubt my lost youth is ultimately someting to celebrate, not mourn… ❤

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Youth