diaryofthemenopause

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Memory Loss

“Getting lucky at my age means walking into a room and remembering what I came in for”

I will admit to having experienced this before the hysterectomy, but over the past year it has got so bad, there are times I can’t work out how I’m fully functioning.

My memory is so bad, I had forgotten I suffered from memory loss  until a friend of mine, who is peri-menopause, mentioned it.  She is going through blood tests just to prove she is peri-menopausal as her memory is so bad, so they just want to make sure it’s nothing more serious.  It has got to the stage where it is impacting her life, so this made me look at mine and I realised I’ve been describing myself as forgetful or disorganised.

I need a new shower gel for my shower.  Every single day I get in the shower and think “I must get out a new shower gel”, as I use my husbands one.  Every day I get out of the shower and forget.  This has been going on for over a week now.  I have a friend I have been meaning to call for around 2 weeks, I have friends I’ve been meaning to drop a line to just to make sure they are OK.  I forget food, paying bills, what I was supposed to do at work and I now see faces I recognise and I can’t remember their name or where I know them from.  Some of the things I forget to do are quite important.

My life is now all phone reminders and diaries.  I have a diary at work and I list down each day what I need to do and tick it off.  I have also moved this into my personal life.  Thank you modern phones for tick lists and reminders bleeping at you.  The problem is it’s now the little things I forget to do, and some of these are the most important ones.  Work has taken over my life this year, just when I get to the age where I finally realise work just pays the bills and I want a work/life balance with more emphasis on the life side.

My solution now is to keep a pen and paper, or my phone handy for everything and to write it all down.  I even need to write down “Phone Neil” and pop in a reminder, because I will finally remember everything I was supposed to do just as I’m falling asleep.  I may have already written about insomnia.  I can’t remember!  I also can’t remember where I put the note pad I was writing down what I had to do last week.  I should apologise to anyone I haven’t phoned or dropped a text to in the last week, you are probably on my missing list along with toilet paper, milk,  book in the car for an MOT (2 years in a row I’ve missed that one), buy birthday cards and drop a text to everyone whose birthday it has been to apologise for forgetting.  I may just do a bulk apology in January for 2017.  I’ll put that in my phone now!

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The Hot Flush Panic

Just as I think I’ve got the hang of controlling my hot flushes, nature goes and proves me wrong.

It’s winter in the UK and I had my usual layers on.  I went to drive my daughter to a friend’s house and got in the car with my coat on.  I knew at the time I should have taken it off.  I had the seatbelt on when it started.  Nature seems to know just when to deliver the worst type.  Naturally once you start to rush to get something off you, you seem to make it worse.  I couldn’t get the seatbelt off, then I couldn’t get the coat off, then I felt the dreaded sweat dripping and the hot flush takes over everything.

I must have upset mother nature this weekend, as I seemed to have suffered from a few bad ones.  A few times when I had the usual mad rush to get layers off.  It’s always great when you come home after a walk down to the shops, hot, sweaty, coat draped over an arm and someone asks “Have you been out for a run?”  Hmm, a much better reason to arrive home hot and sweaty.  Although if I did go out for a run, I’d be arriving home on a stretcher!

Yesterday I was doing the washing up and had no layers left to take off.  The sweat started gathering in all the usual fatty creases and I ended up laughing as I was looking outside at the cold winter evening, thinking “I could just go and stand outside for 5 mins”.  When I was at work one of the women I talked to about how to cope with the Menopause, before I had my hysterectomy, told me about the time we had snow on the ground and her son and his friend came home to find her outside in the snow, in her bra and knickers.  I did ask her why she didn’t go out the back, why she ran out the front.  She said it was the nearest door and didn’t even think.  Now I fully understand how you can end up in the snow in nothing but bra and knickers.

I do find my hot flushes worse to cope with in winter.  It’s finding the right mix between wearing enough layers to keep you warm at -4, but also enough layers you can get off quickly and carry if needed.   At least I know if I do end up running down a main road in my bra and knickers in the snow, I won’t be the first!

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Menopause and Exercise

Yes I know this should be the top of everyone’s list.  With a full time job, kids, house, shopping, etc, I could write a book on excuses.

One of the most important things you should do each and every day is go for a walk.  It’s low impact, costs nothing, gets you in the sunlight in winter, makes you feel better and helps keep blood pressure down and your heart pumping.  Sounds easy. Please see my forthcoming book for excuses on why I haven’t done this.

I was walking around 7km a day until about 5 months ago.  Everything seemed to hit at the same time when one bad event in my life lead to another and another, then a big event, etc.  Within those 5 months I’ve been diagnosed with Depression and/or Anxiety.  Within those 5 months I’ve gone downhill each and every day.   I’m feeling back in control of my life and I remember how great I felt when I did walk every day, not to mention how much more I could eat.

Pilates/Core Exercises

I was very overweight, lost a lot of it, 5 months ago hit an all time low and have gained 24lb back.  So why Pilates?  I did ask myself the same question as I looked in the room at all these skinny women in various colours of lycra and I was stood there in a pair of old baggy jogging bottoms and an even bigger baggier top.  I did notice the instructor wasn’t paying that much attention to me huffing and puffing trying to get various bits of my body off the floor whilst supporting my weight.

I haven’t used my stomach muscles since my TAH.  Two days after my abdominal hysterectomy, I had further surgery to locate and stop internal bleeding.  My poor stomach muscles.

Tonight I’m going back after missing a week. I suspect the instructor wasn’t at all surprised I didn’t turn up last week as she is all about health, fitness and body and soul.  I’m more your “Oh look KFC, I could kill a Zinger Burger finished off with a bag of Maltesers, then another bag”.  My weight goes up and down and I am back on the Slimming World diet and being good. In the past when I’ve lost weight, I’ve had issues with my stomach so I figure what the hell.  I’ll be the fat person in the sack at the back of the class who inspires all the size zero lycra women to go home and nibble a lettuce leaf instead of hitting the local kebab shop on the way home.

Exercise it is. My goal is to keep going to pilates until I can get myself into the Plank without the use of heavy lifting machine, and to get back to walking between 5km and 10km a day through the whole of winter.

 

 

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Insomnia and Antidepressants

I’m now 2.5 years into my surgically induced menopause and have resisted HRT completely so far.  Purely a personal choice and I can easily see why it’s a choice taken up by the masses.

When I first started this journey, I expected the hot flushes to be the deciding factor in me jumping into the unopened box of HRT I was given after the operation.  The thing I’ve found about the hot flushes, is they do eventually pass.  Don’t get me wrong, they are by no means a walk in the park.  You may know how long they last (in my case up to 5 minutes), but those minutes can be the longest of your life when you feel you are burning up from the inside out.  The heat consumes you and becomes the one and only thing you can think about.  I get through them with layers, but have almost had a full blown panic attack in a shop before now when I was carrying a lot of bags and had on a thick coat, and couldn’t get anything off me quick enough to calm me down and start the cooling process.

The last 2.5 years have taught me there are worse things to have to deal with, but the one which has got me the closest to giving up and taking HRT is the insomnia.  From asking around friends who have chosen to go back on them after the age of 50, this is their deciding factor.  I’ve not had a great year, it seems to have been one thing after another after another, with a lot of big events in my life.  Losing my best friend to breast cancer topped off my year.  I stopped sleeping.  I’d be falling asleep on the sofa, go up to bed, get ready and the second I lay in bed my brain would shout “Fooled You!”

A NIGHT OF INSOMNIA

First you generally go through lists, what’s to be done, what should you have done today, what do you need to do tomorrow.  You then realise you should keep your brain quiet if you want to get to sleep.  Lay on your front.  Lay on your side. Lay on your back.  Lay on your other side.  Let’s try the front again.  Let’s try curling up in a ball.  Duvet on.  Duvet off.  Damn. Now I need the toilet.  Up to the toilet, well that’s just woken me up again.  What am I doing for tea tomorrow?  Who is here?  Oh I forgot to get milk today.  Oh look, it’s midnight.  If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 6 hours sleep.  Let’s try the front again, I nearly fell asleep on my front.  It’s 1am, if I fall asleep now I’ll get 6 hours sleep.  Front isn’t working.  I need the toilet again…… and so on.

After about 3-4 weeks of this I decided I needed help.  Initially because of the year and other symptoms caused probably by the menopause, I’m not 100% sure, I was diagnosed with Anxiety and put on antidepressants.

Weeks 5 and 6 had me in the bathroom at 2am crying.  I was so very, very tired.  I just wanted to sleep.  Why can’t I sleep.  By then you do start having some really horrible thoughts.  During the day I was exhausted and restless. Every breath annoyed me.  I think this perpetuated the anxiety.  Needless to say with no improvement I had my antidepressants changed to ones which should help me sleep.

MIRTAZAPINE

I was put on 30mg.  I was warned they give you a hangover feeling.  I did start sleeping better, but the mornings were horrendous.  It was like being lost in a thick fog with no map.  It took me anything up to 4 hours to get even barely functioning.  But I was sleeping.  In the end I found the mornings weren’t getting any easier and if I had to carry on fighting myself every morning to function, I’d rather have the insomnia.  My GP was talking about increasing the dosage and for me to stay on it throughout winter.  In the UK they don’t take you off antidepressants over winter.  She said they can then lower it if I continue to improve in the spring.  I decided to try and see if I could still sleep on 15mg, but not have the hangover.  I’m now 2 weeks into my experiment.  I sleep fine and no thick fog and 4 hours to function when I do wake up.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND THE MENOPAUSE

I’ve done some more reading and antidepressants are being used more and more for menopausal woman, in place of HRT.  They are supposed to make the symptoms less severe, particularly the hot flushes.  I can’t say Mirtazapine has made them any less severe, but at least I’m sleeping so I can deal with things a lot better.

MENOPAUSE OR MENTAL ILLNESS

The more I’ve been looking into things lately, the more I think I do have menopausal symptoms rather than depression or anxiety.  It’s now winter here where the nights are longer than the days.  This is the start of 4 bad months for me anyway but I’ve set myself a target to go out for a walk every morning I can, so I can get at least 30 mins in the natural sunlight, as I’ve read that’s the best time for the sunlight in winter.  We will see.  I need to make another GP appointment this month, so will discuss then if it’s possible all my symptoms are just the menopause.

 

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