Menopause: Metamorphosis into Woman Alien and WMD (weapons to aid menopausal deliverance).
I feel as though I've stepped off the edge of my life and into oblivion!
What is this manic feeling I've experienced for so long? Why is my life descending into chaos and turmoil? And how, on Earth, can I get back to some semblance of normalcy in my everyday struggles? I ask myself these questions daily and still battle to find a light at the end of this ten year tunnel (so far!)
After having gone through the greatest upheaval of having to emigrate from our beloved country of my and my children's birth, I was unknowingly launched off the precipace of normal womanhood into this great unknown chasm of menopause, albeit, right on time and according to medical knowlege available, to the book.
For the first 7 to 8 years, I was hardly aware I was actually going through any major changes in my life and up until the summer before last, feel gratitude at being let off so lightly. When we first got our hormones and transgressed into womanhood, we went through some minor dramas in finding ourselves, but nothing on the scale of this! Why, when we first start getting our hormones, do we find it an exciting time, poised on the threshhold of womanhood, waiting for the next exciting event to occur and willing it on! Now, we dread getting up in the morning,if we can manage to even get up all - and fear what each new day may bring - tedious or otherwise.
My first tentative signs that something was changing was the dizzy episodes which, I was convinced, was due to the consumption of a little too much wine in the evenings until I noticed I was tipping over at all times of the day! I then went into the "rocks in the stomach" period when - yes you guessed it! - you deposit pebble-like aliens in the loo every time you go. A friend and I were discussing this joyful happening back in the old country before we left so I carried this one with and recognised it when I went through the syndrome so I wasn't duly worried when it happened - forewarned is forearmed and all that stuff. Next, was the electric shock period which really got me thinking something was up and I buried my nose in the pc and daily scoured all the sites I could find with advice on the meno subject.My electric shock treatment occured in the boob department and only happened a few times so I had successfully surmounted that obstacle as well. I have always sweated during the night and was mildly concerned that this inconvenience would increase but - thank-goodness, it didn't - in fact it went away altogether - one up for me! I never sweat now when I sleep and when that started happening, I decided to start turning my negatives into positives and change my attitude to this abhorrent thing that I was letting get me down. No sweats - Yeah - I'll have a slice of that. The next "up" thing was the faltering of the monthly curse. No PMT, swollen boobs or foul period to go through, and above all, no bloating or constipation. Wow, how cool is that! Finally - a sports model. Actually, I became a sports model at the age of 34 when my hubby and I decided for me to have the sterilization op after the umpteenth miscarriage and already having a son and daughter we decided this was the way to go. As far as the constipation goes, BM (before menopause) I was constantly the most constipated person on the planet and have found that now it is a thing of the past and I'm sure that it is partialy to do with meno but moreso the better diet I choose to eat these days - including a lot of fruit and veg. So far, I was doing well and had even found a few good things to look forward to intead of dwelling on the bad - that is until about a year and a half ago when the muscle tension and headaches decided to kick in!
I noticed, and it was observed by a friend, a rather tense look around the eyes and one day realised that this must be the muscle tension that was talked about on the pertinent websites. This was closely followed by the most excruciating and debillitating, headbanging headaches that no painkiller could shift. The facial, muscle tension pulled down my forehead, particularily around the outer ends of my eyebrows and was constant - 24/7 - and together with the headaches, finally started to push me over the edge of sanity. I had decided not, at all costs, to go the HRT route ,or even the Bioidentical route, but this nearly made me change my mind. Premarin -pregnant mares urine - no-one would ever convince me that horses piss could solve this problem and it has been proven to increase the risk of certain cancers and several other seriously debillitating diseases on offer also, it does not work on at least 24% of women tested - good enough for me - no thanks - no way. I have chosen to do the herbal route and will now stick to it as I am sure the symptoms are beginning to ease and it would be failure to give in now - something I will never accept!
To be continued! Oh I've only just started on this subject..............!
The hot flushes I've experienced could possibly be counted on one and a half hands - although few, they were really nasty and I found that they could be brought on through stressful situations, anger and excercise. They roughly start from the waist up and are accompanied with an increasing nausea feeling but don;t last for long. I avoid, as much as I can, stress, anger and the excercise? - well I've found out that that is one of my greatest allies in treating these awful symptoms as it tends to break the tension attack and remarkably deals with the headaches as well! To prevent the onset of a hot flush attack during excercise - I invested in a "leg-magic" machine a couple of years ago as I felt I needed excercise and this was the most benignest idea I found for a lazy git such as myself and this little baby has proved to be one of the best weapons I have in my arsenal against the dreaded meno! - I use a fan to help keep cool - even set on low during the winter months. Excercise and sleep are my closest aids in helping with these stress/ tension attacks as well as the use of a little pill called MACA - in the USA it's called MACAFEM but I believe it's basically the same thing. This herbal treatment encourages the ovaries to produce the hormones you lose during meno and I never realised how effective they are until I cut down on the dosage to see how I was coping. Bad idea as the headaches, fatigue, nausea and muscle tension returned together with an increase in hair loss with a vengance so it's back to the drawing board and I am taking the recommended 3 capsules a day. If my headaches get worse I take a calcium/ magnesium capsule and if that doesn't work a strong 500mg paracetamol which now seems to help in that department. Plenty of veggie-based soups, fruit and fibre and once or twice a week, a meat and 3 veg meal - although I find too much fat in my diet sets me off on attacks so I'm always looking for the low fat recipes both my husband and I can enjoy! I read somewhere, that NASA give their astronauts MACA to help them think clearly and perform well - whether this is true or not I can't guarantee but this says to me that it is safe and can be taken by men as well - interesting!
I go through stages of lassitude to hyper and when I'm active, do gardening, housework and entertain the dog with her ball-throwing to keep her happy. Finding foods to quell the nausea has encouraged an interest in cooking different dishes I never cooked before and I've even caught myself craving certain foods I craved when I was pregnant such as rice drenched in fresh, ripe, red tomatoes - sort of a rice and tomato salad that really settled the nausea - odd! Weetabix is excellent at doing the same thing as well. I have developed a sense of humor and keep my husband chuckling throughout the day at my crazy antics to help keep depression at bay and stave off the miserable symptoms of meno - another positive I think!
I've given up losing my temper as it only makes things worse and remove myself from the scene if I feel a tantrum coming on - really helps to just walk away from confrontational situations at this time, for all concerned! These down times have fluctuated from late afternoon and evening to during the day and at the moment, I'm going through tense days and really normal, relaxed evenings so I just tend to organise my day around them and things run so much more smoothly. I love my coffee and wine but have found that too much of both brings on headaches so I don't indulge in them every evening and that has had a possitive effect on the weight gain (lack thereof!) Sleep periods can be crazy at times and if I wake up with a thudding head, go back to sleep again in the morning for another hour or two as I have never been one for afternoon naps. This, unfortunately, tends to encourage late nights but we have both become used to this regime and I must admit makes life a tad more interesting and less regimented!
To be continued! Just scratched the surface.............!
For me, the most valuable weapons against fatigue,head-pressure,headaches and a feeling of worthlessness have been good sleep and lots of it, combined with plenty of excercise! I mentioned before that I invested in a leg-magic machine - the most benign form of excercise ever on the planet, well, I have combined this workout with a few facial excercises from the Chinese acupressure discipline that have helped tremendously in relieving the head-pressure and ergo the headaches as well as giving me the incentive to become healthier, fitter and altogether stronger when I come out of this "dark" period of my life.
I have worked my regime up to doing five minutes at a time (20 mins per day only) on the leg-machine and found I needed to do something with my arms and decided anything that improved the areas above the waist would make this benign form of excercise really worthwhile, in so doing, I found a little tip that became the only thing that would relieve the awful head-fullness that seems to plague a lot of women going through meno.
I have divided the facial and arm excercises into 15 second sections and this fits well with each five minute excercise. If you place your thumbs firmly, without giving yourself brain damage, on the thickest part of your eyebrows where they end at the bridge of the nose and hold this position for 15 seconds, you will be surprised at the relief you get from this little proceedure! Another point to help relieve pressure is place your index fingers on the top of your eyebrows, just above the area I've just described and press firmly for 15 seconds. You should feel a mild, almost pleasant sensation at or around the back of your head - then you know you've hit the right spot and the pressure will lessen. Stroke across your forehead four times and down the whole length of your face four times before tapping your forehead in a circular motion - do these combined for 15 seconds. Place your finger tips on the bone at the outside of your eye, you may feel a ridge there - once again correct spot for 15 seconds. Massage the outer edges of your nostrils, touching the place where they join your face, for 15 seconds. Find the apple of your face - the centre of your cheeks where you can feel your teeth start and press for 15 seconds. I then do 30 seconds of an excercise my mum taught me to improve the boob region, which has also firmed up the area under my boobs, (ribcage), boobs and underarms (no bingo/chicken wings! Place the palms of your hands and fingers together and press and release for 30 seconds.(firms up that unsightly sausage-arm look nicely for summer so we can wear those cap-sleeved, skimpy "t" shirts so in fashion at the moment!) I have worked out this routine to fit into my 5 minute excercise and do this four times a day - just fill in the 15 second gap with one of the facial excecises and you are done! One last thing though, do 10 side- lunges, keeping your weight slightly forward so as not to fall off, before you get off the machine, at the end of each block of excercises to loosen the inner thigh muscles - I found, when I first started using it, my upper leg muscles became very fatigued and this really helps to alleviate this feeling.
To me, menopause has had some really nasty downsides but I've managed to focus and remain focused on the surprisingly good upsides! First of all, I've always sweated profusly at night, maybe coming from an African country with plenty of hot weather, had something to do with that! Now, I never sweat at night and if I do, it's down to too much bed-linen so no big deal. I absolutey have no problems with the lack of periods and all the problems accompanying them, PMT etc! And being a "sport's model" (husband) is fine with me! I can cope with the few hot flushes by cooling myself down with a fan or placing my feet in a basin of cold water but, I think the worst is the head-pressure, fatigue and headaches and have found that keeping myself active and doing plenty of excercise (within reason!) combined with sleep has really helped. I have chosen to go it the herbal way and don't take 40 or so pills a day (Suzanne Sommers style) to help - I don't believe in that, having gone through the side-effects of a vitamin overdose previously - not an option. Too much vitamin E makes your hair fall out! I know these awful symptoms can be dealt with in a healthy way and have proved it, albeit, to myself at least. Now, I look forward to coming out of this stage, which we all WILL do, with confidence, humour and health as well as still looking good. If I can give one other woman on the planet the same benefit as I have experienced, then I know my choices have been worthwhile and I have never regretted taking them.
To be continued!................Picking up pace now!