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Feeling hot, hot, hot... yes, it’s menopause at last

PUBLISHED: 23:36 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 23:36 20 November 2018

Menopause - it had to happen some time. Picture: Jim Vallee/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Menopause - it had to happen some time. Picture: Jim Vallee/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Copyright 2017 Jim Vallee, All Rights Reserved (Copyright 2017 Jim Vallee, All Rights Reserved (Photographer) - [None]

It’s off with the HRT... and the duvet and the pyjamas as menopause takes hold

The whites of my eyes have not turned orange. I detect no horn buds growing on my head, and I am not shopping online for chainsaws.

Yet I have been off the Hormone Replacement Therapy for nearly two weeks now. My doctors had been gently nagging me for a year or more, suggesting it might be time for me to pause for menopause – but I have been reluctant.

First, I did not look forward to the return of night sweats, hot flushes and panic attacks, and second, I have been absolutely fine; human, even. I have been on the pills for around 10 years, with previous attempts to wean me off abandoned by medics when I bared my teeth and growled at them.

As I pointed out to one of the older doctors at my surgery, now retired, his mid-life crisis has propelled him into buying a sports car, leather jacket and designer shades while mine (ie menopause) was giving me heat rash and areas of uncomfortable dryness. While he was zapping through the countryside, looking cool, I was at home, moisturising. I ask you: is that fair?

But, cavil as I may, the time had come. I needed to face up to a future without those pesky hormones. It is early days, of course, but so far so good. I haven’t hurt anyone and I haven’t had to rip off my pyjamas in the middle of the night and frighten my husband. I did have the odd moment − such as when my daughter asked what I’d done to my eyebrows, and it turned out I was using a gingery-hued eye shadow instead of the brow highlighter.

I know women who have sailed through menopause (not literally), women who have managed to cope with the help of primrose oil and yoga – and other women like me, who find themselves going through a turmoil of emotions, physical symptoms and brain fails. I once stood up a friend who I was supposed to be meeting for lunch... not once, but twice. She still talks to me, but we haven’t done lunch in years,

For me, Hormone Replacement has been great, but maybe now is the time to grow older gracefully... I’ll think about it, anyway − no guarantees.

In the meantime I am on alert for withdrawal symptoms. Will all my hot flushes come at once? Am I at risk of a volcanic couple of days when I turn bright red and pulsate with heat? Should I put a waterproof mattress protector on the bed in case a night sweat becomes a tsunami? Will my voice get lower?

The mood swings could be a problem as I am already prone to them. On one day, last week, I had two emails headed “Ho ho ho!”, which I immediately deleted and felt a pleasurable thrill as I did so. I am thinking I might celebrate Black Friday (November 23) with a black mood. I am ready to have relentlessly upbeat emails from PR people called Pandora and Peterkin bombarding my inbox.

On the plus side − and yes, I have identified a positive − HRT can prompt weight gain or, more accurately in my case, eating too much. Maybe my seven-year mission to be size 12 again − I am currently hovering on the edge of size 18 − will finally succeed, although, unlike the sweating, it is unlikely to happen overnight.

After nearly two weeks without extra hormones, I have developed an interesting area of flushing... I won’t go into great detail but suffice it to say that when I looked it up on Google, the result at the top of the page was: “How to successfully carve pork loin.” I didn’t look any further.

As I enter this new phase of my life, I look to new horizons, greater wisdom and a smaller size in clothes. But before I reach that horizon I will have to work through this late-onset menopause. And so will my husband, my family and everyone who knows me.

• Last week’s Monday Feeling about being patronised chimed with Maggy and her sister who are fashionable, active women of a similar age to me. Maggy writes of her worst experience of 
being patronised, which took place in a branch of a women’s boutique. “I purchased a pair of tight jacquard jeans (trendy, I thought) and the assistant said: ‘You thought you’d have a little look round the shops did you, dear – it’s nice to get out of the house now and again isn’t it?’” (I’m a busy farmer’s wife and it was a whistle-stop trip.) I was so flabbergasted I grabbed my purchase and fled, but every time I wear those jeans I feel annoyed.”

Maggy hasn’t shopped there since.

I’m liking the sound of those jeans though, Maggy.

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