BY JENNIFER MCKENZIE
At 42, menopause was not even a friend of a friend on Facebook. Hell, six months ago, my partner was considering a vasectomy reversal so we could try for a baby. Now, I am guzzling hormones like they’re M&Ms and extending my baby-fix horizon out to grandparenthood.
My first thought, when my period went AWOL and I mentally lined up the candy was ‘OMFG, I’m old.’ (That was pretty much my second and third thought, too.)
Finding out you’re menopausal is pretty similar to getting your first period – except nobody gives you a bedside heads-up chat and a booklet, and you don’t get a Pandora bracelet or high tea with the girls to ‘celebrate’.
I didn’t recognise the symptoms. Then again, why would I? I probably just shrugged when my mum graduated from sniffling in Ghost to bawling and blubbering through Lassie re-runs and Christian Television Association ads. I know I laughed when a colleague suddenly became surgically attached to the May issue of Gardening Australia, fanning herself with it whenever she turned that peculiar shade of beetroot.
I can just see the older generation, squaring their shoulders, zipping their lips and stoically soldiering on through the fatigue, strange BO, boob ache, fatigue, fatigue, chronic pains, moodiness, bloating, fatigue, itching plus those sneezes where you wee yourself a bit…
Did I mention fatigue?
I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill ‘should have skipped that 10pm glass of red and the accompanying episode of Gray’s’ type tiredness.
I’m not even talking the ‘had marathon sex with a new partner all weekend and need to go back to work for a rest’ kind of tiredness.
It’s more like ‘went a few rounds with Anthony Mundine’ tired. Or possibly, ‘trampled by a herd of marauding buffalo’ tired.
The continuous dragging caffeine- and Berocca-proof zombieness is punctuated by episodes of what they’re calling ‘crashing fatigue’. As described, it feels like something between a head on, high-speed car smash and mainlining thirty margaritas, all at once. Your head is going for gold in the pool and each eyelid suddenly weighs more than Fat Amy. In moments like this, you cannot stay awake for an urgent tête-à-tête with the CEO, a snap of Prince Haz in his undies or even strawberry macaroons.
Part of the reason I was so tired was probably the night sweats – my internal thermostat shat itself every single night for months. We’re talking waking at stupid o’clock feeling like a nuclear reactor in meltdown; towel drying streaming hair; lathering weird body parts in Clearasil; and throwing out a succession of beyond-washing skanky mattress protectors. At any given oh-dark-thirty, I could follow a set of Lean Cuisine directions using body heat alone.