Tag Archives: Menopause

My Most Emotive Subject

I am as good at meeting deadlines with my blog as I am currently in my work. With that in mind, let me tell you about my Valentines Day. For those unromantic types out there, the date in question was 14 February.

In stark contrast to previous years in which I have been a single only marginally dreading the day when couples show off their lust disguised as love in a sea of red because of my own traditions, I wholeheartedly dreaded the 14 February 2014. I did not want it to happen. There was no tradition, but that was not getting me down. The 14 February was the day I had to see the Person Medically Trained in Women’s Bits. To you, this means that the 14 February was the day I got to sit down six months after my transplant to find out just what it did to my lady bits. My most emotive subject.

I know, and have known for a long time, what My Myeloma has done to my fairytale dream of living to be a granny with a house full of bric-a-brac with photos of my children and their families scattered about for all my guests to see. That is a sentence that I cannot say out loud. And thus, as the day drew closer to the appointment, my dread grew along with a fear of the words I know to be true, but did not want to be confirmed. You. Are. Infertile.

The scariest part of the appointment anxiety, as this is my most emotive subject, is that I did not know what my reaction to the news would be. I had already poorly attempted not to cry in front of the Person Medically Trained in Women’s Bits on two previous occasions, so for this appointment, I thought that mass hysteria was an inevitability. Also, the doctor is something of a cold fish, which does not assist in her delivery of bad news. So, I lined up a Maurice to attend my appointment with me, which eliminated some of my concerns in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. I also strategically arranged a counselling session on the Monday after the Friday before in order to help me deal with the aftermath.

I should be honest, the appointment was mostly arranged by the lovely haematology people because of the side effects I was experiencing as a result of my menopause and infertility, which in turn, are a result of the chemotherapy I had on 17 July. For those who are not preoccupied with my life, the side effects included horrible hot flushes, a lack of flow and other things connected to moisture. Mostly the hot flushes. Hot flushes are vile. They are also embarrassing, particularly if you are obese and trying not to adhere to a stereotype.

It took four months for the department to process my referral, despite me having already seen them twice. That is a lot of sweat. I had a month after I received the appointment date to dwell and image various scenarios in which the result was the same. A fortnight or so prior to my appointment, given the efficient administrative process, I phoned the department to ask whether they required me to have any blood tests to look at my hormone levels or whatever else they look at when they are looking at what I wanted them to look at. A nurse, I presume she was a nurse, called me back and vaguely said that if they were required, they would have been requested. I objected to this, but hey ho, I just wanted to make the most of the appointment and rip off the rather large plaster that constantly itched.

The appointment arrived and, unsurprisingly, it was no where near as bad as I had imagined. Maurice was there to hold my hand of course, which was invaluable. I described my symptoms and the Person Trained in Women’s Bits confirmed that I was going through the menopause. Some symptoms I had been suffering from that I had attributed to myeloma, were apparently, also menopausal, including a weaker bladder and aching joints in the morning. I thought these things were connected to age more generally, but no, in women, it is menopause. I am sure there must be other reasons.

For this so called menopause, I was prescribed HRT in the form of patches, which I wear everyday on my buttocks. Said patches slowly release oestrogen, which will then do a whole host of things to my body, including reintroduce a period. This news came five days after I cleared out my tampon drawer, so I was annoyed.

Then there was the hard stuff. I have less than a 5% chance of conceiving. I believe this is said to protect a Medically Trained Person’s reputation in the event of a miracle, but really it means, you are not producing any eggs. I heard her words and I did not cry. My strength during the appointment astounded me, and I suspect that that came from having somebody with me who did not mind me talking about my vaginal dryness. I even summoned the strength to ask a question Big Sister had armed me with. Can I carry a child?

The short answer is yes. I can carry somebody else’s bun in my oven. There is currently no damage to my womb. A slight flicker of hope.

The long answer is more complex. It goes something like this. Yes, I can theoretically carry a child, although I am not sure what consideration would need to be given to my lesions and whether they would veto any plans to knock me up. I would also have to lose about a third of my body weight in order to get any form of IVF; this is probably no bad thing in general and would help me in one of the points below. My womb is fine now and has not been damaged by my treatment, but if I require an allograft before I can do the above, the radiotherapy would most likely destroy any hope I have of breeding. On a more practical level, I am single and I am not getting any younger. I would have to find a man who accepts my standing and decides that he would like to spend the rest of my life with me and I have had no luck so far before the hurdle of myeloma. How would we pay for it? And then, the question that terrifies me the most, if the medicine is available to me, would it even be fair to bring a child into this world when Wikipedia tells me that the probability of me living to it’s tenth birthday is slim?

And thus my dreams hover over a flushing toilet.

For this, for all of this, I hate myeloma. I may have held myself together in that appointment, but I grieve for what I have lost, I cry for knowing at some point, I may have to make a moral judgement and for the possibility that I may never be afforded the opportunity to make that judgement.

The appointment itself was anticlimactic. Like I said at the start, I knew what was going to be said, whether I wanted to hear it or not, and I think I had managed to shed my tears in private.

It has been five weeks since my appointment and in that time, I have gone through a pack of my patches. I also got frustrated when I asked for a re-prescription from my General Practitioner and they insisted that I visit them to be thoroughly assessed because the person who specialises in all things womb, had been remiss, according to them, to have not fondled my breasts. Needless to say, I found this a ridiculous waste of time and a drain on valuable NHS resources. Of course, I failed to say this to the GP. In the six weeks, my hot flushes have lessened, my nausea has increased, 50% of the time I can sleep through the night without nature calling and yesterday, I was reacquainted with my flow. It was rather novel.

As for the other stuff, I try not to think about it at all, but living in the world, one sees babies, if they do not see them, they hear about them and on these occasions, all I can do is swallow.

EJB x

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My Bonus Meds

There are times when I think I am used to the weaknesses that come with my post-transplant body. There are times when I know I am not used to my post transplant body. My post transplant body requires endless amounts of TLC and as I am discovering, drugs. Lots of drugs. Not the sort of drugs that have me reaching for the Domperidone and send to me my bed at 10.36 in the morning. I am talking drugs that seemingly have absolutely no connection to myeloma. I am talking drugs that require me to visit a pharmacy that is not located by the lift of the ground floor of the Macmillan Cancer Centre. A pharmacy where I actually have to queue with the normal people.

I am over my little trip to Accident and Emergency. If I am brutally honest with myself, I got over said incident slightly later than I pretended I did. At least I am over that interruption into my uber important life. The benefits of my transplant do outweigh the negatives, but that does not mean that the negatives do not have been wanted to unleash mass violence, if I was physically capable of such a thing, at the world. A cold for me is not a cold for normal people. I cannot plough on through, I am sent to my bed by my body and there I have to stay until my new medications have worked their magic. My post transplant body means a cold becomes an infection and that results in a visit by Mr Asthma intent on taking my breath away and knocking me right off my feet.

I know I have to get used to it, get used to the likelihood that every few months, I will be reminded quite strongly, that I have myeloma. Penicillin reminds me of myeloma. The frustration, oh my gosh, the frustration.

And so, to restrict the frequency of these outbursts and the need of antibiotic tablets large you feel like you are swallowing a hole Werther’s Orginal, my drugs drawer now contains a whole host of asthma related paraphernalia, including one of those things I have to blow into everybody morning and night. I am plotting a graph.

In addition to my breathing difficulties, there is also a sticker permanently placed on one of my butt cheeks. This medication, known as HRT, is normally reserved for women of a certain age who hopefully have used their extensive years wisely and to the full. The plan of HRT is that it will eventually stop me sweating profusely in the middle of meetings or when other people are trying to eat in my presence. It will also, I am told, prevent some of my morning aches and strengthen my useless post transplant bladder. So far, it makes me feel more nauseous than I am normally.

I am now well known at with my GP.

All this medication is designed to keep me healthier for longer, but it also imposing a responsibility that I did not ask for. It is on top of the 9 pills I have to take daily for myeloma. It is on top of the side effects I have from myeloma. It just want to be left alone. I also really want somebody to tell me where I am supposed to house all this stuff.

At least it is all free. My bonus meds.

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The Littlest Things

Yesterday, I decided it was high time for me to tidy my drawers, because I Housemate did his, and I felt like even more of a sloth than usual. I would like to confirm that I am lying in my bed as I type and I can confirm that
I am glad that I took the time and energy to do this. As I was doing the deed however, my emotions were mixed.

My drawers are a set of six, which sit to the lefthand side of my bed and house the things that do not need to be on show. Catch my drift? There is a jewellery drawer, a make up drawer, one and a half drawers of mementos, a draw of toiletries and other things one can purchase from a chemist and the remaining drawers are (were) drawers of crap. The whole clean up accounted for one dustbin bag full of crap.

As, I opened the third drawer down yesterday evening, I found something, or should I say, somethings, that I have not required for a long time and consequently forgotten were in existence despite them coming in a range of sizes and brands occupying the majority of the drawer. It then dawned on me, that I would not require them ever again, and as I thought about what not needing them ever again meant, a teeny tiny tear fell down my face. And then a few more followed.

In this strange remission world, especially in the one where I try and remain positive, I avoid thinking about the things that have changed since I was diagnosed and the things I have lost since I was diagnosed. Sometimes unfortunately, even when you are doing the most practical of things, they just creep up on you, at least they do on me anyway, and when that happens to me, all I can do is give myself a minute or five (ten).

I gave myself five minutes to think that I will never again be caught short when out and have to ask a female friend or worse, a female colleague,
an embarrassing question. I gave myself five minutes to remember what it was like for my body to act like clockwork every 29 days. I gave myself five minutes to curse the hot flushes. And I gave myself five minutes, because all of the above means that I cannot have babies.

I then cursed myeloma.

Once composed, I stared into the drawer some more before I scooped up the contents, which included two half full boxes of the same thing, and put them in my black bag. I then left my room and was told about some of the benefits of not having to stock up in Boots every month.

Other things in the drawers that also contributed to a wee bit of insomnia and yearning for a simpler time last night, included;
• Hair bobbles (I thought I had dispossessed of them all)
• 2 x paddle hair brushes containing long brown hairs, which I felt the need to finger
• Prophylactics
• Old photographs

On the plus side, I was reminded that myeloma has significantly increased the quality my remaining toiletries and thus, I am unlikely to need to purchase any moisturiser any time soon (shower gel and bubble bath on the other hand…).

EJB

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Once Upon A Time There Was Moisture

Once upon a time there was a girl. The girl had hair as dark as night, and hips as wide as a HGV. A minority of people across the land considered her to be beautiful and vivacious. She was confident and content. She would walk the cemented pavements of her kingdom with her held high high and her lips adorned with paint. After dark, she would do both with added liquid gusto.

One day she became unwell, the kingdom mourned and the girl was given a combination of various magic beans, in a variety of shapes and sizes from a number of different fields, from the local apothecary. Disheartened, but not defeated, the brave girl took the beans when advised and hoped. She hoped for happily ever after.

Slowly the pills took effect… Firstly, she was driven to dream more frequently than once upon a time. She then sacrificed her hair as dark as night to the Wicked Witches of Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide and Melphalan. Her skin grew scales from the topic her head to the ends of her feet, and her finger nails cracked resembling an artexed ceiling. The small, white beans called Dexamethasone, gave her an overwhelming urge to eat. And eat she did.

The girl had comes to terms with what had happened, and still she walked the cemented pavements of her kingdom with her head held high and her lips adorned with paint. To keep the head held high, the girl ensured that whilst she was on the streets, she dressed like the princess she was and oozed elegance by enhancing her natural beauty with marker pens and crayons, even when she wore denim.

One day, whilst visiting a new land, mysteriously called “Bourne”, the girl, dressed in a print of a jungle, explored the town centre. She entered a parlour of sorts, referred to by the locals, as the stationary shop. It was a treasure trove of paper and stickers. There were two ageing ladies working behind a counter as white as snow. They greeted her with a smile and a head tilt. As the girl looked at the Manila envelopes, a strange sensation came across her, she felt like she was standing at the crater of a volcano. Despite her cosmetic disguise, a red colour appeared on the surface of her skin. It was strange, but it was familiar for she had experienced something similar, previously. “Oh no”, she whispered, “I am going to get wet”.

It started at her head, then slowly progressed downwards, stopping at her upper thigh. The girl looked up, and there were now two more people in the shop buying pencils for their young; the girl’s head fell. It fell due to the weight of the moisture that came out of every pore on her head and face. She attempted to shield it with her hands, but any attempt was worthless. Puddles formed in the fat roll in the back of her head. She reached for a handkerchief from her leather satchel, which she used to blot the beads of sweat until the handkerchief stuck to her brow. As the warm liquid dripped down her neck, the girl could not stop it from protruding out of her dress at her bosom and down her back. As the paint melted from her face, she began to cry tears of black. It would not stop. For ten minutes the girl stood in the shop, wishing and willing the spell to end. When that failed, she wished to be invisible. She stood in front of a revolving fan, pretending that she was inspecting the colour photocopier and still it did not end. It lasted an eternity.

As it subsided, the girl walked at great pace until she came across a bench, for she was in great need of a seat. As she in the shaded area between a bin and a phone box on the A15, she caught her breath whilst hoping she could be saved by Prince Charming. Prince Charming would not mind sticky thighs, she thought. Hopefully not. Prince Charming did not come, this is only Volume I afterall. So the girl attempted to rehydrate.

In the hours and days that followed, the sensation reappeared, frequently, regardless of whether she was in her log cabin, hidden from the kingdom, or not. They occurred in her sleep, when she was sitting, when she was standing, at least ten times a day. There was no rhyme nor reason to their appearance and frequency. It prevented the would be princess from donning a wig.

Her confidence suffered. The girl became concerned about engaging with her public. She smelt like a potion of oranges and onion. An occurrence became an inevitability. She knew they occurred because of one or more of the magic beans, she also knew that she was experiencing something more suites to the evil step mother, but there was nothing to be done, apart from sweat it out. The girl knew she had to wait to receive more magic pills to make them stop. She longed for a return of dryness.

It was still to come. Happily ever after had not come for her. Not yet.

And so, the girl decided to education those of her kingdom, that excessive sweating was not necessarily a result of obesity. It can be menopause. Fake or real. Nobody knew.

The End

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The Birthday Present

When I woke up this morning, my body decided to give me a nice big birthday present wrapped in red… Some would say that my body was being thoughtful, but I am undecided.

And so, after three months and some embarrassing hot flushes later, I can confirm, that as of this morning, I am no longer in fake menopause.

Yayyyyyyyy!

This is just what I want on my birthday, it is up there with the rain. If memory serves, this will not be pleasant.

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The Menopause

Now then, I have discovered that when one is aware that they may experience certain symptoms, they inevitably experience those symptoms, especially if the drug is new. For me, I am never really sure if the symptoms are real or imagined. I hope they are real, otherwise, I’m getting all hot and bothered over nothing. Literally.

With that in mind, I certainly hope that I am going through the menopause. Does the drug work even work this fast? Who knows? To be frank, I don’t even know if I am injecting it properly. I am following the manual…

Yesterday, I walked a few hundred yards to get the bus and I was sweating. In the last few days in fact I have had quite a few Own Personal Summers. I really hope that by the end of the week I am not sweating profusely in the 8 degree heat. The look does not work on a large person. I do not want to look like a stereotype please, okay?

As for the mood. It’s hard to tell. Throughout this ordeal I have good and bad days, but yesterday morning I felt like there was a mood enhancer in my flat. Even listening to Cat Stevens really, really loudly didn’t help. Today, I feel fine, full of witticisms that only I find funny.

I am also not, you know, in need of a certain something. The men of this world are safe, I’m not going to jump you anymore. Well, I wouldn’t have jumped you anyway, I probably would have just taken my knickers off.

These symptoms are on temporary though, so, be prepared.

Isn’t medicine great?

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