Gynaecological Wonder

I had my gynaecology appointment at the hospital yesterday. Those of you who are still reading may remember that a few weeks ago I had an empowered moment when I went to see the GP for my self imposed yearly whinge about how my menstrual cycle was less of a cycle and more of a crazy, bat shit monster trying to kill me. It ended up with me finally being referred to a hospital instead of accepting the ‘it’s normal’ schtick or the ‘you’re being difficult’ routine.

I had my suspicions that I may have a form of what is known as PMDD, or Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I had met a wonderful lady called Nancy at the Radio 5Live programme last year who has it, and a lot of what she said rung bells for me. Then, after blogging when things got very bleak last month, I had a message from someone who also has it in a slightly different form to Nancy and what she said also made sense in terms of what I have gone through.

I couldn’t get the GP to refer me to an endocrinologist, which is who I thought I needed to see. So I settled for a gynaecologist in the belief that at best they would be able to refer me on to the right person. I expected that it would be a drawn out, frustrating experience in which I was not taken seriously and where PMDD would also not be taken seriously (it is a relatively new discovery). I did some homework and spoke to some medic friends, and armed with my mum and some scribbled notes I set off yesterday prepared for the worst.

It did not happen.

Nobody was more surprised than me.

Especially given that the consultant was running 45 minutes late, and prior to seeing them I had to first see a junior doctor in training who was practicing taking case histories. That’s not to say it was terrible, because it wasn’t. 45 minutes is no time at all in a system that is operating to capacity. And the junior doctor was very nice, and by the time we’d finished, slightly overwhelmed, given the amount of history I had to give her. I was really impressed with the fact that she listened properly and was not patronising. I was even more impressed when she actually asked me what I wanted as an outcome from the consultation. But I was still sceptical that anything useful would happen.

When I finally got to see the consultant was when the surprise really kicked in. She was straightforward but not at all patronising. She discussed everything with me as an equal, but clearly knew her stuff, so there was no danger of me panicking about her ability. She checked in to make sure I was up to speed with what she was saying without being patronising. She had clearly grasped all my symptoms and didn’t dismiss any of them as having nothing to do with menstruation. She was particularly clued up about menstrual migraines which is not something I’ve come across before except in those of us who actually suffer from them. She was also pretty good on the depression aspect and the difference between my regular depressive episodes and menstrual ones.

She knew about PMDD in enough detail to show me she hadn’t just been Googling it while I was in the waiting room.

She also asked me about what I wanted as an outcome. I said I wanted to explore the possibility that I might have PMDD and/or that what I was struggling with every month was hormonally related.

This is where things got surreal, and a bit scary and brilliant.

She said that she agreed with much of what I had said in terms of thinking that many of my symptoms indicated PMDD. She also said however, that PMDD symptoms usually stop once bleeding starts or if a person falls pregnant. My symptoms do not automatically stop when bleeding starts and they worsen during pregnancy. As a result she suggested that we explore the issue by putting me in chemical menopause for the next few months and seeing what happens.

I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. I think she took this for  disappointment as she went on to say that if the results indicated it at the end of the process, she would not be averse to giving me a hysterectomy, but given how major it is, it seemed sensible to go down this route first.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was amazed. I really could not have hoped for a better outcome. I simply hadn’t thought that what she was suggesting would be possible without months of fighting my cause, if at all.

Then, to put the icing on the cake, she said they could start there and then if I wanted? I was still in shock, but not enough to refuse. I snapped her hand off. Within minutes I had a prescription for the drugs and an appointment to see her at the end of August. Hours elapsed while we filled the prescription and sat in the emergency gynaecology ward waiting for someone to administer the jab, but that was a small price to pay.

If you’d told me that this would be my position yesterday morning, I’d have laughed you out of town. In all the years I’ve been desperately going backwards and forwards to doctors, begging for help this has never, ever happened to me before.

And the best moments of all? Not the actual getting the treatment, weirdly. Although that is brilliant. No. The best thing of all was being treated all the way along the line with dignity and respect. Every single person who looked after me yesterday, from the nurse who weighed and measured me (not sure what this has to do with gynaecological function, but hey), to the nurse who, knowing how long we had been waiting to be seen (emergency gynaecology, is, quite rightly, a triage based system and I was, also quite rightly, very low on the pecking order), commandeered an office space in order to give me the jab so I could go home, was lovely.

I was particularly overwhelmed by the consultant and junior doctor, who never once made me feel stupid or wonder why I was there wasting everyone’s time. Nobody I encountered tried to trivialise or down play my experiences or tell me that what I have been going through is normal, or have I tried eating less beetroot, or manning up. I felt like they actually saw me and heard me and were genuinely engaged in the process of trying to help me. I’m trying not to think that it was because they were women, but the thought persists.

It was the most singular medical experience I have ever had, and that is both sad and wonderful.

So, I have no idea what the next few weeks will bring. I’ve canvassed friends who have been through menopause, regularly and chemically, and amassed a rainbow of symptoms and experiences and no doubt, given how I react to almost everything that happens to me, I shall do something entirely different and unique to continue to baffle modern science.

I am somewhat scared about all this, mainly because it has all happened so quickly, but I am hopeful, and I have not been hopeful about this particular issue for a very long time.

40 responses to “Gynaecological Wonder

  1. Yaay!! Been in a few gynae appointments some years back & found it rather challenging (whether male or female docs) Eventually stumbled on one (male btw) who actually ‘saw’ me & listened. and took action. Blessed relief! Such a simple thing we can do for another human. Fingers & everything crossed Katy for a great outcome.
    Love the writing you share so honestly. When I see your name pop up, it lifts me. No matter what you happen to be writing about 😊

  2. Katy, this is so wonderful!
    My heart was in my mouth as I read, having spent almost a year trying to find out what I did to my foot and how we fix it (and no, wait and see what happens next doesn’t count, and no, wearing orthotics forever isn’t a fix – that’s a workaround that doesn’t work if I want to continue with any semblance of a fit, happy and active life). I’m so pleased for you, and not at all surprised you were stunned. This story has reaffirmed my dented faith in the NHS.
    As someone who is just about actual proper menopausal I can confidently say that whatever happens next won’t be what you expect from the gift that keeps on giving, but you know that already. Well done you! I’m sorry you had to do so much work to get here, and suffer so much. I hope this year you make up for lost time and feel like your best self soon.
    Lots of love and everything crossed! xx

  3. I am so very glad that you ve had such a positive experience, I guess everything comes to those who wait, as my mother used to say! Isnt the National Health service wonderful! Here s hoping it s given you a lift you needed and the treatment is a step in the right direction. love and hugs

  4. oh my goodness. I’m so glad for you. I’ve read your struggles with this for years and have deeply empathized, having had migraines myself since I was 6 years old and plenty of hormonal difficulties. I come from the US and now live in Denmark. I’m having some struggles of my own right now, of the mental health variety, and I have to say I’m profoundly grateful to be in a country that takes mental wellness extremely seriously. I’m having a *home visit* from a counselor tomorrow for heaven’s sake. I’ve never heard of such a thing before.
    Anyway, my fingers are crossed that this treatment provides you with much relief, very quickly.

  5. I am really pleased you are starting to get the help you need. I have suffered from terrible headaches from being about 40, but I’m happy to say they stopped once I hit 60. The upside of getting older! Mine were insignificant in comparison to what you are going through…good luck with the treatment.

  6. So hope this works for you, Katy. The menopause really needn’t be an awful experience. (I hardly noticed mine.) Fingers crossed. x

  7. Good luck. How lovely to hear some positive news in a world gone to shit. All the best. I really hope it works for you. xxx

  8. Sending you hugs Katy
    Sending you lots and lots of hugs. Such courage. I’d send you a peck on the cheek while I was at it but I have a cold.

  9. I’m so pleased this was a good experience for you and I really hope that the treatment does the trick for your symptoms. Wishing you all the best xx

  10. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you had such a helpful & hopefully productive visit, but sadly I don’t think any of us were expecting it any more than you were! I am really pleased for you that it turned out this way. Hope the treatment helps.

  11. Hooray! Good luck with this treatment.

  12. What good news! Hope it all works out just as you would like it. Got my fingers and anything else I can spare from time to time crossed. And if I prayed, I’d be praying. 🙆🐝💐💜. Love Sandra

  13. Darling girl! Wow. I mean, really, WOW! What a blessing you met Nancy and powered through to this appointment. Much love to you xxx

  14. If your experience of menopause in any way mirrors mine you may want to invest in a chillow or two to deal with the hot flashes. If you do, I’d recommend buying direct from the people as there are knock off copies out there but they’re nowhere near as good.

    I’m so pleased you had a good experience with the consultant. It’s just a shame it’s taken this long to persuade your GP to take you seriously. Good luck!

  15. Oh Katy! How marvellous! I look forward to hearing your progress!

  16. This is so exciting. May it all go well!

  17. Great news – go glad and hope it works.
    Here’s a link for interest:
    Sue x

  18. Yay! So pleased to hear that you have at last had some positive treatment which hopefully (crosses fingers, toes and anything else physically possible) will sort out the worst of your symptoms. At least if it doesn’t you have the comfort of knowing that there are other options, and that someone is prepared to listen to you and discuss them seriously.
    Whilst I’m no expert, I know enough about depression to NOT assume that it has to be related to being unhappy with your life ie the ‘you have a lovely home, wonderful children and a caring husband, what have you got to be depressed about?’ attitude which is still surprisingly common. However I think if there are problems that can be resolved that has to be a good thing, as they must be impeding recovery to some degree. In your case I imagine/hope not going through hell every month would give you the space, and more strength, to try to deal with other issues.
    Meanwhile keep on doing what you do and being you, we’re all rooting for you!

  19. Wow! That sounds a very good experience. I have had a similar experience recently -not for me, fortunately, but for a family member. A rollercoaster of a week that started with a doctor’s visit, blood tests, daily phone calls etc etc and finishing with an ultrasound (which could have revealed something unpleasant) on Sunday morning. All in a week! The care, sense of urgency and overwhelming feeling of getting stuff done quickly was incredible. And the respect and dignity that was afforded her was Despite everything, NHS care is still spot on….in my experience….so far…..
    BTW -really enjoying reading your blog. It really helps!

  20. I am so pleased that you finally have someone’s attention. I hope that it all goes well and that a real solution can be found for you.

  21. So glad to hear you finally got someone to take you seriously, Katy, and recognise that you really do have a ‘condition’.

    And double points to all the staff who treated you like a real person.

    Hah! That I can write such a thing just goes to show how much still needs changing in the ‘bedside manner’ area!

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