Another catch all post

The holidays have been dispatched and we are now back to the ‘lunchbox/PE kit/forty five quid in loose change/permission slip to sign away your soul lunacy of the school routine. In the true spirit of back to work Mondays’ everywhere I have spent an hour wrestling with a recalcitrant ticketing website which crashed my computer once and then crashed its own site shortly after I had rebooted my Mac. I have realised I have several important yet unreplied to emails lurking amongst the dust bunnies in my in box, a meeting I have failed to read the minutes for tomorrow morning at some ungodly hour, and my printer has chewed up a ream of inky paper because it can.

I have to go and fight the good fight elsewhere in a short while, but before I don the ‘it’s fucking freezing and it’s nearly May’, coat of despair and make good my escape, let us review the last week.

Health wise it was fairly shitty. My headache went away for a while but came back with a vengeance. My skin started to itch again and my joints hurt to buggery. I forget every third word. I even called my friend Liz, Lynne when she came for coffee last week and knew I had it wrong but even though she was sitting in front of me, could not for the life of me think what her actual name was. This sort of malarkey continued until Friday when I had my second wonder jab, whereupon things started to slowly improve throughout the  day, aided by a trip to see my friend Nicki and chip butties all round.

On Saturday I woke up feeling almost human. Yesterday, apart from a sore neck, I felt better than I had in ages. I thought about doing many exciting things, but plumped for reading the latest John Connolly book in the garden whilst eating biscuits. It was a brilliant decision on my part and I don’t regret it at all.

Despite being slumped against death’s door knocker for a large part of last week I did spring clean the house, almost finish spring cleaning the garden (with Jenn, who did far more than me and is a wonder friend of the highest order), cook many meals, bake many cakes, host dinners, have small children scribbling and scrabbling round every nook and cranny and generally not give up. I have donated nine trillion CDs to the Loros shop. I have donated several bags of children’s clothing to the charity shop. I have been to the tip more times than any woman should ever have to go to the tip. I have done reverse parking. I have forced my oldest child to register to vote as she is eighteen (FUCK) two days before the election.

I AM MENOPAUSAL WOMAN. HEAR ME SWEAT.

I also managed to kill my car battery and had to be revitalised by my dad and his jump leads of joy. I lost my best feminism badge and am now worried it is wedged somewhere inside the washing machine we only just had repaired because it was too full of hair pins and Lego to spin properly. I have run out of money and am existing on IOUS and stock piled tins of beans. I have failed to pay for dodgeball because of this and am expecting NO 1 son to come home looking scowly. I totally failed to feed everyone yesterday and made them scavenge for scraps because my book was too good and I was being selfish. I cried at the ending of Broadchurch. I’ve been reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton for six weeks and I’m only half way through and keep falling asleep. I’m in despair at the thought of the General Election. It’s not all shits and giggles.

There are things to look forward to though.

Tallulah and I are going to see Elbow at Sherwood Forest in June with my friend Nicki and her family and we are all tremendously excited about it and it will be epic. Guy Garvey’s voice is one of the only things between me and despair at the moment. So much so that I had even planned a blog post on the healing power of listening to Elbow, but was too tired and emotional to write it.

Andrea and I have just booked tickets to see Imelda Staunton in Follies, Ann Marie Duff in Common and Olivia Coleman in Mosquitoes at the National, and we already have tickets to see Salome and Angels in America. I may not have any money but my cultural life is going to be rich beyond measure and what a privilege to see such amazing actors it will be, and how fucking brilliant is the Travelex deal that lets you see these things for fifteen quid a pop? Capitalism isn’t all shite.

I’m going to see my friend Claire in a few weeks in that there London. We are going to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. I have seen it. It reminded me of a story Claire once told me about her school days. One very similar to my own school days. I felt we should bond over it. We are going to do this. There will be food. There will be drink. There will be raucous laughter and Barba Poppa worship (something else we have in common). It will be terrific.

So this is all good. I am clinging on to the good things, even when I can’t remember what they’re called.

I shall be very annoyed if we all get melted in a nuclear blast before I’ve been to see Elbow. It’s all I’m saying.

 

A Dog’s Life (Is not for me)

Happy Easter people. I hope you atheistically, agnostically or deeply spiritually stuffed your face with chocolate until you got those weird tic’s from too much sugar and your tongue felt too fat in your mouth. I know I did.

It has been an off piste bank holiday chez Boo. My brother called me on Saturday morning to tell me he was stuck in hospital with his girlfriend who had woken up in the early hours with a mahoosive nose bleed which wouldn’t stop. This was not an ideal state of affairs. Nor was the fact that they had left her three Great Dane pups at home in his house unattended for several hours.

I say pups. They are only 7 months old, but weigh 42kg each. To put it into perspective, I weigh 60kg. They also come up to my thigh when just standing around like a dog does. When they jump up however, you are eyeball to eyeball with them, or if you’re shorter than about 5ft4, they tower over you. I say pups, I mean delinquent pit ponies who think they are pocket sized bundles of cute fluffy loveliness and act accordingly. This is funny, and sometimes cute, but often quite distressing. Particularly if they’re trying to sit on your knee, climb into your pocket etc.

He asked me if I would be the designated dog sitter while they sorted everything out at the hospital. To be perfectly honest, the thought filled me with trepidation. I am not naturally a dog lover, despite owning a cat that thinks she is a dog. I don’t mind dogs. I’m not frightened of them, but I was concerned about the sheer quantity of dog on offer.

I have three children. I know what looking after a ‘three’ entails. It entails only having enough hands to catch two whilst watching number three hurtle off into the distance under a bus, across a field, into a canal, over the Irish sea etc. And you cannot bribe dogs with chocolate, or put them on the naughty step or explain to them in graphic detail what being squished to jam feels like.

Three also means that although they love each other as siblings do, someone is always left out and/or jealous. This means that you can never do anything nice without upsetting one of them unless you’ve got enough hands/knees/gifts to give largesse simultaneously to all three. Even if you do offer three things that are the same, whichever one is feeling oppressed will always decide that the other two have something better/nicer/bigger than theirs and either cry or bite the siblings that have the nicer thing. This goes equally for children or puppies.

Anyway, I love Uncle Robber, and he was very stressed, and the number of times he has bailed me out in times of crisis meant that of course I said yes. So I organised the children into a well known phrase or saying, called Jason who was playing golf somewhere off junction 32 of the M1 for his best friend’s birthday, and set off.

Here is what I learned about dogs and myself in relation to them.

There is a lot of pooh. I mean a lot of pooh. Frankly, too much in one Great Dane. Three though? It’s like wading through the Himalayas of pooh.

I have a deep seated loathing of coming into contact in any way with fresh, warm, pooh. It is, on reflection, the warmth of the pooh that is most upsetting to me. One of the children asked me if cold pooh would be preferable. Yes. Yes it would. Although no pooh at all would be ideal. If I were to get a dog I would require one with a cork.

There is a lot of spit. These three particular dogs enjoy licking people. I say enjoy, I mean it seems to be essential to their nature as animals padding around on this earth to lick people, anywhere at any moment in any given situation. A lick or twenty will cure what ails you. They seem particularly keen on licking the back of your neck if you sit down/crouch, reach any point at which they can see your exposed neck. Wearing a scarf does not help. They eat it. I did not have time to experiment with cowls, snoods or turtle necks.

If you are thinking of having Botox, may I recommend the vigorous application of Great Dane spit first. When it dries it does leave the skin fairly taut, which is a rough approximation of what a face lift would gift you. Great Dane spit is cheaper, but Botox does not smell quite so much of dog biscuits, nor indeed, dog.

Three dogs is too many dogs for me. It is relentless. There is never a time when one is not pissing, shitting, eating the furniture, stealing shoe laces, trying to eat a stick/Ugg boot/pen that they have sneakily purloined with all the stealth that is lacking in every other activity they do. You are just forcing the remains of a mangled biro out of one mouth only to turn round to find one has eaten half a kitchen roll in your absence (by absence I mean blink of an eye) and the other one has done a massive shit in the yard and is now contemplating eating it.

They never turn off. One gets tired and dozes off. The other one gets tired and dozes off. You think you’re winning. The third one looks beadily at its two sleeping siblings and thinks. ‘This will never do. I am very bored. I am all alone. This must be rectified immediately.’ Whereupon it bounds down to the bottom of the yard to bark at imaginary squirrels until the whole house is a seething mass of barking confused ‘puppies’ running round and round in circles. It is at this point that the original trouble maker will sneak back into the house, steal the warmest spot on the sofa and immediately fall asleep while the other two re-enact scenes from Bedlam for twenty minutes. Once they settle back down, the trouble maker will be suitably reinvigorated to decide there is an imaginary spider in the coving or some such malarkey and it all starts again.

This went on for several hours, during which time I had to eat my lunch sitting on the work surface in the kitchen (Uncle Robber’s house is small and does not have a dining room nor table) so that I was not burgled by dogs.  As I was crouched, Gollum like on the tiles, eating as quickly as possible in order to make sure my food remained my own, I came to the conclusion that when my mum told me that I shouldn’t bother with children, I should have gone into dog breeding instead because it would be easier, she was lying.

When I got home, tired and reeking of dog spit, I fed Derek a bit of her favourite cheddar just to congratulate her for not being a dog. She ate it disdainfully, flicked me the cat equivalent of the ‘V’s’ and gave me a wonderful view of her arse as she stepped daintily out into the night to get on with private cat business of her own. I wept in gratitude.

P.S. It only took twenty minutes in a boiling shower to get all the dog spit off.

P.P.S. The dogs are lovely really.

P.P.P.S. I’m not having a dog.

P.P.P.P.S. Uncle Robber’s girlfriend should be out of hospital today. Yes, I did go back on Sunday and look after the dogs while he went to visit her. Thankfully visiting hours were short and my mum was dog wrangler number two so we shared the spit and the pooh duties.

 

Easter Update

Hello everyone.

I’m still here. Just about.

This having an entire menopause in a short space of time thing is turning out to be trickier than anticipated so I’m catching my breath and taking a bit of time out from social media for a while.

I feel I am very lucky in that my symptoms appear to be mostly mild (-ish) but fairly rapid cycling, so I’m not entirely sure where I’m at from one day to the next and that takes a bit of getting used to. I mostly seem to have finished bleeding now, which is good. My joints are proving a little problematic, and I have had a headache for about ten days, which ebbs and flows. It did turn into a migraine for about twenty four hours last week, which was grim, but now we’re back to dull grinding. It’s making it hard to think but as long as I don’t push myself too hard, it’s manageable.

My next jab is due next Friday and I am hoping that by then, my body/mind will have got the idea and be more in the swing of things.

So, I am catching up on some box sets I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. I’m reading a lot (as per), I’m eating huge amounts of baked products and cheese, and I’m gardening because it forces me to get out and do things, even on the days when I mostly weed the gravel and cry.

I have done lovely things. I took my mum to London for the day and we went to see the Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. We ate lots of food and managed to fit in a trip to Daunt Books as well, so that was great.

I have had a birthday. It mostly involved eating Thai food, which was good. Jason and I ended up with no children for the large part of the day, so we hopped in the car and went to Eyam, because it’s somewhere I’ve been meaning to visit for years and never quite got around to. The sun shone, we wandered around. It was lovely. Tilly made me a cake when we got home, which we shared with friends the day after my birthday.

It’s the Easter holidays. The children are in and out, doing this and that. Occasionally I throw them in the car and chauffeur them somewhere. Yesterday it was everyone’s turn to come to our house. By tea time there were about twelve of us sitting around the table, eating pizza and talking nonsense. It was lovely.

Happy Easter lovely people.

 

Feminism this week.

This is the week a male cricketer got an 18 month suspended sentence for beating his wife with his cricket bat. On top of other abuses, he forced her to take pills and drink bleach because he said she had to ‘commit suicide’ for spending too much time on the phone with her friends. The judge said that a prison sentence could harm his career and anyway, his wife wasn’t ‘vulnerable’ because she had an education and friends.

This is the week we found out that the promise to use the proceeds from the controversial (i.e. utterly fucking indefensible) tampon tax for women’s charities like Refuge (which the government has pulled funding from so there are now cities in the UK with no refuge for victims of domestic violence) is actually being used to fund pro-life charities, that actively campaign to take reproductive choice away from women.

This is the week where the Daily Heil ran with a front cover asking their readers to compare whether Sturgeon or May had the best legs. Thus conveniently ignoring that they are leaders of their respective countries and were meeting to discuss a move which could change the history of the UK forever.

This is the week when Signing Article Fifty means that it will be much easier for the government to now sign away many women’s rights because they came from our attachment with the EU and we face the very real possibility that we will watch everything we fought for fall away.

This is not being too dramatic, given that already this month, a law which forces women who have been raped to prove they have been raped if they have two children already and wish to claim tax credits for a third, has been pushed through parliament without any debate.

This is the week where at least two men I have spoken to have told me that they are pro women’s rights, but what I have to understand is that there are other, more important things to do right now, and women will just have to wait their turn.

This is the week I read that the world’s women make up forty percent of the work force but earn only one percent of the world’s wealth between them.

This morning I watched a film clip of teenagers cling filming their thighs so that they can get an acceptable ‘thigh gap’.

I read that 33% of five year old girls want to be thinner than they are.

I watched young girls crying on screen because their bodies were already a failure to them.

I read that 24 million women in the UK are sexually harassed in the work place.

I saw young women going under the knife to measure up to an impossible body image that no amount of surgery or starvation will deliver them.

I read that not a single employer in the UK has ever been successfully prosecuted for the gender pay gap despite women earning 81p to every £1 a man earns.

I saw teenage boys raping and filming unconscious girls at parties and shouting ‘she got raped so good,’ while they laughed.

I read that last year a 21 year old woman in Northern Ireland was jailed for 3 months for taking abortion pills.

I read that in Iowa, a law is being passed to force women whose babies die in the womb to carry those babies to term.

I read that a fifth of women over 16 in the UK are subject to some kind of sexual assault.

I read that one woman every three days in the UK is killed by a male partner or relative.

I read that eight million women in the UK will experience domestic assault of some kind in their life time.

I read that two hundred million women in the world (one in twenty) are subject to female genital mutilation. Five thousand seven hundred new cases were reported last year in the UK alone.

If you want to check out some of the more personal anecdotes for these facts, try searching for #NotanAprilFool on Twitter. It’s a real eye opener, particularly those people who still persist in saying they are ‘tired’ of women going on like this and asking when will women stop ‘whinging’ about this stuff?

But hey, we’re getting a statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square so it’s not all bad news, right?

Ongoing medicalness from the front line of the menopause

My brain is a bit soupy today, so there will be no sense, but I am just checking in to say I atent dead.

Good things have happened:

Finally got my hair cut and am empinkened again. I was born to have pink hair.

I made it to the pub quiz this week and didn’t fall asleep. We didn’t win, but we didn’t disgrace ourselves either. I did have a slight hangover on Wednesday morning, but it was  weirdly nice to be suffering from something deliberately self inflicted for a change. Not that I’ll be doing it every week. I’m not that much of a masochist.

I met up with my lovely, author friend, Kate yesterday. She came down from Sheffield specially to force me to go and see Rent with her at the theatre. She’s educating me in the ways of musical theatre, as I am very much allergic to them. I surprised my curmudgeonly self by enjoying most of it, although sung dialogue makes me want to punch a wall, it transpires. And I thought Roger was a massive dick, and Mimi was too good for him. Also, I love Angel. I am firmly on the side of the drag queens. Forever.

On the flip side:

I am still not good at engaging with current affairs. I find myself enraged and then feeling helpless and tearful and somewhat overwhelmed. I don’t mind being enraged. I do mind feeling overwhelmed. I will know things are properly back to normal when I am angry and then I roll my sleeves up and tackle things. It will happen again. Just not today.

On the menopausal side:

I have been feeling mostly much better emotionally which is fabulous. For a couple of days I woke up feeling utterly normal, which is rare and was most enjoyable.

In the early hours of Thursday I woke raging with itch.  Obviously I decided it was chiggers, and then nits, because it was the middle of the night and I was half asleep and am always at my most dramatic at those times. Thankfully the drama is usually in my head and stays there, rather than me waking everyone up to announce my imminent demise. Otherwise I would be writing this from beyond the grave. Not because I would die of chiggers, but because everyone else would batter me to death for waking them up.

Eventually I came round to the crazy idea that the itching was probably menopausal and that made things slightly less tense. Although it didn’t dissipate much for the rest of the night and resulted in very broken sleep. Friday morning was a fragile, itchy affair.

The itching is quite common apparently. It is called forMication rather than forNication, which is disappointing in itself. I wish forNication was a side effect instead. ForMication is something to do with all the oestrogen in my body, hieing for the hills and may signal the much anticipated ‘husk’ part of my existence due to the fact that this affects the skin/collagen in the skin.

Apparently I could become flaky, wrinkly, and thin. Thinness only applies to skin, fatness is apparently all the rage everywhere else in the menopausal woman’s body. This begs the question of why more menopausal women don’t split open really. I mean if the skin gets thinner, less elastic and easier to tear/flake, surely with all the added fatness going on, there’s bound to be a lot more bursting women about? Albeit briefly, before they get swept up and thrown in the bin.

So as far as skin goes. Imagine a Peruvian mummy, curled foetally on its side. That.

I have taken sound advice on this front. I have anti histamine, oats for the bath, Aveeno products and fractionated coconut oil to douse myself in. Even if this doesn’t work I will be irresistible to horses and flapjack lovers the world over, and able to wriggle out of unwanted embraces like a greased pig, so it’s not all doomy.

Last night after getting back from the theatre I also started to bleed. I was warned this might happen and thought I’d dodged a bullet when my period failed to arrive on Wednesday, however it’s making up for the lateness now. It’s all a bit buckets of blood, and I’m crampy and tearful, but reasonably stoic in the face of the inevitable.

I did cry about it all last night, but I think that was the combination of broken sleep, a long (albeit hugely enjoyable day) and disappointment that I had just changed the bed sheets and was now likely to bleed all over them. I am feeling more optimistic today. This is largely due to lack of itching in the night, more sleep and not bleeding on the bed sheets because even though I had to go to the loo multiple times in the night, I did not wake up in a welter of gore.

I’m hibernating today. The weather is cold and rainy, so I’m missing nothing by staying indoors except damp jeans, and soggy denim is one of the lesser known circles of hell, so that’s no hardship. I’ve got good books, a comfortable sofa, a significant supply of biscuits and pain relief/hot water bottle action is ongoing. I intend to idle the rest of the day away. It’s hard but someone’s got to do it.

The Menopause Diaries

Ever since I had my jab on Wednesday afternoon I have been waiting for myself to go off like a giant, hormonal bomb of menopause. I have woken up every morning undergoing a kind of inventory. Moustache? Nope. Hot flush? Nope. Dried out husk like appearance? Nope.

It has only been two days, but the consultant was quite firm in listing side effects, general menopausal effects and the idea that rather than drip feeding me the menopause over say, two years, I would be getting it all in one big blast. I don’t think she quite meant within forty eight hours, but better safe than sorry. Don’t want any sneaky symptoms creeping up and taking me by surprise.

So I have been prodding away at myself suspiciously, like something the cat has dragged in, and it is mostly making me laugh at myself a lot. I am not very good at medication and apart from over the counter migraine medication I don’t take anything, ever, so I have a lot of preconceptions about what drugs will and won’t do. It seems I think they are like a medical magic wand.

I have had some symptoms, but then I am five days away from a period, so this is not entirely surprising. What is surprising however, is how mild the symptoms are. Could this be because of being jabbed in the arse with a giant needle on Wednesday afternoon? If it is, they can jab me in the arse every Wednesday from now till kingdom come if they want.

So far:

Mild and sporadic nausea rather than not being able to cook/eat or sit in the same room where food is being consumed.

Sore boobs – meh. I can live with, do live with this. Feeling like my tits have been trapped in a drawer is not great, but it’s on the tolerable end of the spectrum.

Mild cramping and that weird sense that the world is going to fall out your vagina.

A headache which is heading into its 24th hour, which is unpleasant, but which is only a headache and not a migraine.

This is all. Everything. The lot.

Seven days before my last period I felt like the world was going to end. Emotionally I had had it and physically things weren’t in much better shape.

God knows if it’s the drugs, but right now I don’t care and I’m counting my blessings, every last one.

 

 

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.