Reflections, Thoughts and Opinions From Africa.
|In January 2015, three weeks before my 50th birthday, I underwent a hysterectomy. A few days after commemorating my half century on Earth, I learned that the sudden sweating and insomnia I'd begun experiencing shortly after the operation were part of parcel of menopause. It was a brief, albeit sobering moment. I was now experiencing that condition usually associated with middle aged women.
Fortunately, I'm not the kind of girl to dwell on these sort of things too long. My gynae suggested HRT, and after chatting to my GP (I've been his patient for 32 years!) I decided this was the way I wanted to tackle my middle age. No mid-life crisis for me... although, to be perfectly honestly the diagnosis of severe osteoporosis shortly after the hysterectomy helped me make the decision. HRT treatment is considered beneficial for osteoporosis patients.
In hindsight, 2015 was a very bad year for me. I made several terrible decisions . Perhaps the adjustment to hormonal changes after the operation affected my capacity to think clearly and make some questionable judgements... at any rate, 2016 seemed to be easier. A couple of my friends in Zimbabwe also entered the same phase of life, and after a few discussions with them about HRT I began to worry about the long-term effects.
In January this year one of Ivan's friends gave him some cannabis oil capsules his mother had got him for his headaches shortly after a mild stroke. The tablets did not help him, and he figured they might help Ivan's arthritis. I'd heard of several success stories about cannabis oil and menopause, so one evening I took a deep breath and swallowed a 2,5 mg tablet. I have never had cannabis in any form before, so I was a bit concerned.
I woke up the next morning, refreshed and revitalised. I'd slept a full seven hours, and not woken once. Toward the end of 2016 I had started to suffer with insomnia caused by night sweats, and I was worried I was going to have to increase the HRT dosage. I went back to my faithful GP, told him about the cannabis and he told me: "If it is working for you then carry on." The girl who produces the tablets is the only person in Harare with a licence from the Ministry of Health to work with cannabis, and she and a professor from the University of Zimbabwe are working to get cannabis legalised for medicinal purposes in Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately night sweats and insomnia are just two symptoms of menopause. I was diagnosed with high cholesterol in February... so high my GP wanted to put me on statins. I begged him to give me the year to bring my cholesterol back down naturally, and he agreed. So... I take a brisk walk for an hour every morning with my wonderful Solo dog, and I work with a nutritionist named Laura. She's been fantastic, and got me being far more aware of my diet and lifestyle. I want to loose five kilograms, but somehow this has been impossible. I haven't been on a scale in six weeks, and when I climbed on last Friday I saw to my horror I have gained three kilos.
I'm also suffering with pain in my joints. My hair and skin is dry and recently my neck has been hurting. I spoke to my nutritionist on Monday, and she suggested I see my doctor ASAP for full blood tests, including liver and thyroid function. Yesterday my GP weighed me, examined me and told me my thyroid feels enlarged. He drew a big syringe full of blood, and booked me for an ultrasound scan of my thyroid next Monday.
Part of me was a bit upset - after that dreadful car accident in 1988 I figured I'd been through enough life-changing medical procedures. Now, almost thirty years later, it looks like I'm facing a whole new set of "challenges". Not that an underactive thyroid gland isn't treatable; all three of my sister in laws have this condition, and they manage it fine. This morning, after my walk I got on the scale, and found I'd lost 1,5 kilos! It certainly brightened my day, although I am sure this has to do with the fact that Ivan is with the Zimbabwe National Bass Fishing Team at an international competition, which means I'm eating small salads full of vegetables, nuts and protein like chicken and tuna and I've had no coffee or wine for six days!
Fingers crossed we can get a grip on the cause of these latest menopause symptoms... otherwise the next ten-odd years are not going to be pleasant.
Rock and menopause do not mix. It is not good, it sucks and every day I fight it to the death, or, at the very least, not let it take me over.