This is Nanna Cee’s part one of her journey through the change of life, that a lot of us can so look forward to!
So at the age of fifty-two, I was ‘peri-menopausal’ (when the ovaries start producing less oestrogen), and was doing ok my periods were becoming irregular, but I wasn’t having any issues with hot flushes, etc. My GP was monitoring my hormone levels, and telling me that the average age of menopause is fifty-five years old. Groan!
Then in January 2011, I had a very heavy, drawn out period, leaving me very fatigued. I had a week’s break, and did it all over again in February. On my naturopath’s and GP’s advice, I began taking a high daily dose of iron tablets and vitamin C. Four days between periods, and March was the same, often flooding. By April, it was a continuous flow/flood. In early May, I noticed that I was breathless, and that my thighs burned after walking more than five minutes, I just thought I was very unfit. I didn’t notice that my hands and nails were gradually getting paler and that my gums and eyelids were too. Or that I was really feeling the cold. Or how bad my memory was. Or that my food just didn’t taste. Late in May, I had a routine blood test done, and that afternoon the laboratory urgently faxed the report to my GP, as it showed very low hemoglobin levels. But, as I had an appointment with her for the following Wednesday, we agreed I would live very quietly until then.
The alarm bells really rang on the Sunday morning, when it took me fifteen minutes sitting on the edge of the bath to recover from the exhaustion and breathlessness after having a shower. Tuesday morning my husband took me to the outpatients at a major hospital, I was admitted to receive two units of blood. Their examination showed I had cervical polyps, and I was advised to have surgery after the transfusion, to have a Mirena inserted. But, an ultrasound showed fibroids big enough to take home and adopt, so I decided against the surgery, and visited my gynecologist instead. His immediate reaction was “That’s just horrible!” and booked me in for a total hysterectomy (LAVH) as soon as we could. He prescribed a double dose of progesterone, which stopped the bleeding for two days, but then got worse. I slept on a folded towel, except that I was getting out of bed three to four times per night to keep up with the flooding, so I wasn’t really sleeping much. And I tried to take it easy, but life goes on, with all its dramas.
Two days prior to surgery, I had another blood test, and the next day I received a call from the doctors rooms to say that I needed to come in to hospital a day early to receive more blood before surgery. At this point, I didn’t really care about anything; I was just so tired, and wanted it over.
So, another two units of blood later, I was able to have the surgery on June 21st. My gyno had promised me ‘no incision’, and he kept his word, as bad as it was internally. I did still receive another three units of blood the day after surgery, and my gorgeous grand-daughter was born while I was still in hospital.
I know, I let it go too long. I also know that that there are many women who had a far worse time than I did. But two years later, it’s all good now!
And that’s the bare bones of that story!
No room to mention –
- The increased washing. And constantly running out of clean jeans/trackies/pj pants
- Or that the borderline count for a transfusion is seventy-eight (early January, my count was one hundred and fifty, which is optimal) but at my first transfusion it was seventy-four, dropped to seventy prior to surgery, and down to sixty-four (I think, whatever, it was pretty low) the day after surgery.
- Or that even when the fibroids were spotted, and the Mirena was going to be of no use, they were still prepared to go ahead and put it in anyway, and let me wait to deal with the fibroids down the track.
- Or that having hospital cover meant we could book the surgery with the doctor and hospital of choice.
- Or that I spent the occasional night sleeping on the recliner when I was flooding, because the act of rolling over in bed to get out would trigger another major flood (icky).
- Or that my son and daughter in law had asked if I wanted to be in the delivery room with them this time, I flew there because she’d been told she would be induced, but she wasn’t.
- Or that my husband cooked and did dishes diligently. (but let me take over again as soon as I was able.)
- Or that I couldn’t face the thought of alcohol for months (that’s how long it took for my taste buds to recover, and this was the middle of winter, i could have used a ‘toe warmer’!)
- Or that my husband cut the back of his hand open in the cattle yards a couple of days after I was home after the first transfusion, needing nine stitches. Scary. And gross.
- Or that he was in the middle of some major issues at work, but dropped everything to take me to hospital, twice. (He is my prince!)
- Or the tears for us both when we knew I was going downhill again, rapidly.
- Or that iron levels generally aren’t an issue for surgery, but mine were far too low, hence the second transfusion.
- Or that I had a major flood while I was receiving it.
- Or that a lot of that year is really fuzzy in my memory, due to the anemia.
- Or that I took forty-five mins to sweep porch/kitchen /dining room because I kept stopping to have a rest. (normally only took a few minutes to sweep)
- Or that I was moving and reacting so slowly a couple of days before surgery, that my husband wouldn’t let me drive.
- Or that when he got me to the hospital for the second transfusion, I couldn’t walk any further than from the emergency drop off to just inside the doors for admission.
If you would like to seek more information about menopause symptoms and treatment, visit the Australasian Menopause Society website.
If you experience any concerning symptoms such as chest pain, breathlessness, fainting spells, severe abdominal pain or very heavy vaginal bleeding with clotting, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/