11 Oct Meno-STOP
Menopause is right up there with the least sexy words in the English language and it’s also quite misleading because I’ve been wondering… Where does the “pause” bit come into it? By definition, a pause is something that stops temporarily, and I am pretty sure that when the big M hits, your “meno” is done and dusted for good. So let’s just call it for what it is. Menostop. When the ‘meno’ shop is shutting, it holds one final, giant closing down sale for good measure. Hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain and thinning hair, all amount to one of the greatest gender injustices of all time. Oh … and then there are the mood swings, which I suspect may also coincide with that overwhelming desire to club the person in front of you at the supermarket, (who has forgotten their pin number and has spent ten minutes rummaging around for that sticky note at the bottom of their bag), to death. Or … so someone told me. Seriously? Have we not already taken way more than our fair share for the team? Like fifty years of periods, cramps, nausea, pregnancy and childbirth weren’t enough? Maybe a more apt word for this time should be, MEN-on-pause because, given the list of symptoms above, it is easy to understand why romance and ‘intimacy’ might get the short shift.
As it turns out, I have more in common with whales than just my expanding waistline. Female humans and killer whales are the only mammals on the planet to experience menopause. But that’s where the similarities end because while we are encouraged to disappear into the murky depths of midlife, our whale sisters become the leaders of their pods. They are revered and respected for their wisdom… and their ability to guide their pods to the hotspots of salmon. So while Wendy the postmenopausal whale is out in the Atlantic living her best life, we humans are transitioning into a far less aspirational stage of life. For us, menopause is seen as a harbinger of death.
While the big M ship has not yet arrived into my harbour, I suspect its sails are hoisted and I am preparing for gusty winds and wild seas. I will, for the record, resort to every drug available (as well as copious amounts of ‘medicinal’ wine and chocolate as required). You can jam your herbal tonics and natural remedies where the sun don’t shine. Where pain is involved, my motto will and always has been “give me drugs and give them to me now.” This is not a new mantra for me. I recall being in the final stages of labour with a ten-pound baby, fervently awaiting my epidural when a very brave (or very stupid) nurse walked in and said; “would you like me to get you a warm flannel for the pain dear?” A warm fucking flannel? Was she kidding me? That was akin to offering a Band-Aid to a shark attack victim. She copped a ferocious dose of stink eye and was only saved from a verbal tirade by the onset of another excruciating contraction.
Maybe my next book should be “Menopause in The City,” a Carrie Bradshaw-esq story that follows the fabulous adventures of midlife women aging gratefully (and inappropriately) and rebrands menopause and midlife as milestones that are celebrated not scoffed.
Feel free to share with your midlife friends ….