Monday, 24 December 2012

Wishing You A Cool Yule

Emphasis on the cool.

Madame Menopause would like to wish her readers (all three of you...) a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading this little blog. Hopefully it's raised a smile, if not been particularly instructive, or some of it has been recognisable to you, and at least you know that you're not the only one on this part of the womanhood [warning: shockingly hackneyed and overused word coming up] journey [urgh, I'm so sorry! Maybe I'll get a new thesaurus for Christmas?].

May 2013 be kind to you.  Enjoy Christmas Day and remember, you only have to see most of those people once a year so paste a smile on and suck it up.  If I can, so can you!

Remember: Eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow, we diet.

Wear your best festive pants!

Stay safe. Be kind, to yourself and to others. Take care on the roads. Don't throw anything at anybody. Make sure you get a good pash from someone at midnight on New Year's Eve.

And don't take any shit from anybody, okay?

Until 2013, when we meet again, dear readers (all three of you).  Cheers!

Friday, 7 December 2012

What is that smell?

When I was pregnant with my son a somewhat astonishing sixteen years ago (I swear it was only about five years, tops), my sense of smell went into overdrive.

I could smell coffee brewing two kilometres away.  I could smell rain in the air before the weather bureau gave the day's forecast. But most of all I could smell myself.  I became acutely aware of every fragrance my body was capable of giving off and therefore assumed everyone else could too.  I became quite anxious about it, convinced that everyone around me was just being polite by not mentioning it.  In short, I was quite sure that I stunk.  My doctor told me it was hormonal and not to worry about it.

Of course I didn't stink* and like everything else about pregnancy, it went away (except for the kid, he keeps hanging around) and my sense of smell returned to normal.

Until now.  I've tried to ignore it but can't any more. My sense of smell is once again on high alert only it's a little different this time.  This time my hyper-olfactory sense is confined to me.  Yep, once again I am horribly aware of myself and am once again convinced that I pong like a full nappy left in the laundry.

What's going on? I'm clean. I shower every day, sometimes twice a day.  I use deodorant.  I'm not particiularly active.  So why am I always aware lately of a sweaty pong emanating from my armpits? And as for when I squat down to do something...well, let's not even go there but let's just say that it's a lot better if I am actually wearing knickers and pants.

So why the whiffiness? Do I really stink? Is it hormone induced? Will it stop? Is this 'part of the process'? Will I end up cleaning myself obsessively eight times a day in an effort to reduce the smell? Or am I just going mad?

I still haven't had a period so I'm heading towards that 12 month finish line much easily than I thought I would, but I could really do without this animal aroma I seem to be giving off lately.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a shower.

* or did I?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Hot? You Bet I Am, Baby!

I haven't written for a long time.  I have barely had time to draw breath since we got back from Malaysia - I started a new job, which I hate and will soon leave, turned 49 and had a "I'm Not 50" party, but wanted to put some thoughts down and since I have a rare spare a few minutes today, here I am.

We had such a great time in Malaysia.  Kuala Lumpur and Borneo are incredible places. Throbbing with life, vibrant, colourful, totally, utterly, hilariously different to our sanitised lives here in Australia.  I have not felt quite so alert and alive for a long time.  Nor quite so fat and white. But I digress. One thing I didn’t have time for was any perimenopausal symptoms.  And I actually started wondering how Malaysian women know if they are perimenopausal given that it is so hot and humid all the time, how would you ever know if you are having a hot flush?  I am not trying to be funny, I really was curious.  If hot flushes are a definite sign of perimenopause, how do women who live in such hot and humid climates know they are experiencing them? Maybe they have more important things to worry about.

We crammed a lot into 16 days.  I snorkelled and got hideously burned, shopped til I dropped , ate  ostrich and deep-fried prawns whole (the prawns, not the ostrich), got pointed and laughed at for my pale skin and "yellow " hair, rode a scooter and got caught in a tropical downpour, forced to ride the last 15 km up a mountain with next to zero visibility, and generally found myself giving no thought whatsoever to my age and impending menopause.

I am trying to put my jumbled thoughts together and think what I am trying to get at is that before, I think I was paying too close attention to every little thing happening to me, wondering "is this it?",  watching for possible signs that the Big M is finally ready to embrace me and generally being all "first world problems" about it, and being on holidays in another country, not on the tourist trail, gave me some much-needed clarity.

And I think I have decided that I don't really care when menopause is coming.  It will come when it comes and whatever happens to me while it’s getting there is going to happen.  And I also started to wonder, is it just a little self-indulgent of me to have a blog devoted to my constant worry about this impending, entirely natural female transition period?  Just quietly, I think it might be.

That being said, I still intend to use the blog to write about physical and psychological changes that occur, even if only to reassure anyone reading that they are not the only ones going through it.  I might use it to write about some other things that interest me, or make me mad, or delight me.  Everyone else seems to use their blogs for more than one topic so I might as well too. 

At this stage I have not had a period for (I've lost count) months.  Maybe I will never have another one, and maybe that is no bad thing. 

I wonder if I will be lucky enough to ease on into menopause the same way I transitioned through puberty.  I never got terrible acne or mood swings, and apart from penning some godawful angst-ridden purple prose (hey, didn’t we all?),  It was a very easy transition for me.  I even checked with my mum and she confirmed it.  So maybe it will just be a case of my period stopped one day, never came back, I got a little bit hot and grumpy sometimes, and then…life went on.  Maybe I won't need HRT?  Maybe my vagina will never run dry?  (sounds like some ancient Chinese blessing: “May your vagina never run dry”).  I have no idea.  But I am going to stop focusing on it and start focusing on things that really do interest me, such as planning more travelling with my darling, helping my son as he transitions into his next phase, and deciding if that gorgeous Honda that is a perfect hybrid of a scooter and a motorbike could actually be the answer to my two-wheeled dreams.

I will leave you with a couple of photos of our holiday.  If you ever get the chance to go to Malaysia, do not miss going to Borneo if you can.  Get in there quick before it becomes “Bali-fied”.  You won't regret it.
The Batu Caves - Kuala Lumpur

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Sandakan, Borneo. So lucky to see mum & bub!

Stunning sunset on the Kinabatangan River, Sandakan, Borneo
Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. Like a postcard.
OMG, I'm snorkelling! I am not a Person of the Water so this was epic for me.
There she goes! On my scooter, with a 110 km ride ahead and with a plane to catch!
Back in time to shower and wait for the taxi. Menopause? I don't have time for you!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Grumpy, frumpy, teary & tired

And that's on a good day.

I stopped going to the gym when my son moved home because I couldn't afford it any more.  That is true but it is also a bit of an excuse if I'm really honest.  That makes me grumpy.

And surprise, surprise, I've put back on all the weight I lost. And now I look frumpy.

I'm still really bloated and have a constant feeling of a period just about to happen, which doesn't, so I have got all that horrible premenstrual buildup without the release.  Go on, guess what that makes me.  Yep, teary.  At the slightest thing.  I'm having little meltdowns all over the place.  I'm normally pretty stoic about stuff, but lately everything seems overwhelming and I get a panicky feeling like I'm only treading water and about to go under.  My heart beats too fast and my imagination runs riot.  I find I'm buying into the MSM rhetoric of doom and gloom and starting to believe that the sky really is falling.  The logical part of me (and there is one, she's just sitting right at the very back, glancing up occasionally, raising an eyebrow at all the carry-on up the front) knows I'm being ridiculous but I seem to be a slave to my emotions and hormones right now and let me tell you, I don't like it one little bit.

And tired.  Don't talk to me about tired.  I am tired so deep in my bones.  It reminds me of the tiredness of very early pregnancy (I recall falling asleep at my desk at work when I was around 7 weeks' pregnant).  I never seem to be able to sleep long enough or deep enough.  Everything aches when I get up (I think we need a new mattress).

And I whinge.  All the time. Like this post is nothing but one long whinge.

I need to remember that in the broader context, I'm an exceptionally privileged white woman living in a country with one of the strongest economies in the world at the moment and that all this perimenopausal wailing and gnashing of teeth is nothing but a First World Problem.  I need to shame myself out of this self-indulgent fug.

I am off on holidays in one week.  I am going to try really hard not to be any of the four things in this post title, I really am, but I can't guarantee I will succeed.

About the only thing I am sure of at the moment is that I really, really need a holiday.

how I wish I looked when I cry

What I really look like when I cry

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Come back! All is forgiven

My period that is. After bitching and moaning about it so much a few months ago, it's continued to sulk and has not been seen since.

Now I want it. Desperately. And I want it within the next two weeks before we go on a long-awaited, much deserved holiday to Malaysia (a week in Kuala Lumpur - shopping!! and a week in Borneo).  The last thing I want is a perimenopausal period while I'm swanning around Borneo with the orangutans, believe me.  I'm already traumatised by the realisation that Malaysia is hot. And where we're staying has a pool.  And Borneo has beaches.

You know what this all means don't you? That's right. Bathers.

[space reserved for a respectful silence as women contemplate this]

Oh it's been teasing me - low cramps, an egg-popping feeling on the right, bloating - but no red flag.

I have a horrible feeling that it will come just before we leave or worse, while we're away.

I wish it would just make up its bloody mind (see what I did there?). At this rate, it's rivalling John Farnham for comeback tours and I've just about had enough.

So finger's crossed it makes an appearance in the next two weeks so I can get it over and done with. And I can concentrate on the full horror awaiting me, a Malaysian pool and unsuspecting tourists.

We're off to Malaysia for 16 days! Woohoo!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Perimenopause versus Teenager

Some of you know that my son was untimely rip'd from me in August last year and whisked away to live with his father. Pulled out in the middle of Year 9, plonked in an (I'll be kind) "alternative" school (thereafter known as Hogwarts) and basically given free rein, meaning no rules, no boundaries, treated like an adult.  Alcohol, dope smoking, unsupervised parties, you name it. He was 15.  He has Asperger's syndrome, diagnosed when he was 9 and is also dyslexic.  He's a sensitive, quirky kid.  I love him to death. Probably quite literally.

He's now 16, in the middle of Year 10 at Hogwarts and his father recently announced they're upping stakes and moving to Queensland. Over my cold, dead, perimenopausal body! And so began the fight to reclaim my boy.

Well, today I won that fight.  My son is coming back home, where he will be safe and secure. Where he will have rules and boundaries, a set bedtime and strict homework criteria.  Yep, I'm an unashamed nazi in that regard. His recent mid-year report from Hogwarts was a fail of spectacular proportions.  Turns out he's missed a lot of school (surprise!). He wants to go back to his old school.  And naturally I sold all his uniform some months ago after he told me he was never ever going back to that school and now have to scout around to try and get one together again. That'd be right.  So he'll be coming from a long way back but I'm going to try to ensure the rest of the year goes as well as possible for him so he can complete Year 10 and transition to VCE smoothly.  It will take a lot of work, I know this.  We all have a lot of shit to get through, I'm fully aware of it.

So I will be going through my perimenopausal stuff and dealing with a surly Aspergian 16-year-old.  I already feel for my poor partner. We're all off to counselling soon to get our collective shit together - there needs to be an Airing of the Grievances so we can all move forward. Along the way there'll be tears and tantrums and that'll just be me.

But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today, my boy came home.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Statistical Probability. Or, They're Watching Me.

It's a sad day indeed when you find yourself getting a little excited about receiving this sort of thing in the letterbox:

Why yes, Yes. I do.

Wait. What? It's about urinary incontinence? How did they know?

Ooh look! Free stuff!

Yep. I got a little bit excited about receiving four types of urinary incontinence pads.

Kill me now.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


This isn't something from The Onion. It's real. And it happened only last week in 21st century America.
It strikes me as especially droll given that Jim Stamas likely entered the world with a vagina around his neck.  Clearly he's never gotten over it.  Offensive. Seriously.

Only in America. Or is it? Be careful what you wish for Australia.

If you're interested, here is an exerpt of the speech Lisa Brown gave.  She utters the terrifying V word right at the end.

*You may have noticed this post has nothing to do with perimenopause or menopause. That's because I've already found that it's a bit hard to stick exclusively to one topic!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The heat is on. Maybe.

When I started this blog, the idea was to write about weird stuff happening to me that may or may not have to do with being perimenopausal. Because it's sometimes hard to know, you know? Like those obsessive self-diagnosers who consult Dr Google for every ache and twinge and always come up with cancer, it can often be difficult to know if what you're experiencing is a perimenopausal symptom or just nothing and I don't like jumping at shadows. I like to be sure.

But these are uncertain times in this little body and I'm not sure.

I'm writing this at 5.50 am, having been awake since about 4 am and up since 5 am.  Like many nights in the last few months, I woke up feeling hot. Not running with sweat or anything, just overly warm. I find myself sticking my legs out from the doona to get the cool night air, sometimes even throwing the doona aside altogether.  This could be perfectly normal or it could be the start of the dreaded hot flushes (or is it flashes? perhaps that's a debate alongside color/colour. Who knows?). Anyway, the thing is, it's winter. And it's cold. So chucking the doona off in the middle of the night, when it's coldest, seems a bit odd.  Especially for someone who's always been a bit of a lizard and 'lives cold'.  Mind you, at this stage it's not unpleasant, just a bit frustrating. I've always been a big sleeper and waking up in the middle of the night, or at stupid o'clock is weird.  Yet several times in the last five or six weeks I've found myself up and even working before 5.30 am. What's that all about?

I'm guessing that this is probably the start of it. I'm not quite sure what to expect next though. Soaking sheets with night sweats? Can't wait for that. Is that something that happens to everyone though? I wonder sometimes if like puberty, do some women sail through menopause fairly easily with only a few inconvenient hiccups here and there while others suffer cruelly with everything menopause has to throw at them, or do all women pass through the dreaded night sweats, hot flushes/flashes and associated other stuff to about the same degree? That would seem a lot fairer to my mind!

I once worked with a women who was clearly going through menopause. Clear, that is, to everyone except her.  She would sit at the front desk sweating like she was in a sauna. She would complain that she felt like the top of her head was about to explode and would draw a line around her head with her finger to show where the heat band started. She would cry inconsolably at the drop of a hat. It was both fascinating and repelling (sorry, gotta be truthful here, it really wasn't nice). Yet when anyone suggested to her that she might want to visit her GP and get something to help with her clearly menopausal problems, she'd go off her nut. Denial can be a funny thing.

now that looks like bliss!

I love my sleep and I'm not keen on waking up hot unless I'm on holidays somewhere tropical. I wonder how long this will go on for?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Anti anti-ageing

Preposition: Opposed to; against.

I've realised recently that more and more of the 'magic potions' in my bathroom cabinet contain the words "anti-ageing" or similar.  A quick look recently revealed this:
(from left: Covergirl/Olay"Simply Ageless" serum primer, Lacura (Aldi home brand) "Total Care Seven" anti-ageing cream, Olay Total Effects "7-in-1 anti-ageing eye cream", and Lacura (Aldi again), SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen with "anti ageing" written across the bottom)

Now what does that say about me? (other than that I'm a cheap-arse who buys her moisturiser and sunscreen from Aldi. I know, okay? Shut up). When I think about it, I start to think it screams "I'm scared! Stop this happening!". Am I?

I don't know how or when this happened, clearly it snuck up on me. At some point though I made a subliminal decision to stop using 'ordinary' products and to throw my money at the lucrative 'anti-ageing' industry. When did that happen? More to the point, why?

Because women aren't shamed nearly enough about themselves are they? From the hair issue (pubic hair!) to the airbrushing of labia in porn, to the steadfast refusal to ever show blood when advertising menstrual products (but hey, if you've got a problem with blue water around your place, grab yourself a pad and you'll be right), to the constant obsession with weight, hair and skin.  Every step of the way we're made to feel we're not enough, that something is 'wrong' that needs to be 'fixed' (or ignored totally), so we can attain some ideal of perfection.  And underneath the message is loud and clear: DON'T GET OLD.  But whose ideal is this? I don't think it's mine.

Older women used to be mostly ignored. To a large extent we still are (hello fashion industry!) but the cosmetics industry has had us in its sights for some time now and with our ageing population, we're a huge market and the industry's going after the last great crime the modern woman can commit. Getting older. How very dare we?

Reading The Herald-Sun today (okay, in my defence, I buy the Sunday papers for the magazines okay? I do not support the Murdochratisation of our media any more than you do) I saw this in the Fashion section:

Written by a bloke, too. Irony rich enough for Gina Rinehart to mine.

But you know what? I'm not anti ageing.  In fact I'm all for ageing. Because it beats the hell out of the alternative. I never wanted to 'die young and leave a good looking corpse" - what a piece of bullshit advice that was! What idiot said that? And are they dead yet?

Anti means against and I'm not against ageing. Every turn of the sun I celebrate my birthday means I've had the privilege of being here another year. And it's wonderful. I'm incredibly lucky and I hope to twirl around the annual dancefloor many more times before I fall off the twig.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for looking after yourself - I've been moisturising since I was 12 and my darling Grandma (my great grandmother, who had gorgeous skin right into her 90s) told me what the pink stuff in the bottle was for (remember the original Oil of Ulan?) and there's barely been a day since when I haven't moisturised.  I added eye cream maybe 10-12 years ago.  A combination of that and lucky genetics means my skin is in pretty good nick for nearly 49 but I'm not obsessed by it.

I remember seeing the original version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and being blown away at the obviously natural mature beauty of several of the actresses. These women were not Botoxed or facelifted into masks, they had real skin and faces which clearly showed they were not 25.  But I was saddened that I even noticed it.  It was obvious the film was made in Europe and not in the US. They seem to have a more realistic attitude towards ageing than the US (and thus, Australia) has.

Lena Endre is 55 and looks it. And isn't she beautiful? She was perfectly cast as Kalle Blomkvist's lover.

Contrast her to Olivia Newton-John, 63, a once naturally beautiful woman who apparently decided she wasn't good enough and now looks rather scarily like this:

Is it just me or is there a bit of a glimpse of Jocelyn Wildenstein peeking through the Botox there, Livvy? Be careful!

I think it's time to rebrand the 'anti-ageing' industry.  Surely the clever dicks at the advertising agencies can come up with something with a positive spin? Stop carrying on like getting older is something to be feared.

Because if we agree that target marketing to us "women of a certain age" as anti-ageing is okay, then we're basically saying we don't want to get older, we don't like it, and fear it and thus we become complicit in the push to make it something bad.  And I don't know about you, but I definitely intend to age. And enjoy it.

And I refuse to be shamed for it.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Change Stations Now!*

I am incredibly lazy. I hate exercise, I really do.  My idea of exercise is raising a glass, lifting an eyebrow, or running late.  But there comes a time when even the laziest of us have to admit it is time to get moving.

When my son left to live with his father last year, I found myself with extra time on my hands (as well as devastated of course).  My counsellor told me I had to find a new routine.  So I started at Curves, near my home, and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it.  Three times a week, 30 minutes per day, all women, and no mirrors!  Thirty minutes a day is something that even I can do.

A few months after I started, Curves started advertising their Curves Complete program which involves a diet and exercise plan for 90 days.  I had a look into it and thought it looked like something I could do. It also wasn’t hideously expensive (just under $200) so that was an added incentive.

So I signed on and started.  Now, I have done a lot of diets in my life - up down, up down, classic yo-yo dieter - I have done everything from having had a dodgy doctor in the city in the 80s inject my bum full of who knows what, to the classic Weight Watchers diet (and associated public humiliation of in-front-of-everyone weigh-ins and the odious meetings), as well as trying every fad from the Israeli Army Diet to the dreaded soup diet (hi mum!), to the CSIRO Low GI diet and of course, Atkins.  Most of them had some benefit but I always felt “on a diet” and self sabotaged.  But to my great surprise, the Curves Complete "diet" was something I was actually able to stick to.  Maybe because it is fairly protein-rich (eggs! lots of eggs! I love eggs! And what’s not to love about peanut butter toast for a snack?!) and a lot of food is involved.  A lot of food .  I feel like I’m always eating!  You go to the gym and do your work out four times a week (except I can never manage to do four but I do do my three workouts each week), wear your pedometer to count your steps (I often forget to do this too!),  And once a week get weighed and talk to one of the consultants about your progress and once a month get measured.  All very non-stressful and easy.

The program online is very interactive, with a well-designed, easy-to-follow plan and website.  You log in each day, check your meal plan (fantastically easy and you can tweak it to very exact specs that suit you) and watch a short video - and it is at this point that I must digress a little and remind you that the Curves franchise is owned by people heavily involved in the Mormon Church in the US (does Mrs Mitt Romney go to Curves I wonder?).  I have no problem with this except when it starts to encroach into areas where religion has no business being, such as diet and exercise.  And unfortunately it encroaches here.  I found myself getting increasingly pissed off with the religious undertones and in a few cases quite blatant tone of some of the videos.  Prayer this, higher power that, even one video commencing with the word prayer in big capital letters across the screen.  Nauseating.  As an atheist, I find this intrusive, not to mention utterly irrelevant and incredibly arrogant (and I wonder how the Muslim women feel about it, and those who subscribe to one of the various other religious flavours?).  I briefly joined the online forum to express my frustration and disappointment and to query why this sort of personal, private religious business was being peddled to the Curves clientele around the world by sneaking it into their program, but it didn’t meet with much support.  Most of the respondents to my post were American women, many of whom seemed to rely quite heavily on the faith aspect of the program.  This is incredibly disappointing because as we know, faith has nothing to do with it, much less some supernatural being taking a personal interest in some woman's weight loss journey (there’s that tremendous egotistical arrogance of religion again!), and it has everything to do with the person themselves so to my mind, they’re giving away their achievements by ‘thanking god’.  For me, every triumph and every disappointment begins and ends solely with ME.  If I achieve my goals, I have done it by myself, with my own strength and purpose.  Likewise, if I slip back, it has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I am naturally lazy and slacked off.  God’s will be buggered - if I’m a lazy bitch, I’ll own it and likewise, if I do really well, no imaginary being’s going to take credit for it, believe me!

Mainly though I wanted to know why they felt it necessary to include it at all.  I wanted a clear explanation as to what relevance religion could possibly play in a diet and exercise program (but of course I really knew the answer, all religious adherents are charged, indeed are duty-bound, to peddle their brand to everyone any way they can).  Needless to say I did not receive any definite explanation (surprise!), only vague mutterings about the Curves company being known to be religious, blah blah blah.  Or, the advice to "take what you like and leave the rest".  It made me laugh to see one response start with the huffy words “people like you”.

But I did take the advice to ignore what I didn’t like.  I completely and utterly ignored the stupid religious videos, however it actually stopped me watching many of them as it put me off so much (and I wouldn’t be the only one - if they are serious about promoting this program, they really need to look at this).  I would open one in the morning, and the second the presenter started wibbling on about prayer or faith or God or some other bullshit along those lines, I simply closed it.  If I could offer the Curves company any advice, it would be to drop this aspect of their program because it’s exclusionary, presumptive, assuming, arrogant and marginalising.  It starts from the proposition that everyone believes as they do, which of course they do not.  Get rid of this aspect and trust me, you’ll reach and appeal to a much wider audience.

Back in the real world, to my delight I started losing weight and centimetres.  Sometimes quite a lot. I stuck to the program probably 90% of the time, never really feeling like I was dieting, but definitely knowing and feeling that I was making progress.  It’s a wonderful feeling to have people you have not seen for a while see you and exclaim how great you look.

In the 90 days since I started the program I have not done quite as well as I had hoped, mainly because I had a few blowout weekends and some ugly personal stuff which saw me really fall off my wagon, and I take full responsibility for this, but I have managed to lose about 5 kg and quite a few centimetres (awesome result for me) and it shows.  My energy levels are up, I know how easy it is to follow the program when I put my mind to it, and best of all, I have thrown out two pairs of jeans that no longer fit me and recently bought two pairs of size 14 jeans which I did not even have to struggle into.  One pair are actually skinny jeans! Who’d’a thunk it? I have even gone down a bra size.  Not a cup size (they’re still enormous!) but an actual size.

I was never massively overweight, but I was definitely heading up into a weight range quite appalling for my short stature.  I tend to carry my weight all over, so it doesn’t look as bad as it really is, but as I approach the dreaded F word next year (er, that’s 50…shhhh!!)  I knew that I had to start doing something prior to that in before The Big M well and truly sets in.

So I am just about to finish my 90 days.  Apparently there is a phase 3 maintenance phase where your food intake is increased but to be perfectly honest I don’t want to increase it!

I have some short-term goals to get rid of more kilograms: a 50th birthday party in Launceston in mid-July, and a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Borneo in late August.  I know that if I put my attention into it, I can easily shift 4-5 more kilograms by then simply by sticking to the Curves Complete program (sans the religious nonsense of course!).

I have not been paid to write this blog post by the way.  I just wanted to write about a diet and exercise program that has actually worked for me.  It might not work for everybody, but I am really impressed with it.  The women at my local Curves are great (the owner, Melinda, lives, eats, and breathes Curves and is very enthusiastic and approachable, which can make all the difference in a gym environment, especially for those of us who hate the places like a vampire hates the sun) and Isobel, whom I actually knew from years ago when I was involved in theatre - which means we share memories and laugh a lot.  But most of all, to my great surprise, it has become a habit.  If I don’t go three times a week I feel funny and "wrong".  It has definitely done things to my metabolism and my mindset.

At the risk of sounding like I’m spruiking, remember that I am a cynical sceptic by default, so no one is more surprised than I am that I am extolling the benefits of such a program, let alone one run by a company fundamentally based in religion (and I admit that I do have to exercise cognitive dissonance in this case because unlike Gloria Jeans , which has strong ties to happy-clappy Hillsong (you can read more about the Gloria Jeans boycott here) and thus I choose to never to spend money in), I actually really like the Curves program so I try to keep in mind that each franchise is individually owned and that the views of the Mormons (there seems to be an extra M in there…!) at the top are not necessarily those of the franchise owners down here in places like my local Curves.

If you are looking for an exercise and weight loss program, I highly recommend Curves Complete.  You can check the programme out at the website or drop into your local Curves and get shown around.  You really won't regret it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I’m off to the gym!

* the post title is a laugh at the recorded voice that tells you when to move onto the next machine at Curves. You start to hear her in your sleep!

Friday, 25 May 2012

A wee problem

Once upon a time, like all good (ie. bad) girls, I carried a spare pair of knickers in my handbag or in the glovebox of my car.  Because I never knew what bed I might wake up in and spare knickers were important.  And of course the spare knickers were always a wispy little confection of gorgeous nothingness, only providing coverage by the barest of margins but damn they looked great.  And that's the only thing they were there for. To look fabulous.

Fast-forward too many years to count and I find I'm back to carrying a spare pair of knickers in my bag and/or glovebox.  Only now they're more likely to look like this:
And instead of a sassy little matching bra, the must-have accessory for these sexeh pantehs are these:
(only without wings - I fucking hate wings!)

Because now, I'm more apt to cough or laugh and wet myself than to secrete a night-before stranger's bodily fluids into my undies.  Yep, my pelvic floor muscles, which were once strong enough to hold a pen and write my name with (I may or may not have tried this once...don't judge me!) and make a man gasp in surprise at their strength, have now decided that they can't even hold on tight enough to stop wee from escaping into my knickers at inopportune times.  Fucking fabulous.

So shall we say the word? You can whisper it quietly if you like. Ready?

Incontinence.  There. I said it.

Depressing.  Sexy.  Not.  And yes, I know that doing pelvic floor exercises will help (my mum trained me in them from an early age, thankfully, and I had a Caesarean for the birth of my son, so that helped) but still...why does it have to happen at all?

I'm so in denial about this that I even refuse to buy pads specifically for the purpose - I buy normal period pads. Hmmm...I note that I just wrote 'normal', as if to imply that urinary incontinence (however mild) isn't normal.  See? Even my subconscience is in denial!

It would help if I could get rid of this damned cough left over from the recent bout of bronchitis but even then, I still like to laugh - a lot and hard - and let's not even get started on sneezing!

Can you identify? Has your knicker drawer slowly transformed from Dita Von Teese into Mrs Slocombe?

Tell me so we can have have a laugh about it together. With our legs crossed of course. And with a spare pair of knickers and a pad close by!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

HRT now deemed safe for Australian women

At least that's what the latest research seems to be saying.

By Dubravka Voloder
Posted May 23, 2012 22:27:55
A review has found hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause is safe, ending a decade of worry and confusion for women.
An alarming study in 2002 said HRT for menopause raised the risk of blood clots, breast cancer and strokes.
Since then there has been intense debate about whether that risk was big enough to outweigh the benefits of the treatment.
But now, an expert review has concluded the original study was flawed.
You can read the full article here

I'm glad to hear this because to be honest I was a little worried.  Having heard about the potential risks I had occasionally wondered what I would do when the time came.  Naturally I don't want to put myself at risk and was contemplating refusing any HRT treatment but now it seems I may not have to worry and that when I reach the point where HRT looks like an option, I'll be much less hesitant about it.  Of course I will try to keep up-to-date with the research and see what the current scientific consensus is at the time but for now, I'm glad that Australian women can be reassured by the latest findings.

That's the wonderful thing about science though. When it's wrong, it's not afraid to say so and re-test.  In fact, the very basis of the scientific method is that it's good to be wrong - something to celebrate even - because that means you get to move forward and try again to get it right. Have you hugged a scientist lately?

I do feel really sorry though for the group of women who didn't/weren't able to utilise HRT during their menopause due to the warnings and potential risks (and fair enough, I wouldn't have either) as they must have done it hard. Ladies, I salute you.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bloody Hell!

Dammitall, I'm bleeding again.  WTF?

On checking my diary I note it's been a whole 21 days since The Period from Hell began. But it went for nearly a week, which means it's only been a little over two weeks since the last bleed.

I Am Not Happy.

FFS I thought you were supposed to have less periods, not more.

Is this normal? Should I see my GP? (I just realised I have hardly any readers - maybe even none since I've moved my blog again so I'm not really asking expecting an answer, I'm more screaming into the void).

Blood or urine? Depends!

I had a really bad bout of bronchitis a few weeks ago.  The bronchitis has gone but the hacking cough still remains.

That's annoying enough (and made worse by the apparent early arrival of winter in Melbourne, the thin air making me cough even harder) but it's the damned bladder control that's driving me mental.

Honestly. I'm so sick of hacking my guts up only to feel that terrible squirt as my formerly proudly tight (toight, loik a toiger) pelvic floor muscles decide it's just all too hard and let go, resulting in wet knickers and a red face.

I need to start travelling with pads all the time, I've decided.  I got caught off-guard on the weekend.  There we were, strolling through the romantically gorgeous little town of Maldon (seriously, check it out - you'll love it!) when I started coughing...and suddenly felt that decidedly UNromantic squirt of urine.  I told my sweetheart that I had to get to a shop asap and get some pads.  Concerned, he asked "are you bleeding again". Me: "um, no, but I am coughing a lot..." "Oh...I see" was all he said.  Oooh yeah, I'm bringin' sexeh back alright.

Wet knickers are never an option so I raced into the little supermarket and grabbed some pads, asking where a public toilet was.  The woman behind the counter was very sympathetic and let me use their staff loo.  What annoys me most though is that I was too embarrassed to say what was actually going on, instead making up something about unexpected perimenipausal bleeding.  Why though? Obviously blood is acceptable, urine is not.  But I just didn't want to say "I'm wetting myself every time I cough and have to pad up to cope".  Obviously I am more vain than I realised. Years ago, I always made sure I never went anywhere without a spare pair of knickers in my bag. I'm about to start doing that again, only for entirely different reasons now, sadly!

Don't Touch Me! The Menopause Rap

Originally posted on 9 May 2012 on previous blog space:

Look what I found! I love this and reckon you will, too.

Now I admit that I haven't yet experienced any of the classic symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, dry vagina and other yummy can't-wait-to-experience-that kind of stuff) but I hope that when I do, I can deal with it as sassily as this woman does.  I think what I like most about it is that she's edgy and gorgeous, and a far cry from the sad crone depictions we usually see associated with menopause. You clearly don't want to muck this woman around, menopausal or not!


Comments from original post at old platform:

Would be interested to know whether you've started to look into any of the who/what/where/hows to get you through the symptoms of menopause. - Sparkle 9/5/2012
 Madame Menopause replied:
Not yet I haven't, mainly because the only symptom I've experienced so far is erratic periods. I don't think I can really blame my moods on perimenopause just yet either (tempting as it is!). I'm thinking I'll start to investigate them as symptoms occur. I'll be looking closely at HRT though I suspect and hope there will be improvements in it by the time I need it! Thanks for reading :)
Take a look at natural progesterone; it's been a revelation for me. It could also help with your periods, not sure about it working on the spouting hair although!  - Sparkle 9/5/12

Love this! Just the thing for all of us perimenopausal 48 year olds lol. - Mary-Jo 10/5/2012

Why aren't we talking (and laughing about this?)

Originally posted on 1 May 2012.

I'm gobsmacked. My gob, she is smacked. In searching the interwebz for pithy quotes and throwaway lines about menopause, thinking I'd find a million of 'em, I was absolutely stunned to find barely anything.

I found a quote by Stevie Nicks, one from Whoopi Goldberg, and a bit from Cybill Shepherd. Where is everyone else? Where are the fabulously funny women? Why aren't there reams of funny quotes about menopause and perimenopause? I found a few (and I do mean a few, barely anything really) articles about famous women who have spoken about menopause (Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, Kim Cattrall) but all with a very earnest and "take this seriously tone".

I ask you, where is the laughter? And...where are the Australian women? Do we have any menopausal role models? Hello? *sound of crickets chirping*

Could it be....*glances around carefully* that it's not funny? No, I don't think so. Pretty much everything has a funny aspect to it (except the possibility of Tony Abbott becoming PM - there is absolutely nothing funny about that but I digress).

Or is it still such a taboo thing to discuss publicly that the great majority of women simply don't (good girls, that's not polite conversation now is it? We don't talk about those kind of things). Or (dons tinfoil hat) is it a massive cover-up by the media (with a shameful amount of women complicit) to pretend it isn't happening at all? In our beauty and youth-obsessed world, the whole ageing thing has more than a whiff of the yuck factor doesn't it, or at least that's what I'm seeing, or smelling as it were. And the silence is deafening.

Well guess what? I want to talk about it. And I'm bloody well going to. All this 50 is the new 40 bullshit has to stop. Fifty is 50, any way you slice it and guess what lady? You're never going to be 40 again. But there's nothing to say you can't and won't still be fabulous, gorgeous, sexy, sexually active, get pissed, have rotten hangovers and dance like a dervish to the B52s and Blondie whenever you hear them.

In the future there's going to be a very different generation of old women in the aged care homes. Look out!

*If you know of any Australian women who have spoken publicly and humorously about perimenopause and/or menopause, please let me know.

PS: The Period from Hell is finally tapering off. I hope I don't have to go through that again! O_O


From Lilith on 10/5/2012: Your timing is just brilliant, madame! I've been *dying* for somewhere to talk about this - but who wants to hear about girlybits, right? Even girlfriends, who you'd think might be interested, go glassy-eyed and look like they're just enduring until you finish speaking after a minute or two.

For the last 12 months or so, my monthlies have been getting steadily heavier - in the way of can't-leave-the-house because I stand up and suddenly there's a puddle at my feet... Like you, I assumed that 'erratic' referred to timing - I thought that menopause would just be the gradual and graceful disappearance of my Aunt Flo going gently into those Goodnights™ (hehe)

It wasn't until I consulted Dr Google last week that I heard about the uterine 'Last Hurrah!' that is perimenopause. I'm only 33, so it's not something that even crossed my mind as applicable to me. (Like turning 30 was one of those things that only happens to other people.)
I did go through a number of IVF cycles in my mid-late 20s as an egg donor, so that might have had something to do with it happening early if, indeed, it is happening.. But who knows?

I've been putting off going to the quacktorcologist.. it's just easier to put pajamas on and sit in the bathtub with a blankie and a bottle of gin. I'm not sure there's even anything they can do.. or that I'm ready to have a roolly trooly diagnosed name for it yet.

Anyways.. Brill idea for a blog. I'll come back and visit. :)

"The writing on the uterine wall was a childish, albeit musical scrawl.." ~ Carrie Fisher, Delusions of Grandma.

Madame Menopause responds:
Hi Lilith, thanks for dropping by. 33? You poor thing! I imagine it would be even harder for you finding someone to talk about this with but you're more than welcome to exercise your perimenopausal rage and confusion here any time. Virtual chocolate, wine and a sympathetic shoulder are always available here ;) It would be interesting to find out more about whether egg donation trigged early menopause for you - perhaps Monash IVF or one of the private clinics have some data on it? Worth checking out I think.

I haven't heard about the Last Hurrah period either but I will start checking it out. The last one was a doozy!

Hope to see you around the place and feel free to share the link with anyone else you think might be interested and want/need a place to talk about the girly stuff no one really wants to talk about ;)

By Lilith: It's not a 'last hurrah' specific bleed - but rather a period of erratic monthlies in which your girlybits just go crazy.. The 'last hurrah' was just how one website that read I described it.
You've prompted me out of my procrastinatory gin-fest.. I have an appointment in a couple of hours to go and discuss it with my GP.. so I guess we'll see how it goes. :) Fingers and toes (and legs!) crossed.

Madame Menopause responded:
Good luck Lilith! I look forward to hearing how you go and what your GP says.'s a bit depressing to learn that there could be more periods to come like that recent one. I'm considering buying stocks in the Libra company!

Dory wrote: Hello Madame, thanks for the blog. Its about time that there was somewhere for us gorgeous menopausal girls to go, and the timing for me personally is just brilliant. I am 47 years old, and I think the time has come. Last week I took myself off to the doctor for the dreaded PAP test. Now its been a while, maybe 6 years (I know!), and hubby, who is just to die for (well today anyway) nagged me in to it.So off I went.
Up on the table, ankles together, and drop your knees. Drop your knees please (I though i did), no just a bit further please (Im sure my hips used to be more flexible than that). Three seconds of discomfort and yeah, I'm done.
What , I'm not?
Pelvic floor examination? OK
I'm just going to pop two fingers into your vagina dear, and can you squeeze for me, as hard as you can.
This is so funny, I laughed and laughed.
Pelvic floor all good.
Now dear, I'm just going to check you cervix just to see whats going on. Yes it looks like your menopause has started.
So is there a team of workers down there busy sewing it up or something?
So now I'm done? What not yet?
Ok boobs. Hell, I didn't wax my armpits. They need another day so the wax will stick, and why would you need to poke around my hairy armpits. Oh breast examination, yeah.
So now I am done. Waiting for results. Except I have to have a mammogram, and a breast scan. And the moral of the story is dont go 6 years without a pap smear, cos they will make you pay.
I shouldn't bitch, I am one of the lucky ones. Except for my cycle being 21 days now, and the periods a bit sketchy, I'm not having too much trouble.A few mood swings, but Im not convinced they are the result of menopause, I think they are caused by being surrounded by large amounts of stupid.
I think one of the funniest things about menopause is watching the men involved. Sometimes the look of absolute terror in their eyes when their lady looks at them a certain way is priceless. Most of my girlfriends are at the same stage as me, so there is endless entertainment.
Thanks again for giving us a place to have a laugh. I will be back.

Madame Menopause responded:
Hi and welcome Dory! Thanks for your wonderful post - that's just the sort of thing this blog was started for: hearing our stories in our own voices. Very happy to have you here :)

I have a Pap smear every two years because...well, just because I have to but I don't recall having my pelvic floor examined. I had a mammogram a few years ago because there's a bit of a link between breast cancer and cervical cancer and the GP thought it worth a go. Being extremely well-endowed boobage-wise it wasn't as painful as I'd heard some women say but I can imagine it would hurt like a bitch for small breasted women.

Drop by any time - I hope to make a post at least every few days, depending on time constraints and whether the menopausal muse grabs me and gives me a shake.

Dory wrote: I look forward to more, Madame. Just a quick heads up for the ladies who have finished their periods. My dear old mum finished her periods when she was about 47. Ahh the relief. Or so she though. Turned out her ovaries had one last egg they had been saving for a special occasion, and she was a little bit pregnant. And here I am.
So be vigilant girls, dont take anything for granted.

Lilith wrote: So I'm back from the quacktorcologist's office - (And may I just borrow your platform to extoll the virtues of my GP - it's so unbelievably nice to have a GP finally that listens and remembers what you say) - with a shiny bottle of Cyklokapron (Conjures up all sorts of funny mental pictures of cybertronic-anti-period aprons) .. which is to take while I'm on my period if it's too heavy to do normal activities (like leaving the bathroom?).. And she's ordered a pelvic exam ultrasound to see if there's any nasty in there responsible for it. and she checked my hormones from a blood test a few months ago (I had one with my pap smear) and said that if the ultrasound doesn't give us any clues, she'll do some more specific tests. Feels good to be working towards an explanation.. thanks for the motivation, Madame. :)

Madame Menopause responded:
Wow Lilith, that's efficient! Your GP sounds fantastic. They get such a bad rap in the media much of the time, yet most of them are doing a great job, often in difficult circumstances. Hope the Cyklokapron (which does indeed make me think of weird aprons...dammit, now I'm thinking of the robot maid from the Jetsons!) works. Let us know how you go with it.

Dory wroteJust out of curiosity, does anyone else remember the giant pads from years ago? The ones you attached to a belt, they didnt even have self adhesive. They came in a pack about the size of a weetbix box. I worked in a chemist way back then (that was about the only place you could by pads then) and we had to wrap them in brown paper, and they were stored under the bench, out of sight, so as not to offend.
My how things have changed.

Plucking my tits & a peevish uterus

I'm reposting the few posts I made when I first started this blog, just so they're all here in one place.

Re-posted from original blog space on 30 April 2012:

Here is my original comment I wrote on Cate Pearce's 'Dial M for Menopause' blog which earned some encouragement to start one of my own:

Oh joy. Another period, less than 28 days since the last one, which was the first in three months. Weird and unexpected. And lame, like it's only trying halfheartedly. The deep red flow of my fecund days has given way to an almost anaemic trickle, sometimes barely a smear. Hardly worth it really. I'd rather it just stopped altogether because this is just embarrassing.

And can we talk about hair? WTF's going on with the hair? I'm fair but a few months ago I discovered a hair which I believe rightly belonged to my partner and had clearly transplanted itself from him to me, growing just to the right of my mouth. A dark, thick, man-like hair. Needless to say it went the way of the tweezers immediately but it CAME BACK! And was just as quickly removed again. Now I'm worried. Will there be more? Will they also be black and bristly? Will I start paying attention to ads for men's razors? Will I grow a beard? Terrifying thought as I'm blonde and pale. And the breast hairs. What's that about please? Not as tough or dark as the facial hair but still definitely there. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time plucking these out of my boobs lately and I'm less than impressed. FFS I've never even plucked my eyebrows now I'm plucking my tits? This is horribly unfair and I want to know who I can lodge my complaint to.

As a bit of background, without giving too much away, my partner is just about to turn 40 and freaking out a little about it. Since I'll be 49 in October and therefore "the F word" next year, this makes me laugh. But in a weird, freaked-out kind of way! We have been together just over nine years and I don't know how he will react to having a menopausal partner. This brings its own extra set of anxieties to me.

Now, less than 48 hours after that comment, my uterus, clearly miffed at being publicly mocked for not producing work up to its usual standard, has hit back, giving me the heaviest period I've had in...actually I think ever. I'm bleeding copiously and passing clots (which I've never done in my menstrual history) and experiencing period pain like I did when I was a teenager before mum put me on the Pill to regulate and limit my periods. It's horrible.

Why is this happening? I knew to expect erratic periods but I thought that related to timing. Does it also mean changing in intensity from barely there to Niagara Falls too? Perhaps this is the last hurrah and the event organisers are now in cleaning out the venue for the last time? Who knows? I sure as hell don't.

Pass me another pad!

[First published on 30.4.2012 on original Wordpress blog]