Saturday 31 December 2011

i enjoy being a (middle-aged) girl

There comes a point in a woman's life when you can no longer blame things on past pregnancies, particularly when your children are in high school or university. (True story. I have actually witnessed this logic.) For example, my youngest is now 2 1/2, which means this is now officially no longer Baby Weight. This has only become a recent revelation to me; there are a myriad of things I was blaming on pregnancy, when in fact, I think I'm just getting old. My theory is reinforced by the fact that every time I seek professional help for my medical woes, the answer is consistently: "Yes well, that just happens as we get older." It must be great to be a doctor with a patient who is over 40, because you can use this answer for pretty much anything without a lot of investigation. Increased and unexplained allergies? Ageing. Brittle hair? Ageing. Inability to see well in the dark? Ageing. Intense and irrational hatred of going to Tesco? Ageing.

I've come to the conclusion that the long list of health-related oddities I've been attributing to my post pregnancy body are more likely due to Becoming Older (or BO, as it shall now be known.) The foggy brain, inability to make decisions, oversensitivity, fatigue, and complete lack of short term memory hasn't stopped since my newborn became a toddler and her sleeping habits improved greatly. My periods are terrible not just because of the mood swings, but because every month for a week, I go through early pregnancy: heartburn, IBS, nausea, bloating, and insomnia. Because all of this has happened so gradually and time flies when you've got three kids, it's only now dawned on me. This isn't just BO, it's the beginning of The Change. From The Curse to The Change, all in the blink of the eye. Girls, enjoy your lives until age 11-16 because once you get your period, YOU ARE DOOOOOOMED.

I did a little online research, because why seek help from trained medical professionals when you can get instant Internt access to information available from hospitals, universities, and antisocial psychopaths who never leave the house? The data might not be accurate and every site leads you to believe you likely have cancer, but generally you can weed out the sensible articles from Wikipedia-esque. I learned that:

Women of all ages suffer from PMS, but it can be more of a problem at these times:
  • After childbirth
  • During your 30s and 40s
  • During times of stress
PMS is often worse at either end of a woman's reproductive life, around puberty and before the menopause. [source]

Well, that's me all over. The solution? Don't get fat, exercise, avoid coffee and alcohol, don't eat sugar or fat, and sleep more. Well, that's me screwed. On top of all this, it's very likely that I've entered perimenopause. That's the decade or so before you actually go through the menopause, because the menopause isn't fun and hilarious enough on its own. The Mayo Clinic tells us that "Women start perimenopause at different ages. In your 40s, or even as early as your 30s, you may start noticing the signs." These signs being everything I listed in paragraph 2. Fantastic.

So where do I go from here? There's no test (or no test that's terribly useful) to determine whether or not you're going through perimenopause, and no treatment that doesn't involve taking pills or completely removing your internal lady parts. I'm going to try eliminating wheat completely (not that I eat a lot of it, but I don't totally avoid it in things like soy sauce, HP sauce, etc.), avoid caffeine at certain times of the month, and getting some weight off by avoiding sugars and grains. Running is also in the plan, mostly for my mental health - I loved that few minutes of peace and fresh air when I went out for a jog/walk/waddle. Maybe a little yoga too, because being bendy surely must do some good.

I can't fight mother nature (she obviously has no sense of humour and must be pretty sadistic to have come up with this whole reproductive life cycle thing), but I'll try to find something that will keep her at bay.

Friday 30 December 2011

january, revisited

Hey look, it's that time of year again! Time to say to yourself, "Sweet merciful crap, back away from the Quality Street and mince pies before you implode." and make all sorts of plans for the new year. Judging by my Facebook feed, it looks like most of you have Get 2011 The Hell Over With as your main priority. I am genuinely sorry that it's been a tough year for a lot of my friends and family, and here's hoping that things get much, much better and easier.

So back in January, I made a list of things I wanted to work on for the year. My goals were:

  • Stop sweating the small stuff.
  • Get help (i.e. stop trying to do too much and accept help when offered.)
  • Prioritise.
  • Get back (i.e. do the things I used to do and love; make time for myself.)

I can't say that I've done remarkably well on any of these goals but hey, at least I made a nice list in tidy bulleted format. I still sweat the small stuff and I let insignificant things get me down. I think I've done a little better with the other three, specifically after giving up my day job back in April. While it's been weird to be "out of work" (don't even get me started on people's perceptions on what stay at home parents do with their time), it's been a huge relief not to worry about childcare and a pure joy to be able to attend a lot of school activities I missed out on before. Some days are really tough and I can actually feel my brain cells digging tiny tunnels to escape the insanity, but on the most part, it's been the best decision I've made. I still need to find my groove, though. And a hobby. (Preferably one that pays money.)

My goals for 2012 are:

  • Purge and organise. I started working on this recently and it's been incredibly liberating. There is still quite a way to go yet, and I still have yet to find a way to keep myself organised.
  • Make our home a sweet home. We aren't going to move for quite some time, so we need to sort out all the loose ends around here and make this a place we can really be happy with, at least for the next little while. Must. Get. Rid. Of. That. Floral. Wallpaper. In. The. Corridor. Gaaaaaah.
  • Focus on my health. I don't just mean losing weight (which has been the albatross around my neck for decades now), but finding solutions for the small yet annoying health niggles I've been enduring for the past couple of years.
  • Figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I might return to work, in some capacity, when Isla increases her hours at nursery in September. It might be tech writing again, or it might be something totally different. I don't know yet.
  • Be creative. My soul goes numb when I'm not doing something creative, whether it's delving into the cobwebby part of my brain that used to do graphic design, making something, or figuring out how to do a rugby ball cake (true.) 
  • Get "published". Doesn't have to be paid work (it likely won't be and will probably be an article online), but I need to write and it would be great to get a piece out there in the public domain. This is very much related to my last point.
  • Buy as much London Olympic tat as possible. (Not really. Well, maybe just a little tat.)

Happy new year, everyone!