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.

No comments: