The Menopause Chronicles

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to add my adventures in menopause to the blog.  I always think, though, that most readers will not want to read about such things.  Since today, January 31, 2009, marks the 19th day this month I’ve been bleeding , I’ve decided to start writing about here, in a page.  That way those who want to know about it, can, and who don’t, won’t have to.  Much.  It does make its way into my every day, unfortunately.

I’m going to style this as a page, in chronological order, not like in a blog.  So updates will appear at the end, not at the beginning.

February 1, 2009

So to begin at the beginning, I first got my period around 12 or 13.  It as a highly anticipated event, by me.  From the beginning, my cycles was short, less than 28 days, my periods were long, up to 7 days, and I had severe cramps.  When I was a teenager, Ibuprofen was invented, and I thank goodness.  I had a D & C as a teenager to alleviate cramps, which it didn’t.

I always wanted children very badly, and my mother and her sisters all had serious fertility issues.  I am the only biological child of the three of them.  That loomed large in my psyche, and I was always afraid I too would struggle with it.  Partly for that reason, I had children as soon as I felt I possibly could.  I finished college and got married and then bam.  For reasons I won’t embarrass my loved ones with, I’m fairly positive I got pregnant from one try, twice.  I have two children who are now in their 20s.

My grandmother always promised that my cramps would lessen after childbirth, and they did, somewhat, for a time.  After my first baby was born, and after just a few weeks of breastfeeding her exclusively without so much as a bottle of water, I got cramps and my period was back.  I was terribly disappointed since I had really looked forward to that periodless time of breastfeeding, but not for me.  The cramps were less though they increased over the years.

After my second baby, things with my cycle went on pretty much as before from the time I was 26 until it started to change when I was 43.

February 2, 2009

When I was 43, I skipped my period for a few months.  I went to the doctor, and she took blood.  She said that I was not in menopause according to my blood levels of whatever.  She gave me a prescription for a hormone to bring on my period, saying that if I didn’t do that, when my period finally came, it would be massive.  I was going on vacation, so I didn’t take it, and before I had a chance to take it, I got a period.  It was regular again for a few years.

Then I started being irregular, with generally more than a month between periods.  Which was fine with me.  When I got one that lasted more than two weeks, however, I went to the doctor.

Over the past nine months or so, I’ve been through a biopsy, blood tests, and a special sonogram, to see if the irregular bleeding is caused by a tumor or some other problem.  It isn’t.  Still my blood indicates no menopause.

Over the past three years, my periods have diminished, with many months skipped.  I got two periods this past December of 2008, though, and I’ve bled through most of January and am still bleeding now.

February 3, 2009

My tenth day of bleeding.  It seems to be getting lighter.  I’m able to manage it pretty well by alternating the Keeper with a pad.  I bought new pads yesterday.  They’ve come out with some new type that seems perfect for this lightness.  The pad is big, but very thin.

When I first got my period, I used a belt with a pad.  I’ve come all the way along to using a Keeper.  I hope nothing else gets invented before I’m through.

February 5, 2009

I’m cautiously optimistic that the bleeding has stopped, finally.  That was quite a string of bleeding – Dec 19-22, Jan 5-16, and Jan 25-Feb 4.  I’ve read more and talked to more people about it.  The Silent Passage was written a while ago, but it lists just what I’m going through.  Last night I read something to the effect that this is normal and temporary, so no one should be rushed into surgery or drugs.  Today I found out that someone at work is experiencing this, and she tried hormones, then stopped.  A news article today said that the hormones do increase the risk of cancer and heart disease and stroke.  One of the most difficult aspects of it is just not knowing when it will come and for how long.  Plus, so far, that’s my only symptom.  I know there are others I may still get.  My own mother told me the other day that she started hormones when she had her hysterectomy, younger than I am now, and that she just tried to stop them a few months ago.  She said she’s back on them, she felt so badly off.  And she told me that since she hasn’t had a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, I won’t get them either.

February 21, 2009

I’m bleeding again today after two weeks of not.

March 4, 2009

I haven’t updated because there isn’t much to say.  I’m bleeding again today after several days of not.  When I bleed, it’s light, and I’ve been able to handle it by alternating a very thin pad with the Keeper.  It’s been more a nuisance than anything, and it’s hard not knowing what tomorrow or even later tonight will bring.

Along with The Silent Passage I’ve started reading The Change by Germaine Greer.  I realize both of these are rather old.  There is so much to consider, I think I’ll understand it by the time it’s over.  I feel sort of against drugs or surgery, if I can avoid them.  Drugs increase the risk of stroke and cancer, but they help prevent osteoporosis and heart attack.  And I guess heart attack is the big killer of women like me.

One thing it cheers me to read in Germaine Greer is the way society may discard older women, but that while we enjoy each other, we’ll have plenty of pleasant company.  I believe that, and being a lesbian helps with that too.

March 8, 2009

My bleeds so far this year-

January 5-16

January 25-February 4

February 7

February 21-27

March 4- now

It would be easier to list the days I don’t bleed.  Out of 67 days, I’ve bled on 36.  Still light, still manageable.  It’s sad but true that I don’t think I’ll find a doctor who will help me with this, help me understand or make choices.  I really don’t.

March 10, 2009

Still bleeding, this time from March 4 till now, with only a few days off between bleeds.  It’s heavier now but still manageable.  Also, I’ve lost nine pounds since beginning to try in January.

March 13, 2009

Still bleeding, and it’s getting heavier and harder to manage.

March 17, 2009

Still bleeding, and the keeper isn’t doing well like it had been.  It seems to be leaking more, so I’ve gone back to tampons alternating with pads.  I’m going to keep on trying with the keeper though.

I’ll need a physical exam for work before the middle of April, and I may ask them to see if I have enough iron in my blood given all this bleeding.  It will be two solid weeks tomorrow, and that following just a four day break from the bleed before.  The longest time I’ve gone to date with continuous bleeding is two weeks and four days.

April 4, 2009

After 17 days, the respite is over.  One day at a time I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  I’m going to try to manage the pads, tampons and keeper in the best way that I can.  And I’m going to try to be brave.

May 10, 2009

Mother’s Day!  I must keep it in mind that the function that enabled me to be a mother is the one that vexes me now.  No such thing as a free lunch.

I haven’t been motivated to update, which is good.  It’s on my mind, though not terribly.  I’m in my fourth day of bleeding this time (cycle?), and so far it’s slow and manageable.  My fear of it turning is worse than the actual blood.  I’ve also had a cold for more than a week, and I have dental work on Thursday.  So my thought is it’s all happening now and maybe I’ll be free and clear and happy by next weekend.  Maybe.

June 14, 2009

My bleeds so far this year-

January 5-16

January 25-February 4

February 7

February 21-27

March 4- 17

April 4-10

April 20

May 7-15

June 12-now

Thank goodness the frequency is slowing down.

This time, I’ve had terrible terrible breast pain for days.  The kind that hurts badly all the time.  I’ve been weighing myself on Sundays and I didn’t gain, thank goodness.  I’ve held my initial weight loss and stopped.  I will get that moving again this week, blood or no blood.  I hope this is an easy short bleed, but I’m afraid to hope.  I still have no other symptoms of hormones on the rampage.  It’s also time for me to go back to the doctor for the yearly mess.  This visit last year began all those tests.  I’m not anxious to do this.

June 17, 2009

Today I legally changed my name and now I’d like to be done with the change of life!  Yesterday, I was bleeding so heavily that I couldn’t go to work in the morning.  I had gotten all ready and was warming up the car, but the blood just wouldn’t stop flowing.  I stayed home bleeding until 11:30 and went in.  Today the flow is almost gone.  Thank goodness.  The name change hearing would have been difficult with all that blood.

Before this bleed began, my breasts hurt so badly for so many days that I thought about asking the doctor for a pain killer.  Once I started bleeding, that lessened, but it didn’t go away, and I also got cramps.  This was certainly a fun one.

July 19, 2009

My bleeds so far this year-

January 5-16

January 25-February 4

February 7

February 21-27

March 4- 17

April 4-10

April 20

May 7-15

June 12-June 19

July 10-July 16

It seems to have settled into a monthly pattern that resembles normal.  This last one had one very heavy day and a few very crampy days.  It didn’t really stop me from doing anything but I think that’s because the heavy time was on the weekend.  Though I don’t remember exactly so I guess that’s good.

My weight has been the same since April.  From January to April I lost 15 pounds, so this is quite a plateau.  It’s because I stopped trying, and I’m very very very glad I didn’t gain any back.  But it’s time to get moving with it again.

Overall I’m doing well.  I have to get a new doctor and begin the yearly stuff again.  I’ll do that this week.  I hope.

August 14, 2009

Another fairly regular period come and gone.  I have to find a new doctor and go for a yearly now.

August 31, 2009

I went for my yearly today – they had a cancellation is how I got in so quickly.  This was a new doctor.  My previous doctor moved out of state without saying goodbye.  The new doctor gave me the same song as all the others.  Maybe I’m missing something important here.

She said I need to have the biopsy, etc, like last year, each year that I have irregular periods, since this is a warning sign of uterine cancer.  I was so unhappy to hear that.  Since the last five months have been pretty much regular, she let me put off the endometrial biopsy until they get irregular again.  She said the artificial regularity caused by hormones would protect against the cancer, so I wouldn’t need the tests if I was taking them.

October 16, 2009

The last day I bled what August 14.  I have to schedule a mammogram, then bite the bullet and get the biopsy.  Still and all, I do not miss bleeding one bit.

October 21, 2009

My breasts have been getting sore for two or three days now, but no other sign of anything.

November 2, 2009

Of course the aforementioned breast pain had to end in a big bleed.  It’s Monday morning and I’m home rather than at work because I’m bleeding so much.  I’m going to stay upright and try to drain my damn self and go in to work later.  I’ve already gotten blood on the white shower curtain and it is not yet 8 am.

My bleeds so far this year-

January 5-16

January 25-February 4

February 7

February 21-27

March 4- 17

April 4-10

April 20

May 7-15

June 12-June 19

July 10-July 16

August 6-14

October 30-present

December 27, 2009

My last bleed was from October 30 – November 6, 2009.  Nothing since then, no symptoms, no nothing.  I’m very glad and grateful but it does mean I have to go get another biopsy.  So I’ll make an appointment for that after next week.  It has been very very nice to not have any symptoms at all.

January 10, 2010

I knew that saying I hadn’t bled would be bad luck, and it was.  I started January 6 after a few awful weeks of terrible terrible breast pain.  I had one really bad day on January 8, and yesterday, the 9th, I made it through Menopause the Musical with no problem, then came home to a flood.

Menopause the Musical had many truisms that were funny and amusing.  I have, to date, not had a hot flash, so all that is lost on me except that I try and be grateful every time I hear about it.

Things seem to be slowing down today and I hope it doesn’t make working tomorrow impossible or unpleasant.  And I’m trying not to think about going through this on my trip to Hawaii.

February 7, 2010

Two periods for the month of January.

So far this year:

January 6-12

January 28-February 3

March 25, 2010

I have avoided and avoided updating.  I don’t want to still be doing this, I don’t want to still be being this.

I bled again February 21-28.  That coincided with me getting sick, and with major, major snow storms and otherwise constant snow.  Since then I spent the last week with sore breasts.  I’ve come to stop hoping that I can get the breasts without the blood, but the soreness has passed and so far, no blood.  I haven’t completely recovered from being sick and am on my second antibiotic, but I think it’s working and without terrible side effects.  I was just depressed about it and afraid that bleeding will be my new state of being.  From January 1 to February 28, a time of 59 days, I bled for 22 of them.  And lots of that was heavy and somewhat painful.  And terribly painful breasts were there for much of the non-bleeding time.

I’m inordinately worried about my upcoming vacation to Hawaii.  At the height of my blood, I almost wrote a letter to the people I am traveling with to tell them to please not mind me, if I can’t move and have to sit in a deck chair at least I’m doing it in Hawaii, and please have fun without me.  Nothing I can do about this, but cope the best I can.  I have what, 35 years of experience with bleeding?  Maybe time for my best performance ever.

So far this year:

January 6-12

January 28-February 3

February 21-28

April 15, 2010

I started bleeding April 9 and I seem to be wrapping it up.  It was a very manageable period.  My eye is on my vacation.  At times I’ve considered writing to the three people who are traveling with me, saying please if all I can do is sit by the pool, by the bathroom, please have fun without me.  Looking over my past two plus years of records, there’s just no way to predict how it will go.

May 9, 2010

I started bleeding yesterday and I have never been so very happy to do so.  I leave for Hawaii in 11 days and the period should (please, please) be gone, gone, gone!

June 23, 2010

I can’t complain (too much) that it held off until now.  I made it to Hawaii and back, and almost to a family wedding and back.  But it’s back.  That was over a month in between, so I’ll take it.

Yesterday was rough at work, I was bleeding a lot, but I really couldn’t go home.  My hands are raw from going to the bathroom to bleed and washing them.  I was sitting in a meeting at work, just three of us, feeling the gush.  I hate that.  But today it’s almost gone.  And isn’t that part of the fun – never knowing how long it will last?

Now I begin hoping for another reprieve.

August 15, 2010

She’s back again, and here, on the first day of just a little tinge of pink, I wonder – will it be a one day, two day, or two week adventure?

I really want to cry.

November 6, 2010

That August bleed turned out to only be two days.  This should be a lesson to me.  I had a regular, long period in September, followed by two days of random bleeding later in September.  Nothing in October.  Today I’m gushing blood and in pain.

I’m reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, the menopause version.  It’s not terribly interesting, but it is validating.  It says a lot of the things I’ve thought, that menopause is a natural process, not something to be cured.  It pointed out that doctors have a skewed view of it because they tend to see more of the people who are having trouble, less of the people for whom it’s going smoothly.  I agree with that all of the time, except for now, when I’m thinking jealously of someone who just had a hysterectomy.

March 8, 2011

Just back from my yearly, and not much is new.

  • There’s no way to tell how long this will go on.  My absence of hot flashes may mean it will take me longer than average (50), or it may not.
  • Graphs representing menopausal bleeding are indistinguishable from the scribblings of a toddler
  • Hysterectomy rates are down.
  • There is no cure and no treatment for my extremely painful breasts beyond Ibuprofen, just like when I was 20.  Losing a little weight may help.
  • I seem perfectly healthy.  If the wonkiness stays for another year, I’ll go through all the tests again to make sure cancer isn’t developing along with menopause.

This was a new, young doctor, and I liked her.  She is truly the first one who didn’t try to push drugs or surgery on me.  Before I went there, I tallied the days of the years that I bled.

2007  60 days (may not be accurate)

2008 35 days (that was a very good year)

2009 90 days

2010 56 days

Sharing these numbers is what prompted the doctor to say the chart is indistinguishable from scribble.  It is not a clear downward trend.  Funny, I never kept track of my periods my whole life, now I have this extensive record, now that it’s (almost?  possibly?) gone.

August 6, 2011

I so wanted to come back here one day, next April, and say, All Done!

Alas, it is not to be, and I find myself complaining because my body actually works.  Poor me!

January 22, 2012

And so it is 2012 and still I’m writing here.

In 2011, I bled for 49 days.

2010 – 56 days

2009 – 90 days

2008 – 35 days

2007 – 60 days

That was going in the right direction.  After finishing 2011 with a five day period in December, I started bleeding again January 4.  That lasted until January 10, stopped until January 16, and now it seems to have stopped again.  I hope!  So 13 days out of 22 this year already.

I know I shouldn’t be disappointed.  I comment each and every time to Carole, poor dear, that I’m actually upset because my body works correctly!  And it does!  And I am!!

The flow hasn’t been unmanageable for a long time.  That got to be the key.  There was one day recently when I feared I wouldn’t make it through work, but I did.  It’s not really hampering me and I need to stay grateful and stay strong.  Doctors want to fix things.  This isn’t broken.  Not today.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll need medical intervention but today I just need to stay strong.

One of the comments to this page that I didn’t address, I don’t think, asked about my thyroid.  When my periods first went wonky I had everything thoroughly checked.  It’s unpleasant, for sure, but it’s normal and actually healthy.  I’m just having peri menopause.  There are drugs and surgeries that could spare me this last bit but I’m choosing not to have them while there’s a choice.  And now I think I’ll search out some menopause blogs.  How pleasant!  Hey, this is one of the very few perks of growing old.

 

June 1, 2013

I’m now 51 years old.  And so it goes.  And goes.  And goes.

I haven’t written much, because not much has been new.  I started off this year with light periods and skipped periods, then I just had a doozie.  The kind that made me not able to walk around, and during one of those days, I had to work, and to be a manager on duty.  That was hard.  If I regularly had days like that, I would seek out the medical interventions to make it stop.  Happily that doesn’t happen often.

And that is all my news.  Everything else about this experience holds steady.  I still haven’t had a hot flash.  I’m still otherwise healthy.  I still see no end in sight.

 

January 10, 2015

I went to the doctor yesterday.  I have to admit that it was more than a year since I had been.  The fact that they no longer do yearly pap smears confused me into thinking I didn’t have to go every year but no such luck.

 

As anyone who has read all of my experience here will know, I kept detailed and copious records of my bleeding and failure to bleed through the years.  Well, I lost all that paper.  I know it’s somewhere, I just haven’t seen it for years.  And so I write without certainty that I’m pretty sure I haven’t bled since last October.  About three months.

 

I get hot flashes, but very mild, infrequent and brief.  I’m kind of enjoying them as our weather is and has been well below freezing.

 

This may actually be it.  The doctor and her nurse commented to me that women have such varied reactions to this thought.  I am 99% happy, my 1% of sadness is really only for the passage of time it marks.  I have liked absolutely nothing about menstruating except for the babies it enabled me to have.

 

And if this is indeed it, I am very happy to have made it through without medications or surgery.  I am not anti-medication or anti-surgery, I just hope to do without them as much as possible.

 

So maybe I won’t be writing here again until next October.  I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t mark an actual day, but I’ll get over it.

10 thoughts on “The Menopause Chronicles

  1. This has been a similar pattern for me for only three months now. I find it helpful to read your blog. I’m 44 in Dec so I’m fairly sure the whole “change” is beginning. The idea of surrendering to the docs does not sit well with me although I know it is a neccessary evil. To a large extent, I really hope I address this time like I did with the birth of my son. The doc didn’t come in the room. Love the blog.

    Aitch

  2. Have you had your thyroid levels checked? I was having problems like you described, and asked my doctor to check my thyroid. It was low, and when I started on thyroxin the problem disappeared.

  3. I am a 54 year old woman who had to have a partial hysterectomy when I was 35 years old due to fibroid tumors in my uterus. Since puberty, I experienced heavy monthly flows with severe cramping that often kept me from leading a functional life. I can say the hysterectomy was a gift and a relief as I was so tired of the pain and eventually the need to stay home because my flow was so heavy. I am now experiencing menopause symptoms of hot flashes, short term memory loss, etc. While these “symptoms” are annoying to me, I choose to not take hormones to mask something that is perfectly natural for my body to experience. I support your seeking out your options for what is best for you and perhaps coming to the conclusion you should experience this discomfort without the “aid” of medical intervention (provided what you are experiencing is not born out of a medical condition that should be addrressed).

    I will continue to follow your journey.

    • I ave been bleeding at a moderate to heavy level for nine whole weeks now without any let up, or any signs of let up. I’m 49. Been to see GP who offered me Minerva coil to reduce or even stop the bleeding but i didnt fancy that idea so i declined. Am taking an iron supplement but other than that am going to grit my teeth and get on with it. I had heard of people skipping periods, but that has never happened to me, and i had heard of periods coming closer together or further apart and i have experienced a little of this. Some months i would be a week early, and some months a week late, BUT i had never heard of anyone starting a period and then just not stopping!!! i started on 2nd Dec and am still going and its certainly NOT spotting, its moderate flow, with several clots passed daily, which although manageable, is tiring and gets me down. I guess it is all part of a natural process. My doc does not seem worried which was re-assuring, but i cant say i relish the thought of this going on for months on end!!!!

  4. The bloody perimenopause! it goes on forever…9 years and counting though HRT is prolonging it but keeping me from withering up like an old depressed leaf, I think. Tried using ‘natural products’ like black cohosh which is like using st johns wort for chronic depression. Yes – the joys of growing older!

  5. Pingback: February 18, 2012 (this day) « Don't Drink and Don't Die

  6. Have you tried changing your food plan? I’m not talking about just losing weight but completely changing what you put in your body. As we get older for many of us our bodies can’t tolerate processed food or foreign chemicals. The only thing that worked for me was a complete change of food/eating style. No coffee, no sugar, no gluten grains, no foods with preservatives – in other words- completely natural eating style. This means more veggies (grees especially) and more protein (lean), healthy fats, all this which you need as you get older to compensate for muscle loss. Your doctors will never tell you how hormones and what you eat effect each other. The only thing they know to say is that menopause is different for every woman.

  7. Stiff all over had no periods for year and now I get this period from hell fingers swollen up and can’t get my ring off bad back pain bleeding is endless and can’t contain it stiff and aches all over so tired I can’t get up really bad period pain

  8. Pingback: January 10, 2015 (this day) – Don't Drink and Don't Die

  9. Im 49 and for the past yearcand a half have had 2or 3 periods a month then a few months ago seemed better but in march no period at all.Then 19 days ago here it comes no warning..still bleeding not badly but its there along with cramps and backache..Hoping it ends soon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s