Change of life
I used to work in a culture dismissive of women in menopause and their symptoms… I admit that I too I felt they were weak, whinging women, bored by the topic, felt they were basket cases, not strong enough to get on with things, no fibre or courage, I had no way to relate to it. I was in complete ignorance, with an air of superiority! I would manage it better when my turn came wtf 😳
Pie and humble didn’t cut it, I needed a shovel to choke that realisation down …. I’m grateful those poor women never knew my feelings about them. I apologise to each and every one of you … but then I was younger, felt awesome, felt I looked good, training in the gym sometimes, running, surviving on Atkins a cool loose size 10 clothing. Yep I felt good…. truth is I only felt good on Atkins as I was an undiagnosed coeliac at the time, so when I wasn’t on Atkins I was ill due to malabsorption, I was in my mid 30’s, married, full time job as a Detective in the Police.
I had very painful periods throughout my life, so heavy. At 30 having never wanted children before hormones kicked in and I wanted a baby suddenly and desperately. Four years of laparoscopies and gift brought the joy that is my first son at age 34. The laparoscopies showed I had fibroids, endometriosis and I got cysts on the ovaries on occasions. One operation to remove the fibroids. I would turn into Medusa the day before a period, paranoid, tearful. I would get vertigo, seeing stars. I generally experienced extreme nausea and vomiting. Yep, a painful hell, solphadine in those days in fact anything I could get my paws on to relieve the pain so I could keep working through it. My job wasn’t in a culture you could talk freely about these things
I remember trying to work through it, being on a search of premises and crawling around on my hands and knees, intent on searching all the lower cupboards, truth is I was in so much abdominal pain I was struggling to get up. So used resourceful ways like that to hide it. I was ambitious at work so was eager not to draw attention to myself for the wrong reasons.
At the age of 38 I was surprised with my second pregnancy, insulted by the consultant telling me I was on the at-risk classification due to my age! 😳 my second joy of a son was born!
Then as the next few years rolled by I was becoming exhausted generally, leading to visits to my GP. I had an old school quack as I call him, great with joints rubbish at listening. I told him I had had an allergy test and it went off the scale for wheat. He told me he didn’t believe in that rubbish, even after I had told him that my brother and Aunty had coeliac disease. It took him until 2010 at the age of 47 to test my 🩸 blood. You guessed it 98% positive for coeliac, suddenly he wanted to bend over backwards to help, his own way of apologising for missing this for years and ignoring me.
I was given massive doses of vitamin B and D as I hadn’t been absorbing vitamins. Within three months of the doses, I was running 3k around Hatchmere Lake at Delamere! 🏃♀️ on top of the world ma!
However, the fibroid problems continued excessive bleeding. Exhausted I was spiralling steadily into desperation for help. I was on more than I was off. I started to gain weight for the first time in years reaching a size 14 and I felt like absolute shit mentally and physically. I’d forgotten those cocky days when I felt sexy, attractive, healthy and good on Atkins. As I lost energy I lost a lot of my exuberant self-confidence. Finally, I landed in front of a consultant at 52 years of age, he established that I didn’t want any more children, and carried out a total hysterectomy, removing an extremely large fibroid from the lower right of the abdomen. It took some time to recover and I had pain and soreness in that area for some time.
Launched Into The Menopause
Then I was unceremoniously launched into the menopause. Oh boy in coming embarrassing hot flashes! Impossible to hide at work. Then it was like I had a complete personality transplant, at the drop of a hat I could fly into anger going from 0-10 at speed with no parachute, I had paranoia 👀!
I had no conception it was me. My husband the victim on the receiving end of my cruel tongue! I would shout and cry 😢 feeling despair. I would tell him all the things that I thought were wrong with him, things I felt he should do and wasn’t doing. I’ve always been bright in outlook and forward-looking in nature, with a great daft sense of silly cheeky humour, so this was so out of character for me. It put a strain on our marriage for a time. Then compounded guilt as it slowly dawned on me it had been me all along. My over sensitivity radar was working at full speed ahead.
My husband gently and bravely got me to go to the GP for support as it was affecting our usual closeness. One thing about my husband is his honesty, straight down the line, I had to listen. My marriage was thankfully and definitely still is a fantastic strong marriage, 30 years together I adore this wise and patient man. His name is William and he is aptly named after a guardian angel. He is my guardian angel. My GP tried various HRT patches, but I had reactions to them, different ones and they physically burned the skin on my expanding arse.
Then after six months of this, my best friend who was a great believer in the dangers of HRT being cancer-causing convinced me to come off it and go cold turkey. Trying natural remedies. I hit the herbal shops trying various concoctions. I had always felt like a complaining nuisance of a patient in the old doctor’s office, I couldn’t get him to realise I had things wrong and needed help. He put everything down to stress. He didn’t listen and he didn’t care, zero on the empathy scale. I was so pissed off I had suffered unnecessarily.
I was angry with him, hopping mad as a 🐸 frog. That GP had failed me. He was dismissive, superior. Letting me think I was losing the plot with my what must be imaginary symptoms. His negligence left me undiagnosed for years, suffering and sick, continuing with life and career in a battle I needn’t have had to fight. Thankfully I’m no longer in that poor me victim frame of mind. I had incredible doctors after my move to another surgery, doctors with a lot of empathy and time, one, in particular, would have made a fabulous detective, he never gave up until he found answers. I had a number of years of the well-known menopause symptoms. The flashes subsided, I calmed down, the anxiety subsided, the dizziness went, Labrynthitis went, but I was still tired. I was a detective sergeant and a hostage and crisis negotiator a role I loved.
I had an incident in my job where I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. I began having heart problems, tachycardia, resulting in my GP insisting I be signed off work after 27 years of service and I underwent six months of cardiology investigations, all proved inconclusive put initially down to stress again. I had pain all over the body, it moved around but was generally always in the hands. I had incidents where I would lose the use of my arms or legs for a few hours which was frightening. I was referred to different ologists, so many in fact that I felt I wanted to lock all the ologists in a room until they reached an agreement. Until finally a neurologist referred me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed chronic fibromyalgia resulting directly from the post-traumatic stress disorder incident. This wonderful woman arranged counselling, massive doses of vitamins again as she found high deficiencies, arranged 3 monthly vitamin B injections and as fast as that I was balanced. My energy levels rose again. My Medusa head stopped spitting snakes and my easy happy go lucky nature returned.
My Turning Point
I never returned to work I was retired on ill health. My pain management consultant sends me on a 16 day in patients course at the amazing Neurocentre in Liverpool. I had daily access to all manner of ologists. Sleep specialists, occupational health, physio, pain management, neurologists and I took every scrap of advice they gave me, absorbed it into my bones.
It changed my life. I was no longer a victim of my condition I learned to live with it. I still have it but rarely even give it an airing to talk about it. I respect it and look after myself. I don’t let it define me. An occupational therapist told me at 53 that I was too young even though retired to do nothing. He asked me “what was your passion when you were young, what did you love to do?”. That was easy to answer. Draw and paint in oils.
This led to me following my joy and I started to create things from home from feathers to start with. People saw what I created and the orders in my hobby job started flooding in. Nine years later Tracey Telford Designs is going strong. I own a lovely workshop (posh shed) with a large laser engraving machine. Everything I make is art-based, designed by me from initial pencil sketches, to computer graphics and onto the laser. I make large feather artwork mandalas, which go into high-end gun boxes. Feather dial quartz watches with intricate designs. Feather accessories. I’ve just completed a graphic design diploma, an Adobe illustrator masterclass, and a watercolour painting course in lockdown. In the last lockdown I used the laser to make face shields in a charity organisation I set up called Shields4Cheshire&Merseyside (see my Facebook page). 20,000 face shields delivered to frontline across the two Counties free of charge from fundraising, then onto New Mexico providing them to the Tewa native Indian women and frontline workers in impoverished areas. I’m having the most extraordinary life.
Why Am I Sharing My Journey?
So why am I writing this little story for you now? Emma Guy asked me to for one! On her Menopausal Godmother page so others can follow my experience. I told Emma that my symptoms had started up again, hot flashes, and 0-8 scale mood swings, tearfulness. Getting crabby with a poor unsuspecting husband again. I recognised it as a hormonal imbalance. So on the recommendation of a friend I booked a consultation with the Bioidentical Hormone Clinic in Altrincham for next Thursday. Thank god they are open in lockdown. Paid my £250 consultation fee upfront (ouch). I fill in a questionnaire, then have extensive blood tests. Far more in-depth than I would get at my GP surgery. They are analysed and natural prescriptions are written up to restore any imbalance. At least that’s my understanding. It isn’t cheap I will pay £350 for the blood work. It will be worth every penny if the balance is restored. They advised me that results won’t be immediate and can take a few months before I fully feel the benefits.
So I’m sharing my journey with you. It will either save you money in not going or may even help. Leave me comments if you have been down this road and tried it.
With each major diagnosis in my life I felt vindicated and totally flooded with a relief 😅 I wasn’t imagining things, there were things physically wrong in the body, they were correctable and I had suffered unnecessarily due to an unsympathetic quack of an old school GP with the empathy of a gnat. My advice so far to you is don’t suffer your symptoms seek help. If your GP won’t listen or CBA yes “can’t be arsed” to explore and find out the cause, go to another GP who does have time and an investigative nature until you get your answers. I am eternally grateful to Dr Durrant at Kelsall Medical Centre and the other wonderful GP’s there who didn’t fob me off or give up on me.
I’m no longer fearful of the menopause rearing its head again thinking I was fully through its doors, I’m simply helping myself anyway I can. I’m kinder to myself these days. It’s okay 👌 to feel this way. I now push for answers. I am proactive. I keep an open dialogue with my husband. When I told him what I’d arranged I broke into uncontrollable sobs and reassured him I was taking my own steps to get support this time, not simply putting up with it. He is so supportive and I think he would be happy to pay double if it means our lovely chilled relaxing life keeps its balance. It brought us right back close together again with loads of reassuring tight hugs that said “I love you” ❤️
This last year I did the Wildfit program losing 8lbs, now a comfortable loose size 12 and my husband lost two and a half stone. I also did a Life Visioning course with Mind Valley Alternative University, and have daily interaction with a small masters group in the US and New Mexico where we share gratitude, daily intentions and learnings and re-study the teachings together. Life is extraordinarily good on the whole, just a hormonal balance tweak will help my body temple life structure get balanced again. Now aged 57 I feel firmly in control of my health 😘 wish me luck for Thursday’s visit to Altrincham next week I have high hopes.
Emma is a multi-entrepreneur. She founded The Menopausal Godmother and Acupuncture That Works. She specialises in acupuncture for menopause & fertility and has delivered acupuncture to over 1000 women going through the menopause.