I was ecstatic about 3 months ago when my doctor thought I was going through the menopause. I had been in the shyer, younger sister stage of perimenopause since I was 35 and at nearly ten years later the doc and I thought my intro to all things menopausal had gone on for long enough. I had all the signs that the Big M was thundering down the pass towards me – night sweats, palpitations, hot flushes (or is it flashes), an irritability so great I could fell an ox one-handed, and of course, no period.

I was excited because menstruation and I have not been friends. The thought of that chapter of my life being over for good left me with a feeling akin to winning the lottery. Friends expressed their dismay.

But you’re only 44.

It means you won’t be able to have any more children.

Don’t you think you’ll start to feel old now?

I’ll tell you what makes me feel old. Endometriosis makes me feel old. The incredible pain. The nausea. The anaemia. The aching legs. The bruising on my legs that looks like someone has attacked me with a hockey stick. Putting up with it every single month for years and years and years. That makes me feel ancient. The thought that I might not have to endure that anymore was such a tantalising one I spent days salivating.

But one thing I have learnt in my short time on earth (or very long time according to the friends who think I am old) is that nothing BUT nothing is written in stone and that just when we think we’ve jumped the river safely we realise a reed is wrapped around our ankle and is pulling us back into the water.

It looks like the Big M isn’t quite ready to upstage her younger sister and that I am back to my monthly bouts with the gladiators in the arena. However, a new friend has come along to challenge me in that same arena.

Remember last week when I had the bad stomach flu? That flu continued into this week. Over two weeks in total. It has been going on so long that I put a new message on the answering machine –

I’m sorry, I can’t come to the phone right now, I am in the loo.

What I didn’t tell you was that I have been experiencing that same stomach flu every month for the past few months. Turns out it’s not a flu at all. It’s a result of my hormones reaching 9.5 on the hormonal Richter scale and being able to shift several continents at once. Apparently, if I could manifest all this hormonal energy into some kind of striking force I would be my very own weapon of mass destruction.

The erratic hormones are affecting my ability to digest food and, in the words of my doctor, I am voiding with unusual force. Why do clinical terms that are meant to sound innocuous often sound so sinister and just a little bit dirty? Am I the only one who thinks of Richard Gere and gerbils when someone utters the phrase voiding with unusual force?

I am trying to laugh about all of this because it is a part of life and it happens to many people but I will confess that it got me down earlier this week. I already have irritable bowel syndrome and quite significant allergic reactions to lactose and shellfish which I have to monitor all the time. I really don’t need another intestinal problem thrown into the mix. But it’s happening so I have to deal with it.

I am going to go the natural route and will visit a naturopath next week who no doubt will give me something unpronounceable to drink that resembles dirty dishwater but I will drink it and make the best of it all the while praying it doesn’t make me void with unusual force.

I will carry on as normal. You may find me working, writing, blogging…

If not, you can find me in the loo.

27 thoughts on “IMBALANCE

  1. Oh, lawsy, lady, I feel you on this one. I’ve been having this issue (UGH) for a few years now. I thought it was just my IBS interacting oddly with my period as a new and wonderful side effect of getting older. Bleagh, honey. I’d light a candle for you, but…er…not sure which one would best apply.


  2. I feel for you … every so often, I have to go on a diet of soup and Perrier water. Nothing to do with you-know-what, of course, the last ‘go’ was down to a dodgy crab and sweetcorn soup at the local Chinese.

    (On the plus side, Mr Lam was most apologetic, and gave me a voucher for a free meal)

    Just find something you like, that you can keep down (or keep in) and take it easy.




  3. You know, the whole reproductive system seems geared towards making women miserable… it’s as if it’s a design flaw of some sort.

    I hope it settles down, and that you can get out of the bathroom. (Thank god for wireless access.)


  4. Design flaw of some sorts??? NO. We were designed to do the most amazing thing- give life. The design is fine, proper maintenance might be the problem. Most doctors don’t have a clue.

    Sorry about all of this, Selma. This menopause business is such a complicated thing. I have terrible stomach problems some times, maybe this is part of it.


  5. Oh gosh, it does sound very horrid indeed. Poor, poor you!

    I suppose I am lucky – I do get terrible PMT on occasions, and the first day of my period I tend to retreat to the sofa but other than that I am fine. But I think the approach to the menopause does scupper things. I always have a really regular cycle – 26 days – and yet this month when I got to day 32 and still nothing had happened I began to panic. It never crossed my mind it could be the menopause actually – I began to worry about the patter of tiny feet. Which is crazy considering I haven’t had THAT kind of sex for over a year!

    I hope the naturopath manages to offer some relief.


  6. You’re preaching to the choir, Sel. I’m 45, and am going through menopause. I struggled w/severe depression and raging hotflashes for the last couple of years when a friend recommended a see a physician (a medical docter, btw) re alternative meds. I’ve been on bio-identical hormones for about six months, and I feel like I have my life back. It’s a temporary fix, but it gets you through the really rough stuff. Also, that type of HRT is – based on the volumes of research I’ve done, playing devil’s advocate – far safer than synthetic HRT. Email me if you’d like to know more about it.

    In the meantime, be kind to yourself, keep up with sleep, and stay hydrated. Feel better. xoxo


  7. I’m almost 50 Sel and it hasn’t caught up with me yet. I hope I can stay one step ahead for a bit longer.

    I have always been so lucky with all that kind of thing though I do sometimes get a crippling headache in the first day or two. Apart from that I just sail through which is probably making any woman reading this hate me right now.

    I do have one little piece of advice hon and it’s very simple….get yourself a wheat bag that goes from one side of your tummy to the other. Pop it in the microwave and nuke it for 5 minutes (make sure you have a cup of water in there) and it helps a lot of intestinal problems. It soothes the savage beast so to speak.

    I realy feel for you Sel and I hope some answers can be found to give you some relief.

    PS Is it really bad of me that I thoroughly enjoyed your humour in this post? I giggled quite a few times because I loved the way you wrote it.


  8. Hi HEATHER:
    I think a Molotov cocktail would be appropriate at the moment. LOL. I am sorry you are experiencing something similar. It really is no fun. I will keep you posted on what I discover as a remedy.

    We have a Mr. Chang who serves the most delicious chicken short soup. It is usually OK but every now and then you get a bad batch, so I know what you mean. Mineral water or soda water really does help.

    Hi NAT:
    You know I often think that too. I’d like to trade my design in now please, powers that be. I need an upgrade. And HALLELUJAH for wireless access!

    Hi LAURI:
    We are made to do wonderful things as women but I have been so miserable for much of my reproductive life that it has clouded my view of any of the positive aspects. I feel quite disappointed in the medical establishment in general. There is nothing more disheartening than when your doctor says:’Er, we’re not quite sure what is wrong.’ GAH! I thought because of this that in my next life I might fight to come back as a man, but instead I would prefer a non-menstruating cyborg. That would be awesome!

    Oh, it will. 😆

    Hi RELUCS:
    I have been to a naturopath/homeopath before and have found her to be very good. We’ll see what happens. Oh, and I can totally relate to the pitter patter of little feet scenario. I would freak. Those days are long gone….

    Hi STEPH:
    I will email you because I would love to know how you have found the treatment. Thanks so much!

    Hi GYPSY:
    I’m glad you laughed. It is a funny subject, really. It’s not like I’m incapacitated or anything. I will try the wheat bag. That sounds great. Thanks for the tip.


  9. You poor bugger. But ‘Am I the only one who thinks of Richard Gere and gerbils when someone utters the phrase voiding with unusual force?’ made me laugh my ass off. Kids with autism have a lot of intestinal issues so I have done heaps of reading in that area and one book which is good is ‘Breaking the vicious cycle: intestinal health through diet’. It is forIBS, Crohns disease, celiacs, and chronic diarrhea. It is a difficult diet for kids but an adult would find it easier and if it worked it would be so worth trying. You have probably already heard of it. You can buy the book at a lot of health food shops.


    I bought that book the other day and was hoping it would be OK. I feel much better about it knowing you are familiar with it. I didn’t realise kids with autism have a lot of intestinal issues. Boy, those guys have so much to deal with……

    I’ll let you know how I go on the diet.


  11. That’s great you got the book. There is a theory that the intestinal issues are key to having some forms of autism. Michael doesn’t eat any dairy (casein) or wheat (gluten) and he improved significantly when these were removed at the age of 3 (he stopped dairy of his own accord – one day just point blank refused any – and his chronic diarrhea and excema got better). He has a lot of allergies as well (it is all related).


  12. Hi I’m Frances who is a very perimenopausal 48. Looks like your blog is going to be very very high on my favorites list.
    Oh and I am also the running between the raindrops lady.
    I would be very honored if you would use that in a story.
    Take care


  13. I have a friend who went through the big “M” at 35. She is just so happy, bubbly, and cheerful now. She’s like a little kid. I went through a “mid-life crisis” 3 years ago, but I guess that doesn’t count. However, it’s as close to the big “M” as I hope to get. I hope you are feeling better soon, and you as well as the loo get a much needed break.
    Best Wishes.


  14. I think Killer may be experiencing something similar, but I would have to sprout wings and a halo before she’d go to a doctor. Stubborn creature.

    Anyway, I do hope you find something that works to keep ol’ Richard and the hamsters at bay (and from now on, I’ll think of them when someone I know and love is Vw/UF!)


  15. Hang in there sis.

    Neither the ol “big M” or little “pM” are to be underestimated. I had health, robustness and “regularness” (“regularity” sounds too much like a tv commercial aimed at the elderly) until the f-ng divine ms pM showed her face. I’m kinda welcoming the big M now – surely she couldn’t cause the grief little pM has.

    On with it, I say.


  16. Poor you – hope things pick up soon. I had a session of reflexology over Christmas which has worked wonders for my IBS. I was really sceptical but it’s amazing what the therapist can detect from rubbing feet!


    I am really interested in the allergy side of things, particularly as it pertains to your son. I wonder if this is due to more pollutants and toxins being in the environment than there were before which we are now ingesting. I know so many people who have recently developed an intolerance to gluten and I wonder if over time the chemical makeup of it has changed due to pesticides and the like being sprayed on wheat. I am also really interested in the long term effects of eating genetically modified crops and wonder if we will see an increase in food intolerances in the future as a result. But this could be a blog post in itself, so I’ll stop now. I do wonder, though….

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! You have made my day. I met Lissa online over a year ago via her fiction and am such a fan of the blog you do together. I love your photos. I would love to live in New York. They say that San Francisco is Sydney’s sister city (probably because of the Bay area and such) but I like to think that it is New York. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    Hi KAREN:
    Richard will never live that one down, will he? I am very naughty for bringing it up 👿

    Oh, I am sorry to hear Killer may be going through this too. It is much more common than people think but seems to be rarely talked about. If I find a workable solution, I’ll definitely let you know!

    You are so right. That little one causes more trouble than the big one. Bring on the big guns. I want to get this over and done with!

    Hi KATE:
    I’ve never had reflexology and always wondered if it worked. That is amazing. I am so glad it helped!


  18. sorry to hear that – you’re strong and I’m sure you’ll get pass this

    I totally agree with you on the period thing – perhaps that’s not the right word – thing – anyway – it really sucks for us females to have to endure them but I think it will only give us strength – at least I hope so


  19. Oh honey, I really feel and KNOW the pain you are talking about with your stomach issues. I think I might LIKE the terminology “voiding with unusual force.” That made me laugh, because I know what it truly means!

    Im really sorry you have to suffer with Endometriosis. That sounds friggen AWFUL.

    Sometimes being a woman is too much work!


  20. Oh, Selma, that’s awful. I really hope something good happens for you soon on this front. I recently had to see the lady doctor because I had my period nonstop for three months. I can’t imagine having to put up with what you put up with every month!


  21. Hi PUNATIK:
    Your comment was waiting for approval for some reason. Gremlins in the system yet again….sorry about that.

    I think the midlife crisis that many men go through is very similar to the Big M. God knows, it’s full of enough anguish to be on a par. That’s good news about your friend!


  22. Sorry to hear you’re having such a rough time Sel. I was holding my breath for a bit there; I thought you were going to say you were pregnant! I hope menopause kicks in quickly and quietly and sorts out all your bodyworks so that you can enjoy yourself and your self. Hugs, my dear.


  23. Hi DAOINE:
    That’s what it felt like. It was definitely a morning sickness kind of feeling. Imagine having morning sickness when you’re not even pregnant? Sheesh.


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