Sunday 20 January 2019. Day 8: Two months into the impending redundancy of my ovaries, the main offending symptom thus far is the internal central heating malfunction. During winter, I am always cold (actually, spring and autumn are too much on the cool side for my liking). My log burner can be glowing with its beautiful heat and even in my thermal layers and hand-knitted alpaca snood, I will only be just okay. My partner has learned to wear his shorts when he comes over to mine, otherwise he’s sweating behind the knees and moaning profusely that the room is like a sauna. To be fair, his room temperature complaints are pretty standard, shorts or no shorts (and when I say ‘no shorts’, I mean he’s wearing something other than shorts and not sat in my lounge semi-naked, because that wouldn’t be at all awkward if my teenage daughter and her boyfriend walked in!).
So you’d think that the infamous hot flushes would be a welcome relief? They are not. Not at 3am; not during a work meeting; not at any time.
My bed is my sanctuary and I aim to get in it as quickly as I can once I’m home from work, eaten, bathed (never a shower) and dressed in my comfies (100% cotton naturally). I’ve read lots of advice on tips for a good night’s sleep during the mampause (if you haven’t read any of my previous blogs, I have renamed the menopause) and so I have no caffeine after mid-afternoon. I therefore take with me to bed a cup of Pukka’s Night Time tea (which is surprisingly delicious) and then light my Neom Scent to Sleep candle (you can tell I’m taking this seriously). After watching an episode or two of whatever box set I’m currently hooked on (Netflix’s Sex Education right now), I blow out the candle and prepare for sleep. This is where my nightmare (literally) begins.
At this point, I am warm and cosy. However, I have learnt that before I switch the bedside light off, I must remove layers. Gone are the days of full length pj’s and bed socks. Now I’m down to an oversized cotton t-shirt and a pair of Marks and Sparks ‘granny’ pants. I recently discovered Headspace (a meditation app – it’s like sleep magic) which I set to one of the soothing ‘sleepcasts’ before I turn out the light and snuggle down. Here’s where the fun starts.
I am a lovely warm temperature and am beginning to relax and unwind. The sleepcast is helping me to focus on my breathing whilst I gently acknowledge any thoughts and feelings coming into my mind by mentally shooing them off with an imaginary feather. However, within minutes, that lovely body warmth is growing. It feels a though an internal hot water bottle is leaking (fast) and its contents are flowing rapidly from my core through to every part of my being, and particularly to my neck, face and head. This ‘hot water’ however, is not cooling down; it’s getting hotter and hotter. I half push the quilt off and it gives a moments respite but I’m forced to kick the whole quilt off me as this heat is not retreating. The cool air is bliss and my skin tingles as the heat slowly ebbs away. After a few minutes, thankfully my temperature feels normal again.
What I failed to understand about the mamapause is that it’s actually the inability to control your body temperature. It’s not all about the hot flushes (well mainly it is) but it also works in reverse. Once you get cold, you just keep getting colder. So after a few moments of ‘normal’, I am then feeling cool; then colder; then freezing! The quilt gets pulled back over me and I start to warm up again.
Quilt, heat, no quilt, freeze, repeat.
And so begins my hot and cold nightmare. Some nights this only happens once or twice. Other nights are purgatory.
So as Monday morning looms, I pray that tonight is a better night as I have a really heavy week ahead with work. I now understand why my grandmother’s generation called this time ‘the madness’. The exhaustion is crippling and relentless and can make a reasonably functioning woman a little unhinged. I wonder if I was pregnant (a truly hideous thought at my stage in life – I’m a grandma!), would my boss be more understanding of my condition? Is pregnancy more palatable in the workplace? In the 30 years that I have been working, I have seen many colleagues (myself included) cope with the various ‘complaints’ of pregnancy and each have been accepted (tolerated?) without question yet I have never heard any female coworkers mention their issues with the mamapause. This could be due to these women not having any awful symptoms (I am jealous) or that I have never really worked alongside women who were my current age (if they don’t have to work, I am even more jealous). To be fair, I have not yet mentioned the mamapause to my (male) boss yet and a part of this reason is that I’m not sure how this will be received. Maybe one of my future blogs will be all about that……
Okay, my bed is calling. Thank you for reading; it would be wonderful to get some feedback so please do ‘like’ my blog or send me your thoughts in the comments box (good or bad – please be good). Until next time, I bid you goodnight and wish you a very good night’s sleep.