There are a range really. Starting from the beginning when you first tell him you have the menopause and he doesn’t know any more than you do.
After I had finally seen the guinea-pig-ologist here in Dar es Salaam, four years ago, I WAS relieved I wasn’t going to die. I was however, still in a state of shock and horror that there were all these awful symptoms which could last up to ten years.
I rushed home from the doctor, calling my husband on the way. “I need to talk to you now.” He left work and came home. It’s 5 minutes away from the house I promise. There were people in our house and so we went on the roof. As you do.
I was crying and incoherent. He kept saying, “are you going to die, do you have cancer”? It was ages before I could answer.
“No, no,” I said, “nothing like that.”
“Well what is it then?”
I finally gulped out, “no I have something called the peri-menopause and it lasts ten years..”
“The what paws, the what paws?” He asked
“PERI-menopause”, I repeated.
“The PERI-menopause,” he repeated continuing “doesn’t everyone get that?”
I nodded my head
“Is that all it is?” He said incredulous.
“Is that all it is?” He kept repeating like a parrot.
“Is that all?” I repeated after him, “Yes that IS all, but that’s enough” I said, “it lasts for TEN years and you can have FIFTY symptoms and I have ALL of them.
I have never forgetten those words and neither has he. Well he probably has, I will have to check with him.
Five years later on, I can say categorically that it was much better for him when I knew what was going on. Suddenly he was so much more helpful as he now knew officially that, first it was NOT HIS FAULT and second I HADN’T really lost my marbles.
It was JUST my hormones and I was “normal” as lots of other women were experiencing the same symptoms as me. He accepted what he called, “the smorgasbord of body changes” I had with all the different tablets, nobly saying he never knew who he was coming home to. Mostly I was asleep when he came home and I saw him at 3am when we both woke up with travelling lists in our heads. The pleasures of running your own businesses are not gender specific.
The only thing he did which really got on my nerves in the beginning was asking me ALL the time if I was better. He also had a tendency to sound surprised when I told him I had another of those awful headaches down the side of my face. I had to keep reminding him about peri-menopause symptoms lasting several years and that NO I wasn’t better yet. That stopped by the time I was in year two though, he was a real pro by then.
I think I have been fortunate, the more I learnt, the more information I was able to give him. It was not a linear process, more two steps forward and then four back. He preferred small nuggets of information, bite sized as it were, nothing too gory or too medical or too detailed. He started to find articles for me on his favourite website The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and the Mail On Line. That is right, the one with the “sidebar of shame” as one friend’s daughter calls it.
It does have a great women’s health section, and many of you wouldn’t have read Louise Atkinson’s series in March if it hadn’t been for him forwarding them to me.
I’ve spent the past 4 years thinking mainly about me and how shouty I have been to my little girl. I do try from time to time to think of him and go out for dinner – early of course. Not as much as he would like to, but better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.
I could tell sometimes that he got a bit tired of me catching everything and being ill a lot. Frankly, I was also sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time as well, so I don’t blame him.
Recently when we were both awake at midnight having dozed off for a couple of hours in front of the telly, I mentioned that I had collected a friend’s child from school that day. I had said to this friend that it must have been good not to have to do the bridge that afternoon. I had continued by saying I hoped he had had a rest or something like that. He had replied, “oh no, I always have my list of chores from xxx.” I told hubs this as it was a light and welcome diversion from him trying to test me on Kiswahili vocab at midnight. Plus I thought he might laugh.
He did laugh, BUT THEN bugger me, he said, “I wish I could give you a list. I really bite my tongue each morning and evening from saying have you done XXX or have you sorted out YYY.” He continued, “I don’t want to burden you as I know lists make you cry and give you chest pains. I can’t wait until you feel able to deal with the house again,” he finished off hopefully. “In fact I don’t know what to say to you in the mornings, now that I can’t speak about your chores.”
I didn’t cry, I started laughing hysterically and then so did he… We continued to laugh hysterically, as insomniac stressed men and insomniac peri-menopausal stressed women do. Especially when they are both awake at the SAME time – the WRONG time – in the middle of the night.
You may have read my blog post “Morning Briefings Have Ceased” in which I detailed my newly found peri-menopause difficulty with any sort of list at all. Lists are still synonymous with chest pains, under achieving and undones. They get longer each day with so many apps to help you “carry them over.” I couldn’t even look at my list till the end of March this year.
It has got marginally better, but as you know with a house and utilities in a constant state of disrepair, that alone is a full time job. I just don’t want to have to sort out lots of workmen and faulty white goods, every week. Am I wrong? Is it just me? Help.