Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Change

For a while now I’ve been feeling as if my parallel self has broken through from that other universe and taken over my life – I’ve felt almost like me, but not quite. I’ve been even more absentminded than usual (socks in the rubbish bin, rubbish in the laundry basket, that kind of thing), gripped by deep anxiety from time to time, and my feet have been tingling. I googled my symptoms and found out I have diabetes.

This was a revelation, as of all the things I could die of in a long and alarming family history of fatal ailments (including but by no means limited to strokes, cancer and insanity), diabetes isn’t one of them. So I keyed in a couple more of my symptoms (bizarre temperature fluctuations, difficulty sleeping) and found out I am in menopause.

Now, I am not a woman who has ever really known where in my menstrual cycle I am – for about 30 years, the monthly arrival of my period has been a big surprise (and seldom a pleasant one). This probably explains why I was almost five months gone before I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, and almost as shocked five months after his birth when I realised I was up the spout again. (Then I had my tubes tied – the only solution, really, for someone as clearly clueless as me.) So it took a great deal of paging backwards and forwards in my diary, and adding and subtracting multiples of 7, to work out that my period is indeed some months late. (Of course, I could always be pregnant – but only if the universe if playing a particularly cruel trick on me by causing a horrible miracle.)

I know next to nothing about menopause. I do recall when I was a kid a friend of my mother’s behaving in a disturbing way (crying, mostly), and my mother murmuring that it was as a result of ‘The Change’ – a fabulously mysterious term that nonetheless (now that I am having it) does describe very well what it feels like. My mother herself acted erratically for a while when she was in her early 50s or so (also, crying, mostly). She died some years ago, so I recently asked my father if he remembered exactly how old she’d been when she went through The Change and he said, no, and anyway that it can’t have been too hectic for her since he can’t remember it at all. Men!

Anyway, since menopause isn’t a medical condition and is just a phase of life, I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy it. Primarily, I’m going to absolutely love the absence of periods – no more fuss and mess when caught in a four-hour meeting or an hour-long traffic jam, no more needing to be within dashing distance of a loo for five days of every month, and no more spending on pads and tampons what over a fertile lifetime must be enough to finance at least a second car and maybe even a second house.

I and those around me are also going to love the demise of my monthly Princess Mental Syndrome, that week or so when a wrong look can cause floods of tears, lost car keys result in a volcanic temper tantrum and hapless telesalespeople are subjected to diatribes that can be heard at the end of the block.

I’m going happily into my Wise Woman years – I buy wholly into the theory, still held in several indigenous cultures, that with my reproductive life safely behind me, I can now concentrate on my inner self and become an Elder. I’m assuming this is going to involve a lot of sitting on the verandah, drinking good wine and holding forth – which I have, admittedly, been doing for years, but now I’m going to insist that people actually listen to me.

Above: Johann and I illustrate behaviour that may or may not be appropriate for Elders.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: