I’m siting up in bed today after my Op yesterday feeling quite good currently. I realise that’s because I’m probably still under the influence of anaesthetic amongst other cool cocktail of drugs they gave me to make sure I’m comfortable for at least 24 hours. So that is making me brave enough to write this post.
Now this is a girls post, but men do read on because it’s important to share what us ladies have to go through from time to time.
When in Wales about five years ago my regular monthly starting being a bit sore, so I asked to be checked out and was told that was menopause starting and the term ’perimenopausal’ was bantered about by my doctor, the practice nurse and the lab that did my normal smear test. I was foreign and considered a nuisance to the health system using up free health care that locals could have, so did not persevere. Everything seemed to check out okay.
In Bermuda the pain not only persisted but my friendly monthly visitor became a lot less friendly so I went to the doctor there under the HIP scheme (Hospital Insurance Plan, the most basic health insurance you can get on the Island at the time). I was referred to gynaecology for an ultrasound. This went swimmingly well until the radiographer (is that what they are called?) held up something that looked like that attachment which helps with pouring on a petrol can, and said ’I’m not going to use this today because you don’t know what might come back out with it!’ Holy crap, no way was I going to let her use that after having the daylights scared out of me. Now remember, I’m still foreign, and still a nuisance to the health care system. That external ultrasound checked out fine so the word ‘Perimenopausal’ was used yet again. In Bermuda it seems the average age for menopause is 56 (yes you read that right!) so I had plenty of time. Hmmmph.
I carried on and managed the longer inconveniences and extra pain, thinking each time would surely be my last. Until late 2020 one week away out of town for work, I stepped out of bed and to my horror defiled the bed, the carpet, the bathroom floor and four towels. Why is everything pristine white in hotels? So I embarrassingly discussed this with the hotel manager and paid an extra cleaning fee privately and got on with my day. I did however call my new New Zealand GP who saw me the moment I arrived back and again discussed that word ’Perimenopausal’. Something called a MIrena* was offered but I felt very uncomfortable with gaining a device in that department without checking out why it was happening in the first place. Now way back in 2009 I had a painful experience which I had checked out the night before Good Friday and was examined by a very grumpy gynaecologist on call who wanted to get away on holiday and had to be told to ’step back’ by the attending nurse as he was being a bit rough. So rough I crashed my car on the way home before I realised how upset I was. He no longer works for our healthcare system. It was a one-off occurrence so I put it out of my mind. Now reminded, if anything was wrong, could it have started way back then?
On returning home, and a long discussion with my lovely husband, he completely agreed with my concerns, so I went back to my GP. I could have it checked out, but privately because there was a long waiting time to go public, how long, about two years. Good grief, I expect thats a lot to do with covid, but by this time I was getting flaky, grumpy, stopping from exercising because of pain or flooding, and had VitB12 injections recommended, it couldn’t go on. The private route cost NZD$320.00 and was money well spent because they found an anomaly in my uterine lining and I was referred immediately to Gynaecology, again. This was only a few weeks wait and the Gynaecologist was disgusted I was sent privately for my preliminary check because (and read this everyone because it is very important!) menopause should not cause heavy bleeding or pain, and needs to be checked out as being abnormal! I was scheduled for preliminary exploratory surgery.
So now we’re up to 2021 just after my lovely husband arrived, and only one more defiling of hotel room, this time on a work trip with my boss (oh the embarrassment) I went in to surgery with the expectation that if the issue was small as they expected then they’d get that sorted on the day. On waking it was explained that in reality the issue was a lot larger and in a hiding place so it couldn’t be seen previously by scans and couldn’t be done that day. A Mirena would have exacerbated the issue, not relieved it. The surgeon thought it might have been there for quite a long time, but was interfering now my body was changing. I was back on the list for a repeat performance with the right tools. By now I had a different Gynaecologist, who I have to say was lovely, and did appreciate my dry wit remark of ’what, a crow bar?’. I was understandably disappointed.
My surgery was cancelled in October due to Covid, and my surgery was cancelled in November due to lack of equipment availability. I rang every month and spoke with the lovely scheduling nurse and explained in graphic detail how my month had been, what it was like to have a physical job, often out of town, seeing clients for up to two hours at a time which was too long now for me, the expense of personal products and relying on pubic toilets during a pandemic. She, bless her, wrote down everything word for word and sent it though to the surgeon on my case. I owe that lady a box of chocolates.
So all my phone calls put me further up the list, and yesterday my surgery finally went ahead. There was a different protocol with a RAT test first before being prepped. My lovely husband was allowed to stay by my side and objected to being sent off. It was better he kept busy in my mind. Everyone involved was extremely efficient, caring and it was a relatively stress free experience because at all times did I feel informed and respected. However I do think the support stockings and special rip off nickers are a bit hilarious, but hey what ever it takes! Hopefully this will sort the issue and soon I’ll be able to tick the menopause box on the form.
Ladies don’t ever put up with being fobbed off by specialists when in your heart you know its wrong. My case is lucky because its benign, I hate to think what would have happened to me if it wasn’t in 2009!
More soon – Sally
Oh and more good news – our house was sold, but we secured our new home the day before and on the move next month! Thank you for all your kind messages, its all worked out well.
*information about the Mirena device can be found here: https://medsafe.govt.nz/consumers/cmi/m/mirena.pdf