DH arrived back in time to walk me down the street. Normally I would go myself but there's a good layer of ice on all of the footpaths and I was scared stiff of doing myself some serious mischief, especially internally, if I slipped and fell. It was good to have a reassuring arm to lean on.... and wearing the Brasher shoes I bought (for basic walking on holiday) last summer gave me added grip too.
On arriving at the Clinic the rearranging Jan had done was immediately obvious: the reception desk is now in the small corridor; what was reception is now a second treatment room, containing Jan's dispensing area in the front right corner, behind the book shelves that hold her meds (the backs of these have a curtain over them, to prettify them), the treatment bed (for Reiki, acupuncture etc) is in the back right corner and a desk with two chairs is in the front left corner, with the door being in the back left; the Colonic room is on the other side of the corridor, with the toilet next to it. All the back of the upstairs, containing another treatment room, my favourite Reiki room, the kitchen and bathroom have been handed back to the owners - probably to hire out as a flat. I shall miss that Reiki room but in the current economic climate I can understand the reasons for doing this. The Chinese acupuncture place in town has already been a casualty of the recession and Jan doesn't want the Clinic to be another.
DH toddled off to do a little shopping and grab a warm drink in a cafe whilst I went into the new treatment room with Jan. I handed over a couple of empty bottles and realised I'd forgotten to take my food diary sheets down for her perusal. So she asked me how I felt things had gone since my last visit. Well, this end of the year proved more difficult than last year - all those images shoved at you of all those forbidden goodies does not help one bit when you're on a long term diet. Had I stuck to it? In the main, yes.... but there were a couple of exceptions: on my first trip out to the farm shops after my op I had told DH that I was getting a bit fed up of looking at menus and various foods and saying "I can't have that" over and over again - it would be nice if, occasionally, I could say "actually, I will have a bit of that". So when he ordered a scone with his cuppa I got him to cut it in half and I broke off a third of the smaller half, added a little jam (to stop it from being too dry - and because I wanted some) and ate it. As I told Jan: I thoroughly enjoyed it and it took the edge off but was glad I didn't have any more than that, otherwise I would have felt sick. So it looks like my body has well adjusted to the diet, as it certainly doesn't like too much sweet stuff - quite a change from the bar of Cadbury's chocolate a day habit I used to have! LOL The other exception was a little sausagemeat with my New Years Day turkey - though I wouldn't be repeating that as I'd paid for it with an acid stomach/minor indigestion later.
I wasn't sure if I'd done any damage to my weight, either, as I'd found that I'd been eating more since the cold weather had begun and, due to my op, hadn't been able to be as active as usual. Jan felt that this was also due to the menopause putting my blood sugars out of kilter (one of the many side effects of starting it, apparently) so I should stick to a low GI diet and she gave me a sheet with some info on about the kinds of foods I should eat and which to avoid - it's basically not much different to what I'm already doing, with a couple of minor exceptions, so there wouldn't be much change there. She said she would weigh me later, to check my weight. One good thing that came out of this: I can start to re-introduce a little bread to my diet. Yay! I don't think I'll bother too often but sticking to the salads for my dinner during this cold weather has been a bit of a trial and it would be nice to be able to have some warming soup occasionally....and soup without a piece of bread just doesn't fill me. The thought of having soup and dunking a yeast-free tortilla wrap in it just seems so wrong, somehow. LOL Oh, and I can have a few mushrooms as an occasional treat - basically don't go mad, take it slow and see how my stomach goes.
Jan asked how things were healing. I have a lovely, neat purpley red scar that should fade in time (and with regular applications of BioOil) and, although I ended up having a 14 day monthly right after the op (too late in my cycle to avoid it happening) everything seemed OK inside too. It wasn't until I thought to check my diary for dates that I realised on a normal 28 day cycle my next monthly should have started around Boxing Day - I did have a mood dip around that time (which is why I checked the dates later) but it was only then that true realisation hit home: after all these years I won't be having any more periods. I did have one odd moment after this, which felt a little akin to saying goodbye to someone you've known for a long time (after all, this has been a part of my life since I was 13 years old), that gave me pause.... but then the relief kicked in. It's good to know there won't be any more hassle every single month! Yay!
Whilst I feel much better I am finding that the energy and stamina aren't that great and I get tired easily, not helped by the disturbed nights, thanks to the tropical moments that strike and wake me up. Plus, although I usually love having my two chaps at home this year I had found it very wearing (especially as DH got the lergy and the constant coughing and not taking the right treatment for it got very irritating) and was relieved when they went back to work. Jan reminded me that it took a while to get over an operation and general anaesthetic and because I was feeling tired it wouldn't have helped. I know, and DH also reminds me I've had an op, but I can't help it - I feel better so can't stop myself from expecting to be able to do what I used to. (Oops, there's that patience thing again! LOL). She said that the night sweats are something she can try to alleviate. The sweats aren't allowing me to drop into a deeper, restful sleep (I'm getting way more, very active dream sleep - great for helping you deal with issues or bringing insights or answers to problems but not so great for refreshing you). They can also be triggered by a full bladder, so I'll probably find I need to go to the loo more often during the night....... that was definitely happening already (and I can see the link between the two, now it's been pointed out - it holds true, as the flushes increase when I need to pee during the day too). So, to try and help me get an initial good 4 hours sleep, I'm on a Vitamin B supplement - that will also help with my memory problems (back in full on brain fart mode again) and a few other symptoms too.
She went through a list of menopausal symptoms, caused by the lowered oestrogen and rising progesterone levels:
- More vulnerability to low energy, poor stamina and clumsiness (yes to all, though the post-op recovery is also responsible);
- Slower in thought, have poor memory and lowered concentration (did I mention the brain fart mode? LOL Definitely yes to all);
- They become more accident prone (sick of tripping over my own feet and cutting up veggies is getting downright dangerous);
- They can become depressed or more anxious (low moods at monthly time - a little anxiety creeping in);
- It's a time of lowered immune function, so open to infection (managed to avoid DH's lergy but occasionally have sneezing sessions and my throat and glands feel iffy - the supplements I'm taking already have probably saved me from developing it);
- More susceptible to cystitis and thrush, eczema and asthma (the amount of fluid I drink should help avoid the first two but I have developed a couple of itchy patches on my torso - E45 cream liberally applied to stop it developing!);
- Become irritable when hungry and cannot get food quick enough (for sure, and often hungry between meals - given me an insight into DH's diabetic pre-meal crappy moods);
- After eating can become tired and even have headaches (can fall asleep after our main meal quite easily);
- Blood sugars are greatly affected which may cause bouts of hypoglycaemia, leaving them more hungry, craving sugary foods, susceptible to weight gain, fatigue, headaches, migraines and a more increased anxiety level. Some women describe this feeling as being "jittery" (a few cravings, certainly get tired and have felt the agoraphobia lurking again since the op, not helped by not being able to get out because of the weather. Hoping the headaches/migraine do not appear - don't want them again!);
- If still having periods then the rising blood sugar symptoms are even more exaggerated if they are taking the birth control pill and life can become very "dramatic" (thankfully not applicable!);
- PMT symptoms such as weight gain (water retention), tender breasts, severe mood change, sugar craving, constipation, bloating and emotional instability are experienced and relationships can seem unstable (can retain water/bloat, occasional tenderness, mood swings minor at the moment but I was back to brooding on things again, mild cravings, back to occasional constipation problems, am not as laid back as I was getting before the op - thankfully relationships are going OK);
- After their period they can suffer from self-loathing, confusion, low self-esteem and exhaustion (not applicable, thankfully);
- All of the above symptoms will be intensified if the women are also under great stress (keeping as stress free as possible!).
To help combat the symptoms I'm on: the Vitamin B Complex (as previously mentioned) which, as well as helping with sleeping because I take it in the evening, also helps improve blood sugar and metabolism, as well as moods and depressive symptoms; Vitamin C with bioflavinoids, taking one with breakfast and another at lunch, which will boost my immune system and help combat stress; continue taking Osteoguard (on this because of the dairy intolerance anyway) which also has magnesium and a few other vitamins in it - the calcium guards against osteoporosis and the magnesium aids emotional stability, reduces muscle cramps and aches and guards against heart disease (which my Mum died from). Then I have one of Jan's special potions too, taking 6mls before each meal, to help with many of the menopausal symptoms, with some liquorice and sage to help my stomach behave itself. Once I am used to these in my system I shall introduce a Green Tea capsule every day as the anti-oxidants will help my whole system.... and I have almost a full tub left from the anti-cancer treatment stage and want to use them up. LOL
So it was time for the weigh-in. I took off my shoes, coat, and cardigan, to divest as much extra weight as I could, and stepped on to the scales. Had I done some damage and put extra pounds back on? No, my weight was exactly the same as it had been before I went into hospital - 11 and a half stone. OK I hadn't lost any - not even due to losing both ovaries and a rather large cyst - but with everything that had happened it was a BIG sigh of relief from me, as I was convinced I had gained some back. Thank you! LOL DH had turned up by this time and parked himself on a chair in the corridor (Jan heard the steps and had checked it was him).
After this Jan disappeared behind the bookcases to make up my potion. The beauty about this is that she can still chat, which she couldn't do when disappearing off to the other room. I mentioned about how I couldn't fault the hospital on the operation and how they'd looked after me on the wards but felt that the after care left a lot to be deserved, as it felt like it was a case of: OK, you've had your op - we've done our bit, so now you can bugger off.
I had expected some kind of follow-up appointment with Mr Roberts (or one of his understudies) to check that all had healed OK, which would give me the chance to ask some questions. Nope - I was told "Oh, just go to your GP in 3 weeks time" and if I hadn't have asked I wouldn't have known to do that. Despite the fact that the op would put me into full on menopause there was absolutely no information given to me about what to expect or the help that is available and nor did they mention osteoporosis.... despite knowing I am dairy intolerant. Not even a flippin' leaflet made available on any of these!
So, OK, I have internet access at home and I can find out whatever I want, thanks to the click of a mouse and a quick Google, and ignoring the fact that I wouldn't touch HRT with a barge pole, BUT that isn't the point, is it? There is a duty of care for the total well-being of a patient and that information should have been readily available, especially as they knew that something they were going to do (removing my ovaries) would definitely trigger the menopause. If young girls can be inundated with all kinds of information about puberty, why isn't the same done at the other end of the scale for women like myself? Why should you have to find out things for yourself, either by going online or by talking to a female friend who is going through or has gone through the menopause? I just found it a rather shoddy attitude that smacks of a lingering chauvinistic attitude to "womens stuff"....... and that's particularly bad when it comes from a gynae department. It just makes me wonder how other women are treated and if they ever manage to get the info they need, especially those who don't have internet access.
Jan reappeared with my potion then, so we headed back to the booking desk in the corridor and my patiently waiting DH. Jan told him that she realised that sometimes people sat waiting in the corridor might hear what was said in the new treatment room - as it was him it was OK but, in case he was wondering, if it had been anyone else she would have put some music on out there, to maintain some privacy. That was reassuring to know.
She then asked how we felt about the new arrangement and if it would work. It does seem OK, and will certainly help to keep the overheads down, but my comment was: but you don't have a window to look out of - call it a Pagan thing, but that would drive me crazy. Luckily it doesn't bother her and she won't have to spend all her time in there - when she's with a client she'll be in a room with a window..... and she reckoned she could always put up a picture to look at. LOL
As it was the introduction of a new regime for a different "problem" we decided to make an appointment for 3 weeks time to assess how things are going, which lined up quite nicely with the day I'm due for my first post-op Reiki treatment with Aureen. So I'm going to the Clinic on Saturday 23rd, to see Jan first, followed by the Reiki session - it will give Jan chance to mix my med while I'm in with Aureen.... and DH should be around, in case it's still bad underfoot. So we paid my dues (or rather, DH got his wallet out LOL), said our goodbyes and left, making our way back home very carefully on the sheets of glass that pass for pavements at the moment.