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May 12, 2008

HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY: FRIEND OR FOE?

Despite my own seemingly age-related shortcomings, I do realize that ageing is a personal experience and that not every old person is dithering, fumbling and doddering their way through life. So why am I?
Come to think of it, by modern standards, 60-ish isn’t all that old, but whereas just three and a half years ago I was completing yet another Open University course (for fun), with my sights set on a degree (to show off with) and being regularly complemented on ‘not looking my age’ (preen) I am now a forgetful, white haired, wrinkly worry wart!
After serious thought, aided by numerous cups of coffee to dilate blood vessels in the brain and aid sluggish memory - I have worked out the exact day the ‘rot’ set in. It was 31st December 2004. That was the day, when after twelve years of daily use, I stopped taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
HRT had originally been prescribed for me at the age of 45, to soften the onset of debilitating ‘mood swings’: i.e., unreasonably angry one minute/manically happy the next; as well as to combat sleeplessness; and the pain of other more physical perimenopausal symptoms. I have to say that whilst HRT may not be the answer for everyone, I thought it was brilliant! Not only did I feel ‘normal’ again within a couple of months - but my skin was benefiting too, appearing hardly to be ageing. As for my hair - the few white strands that did gradually appear, were mostly confined to the temple areas and easy to cover up with a touch of hair dye.
After two years of taking HRT, I returned to the doctor and asked her if I should stop - but since I obviously felt and looked so well, she offered me a repeat prescription and I accepted it gladly!
I don’t really know why I eventually stopped taking HRT. However, health warnings in the media of a possible link between breast cancer and prolonged use of this remedy, certainly had a lot to do with my decision.
It took less than 72 hours and just two ‘missed’ pills, for Mother Nature to realize she had me back in her grasp and to punish me soundly with my first ‘hot flush’. O.M.G.! I was convinced I would spontaneously combust! Ten minutes after that one there was another and then another, day and night; on and on… The time between attacks did gradually diminish but even now I still experience at least two a week. Mostly at night.
Then there was the dizziness; difficulty concentrating and increasing forgetfulness! Not all within those first 72 hours of course but certainly after a year it had become so bad, I cancelled my fifth OU course two thirds of the way through and started ‘pottering’. I pottered around the house, painting and repainting the walls; pottered in the garden hunting slugs; pottered around town alone staring into shop windows and not daring to go in, because I knew a shop assistant would approach me and I’d turn red and stutter and look like a hot, sweaty fool. The physical decline was merciless. Instant bloat! From pear to apple shape in a couple of months and my trunk and chest decorated with something called cherry (senile) angioma..! Wrinkles; rapidly whitening hair and horror of horrors: hair growing out of my nostrils…..aagghh!!! All the more astounding, because I thought that particular affliction was reserved for (old) men? Needless to say, I soon yanked them out with my eyebrow tweezers. Although eye wateringly painful at first, perseverance does pay off because when I do it now I hardly feel a thing and the result lasts quite a long time.
Thankfully the ‘mood swings’ have not returned! In fact, I feel that I am more tolerant and compassionate than I ever was before. Perhaps that is one of nature’s survival techniques: the older and weaker you get the less chance you have of grabbing a share of the mammoth meat, so the more appealing to the clan you have to become, to get them to toss you a bit…! Or something like that. Just a thought. Going to potter off now and try out a new soup I’ve invented, which is guaranteed full of healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 - and will hopefully revitalize my shrinking hippocampus and reduce my expanding midline! I’ll let you know if it works and pass on the recipe… but if I don’t, it will mean it hasn’t worked and I’ve forgotten what I just said…. Toodle-oo!

6 comments:

Jojo said...

Hello Cheery Attic,

Sounds pretty awful, especially the combosting part. Although not in menopause my self (jet), I do think I will go see my GP and ask for some stuff when my time comes...

Geri Atric said...

Hi jojo,

It's probably worth a try, you can always stop if it doesn't work. Getting older isn't so bad really. Its the forgetfulness that sucks!
Enjoy your youth!

Kate said...

Well Geri - that has not made me feel good.... never had HRT nor hot flushes but do get horrendous cramp for some unknown reason.

And as I will be 55 next month I have my eyebrow tweezers ready - just in case!!

Geri Atric said...

Hi Kate ~ OUCH to those cramps - but good news that you've escaped the hot flushes - so far...!
(Just teasing!).

I have a friend who plain sailed through the whole process, without so much as a twinge or a flutter - and not an extra hair folicle in sight! Hopefully you will be one of these 'lucky' ones - but if not, chin up, it doesn't last forever (and I haven't met a post menopausal lady yet who wasn't thrilled to see the back of PMT!).

Kate said...

I think it was all over years ago (for me at least) I didn't seem to get any of the bad bits other than the middle age spread of course!!!

Geri Atric said...

Kate ~ Ah, that's good, I'm glad you didn't suffer too much!

But oh that 'Battle of the Bulge' thing...groan.

You've just caught me deciding on whether to have a sandwhich or a cupcake for lunch. Can't have both of course...

On the up side, this might be one of nature's ways of exercising the brain in old age; i.e.:
'Sandwhich or cake, sandwhich or cake, sandwhichorcake?!

(Oh lord, I MUST get a life..)