Each Monday we like to share a reader's story. Today we have Lorna from the @thrivemenopause account describing her journey.
At the age of 39, I noticed that things weren’t quite right with my body. Each period was getting a little longer and a lot heavier. I dragged myself to visit my GP feeling slightly embarrassed. I was referred to my local hospital where I underwent various tests and a biopsy was taken. I was “persuaded” to try a Mirena coil to help solve the heavy period issue. However, it didn’t work and I was feeling more and more drained emotionally and physically with each period. The coil was unbearably painful and I tolerated it for 3 months under duress.
Nothing was solving my problem. When I met with my consultant, who will remain nameless, he turned to me and uttered “ you’re 40 what do you expect? You’re bound to experience problems”. I left the consultation in tears with the stark realisation that my body was failing me. It makes me cry writing this but I felt less of a woman. A physical relationship was out of the question. Every day I was taking a change of clothes to work because the flooding was so bad, I was also paranoid that I smelled. Life was hell, I was anaemic and nothing would drop the bleeding.
I fought to get a hysterectomy because my life did not feel worth living. In October 2016 I had a hysterectomy. However, because of my age my consultant refused to take my ovaries. I was relieved at the thought of no more periods but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional turmoil that would follow. Leaving the hospital with a note for my GP and a blood thinning injection kit and no advice as to what would ensue. No explanation or manual regarding surgical menopause. I was alone.
There was little in the way of support for women who (like myself) had undergone a hysterectomy. Searching the internet I saw ladies with silver hair, no disrespect to these women but I didn’t perceive myself as being one of them. No one advised me what to expect. I am the third generation to undergo a hysterectomy in my family. My mum and granny did not discuss side effects, or what to expect and taking the strong Scots approach “stop your greeting”. Was this because menopause remained a taboo and an I spoken subject? Who knows.
Now I felt feeling like a failure as a woman. I avoided pregnant friends and swerved invitations to meet up at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my two daughters but my hysterectomy left me feeling somewhat inadequate and less of a woman, if that’s possible. Adjusting mentally was difficult, more so than the physical side of things. The menopause symptoms were kicking in and work was challenging because of brain fog and hot flushes.
A constant pain in my left abdomen was becoming more and more bothersome until I could no longer withstand the pain. Low and behold it was a ruptured ovarian cyst (one of many). I felt that I was back to square one and found myself begging my consultant to remove my ovaries. He said he couldn’t understand why his colleague had declined to remove them previously, this didn’t help my situation. However, in June 2018 I went on to have a bilateral oophorectomy. All went well until a fortnight later when I contracted EColi. This left me in surgical menopause and without HRT for two months because of my illness. I had hit an all time low. Mentally I was not prepared for the emotional ramifications of such a life changing operation and I was in a bad place. Irrational and suicidal thoughts would fill my head and the tears flowed like a river. I was grieving my lost womb and femininity. Again I turned to the internet and self help books for support, being too embarrassed and not knowing where to turn to for help. My partner at the time, kept saying you’ve changed. He had no understanding and nothing in the way of empathy.
This was a turning point in my life, I’d completed a life coach qualification and had a small business, quit my 9-5 where I felt utterly misunderstood, my friends didn’t understand what I was going through, my relationship was toxic and my partner was gas lighting me. And to top it off my beloved dad was dying.
It was a no brainer for me, I wanted to use my qualification, skills and experience to support and help other women who (like me) were experiencing menopause symptoms and blindly stumbling through menopause whilst feeling very much alone. And Thrivemenopause was born. I love knowing that each and every day I’m connecting with women who are experiencing situations like I’ve encountered. Like so many other amazing women, I’m determined to break the taboo surrounding menopause and to help women feel supported and heard during these transformative year’s. My life is now so very different from those early days, I am a completely different woman. The love and support of my wonderful Fiancé and family is priceless and it has enabled me to grow as a person. I have thrived and I want women across the world to know that you can too during menopause and its complex mental and physical journey and beyond.