Riding the Rollercoaster # 2 There is nothing to worry about…probably

I’ve had three episodes of post-menopausal bleeding since I went through “the change”. The first about three years ago had me spiralling out of control in a flat-spin, it could only be cancer. That’s the trouble with being a nurse, you know things. When we or our loved family or friends are unwell we jump from 0 to 100 MPH in 0.000001 seconds. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing sometimes & before you know it, that slight sensitivity to something someone has eaten out in the garden on a hot Summer’s Day & the resultant rash & headache go from a bit of a food insensitivity & a sun induced dehydration resulting in a “diagnosis” of Meningitis before you know it.

I defy any health professional to tell me that they haven’t gone through this in some shape or form at some point in their lives…

melodrama

Thank goodness, most of the time we are over-reacting & when the panic subsides – due to a good dose of common-sense all is well. We can’t help it, when you work with genuinely sick people all the time it colours your world.

So on the first two occasions when I sought help, laid back & thought of Liam Neeson England. My GP, Consultant, friends & family were absolutely right; there had been nothing to worry about.

nothing 2 worry

Silly me. I felt like a right plank.

This time it was a bit more complicated. It just felt different, but I spent a few weeks quietly bleeding & in a bit of malaise of apathy. Our family had been through three bereavements in six months, one a blessing, one a nasty surprise & the final one a bitter, painful curse.

I’d done my usual characteristic “let’s push through this” and it worked, for a while. I wasn’t functioning very well outside of work, but there, I was my usual self at least superficially, still an effective participant in a very challenging Health Board doing a job I really love. My partner & friends & those colleagues who knew & cared about me were brilliant. I don’t know what I would have done without them & I bless everyone for their compassion, support & caring. But quietly & slowly I was beginning to unravel…

Why am I telling you this? Well, its times like these when your health starts to take second place, you attribute certain changes in mood, appetite & other physical signs to your grief – at least that’s what happened to me.

Thanks to the intervention over a delicious ice-cream sundae in a beautiful country setting on a sunny Saturday afternoon, one of my closest friends who happens to be a Psychiatrist, made me realise that I needed help. For once I listened & my GP was brilliant, I started anti-depressants & began to feel less like a ball of string that a hyperactive kitten has got hold of unnoticed & began to resemble an embryonic elastic band ball. Great. But there was still something not quite right & I started to notice the signs that had heralded a period in my fertile days.

I craved chocolate (not something I usually indulge in since the menopause), skin got spotty, hair got lank, I was moody & pissy – good grief, it was like being a teenager all over again. Note for any teenage young women reading this – yes I know you aren’t like that all the time! Then I began to bleed, my back ached, but I have a chronic back problem so that was ok. I was tired all the time & could have slept around the clock & my usual voracious appetite began to wane a bit (no bad thing because I’m no elfin creature anyway, right?). I knew I had to do something & the day before we were due to go away on holiday, I had an appointment with my lovely (male) GP to review the antidepressant situation & I thought I would just mention the bleeding thing in passing.

And so the next day, two hours before we had to make the drive to the ferry, I find myself in the consulting room. I haven’t seen this particular GP before, but she is warm, professional (yes you can be both!) & her room has toys for children (don’t tell the Infection Control Nurses in case they confiscate them!), infant works of art on the wall & a healthy looking crop of tomato plants that a preceding patient this morning has brought as a gift.

I assume the position as best I can (you know the one ladies – it’s the reverse of the one for you chaps who have your prostate checked) for an equally lovely female GP & exposed myself to the sort of intimate contact you are supposed to save yourself for in anticipation of your wedding night (if you are an author of the bodice-ripping genre).

the position

The only problem is that the room is tiny & the examination couch is pushed up against the wall. This is a problem. It’s impossible to “flop” properly & because of the angle she will end up having to lean her weight on my leg to carry out the procedure… This may go some to explain why on occasion the labs sent a note back to say that the sample is insufficient. She knows it’s uncomfortable & apologises, telling me she hopes to get a proper examination chair at some stage.

“Well” she said from the distance as she peruses my secret garden, “it all looks ok. But you know the drill & I will refer you to the fast track post menopausal clinic, but I’m sure there isn’t anything to worry about. Probably”…

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