Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hitting menopause at 30-something

All I knew about menopause eight weeks ago was that it was not supposed to happen to me for a good 15 or so years. I'd half-heartedly heard my mom and her friends mentioning 'hot flushes' a few times, but apart from that I knew very little. We tend to only Google things when they are bearing down on us.

And so, it was a bit of a shock a few nights ago when I found myself typing the words 'hot flushes' into my Mac's Google bar. You see, menopause has hit me. And it's not as if I wasn't warned. It has been brought on, after all, by artificial means (Lucrin, but more about that later).

Let me rewind. Just before the end of 2008, a routine gynae appointment ended with the words: 'You need an operation. You have endometriosis." When I got home, that was another thing I had to Google. I am now an expert on the topic. And from not even being able to pronounce 'laparoscopy' I am now preparing for my second one.

I had my op a few days after that appointment. Turns out I had Stage 3-4 endometriosis (endo) and it was 'one of the worst cases' my doc had seen.  Initially I was upset my previous gynae had not picked it up, but in hindsight, I should also have been more in tune with my body and identified it myself years ago. I thought I'd be in the hospital for a few hours and be discharged by the evening, but ended up having to stay the night (and almost a 2nd night). Most of the sites I'd researched had said it was a 30 min, same day procedure. If you're reading this because you're about to have the same op, be prepared: if they find signs of endo and they have to laser or burn the adhesions, your 'look see' op turns into a bigger procedure and you need to give yourself more time to recover than you'd probably thought. It wasn't scary, don't worry. It's just that it does take its toll on the body, although I also think mine reacted quite badly to the anesthetic. 

When I got home at about 6.30pm the day after the surgery (which was at about 2pm), I was not the happiest soul. Two wonderful friends had to almost carry me up my steep flight of stairs and shower me, dry me off and help me into bed. Walking was very painful for a few days. I had expected the recovery to take about two days, but I was off work for five days, plus a full weekend, and even when I returned to work, my energy levels were very low. Granted, my op had been almost two hours long and my anesthetic had therefore been longer etc, but I think women going in for a similar procedure need to allow themselves more time to heal. 

Anyway, I am showing signs of my early menopause now; forgetting my initial point! I was given an injection of Lucrin in hospital and was told I would need one every month for three months. It was to put my body into menopause so that the endo growths would quieten down. After that, I was assured, I could emerge from menopause.

I had my 2nd injection of Lucrin about 10 days ago, (it's very expensive at about R1770 a jab and takes at least 24-48 hours to order and my medical aid - Discovery - doesn't cover it) and my mild symptoms of menopause from month one when my body was obviously still absorbing the drug have turned into raging side effects.

My hot flushes which I thought were 'cute' a month ago, are now bloody irritating. They literally strike every 20 mins and I feel like a thermostat-controlled urn which boils every now and then and then goes into silent mode. I can be sitting at my desk at work and all of a sudden, I can feel my arms stick to the desk and my face burn. It lasts only about two minutes at the most, but happens all day and all night long. Googling has revealed that every woman's body is different, so I this may not necessarily be your experience. I guess it may also not be mine: when I actually do go through the natural, real thing, it could be different for me. My other side effect seems to be memory loss. It's like fuzz these days!

Once my Lucrin course is over, I will have a second op to determine if all the endo is gone and I guess if the doc does find any, he will nuke it. I am hoping that this will be the end of it for a while! After that, as soon as my body recovers, I plan to start trying to fall pregnant. That, they assure me, is the ultimate cure. Ahh, but that is another post entirely!


Anonymous said...

did you see the oprah show on natural hormones? you can get help, please see her site


and google sites like bellevue pharmacies, women's international hormone pharmacy

a better diet can help you, but so can getting compounding natural hormones

you should have them there!

you also need excision surgery for endo not other stuff

pls see these sites,

Anonymous said...

is this med the same as 'lupron'? that is causing the hormone's also no good for for it, and the effect it has on your teeth and bones (b/c it lowers your estrogen)

also, no endo expert usually gives that

endo experts do not usually laser it either

they use the laser or scissors to cut it

and then it's gone - with laser or lupron, it just is not gone (not the roots with laser)

also, ob/gyns are not endo experts, no matter what they tell you!

Anonymous said...

Ooer, these comments are a bit concerning! Shame girl, you've really been pulled through the mill. Sorry you're going through all this! M&A are thinking of you and sending all our love and positive thoughts your way!

Her Story SA said...

Thanks for the comments and for the advice. I will certainly check out those sites.

Just to clarify, my doc did not laser my adhesions, he used one of those instruments that has a heat source at the base and also cut growths out / drained a chocolate cyst etc.

Re the medication, I will investigate but from what I have seen, it is often used to treat women whose main goal is to conceive soon afterwards.

-- M&A - thanks for the supportive comment!! :-)

Charley Burright said...

I'm a bit concerned about you. You're too young to hit your menopausal stage. As far as I've known, women hit menopause by the age of 45 and above. But maybe it's a case-to-case basis. My mom has already experienced this a few months ago, and it was really traumatic for her. She had mood swings, hot flashes in the morning, and she even experience having a tooth problem. But thank God she's now okay. Hope you'll be okay too!