Life

The Mammogram – A Menopausal Delight

By on February 16, 2018
mammogram breast cancer ribbon

Mammogram – what should I expect?

Why should I have one?

A mammogram is one of the central pillars of breast cancer detection and alongside regular self-examination can detect breast cancer really early giving one the best chance of a cure.  In fact, the Mammogram breast examinationmammograms they do now can detect early signs of cancer even before you can see or feel any change in the breast itself.

If you live in the UK and you hit 50 you will get invited for a regular NHS mammogram every 3 years.  The mammogram is not compulsory but as an ex-nurse and someone who believes in medicine and the scientific research that underpins it, I would urge you to seriously consider having one when you are offered it. I know there are a lot of bogus health websites out there so I would urge you to check out something that is actually based on real science as opposed to ‘woo‘.  I mean please feel free to place an onion marinated in cannabis oil in your shoe or wave a bit of rose quartz around but do it while you have a proper check up.  Have a look here at this super helpful page by the lovely folks at Cancer Research.

What to expect

I received my letter bearing the joyous news that my Valentine’s Day gift from the NHS was getting the chance to once again place my tits inside a cold x-ray machine which works in a way similar to a workbench vice.  I’m probably not selling this am I?  Bear with me.

So, Valentine’s morn I kiss my spouse goodbye and head to the mobile Breast Screening Unit which looks like the rear end of an articulated lorry and is conveniently parked in the car park at Morrisons so you can go shopping and buy yourself a nice cake or something as a treat for being brave in the unit.  I digress, having been distracted by thoughts of cake.

On arrival I was greeted by a radiologist who took me into a tiny office, confirmed my details and asked a few brief questions; had I noticed any problems and that sort of thing.  After this you get put into a small cubicle where you take your top clothing off (so make sure you wear a top and skirt or trousers rather than a dress!) and your bra and then replace one top to keep you covered.  After a very brief wait, you are then called to the x-ray room where the fun stuff happens.

After you’ve removed your top the radiologist basically positions each breast in turn onto the machine.  The first film is a top to bottom view so the breast is flatted from the top down – a bit like a sandwich toaster.  After this they do the same thing but from side to side.  The whole thing took about 10 minutes and the machine itself is automatic so once she has it in place and ready to go all she has to do is press a button.  The machine whirrs, moves up and down the breast and then releases.

I am not going to say it is the most pleasant thing and the sideways view is a bit mean, but it literally lasts less than 20 seconds.  The NHS mammogram is free at the point of delivery and it does save lives!  You will receive the result within 2 weeks.

What I am saying is – go!  There really is nothing to worry about!

 

Video:  What it is like to have a mammogram by UK Cancer Research 

 

 

 

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Poetry

Invisible Woman (Poetry)

By on February 3, 2018
Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman

 

I am an invisible woman.

Age makes me invisible.

Men no longer call me from buildings or cars.

Men no longer try to touch me uninvited.

I like this.

I enjoy my invisibility.

 

I am an invisible woman.

But sometimes people see me.

These people want my humour,

My wisdom, my experience.

These people pay genuine compliments

and give heartfelt invitations.

I like this.

But mostly I am invisible.

 

I am an invisible woman.

I work behind the scenes.

Facilitating others.

The lack-lustre drudge of my life

reflected in the vibrancy of theirs.

But all of this is hidden.

I am mostly invisible.

 

I am an invisible woman.

Sometimes I am screaming inside.

Sometimes I want to be recognised.

Just for a moment

to pull back the veil and be seen.

But mostly I am just invisible.

 

I am an invisible woman.

Sometimes like today people see me.

Sometimes they realise where I am,

who I am, what I do.

They appreciate and value.

I like this.

I like the brief moments when I am seen.

But mostly I remain invisible.

 

 

More poetry

 

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Life

I’ve Lost The Ability to Say “F*CK IT”!

By on January 27, 2018
gutless

Or, When did I get so gutless?

Now I know that last year, 2017, I was completely spoiled by the epic amount of world travelling I was fortunate enough to do.  I know am blessed in so many ways right down to the geographical location of my birth and my race (if not my gender!).  This alone opened many doors that would otherwise have been closed to me.  I have too many blessing to even list.  I am the first to admit that this particular blog post is pretty much a white, middle-aged, middle-class moan about “first world problems”. Frankly, most of the population of the planet has more pressing matters to attend to.

To my husband and friends who read this – no this is not about you!  Essentially it is about wondering why I’ve become totally gutless in my approach to life.

I suppose this is partly the menopause which – it is said – encourages one to sift through all your mental garbage bags.  As part of that process, I suddenly realised that most of my adult life, if not all of it, I have always done what needed to be done.  I have always taken on responsibility for meeting the needs of daily life for myself and others around me.  Oftentimes this means not being able to follow my own dreams but on the plus side, it means others can follow theirs by default.

I think that facilitating others is a laudable and generally very good thing.  If you are currently doing this, well done.  If you are currently being facilitated by someone else, well done.  Be sure to show your appreciation.  I am all for people following dreams, picking and choosing what they want to do.  I’d just like to have a fair crack of the whip myself.

I know that part of this is watching people walk away from various hideous aspects of their lives – be that a relationship or a dead end job –  and then looking and feeling so much better for it.  I can’t help thinking that I can only get out of this stagnant rut by leaping, creating a vacuum and letting that get filled.  Maybe I need a kick up the arse, some real motivation to change my daily existence.

Maybe my desire to just say, ‘fuck it’, hop in my van and only come back when others have sorted out the fall out would actually pan out OK.

 

 

 

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Life | Poetry | Writing/Creativity

Croning

By on December 27, 2017
croning

Emotions; yearning, aching,
but for what?

Both questions and answers elude me
lost in life’s fog.

I’m drowning, suffocating,
I need to expand and fly.

Instead, I continue to retreat and retract,
I diminish.
Frustration fills the void that once was me.

I have to stop.
Just stop.
Let myself breathe.
Let myself mourn for what is lost
and forever gone.
Let it go, move past, move forward, move on.

I abandon myself, falling,
into the cauldron, warm, dark welcoming.
The womb engulfs me, takes me deep inside myself.

I emerge. Cleansed.
Torn, I am repaired, replaced and reborn.

I am crone.
I am wise.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am ME.

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Life | Video

The Saga’s End! (Video)

By on December 24, 2017

I finally got around to making and uploading the final video in my tooth saga! It is exactly 4 weeks since the tooth came out. It has been a rocky old road (because for me, nothing is ever simple), but here is my final video on the matter!

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Life

Menopause, Ageing & Teeth – Part 3 (Video)

By on November 24, 2017
extraction day

Extraction Day

Like Independence Day but Less Fun

So, Spiros, my dentist has wrenched my tooth from my head.  With some difficulty but he got it all and it has been consigned to the dustbin, or more specifically, tooth box of history.  Here’s a video (number 3 of 4) – this time with a special guest star.  Enjoy.

 

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Life

Menopause, Ageing & Teeth – Part 2

By on November 23, 2017
crazy old lady

The Night Before E-Day

I am at the stage where I am no longer worried about feeling old – I just want the pain to stop and to get my life back!

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Life | Video

Menopause, Aging and Teeth (Video)

By on November 17, 2017
Video - menopause

Video – Menopause, Ageing and Losing my Tooth Part 1

I’ve decided to mix things up a bit by doing a short series of videos. These will be about my tooth – not so much the physical stuff by the psychological effects of losing a front tooth, having a denture fitted and generally being menopausal.

I appreciate that this is self-indulgent and I actually don’t care – I am doing it for myself and to help anyone else going through the same things. So if it is not of interest move quickly by, if it is, thank you for watching.

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Life

The Ovaries’ Revenge…and other Menopausal Mishaps

By on November 8, 2017
Credit Dominic Alves https://www.flickr.com/photos/dominicspics/6303257965

Or how my ovaries deliberately came back to life for no apparent reason.

So 15 months on and I was finally through ‘the change’ – or so my treacherous ovaries would have had me believe.  Imagine my surprise – nay,  horror – to find signs of my used-to-be monthly visitor.  ‘No’, I said.  ‘I am imagining it’, I said.  Until the arrival of the Crimson Tide meant I could no longer live in denial.

I Googled ‘Post Menopausal Bleeding‘.  It was not a happy tale.  So I dutifully booked in to see my GP.  Thankfully it was a woman this time, not the 12-year-old boy I normally see when my reproductive system deliberately decides to do one because it secretly knows he is on duty and wants me to have to discuss sex, vaginas, bladders and bowels with someone who still has bum fluff on his chin.

After all the usual poking and prodding around, ‘It all seems normal’, she says.  I bite my tongue against the urge to tell her that any bleeding out of your nethers at 53 after 15 months of blissful absence doesn’t feel that normal anymore.  Plus, it is decidedly inconvenient to have your husband dash up the High Street with sanitary towels in the middle of the afternoon because Auntie decides to show up at work.  (Husband points earned).

So everything looks normal, only it isn’t, so I have to go the fast track one-stop gynae clinic at the local hospital.  This is apparently for an abdominal ultrasound.  The appointment people phone within a couple of days and soon I am heading off with my bladder bursting to capacity ready for the sonographer to work magic with her scanning machine.  This was a pretty seamless service I have to say and another reason to be totally thankful that we have a centrally funded NHS in the UK.

Anyway, back to the good part:  I had the abdominal ultrasound, my bladder protesting throughout -‘oh, what a lovely full bladder’! exclaimed the Sonographer.  For her maybe, for me, not so much.  After a quick pee, I thought that was it, all done and over, but no.  Apparently, she also has to look ‘the other way’.  This involved me scooting down the bed with my bum perched on a pillow while she ferreted around with a probe.

Finally, it was all done; next stop the Consultant.  How hard could that be?  A quick chat and I’m off.

Nope.  Wrong.  His turn to have a pit of a ferk involves sitting in a chair which kind of disappeared at the end of my bum.  This was pretty bizarre – having some guy sat there gazing into your holiest of holies whilst making polite conversation is (thankfully) not something you experience every day of the week.  He also took a biopsy of the lining of my womb which was done with a ‘small pipelle’.  ‘That sounds ok’, I thought, and it did literally only take a few seconds.  Sadly those seconds were characterised by contractions which I was told would be similar to period pains but were actually more akin to early labour.

Being an ex-nurse has certain perks; one of these is that as a patient you are almost always guaranteed to be a complete and utter pain in the arse.  On this occasion, having coped marvellously well with it all the time it was actually going on, I decided to start feeling sick and faint as I was getting dressed.  Cue laying down in the only available spot (a couch in the waiting area) and being plied with glasses of water and provided with papier mache sick bowls.   I did my best to both reassure the nursing staff that it was ‘just a bit of a vaso-vagal‘ and also to convince the elderly lady who turned up for her turn that it was ok really and that I was just a wimp.  I got a distinct feeling she was not convinced as she went into the consultation muttering something about general anaesthesia.

Anyway, the upshot of it all was the Consultant was pretty happy that I had just been through all of this because I’d had a light period.  Results of the biopsy will come through ‘eventually’ because apparently you only get bad ones superfast and I should go home and forget all about it.

Well, that was a super fun way to spend a Wednesday.  I went home and slept for 3 hours.

On a serious note:  Yes it was an uncomfortable morning (especially the last bit) but it was so worth it for the reassurance it provided and of course, had it not been normal I could have dealt with any issue earlier rather than later.

If like me you are ‘of an age’ where you haven’t been having your monthly ‘woe’ for over a year (and apparently it is now over 6 months if you are over 50), you should make sure you get it checked.

Hoping this is my ovaries’ finally flurry before they give up the ghost.  Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

Image Credit Dominic Alves 

 

 

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Life

Objectify Your Dentist – and other survival techniques for midlife.

By on October 20, 2017
dentist chair

I objectify my dentist.  It’s true.  He is handsome and has lovely eyes.  It is sexist and terrible.  I’m a bad person.  But it does get me through the horror and I am not just talking about dentistry.  I shall explain:

My 50th birthday present from the NHS was an invitation to come along to a van parked in Morrisons car park and have my tits flattened in an X-Ray machine.  Welcome to your 5th decade!  This was my reward for surviving half a century of existence on planet Earth.  If like me your breasts come by the handful, not the bucketful, be grateful, larger ladies have larger problems with this particular examination.  Mine?  Mine both fit on one x-ray plate.  I got off lightly.  I am also saving money for the NHS which is good considering that I am using it rather a lot more lately.

I have entered the world of the varifocal and found them wanting so it’s the glasses on the bit of string around the neck for me.  Very sassy.  I shall continue to terrify the customers at work by peering at them over my glasses in a stern and sinister fashion when they enter the shop.  Some of them actually seem to like this.  It takes all sorts.

As part of my extensive ‘stop the rot’ campaign I have given up smoking, stopped vaping, only drink at weekends and eat healthily.  That old bone density won’t maintain itself and breaking a hip whilst getting out of a chair is going to be both inconvenient and unattractive.  No one needs bones like swiss cheese.  Hence the gym.

I’d like to be able to say that as the oldest person at the gym I can objectify all the muscle men and bubble butts that visit.  Although this would take the edge off it would also, sadly, be a lie – most of my energy is focussed on not falling off the treadmill because my balance is a bit skew-whiff and avoiding a hernia.  That said, I may occasionally pause from looking like a badly cooked, sweating beetroot to admire a well-turned shoulder or pert tush because I am middle-aged and not dead.  It makes up for the horror of seeing myself in ‘all my glory’ in the full length, full-width torture mirror they have so graciously installed along one wall.

So back to my dentist.  I’ve been spending a bit of time there and dentures may be in my future.  As I write I am studiously ignoring the throbbing sensation in my recently root-canaled tooth.  I remain in denial and will probably do so until I can bear it no more.

I objectify my dentist.  He has beautiful eyes.  It gets me through the horror.  So bite me.

 

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