Feeling Grateful…Until Your Husband Fucks Up Again

You can usually count on the old man to turn a drama into a crisis.

 

apocalypse-371947_1280I went into day surgery for a minor gyny procedure today. I won’t scare away my few male followers by sharing the intricate, gory details of the investigative procedure into the over-chartered territories of my almost-defunct uterus, but suffice it to say, it was on a par with a quarterly Council clear out, only this time linked to MENSTRUATION GONE WRONG, and the sort of uncontrollable blood loss usually sustained by a rogue shark or zombie attack.

 

It was my only visit to a hospital outside of child birth, which made me (worryingly) somewhat of a celebrity in theatre – ie. a virgin to anesthesia at the ripe old age of fifty-two – so I was grateful for the full run down of what to expect by the bevy of lovely nurses, although less happy about the million disclaimer forms I had to sign in abject panic mode. If I’m honest, the sight of those stark white walls, labeled bins, compression stockings that they vacuum-packed my calves into and the fugly hairnet on my head, all felt a bit too close to the bone at this stage of my life.

 

I can’t have read the memo properly because when I mentioned my impending surgery to two nurse friends of mine last Saturday night, they laughed at my misconception about some local, vaginal anesthetic for pain relief – on a par with Diazepam tabs they give me at the dentist because I’m such a blithering mess – and in hindsight, perhaps my misunderstanding had something to do with my Prosecco Brain or the brevity of time I was given to overthink the procedure. Anyway, it turns out that you need real, grown up drugs when they carve out the walls of your uterus like a melon before a Mad Men-themed cocktail party.

 

The old man kindly elected for me to have my op via the public health system, to get value for money for all the taxes we’ve paid, and the benefit of that was that I wasn’t given very long at all to worry about what lay ahead. Indeed, virtually no information was passed onto me until yesterday, around lunchtime, a few hours after we had commenced NC’s birthday celebrations.

 

The phone conversation went something like this:

 

Hospital Nurse: ‘So obviously, no alcohol twenty-four hours before surgery…’

Me: Looking at my empty Champagne glass and the time on my phone as I counted forward the hours in my head. ‘Does one glass of wine count?’ I asked as I made a mental note to cancel the rest of NC’s birthday celebrations that evening.

 

I have to say that the public health service was outstanding, and it made me appreciate the shallowness of my own job and how the next time I worry about whether a cushion’s piping tones with a lampshade, I will shoot myself. Not one nurse complained when I was being wheeled into theatre and asked if I could pop off the trolley to go for a pee, and when the anesthetist informed me that the pre-meds would give me the sensation of two glasses of wine and I suggested she top it up a little, even she managed to crack a smile.

 

And when I woke up an hour later – grey, groggy, yet hopeful that FINALLY, I might be able to dip my vag in the ocean all through the month without fear of attack – I felt truly grateful to be alive. Thankful even, for those closest to me who have continued to support me through those weeks of every month where I can be somewhat irrational. And I included the old man in that drug-induced “gratitude circle of love” until a few minutes later, when he decided that my back bumper needed work as well and that a minor altercation between our car and a cement mixer on the way home was the way to go about it.

The Curse Of The Middle-Aged Baby Belly: Can Women Have It All – Both Wine And Food?

A common thread of conversation among my middle-aged friends is “weight gain”. We usually begin to moan about how little we can eat these days somewhere between dessert and cheese and then wash away our concerns with wine. maternity-830683_1280

 

I have to admit that having never suffered from serious weight gain issues before – apart from when I first discovered pints of lager at university – I used to think that they were linked to poor self-control and that if you pretended to exercise and ate in moderation, it was possible to maintain your weight. But it turns out that there is some science behind the middle-aged tyre, something about protecting our bones from breaking – although which bones my layer of lard is shielding around my navel, I have yet to learn.

 

One of the biggest priorities when we were looking for our new home recently was that it should be walking distance to a local pool, because the crazy machinations of the way my brain works got used to that luxury at our old place. I’ve been swimming for a while now and I can definitely see the benefits, although up until now it was more about maintaining my mental health than trying to disperse unwanted fat. Sadly, it seems I may have to change my focus now.

 

My body has never conformed to what Dr Google says it should be doing at any given time, most recently proven when I went through one of the biggest stresses in life – moving house – and gained weight.

 

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve reneged on the one deal I had with my body which was never to go up a dress size. Again. That might be because I’m more comfortable in myself, (although more likely to be because I love my food), but I now realise that I’ve been kidding myself for a while about my weight, aided by a combination of cheats such as changing clothing brands, choosing between wine and food , in other words, pretending that I can have it all. I also stopped weighing myself.

 

But those days are gone because my clothes have become so tight that even my support pants are struggling to hold me in and sadly, I look shocking in kaftans. I’m not vain, but a wibbly-wobbly tyre around what used to be my waist is not an attractive accessory, and typically all my extra weight has accumulated in the area between my breasts and pelvis so I look like I’m in the early stages of my second trimester. Why some of those fat deposits couldn’t have ended up on my wide, boney ass or in my lips is another of life’s unfair fuckeries.

 

I repeat, it’s not so much about the aesthetics, as proven by my recent descent into wearying pyjama bottoms as late into the day as possible (a benefit of working from home) and the fact that I didn’t complain or go back when a new, more economically-priced hairdresser gave me hi-vis, zebra highlights last week. My problem is that I’m very partial to retail therapy – particularly clothes – and my stomach is compromising that pleasure. Clothing manufacturers for young women do not incorporate the sort of elasticated, room-for- growth pouch you get in maternity clothes and I don’t know how I’m supposed to maintain my youth in slacks and smock dresses.

 

So what else can I do? Obviously I’m not going to become some aerobic psycho that takes up ‘boot camp’ and risk a premature heart attack or stroke and I fear that if I give up wine I might end up like those smokers who give up and then get lung cancer.

 

Calorie-counting doesn’t work either because my adding up becomes distinctly shady after the first thousand calories of Chardonnay.

 

And I do eat healthily most of the time. Although the kebab shop at the end of the road in our new neighbourhood was an unfortunate discovery.

 

Help!

 

 

Your Local Doctor: Now Offering One Stop Shopping for Hypochondriac Middle-Aged Women

Doctor's Office (Tools of The Trade)

I RARELY GO TO THE DOCTOR. I mean, I think about going to the doctor all the time, but once I acknowledge that those voices are just my hypochondria talking, my symptoms usually disappear.

 

There are a lot of new and exciting symptoms to investigate and worry about when you enter middle age and the body decides to self-combust.

 

On a personal level, I would love to see more of my doctor because she is fabulous. I really enjoy our time together. I would like to be her real friend in the real world if she hadn’t seen my vagina and knew all about what a complete fruit loop I really am.

 

We are a similar age and she talks to me like a friend would. One of the few great things about being middle-aged is that the doctors become more invested in your health, especially the more it deteriorates. I suppose that we hypochondriacs become a huge gateway to doctors’ salaries now that improvements in medical science are helping us to all live longer.

 

But what I hadn’t appreciated before yesterday’s visit is just how similar it is to going to the mall these days – it’s one-stop shopping for all of us hypochondriac, middle-aged women. At my doctors, I can get my bloods taken, pick up my scripts, sort out contraception and get my flu jab all on the same site. I haven’t spotted the morgue yet, but it must be there somewhere.

English: Shopping carts in ABC Tikkula.
English: Shopping carts in ABC Tikkula. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I went in for a simple pap test yesterday and came out with a full shopping cart of flu and whooping cough jabs, a heap of blood tests and enough scripts to keep me sane for at least the next six months.

 

I’m fine, really.

 

My doctor is super-efficient. There’s none of that dancing around the problem or awkwardness when I have to open my legs to a complete stranger and pretend that I’ve still got a working pelvic floor. She’s a straight-talking speculum-in-and-out doctor with no messing around, the only slight discomfort being when she commented that I’d ‘obviously had my babies vaginally.’

 

I tried not to feel hurt that my vagina is obviously no longer in its first flush of youth.

 

The pap test included a free skin and breast check with it – a veritable three-for-one bargain – so never one to resist, I found out that the two moles I was convinced were melanomas are actually age spots –THE SHAME – and even the breast check was straightforward once she’d located them squirrelled away under my armpits.

 

She sold me a flu jab too. I recoiled in horror when she suggested it at first – I mean, flu jabs are for really old or really ill people aren’t they? – but at $30 a pop, it seemed like a good deal.

 

My blood pressure was a little high and perhaps I should have mentioned the three coffees I needed before I could place my feet in the stirrups and we agreed that coming off the fruit loop pills in the short term (as Kurt approaches his HSC/or prison), may not be the best timing.

 

And I left the surgery armed with a stack of reading material about other degenerating conditions I can research and worry about before my next visit.

 

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The Vagina Dialogues

Don’t panic, you haven’t missed out on ‘vagina week’.

Gossip
Gossip (Photo credit: arcreyes [-ratamahatta-])
But I do want to talk about vaginas today, because after a boozy afternoon with some of ‘the girls’ this weekend, I noticed that in spite of being middle-aged the topic of vaginas still dominates our conversation and it starts usually somewhere between the second and third bottle of wine.

We accuse men of being obsessed with their penises, but give a group of women some cheap wine and a soapbox, and we clearly suffer from a similar worship of our Hoo-Has.

I have named these conversations The Vagina Dialogues.

Have you ever thought about your vagina’s evolution from your teens to menopause? 

I started my vagina dialogue with my friends in my teens when I was at a girls boarding school. This was before the enlightenment of Cosmopolitan, selfies and Snapchat – it was a more innocent time when vagina talk took place in the playground and revolved around who had got their period already and the tampon/pad debate.

Of course the girls who had ‘done’ it already, (their elevated status separating them as far away as possible from the vestal virgins, to the other side of the playground with the smokers), had already moved onto the next stage of their vaginas’ evolution.

When we girls got together in our twenties, although we might begin the evening with small talk pertaining to our careers (yawn), like who was shagging who in the office, without even realising it the conversation would shift swiftly back to the safety of our vaginas, rather like when men hold their dicks for comfort.

English: G-Spot Vibrator
English: G-Spot Vibrator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sub-topics might include men, relationships, sex, the elusiveness of orgasms in the hands of men, vibrators versus men, and whether we were ‘getting any’, but all we were really worried about was if our vaginas had all reached similar development milestones at the same time. 

It was about this time that we finally began to understand the true multi-functioning diversity of the vagina.

The vagina had seriously entered the building.

Because while men may think with their penises, the sad fact is that the phallus cannot multi-task. 

Then in my thirties the vagina dialogues became interconnected with the excitement of impending birth and the inevitable changes to our body as a result – most obviously how birth would impact our vaginas. Pooing on the delivery table in front of some hot, young junior doctor like George Clooney was our biggest fear, until after the birth when the concern switched to the aesthetics of our newly-sculpted vagina and vulva as a result of (unplanned) episiotomies and stitches.

And we asked ourselves if we could ever contemplate having sex again.

Some of us were brave enough to take a mirror down below to check out the midwife’s handiwork; the less brave among us simply said a prayer.

This was followed by a period of intense mourning for our vagina’s loss of youth and eventually a re-invention of sorts. We knew that our vaginas might never feel the same again, but we carried their new plus-size stoically, with a certain womanly prAnd that question over whether she would be able to regroup and tighten or would remain in her new, post-partum tunnel shape, (more suited to the wider berth), remained unanswered for some time.

Reassuringly, catch-ups with friends in my late-forties are still dominated by vagina dialogues, but these days the conversation focuses on whose periods have stopped, who is on HRT and whether we can really be bothered to have sex anyway. We women have come full-circle and nature is putting our vaginas through the mill again, this time in the form of menopause.

The unspoken word around the table these days is ‘prolapse’.

English: President Barack Obama discusses the ...

It’s not a word that is bandied about lightly, even in female circles, but it is whispered around the dinner table by those mature women brave enough to laugh at the really fucked up realities of ageing. Suffice it to say, one of our major missions in life has become the health of our pelvic floors. There is a lot of pelvic floor exercising going on behind closed curtains these days – exercises we all know we should have done years ago – in the hope that it’s not too late to repair the damage caused by that whopping baby that shot out of our vajajay, destroying every uterine ligament in the process.

Sadly, everyone seems to know ‘someone’ who has experienced a pelvic prolapse. We hear horrific tales of vaginas that hang out in public or have to be lifted surgically with special vaginal mesh, even stronger than Spiderman’s web – it is the stuff of midlife nightmares.

Did you know that your vajayjay can become that fragile in middle age that it can suddenly collapse like a pack of cards?

PING! One minute you’ve got a fully-functioning vagina and the next minute it’s smiling up at you from the floor.

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Fed Up Of The Menopausal, Middle-Aged Woman Stereotype?

I had a moment of clarity this week, about the whole middle-aged woman stereotype.

00d54d1dac2c921106239b8f91597b91Because there are a lot of angry, tired and unfulfilled women out there in my age group, and society likes to blame their mood changes on menopause, peri-menopause and middle age.

But I think there’s a bit more to it than that.

The stereotype of the grumpy, middle-aged woman that the medical profession and men have created (and got away with for years), is unjust. Not because I’m not grumpy and psychotic, but because I believe that there’s more to it than just hormones.

Personally, under the right conditions, there is a very happy personality in my body waiting to come out. She still comes out occasionally – like in the shopping mall or when the kids are at sleepovers or with the help of a few Chardonnays and some chocolate.

So it can’t just be the hormones, can it? There’s obviously a whole bunch of other shit that sends us women over the edge too.

Perhaps we become less amiable as we get older because we become more perceptive about people – frankly, a lot of people get on our tits – so we become more selective. You see, with the confidence and wisdom of age comes the courage to stand up for our rights, to say ‘no’, to be intolerant if we want to be, to make choices about who we want to spend our time with.

Those days of stressing about our social standing in the playground are finally over and we now realize that a few really good friends is infinitely better than a room full of fuckwits – and that can be extraordinarily liberating.

Men love to blame our irrationality and mood swings on menstruation and menopause, but maybe they need to look in the mirror. The problem doesn’t just stem from the spaghetti junction of hormone over-activity, there are other issues too.

There’s also the issue of ‘having it all’ and it being too fucking much – of being overwhelmed by the day to day responsibilities, with no supportive domestic infrastructure.

The following is an example of what the old man would call an over-reaction on my part and my justification for it:

NC dared to mention to me yesterday morning that she had no clean knickers, AND needed to change her bedclothes due to fake tan marks. When I suggested she borrow some of my knickers, (which seemed like an obvious short-term solution), she used THAT tone of voice on me.

Now, I’ll let her off for not noticing that her last set of dirty bedding was still sitting in the ‘to be washed pile’ in the laundry, because I’m sure she doesn’t know where the laundry is, and because if she had known she might have chosen her attitude more carefully. Then, it is fair to say, I might not have metamorphosed into something akin to a Tyrannasaurus Rex from some bad 70’s dinosaur movie that could easily have bitten off her head and spat it out into small pieces.

And no, I wasn’t having my period or a hot flush.

Her comment came in between paid work, that I was supposed to be doing at home, fielding client calls, filling in an application for Kurt to another school, ‘writing’ deadlines, dog-walking, food planning and preparation….I could go on.

By the time we reach our forties, a lot of us women are juggling more balls than we can hope to catch, and physically we don’t have as much energy to juggle anymore anyway. Once the kids are in high school, there is an expectation to go back to work full-time; but we can’t afford the support required to provide us with a work/life balance. Cleaners earn more than the average wage and our salaries dip so disasterously while we compromised our career to raise our kids, that we can’t afford them anyway. And teenagers actually require more stalking/childcare than little kids in many ways.

Added to which we are being suffocated by the demands of a society that expects us not only to do everything, but to do it as perfectly as Gwyneth Paltrow too.

So what happens?  We find ourselves sinking into the quicksand of middle-age.

Which can make us a tad over-sensitive; even angry occasionally.

Those little outbursts over wet towels on the floor, or being too tired for sex or those times when we throw dinner over the family because they dared to comment on the quality of our cooking, are not just about fucking hormones.

They are a cry for help.

Which brings me to the men.

Firstly, in my experience middle-aged men are even more grumpy than their female counterparts. But they don’t get labelled.

(Funny that).

Men have this habit of feigning hopelessness in everything they do other than their day job. ‘You’re so much better at it than me’ is one of the old man’s comments, said with a loving smile to soften the blow. And while we multi-task, organize and assemble and occasionally tear our hair out by the roots, they lie on the sofa waiting to be told what to do.

Why do you think we have to self-medicate with wine?

I’m not saying we don’t love the old git we said ‘I do’ to at the alter, but that doesn’t mean maintaining a good relationship is easy. Sometimes we need some distance…from everything. Sometimes the other side of the world wouldn’t be far enough. Likewise, if you find yourself in a new relationship over forty, I can imagine it must be pretty exhausting having to fake being interesting all the time at a time in your life when all you really want to do is go to bed early with a hot drink.

WE KNOW men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but as we mature and evolve and become further drawn to the true needs of our personality which are often linked to our gender, the chasm between men and women becomes wider.

It doesn’t mean we can’t be together. We just have to adapt to each other’s evolving needs and be honest about them.

We know that a huge percentage of men, given the choice (and no repercussions), would take ‘the shed’ option with visitation rights to the kids.

What about a timetabled ‘shed’ for both partners? If women could have ‘time out’, time to reflect and recoup their energies while their partners took their share of the responsibility, who knows how that would change the symptoms of ‘menopause’.

Perhaps the stereotype would change.

What’s Your Biggest Middle-Aged Fear?

Aside from losing your car in the car park, walking around with your skirt caught in your Bridget Jones knickers in public or having spinach in your teeth when you’re talking to someone hot, what are your biggest fears now you’re getting older?

Mine is still the dentist, in spite of my propensity for ALWAYS having spinach caught in my teeth whenever I talk to someone ‘hot’.

English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a clo...
English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a close up of the chimp in File:Knoxville zoo – chimpanzee teeth.jpg, and that file is licenced cc-by-2.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my experience, going to the dentist is worse than getting on the scales after three bags of Snickers Pods.

Before we moved, I used to see this lovely dentist who had a poster of a map of the world on the ceiling above his torture chair – I think it was supposed to distract you from the pain.

It didn’t, of course.

But luckily he took pity on me. He obviously came to the conclusion that using the screeching, scraping drill that made my insides somersault and my nerves jangle, (rendering me completely irrational), was actually a potential health and safety issue, and so he settled for just picking away at my tartar with the the mini pickaxe thing.

The only reason I went to the dentist at all was to be a good role model to the kids. It still astounds me the level of sacrifice us parents put up with for their kids.

I hate my teeth now. When I look in the mirror at my old bird teeth these days, I shudder to think of the money my father parted with to get me braces in the days when braces were still avant-garde.

And I did have straight, model teeth….for a while.

But as my body changed shape so did my jaw, and then my teeth moved and created all these gaps and gum pockets, and irritating food crevices.

A huge part of my daily exercise regime is spent picking food out of my teeth – it’s really attractive.

Obviously, I thoroughly vetted my new dentist before I allowed him anywhere near my phobia last week ie. I told the receptionist that I became psychotic in the dentist chair and then asked her directly if they still wanted my money.

I let NC go in first, because I figured that witnessing her pain might alleviate some of mine.

When they gave me the new patient form, where I had to mark on a scale of one to ten if I was going to enjoy the experience or shit my pants, I marked 10.

So he had been warned, before I dragged my feet into his chamber.

The check up part was the usual bitch fest about the state of my teeth? What happened to positive reinforcement? And what the fuck is an occlusal or oclusal watch anyway? I think he was just trying to impress me with his fancy schmancy dental school vocab.

Then, without warning, he brandished the pickaxe in front of my face and started gauging between my teeth – I’m still not sure if he was trying to test the pain threshold of my gums or to search for left-over Mussaman Curry.

My gagging reflex is probably my best reflex these days, but it can prove problematic at the dentist. I mean, I gag when I put the parking ticket in my mouth for those few seconds between entering a car park and parking my car.

So having to keep my mouth open for something heinous is awkward. As the old man knows.

I gagged when he did the check up, I gagged when he did the X Rays and then I gagged again when the dentist’s assistant pushed that sluicing tube a millimetre too far down my throat.

When he suggested doing a ‘clean’, that was all my body needed to spasm, shut down and lose complete control of my bladder.

In the word association game, we all know that ‘clean’ is synonymous with that scraper thing which has a particularly odorous whine that harmonizes so nicely with nerve pain.

I took a rain check. I don’t need to spend $100 on pain when Kurt can provide it for free.

What’s your biggest fear?

The female body, Menstruation and Exercise

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for shocking, educating or causing the men brave enough and ‘new’ enough to read this post, to projectile vomit – welcome to a woman’s world.

The Menstruation Tent
The Menstruation Tent (Photo credit: GorillaSushi)

I have my most interesting thoughts when I’m attempting to drag my body from one end of the local pool to the other.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that there was a lot of talk about menstruation last week.

I’ve been hyper-focusing on periods a lot lately – mainly because I’m mentally and physically  (should be) OVER them, as I’ve mentioned one or eight times before on my blog (here).

So last week, when even the ‘Neurofen for Abject Misery’ wasn’t working, I asked my followers if there was a teenager out there who might want to ‘feel like a woman’ early and adopt my periods now – in a kind of exchange arrangement.

What’s really making me bitter, twisted and psychotic about periods at the moment, is just how difficult they make it to do certain things. Those adverts about roller-blading and swimming are obviously a gross misrepresentation of what you can actually do during your period – it’s just a way of sucking the innocents into the bloodbath – because the reality is, periods don’t just stop at the excruciating pain and psychopathic mood. They suck, big-time.

I was forced to swim during mine last week.

Normally my timing is much better, but as I’d found (seemingly) legitimate excuses for NOT swimming the previous five days, when an unfortunate window of opportunity became available to go to the pool, menstruation seemed a rather pathetic excuse.

Anyway, it was day 1 – commonly known as ‘the trickle’ – (just before it turns seriously nasty and into the full-blown  ‘tsunami’ of days 2,3,4, and 5).

Do any of you find that the main problem with swimming during your period is the logistics of hiding the tampon string? If anyone holds the secret to concealment, please let me know. I’ve tried everything – up the crack, around the back or in a ball at the vajajay entrance.

Nothing is failsafe.

The ultimate fear of course is that the telltale little white string will work its way out just as you exit the pool and in full view of the lifeguards (that you’ve spent the past 3 weeks perving on) in a ‘DID I MENTION THAT I’VE GOT MY PERIOD?’ kind of moment.

Ever notice all those women frantically groping around their groins at the steps from the pool?

The other fear of course is that the tampon will soak up so much water from the pool, that it will free-fall out of your body with the speed and accuracy of a bullet, aided and abetted by bloody gravity, and then land, a soggy, bloody SPLAT on the steps, scarring for life all those innocent little kindies who have just come to learn how to swim.

When I don’t have my period, I swim monotonously, counting each length torturously down, wishing it were my last so I could already be tucking into that ‘pat on the back’ muffin and Latte. Swimming when I have my period, means that my mind continually wanders back to the whereabouts of that tampon string at any given time, praying to God that it is not in full view of the faster swimmers queuing behind me, wearing goggles.

We women have to put up with so many body issues when we do sport, don’t we?

It must be so much easier for men.

They don’t have to worry about any of this stuff, do they?

  • Aforementioned concealment of tampon strings and unruly pubic hair
  • Non-waterproof mascara
  • Fanny farting during yoga and Pilates
  • Breast jiggling
  • Erect nipples
  • Menstruation Leakage
  • Children in the shower shouting ‘look at that woman’s enormous bush!’
  • Children in the shower looking pitifully at your empty breasts
  • Poor bladder control (aka ‘weeing slightly’) during difficult yoga positions or from resulting embarrassed laughter

Women’s bodies weren’t really designed for strenuous exercise, were they? At least, that’s been my excuse for a while now.

Mammograms and Pap Tests: The Highs Of Being A Middle-Aged Woman

I’m going for a Mammogram next week. I thought I’d treat myself.

Mammograms and Pap TestsDon’t misunderstand me, I know they’re important. Why else would I choose to go?

It’s just another one of those truly fun activities we women are subjected to in middle-age. Mammograms sit slightly above the pap test and just below the menopausal flush on the scale of public female humiliations.

I’ve never been particularly comfortable about flopping out my boobs to any Tom, Dick or Harry. When I was younger I worried that they were too inadequate to display publicly; now I am older, they are just too embarrassingly low-slung.

It defies belief now, but in my younger days I actually went through a phase of blatantly unleashing my (then) buoyant breasts on the beaches in France. They have since become awkwardly shy of publicity – age and responsibility have weighed them down.

These days I just want to hide and protect them from the world, rather like aged parents, lest they are looked on in pity.

Even though the feminist in me says that I should be proud of this part of my body that has nourished my children (no matter how they look aesthetically), the narcissist in me still envies pert breasts and would like to buy shares in Wonderbra.

It takes getting used to, this whole aging thing. There are constant reminders when you become ‘a certain age’, no matter how many products and fancy clothes you buy to disguise the ageing process.

That’s not to disparage these tests, of course – Mammograms and pap smears are vitally important in terms of early detection of women’s cancers – but it might actually be possible that mammograms are even more awkward than pap smears.

Why do we women have to endure these mortifyingly invasive procedures at a time when we no longer want to open our legs or get our tits out?

Couldn’t there be a simple blood or urine test, say?

Frankly, I would prefer to stick needles in my eyes than have to lift one lifeless breast after the other onto that cold plate and watch it get ironed to the density of a pancake.

But then again, what’s the choice?

Pap smears are just as bad now that my lady bits are no longer the shape God originally gave me – the results of being resculpted by childbirth.

The mere mention of the word ‘speculum’ brings me out in a rash. And it’s never warm, no matter what they promise.

But at least I have a meditative formula for coping with pap smears now – I lie back, think of England and simply pretend it’s not happening. Actually, after twenty years of marriage that formula could come in quite handy at other times too now….

One gyny threw me off guard once though, by making me face the wall while he took me from behind….which was awkward, to say the least.

How could you ever become blasé about a complete stranger, (albeit professional), saying to you, ‘now part your legs, please’, when you’re not aroused?

And you have to trim the garden in preparation.

I once went to a gynaecologist who had pretty pictures on the wall to take his patients minds off having a large cold metal instrument thrust up their vajayjays without any foreplay.

I reckon Theon had it easy in Game of Thrones in terms of medieval torture.

But retribution could be at hand, due to the increasing prevalence of testicular cancer. Maybe us women could help our fellow man out and design some form of early detection  apparatus for them too – for purely medical reasons obviously – so we can catch the disease earlier and save more lives.

I’m thinking something along the lines of a nut cracker style device……

The Middle Aged Hangover Part IV

I may need to revise my own advice about choosing wine over food, after last night. Let’s just say that my memories of ‘Vivid Sydney’ aren’t quite as ‘vivid’ as they should be.

Hangovers can be a b*tch when you’re middle aged.

The Middle-Aged Hangover Part IV
The Middle-Aged Hangover Part Middle IV

Middle aged hangovers are one of the more tedious symptoms of getting older. While it might seem unfair to gather age-defining lines on your face and extra weight around your middle, not being able to console yourself with more than a few glasses of wine, is plain evil.

My excesses of those innocent-looking bottles of horribly cheap wine began to haunt me the minute I first opened my fetid mouth this morning, when the dog actually rolled away from my breath.

There are certain days in your life when you simply have to ignore the nagging need to cram as much into 24 hours as is humanly feasible, simply to fulfill some perverse notion of needing to achieve something every day. It’s as though once you reach forty, you need to treat every day as if it were your last, (in case it is) and so wasting a day (and relaxing, say) seems the height of decadence.

Today was one of those days, when the effects of alcohol damaged my whole raison d’etre and I was forced to concede the day for the purposes of recovery.

I am a loser. I admit that I achieved a whole lot of nothing today.

Hangovers are bad news; middle aged hangovers with kids/teenagers are brutal.

Of course I couldn’t admit to my still-evolving, adolescent brood (to whom I am normally preaching about the effects of alcohol over-consumption), that their primary role model was hungover. I couldn’t explain the real reasons for my lethargy, pallid skin-tone, need to remain prostrate on the sofa, nausea at the foul stench of dog food and inability to communicate effectively.

Fortunately, a pre-existing lower back pain issue seemed a reliable cover for my excesses as I planted myself in front of the tv, dog at my side, and erased all plans of ‘living’ for the day.

‘Are you hungover?’ asked Kurt with a sly grin plastered on his face as I began to explain the symptoms of Sciatica in depth.

I did manage to achieve a few things:  I increased the level of the old man’s contempt for me, slept through Jack Reacher for the third time, devoured my Maccas cure in five minutes flat (and without drawing breath), upset both my children and gained 2 kgs.

Am I disappointed in my juvenile behaviour? Do I think that other women of a certain age are still going out and getting sh*t-faced on occasion? Don’t judge me – I’ve already been punished.

Perhaps it is finally time for me to grow up.

I admit that I am guilty of still refusing to acknowledge my intolerance to cheap white wine on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, noisy bars where you can’t hear yourself speak (or anyone else for that matter) make me nervous and to allay my anxiety I tend to drink very quickly – the simile ‘like a fish’, springs to mind.

I never have days off. Even when I have a cold, I push on through coughing and spluttering, spreading my germs; stoically. There is little compassion in our house for illness – it is seen as weakness (or worst case, ‘neediness’) and in our family ‘strength’ is requisite for survival. I came from the school of ‘you only have a sick day if you need to be hospitalized’ type of parenting.

By midday, once I had accepted that the 2L bottle of orange juice and three cups of coffee and Panadol weren’t going to cure the hangover from hell, I sought a man fix.

Which is where those restorative powers of a good old-fashioned quarter pounder with cheese meal came in – my final attempt to cure the insatiable hunger (scientifically recognized as ‘the munchies’). Sometimes a girl simply has to do what a girl has to do – Darwin called it ‘survival of the fittest’ – and I needed that dose of cholesterol to survive today. I did mention in my last post, The ‘Replacing Food With Wine Diet’ For Women, that sometimes blowing the diet clear out of the water at the weekend is necessary for success. Today was one of those days.

Of course, the family folded completely without the nagging matriarch to organize them. Where was mum? Why was she lying on the sofa? Was she pretending to have a bad back again? You might think you get taken for granted as a mother, but only until you go down and all those on board go down with you.

On occasion, in order ‘to live’ you have to ignore caution and refuse to cow-tow to the effects of aging. Because when you are finally forced to surrender to old age, you want to know that you went out fighting.

‘Wine’ courtesy of Andrew Borodin at http://www.flickr.com

10 Reasons Why Menopause Isn’t For Pussies

menopause Urban Dictionary
A special time in a woman’s life when they can’t have babies anymore. They get hormonal, mean, rude, short-tempered, angry, and awkward. Bad time for teenagers to live with their moms.
She was mean because she was going through menopause.

This week I was going to bring you a vacuous post entitled ‘the physical significance of the modern super-hero’ (or ‘why Chris Hemsworth is so f*cking hot’), but then I realized that all three of my readers would probably work out what a pathetic, dyed-blonde sleaze ball I truly am and ditch my blog.

So instead, and partly because I’m still recovering from an outrageously evil assault by some vengeful grass ticks, (resulting in paranoid insomnia from the unrelenting itchiness), I have spent most of this week feeling a tad maudlin. As a result, instead of going into the finer detail of Chris’s pecs, I decided to write a true Midlife Mayhem ‘niche’ post detailing the symptoms of an equally debilitating health issue (even worse than the repercussions of a swathe of embittered grass ticks), eerily often referred to in hushed tones as ‘the change’.

(I’ll just give the boys a few seconds to exit the page).

So anyway, here’s my little snapshot of what I’ve experienced in the first few sacred years of my menopausal Chamber of Horrors:

  1. Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit partial to GRUMPINESS, (even when I didn’t have the abdication of my oestrogen as a valid excuse), but my grumpiness has now become a condition rather than an event. From the moment I wake up these days, I feel irritable, no matter if it’s the weekend,  if I’ve had a good night’s sleep or if the old man has unexpectedly been called away on a five day work trip; and that lack of control over my innate grumpiness, renders me even more grumpy. My tolerance has completely expired. I can and will find fault with everything and anyone and I blow trivial annoyances completely out of proportion. If anyone dares to allude to (or worse, question) my irrationality, they’d better be prepared.
  2. My BODY’S in-built mechanism for the equal distribution of weight (that served me well in my twenties and thirties in helping me deal with those extra calories) no longer seems to function, so it dumps those unwanted calories unceremoniously anywhere it can on my physique without prior consultation; usually around my tummy and chin, but never on my breasts. No amount of energy-sapping nut and fruit grazing seem to rectify this problem. I have been forced to accept friend invites from  ‘bloating’ and ‘swelling’ on Facebook.
  3. My STYLE has been forced to conform to my new skin tones which range from ruddy to sallow, with an occasional pretty grey tinge. I have capitulated regarding my wardrobe and embraced kaftans, voluminous Witchery tent dresses and hideously chunky beads in in-your-face tropical shades to distract the eye from anyone actually looking at ME.
  4. I gain WEIGHT when I eat, and I gain weight when I don’t eat.  The fullness of my boobs veer from empty vessels to over-ripe, sore mangos at varying times of the month. Why the f*ck do I need big puppies now of all times?
  5. My PERIODS have resorted to anarchy. They just appear when the f*ck they like with absolutely no prior warning. RUDE! The only certainty with ‘the curse’ these days is that it HURTS LIKE HELL, which makes them an even more bitter pill to swallow when they no longer serve any purpose.
  6. My MEMORY abandoned ship around the same time as my menstrual cycle. I now resort to lists for everything and find lost objects, (including car keys, the car and the kids), by a carefully orchestrated ‘working backwards’ process. My brain has obviously imploded and become a confused mash of old cells that connivingly trick me in sensitive situations; like at work in the face of my boss and deadlines.
  7. I have more BODY HAIR than the dog and the dog groomer looked uncomfortable when I suggested a two for one deal.  I used to celebrate the European liberation of a bit of leg or under-arm fuzz but now ALL my follicles have joined the party and rogue hairs grow anywhere and everywhere.
  8. Remind me again about the point of SEX? Other than for procreation or as a negotiating tool, obviously. With judgmental teenagers, 24hr fatigue, body image issues and difficulty finding my sexual mojo for the guy I listen to fart in unison with the dog each night, I often sometimes can’t find that precious ‘window’.
  9. My intolerance to ALCOHOL is the real kicker.  Alcohol now screws with my head in a really badass way. I can get a hangover from Tiramisu, and one dangerous glass of cheap vino can escalate my mood from moroseness to a noose. No matter how much I’ve adapted my body to the curtailing infringements imposed by middle-age, giving up this last vestige of my youth hurts the most. Water has become my new best friend.

Tune in next week for the old man’s version of the ‘male journey’ into middle-age. Highlights include: how much is too much hair loss? golf on tv versus sex, imposing nose hair and keeping the weight down by watching lots of sport on tv.

Meet Ms Peri Menopause photo courtesy of mummysam at www.flickr.com