Updated: Sep 9
Perhaps my favourite character in The Seasons Quartet, is the scary, swanky, entitled
Virginia Tardelli, who is also a control freak. However, the one thing she cannot control is her
“Meno-Fucking-Pausal” body, which naturally, enrages her.
The good news is that menopausal women are no longer deemed a witch to be burned at the stake! Hurrah! Nor are they thought to have a mental illness, and prescribed lead, morphine and chloroform as was the Victorians’ want. Although, there was also a treatment option of opium, wine and cannabis – so perhaps it wasn’t all bad.
In fact, the Menopause is being sexed-up by a bunch of celebs, including Gaby Logan, Jo Whiley, Lorraine Kelly, Davina McCall plus her billboard truck, and Meg Mathews (ex-Mrs N. Gallagher), creator of megsmenopause.com – who kindly published my own tale of blood, sweat and amnesia … please, do read on.
Basically, from my mid-forties, I produced rivers of blood that were biblical. Then there were the scorching flushes, raging through my body on a gunpowder trail to roar out through my blistering cheeks. As this walking furnace, I have climbed into fridges, slept on bathroom tiles and put ice cubes down my tights. The tube became a no-go zone, shopping malls turned me into Godzilla and the only reason I didn’t open an emergency exit on a Boeing 757 was because we were at 35,000 feet. And such were the night sweats, given my volume of perspiration, I could have made money out of log flume rides.
The memory was shot – lost cars in car parks, forgotten appointments, forgotten children, furniture polish in the oven, and finding our kids’ ultra sound scans in a recipe book – causing them distress in thinking they were going to be Dish of the Day.
But my piece de resistance was on a family ski holiday to Austria. Thanks to a late uncle’s generous legacy, we’d upgraded to a deluxe hotel - named after its owner Herr Oberhoffer - that boasted 7-course gastronomic meals and a splendid spa, (although it was unisex and the large naked Tyrolean ladies rolling about in the snow did freak out our pre-pubescent son, somewhat). Unprepared for such fine hospitality, we were very much the Clampetts amongst residents who dressed appropriately for dinner.
I trumped our scruffy status when, before yet another tediously lengthy dinner, we were enduring an aperitif in the bar with a we-only-ever-ski-five-star family, I suddenly felt my undercarriage open up as I deposited several gallons of menstrual blood all over Herr Oberhoffer’s pale beige suede banquette. Thankfully, my usually unobservant husband noticed my sudden rabbit-about-to-go-under-a-juggernaut stare and, having artfully stalled following the other family through to the restaurant, and told our kids that we’d join them in just a tic, he bade me to stand up while he whipped his handkerchief beneath me. As he remained alone on the sofa, stoically failing to disguise my debris, I sidled up the stairs, my back to the wall, before turning a corner and racing to our room for deep clean.
Meanwhile, my husband was left to seek out Herr Oberhoffer.
‘Oh hi, ’ he said. ‘I’m sorry, but my wife’s had a spill.’
Concerned, Herr O asked my husband to show him the spot.
‘Oh!’ he exclaimed, as they stood surveying the stain the size of a dinner plate. ‘What is it? Red wine?’
‘Oh my Gott! Is she hurt?’
‘No. No, it’s um, a lady’s problem.’
This caused Herr O to leap back in horror as if he’d been electrocuted. Eventually, he composed himself enough to say that he would ‘get it sorted’.
My husband followed me to the room to pull me out from under the bed where I’d curled, ironically, into a foetus position. Then, having assured me that all was well, we returned downstairs to pass the area in which we’d been sat, now cordoned off with hazard tape and a woman with a bucket of foaming bleach tasked with exorcising me and my fluids.
Unsurprisingly, the kids had clocked exactly what had been going on and found it hilarious, as indeed had most of the other diners, who clearly didn’t. And Herr O didn’t look me in the eye for the rest of the holiday.
After this, having dabbled with HRT, my doctor persuaded me to have a Minerva coil fitted. However, as the bleeding continued, it was discovered that my coil was incorrectly wedged in my fallopian tube like an errant angler’s hook. It had been a bugger to get in, and even more of one to get out – necessitating Mr Fish (the consultant gynaecologist, and boy, what a great name for his job) and two nurses to work at me as if they were hauling a giant turnip out of the ground.
Since then, I have let my recalcitrant body do its own thing, I still get the sweats, the memory’s shot, but at least I’m allowed to sit on the furniture now.