I have been a crap mother. It is nice to get compliments telling me how great I have been doing and what a lovely boy I have, but if you had seen me the last couple of weeks, the only way you could describe me is crap.
Prior to starting this expedition, I was on HRT for the peri-menopause. What is that?, I hear my men friends asking, although not those who are married to any woman who has gone through the menopause. For some women, this is a walk in the park, just another turn on the road of life. For others, it is like a 25-car pile–up on the M25, devastating beyond all comprehension with symptoms, both physical and mental, being completely debilitating in some cases.
In my case, I could wake up one day and feel that I could conquer the world, then wake up the next and not even want to see the world. It feels embarrassing, as if you are not coping with everyday life, despite the fact that it is something that is completely hormone-driven and something that you have no control over.
After many trials and tribulations (years’ worth) I had finally got this relatively under control with the use of HRT- Hormone Replacement Therapy, This meant mood swings were minor, and physically, I at least had the energy to function every day as a relatively normal person. However, an element of my breast cancer was found to be ‘oestrogen-receptive’, which means in simple terms that it feeds on oestrogen, one of the hormones that HRT is trying to replace. so, as soon as the dreaded ‘breast cancer’ was diagnosed, the HRT had to hit the bin.
The creeping effect…
For the first couple of months, this was fine. Maybe my body was still living on the leftover HRT, or maybe it was the amount of drugs that had flowed through it with two surgeries and the beginnings of chemotherapy, but mood swings were minimal.
In the last month however, despite chemotherapy normally reducing your periods to virtually nothing, I have found myself going the opposite way. Look away now male readers uncomfortable with ‘lady problems’ , but I have had three periods in a month. Unfortunately, and even more unfortunate for my 6 year old, I have also had the accompanying mood swings and PMT, lasting for 4-5 days at a time. Effectively, fifteen days in a month of being a compete bitch. Not pleasant.
Need a crystal ball…
Clinicians talk to you all of the time about the emotional and psychological toll that cancer takes on a person, but this is something that I hadn’t foreseen. I was (and am) fully prepared in mind for the ramifications of so much treatment, but when it comes to this, and the effect it could have on my son, I was as unprepared as the UK was for Brexit.
Holiday? What holiday?
In week 3 post my 2nd chemotherapy treatment, I took my son for a four day break to the Italian coast during half-term. It was beautiful, but ooh, was it tough. I completely underestimated the toll that this would take on me, and after a 4 hour drive, found myself exhausted with a 6 year old to entertain.
Much as my son understands that I have cancer and that chemotherapy is making my hair fall out, the fact that I am not wearing a plaster-cast on my leg or am in a hospital bed makes it unsurprisingly, difficult for him to comprehend. He doesn’t understand that I can’t spend an hour playing football or go swimming in a fairly chilly Mediterranean sea, so many things that are off bounds just seem like punishment or being unfair.
Thank you for being a friend…
Luckily, we were staying fifteen minutes’ away from some lovely friends who took it upon themselves to whisk him off for half a day to give me a breather, because otherwise, I really would have reached the end of my tether. I adore this 6 year old beyond belief. He is in effect, my reason for living, but when the menopausal and PMT effects descend, all of that can be lost in the red mist that takes hold of me.
Take it easy…
Managing the side-effects of chemotherapy is something that I can handle, managing the side-effects of this and the potential ramifications that it might have on my son, is something that I cannot. I have to accept that far from being ‘superwoman’ the best course of action for us at the moment, until this treatment is finished by (hopefully) April-time, is to stay as close to home as possible.
Much as it pains me, I have to preserve whatever energy I have for the basic functions of everyday life, and take yet another visit to the doctor to explore what other options are possible to get these fluctuations under control.
If any women out there in their late 30’s or 40’s can identify with these symptoms, a really good place to start is the Menopause Matters website