After the operation, my aftercare was non-existent. I was discharged the next day even though I couldn’t walk, was scared and in horrible pain. Two days after I started bleeding and, having no idea whether it was normal, I called the hospital. The hospital said it wasn’t normal but I was an outpatient so I should contact my doctor. My doctor wasn’t sure what to suggest so I ended up going to a walk-in centre in the middle of the night in my pyjamas with a cushion over my stomach. I still bleed a lot today and I don’t really have an answer to if its normal. I am about to have a womb biopsy so I guess I’ll be finding out.
I started on HRT straight away, but that been a journey in its own right. In the end my GP couldn’t get a HRT treatment to help me. I was actually asked by one doctor after so much back and forth ‘What exactly is it you want?’ in a manner that made me feel as though I was being dramatic, when the reality was I felt so poorly. At this point I started to feel really desperate and quite depressed. I cried so much and thought that any quality of life I might have had was gone. I simply didn’t think I could ever feel well or normal again. With my depleted hormones I felt as though I had aged 30 years and was so scared I would be stuck feeling like that forever. In the end I wrote to the Patient Advice Liason Service (PALS) to complain that the process had taken my hormones and at 39 had left me a neurotic mess with failing eyesight, sickness, dizziness and an inability to walk from the constant muscle ache.
What was happening, as I later found out, was that my body was reacting to the progesterone and no doctor had clocked it. PALS referred me straight away to a menopause specialist, despite being told that I would need to wait for months for a specialist appointment. I honestly felt I could not have lasted for months. In the end the lack of medical or psychological support really slowed my recovery leaving me having to take 3 months off work.
On this road I realised the immense source of help you can get from forums and websites like megsmenopause.com that are dedicated to menopause relief, have the information you need to know and provide forums and ways to connect with women who have also walked this path. In my opinion it should be recommended to all women via the NHS, both those who are experiencing the natural journey into menopause and those who are having hysterectomies or ovary removals like I did. We need to get people talking about menopause so we can remove the myths that surround it. In fact its that believe that led me to starting @loh_lifestyle.
I started my page to record my house renovation, but it has evolved since then. I have a normal home with normal things, so I wondered whether I would have a place on social media at all. Then my diagnosis and operation happened and it changed my entire outlook. We all have a place in life, and I believe everyone should be proud of what they have accomplished no matter whether you live in a bedsit or a castle! It’s your home it’s your safe place, and for that reason it’s beautiful and you should share it.
As I was building my account I realised that us smaller accounts had no way of being seen, and no way of connecting with new people to help grow our network. I therefore started the Big Friendly Follow, a weekly social event where smaller accounts would get profiled and would be able to find one another without intimidation of the large accounts. It took off and is now a big event on a Sunday evening, with many of the accounts becoming friends of each other and mine! The most amazing thing of all to me is that I have built a community of people who lift each other up. The people I have met mean the world to me and in honesty it was my account that has kept me sane! We all need to find our tribe in life, be it your family, friends or in my case a huge community of people that life me up every day. I feel so lucky to have them and I am so proud of the BFF team!
Because they are all so amazing, I felt comfortable to start talking about my experience with the menopause on my social account. It’s so important to me to raise awareness of surgical menopause by sharing my experience and what I have learnt about where to access the information women so desperately need. The number of women that reached out to me when I started talking about it was fantastic, but I know many are still afraid or embarrassed to discuss it in public. That is what I want to change, because this can happen to any woman at any age: I have even had women contact me who have started the menopause in their teens.
If I could do something in my lifetime, it would be to ensure that women like me don’t ever have to feel any less of a woman because of something like menopause that is out of their control. It doesn’t have to be end of your life. In fact, it can be the start of an amazing, more liberated part of your journey as a women. I now finally feel free of society’s pressure to conform to what a woman is supposed to be, leaving me free to live my best life one day at a time and now I want to help women experiencing menopause do the same.