Blowing hot and cold, it’s that tricky time of my life

IT’S been a bad week in Menopause Land – a fairytale country where you always feel hot despite the low ambient temperature and where panic attacks unexpectedly beset the inhabitants.

The wall of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was breached time and again as I woke up on cold mornings bathed in sweat (perspiration; glow) like some great, greasy, basking hippopotamus.

Having thrown the duvet on to him next door I was both cold and hot at the same time. Inside me, an imaginary chilli was sending out waves of heat. Outside was chilly.

Duvet on or duvet off? Off… no on… no off… no on… no off… now I needed to go to the bathroom. I padded round the bed, tripped over my slippers and grabbed the first thing that came to hand… a foot.

“What?” My husband sits bolt upright.


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“Only me, I’m going to the loo.”

“Are you all right?” he says and is asleep again before I answer.

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Back in bed, I think I can manage with the duvet on… no I can’t… yes I can… no I can’t.

“You’re snoring!” I snapped.

“Sorry,” he mumbled and turned through 360 degrees, ending up in exactly the same position.

“You’re still snoring.”

“No I’m not,” he said.

By now I was 90 per cent awake and re-running a conversation I had with strangers in M&S. I am one of those irritating shoppers who, uninvited, strikes up a conversation with the nearest person – in the queue for the check-out; while browsing through Women’s; on the escalator.

I am completely without prejudice; I will talk to anyone and since I’ve been a bit middle-aged, I find most people are far too polite and indulgent to walk away.

One chap patiently listened to me moaning about the number of people who pay no attention to double yellow lines and park where they like while I, an upright citizen (except for that one time), pay to use a public car park. The young man smiled engagingly before smiling and asking “Bitte?”

“A little bit,” I admitted, surprised he had spotted my sense of injustice. That was before I realised he was German and had followed little of my diatribe.

The incident that was keeping me awake on this night was a something but nothing moment.

I struck up a conversation with two women in the lift and as we exited on the ground floor, I realised they had fallen silent.

It must have been something I said.

What had I said? Surely I had simply been passing the time of day. We spoke about the weather and… what else? It was only a two-floor journey. Had I unknowingly offended these nice people?

Then there was the incident when I drove over a plastic bottle in the road. I could see it in my rear view mirror and it was definitely a plastic water bottle. By the time I reached the junction, I had decided I’d run over a wing mirror that I had somehow knocked as I drove past a row of parked cars.

Lying in bed my panic attack escalated. Not only was I a horrible, unfeeling person who insulted people in lifts, I was a career criminal, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it to the police. I would have to turn myself in.

In the clear light of day my anxiety abated and I was reminded of the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t had enough sleep to feel stronger. I just felt wan.

If you should meet a garrulous, visibly sweaty woman, in a lift, be kind to her. She’s me; she’s menopausal.

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