I could have entitled this column “Living with Menopause,” but you might get the wrong idea.
There is turbulence in the Thomas household. There are almost hourly hot flushes and mood swings like a rollercoaster at top speed. My wife recently read an article “How will I know when I am in menopause.” I answered, no need to read that, you are. Whichever way you look at it; biology was much kinder and forgiving for men than women.
Firstly, your “plumbing” is considerably more complicated than ours. We basically have a “main drain” and that’s it. You girls have a labyrinth of tubes and things down there. Apart from growing hair our pipes don’t change much. Yours go through all kinds of stresses. You have post and pre and during symptoms. You girls are struggling with PMS whilst we are writing an SMS. The only men that really know what’s going on down there have a dr. in front of their names, because they are gynaecologists.
Let’s be honest, if men got pregnant and carried babies, human kind would have died out with along the dinosaurs. Again we got the good deal. We get the fun part of pregnancy and you ladies have the pain. And just as you think it’s all over…BOOM! Along comes another bloody change. You ladies change more than a chameleon!
“I’m not moody am I!?!” said my wife in a raised voice. Now here is a quick tip for all the men reading (and a note to self) there is only one answer when this question is raised. A calm and believable “No, not at all.” Any other answer is the wrong answer. Don’t hesitate (as I did) don’t try to change the subject or even look down at your feet. A firm “No,” is the only way out of this dilemma.
I remember my mother saying that she was “going through the change” or women’s problems” when menopause came around. Clearly I had no idea what she was talking about. In fact, all I can remember is that she took some tablets called Hormone Replacement Therapy or for short HRT. Which is exactly why I had a terrible shock the first time I turned on the television in Croatia! HRT = Hrvatska Radio Televizija or Croatian radio Television. Going through the change – was she going to grow horns? What was this change that required HRT?
And then “the change” struck closer to home, to the person lying next to me in bed. “Oh, it’s hot in here,” was the first sign. Especially as the bura was blowing. I became suspicious.
Google was my port of call. Symptoms include - Hot flashes and/or night sweats – check. Trouble sleeping – for me or her? OK, probably her – check. Mood swings – huge check. Trouble focusing – again check. All roads led to Rome. I am kind of used to mood swings. As my English friend, who is also married to a Croatian, says “every day is a white-knuckle ride, you just hold on and ride the storm.” It’s that Mediterranean temperamental spirit. But mood swings were being multiplied. One moment Dr Jekyll and the next Mr Hyde. In fact, the book is entitled – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – strange was the key word now.
On/off/on/off pepped the air-conditioning unit in the lounge, I actually felt sorry for it, as hot flushes came and went. Sitting in what was basically a fridge with windows and doors (or our living room) my wife said “of, it’s so boiling in here.” A penguin could have walked in front of the TV and asked to borrow a scarf. And in the dark of night suddenly the window gets thrown wide open, normally with the comment of “I just need some air.” Yes, things are turbulent in the Thomas household indeed. I Googled more, but it seemed like the more I read the more confused I was. How? What? Why? And really? And another piece of advice (another note to self) be careful when you start Googling these things. There is a fine line between women’s health topics and porn.
I typed – What can a man do when a woman has menopause – the first result said run! And then result number two said - How to help her transition through menopause – which again led me through a weird and wonderful maze of phrases and words I’d never heard of before. Another Pandora’s box. After once again thanking my lucky stars that I was born a man I decided to follow one seemingly straight-forward piece of advice, “The whole process is uncomfortable, for starters, so a little empathy would be nice.” Empathy is my route.