In case you haven't guessed by the title, this post talks about Women's Stuff. My male readers will be forgiven if they bail out now.
So early last year, our family was invited to join a relative at their fancy timeshare for a week. A good friend arranged to house/pet sit and all four of us went away on our first vacation all together in some years.
As most of my readers know, food is a big issue for me. Big meals trigger seizures and there seems to be some kind of magic combination of proteins, fat and starch that will prevent this from happening so much. Unfortunately, I can't quite figure out what that combination is. Also, I have gained a lot of weight in the past few years, so I do try to watch what I eat. Especially carbs, which like to bypass my digestive system and apply themselves directly to my ass.
Except for this trip. For this trip, I made a decision to let all my hanguops go and enjoy myself. If I wanted to sit by the pool all day with a cocktail in one hand and a chocolate cake in the other, I would.
After the first day, I didn't need my cane for the whole trip. I didn't have a single seizure, either. I attributed this to lack of stress; being on holiday or whatever. But I had a sneaking suspicion my new "eat what the fuck I want" diet was a contributing factor. So I kept it up after we got home. And felt a lot better. Fewer seizures and I rarely needed the cane.
Except right when I got home, I started to have a huge problem with hot flashes. Problems on the "I need a change of clothes" level. And the "flashes" were badly named. They weren't just a sudden blaze of heat that dissipated quickly. They hung around for thirty, forty minutes or more. I was waking several times per night. One evening, Himself found me standing in the bath fully clothed. I had chucked every ice cube in the house into the bath and was standing in the icy water, holding two handfuls of ice cubes (which I was rubbing on my head and neck) and crying, because I still couldn't cool down.
After that incident, which I decided was NOT normal, -even for me- I took myself to the gynecologist. Tests, tests, tests; went back for the results.
"Remind me of your symptoms, again?"
I reminded her.
"And you are ...43?"
"Hmmm. well, based on your symptoms and this bloodwork, you are definitely in menopause."
"No" she said, as she indicated the results again. "Post. Post menopause (and I think she saw my face, which must have been a picture). You are very young for this, and normally I would wait until you hadn't had a period for a year, but these numbers are VERY low and combined with your symptoms, definitely indicate post menopause"
And then we had a long talk about hormone replacement therapy, due to my young age ("I don't want you to live the next 40 years without estrogen") and the severity of my symptoms.
We also had a discussion regarding my seizures and if she thought they might be related to hormonal shifts. The timing fits right in there. She didn't know, but recommended a particular neurologist.
So that was a bit of a shock, let me tell you. My perception of a post-menopausal irishwoman is a slightly less extreme version of this.
...definitely not me.
And while I had no intention of ever having more children, it was still a bit of a shock to know that the option had been removed without my prior knowledge or consent. More of a shock in my case than some: My sister, who is just a few years younger than me, had just had a baby.
It took awhile to get the HRT all sorted out. The doc needed more tests and a letter from my neurologist (#25) saying he was OK with me taking hormones and I wouldn't die.
In the meantime, I saw my rheumatologist, told her all this and she was all "you know, I thought it might have been a hormone thing..." (funny how you always remember right at the end, Toby).
So I have been replacing hormones for a few months now. Most (not all) of the horrible hot flashes are gone and I am sleeping a lot better at night. I have NOT been seizure free, more's the pity (see the bread post) but the seizure frequency didn't seem to change when I started treatment. I have stuck to my "eat when I feel like it" plan, which has done nothing at all positive for my ass, but has definitely been rendering me more functional on a daily basis.
Is my early and uninvited menopause related to my sudden onset of atypical seizures (also uninvited) at the age of 39?
I don't know. I can't think it's unrelated, but my gut tells me if there is a hormonal link, it is related to how hormones effect some underlying condition, and not a direct 'cause and effect' thing.
Whatever it is, it's not normal. That much I do know. Story of my life, lately.