A Perimenopausal Brain Fog Week.

When I used to say to my husband. “What are you thinking?” and he would reply “Nothing” and I would exclaim, “You can`t just think nothing !!”. Well now I know you can with brain fog setting in in recent years.

It seems to be linked to a fall in progesterone and the sleep deprivation caused by insomnia. I usually describe it as my head feeling like there is a huge ball of cotton wool inside and little else.

But what does it really feel like? So many symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause we can physically see. Hot flushes, night sweats (ok it might be a bit dark for that one, but we can feel it!!), menstrual irregularities, dry skin etc. But trying to describe brain fog to someone else is like “trying to plait fog” (literally!) but I shall give it a go….

  • I can`t focus on any one task at a time. I find myself standing in the kitchen surrounded by things to do and not being able to choose where to begin. I put on a podcast or the radio and it seems to snap me out of it. Perhaps it`s listening to and focusing on something else rather than trying to work out why my mind won`t work that helps?
  • I feel floaty and light headed both sitting down and walking about.
  • I can`t concentrate on writing for long periods of time, which is why I haven’t blogged this week. I find myself flitting from one thing to another. The thoughts in my head wont fall onto the key pad like they usually do.
  • They say anxiety can cause brain fog, but for me it is the other way around. I start to feel anxious when my mind feels blank and unable to function as it once did. I am such a list maker, organised tidy person,I still make lists and then forget to look at them. So, when I am stood looking aimlessly at what to do, I feel anxiety rise in me. Because the feeling is so alien to how I used to be maybe?
  • Bit dramatic, I know but I have worried I might have ADHD. My husband has ADHD and I watch him feeling like this an awful lot so he is quite understanding .“Do you think it`s catching?” I asked once in a moment of insanity. He rolled his eyes and so he should have!
  • I also worry I have early onset dementia. Is this what it feels like I wonder as I am rooting around in the under stairs cupboard with the flashlight of my phone to see what I am doing and my husband appears behind me and says, “Why don`t you put the light on?” A classic brain fog moment.
  • I forget names.Names of people. movies, songs, places. I put the timer on for anything that I cook in case I get distracted. I am always reminded of my mum’s friend who went to the theatre and had just sat down when she turned to her husband and said “John! I`ve left the eggs on the boil”. Can you imagine the panic? The house did not burn down but the smell was there for weeks. And they missed the show!

It isn`t all bad. There will be times like after I have edited this and done all my jobs (with mini speaker in tow) that I shall make a cup of tea and sit in a wonderful fuzzy world of my own, without a care in the world. On my morning walks, all is well in the world, just me, my dog, the outdoors and that piece of cotton wool preventing any interruptions. Catching up with friends for coffee is always a giggle as we in turn forget names. places and utter “what was he called?”, “what was I saying?”, or “can you read the menu, I can`t find my glasses”. And so, it goes on with us laughing in between at how hopelessly we are. It`s quite bonding in a way.

As I can`t see it and none of us knows how another really feels inside it is difficult to know I am not going a little bit bonkers. I swing between rising panic and being blissfully unaware depending on what needs doing. And I definitely prefer the latter feeling.

Until next time

A Foggy PP xx

Essential Sleep and My Spare Room Haven.

For almost two years now my husband and I have battled with each other and within ourselves over the state of our marriage all because things changed for us sleeping together. Gone were the days when a night apart seemed for ever and lust was in abundance and well, lustful! Sharing a bed and getting a good night’s sleep was becoming an absolute nightmare for so many reasons. They’re coming don’t worry! I want to see if anyone else relates to any at this time of life.

Separate beds, let alone separate rooms, was a slippery slope to doom and gloom to us for our marriage and the thought of it was giving us so much angst. It was something you did in your eighties when teeth needed removing or oxygen tanks maneuvering surely? Until two weeks ago that is, when we came to a unanimous decision to stop fighting each other and ourselves and accept the inevitable, make the spare room fancy schmanzty and one of us move in Sunday night until Thursday night for everyone’s sanity. And that one was me. I will get to that bit too and why it wasn`t “The Snorer”. Nearly ten nights in, we are already more refreshed and excited for another weekend rendezvous!! Keeping the fire alive is no joke when you are both knackered and resentful.

Going back briefly to when we met in our twenty’s, I could sleep through anything pretty much, which always amazed my future husband. He just could not get it that I hardly moved for eight hours straight and was quite envious at this strange phenomenon. Move on a few decades and all that changed as I headed into my forties and the perimenopause and all it brings to cause insomnia. (I won`t re hash that as it is all in my previous post “Hello 2am!”) and I was becoming the most agitated, foul tempered person, just at the thought of sharing a bed because we were both so sleep deprived and really because of each other and that was proving hard to accept.

So what were the reasons it was becoming so difficult? In no specific order and sometimes multiple times! :-

Snoring

What happens to men in their forties? Why do they become so snorey? My husband sounds like a drill that starts off slow and then goes full throttle. This can either wake me up out of nowhere and then insomnia starts and I can`t get back to sleep for a few hours or it starts to rumble as I am drifting off and I get what I call “Snore Anxiety” because I am on edge that he is going to snore and then can`t sleep. I can honestly feel my heart rate increase at every sound he makes. I have tried a few options. Exclaiming “Oh for God’s Sake” (or worse), nudging (ok shoving), earplugs (they don’t work so save your money), holding his nose (I know really mean that one but strangely satisfying!) and eventually throwing myself out of bed and storming off to the spare room. He was oblivious to it all so all dramatics were wasted.

Toilet Trips

So apparently from middle age onward, the wall of our bladder begins to thin so we need to wee more, especially at night it seems in our case. It`s bad enough and so annoying if someone needs to go, but in mid slumber and darkness, it is easy to stub your toe (and yell), turn on a light or god forbid flush the loo (we have an ensuite) and then the other poor soul is awake. I can`t blame my husband for this one as I do it too and probably more (cougar syndrome!). No point trying to deny you need to go either I have found. It just prolongs the inevitable.

Tossing and Turning

My husband will put his hand up and say this one is all him. I don`t really move even when lying there awake for hours, but he does what we had in the early days fondly named “humphing”. He tosses and turns and makes “humphing” noises (in between snoring) and suddenly I wake up with his face right in mine doing a great impression of a heavy breather. I am not so fond anymore That sends me off into the spare room too. As there is no hope at that point. He is not one I can budge, even an inch.

Passing Ships

Unlike our early years we have completely different patterns of when we need to get up and go to sleep. Gone are the days of a midweek romantic meal and wine, some rumpy pumpy , blissful cuddles and dreams until the 7am alarm. Now he needs to be up at 4.45am for a 7am start an hour from home and so he needs to be in bed at 9pm. At which point I am usually walking through the door from picking up our youngest from gymnastics. I then want to unwind. I do come up, be very careful not to wake him and then 6 hours after I hopefully nod off (with a 2am insominia interlude) his alarm is yelling, “It is 4,45am” (speaking clocks should be banned). Do I get up or nod off for a few hours of restless weird morning dream sleep (I always get weird dreams in those pre-waking hours, I wonder if it is a thing?) leaving me groggier still.

So all this, as much as I have tried to make light of it ,has been leaving us absolutely knackered in the day and rather resentful of each other, yet determined to stick at it until “death do us part” because surely it is wrong not to share a bed as a married couple? But then we said, “Well is it wrong?’ Only society tells us it isn`t normal and there is a stigma attached to it and there is always the old couples who preach they haven`t slept a night apart. And I think that is wonderful. It warms my heart. But times have changed. Life has changed. Sometimes it is so fast you just want to get off let alone sleep a night uninterrupted to re charge for the next day. Sleep, to both of us, is absolutely crucial to functioning properly on a daily basis. We were spending the weekend catching up on sleep rather than enjoying family time and having a laugh together. We needed this compromise.

So in the end that was the decision we reached, that we would sleep separately for five nights a week and enjoy those two nights together on the weekend when I am not in at 9pm and he is not up at 4.45am. OK, it might not be all plain sailing, I might have to hold his nose once in a while, but we are looking forward to it and right now, we have a kiss, wish each other goodnight with a smile because we are gong to sleep without waking each other up all night. There`s no morning grumbles because we don`t see each other and I have a nice blissful fancy schmanzty room to watch The Crown in peace 😊

Until the next pondering

PP xx

PS. I took the spare room, so he can use the ensuite in the morning in peace and quiet without disturbing the rest of us! And I get to share a bathroom with my very clean, anti boys and their smells, daughter ( she`s eleven, say no more!) I read somewhere once that the way to a successful marriage was to have separate sinks, well we are taking that to another level and I think we might be onto something! 😉

Hello Saggy Bits !!

There are just some things that will occur with age no matter what you do, I have decided , and this year in particular. These things are “Saggy Bits”!! And there are more than a few coming at me and fast. Actually no, they creep up slowly, seemingly unnoticed, then bang ! What is all this skin ? And will it go ? So far , I doubt it, without the help of a surgeon, a knife and some sort of suction contraption! So I thought I might name and shame my two recent attributes. Bare in mind it is generally hot here and so hard to avoid on a daily basis.

  • Inside Upper Arms (aka Bingo Wings)
  • Upper Inner Thigh (aka Droopy Draws)

You get the picture. Shorts and singlets are taking on a whole new look ! Oh there are many more bits don’t worry including one little area that came to light (literally) after a one off brazilian 😱😱. As my friend who had done similar at the time , cried out ” Oh my god ! I’ve got a saggy fanny !! ” Give us a break really mother nature really. Anyway, a few weeks ago I went full throttle into every exercise on youtube to fix these two. And the result a month on ? Nothing . Absolutely sweet FA , apart from a few weeks of walking like John Wayne !!

I know the reason. We all do. Declining oestrogen levels in perimenopause and beyond. The skin goes dry, it sags and does so particularly more in fair skin over olive or dark. Yay me !! Married to an Indian man 5 years younger I don’t need a crystal ball on the outcome here ! Although he is going grey before me which is actually no great comfort as you know, men seem to mature into handsome debonaire gents or bloody silver foxes aren’t we led to believe ?? Anyway back to sagging. So today I took a good look in the mirror, jumped up and down a bit and decided to try and love my soft saggy bits and give myself a break. It may take me a while but that’s my ponderings today. Lets hope they stay that way because life is too short and whats a few saggy bits between friends anyway ? So acceptance is key ! Lets see if I ponder the same in a year when the list might be just a tad longer !

PPxx

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Sweaty Betty !!

My first night sweat was a somewhat memorable occurrence in that it wasn’t what I expected at all and that it had me laying there wide-eyed realising I was probably entering the ‘menopause”. I dismissed that the next morning and put it down to a high temperature (nothing like a night sweat but convinced myself anyway!) but who was I kidding really?? That was about 4 years ago, and I was 44. The perimenopause was just a “fad” then and so unfamiliar and I was far too young for the menopause wasn`t I?!Oh how much there was to learn and how much wiser I am now !This perimenopause stage and all its symptoms “having a party” had and was going to be around long before I hit menopause!

So, I am going to discuss sweating! Which I know sounds revolting but these night sweats are in a league of their own! And after all, we talk about periods as teens and some of us childbirth (which ends up discussing every orifice we have), so why not night sweats? Lets give them a hard time! They bloody well deserve it 😉,

When I hear the word “sweating “or say the word “sweating”, I think of my Nana. (and not in a Sweaty Betty way I should add). She was so English and really did make it her mission to make sure I spoke correctly. So, when I would exclaim, ” I am SWEATING!” She would correct me and say, “Now dear, you know what we say, horses sweat, men perspire and women glow “. Nana! You left out the part about the night sweats in our forties and fifties!!In all seriousness though, I would love the chance to ask her about her journey through the perimenopause to the menopause which would have been in the 1960s. I wonder how it was for her? If we are only really beginning to talk about it now, what was it like then?? I won’t get on a feminist rant …yet 😉

So, these night sweats! Where on earth does it all come from?? I anticipated a sweaty brow or sweaty armpits (nothing there!), but no! My whole face is like one big puddle and my décolletage (bit between boobs and above) is like a slow running waterfall! It isn’t like sweat at all, its like water swooshing about. Everywhere around there! So far, the rest of my body has been spared this but gosh, the boobs and above are drenched!

Another thing I have noticed is that now, aged 48 (and probably a good few years off the actual menopause, so they may increase in number) is that they are not consistent. Some nights I have a few then can go a while with none. Maybe it`s an individual thing?

And there is a difference between summer and winter night sweats. Who would have thought? Here in Australia the nights can be so hot so it isn`t such a drastic change in the body and I am hot anyway and prone to hopping in the shower to freshen up even at 3am. This could be because it is 1000% humidity for the 30th night in a row! In winter, I would never consider jumping into a shower but the night sweats(here is the gross part, but I did say it would be warts and all) can occur without me waking up and then the sweat which has then turned cold leaves me freezing so I snuggle up and then another night sweat pounces , which I do notice, and I am suffocating in horrible damp sheets! The change in the body is so dramatic. I mean you wake up in a cold room just flabbergasted that you can be in such a pool of sweat.

So what`s the reason we have night sweats ? I found this simple explanation 🙂

https://www.menopausecentre.com.au/information-centre/symptoms/night-sweats/

Oh and finally, one last gripe to you night sweats, what do you have to say about what you do to my hair by morning ??!!

Hello 2 am !!

In my early forties, I began to wake in the night for the first time. Often for a few hours. At first it was attributed to stress or worry but none of that was really a factor in my life. My partner was astonished ! Here was a woman who never moved let alone woke up in all the years they had been together, yet suddenly here she was, switching on lights, flushing loos, getting drinks of water and even standing in the shower in the middle of the night ! So why was it happening?

It was about that time that the term “perimenopause” was beginning to emerge. Some seemed to think it was a bit of a “fad” but I found myself taking note and researching some symptoms. I mean , how can we just launch into menopause? There has to be a transition phase right? And there is! The perimenopause, a now familiar term where symptoms are having a party !

Why sleep deprivation is so common seems to be a grey area. It could be worry or anxiety when those thoughts in the middle of the night seem gargantuan, yet simmer down a little by morning. It could be night sweats waking us up or needing the loo and an inability to get back to sleep. Or it could be a viscous cycle of sleeplessness leading to worry and anxiety and so the pattern repeats.

So what can we do to help this intrusion into our slumber? I have read up on this so many times and can really only find the usual suspects. You know, herbal tea, a cool quiet room (hmm, might be but not once a hot flush strikes, even in Antartica!), regular sleep routine, no stimulants, no alcohol, no caffeine, and so on. There is nothing ground breaking out there so I would love to know of any tips and tricks if you have them.

Here is mine. I used to stress and try so hard to sleep, tossing, turning, humphing around but now see it as me time. No one wants me, no one is calling , I am resting and it`s dark and quiet. I also started a little meditation of my own. I lie on my back, pop my hands on my chest (crossed) flop my feet to the sides and breathe in through my nose for five and out through my mouth for five. After about ten minutes, I get a “floaty feeling” , pop myself into my favourite sleeping position and drift off. If it doesn`t work, I try again.

Now after a few years instead of causing me instant angst, 2am wake ups cause me to sigh with relief as I know I have a while til morning. It`s a 4am one that fills me with dread! If I do get back to sleep, I shall be in the deepest slumber when the alarm goes off. Insomnia is so far my most hated part of the perimenopause as a good nights sleep is irreplaceable and something I really miss.

PPxx