16th February 2017: Day 28 - B.I.NGO
I think I read somewhere that a woman’s menopausal symptoms tend to follow a similar pattern to her mother’s. My Mum died when I had just turned 44 (3 days after) and like many under 45s I hadn’t started to think about what the menopause would be like. I was an adult when Mum would have been going through her menopause and I only saw her during the summer holidays because she was living in Nigeria. I don’t recall there being any signs and I’m now wondering if maybe she, being a nurse, and it being the time it was (the 80s), decided that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) was the way to go. It wasn’t until I had my first hot flash aged 48 that it occurred to me that we hadn’t had ‘that chat’. I knew about periods and the birds and the bees as early as aged 8. I don’t know why Mum thought it was important but she sat me down, told me I must only ever have sex when I’m married, handed me a leaflet and invited me to ask questions as and when they arose. It was totally painless, no remembered embarrassment on my part, just a conversation between mother and daughter.
Like I said we never talked about the menopause and middle age and what it could be like for me. I knew about hot flashes but not that, having spent the best part of 40 years having to deal with periods, they stop and in the process you have to contend with feeling so hot you think your head is going to explode, or that your brain is so foggy you can only read one chapter a day where you once read one book a day. I knew about middle aged spread but I didn’t know that came whether or not you were overweight, nor did I know that once it’s there it just doesn’t going away. I’ve learned these things as I’ve gone along and that’s been okay – I think.
Ask me what I would say if Mum was standing right in front of me, right now (apart from ‘wish you could stay’).
Well, thanks for asking. If my Mum was standing here right now, If I could say one thing it would be
“Why didn’t you tell me that one day I would go to put on a top that fit perfectly okay a month ago but my arms would get stuck halfway through the sleeves. Mum why didn’t you warn me about bingo wings???”
I’d heard that it wasn’t really cool for a woman over 50 to wear tops and dresses that left her arms bare but I thought it was the same thing as wearing a mini skirt – a bit ageist cos if your legs look good and you’re wearing thick tights, then why not? You see, the bingo-wing phenomenon creates a new problem. Tops come in sizes that I believe don’t take the thickness of our arms into consideration so I can buy a top in size 12 and find I can’t get my arms through the sleeve because of my bingo wings. (Who named them that anyway?)
I was at a party when I first noticed mine. It was in the ladies toilet when having used the facilities I looked at myself in the mirror with the intention of admiring the choice of outfit and how good it looked on me. I don’t know why; it could have been the angle I was standing, or it could have been the lighting but I suddenly saw the skin flapping around on the underside of my arm. The photo above should give you an idea but it doesn’t quite capture the extent of the flapping. I know I could have video-ed it but I’m aware some of you may read this as you’re eating and you know…
During the post-Christmas sales I bought a couple of dumbbells from Sainsbury (£2.66 each) and every once in a while I’d pick them up and swing them up and down for a few seconds and wonder why the muscles weren’t getting any firmer.
Did I mention I’m loving the internet at the moment? Yes you guessed it, I went on to YouTube and found a 9 minutes workout for arms, shoulders and chest (although I don’t really want to mess with the chest area) and for the first time lifted weights. I thought I was okay until I was carrying my shopping up the stairs to the flat. My shoulders ache and so does my neck ( a little) but it’s in a good way.
I’ll keep it up and we’ll see what happens. Watch this space.