112: I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue

Menopause is a hot topic at the moment, it seems. Companies are providing training sessions on menopause awareness, and there’s lots of research going on: how it affects women’s working lives, for example, and it’s even covered in some companies’ diversity training. In the interests of equality the company I work for are offering a male menopause awareness (it’s called andropause, apparently) later in the year. Apparently there’s more to it than fast cars and Grecian 2000 – who knew??

There’s checklists of symptoms (the old hot flash isn’t the half of it), there are charities dedicated to it and it seems to be everywhere – we’ve come a long way from delicate references to ‘the change’ or ‘her time of life’. About time too, in my opinion: it’s meant that in my annual performance review this year I was able to say to my lovely line manager that I’m experiencing symptoms and at times this is affecting work, and to have this concern logged in my record. I have a doctor’s appointment booked with a female GP (though this is apparently no guarantee of understanding) to talk HRT in a couple of weeks. Whether I can actually get my hands on any HRT is another matter entirely, as there are huge supply chain issues with it and women are being sent away empty handed by pharmacists. At least (I hope) I won’t be fobbed off with anti-depressants, as I already have those and can rule that out for them.

My main symptom at the moment*, and the one that’s making work difficult, is the brain fog: the memory problems and the inability to concentrate. I find myself in the middle of a sentence with no idea how I got there or where I was planning on going next: last week, while talking to a theatre company, I found myself making a circle in the air with my finger repeatedly, but with no idea why. A quick recap with colleagues suggested I might have been talking about the design process, but this is happening with increasing frequency – it’s hard to advocate for a project if you can’t remember what it is. Some days I work like a butterfly – landing on one thing, fluttering off for a bit, coming back to it. The kids know that it can take several minutes for my mind to process something and for me to respond. Luckily the theatre company is run by women ‘of a certain age’, as they say, and they were very good about it, but I can’t count on this all the time.

If I know in advance that I’m going to be asked to speak about something in a meeting I can script it, but I am starting to dread being asked ad hoc questions as there’s no guarantee I can formulate an answer or that my brain has kept up with the conversation. Things are slightly better if I can do something with my hands in a meeting, which is much easier when the meeting is online, but not everyone is keen on me bringing my crochet project with me. I do think if Amanda Spielman, head of OFSTED and one of our trustees, can get away with knitting through important meetings and since our mission is all about creativity and skills I should definitely be allowed.

So, it’s off to the doc for a chat for me, and hopefully I’ll be a new woman – or at least a woman that can finish a sentence.

*apart from the rage that I wrote about back in week 68

So that’s it from me: it’s lunchtime, there’s a cross stitch that needs finishing, and after a 450m swim this morning I’m contemplating a nap.

See you next week!

Kirsty x

All the Colours of Darkness/ Watching the Dark – Peter Robinson

Villager – Tom Cox

Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor Tales (Audible)

A Place of Execution – Val McDermid

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