MY GP Sent Me for A Brain Scan For My Menopause Symptoms

Brain_Scan_Menopause

Yes, the headline is correct. You’re not seeing things. I had a brain scan for my menopause symptoms.

I thought long and hard about unleashing this into the universe but I’ve decided that I want to try and help make a change to how we deal with this very important change in our lives.

THE MENOPAUSE

What Happened To Me?

I’ve been perimenopause for about I  would say 10 years. I was 56 this past May. I didn’t even know there was such a term until about a year ago. I tried lots of alternative methods to help me with what were mainly hot flushes and for quite a while they were fairly manageable. Then things became a bit worse with brain fog about nearly 5 years ago and I went off to see my GP about HRT. I was prescribed what I think was the norm; gel and tablets. Once again things became manageable. Until the summer of 2018.

I did an update here about how I was feeling. Not a happy bunny. Maybe if you are interested you could recap that post or if you are new here 😉

I decided I needed fresh input so went to a female GP in the practice who herself  it turned out was at a similar stage in her menopause journey. We started tweaking the drugs, as they say. Nothing seemed to make a lot of difference.

 Christmas 2018 Was A Very Scary Time

I felt as if my brain just couldn’t function. My speech became slurred. The brain fog felt more like brain shut down now. I remember breaking down and crying in the hall because I actually forgot what to do with the hoover. I knew by the look on Mr B’s face, who by the way has always calmed me down in every situation for the past 33 years.  I knew  by his face he was very worried, too. We even thought it could be a stroke but the symptoms kept coming and going.

They heightened over that holiday period and so the first week of January I was back at the surgery. I relayed to my doctor just how much I was struggling to function. She too had a very strange look on her face when I told her about the hoover episode. She asked me what was worrying me most. At this point I just burst into tears. I told her that we were both worried I had early signs of Alzheimers. She agreed that we needed to rule out the possibility and that she’d like to send me for a brain scan.

 

I Was Really Scared At The Suggestion Of A Brain Scan 

 

My appointment came through very quickly. The actual scan wasn’t anything to worry about. We always build things up in our minds to be far worse than they actually are, don’t we?

The results came back quickly, too. The NHS are amazing by the way but especially when things are urgent like this. I was sat in the hairdressers when the surgery  number flashed up on my phone. As soon as I realised that it was my actual doctor on the line the panic rose in the back of my throat. You only get calls like this when it’s bad news. don’t you?

I was wrong. Her words, I remember as clearly as anything. My brain was working that particular day!

 

“There is nothing pathologically wrong with your brain, Sharon”

 

I’m not sure I liked her turn of phrase but heck it was good news however she spelt it out in medical lingo. I was a mess but a good mess and immediately broke the news to Mr B.

I’d been imagining in my head how I would tell my kids if the news had been different.

 

The Future Of Me Managing The Menopause

 

Thing is, apart from being scared about what could’ve been,  the symptoms obviously haven’t gone away. We’ve tweaked some more at the HRT. I’m convinced there could be more I could try but think it’s down to cost and knowledge.

Mostly, I regularly feel inadequate, useless and  very, very anxious. I worry that my GP was wrong. I worry about everything and some days I worry about nothing. It’s very difficult to pigeon hole. My GP suggested anti-depressants along with my HRT which I couldn’t get my head around .. oh the irony. I’m not depressed. It’s a very different feeling.

Work can be a challenge. I work in a very ‘young’ industry .. the digital sector. For an old bird like me to rock up talking about data points and analytics is unusual enough to begin with. I’m always the odd one out. I have put enormous pressure on myself to outperform not only because of my age but because I don’t want to be perceived as weak and past it. This tires me out even more. By some Fridays I feel like a washed out dishcloth.

I’m Far From Weak Or Past It

but this ugly little menopause beast on my shoulder tries to convince me otherwise.

The strange thing is I also feel at the peak of my power and that there is a lot I want to achieve, yet. And I will. Oh yes, I will.

Thankfully, I can call the shots somewhat as my work is a business I run with our eldest son. Both my boys are amazing with their support. They’ve learned a lot. We all have.

I am admitting here and now that I feel really frightened to put it out there. Survival of the fittest and all that. Bottling up is even worse. I feel I might explode trying to hide my anxiety.

The eldest tagged me in a Facebook post that was a snippet of video from This Morning just a couple of weeks ago now and said “Mum, you have to talk about you on your blog. You’re not on your own. Other women have this dementia worry.” You can watch here .. sorry there’s some ads first. It’s ITV.

So here I am. Baring my soul in the hope that I can be of help to other women but that it will also help give me strength. I hope that we can talk more openly. I’m considering sharing this post on LinkedIn but that might be a step too far.I don’t know if I’m that brave and there might be people who do think I’m a wash out now.

My sparkle is well and truly out. I will sparkle again and I do sparkle some days. Probably about 2 out of 7 at the moment.  Like the fabulous weekend we had with the boys in Leeds recently.

No picture of me for this post … I’ve stopped taking pictures of myself 🙁

 

My Sparkle Will Be Back.  I’m Not Going Mad. It’s The Menopause.

Normal Service Will Be Resumed … Eventually.

Fire away if you have any questions. That’s the point of me sharing this with you all. So that we can talk and no matter what age. It is a stage in life all women have to pass through and like most things we will all experience in varying degrees.

Sharon xo

 

27 Comments

  1. August 15, 2019 / 7:12 am

    Oh what a relieve! And I dat that for myself!😂sorry! Haha, no I mean that I am glad there is nothing for you to worry about, brainwise. And yes, just yesterday I was thinking that I might get Alzheimer in the future! Never thought menopauze caused it! It is exactly as you dat, a fogh! The worst thing for me now is that I don t get enough sleep. It takes jours. I have sleeping pills,which I hate but I have to sleep, but they don t seem to do what they supposed to do anymore. What a missery menopause is!

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:40 pm

      Thanks, Nancy. Thankfully, lack of sleep hadn’t really been something I’ve had a problem with. I can sleep for England yet still feel exhausted. I’m looking forward to being the other side of menopause. It must be absolute freedom xo

  2. Lin
    August 15, 2019 / 8:08 am

    Well done Sharon. I’m 62 and have gone through the menopause, apart from still overheating regularly at night. I think it probably took me a good eight years to get through it after my periods stopped. I first noted the dreaded hot flushes at about 53, luckily I was working with a lot of women of the same age and we formed a mutual support group to share symptoms. I tried HRT but it triggered migraines which were awful. I decided to cope with vitamins and herbal supplements which got me through it. I don’t think I ever had the brain fog like you but have huge sympathy with the dementia fear. I think that is lurking in all women’s minds, especially if it is in the family. I do hope you can find a treatment that works for you. And that job of yours must be keeping your brain active and sharp, no matter what you are thinking. Keep blogging you are brilliant!

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:30 pm

      Having that support is vital, Lin isn’t it? It must be brill being the other side of it? 😉

  3. Irene Elliott
    August 15, 2019 / 8:18 am

    Oh Sharon this resonated with me so much. I’m now 65 and the menopause is behind me but I remember all those feelings so well it was quite frankly horrendous. My sister however had very few problems and neither did my mum so I broke the mould in a sense. I worry for my daughters but I’m glad we’re so much more open now and I can talk to them about it too. On a side note my husband has just been diagnosed with dementia which is a whole new journey for us. Take care xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:29 pm

      That was one of the reasons I wanted to use my blog to share my experience, Irene. For women like your daughter .. to help them .. give them knowledge. I’m not wishing my life away but I will be very glad when I hopefully reach a hormonal plateau. It most be brilliant, is it? xo

  4. Clare
    August 15, 2019 / 12:58 pm

    So glad you are speaking out now Sharon, lots of hugs

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:27 pm

      Thanks so much for the support, Clare xo

  5. Julie
    August 15, 2019 / 7:22 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing!! It’s such a relief to know it’s not just me 🤗

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:27 pm

      I think that’s the thing isn’t it, Julie? The relief that all aspects of it are totally normal? xo

  6. Joanna Gibson
    August 15, 2019 / 10:41 pm

    It’s such a relief to feel that you’re not alone or going mad. I saw that clip on This Morning too and recognised the same feelings of hyper anxiety. I worry endlessly, more than I have ever done, and like you have recently started a new business so wonder if that is giving me unnecessary stress which has caused me to want to throw in the towel on many occasions. I’ve recently booked myself an appointment with the doctors as I want to find a way of getting through the very dark days without taking it out on myself and everyone else! I question everything I do and over analyse everything that it drives me insane and the brain fog is there too. Thank you for sharing and being honest about how you feel and hopefully we can get through this together. xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:26 pm

      You’re not alone my dear Jo. To think it took me writing and publishing this post for you to tell me. Like you said earlier .. we can help each other. Hugs xo

  7. Jane
    August 15, 2019 / 11:02 pm

    Oh Sharon I’m glad your scan came back normal and, believe me, you are so not alone in worrying you’ve got dementia. I’m 51 and am forgetful, feel like a useless shadow of my former self and wonder if I’ll ever truly enjoy life again. I have suffered with depression for many years and the menopause has certainly brought it bubbling up again, whereas beforehand it was well controlled by my medication. Your story about the Hoover reminded me of the time about 10 years ago when I got in my car after work to drive home and had no idea what to do to get the car going, it was though my brain had totally frozen – I must have sat staring at the dashboard for about 2 minutes before it slowly dawned on me that I had to put the keys in the ignition etc. I have no idea what caused that episode but it really frightened me. Thank you for being so candid about your experiences, I think knowledge is power and we “ladies of a certain age” need all the power we can get!

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:24 pm

      Oh Jane, that does sound scary 🙁

      The hoover experience for me was a simple thing: clipping the pipe extension back onto the main part of it. Something I must’ve done how many times over the years. I kept asking Mr B how do I do it again. After about the 3rd time in the space of what might’ve been 30 minutes worth of hoovering was when we started to think what is wrong with me?

      You are right .. we all need more knowledge. Not just the average experience … all of it xo

  8. August 15, 2019 / 11:05 pm

    Wowsers – you really have been through it, I really applaud you for sharing. I was 55 last May and I’m struggling. At the same time while I am struggling I don’t have any frame of reference – am I being a big wuss? am I over/under reacting? am I going mad? how much do you put up with before you ask for help and what sort of help do you ask for? how do you ask for help if you do ask for help when you don’t even know how to describe what this is all like??? I’m not sure which is more out of control – my body (comfort eating – I have a few life stresses that have me reaching for food) or my mind (I do wonder if I have late onset Tourettes) and please don’t ask me why I came in here or where I put that thing I cant remember quite what its called, or why I am so cranky/tearful/cheesed off…. I think one of the important things is to be honest and talk about this process and I also feel that we can be incredibly hard on ourselves – so we forget the odd word (I am not the only one in my work team at this stage), but I refuse to be cowed or embarrassed. because whilst I might forget the odd word, my vocab is still streets ahead of the younger bright young things I also think at our age we often have more insight, more wisdom, and more compassion – as well as a better nose for sniffing utter nonsense 🙂

    But thank you for naming the thing – for putting it out there, for saying it like it is

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 8:20 pm

      I think there’s a lot of women relating to us, Juliet. It’s so helpful normalising it xo

  9. August 16, 2019 / 10:22 pm

    Oh gosh, Sharon, what a stressful time! Glad the brain scan came back clean, but…sometimes I just want an ANSWER, for better or worse! As many of the above commenters mentioned, I have had similar issues- feeling in a fog, serious stress, sadness, forgetfulness. I used to tell the two young girls (whippersnappers!) in my office that I really and truly used to be so STUPID! I feel so stupid now. Reading comprehension is at zero. I have to look at instructions over and over and over again. One night I got in my car and couldn’t for the life of me remember how to turn on the lights! It was only after flipping and pressing and turning every knob, dial and switch on the dash and steering column that I finally got them on and was like, oh. Duh!

    I can’t even blame all this on menopause- I have no idea if I even went through it, what w the constant bleeding from what turned out to be uterine cancer and a hysterectomy to take out all those bits anyway. My brain feels no different after all that than before so who knows.

    My doctor attributes every complaint I have to my weight, so, no help there. I’m just out here in brain limbo land, but apparently I’m not alone out here!

    Anyway, just to say hang in there, and I hope someone finds something to help you )and the rest of us, too!),

    Bettye

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 10:27 pm

      Oh Bettye you’ve been through the mill, hun. We’re all in this together aren’t we? It’s awful feeling so dumb and useless when you know you’re absolutely bloody not.

      You are right about medical experts putting everything down to weight. What do they say to women who present with the self same symptoms and are average weight?

      You hang in there, too B. We are all here for each other xo

  10. August 19, 2019 / 4:36 pm

    Oh my goodness, what a stressful time you’ve had! It must have been such a relief to get the all clear on the brain scan! It’s so important that we can talk openly about menopause and all of its many symptoms in order to banish the fear and worry that it might be something else. At the age of 45 I’m constantly looking over my shoulder for signs of perimenopause and wondering what the future holds. I’m hoping it won’t be too awful! Thank you for sharing this, and I hope things improve for you very soon. Big hugs!

    Emma xxx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 19, 2019 / 11:06 pm

      Thanks, Emma. I’m hoping, fingers crossed I’m out of the woods with this bloody hormonal rollercoaster.

      I am a classic over sharer so it feels good to write/talk xo

  11. August 19, 2019 / 9:38 pm

    Bloody hell Sharon! So pleased it all came out clear for you and your honesty will help a lot of women in a similar position i’m sure! Lots of love xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 19, 2019 / 11:01 pm

      Thanks so much, Helen. As you can see took me a while to write but glad I did xo

  12. August 20, 2019 / 7:17 pm

    It’s great that you have shared this with us all. The menopause is such a complex thing isn’t it? I too get the brain fog – my memory just isn’t great . I thought it was lovely how your son wanted you to watch the item on this morning & wanted to help. Isn’t it fab that our boys are concerned for us. I’m currently trying to come off HRT after five years on it. I tried cold turkey, what a mistake that was, so, now I’m doing it gradually.
    Alison xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 11:27 pm

      It is lovely isn’t it that our boys are so caring? We must’ve got something right there, Alison 😉 My youngest even cracked a joke about the menopause that really tickled me. The very fact that they know what it is, is just great.

      I tried cold turkey last summer. Do you remember? You were going through it then, too. I think that whole time made things worse for me since. Could just be coincidence xo

  13. August 26, 2019 / 12:10 am

    Definitely not alone! Just reading the comments tells you that Sharron. I forget what I’ve walked into a room for sometimes! I started my menopause in my 30’s and had finished by my early 40’s. You can imagine the arguments I had with the doctors when I knew all was not quite right. I had the HRT patches. I felt like a new woman on those. I’m wondering if you have tried them? That doesn’t alter the fact that I’m so forgetful though in my 56th year! xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      Author
      August 26, 2019 / 1:09 pm

      Not very nice is it, Laurie?

      At the point at which I had the brain scan my GP was seeing me in her clinic every 4-6 weeks. She’s been brilliant. I’ve actually been on HRT about 5 years now but like I say last year and first couple of months of this year were off the scale for me. I’ve tried various mixes of patches and pills. I seem to be ok – ish right now so I’m hoping I’ve peaked xo

  14. Erica
    August 27, 2019 / 12:04 pm

    I often read your blog, but this post really resonates. I’m 56, and my menopause has been 10 years – no more periods etc and hot flushes, but the brain fog remains. Whenever some well meaning person “recommends black cohosh”, I feel this murderous rage and think longingly of very sharp kitchen knives. I’m well beyond black cohosh, baby. Brain fog, weight gain, anxiety, lack of concentration, occasional murderous rage that I keep under control, and still I work full time, panicking slightly that I’ll make a mistake. And be found out, and thought to be old. Past it. No longer relevant. So yes. It’s time to talk about this, and thank you for starting this conversation.

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