Chemical menopause - that’s the name they give it when a series of injections cause your ovaries to dramatically shut down. I was two months into my love-hate relationship with giant needles when a chance conversation between my husband and his boss forced me out of elasticated tracksuit bottoms and into a very snug trouser suit, to be interviewed for a job as a writer and press officer.
After a decade of ‘issues’ followed by two of the worst years of my life dealing with horrendous endometriosis (keeping me housebound and on a morphine drip in my living room), I was out of work and absent from most of life’s joys and responsibilities. Menopause at 36 and an impending total hysterectomy actually gave me something to look forward to.
I grilled my husband before the interview - the boss was aware that I had ongoing health issues, but some sort of unspoken man-code had kept the rest of my ‘women’s issues’ firmly on a need-to-know basis. He didn’t know…
The day of the meeting came. It had been years since I had put myself through the nerve-wracking ordeal that is a job interview. I dug out my CV, proudly assembled my best newspaper cuttings and shoe-horned myself into something resembling office attire. I settled for a shirt-vest-trouser combo with a suit jacket.
Waiting outside his office my palms began to sweat. Hoping it was just pre-interview nerves, my worst fears were realised when it became obvious that it was in fact a hot flush. The mother of all hot flushes. Nae - the angry mother-in-law of all volcanic, lava-spewing hot flushes!
Any attempt at a good first impression was cancelled out with the wiping of my hand on my trousers, leaving lovely wet fingerprints on the pale grey. With no sign of my personal heatwave relenting, I took off my jacket. “Maybe if I just keep good eye contact,” I thought, “he won’t notice the very attractive drip forming at top of my cleavage.” I was wrong, but the fact my fringe was now sticking to my bright red face was probably somewhat of a distraction.
As the conversation progressed, he tentatively brought up the subject of money, just as I was I becoming profoundly aware that my hin’end was basically on fire. Not daring to excuse myself and praying there wasn’t a lovely ‘v’ forming on my bottom, I subtly began undoing my shirt buttons to ventilate the situation. (NB: There was nothing subtle about it. It was like a slow motion, one-handed, badly choreographed strip tease.)
Now wet about the face, scantily clad and fumbling my words, I had no choice but to go for full disclosure. There is no non-cringey way to explain to a 50-something man that the reason you look like melting wax is because you are awaiting major surgery to remove half-a-dozen lady parts. But you probably could avoid repeating words like, say, “bleeding” and also nervously laughing at your own bad puns… “floody hell… get it?”
Whether he was impressed with my cuttings or just terrified that I would end up fully starkers in his boardroom shrieking “cramps” and “endometrium” the interview was cut short, with me apologising for his new suede shoes being irreparably stained by my sweat. We’re talking literal cartoon-character-esque droplets bouncing off my body, off the floor and onto his footwear. For shame Lindsay, for shame!
Unbelievably I got the job! And to his credit, he has been the most incredible employer, not only putting up with mood swings that could register on the richter scale but making all the necessary adjustments to allow me to work from home as and when needed.
Thanks to HRT I’m now only an occasional visitor to Club Tropicana and for what it’s worth, a total hysterectomy, early menopause and even the stone I now can’t shift are all worth it to break free of the mental and physical effects that decades of undiagnosed endometriosis had on me, my husband and my beautiful kids.
Just Such a Time now available on Kindle and paperback: