I was forced into a hysterectomy in 2006 when I was 41 years old following a 12-month problem with specialists and GPs wanting to laser fibroids instead of doing the hysterectomy on the basis that I may want more children in the future. I was 41, single and had a teenager; why can they not listen to what the patient wants but choose to ignore the patient for many, many months before agreeing to the operation? Menopause, as the Doctors predicted, followed shortly thereafter, even though my ovaries were retained in an effort to prevent an early menopause. Shortly after the hysterectomy was carried out, the Doctors had to carry out an autopsy of the womb, and at a follow-up appointment, they agreed that the laser surgery they suggested would not have cured the problem and that I would have had to undergo at least 2 or 3 further sessions followed by a hysterectomy in the end anyway.
I was working for a typical high street law firm at the time with the Senior Partner, a woman of a similar age.
I suffered extremely badly with hot sweats and flushes (tropical moments, I call them), night sweats (bedsheets used to be changed daily; it was that bad), brain fog, short temper, short attention span, bloating and weight gain.
I could no longer do my gym workouts and weight training as I had little to no energy, which added to the weight gain.
I ended up with IBS and have been told this is another long term side effect of the menopause.
I was walking to the office in the mornings and going via Tesco’s freezer aisle to open all the doors and cool off before I continued up the hill to the office. (I think Tesco’s were pretty fed up with my visits very quickly)!
I discussed this with my Doctor, who was extremely quick to ignore the problems and just basically told me what do you expect at your age? – At 41, I didn’t expect what I was going through that much is for certain.
I had no support, emotional or otherwise, from my employer, and when the Senior Partner caught me wearing a vest top in the office, I was told, “I hope you’re not seeing Clients like that”!
I did, in fact, always have a cover-up shirt or suit jacket on when going through public areas. I managed to reduce support staff to tears and didn’t even know I had done it – I feel terrible about that!
There was no support at home, I was single, and my daughter was a teenager and didn’t understand why her strong, confident Mother had suddenly become a tyrant to live with.
Despite repeated visits to my GP, I soldiered on for two years, not knowing what was happening to me and thinking that it was all in my head and that I would just have to suck it up and deal with it as I had basically been told by everyone around me.
Eventually, the GP prescribed HRT tablets but prescribed the wrong ones. There are apparently two different types, one if you have retained your ovaries and one if you had those removed with your hysterectomy. This continued for 3 – 6 months with zero improvements to my symptoms. I insisted on a follow-up appointment and review of my medication which is when it was discovered the wrong meds had been prescribed. I was finally prescribed a sole HRT tablet suitable for my symptoms but on a dose of 2mg, which I thought was high at the time – it would seem that maybe it was not high enough. I was then prescribed anti-depressants to assist with the mood swings. I decided to come off those quiet quickly when they just made me worse and have negative thoughts.
I persevered with the HRT tablets prescribed at the dose given for many years – no follow up appointments or reviews were made until in 2017 I asked that as I had been on the tablets for so long, whether or not we could look to reduce the dosage. This was reduced to 1mg without any further questions or assessment.
In the summer of 2021, I again queried my dose given that I had been on tablets since 2008 and whilst my symptoms were nowhere near the level they were previously, I do still have some symptoms – I am still warmer than most people, although the “tropical moments” have all but disappeared, I am now four stone heavier than I was when I started this journey which will not budge no amount of dieting and weight training or exercising is shifting, my brain fog re-occurs and my IBS, whilst not as bad as it has been still remains an issue I have to deal with. My attention span and short temper is still zero on the tolerance scale
I don’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life despite being told that the HRT gel I am now on is low enough not to cause any long term side effects.
All through these years, I have felt secluded in my symptoms, having no family or friends (of a similar age) or a support network of work colleagues and certainly not the professionals.
I have struggled throughout; any self-esteem has decreased as my symptoms increased. I felt as if no one understood or, indeed, cared and that – as the Doctors said – I just have to put up with it, and at my age, what do I expect.
I started all these problems in my late 30s before my hysterectomy at 41, and I am now approaching 56, and I still don’t have the confidence to talk about it to anyone. I don’t want others to go through what was pretty much some of the worst years of
my life without support and some knowledge that they are not alone in this.
Sharon Grist – Legal Manager – Milton Keynes