This week, I’ve been mostly battling the symptoms of Suspected Peri-Menopause.
It all starts on Monday with an evil backache. In less than no time, I have turned from being a loving mother, partner, and daughter, into Quasimodo.
So my partner drives me to the local pharmacy.
Now, the local pharmacist is a healthy young specimen. He isn’t sexy. He doesn’t smoulder. But he is handsome, and symmetrical, and if he were the last person on earth, you probably would. (To be honest, the criteria wouldn’t need to be that rigid.) So the last thing I want to discuss with the local pharmacist is my spine. The very last thing I want to say is: Please, kind sir, I think I may have turned into a wretched hunchback. Could you please throw some rocks at me?)
This is not what I want.
I want to be able to giggle furiously as I ask for a multi-pack of ribbed condoms. I want to blush like a teenager as I ask for the morning-after pill. I want to follow the local pharmacist into a private consulting room and have him warn me about the dangers of unbridled promiscuity.
But instead we have a conversation like this:
“I’ve got a really bad back. It absolutely kills. It’s my lower back.”
“Do you do any sports?” he asks, smiling. “Did you bruise it?”
“No” I say. “I just woke up with it.”
I note that he says ‘sports’, and not ‘exercise’, or ‘gentle exercise’. I am pleased. But then, after a brief pause, the conversation seems to take a nosedive.
“How old are you?” he asks suddenly. “Whereabouts are you in your cycle?”
I am forced to tell him my age. I note that he doesn’t flinch, or look surprised.
“Somewhere in the middle”, I say. “I’m not so sure.”
“It might be your ovaries going a bit hay-wire”, he says. ‘You’re still a BIT young for it, but sometimes, around YOUR age, too many eggs pop out and your lower back can get a little bit tender...”
I am wondering when it became acceptable for medical professionals to use the words ‘hay-wire’ and ‘pop’ to describe biological processes. I am starting to think that the local pharmacist’s features are not quite as symmetrical as I thought. I am starting to think that the local pharmacist is a fucking amateur.
“It’s like when you get a cluster of zits on your face, and they hurt because of all the pressure, it’s like that with the eggs, and the ovaries…” he continues.
“Do you mean peri-menopause?’ I say, interrupting. “Is it something to do with the peri-menopause?”
I am putting words straight into the local pharmacist’s mouth. But in my fevered paranoid brain, I’m thinking, I’d rather say it before he does. If he says it - I’ll have to kill him. Also, I don’t like The Zit Metaphor. I like The Zit Metaphor even less than The Popping Ovaries Metaphor. I have zits on my cheek. A small crescent of zits that now appears every time I ovulate. My mother has the same thing happening to her - except that her zits are Angry Zits. Pissed-Off Zits. Zits that are like Eyes, Scanning the Environment for Snubs, and Slurs, and Perceived Slights.
“I suppose it might be”, says the local pharmacist. “But don’t worry about it. Just take some Nurofen.”
I buy the Nurofen. I fetch some Ibuprofen gel from one of the lower shelves. I examine a range of other potent-looking ointments. I look like Igor the hunchbacked lab-assistant from Young Frankenstein. I don’t bother to correct the stoop when I get up to pay.
My partner is waiting for me in the car.
“Suspected Peri-Menopause”, I say.
“Fucking hell, could you please be a little bit more dramatic,” he says.