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Annette - Interview 26

Age at interview: 46
Brief Outline: The menopause has not been easy for Annette. Now the mother of a two year-old 'menopause' baby, her experiences of hot flushes, moods and increased weight alongside existing health problems have added to the complexity of her life as a single mother.
Background: Annette is a part-time dinner lady and carer. She is single with four children ranging in age from 2-22. She started the menopause at age 44. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

More about me...

Annette first noticed menopausal changes in her early forties, with the onset of hot sweats, moodiness and irregular periods. In a new relationship after ten years on her own, she was shocked to discover she was pregnant with her fourth child. She describes how it ‘absolutely broke my heart’ knowing that she was to be a mother again at this stage of her life.

As a single mother, Annette’s life is not easy. Added to the strain of looking after an active two year-old and three other children, she has until recently been responsible for caring for her disabled father. Coping with the death of her father, two part-time jobs, high blood pressure and an on-going kidney problem have depleted her energy levels, leaving her feeling exhausted. Annette admits that it is sometimes difficult to know whether the way she is feeling is because of the menopause or because of her lifestyle.

Since giving birth, Annette continues to go through the menopause. Her periods are irregular and very heavy, and she still gets hot flushes which make her feel like she’s ‘burning up’. Yet, in keeping with her overall pragmatic approach to life, she ‘just gets on with it’. She feels she has had little support from her doctor. Although he gave her a leaflet about HRT, she has been unable to read it because of her dyslexia. As a result she knows little about medication available to relieve symptoms but, in any case, would prefer to explore alternative approaches. She plans to see another doctor who might be more understanding.

Annette describes the menopause as ‘another tool to hit a woman’, and for her ‘another burden to get over’. She is confident, however, that she will get through this as she has other challenges in her life.

Annette was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in March 2009.

 

Annette couldn’t read the leaflet her doctor gave her about HRT as she is dyslexic. He wasn’t...

Annette couldn’t read the leaflet her doctor gave her about HRT as she is dyslexic. He wasn’t...

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Alright. As I say the menopause hasn’t been easy. I haven’t had what you call HRT but I know there’s lots of things out there you can take and in your body. I think I’m quite a stubborn person in that way. I’m not, as I say, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t take anything into my body unless I really know a lot about it. When I did go to the doctor I didn’t find him very helpful, it was like, “Well there’s HRT or you get on with it more or less.” So I just thought, “At the moment I’ll get on with it.”

See I don’t know much about that because when I went to the doctor it was either, “Take that,” or, that’s how I felt, or “Get on with it,” so I took the option of getting on with it.

When you went to the doctor did he explain about what HRT was?

He gave me a leaflet which they all do, but I’m slightly dyslexic anyway, so of course somebody just shoving a leaflet on me.

It doesn’t work.

It’s not as if I can just read it, I have to have somebody to read it, or I’ll read it and think that didn’t make sense to me. So I’d have to have somebody else.

So do you know what it’s for? Do you know what it does?

Not really no.

 

Annette is close to her mother and they often talk about the menopause

Annette is close to her mother and they often talk about the menopause

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But the menopause is a really funny thing. I think to talk to somebody about it openly, it’s the first time I’ve really spoken about it to anybody because I mean openly, because usually people are busy, they don’t, what I’m saying, everybody I know works, everybody’s busy. But sometimes me and Mum talk because I mean she thought she’d finished her menopause and obviously she hasn’t, because all of sudden now her sweats have started coming back. And she’s now in her sixties. So I think once you’ve hit that sort of line in life I don’t think it ever leaves you.

Well Mum sort of put me onto the guidelines as to what to expect. Because she had the hot flushes, she had the irregular periods. Then as I said recently the hot flushes only just come back. And she even says to me, “I thought they would have been finished with but all of a sudden now they’ve come back”. So, me and my Mum talk about it a lot. I’ve not always been close to my Mum because of her past history and circumstances, but she’s my Mum, so you can always, that’s why I said women, when we do talk we can talk. But sometimes the kind of lifestyle we lead, I know you’re busy, it’s having that time to talk to people. And not men, because I don’t think, I’m not saying all men don’t understand, I think some men would understand. But I think another woman, talking to another woman, like I prefer to go and see a woman doctor, I prefer to go and see a woman nurse, that’s how I feel.

 

Annette cared for her father before he died as well as bringing up her children as a single mother

Annette cared for her father before he died as well as bringing up her children as a single mother

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I looked after my Dad before he passed away because he was diabetic, no legs. So I went up there regular. So that’s a big thing the children have missed because we were up there quite a lot at weekends. Couldn’t make it in the week because of my jobs, but most weekends we did make an effort to see my Dad, where we could go shopping and things for him so. In a way that’s, I know it sounds bad, but in a way that was very tiring. So in a way I haven’t got to deal with that no more weekends, so I can concentrate on the home. There’s a lot of work that needs doing on this home and at the moment I just haven’t got the energy. But I put it down to not just the menopause, I have got, well as you can see I’ve got a two and a half year old. And I don’t really have childminders, I mean the only one that has him is my sister, and once I’m home here at night I don’t go out. This is my life. At six o’clock I’m home, doing tea, wash the kids, bath the kids, well they bath themselves except for the baby. That’s another thing. Everything’s sort of changed since having [youngest son]; it’s been a lot of extra work really. Their Dad’s good. I mean he does come in and looks out, he does give him a bath now and again and things but, most of the responsibility is left down to me.

 

Annette was on the pill and had started the menopause when she fell pregnant with her son

Annette was on the pill and had started the menopause when she fell pregnant with her son

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But then when I actually had my last son it was like I didn’t even know I was pregnant for a while, I’d been not myself at all and I just thought, “Oh I’m going through the menopause, taking the pill, I’m fine. So I met the baby’s Dad after ten years and then found out I was pregnant. Not very happy about it, I know he’s here and he’s here to stay now, but I actually got very upset about it. For the simple reason was I’d already brought three children up on my own, they were at the age going to secondary school. I had these offers of three jobs which was breakfast club, dinner time, and after school care at the time, which I was doing.

How did you know you were pregnant?

I didn’t. And he kept on telling me, he, the baby’s Dad actually, and he kept on saying to me, you’ve got to be pregnant, I said, “No, it’s just that I’m tired and I haven’t been feeling very well.” I’ve not always kept food down anyway. And he goes, “You sure you’re not pregnant?” I went, “No.” I’ve always known, I’ve always known, I mean even having a miscarriage at three months pregnant, I knew I was pregnant before I lost the baby, I knew, but he just kept on saying to me like you now, “You are.” And he actually got me a tester from Tesco’s, I says to him after, we had a joke about it after because he bought the most expensive tester, whereas you could’ve got one for £2.99, he paid 25 pounds for it. And within, I woke up the next morning, five o’clock in the morning before I get up usually. First time, that first wee, and I found out I was pregnant, absolutely sob, none of the children were up, sobbed my eyes out, absolutely broke my heart.

But not being with anybody for ten years, told that this is my time, in my head as well, I just thought, “Well just get on with it.” But like I said it was a big shock when I got pregnant. More so than any of my other children, with this one. Because being on my own for such a long time as well, it was like, “No, I can’t do this again.” But I would never ever abort. I don’t believe in it.

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