Wednesday, February 07, 2007


My daughter's (new) secondary school abbreviates its name - in school letters, publications, logo etc. - as PMS.

Unfortunate, you might say, especially as it is an all- girls' secondary school.

LG doesn't find it amusing, though I still sometimes smirk. Only on the inside of course.

(though she did comment on posters around the school last term, for visiting prospective students, saying "Welcome to PMS".
Her comment was "Yes, bloody well Tell me about it!")

And she has been suffering so recently.

She knew what to expect with puberty, periods, all that and is pretty much okay about it, we've always been honest and matter-of-fact about it all.


..... my conversations with her on this topic, over the years, have never been entirely open and honest when it comes to the question of PAIN.

Pain and Other Symptoms.

Why worry her, hopefully unnecessarily, I thought?

I suffered so much as a teenager - and into my twenties. (though by then, I could have whisky to help) (and it did/does).

My mother frequently had to come and pick me up from school, where I would be miserably doubled up in pain and often vomiting too in the sick room. The doctor prescribed some too-strong pain killers, and something else to stop me throwing up but I don't remember anything helping very much.

My mother tried traditional recipes which involved peppermint oil. Not successful, so far as I remember. Though I think the traditional East-end of London version included whisky, which could, of course, have helped.

It was miserable.

And of course, the less said the better about the brick-like sanitary items available at the time, and those itchy baggy saggy elastic belts....

..... sorry.

Less said would have been better.
So Much Better.

I don't remember suffering from other symptoms particularly, though maybe it would be more appropriate for my family to comment on any other delights which might have accompanied all this. I did go through a phase in my 20s of being very clumsy and breaking things a lot when I was pre-menstrual.

Anyway, in my 20s I discovered whisky.
I have been known to drink whisky from the bottle in a brown paper bag, in the street. Purely medicinal, of course.

In my 30s I discovered really good, expensive whisky.
Vintage, single malt only for me please.

And then I had LG and things improved a lot.
For a while.
Before the peri-menopausal (thats PERI-) mood swings, sleeplessness, anxiety, bad temper....... (one website oh-so-helpfully lists 35 possible symptoms of menopause)


Now, thats just silly.

And the thing thats been making me laugh and wince equally of late is the tendency to ascribe an ever-growing range of symptoms to these wretched biological processes.

"My skin is really dry and itchy, I can't stop scratching". "Oh, that could be your period - hormonal changes can affect your skin".

"I can't get to sleep". "Maybe you are pre-menstrual? that can cause sleeplessness".

"I can't eat any more, I feel really bloated." "Well, your body retains water when you are menstruating - that could be why".

"My tummys really upset at the moment." "Oh, I usually get that when I have my period."

"Is it me or is it really hot in here?".....

Maybe Shulamith Firestone had a point - this biology is pretty barbaric at times.

At any time of the month, one of us likely to be hormonally unstable.
Maybe that explains why one of our computers keeps crashing?

I blame the phases of the moon.


Calamity Tat said...

Oh look I'm a virgin ! I'm the first...

grumpy old woman said...

Ahhhh - I can soooo sympathise -but from the other side of it all.

We are fed so much fear about the menopause. I had no idea what fun it would be! I was so used to my periods and hormonal swings - I thought I'd feel less of a woman without them.

But not a bit of it! I love not having periods, no PMT, no water retention, no ovulation pains or any other pains - it's great!

And I think I actually feel more feminine now than I did before - strange but true .....


Reya Mellicker said...

I don't think it's our hormones as much as our cultural imperative to always be in the same mood, same state of mind, same energy state. No one is as consistent as we're "supposed" to be. Bleeding women should be tolerated when they're bitchy, depressed or lacking energy. They should be allowed to go live in a hut and howl at the moon or sit in a bathtub for a whole day or whatever.

I bet if women were allowed to express externally all that was happening inside them, they wouldn't experience pain or nausea as part of the cycle.

This is just one of my many unsubstantiated theories. As for your daughter, how about some acupuncture? Or a trip to the homeopath? That's what I would do.

Reya Mellicker said...

The thing with alternative medicine is that it's very personal and hard to measure. If you daughter has a good rapport with the acupuncturist, and if that kind of treatment "clicks" with her, then yes, it'll help a lot. Personally I'm afraid of the needles so it's hard for me to heal through the art. But there are always other ways to do it.

What kind of girl is your daughter? Does she need you to call in sick for her at school so she can wrap up in something warm and read magazines all day once in awhile? Or is she the howling at the moon type of menstruater who would do well joining a contact improv group or study martial arts?

See - don't get me started! I'll go on and on.

Donna said...

I too had the most awful painful periods that made me vomit, cry out in pain and then just put myself to sleep with painkillers (ponstan I was prescribed, a painkiller for rheumatoid arthritis that just knocked me out). It prepared me well for childbirth. Labour pains were very familiar. I had been dealing with those for years so was able to cope nicely. Jasmine on the other hand has never had painful periods so LG may well escape them too, fingers crossed. PMS (or PMT as I still call it) reign supreme in this household though and when the 2 of
us start, crikey, sparks fly! Imagine poor Tat will have 4 lots of PMS to deal with at some point, actually poor Guy!

Wendz said...

Maybe Tat an dher girls will synchronise themselves so it'll be one big hormonal moment and then finished?

Hey Letty - I laughed so at the memory of those old belt and brick affairs. Appalling things - they never stayed in one place.

Calamity Tat said...

Pity Guy hahaha... I never had period pains and minimal labour pains, maybe the girls will be the same. I don't really get pmt, maybe once or twice or ok 4 times in a year! the day before, I am normally such a happy person all the time, I think, aren't I, except now :-(

tut-tut said...

grumpy old woman, I agree! I'm so sick and tired of hearing of menopause of being an "illness" with "symptoms" to be "regulated". It is liberating.

Lettuce, It is very difficult to have one's teenager experience rigorous periods. Mine gets the same treatment I endured; I say, bring back the fainting couch, shuttered rooms, and peace and quiet.

Joyce said...

My second daughter is rapidly approaching puberty. She has begun coming back with some pretty witty and toxic insults to her older sister and younger brother. Big sister is of course on the hormonal roller coaster already. And little brother, well at eight years old, I anticipate that his body is also changing....

Of course, its safe to say that OUR BODIES ARE ALWAYS CHANGING!

I think whiskey may be something to stabilize us all....

Pod said...

you need to take her to a good homeopath. it could help loads. really....and if it's any consolation, i am pretty sure i have some sort of cycle too......

eek, should i have said that in here?

snowball fight!! yeah!!

Steve said...

I'm sure this isn't news to anyone, but my friend Tricia loves a good hot water bottle.

As for the brick-and-strap, well, that just sounds scary. And I can't even think about that...after all, I'm still trying to figure out those "Clangers."

Joyce said...

Yes, I confess your post was the springboard for mine!
(as I anticipate those years of me AND my two daughters fighting for the whiskey bottle...)

Bird said...

i confess i had no problems whatsoever until this damnable peripause crap. from age thirteen up until a few years back, my periods were regular as clockwork (except when pregnant or breastfeeding) and definatley low fuss. then this peripause crap starts. no rhyme or reason to cycles. internal temperature completely whacked (sleeping in the nude with only a sheet and the window open when it's 40 degrees outside) cramps, bloating and mood swings beyond belief - is this payback for having an easy time of it for most of my life?

i think the school needs to change its name - it's just ridciulous. i suggest the girls go on strike!!!!

Carmi said...

Something tells me they need to work on their branding a little more.

I like how you look at life, and can't wait till I come back for another read. Nice to e-meet you!