This week Fiona Gaye tells her story about how the lack of adequate support from her GP, with the menopausal symptoms she was experiencing, empowered her to get involved with her local Patient Participation Group to help affect change to local services.
It started one Sunday morning with an uncontrollable flooding, unquenchable thirst, dizziness and cold sweats. After that, bad bouts of insomnia, mood swings depression, a feeling of worthlessness, listlessness and fatigue, leaving me feeling as if I was having a semi nervous breakdown. All I wanted to do was lay on the settee for a year and a half. On a bad day I could not drive because I felt clumsy and uncoordinated, anxious and shaky, and somehow I just knew that something was very, very wrong.
My doctor at that time (whom I might add is normally very nice), didn’t have a clue what to do and had no empathy with the symptoms I was explaining. He did not have the presence of mind to send me for a blood test to see if I was menopausal. It was only after seven sweaty times of complaining and turning up to the surgery hot sweaty and flustered, he then refer me to a female doctor. This female doctor then proceeded to print out HRT documentation and then prescribed me straight onto Anti-Depression tablets.
I felt I was not being given enough information about the menopause and was not computer friendly, as I suffer from dyslexia. I felt I had to keep pushing my GP to find out more. Eventually I put my name down for the Patients Participation Group (PPG), within the surgery. PPG’s exist in every GP surgery across the country. They offer patients the opportunity to discuss issues that are relevant to the practice but can also draw attention to wider health needs in the area, as well as national NHS issues. They offer patients a voice and have an important role in shaping the local health and wellbeing services.
My new doctor who I might add is a man, could see I was determined and persistent, so he introduced me to other group meetings where I then met Miss Sulekha Hassan of City & Hackney Healthwatch, the NHS local watchdog organisation. At a recent NHS Community Voices meeting I raised the issue of the menopause and the lack of support. Miss Sulekha who I may add is very helpful, has now taken on board the idea of exploring what support there is for women locally and through Healthwatch has organised an event to explore this more, with local women and those who commission and design local services.
I believe this is the year to make people aware of the menopause and the mental health implications. With great persistence and a loving need to let women know that they are not on their own, hopefully we will be able to set up clinics where women will be able to get more information. Bearing in mind that a lot of middle age ladies are not computer confident along with those who cannot read or write; I feel there is a need for somewhere these women would feel free to come to sit and discuss their problems.
The menopause has so many implications and symptoms including hair loss/thinning, big physical changes, loss of libido, severe dryness of skin, plus for some of us start putting on weight. It is important to find out about changes to diet, vitamins supplements, sometimes a little Yoga, or other light exercise to support us. We have to embrace so many aspects and also remember the men in our lives, as they to, do not understand the process we are going through.
I feel happy there are such meetings where I can go and have my say. It has given me great strength to feel my voice is heard for the benefit of women for years to come. We have to let the NHS and Doctors be aware of this problem as it can lead to addiction to things like drink, excessive painkillers, and drug taking, all because women cannot understand the feelings and sensations that comes over them during the menopause.
Here are the details for the NHS Community Voices event initiated by Fiona. We look forward to seeing you there:
Date: Tuesday 26 May 2015
Venue: Hackney CVS, 2015, 84 Springfield House, 5 Tyssen Street, E8 2LY
Contact for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7923 8367