Friday, May 09, 2008

The Pill and I

Story contd.

All my married life I used the Family Planning Clinic; the one I used in Kent famously had a notice saying ‘Please leave prams at rear of building. The staff were always helpful and would explain the advantages or disadvantages of different methods of contraception. What a great day it was when the pill arrived on the scene; that really was an empowerment for women, and as far as I was concerned the cap and cream could now be consigned to the dust bin. In the early sixties the pill was available to all and although we were warned about possible long term effects, many of us were prepared to risk that.

In my mid forties I began to feel unwell, both mentally and physically. I knew I was suffering from the ‘empty nest ‘syndrome but all the knocks and bruises I had suffered whilst rock climbing came home to roost and all my joints ached – especially my right hip.. The worst symptom was a knot of dread/fear/ unease in my stomach which affected my sleeping and made me feel neurotic. And my cigarette consumption had doubled which increased my twitchiness.

I visited the doctor and she gave me a tranquiliser which was very common then. I can’t remember the name but I don’t think it was Valium. It was odd; I took a couple and the knot disappeared so I thought maybe this was something I could treat myself. William, since his heart attack, had tackled every aspect of maintaining good health and with the aid of a good diet and plenty of exercise, was keeping very fit. I read a lot of self help books and started Yoga classes. The yoga was a boon; I have always abhorred violent exercise and enjoyed stretching my body. At my first class I had an orgasm.

I knew I should give up smoking; I had reached the stage where I would go to light up and realise I had one in my mouth already. Isn’t that awful? I decide to try a health farm and sent off for some brochures. I didn’t want one full of ‘the beautiful people’ or rich layabouts, but I also didn’t want one full of very sick people. The one I chose in Surrey was ideal – a beautiful old house in lovely grounds with every possible type of exercise available. At the bottom of the great staircase was the smoking room and I determined that if I was spending all that money I had better not smoke. That was in 1977 and I haven’t smoked since.

The first few days I had nothing but clear fluids and grapefruit and filled the day with yoga, swimming, reading, and in the afternoon we would go for a long walk with Andy, an ex- army fitness instructor. If he was pleased with us he would dole out segments of orange and tease us by telling us what he had for breakfast each morning- about four eggs, bacon etc etc and he was all muscle.

Our yoga instructress wore a beautiful white lace leotard which had belonged to Ava Gardner. During one session, she told us, the crotch fasteners gave way and Ave – in a rage - tore it off and bequeathed it. The instructress said Ava also had a black lace one but she hung on to that. After a few days I was allowed to have a nourishing soup at lunchtime.

I savoured every last drop – much to the amusement of my neighbour who turned out to be a Manchester business man. He was very interesting – Jewish and a millionaire and the other friend I made was a beautiful woman who was German, we made an odd trio. Later she married her long term boyfriend and my # 1 son and I were invited and met Tony Hatch the famous composer who wrote all Petula Clarke’s hits and the tune ‘Neighbours’. His wife Jackie Trent wrote the words.. Another regular visitor was the late John Thaw – Inspector Morse – and all the staff adored him. I’ve often thought I would like to return – it was great being cosseted and meeting the wide mix of people, living an extremely healthy life and maybe writing at the same time. Now there’s an idea.

On returning home I felt so fit I wondered about Olympics and marathons and then I realised my eyes needed testing and I kept getting terribly hot and feeling peculiar. It was the dreaded hot flushes or as one of Kim’s friend’s calls them ’power surges’. Again I turned to the printed page and read a great little book ‘Don’t Change’ by Wendy Cooper all about HRT. When I saw the photo of the vibrant woman on the cover I thought - I’ll have what she’s having. Wouldn’t you think I would have realised that it was a model – not the author? But with all the warnings and provisos I decided to give it a go and in spite of all the various scares and adjustments it’s been fine. Except I went up a dress size

42 comments:

amy said...

goodness! if my 1st (or any subsequent!) yoga classes had had that effect i might have stuck with it for longer than just the first term!

PI said...

Amy: it only happened the once:)

Eryl Shields said...

Oh lord, I think it might be happening to me: I've woken up a couple of times in the night feeling rather too warm which is very unusual, I'm normally a very cold person. How long were you on the HRT? I think I would become depraved if I went up a dress size.

R. Sherman said...

all the knocks and bruises I had suffered whilst rock climbing came home to roost

Been there, done that. See, e.g. my left knee.

As far as the yoga stuff, too much information, dear.

Cheers.

Guyana-Gyal said...

The anxiety and discomfort of the mid-forties, they describe them now as symptoms of 'peri-menopause', don't they? It sounds scary.

Pat, do you know what you've done for yoga with that One sentence?

PI said...

Eryl: it's vital to talk with your doctor before going on the pill. Google and it will tell you the conditions when it is not suitable. Read as much info as possible - there has been loads of research done and the conclusions are ever changing. In the final analysis, if one is suitable one has to make up one's own mind. After I remarried I came off the pill for a while and the symptoms returned and I had two fractures so went back on.

Randall: it's all that jamming up chimneys. Knees are tricky.
Sorry about the overload. Sometimes I forget that I'm not just talking to the girls.

GG: it can only be good if people do yoga; getting your breathing right and centreing yourself makes everything easier.
I'd never heard 'peri-menopause'.

"Persian, peris (in Persian پری Pari) are descended from fallen angels who have been denied paradise until they have done penance. In earlier sources they are described as agents of evil; later, they are benevolent. They are exquisite, winged, fairy-like creature ranking between angels and evil spirits. They sometimes visit the realm of mortals."

That'd be right:)

archshrk said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

It's great to hear these stories of a life full of, well, fullness. Thanks for sharing.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What is HRT? I feel very uninformed...!
I was unasble to take the pill because it dis bad things to me....So, I am grateful my body had such a strong reaction....There were just too many unknowns, too..,
I tried Yoga once and ALL that breathing, in that very warm sweaty room, brought on a severe Bronchitis...(lol) True Story. It was a clue to my future but I didn't know it at the time.

john.g. said...

Glad I didn't take up yoga!!

john.g. said...

Glad I didn't take up yoga!!

You look gorgeous in both photos!xx

sablonneuse said...

You only went up one dress size? Lucky you - and you still look good.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Is that why blokes don't do yoga? ;-) Lovely to catch up with two episodes at once. I'm still looking forward to the book!

PI said...

arch: pleasure!

Naomi: thank you for giving me tears of laughter. 'all that breathing' and I do know what you mean and I don't go to classes any longer. I'm not being heartless but it just struck me as so funny.
HRT is hormone replacement therapy and certainly isn't for everyone.

Johng: you're just saying that!

Zinnia: we did have a bloke in one of the classes and he was a real pain because he found some things difficult because he was made differently and he went on an on ad nauseum and I was fearful he was going to demonstrate the difference. Eugh!
I do have my nose to the grind- stone re book.

joe said...

Interesting stuff, Pat!

Michele sent me to say hello

PI said...

Sandy: it could have been cutting out the fags but from then on I have had to watch my weight. Very difficult when one had been used to eating whatever, when ever.

Lynx said...

Nicotine is definitely an appetite suppressant, as is cocaine, which is one of the reasons so many "supermodels" do one or both.

Personally, I only watch what I eat because if I don't I miss my mouth!

P.S. Not all us boys are scared off by "girl talk". I spent the summer after my A-levels fruit picking around Mereworth. There were about 30 women and two of us boys, and the women discussed absolutely everything! After 3 months of that, I'd stopped being embarassed when hearing about menstruation, childbirth, their husbands' peccadilloes and inadequacies...

P.P.S. You look great in all your photos.

PI said...

Hi Joe and thank you!

Lynx: that's a fine education you had there. It should stand you in good stead throughout life. Thanks for the comp:)

Bob-kat said...

Who knew yoga was so good! LOL!

That health farm sounds like it was an extremely positive experience for you. I think I could do with that right now. If nothing else some time awat would be bliss but I don't think I could cope with water and grapefruit as my diet!

Michele sent me over to say hi and it's always nice to visit!

savannah said...

i spent most of the 70's either preggers or nursing! somehow, it seemed the day my daughter turned 13 all hell broke out with my body! i took the pill for a short while in my late 40's in order to regulate my body rather than use hrt...worked for me!
ps: you were and are a lovely looking woman, sugar!

PI said...

Bob-kat: the grapefruit diet is easier to do when everybody else is doing it - in theory. There was some cheating, by some who had more money than sense.

Savannah: I think it's one of Nature's little jokes that Mum gets the change whilst the kids become teeenagers - hormones all around. Thank you fo those kind words:)

Omykiss said...

Great story pat ... I'm here via michele .... It's a story of many pills with a little yoga and fruit juice thrown in for good measure.

PI said...

Omykiss: now you mention it - a cocktail for the seventies:)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi My Dear...Michele sent me back to see you this early A.M. I'm glad I gave you a good laugh! And it was true. And thanks for the info on HRT. I never heard it called that before. I took Estrogen for a short time but it did strange things to me so...It too, went the way of "The Pill". I seem to have very strong reactions to certain medicines....!

PI said...

Naomi: as long as you keep on an even keel; that's the important thing- the fewer drugs the better. MTL practically needs a suit case for all his. I have started the Joan Didion and am rapt. I didn't realise how close to home it was. For one thing I thought whe was much younger than me - just four years - and I imagined her husband had cancer for some reason but it turns out to be a version of what MTL has. Nevertheless it is a wonderful book and I'm trying to keep it for bed=time. I also ordered one which contains three of her books. I shall probably end up reading everything she has written.
And why not?

craziequeen said...

I could use a health farm - but I would probably cheat terribly :-)

Michele sent me to say I went up two sizes when I gave up smoking - very depressing.

cq

PI said...

cq: not to worry! Health is the important thing. At least it's possible to lose a bit of weight and curves are more popular.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Michele sent me back, one more time! I am so glad you are reading the Joan Dideon book....The loss of her hysband and then her daughter....Well, I don't know how she did it, but I guess, she tells us just how in THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING!

Do come by and see the Baby Hawks...they are quite amaqzing.

PI said...

Naomi: thanks! I'll be right over.

Leigh in Atlanta said...

ewww...i dont want to hit menopause. I think i might just go hide in a corner and try not to think about it.

In all seriousness though, this is actually very beautifully written. You have such a gift with words that it makes everything you write about fascinating.

Michele sent me to say hello on this beautiful spring evening.

PI said...

Leigh: that's really sweet of you. thank you for giving me pleasant thoughts at bedtime:)

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

A health farm with a smoking room .... well it was the 70s! I don't want to get involved with HRT after half a lifetime on the pill, I adopted a younger man instead. It sort of works.

PI said...

Daphne: sounds like a good idea; at least you don't have to keep renewing the prescription.

rashbre said...

Sounds as if a moderate amount of chemical modification has done you well. And hiya ! today Michele sent me. ps nice pix below.

PI said...

Rashbre: fingers crossed, knock on wood etc etc etc:)

gemma said...

Some of those reminiscenses (is that a word?) could be mine...the smoking the HRT -- not the Yoga though damn it!!!

Michelle sent me -- although I drop in without that invitation and I'll be back.

PI said...

Gemma: guess I'm just an ordinary gal in the street.
I looked it up - - the second to the last s should be a c, but then again our spelling differs to the States and the word if fine in my book. I find my spelling has deteriorated and i have to have an OED by the computer.

The Manic Street Preacher said...

Yoga gave you an orgasm??? I'm off to get Caz a leotard right now!!!

Just as well they invented the pill really or there could have been an awful lot of little me's running aorund.

Doesn't bare thinking about really does it? ;-)

PI said...

Manic: I'm never going to live this down am I?

panthergirl said...

Live it down? Never! I want to take THAT yoga class!!!

I loved reading about this...I could relate to a lot of it (except that part). Planned Parenthood saved me as a teenager. I never could have gone to my parents for birth control (the way my daughter did with me). If it hadn't been for PP, I would have gotten pregnant at 14, for sure.

Here via michele today and I'm glad I, er, came!

PI said...

Panther girl: I really was a late developer - in all sorts of ways. Fourteen??? Golly!

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Well done on kicking the habit so decisively, Pat, it shows great will-power.

But didn't you want a cigarette right after your orgasm? :)

God, I gotta get me down to a yoga class. (Fair warning, Randall - you might want to stop reading for this next question) Was there a particular position or anything which was um...better....than the others?

PI said...

Sam: that reminds me of one of my favourite joles:
A Do you smoke after intercourse?
B I don't know - I've never looked.

As for position - all I can remember - I was flat on my back and there was a lot of stretching involved.