If sharing my experience helps one person, it will be worth it

I am writing to you to share my experience with menopause. I hope that my story will help some of your readers and also shed light on perimenopause and menopause.

In 2017, I was working in a high-pressure environment. I worked on a high wealth group and spent around eight months a year working through their tax and audit work.

At the time I was 47. Menopause didn’t cross my mind. I had a teenager daughter, and annoyingly I would sync with her or her friends. My periods were still regular, and I was full of energy.

Beautiful and brave Bronwyn.

What did start happening, and had been happening over the last few years, is that I started getting UTIs when I was stressed. I was eating a mainly vegetarian diet and exercising, including yoga and walking.

In November 2017 I got a UTI, went to the doctor and got a prescription for antibiotics. As we were flying interstate for Christmas and I was trying to finalise work before we left, I just pushed through, as so many of us do. At the end of the 10 days, I noticed that I still had a UTI. I went back to the doctor, got another script. At the end of the script, I still had symptoms, so back again I went. After the next round of medication finished, I went back and mentioned that the medication wasn’t working and that I had a fever I had been unable to shake over the last few days. We changed medication. I went home, took the prescribed amount and proceeded to have a high fever and chills. I couldn’t get out of bed and started vomiting. I thought I was having a reaction to the medication.

The next day we were flying to Adelaide. I got up in the morning and had a shower and said that I felt better. By the time we left for the airport, I had another fever and could barely get off the plane. We drove straight to where we staying with family and I went to bed. They went out for Christmas Eve celebrations, I said I just needed to rest, and started vomiting and hallucinating.

Christmas Day, I got up for around 15 minutes. At 5pm I asked my husband to call a doctor, my mother-in-law said he would be better taking me to Flinders Hospital.  We drove there, I was shaking and vomiting, clutching my bucket and was admitted immediately. I was moved from A&E to ICU and a battery of tests run. I was given injections to stop vomiting. Throughout the night I was moved to a ward, exhausted. The next morning, I was discharged and given a script for antibiotics.

The day after Boxing Day, I had a call from a doctor in A&E, Kelvin. They had run blood tests, the reason why I was so unwell is that I had urosepsis. I was close to organ failure.  The antibiotics that I had been given I was resistant to. So even though I was taking medication, the result was I was getting worse. I was to present at Flinders and get admitted to a ward where I would receive five days of IV antibiotics and fluids, I had already done one full day. We changed my flights, my husband and daughter flew to Sydney for New Years as it was easier for me not to have to worry about them. I had no energy. We rebooked my flight to fly out NY Eve.

The time in hospital I mostly can’t remember. I think after day 4 I was able to shuffle to the bathroom and shower myself. I promised to be good and was discharged NY Eve morning and made my flight. One of my tests to see if I was strong enough to be discharged was to get out of bed by myself. There was no way I was staying in, I stood up, I felt like I was 100.

The recovery afterwards was slow, I went off food, dropped 10Kg, and struggled with short-term memory. My daughter and I had been on a trip to Japan, and I couldn’t remember some parts of where we’d been.

I saw my GP when I got home, and we discussed what had happened. He referred me to a specialist. I saw the specialist, and he explained that this is common for women experiencing perimenopause. I had never even read or heard of this, I didn’t even know perimenopause existed. I felt naïve and a little stupid.

I also left my job. I went out on my own and was able to build the business while I recovered.

If this story at all helps any of your readers I am happy to share – if it helps one person not go through what I went through, then that is worth talking about.

  • Editor’s note: I would like to personally thank Bronwyn for sharing her story with us. It is so important talk about this stage in our lives, to share what has happened to us, the good and the bad. It is so very helpful. If you have a personal story you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you. Just email me direct at jo@50sowhat.com.au.