We have all the time in the world….


It was my birthday this week. Whoo-hoo!! In recent years I’ve tended to kick the backside out of a week long celebration.  Last year I excelled myself and turned it into a year long event (it was a significant birthday so I figured that was ok).

Birthdays are a sensitive topic for some people.  I’ve never really understood why to be honest.  I’ve also not been able to pin point the exact age that it becomes an issue.  As a kid you look forward to birthdays and getting older is exciting.  There is an allure to being ‘grown up’.  For some though it stops and the pursuit of youth becomes all consuming.

I remember watching TV when Natalie Imbruglia was advertising a well know skin care product.  I became enraged when she said ‘facing your thirties?’ She was 28 at the time.  ‘Are you kidding me?  I’m still in my twenties and you’re saying I should be stressing about turning 30! P*** off Natalie!

At the time I only really thought of age in superficial terms.  I had no real reason to think about it in any other way.  I may or may not get married.  I was pretty sure I wanted to have children but that could wait until I was ready.  Being ready was loosely defined as finishing my Registrar training, getting a Consultant post and generally being settled.  I was also pretty confident I would know when the right time would be.

What I would not know was that time would have other plans.

So I continued on – I got married, had a beautiful daughter and took up my Consultant post.  I was 35.

Now anyone who has started a new job, especially at a higher level of seniority will know how stressful it can be.  Every minor ailment gets put down to stress – headaches, insomnia, mood swings, an inability to conceive.  This is what I believed and so I blindly continued with my personal mantra of ‘what will be will be’.

At age 38 I found myself crying uncontrollably at my desk at work over the most ridiculously insignificant thing.  Feeling a mixture of embarrassment, frustration and lack of control I frogmarched myself to my GP.

I was diagnosed with Primary Ovarian Failure or Premature Menopause (honestly the mere mention of the phrase makes me shamefully recoil in horror).

After repeating the bloods my GP phoned me with the results to confirm the diagnosis.  I went into all out fixing mode.  I wanted referred to someone.  I didn’t know exactly who or why but still, I should see someone about this surely?

I was told that there wasn’t any point and did I want to start HRT?

Eh, no – thank you very much!  I want to have another baby. I want to know why this has happened.  I want to know was it my fault?  I want to know how to fix this.  And no I do not want bloody HRT!

I was eventually referred to an amazing female Consultant in Glasgow.  There was no changing the fact that I had shut up shop – I was technically the same age as a woman in her mid 50s physiologically speaking.  This woman listened to me and answered my questions with enormous sensitivity.

Over the next year I made my peace with it.  It  turns out there is virtually no information out there for women <40yrs dealing with POI so I started a journal.  While it was more for my own personal sanity I also wanted  something I could refer back to for my friends in the future.  Most importantly though I want to make future conversations with my daughter easier.

I did find the Daisy Network (@thedaisynet) very useful.  I was however quite taken aback by the reaction Kirstie Allsopp received in this article.  She came under fire a couple of years ago for her ‘anti feminist’ views on fertility.


I absolutely agree with her that these conversations are hard.  However we need to be honest and educate young women about their own health and fertility.

So as I turn another year older I will continue to celebrate ageing in all its wonderful, wrinkly glory.  Beyond the superficial however is a knowledge to be shared so that my daughter can make decisions like she has all the time in the world……


You cannot be serious……..

So this week was the 15 year anniversary of one of my favourite films – ‘Legally Blonde’. The film follows Elle Wods as she goes to Harvard Law school to Unknown-1win her boyfriend back.

The film at first glance might draw assumptions of chick flick froth and to be fair the first 15 minutes do little to dispel that idea. However watch on and you see that below the superficial pink sparkle are themes about discrimination, prejudice, leadership and haberdashery.

My own personal take is that it is mostly about the multi faceted nature of being female and what it’s like living in a world where you are immediately judged by how you look.  What you say is similarly judged and compartmentalised – Bossy, Ambitious, Part Timer or worse of all Nice.

The film takes me back to the days when at high school the deputy head (who was female) told me several times that ‘Medical School is very competitive. For every one place there are ten others vying for it. You are highly unlikely to get in.’

So when I got 3 conditional offers I was told again that is was ‘highly unlikely’ I would get in.


Like the skimming stone of time not much appears to have changed.  Today I’m a Consultant Geriatrician working in the NHS. The barriers and obstacles remain but they are more covert.  So the film got me to thinking about resilience.

Its about choice.

You can chose to be miserable and mired at work or you can choose to do things differently.  To put this into some kind of tangible context its worth remembering that for the vast majority of us working to, lets say 65, we will spend approx. 35% of our lives in work. Or as one study quoted ~110,000 hours.

Are you really going to be that unhappy for that length of time?  I see many of my older colleagues coming back to work after their official retirement.  It also makes me wonder about my colleagues who tell me that they just want to retire and have a life. It makes no sense!

Now, to be clear I’m not talking about being sunshine and rainbows all the time. Our job at times is hard, stressful and utterly demoralising.  It is also the most amazing, satisfying and interesting job a person can do and that is why I love it!

There can be prejudice or assumptions that comes with being that positive person in such a negative environment  I was once told that it ‘must be hard being the team cheerleader all the time’. You may be judged as caring less, presumed to be less knowledgable and frankly just not serious enough.

This could be demoralising if it were true and you allow people to project their issues on to you.

But the world needs cheerleaders. Individuals who make being the tough days that little bit better. Smart, fun, serious – multi faceted.

2, 4, 6, 8 who do we appreciate?