Let’s start at the beginning!
I have quite clear skin but In September 2019 one of my moles became itchy and I felt it needed to be checked. I researched and found the amazing Dr Natalia (a micrographic and dermatological surgeon) who visits Kings College Hospital London (KCH) in Dubai once a month from her home town of London.
My mole turned out to be a happy mole and we got talking more generally about the skin we are in. I had never thought of visiting a dermatologist instead of a cosmetologist. Mistake! In Darwinian/Evolutionary terms, Beauty and Health are indivisible. Do you want to be attractive? Be healthy! What an interesting subject. Natalia was very real and honest, a breath of fresh air. I had always cared for my skin but since my new career I was seeing my skin closer than ever and so was everyone else! Time to change gear and be proactive!
Fast forward… We have been working on my skin for the last five months and it is now the best it has ever been. I have had Profhilo and Juverderm Volite, another prescribed cream and a strong professional suggestion that my skin texture could be even better if I was on HRT. I had been ignoring my Menopause symptoms as much as I could, the day sweats, night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, sleepless nights etc. Now I realise that menopause has an impact on skin too.
Dr Maria, specialising in HRT at KCH in Dubai (Marina) was my next stop. There were a few hoops to go through, including a shopping list of tests. As a woman in my middle years, I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to investigate and check our overall health.
I was sent to the main hospital for my tests where I was seen by a Family Doctor: the witty and pragmatic Northerner, Dr Sophie. The pap smear was uncomfortable but quick. It is suggested that in our middle years (from aged 50 – 64 years) we should have a smear every 5 years as long as this also includes a test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). An annual check-up with your family doctor is a good idea to discuss the frequency of all your screening tests taking into account any risk factors.
Next was the FIT test, you would be forgiven for thinking ‘I’m fit, no problem’. Nope, this is a stool sample and analysis! I honestly thought colon cancer was a man thing, I have no idea where I got this ignorant idea. It isn’t. 5-6% of people get colon cancer, the same for both sexes. If there is anything relatively good about colon cancer it is if found early, and if it is still just confined to the bowel, surgery will usually be able to completely remove it . A few days later, bound for London, I was sitting on a plane waiting to taxi when Dr Sophie called to say there were traces of blood in my stool and I would need a colonoscopy on my return to Dubai. Of course, I feared the worst, even making the mistake of googling…
A week later and I was fasting for 24hrs pre-op. None of it was fun but drinking the syrupy sweet liquid was, without doubt, the worst bit of the colonoscopy experience. The process on arrival at KCH was easy and quick, and the staff were incredibly kind and happy. I felt like apologising at every turn for being there, for putting them through this. I felt that looking up bottoms was a horrid job! I slept well during the procedure and remembered nothing. Dr Regina gently woke me and told me all was well. The bleeding was probably a haemorrhoid; I hadn’t thought about those since 1994 post-partum with my son Max weighing 9lbs 11oz (4.39kgs)!
Now that my shopping list had ticks against all the items I returned merrily to Dr Maria (HRT). I was excited to get this party started. HRT: the Elixir of Youth, surely! Hmm, one last hurdle, a transvaginal ultrasound. I had a medical history that included ovarian cysts. Scar tissue from two cyst removals (age 18 and 20) led to two ectopics and eventual sterilisation at only 28 years old. Before you say: ‘Hang on a minute, how did you have two children then?’, both our children were conceived by IVF. I might have hoped to have grown out of unwanted masses but the excellent and thorough ?? KCHinD staff found a cyst measuring 4cmx5cm. Dr Maria double-checked and confirmed that the cyst was benign with a blood test and has prescribed more meds to reduce/eliminate it. It is now a waiting game.
No HRT yet!
My reasons for wanting to start HRT:
Prevention of menopause symptoms.
Quality of life.
Better skin texture.
Round-up of essential tests:
Mammogram every year from aged 40-45 depending on where you live until you reach 50, then every two years.
Pap-smear every 1-5 years depending on the detail of testing and your age .
Bowel cancer screening every 2 years between 50 – 74 years
Bone Health( osteoporosis ) risk assessment aged 50 years.