My Body is a Wild Thing

You’ve heard of lady bumps, right? They appear in girls around the age of puberty and are generally welcomed, until you get used to them, when they become cumbersome and annoying.

I’ve just returned from the Doctor’s where I discovered that, now I’m firmly into old lady puberty (the menopause) I’m getting old person bumps on my skin. (There’s some consolation in the knowledge that men get them too because they’re equally common in both genders).

These small skin protrusions can pitch up anywhere on the body. They are usually brown, black or beige and can be waxy, scaly and slightly raised. They’re harmless and not contagious, but I didn’t know that before my appointment.

The good news is, I don’t have skin cancer, which was my concern.

The good news is, I don’t have skin cancer, which was my concern. That’s my reason for writing this: I didn’t know about these bumps, did you? If I had, the worry of finding two patches of raised, dry, bumpy skin on my arm would have been less alarming, the wait for the doctor’s appointment less of a trial.

Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting for one second that you don’t get any skin changes looked at by a medic. That would be insane.

But, in the same way I didn’t know that anxiety was a common symptom of the menopause before I had it, I also didn’t know that benign skin growths such as cherry angiomas (sound cuter than the little random red blobs they are) and seborrheic keratoses (the bumps of which I spoke) were common skin anomalies amongst those of advancing wisdom.

I’m always banging on about de-stigmatising the menopause, talking about our common experiences so that what we go through is understood better by men, and also younger women. My hope is that those women will be better equipped to deal with the changes inevitably coming their way, and I stand by my methods.

Today was a case in point: I rang my mum (who will be a sprightly eighty this weekend) and told her I’d been to the doctor about my weird skin, and how relieved I was that it wasn’t skin cancer.

‘Oh, those keratoses are annoying,’ she said (she loves a medical term, my mum), ‘I’ve got quite a big one on my side that I pick if I can’t get to sleep. It keeps me busy, but I have to change the sheets more often because of the flakes.’

She left a beat before adding, ‘It’s probably caused by sun damage. Who knew that doing the ironing outside, covered in cooking oil would be bad for you?’

Errrrm…

Grossness aside, why didn’t I know about my mother’s lady bumps (that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?)

I suppose for the same reason I didn’t know about all of her menopausal symptoms until I started to go through them myself, at which point she turned up at the party, holding a banner with all her own symptoms in large print.

Let’s demystify the ageing process.

My suggestion is this: Let’s demystify the aging process. Let’s talk about our old lady puberty, old lady bumps and all the other glamour-free symptoms of advancing years. Our hair will thin (even pubic hair), our boobs will swing loose, skin tags will form in all our dark and hidden places, but so what?

We’ve lived long enough for our bodies to be a little bit rebellious, or at least that’s how I’m choosing to see it. My body is a wild thing, is yours?

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Feature photo by Benjamin Balazs on Upsplash

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