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Forty-Four Fixer-Upper

Many women remark that their being in their forties is pretty fantastic. I was doubtful because as a woman in a youth obsessed society forty is old. And I would get chin hairs and grey hairs and get all peri-menopausal and shit. What I didn't realize until lately is that, yes all that is true (and what the actual fuck is up with the chin hairs?!) but that I don't actually care one bit what anyone thinks of my looks or my mood or any of it.

I have zero fucks to give. That's magic.

But while I don't care what others think of how I look, how old I am, and except for those I love and respect, what I think and do, I do care about how I see myself and how I want to feel in my body and be in my world. So I started fixing stuff.

First was my skin. Almost 30 years with psoriasis was enough. I was tired of being itchy, applying greasy ointment, having to pick clothing that would hide ugly red patches. And I was tired of spending time on treatments that only sorta worked. Last spring I took a leap and chose a new biologic systemic drug (Stelara) and I'm almost completely clear. I was afraid of systemic treatments because of risks and side effects but realized that I don't want more children and am at a time in my life where it's my turn to do stuff for me. It was the right time and I still feel good about making the decision. It used to seem shallow to want to fix what was essentially a cosmetic issue but taking this drug has changed my life. Both in the time I spent treating my skin and worrying about how I could be in the world with ugly skin. And it feels great.

Next was something a bit more troublesome. Stress incontinence. Super common in women. Almost never discussed. And while I've tweeted that I had lady-part surgery, I haven't said what until now (eep!). But I realized it's important to tell my story.

I've lived with it since I had my kids and it was getting worse. It made doing things I enjoyed like running, ball hockey, laughing, sneezing and sometimes walking, well, messy. I talked to my doctor a few years ago but decided to not get a referral. She pushed but not too hard. Then after the stelara victory I realized that I need to fix the things that bug me or I'll be unhappy. So off I went. Met the urogynaecologist, did the tests (email me if you want the details--they're uncomfortable) and booked the surgery. I chose to wait until ball hockey season ended so I wouldn't lose my spot on the team and it was a long summer and fall because I had decided and was ready.

I had the surgery November 5th. Tension-free, vaginal tape. Like a face-lift for your urethra! It was day surgery and I got over my fear of everything medical, sucked it up and it wasn't awful. The recovery was uncomfortable for about a week (catching a cold five days after seriously sucks) and I got two weeks at home to watch tv and movies and knit (I finished 5 cowls) and now a month later I'm feeling pretty great and leak free. All I wait for now is the all-clear appointment at 6 weeks so I can start running and riding my bike to work. That'll be the true test but I'm feeling optimistic. And again, taking care of me for ME was the right thing to do.

The time off work also gave me time to think about what else needs fixing. Not just my body, but who I want to be in my forties. My kids are teenagers and need me a lot less. What do I want to achieve professionally? What outside things do I want to pursue? What shape does my life take as my kids get closer to leaving home (they do that, right?!). I don't have real answers, but it's cool to have the freedoms to think about it.

I'll let you know what I come up with.

The next fix is my hair. I decided to stop dying it. I'm telling my stylist tomorrow. I will have her help me plot the grow out. I'm tired of paying the money and taking the time and resent that men get grey and sexy (like George Clooney) and women get grey and old. Fuck that.

Though once it's natural, I do plan to get a streak or two or cobalt blue, because I can.

Comments

I love the way you are grabbing your forties with both hands and making them your little bitch. You are awesome!

Love this post. Everything you said is absolutely true and 10 years on, I can promise that the 50s are even better. Congratulations on the decision to go natural, it took me until 53 to get that brave, but so far, so good. I was with my 18 year old and her friends when they were discussing one of the mothers who had let her hair go gray and they were talking about how good it looked and how empowering they thought it was. Smart generation! Good luck with it all. Love your blog.

Thank you! Women need to look after themselves, unfortunately it takes most of us a lot of years to realize that we can. I am in my late 50's and am finally feeling good in my skin because I no longer care much what other people think of me. This has allowed me to become stylish in my own way. Too bad I didn't get to that spot 40 years ago, life would have been so much easier.

Oh, this post gives me hope and courage for the future. I will turn 37 in January (one month from tomorrow!), and I'm not really looking forward to it. But I love your perspective, and I'm hoping that not giving a rat's ass what anyone thinks but who I choose to listen to will come automatically with passing time, because I sure have a hard time with it right now! Also, hell yeah get some blue streaks in your hair! I saw a photo of woman who took a favourite skein of MadTosh to her stylist as dye-inspiration...she looked awesome!

love your blog, love your tweets, love your attitude. wish i looked good with my grey/silver hair, but at 53, i'm almost 100% grey, and i'm just not ready to go there yet!

You rock so hard, Steph. I really look up to you!

I was in a library recently and a woman asked me who did all the little sparkles in my hair. I said "God". She looked very puzzled. I stopped dyeing two years ago and have never regretted it. Also, less time in the salon, which is about the most boring place ever.

When I dyed my hair I was just another middle-aged woman with a good colorist. Since reverting to my natural gray, I get comments on how great my hair is all the time. Rock it, Steph!

Love it. Forties rock.

I used to dye my hair. We were traveling in Mexico after retiring, and I dove into a pool a dirty blonde, and came out of the water platinum.

To hell with having to baby my hair, so I stopped colouring it. I am fortunate in that I am naturally silvery grey, not yellowish grey.

The forties are great - you are peaking. But once the kids are fully launched, things get even better, as you have the time, hopefully the money and the health to do what you want - so start compiling your bucket list now.

Finally, don`t put off anything that can be done now - you never know when health or family or whatever can put a wedge between you and your plans.

I am in my late 60`s, my tennis game continues to improve, and I walked the Iroquois section of the Bruce Trail this year. Next year we will do Tobermory. Life is good, but I am aware that I am not getting younger, and creaks and groans are frequently heard!

Congrats on taking proactive steps.

Love your blog! So nice to hear from a real woman going through real life! I tried to subscribe but the subscribe button doesn't work correctly :0( Please sign me up for your updates!

This post is AWESOME! I'll be 53 in about six weeks and I care more of what I think and less of what others think. I used to be pretty apprehensive about speaking up for myself, but now I do it and sit back and watch how others react ( I find that people are less likely to give me any crap when I speak up for myself). I'm ready for changes in my professional life and personal life and I'm learning to love and appreciate ME.

Stop dying my hair - some white appeared - decided to embrace ir. As for the leaks, frankly that maybe was the push I needed to consult.. Txs

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