I had forgotten to pick up my repeat prescription for the HRT/MHT that is keeping me ‘level’, so had to make an unexpected dash to a late-night chemist. It wasn’t exactly late but dinner had been and gone, and being a Queenslander it wasn’t far off bedtime – we are early risers.
I drove to the chemist, less than five minutes from home and handed my repeat prescription to the pharmacist who looked like he should have been at home playing on his Xbox rather than qualified to be dishing out drugs. While I waited, I wandered the aisles checking out the latest skin-care products and make-up and returned to the pharmacy counter expecting my name to be called at any moment. As I hovered, a woman in an obvious flap arrived and asked if I was waiting to be served and I said that no, I was picking up. She looked me up and down as if sussing me out, and then gave me a ‘you-are-one-of-those-women’ kind of looks before asking “it’s evening primrose oil you can take when you get older isn’t it?”
This got my hackles up; my immediate thought was ‘easy lady! What are you trying to say?’ I know I was not looking my best – no make-up, my chill-out-in-the-evening clothes, and a COVID-weary look on my face, but I clearly looked to her like a woman who would be downing evening primrose capsules like Tic-Tacs.
“I’m not sure” I replied. The woman then looked behind her and up and down the aisle, checking that no-one else could hear and with a knowing look and a ‘come in closer’ nod of the head, explained that she was just heading into the ‘big M’ if you know what I mean? (I did).
Of course, by now I’m a pro at this game. In my head, I was saying ‘you poor darling’ but out loud I said, “that’s funny, I’ve come to pick up my HRT – my lifesaver.” She explained that she was just at the killing stage, “you know, the one where you want to kill everyone?” (I did) “Actually just my husband, I want to kill him, closely followed by my son.” I wasn’t sure if evening primrose was going to be the tonic she was clearly in need of but I’m no expert at that.
Xbox sidled up to the counter to hand over my order before turning to serve the woman. I looked at him and then back at the woman and as I left I said: “make sure you reach out for support – there’s plenty out there, especially online – good luck.” She smiled and thanked me.
As I headed home I couldn’t help but think again about ‘that look’ I clearly have. Is it one of raging hormones, of a sleep-deprived middle-aged woman teetering on the edge? The edge of what, I’m not sure, but I was grateful that I was able to connect with someone facing the same challenges as me, even though I had been no help whatsoever – sisterhood!