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The 'Thickening' That Comes In Later Life Can Be A Pain In The Neck

It appears there is more to my menopausal neck than long chunky chains. It seems that my health hangs on it as well.

11/08/2017 12:15 PM AEST | Updated 11/08/2017 12:15 PM AEST
KatarzynaBialasiewicz via Getty Images
"I’m wedged between my neck and waist circumference figures and my BMI. And it’s an uncomfortable place."

"Would you like to try on this chain?" asked the assistant at the jewellery sale. "Here's a mirror... do you like it?"

I looked in the mirror. The chain was missing. She had secured it, so where could it be? We eventually found it under some fat rolls, embedded like a string on a trussed-up ham.

"Don't worry, us older women shouldn't wear delicate chains. It's the thickening. It sets in after 50. Most choker chains don't stand a chance. I wear something more substantial these days. It makes a statement and it can't be engulfed." She pointed to a spot midway between her neckline and her bosom, "Just here... attention away from my large bits."

It now appears that there is more to my menopausal neck than long chunky chains. It seems that my health hangs on it as well.

Experts say that fatter necks have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea. High blood pressure causes vein enlargement at the neck which enlarges the neck.

As I approach 60, I notice that most of my slacks have shrunk. Now it's my pearls as well. Perhaps the cotton tightened in these really hot Australian summers?

The average size neck for males -- measured around the widest point -- is 40.5 cm (15.9 inches) and for women 34.2 cm (13.46 inches), according to a study in 2010 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute which used Boston University's Framingham Heart Study data. Anything larger than these measurements puts us at risk. Patients with thyroid problems are excluded as well as pregnant or lactating women.

So, it's back to the tape measure again. I last used it to measure my waist circumference to assess my overall health and life expectancy. My friends and I are still in shock at our results after having our bellies taped...

But, now it's my neck. Thirty-three centimeters. I tried to pull it tighter or 'pull in' my mid neck, but as a physio I know that this is physically impossible. Though there's no logic in pride or denial. How could I be one centimeter from health disaster? Do they consider stockiness?

Or perhaps I can blame it on my glands? Menopausal glands thicken -- its normal. Part of ageing and nothing to do with overall health. Like having fat deposits under your shoulder blades after 55. Blouses don't fit like they used to.

Isn't this just normal abnormal? Or must all girls with extra padding under the scapulae go for full health assessments due to rising adipose deposits?

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Then there's the dilemma of apples and pears. Pears have almost all of their fat around their bellies, even in normal times. Whereas apples have theirs in the upper half, like their necks. So surely the first question should be apple, pear... or orange? I like the idea of an orange representing a bit of all over padding.

As I approach 60, I notice that most of my slacks have shrunk. Now it's my pearls as well. Perhaps the cotton tightened in these really hot Australian summers? Thankfully, the string is knotted. Like most things I wear, they're at bursting point right now.

I'll have to face facts. I'm wedged between my neck and waist circumference figures and my BMI. And it's an uncomfortable place.

Perhaps it's back to 'eat less, move more'. My reward? A new, healthy body. A slim neck. And a dainty necklace to make my healthier heart happier.

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