Saturday, October 25, 2008

a hormone moment...

My debit card expires at the end of this month. A normal occurrence in most of our lives. I received my replacement card in the mail last week. It's not an account I use often and I was in no hurry to open the mail.

I was paying bills, sorting mail, and all that good stuff, and I decided I would activate my new card. My choices were to call a toll free number or activate online. I chose to call. When I dialed the number I heard a message telling me to "please check the number and dial again." So I did. I checked the number and sure enough, it was the same one on the sticker. So I dialed again and this time, miraculously got through to the computer that would help me activate my card. I followed the prompts, entered the card number and the pound sign, entered the magic code on the back of the card, entered by telephone access code. And I was told that one of these pieces of information was incorrect. So I did the whole thing over again, only to be told, again, that this information was incorrect.

I knew I was inputting the correct information so I decided to go online and try that. I put in all the required information. Online it asked for further clarification of who I was. I dutifully gave the computer everything it asked for and was told I was wrong. Twice.

I have had this account for almost fifteen years. My birthday has not changed. The last four digits of my social have not changed, nor has my account number changed. But apparently the way my brain processed information has changed. I am befuddled. I felt so alone in that moment and I knew my information was correct but I didn't know what to do. So I sat there and allowed myself to cry for exactly one minute.

I enjoyed the crying and the tears. And then I called the bank. My card has been activated and I still have no idea which bit of information the phone and computer were not able to process. But I do know that my brain is working on two different levels. The one that thinks and the one that speaks, types and does all those outward things. Inside I am having a conversation about one thing but outside the conversation is competely different. Interesting! And I hope temporary!

Friday, September 12, 2008

the uncertain is always a bit confusing...

This week has been a tough one.  I'm pretty sure it's hormone related.  But how do you know for sure?  I think I have been a slave to my wavering hormones most of my life.  Now that I have had my hysterectomy and am not able to take any type of hormones, my body gets to do its own thing....whatever that may be!

Before my surgery I was given progesterone for three days.  It did not go well.   Let's just say I wouldn't revisit that pill.  For anything!  

One of my biggest downfalls, faults, whatever you want to call it, is not fully studying or learning the effects all these different hormones play in my body.  One doctor told me I should have enough estrogen in me to last a lifetime.  I don't know if he was joking or not, and I didn't ask.

But back to this week.  I hear insults where I think there may be none.  I know I am misinterpreting things a LOT.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  And if there is any amount of stress attached to any event in my life it is like pulling teeth to get me to do it.  It's no secret that I don't love my current job.  Today was so bad that I called and said I would be an hour late coming in.  On the drive there I started crying uncontrollably and literally got off the freeway, turned around and went home.  I had to go in later because I was the only person to cover the shift.  I just went in for the last part -- when I absolutely had to be there.  I drove into the parking lot and sat in my car and cried.  Huge tears streaming down my face for about five minutes.  It was all I could do to open the car door and get out.  I know this is a huge message and I get it.  But it's not so easy at this point and time, for a myriad of reasons.  So I do have a plan and I am signing up for a class that will help me change careers.  But that's another six months at this job and I don't know if I or my hormones can last that long.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

a blessing in disguise?

I have been tracking my hot flashes, rather loosely, but trying to pick up on triggers and such. While the hot flashes are noticeable but bearable, what is really driving me crazy is the memory loss. Take the other day for example: I went upstairs to get X, got upstairs, looked at Y, found Z, and went back downstairs. Remembered X, went back upstairs, found T and W, went back downstairs. I did this five times. In 22 minutes. On the fifth time I wrote down X so I wouldn't forget when I got upstairs. Seriously. But funny, after the fact!

I came across this interesting little ditty today on the site:

"Women Don't Notice 40% of Their Hot Flashes
Lack of sleep, causing memory problems, likely culprits in finding," study says

THURSDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women tend to miss almost half their menopause-related hot flashes, which are associated with memory problems, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago study that included 29 women with moderate to severe hot flashes.

The women wore monitors that measured skin changes during a hot flash. Both subjective (self-reported) and objective (detected by the monitor) hot flashes were recorded over 24 hours. The average number of objective hot flashes was 19.5 per day, about 40 percent more than were reported by the women.

The researchers also measured the women's memory. Previous research has shown that about 40 percent of middle-aged women report forgetfulness.

'When we looked at the relationship between the hot flashes that the women truly had -- that is, the hot flashes that the monitor picked up -- and memory performance on the cognitive tests, we found a very strong relationship. So, the more true hot flashes a woman had, the worse her memory performance,' lead author Pauline Maki, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology, said in a prepared statement.

'In other words, the hot flash-memory relationship is not all in a woman"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

happiness continues

I am finding that my hot flashes are a mild inconvenience. I have them for sure, and they can be annoying, horrible, frustrating..... it really depends on where you are. The other day I was trying on clothes. I've gained a little weight. Fifteen pounds. Enough so that I literally had no clothes. One pair of carpi's that were getting a little snug and two shirts that didn't quite cover the weight gain around the middle. My future step daughter said "haven't you worn that shirt three times this week?"

So off to the sale I go. Not wanting to spend a fortune, but I do need to have something to wear. I am trying on clothes and more clothes. I find some pants that are a bit snug, but a nice style, and a shirt that looks okay, may be a good professional shirt for work. So I jaunt out in my try-ons to find a size larger in the pant.

Let me say here that 99% of my clothing is cotton. I don't do polyester well. My body likes to breath under my clothes and even before menopause I did not do well in non-cotton clothing, be it polyester, wool, you name it. So here I am looking for a pair of pants, and anything else that catches my eye. Oh no, here it comes. A hot flash. Not a problem, I think. I've handled them well so far. But no, I'm in polyester and that seems to make it worse. So I am sweating, dripping in fact, the heat is emanating from my face and my body and all I can think is "GET THIS SHIRT OFF ME!" If I didn't have more "insert your own word here" I would have ripped that shirt off my body on the sales floor. It was all I could do to RUN back to the fitting room, get that shirt off my body and breathe!! And then I laughed, a good, healthy, rib-tickling laugh! I guess I just won't look at polyester anymore!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Living With Menopause: Everyday Tips

It's been a while since my last post. And while every day in life is an adventure I am thoroughly loving life! Several things I have noticed in the past few weeks:
  • I can't remember anything
  • I miss the possibility of becoming pregnant (didn't know THAT would happen!)
  • I feel more myself than ever and more so with each passing day
  • I love my fiance for understanding that when my "shortness of patience" starts he sees it, recognizes is, and doesn't throw it back at me. (more on this later but it allows me to breath and stop so that I am not going into full fledged "ugly" mode!)
  • I can't remember anything
  • I feel free
  • I am eating healthier than ever in my life, exercising more and GAINING weight. Huh. So when I found this little ditty I was happy to know it's probably not just me.
These tips are nothing new and I've read them all before but somehow I never saw (or it never sank in) that you might actually gain weight. But as always, when you know better you do better. So now my plan of attack will have to include this new knowledge! And off I go.... probably to find more vegetables!

Living With Menopause: Everyday Tips: "Everyday Tips for Living With Menopause

Stay Healthy During Menopause
Menopause usually starts around age 51 but can begin as early as 30 or as late as the mid-50s.

During menopause, estrogen decreases, which can lead to many changes in your body. You may find it harder to fall asleep, or stay asleep. You may be irritable. You may find yourself gaining weight around your waist that is impossible to lose. You may have 'hot flashes,' a warm feeling that spreads up your neck and face.

To stay healthy during this time, the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging recommends you:

* Eat a healthy diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables.
* Don't smoke.
* Make sure you get enough calcium and Vitamin D.
* Learn what your healthy weight is, and try to stay there.
* Do weight-bearing exercises.

-- Deborah DiSesa Hirsch

Last updated: July 2006"

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Vitamin D Cure

On Menopause - The Blog, Wendy posted this great article and interview. As someone who cannot currently take HRT I have been putting together my own little health regimen and Vitamin D tends to be at the top of the list from many sources I have found. (Which makes me glad I have been taking it for so long!) Here's a tidbit of good info:

The Vitamin D Cure” Author Weighs In On the “It” Vitamin Since my blogpost about Vitamin D several months ago, I’ve noticed dozens of articles, research studies and even books about the “sunshine” vitamin. It seems to be the new “it” vitamin that everyone’s talking about. Vitamins A, B and C have had their 15 minutes of fame. Apparently, it’s D’s turn and, as my own physician said to me, “it’s hot.” To find out why, I contacted the leading proponent of Vitamin D, the author of “The Vitamin D Cure,” Dr. James Dowd , a rheumatologist and founder and director of the Arthritis Institute of Michigan. He responded to my questions by email, which I gladly share with you here. First, why is Vitamin D such a hot topic these days? Vitamin D is “hot” because relevant clinical studies have only just been published in the last 5-7 years. Prior to that, all the studies were laboratory research done by Ph.Ds. Books like The Vitamin D Cure and The UV Advantage have also rasied public" Read the full article @ Menopause - The Blog » “The Vitamin D Cure” Author Weighs In On the “It” Vitamin "

Friday, June 20, 2008

Menopause ~ Getting to Know YOU!

I can't imagine that I'm the only one who feels this way but a funny thing happened when I lost my uterus. I found myself. In so many ways I love the new old me. It's as if the me that was always there is finally uncovered, allowed to peek through, to see the light of day. And it's glorious. But more about that later.

Today I am having a tough day. I fell in love last year. Fell deeply in love with a man who deserves a good life. I found that I deserved a good life too. And while I thought I knew what I wanted I am finding surprises around every corner.

For years the older I got the more I was pretty sure I did not want to have children. I felt that it was something I had wanted when I was younger. That I didn't want to spend my older years worrying about my teenagers.

The funny thing is...I woke up the other day and knew that I should have had children. I recognized the fear that had held me back all these years. And I wondered what else I have been afraid of that I haven't been brave enough to see yet.

And as I sleep next to the man I have fallen in love with I grieve for what we will never have.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hot flashes underreported and linked to forgetfulness

"Hot flashes underreported and linked to forgetfulness

Women in midlife underreport the number of hot flashes that they experience by more than 40 percent, and these hot flashes are linked to poor verbal memory, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study is published online and will appear in the September/October issue of the journal Menopause.

It is the first study to explore the relationship between objectively measured hot flashes and memory performance.

Memory complaints are common at midlife, and previous research indicates that" Read the full article...

I found this to be quite fascinating because I have also read recent articles that say memory loss is NOT related to menopause.

I have noticed that some of my hot flashes are so mild I don't recognize them until they are subsiding. But I have also noticed a big increase in memory loss. For example I will be talking to K and I will stop at a word because I just can't remember it. I know what I am talking about, what the subject matter is, even what I am trying to say but literally cannot come up with a word. So I tend to talk around it until I come up with it.

I feel sometimes that it's akin to having a stroke ~ you know what you want to say and can't. It's also like looking in a box: you walk toward and open the box because you know the item you need is in it but when you lift the lid it is empty. You may feel and look around in the box but it's still empty and you are still sure it shouldn't be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Menopause ~ Day Sixteen

So the first two weeks have been rather effortless. A few mild mood swings, a few moments of wanting the air conditioner turned on. When I went to see the cancer specialist every person who questioned me asked if I was having hot flashes and when I said I wasn't sure, the reply was always "oh, you will know!" The trick in life is knowing and listening to your own body. Over the years I have gotten very good at this. Mostly because my body doesn't do what other people's bodies do. So I feel quite in tune with myself and when I have little rushes throughout my body I have come to learn that is a hot flash. In my case it is very subtle but it is there.

So it's finally here ~ everything you hear about ~ it's starting slowly but surely. I felt a wave of heat creep up the other day and thought, OK, not so bad. Today it is stronger so I know the best is yet to come. I also have not slept for the past two nights. Well, three hours a night, but does that really count? And lying in bed I waffle between feeling icy cold, crawling under the comforter and extremely hot, tossing that comforter right off!

Since my doctor took me off hormones I am researching the best course of action to take. I am continuing my vitamin and supplement regimen and will continue to do so but I will post more info as I find good stuff!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Menopause ~ Day Two

Before I went in for my hysterectomy I did quite a bit of online research. I found a lot of technical stuff and an article of interest that talked about how menopause is such a hush-hush topic. It's true. Other than two women I have worked with who would occasionally say "oh, hot flash", no one I know ever really talked about it. At least not in any way that would give us any useful information....and I am a hog for useful information, and some not so useful too, if the truth be known!

Because I like to talk about everything, I don’t quite understand this secretiveness, so I love when I find menopausal musings out there on the web. It’s important to define our own path in life but it’s always fun to see what others are up to, how they cope and what great suggestions they may have. When I find blogs, websites or even articles I will share them here.

And day two? So far so good. I’m a little weepy but I was weepy on HRT, today just a little more so.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hello Menopause ~ A Brief History

I would say I was quite normal, physically, until I was 19. That's when I started having extremely heavy and irregular problems. Let's say I should have invested in the right stock back then -- but I didn't! From 19 to 43 I never had a normal cycle, I was always carrying tampons and overnight pads with me and I felt that there had to be a better way.

For about seventeen years I saw doctor after doctor and had responses that ran the gamut from "it's all in your mind" (would you like to see physical proof??) to "well, there really isn't anything we can do about it." Then one day I was making my annual (ok, sometime bi-annual!) doctors appointment and was told that my doctor (who I didn't really love anyway) was on maternity leave and would I like to see the nurse practitioner. I of course said yes, since over the years I always had a twinge of optimism every time I was able to see a new medical professional. Always that spark of hope that someone would be able to help me.

I went to my appointment and was about to leave when I stopped, sat down, just started bawling and told her about my history and my frustration with everything. She listened, asked a few questions and said "You have PCOS" and promptly sent me for testing to confirm her diagnosis. So now I had at least a reason for everything that was happening, but still no solution.

I went back and forth between acceptance, frustration and being just purely numb. I just started to physically and mentally shut down. I closed myself off to the world slowly but surely and there was no place I would rather be than at home, alone, with the door locked and the phone turned off.

Then at 42 I met the love of my life. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. Since I hadn't had to deal with long term birth control for a while we talked about our options and I decided that I didn't want to take the pill, mostly because of my age, so I opted for the IUD. What started as an appointment towards that ended up with so much more.

First they recommended and prescribed progesterone. I didn't know it for several days but it literally made me psychotically paranoid. When the uterine biopsy results came back they took me off progesterone and recommended a D&C and some alternate birth control pills. After two months on the pill I was having uncontrollable bleeding (while taking the pill) -- in other words, the pill was doing nothing to control my cycle, which was the main reason they prescribed it. Which took me back to the doctor, which led me to a gyn. specialist who heard my story, read my records and said “you are having the D&C today.”

The results of the D&C showed four different levels of precancerous growth and after going over all my options my doctor recommended a hysterectomy. After further research and some deep thought I scheduled the operation.

I discussed possible side affects with my doctor. I discussed HRT and natural alternatives with my doctor. The pros outweighed the cons at every turn. I knew for sure that I was making the right decision. I talked to several women who had gone through this and they all said the same thing: You will not believe how good you feel! More about that later, but for now I will say, they were right!

Menopause ~ Day One!

Yesterday my Doctor told me to stop taking the HRT (hormone replacement therapy). So today is what I am calling my first official day in Menopause. So now what do I do? Do I wait for my body to start sending me signals? Do I run out and buy an air conditioner? Will it even help?

After my hysterectomy ~ in which they removed both my uterus and ovaries ~ I was on HRT. For three weeks. It turns out the precancerous growth they found in my initial D&C, which they thought was contained to a small part of my uterus was actually heavily spread throughout my entire uterus. So when they macerated (sorry, i think that's what the doctor said but i was slowly going into a small shock) my uterus to get it out they could have possibly potentially left some of those precancerous cells behind. Huh.

So I have been instructed to stop taking all hormones all together and "let's see how your body deals with it." Well, before yesterday I was more than prepared to deal with it. But a funny thing happens when someone tells you that you have the "potential" for future cancer. All of a sudden you don't want to have to deal with hot flashes. It just doesn't seem like something I want to do now. Can I go back please? Nope? OK, so instead I am referred to a gyn. cancer specialist. I have a week to write down all the questions I may have and to see how my body does without HRT. What a fun little adventure so far!

If you are told you have precancerous growth please make sure they are taking the right precautions for removing whatever they are going to remove. For whatever reason this did not even cross my mind as I was mulling all the mullables. In between my small moments of “OH CRAP” I know that I will be fine, I will move forward and I will smile when I look back at this time in my life!