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!