Menopause

Future Grandmas Beware: The Times They Are a Changin’

Well of all things!  Pregnancy, childbirth, and baby care have changed.

How dare they!

Of course they dare.

Babies should be placed on their backs for sleeping, and please don’t cover them up with a blanket, no matter how comforting that blanket looks.  And no teddy bears in the bed either. SIDS rates have gone down remarkably thanks to these simple steps (and some others.) Yes!  What wonderful news.

There’s a baby sign language, developed because kids are able to communicate with hands before words, which sounds funky but fun. I hope I can catch on to it.

And there’s a movement (pun somewhat intended) called ” elimination communication.” You help babies use the toilet by holding them there when they give you clues they have to go. I’ll believe that one when I see it, but more power to today’s moms if they can make it work. Nobody ever said changing  a poopy diaper was  on the A List of Motherly Joys.

If you’ve just had a meal, read the next one with caution.

Since human mothers don’t consume their placentas like most (all?) mammals, there’s a trend for them to do so. If it’s too much for a mom to cook it up and eat with a knife and fork, she can have the placenta encapsulated and pop it like a vitamin. Studies have shown this helps with post-partum depression AND perhaps menopause.  I’m going to sneak one of Kath’s. I’ve got a few symptoms left.  Love to see what a little dried placenta will do. Report to come. (You can read an abstract for one study here.)

But guess what hasn’t changed?  The anticipation and wonder and happiness of carrying a child and giving birth.

That’s how Kath feels. And that’s how I feel, even more now than when I was pregnant myself.

Since menopause, I barely cry. I think my regular  this-is a-bad day or I’m mad-at-the-world tears floated away with the estrogen.

But in moments when I think about my grandbaby to be, those good old tears can come springing back.

Photo: Kath, above, reported on Baby Eats Real Food that her uterus is now the size of a a soccer ball. I’ve had a great time reading the blog and hearing what young mothers are talking about it. Hats off to them. Everywhere I go, I see darling kids. Moms of today seem to be doing a very good job, even though they don’t do it EXACTLY like we did.

Menopause

Guest Post: Urinary Incontinence Stop Me? No Way!

A guest post by writer and blogger Lisa Winkler.  I asked Lisa to write this post in response to a comment she made on a Friend for the Ride post, Prolapse: Fix It with Duck Tape?  Thanks, Lisa!

About the time I started running—in my mid-40—I started leaking.  The situation gradually got worse. Much more than the slight trickle after a cough or sneeze, I’d return from a run soaked through.  I ran with a group of women, usually early Saturday mornings, about 6-8 miles.   I remember when the leader, a marathon runner, invited everyone for a post-run brunch to celebrate her birthday. I drove to her house, where the run would begin and end, followed by the brunch party. I packed a change of clothes. After the run, I couldn’t wait to get into the bathroom to change. Everyone else stayed in her athletic clothes. The host didn’t care if our sweaty bottoms sat on her dining room chairs. But I knew better.

Soon after, I decided I needed to see my urologist. I couldn’t stand running and leaking. My inner thighs were  chafed from the moisture. And I wasn’t going to stop running.

I had a relationship already with Dr. Yitzhak Berger. A few years before, I’d developed interstitial cystitis, or IC. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001508/)

Teaching at the time, I’m convinced it occurred due to job stress and the lack of free time to go to the restroom. It’s a known fact that teachers contract an unusual amount of urinary tract infections. A colleague and friend of mine, suffered from the same condition. We’d often meet at the doctor’s office.

After about nine months on medication that was supposed to alleviate the symptoms—you don’t ever really recover from IC- I had an in-office procedure, a hyperextension of the bladder. Basically they blow up the bladder like a balloon and that for whatever reason lessons the painful, irritating symptoms. It worked.  Though I sometimes get minor bouts of IC, it’s manageable.

So I want back to Dr. Berger. Getting an appointment can take weeks and then you wait and wait. He takes his time with patients.  An Israeli man who looks like Woody Allen, I always enjoyed seeing him and trusted his expertise. In a practice of 9 other all male urologists, he was the only one dedicated to women’s health and a specialist in Female Urology Urodynamics.

While too many years have passed for me to remember my exact words, I’m quite sure I said to him: “I’m not leaving until you fix this,” referring to the leakage.

He couldn’t do anything that day but suggested I consider an outpatient procedure that he’d been involved with inventing.  I didn’t have to think twice; I took his first available slot to have him place a TVT or trans-vaginal tape that supports the urethra like a hammock and prevents incontinence.

This procedure changed my life. No longer did I worry about wetting my pants during a run and could socialize after without fear of reeking like an unchanged diaper.

Now in my 50’s, and more a cyclist than a runner, I’m finding a bit of urinary incontinence from riding. New reports say that cycling affects women’s sexual health too.  If my conditions get worse, I’ll return to Dr. Berger. As far as cycling and sexual health, I put my trust in my bike shop mechanic who has fitted my bike to my body: if the handlebars and seat are correctly placed, and I’m not riding for 12 hours a day, I’m not worried.

So ladies. Find an urologist you can trust.  There’s no need to endure discomfort or embarrassment due to urinary issues. Thanks to Barbara for encouraging me to write about my experience.

Lisa K. Winkler’s blog: http://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/ chronicles her opinions and observations. She’s the author of On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.  Find out more at her website: www.lisakwinkler.com

Menopause

The Think Quick Forever Love List: A Game for Menopause and Other Occasions

Think quick!  Name as fast as you can, in random order, ten things you have loved since you were two (or so):

1. Dolls

2. Pretzels

3. My mother and father

4. Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten

5. Icing (on cakes, cookies, spoons, beaters, and in the middle of an Oreo)

6. Coca-cola

7. Raincoats, umbrellas, and shiny boots

8. The beach (early days spent in Ocean City, Maryland)

9.  Lying flat on my back in green grass

10.  Flannel pajamas and  nightgowns, especially brand new ones

Mine’s not an overly creative or unique list, but I played by the rules and wrote it fast.  And don’t forget, you have to list things you have loved ALL your life, as far back as you can recall.

If you’re sad or angry or confused or if menopause is getting you down, make your list!  Focusing on what you have always loved will remind you that you’re still in the game, loving still, never stopping.

After you make your list, write it on your heart but POST it on your refrigerator and your Facebook page. Give those who love you the chance to bring you a bag of pretzels, a pin for your doll, a photo she took years ago of your dad, or whatever is on your very own Think Quick Forever Love List.

In a group setting, this game makes a fun ice breaker and also works nicely for the beach vacation when conversation is running slow after five days. (Cold beer helps motivate the players.  Substitute fudge if you aren’t a drinker.)  Share your lists and analyze away. Be nice though.

Photos:  The dolls are Kathy (on the left) and Bunny, two favorites from childhood.  Kathy is the naugty one. She’d even sneak my mother’s cigarettes.  Bunny is her sidekick.  The pretzels are brand new. Cliff loves them too. Open a bag and the Pretzel Eating Race is on!

Menopause

Chocolate! A Love Post and an Announcement of Love

I started researching chocolate and women and hormones, so I could say something intelligent and possibly even useful on the topic.

But then I realized, no matter why we love and crave chocolate, the love is so real that the WHY hardly matters.

Love is love.

Sometimes, you just can’t explain it.

Sometimes, inexplicable love is the sweetest.

How about you?  Are you in love with chocolate? What kind?

PS. I will say that The Great Pause brought on plenty of chocolate cravings, more constant than the cravings from PMS.  They have definitely abated some.  Now I’m just on the Happy Chocolate Lovers Plateau, meaning a day without chocolate is like a day without air.

Photo: My friend Gail bought me the blue squares above for my birthday. I’m partial to milk chocolate. Dove is one of my favorites. Thanks, Gail.

AND speaking of love, Daughter Number Two, Laura, received a beautiful engagement ring yesterday from her wonderful boyfriend, Matt Allen. Mother of the Bride, coming up!


Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, Skin

Ten Tips from the Menopause Owl

“WHOO!  WHOO,” says the Wise Ms. Menopause Owl. “I have ten tips for you!”

Not.

I tricked you, so you would read my post.  I don’t know if there really IS a Menopause Owl, but until she makes her apprearance, I’ll post these tips myself.

I researched the reasons why owls are revered for their wisdom.  One is they can see in the dark.  How cool if we could see our way through the sometimes darkness of menopause with special eyes.

I sure couldn’t.  But here are some tips I would give a younger me right before the Great Pause hooted my way.

1. Speak up-about moodiness, physical symptoms, all of it. Don’t suffer in silence.

2. Don’t make a stranger of your doctor. Visit. Email. Call. Ask. And if after a visit or so, your doctor still feels like a stranger, find another doctor.

3. Don’t expect menopause to necessarily be a quick process. For me, one symptom would go away but another would appear. This is still happening!

4. Be watchful of  what you eat. I found all the menopause weight gain stories to be true.  The weight flies on. I wish I had been more careful.

5. If doctors, therapists, and buddies are suggesting you are depressed and need medication, explore the possibility that this is the Great Pause first.  (Guest post on this topic to come.)

6. Lotions and creams are your magic potions: moisturizer, sunscreen, conditioners, and lubricants. Estrogen cream may rescue you from vaginal dryness, which can cause not only pain but intense pressure.

7. If you find yourself tossing in bed for more than a half hour or so, sometimes it’s best to just get up for a while. This wiggles my brain around and puts it back into a sleep mode.  I let myself get wide awake, contrary to the advice in most articles. I write, do dishes, straighten drawers, answer email, whatever.

8. Exercise does everything it promises to. Big bad hormones hate exercise . It scares them away, making you feel better, sometimes within the first ten minutes or so.

9. Make changes. As you feel  yourself changing, make some.  Small changes, larger ones. Good ones.  Change helps us climb out of ruts and feel like we’re the boss, which in many ways we are!

10. Appreciate the sisterhood of the ages.  Women have gone through menopause for centuries. Let their spirits bolster yours.

Photo: The owl above lives on the first outfit I bought for my grandson-to-be. More funky than classic, I found the decorated onesie at an arts festival in Durham. I hope my grandson will have wise eyes and steady wings and lots of fun as he flaps and soars through life.

Menopause

Guest Post: We’re Never Too Old for a Civics Lesson!

A guest post from Karen:

Hi!  My son is married to Barbara’s daughter.  So does that make Barbara and me Mothers-in Law?  🙂

On April 28, 2012 I had the eye-opening experience of attending a Unite Women rally in Richmond, Virginia.  This organization was created February 19, 2012 in response to the more than 900 bills that have been proposed in General Assemblies all over the US; bills that may decrease women’s access to fertility and contraceptive health care.

The rally was peaceful, bi-partisan, and very informative.  This spring Virginia joined 11 other states by passing legislation that mandates a medically unnecessary pre-abortion ultrasound be performed 24 hours prior to the abortion, thus increasing the burden of travel, time, and expense for the patient.

The original bill required that a transvaginal ultrasound be performed. Can you imagine? As an endometrial cancer survivor, I’ve had several, and they are extremely invasive!   Other legislation has been introduced that would limit the rights of women to have abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

I have to let you know that I’m not a flaming liberal; I’ve been a Republican my whole life and have worked for a Republican U.S. Congressman, as well as campaigned for other conservative Republicans.  I’ve never even attended a political protest rally up to this point.

I can no longer stand idly by.  Moderate political positions have disappeared, and the legislatures are showing disrespect for my gender.  I want equality, and I want to move forward.

Photo Above:  Karen (left) and her friend Chris at the rally. Photo Below:  A younger woman stands up for the rights of women.

Fitness, Menopause

Brush Like a Flamingo

Balance. The not falling over kind of balance.

I took a nasty spill the other day. I don’t  know what, besides a sharp turn and stepping from road to grass, made me fall.  For a few days, my shoulder felt like Jane’s might after swinging from too many vines, and my hand was black and blue, but luckily, I’m okay.  I might not be next time though.

As we age, balance becomes oh so important.  Falls are the downfall of those up in years.

Have you taken the balance test?  Can you stand on one foot?

I sure need to work on balance. And compared to other things to work on, like cutting down on sugar or learning to “show don’t tell” in my writing, balance work is  fun.

In the April O Magazine, fitness writer Gretchen Reynolds, writes, “My regimen consists of a single exercise–brushing my teeth on one leg.”

So I’m trying to do this too: Stand on one foot while I work on my not-so-pearly whites.

For a picture for this post, I thought perhaps I could show you my bathroom,the very spot where I brush my teeth.  Hmm. Boring?  TMI?

I went in with my camera and found the lovely bird above. I am hoping she might be the Queen of  One Foot Standing, a flamingo (although her beak is too long.) She sits in a tiny gold frame on the wall above my sink.  My eyes meet hers as I brush and balance.

Any balance tips out there?  Anybody swear by yoga or Tai Chi?  Tightrope walking?

Photo: Cliff found the pink bird picture for me in Tijuana years ago.  The print is tiny, about two by two inches.  Below are two other prints, even tinier, that he bought at the same time. The signature on the bird print is hard to read, but I think it’s “Urrutia.”  I can’t decipher the signatures on the prints below.

My friend Lisa just sent me this picture. She was in the Bahamas, getting balancing lessons from an expert!