Menopause

Bathrooms as Escape Rooms

A guest post by writer Marla Mulloy on a favorite topic here at Friend for the Ride, the bathroom. Thank you Marla!

I have had some truly lovely moments in washrooms.

In London it’s a loo. In Australia, it’s a toilet. In Canada it’s a washroom or a bathroom. Whatever the name, I have had some truly lovely moments in bathrooms. A better name for them would be Escape Rooms. A place to escape. Sometimes it has been my favorite part of a party or a gathering. The few moments I spent in the washroom, longer than necessity would have dictated, were the grounding moments, the only moments of calm, the reason I was able to continue visiting or listening or watching. I often enter a washroom with a great sigh of relief, almost gratitude. I breathe, I rest, I settle.

I don’t have a condition that necessitates I be close to a washroom for bodily function purposes. I am not a decorator, although I have gotten some pretty solid interior design goodies from bathrooms. I don’t hate large gatherings. Well, I actually sort of do. I am a normal person who gets overloaded, easily saturated on talk and noise and interactions. The bathroom can be my social/emotional savior.

I have been in bathrooms that are nicer than most of the rooms in my house. I have been in bathrooms that are bigger than my bedroom. I have been in bathrooms that I never wanted to leave; they were so beautiful and inspiring. And quiet.

A friend’s washroom, just across from the long white granite kitchen island, where everyone gathers and exclaims and cracks pistachios as they watch something delicious being created yet again, is almost a religious experience. It is a tiny bathroom, but the ceiling is 12 feet above me, almost like sky. The walls are a tall expanse of deep violet, one of them holds a long, narrow frame of Hebrew poetry, direct from Israel, full of soft color, intricate figures, reaching tall and thin toward the white ceiling. I could look at it for hours. The sink is a glass bowl, slightly off kilter, thick and smooth, a vessel, a collector of drops. There is a violet glass prism both hefty and delicate on the counter beside the soap. I go to this bathroom like I would go into a church, for a moment of solitude and meditation before returning to the conversation outside.

I have been in restaurant bathrooms that are full of wood and wrought iron and gorgeous paintings, enough space to sit and ponder like you were in a gallery. I leave behind all of the noise and chaos and littered tables outside and sit for a moment, remembering who I am.

I remember a mall washroom where everything was white and new, space enough to engage in a full yoga practice if you so desired, or twirl and watch your skirt spin in the gigantic, infinitely clean mirror covering the whole wall. You could sing an aria; the acoustics would be out of this world. The actual toilets were around a corner, there were settees of velvet to recline upon. It was a shopping mall, for goodness sake. I was perplexed and in awe all at once. And soothed.

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, and I love the little bathrooms around the corner from the cream and sugar, displaying the local piece of art or ads for yoga and snow shoveling services. Sometimes they are blank and sweet, with a single succulent on a tiny shelf. Sometimes they are storage for the broom and the box of toilet paper. Sometimes they smell really nice, with 3 ply toilet paper. And always, I visit them at least twice as I pour coffee and water into my mouth, punch away at my keyboard, trying to get my word count up; they give me a bit of distance to reflect, to validate and to gather my senses again and go forth, back to the work of being human.

This love of the loo may be a direct result of aging. I am a middle-aged woman, finished with one career and working on another. My children have turned into adults and live far away. My need for action is declining. FOMO is waning. What I want is to be centered, grounded, quiet, alone. Maybe it is just me, my introvert self rising. Maybe it is the path of life. Either way, a washroom can be a beautiful thing.

Marla

Marla Mulloy is a writer with an evolving collection of essays, poems and stories, having been recently published in “The Timberline Review” and “Brevity Blog”. She has been a teacher and now works with refugees in Calgary. Much of her writing reflects the experience of refugees, documenting through story the paths that brought them here and how they create home in new places. She continues to share her writing through her blog, www.tossingwords.wordpress.com.

Menopause

My Cancer Story: Yes! Five Years

The day had come. My five year check up.

If all went well, my oncologist would dismiss me from her care. I’d visit the gynecologist once a year, but my treks to Gynecologic Oncology would be finished as long as I remained symptom-free.

I like to revisit North Carolina Women’s Hospital. During the two days I spent there, I celebrated some of the best news of my life: My cancer was early stage. My prognosis was quite good.

Revisiting the hospital reminds me of that good news and of the fine care I received. (You can read my entire cancer story here).

But I was still crossing my grateful fingers that today my doctor would dismiss me from her care. The huge parking garage makes me nervous, and the hospital bill for a ten minute check up would buy a lot of dinners out. A whole lot.

Most of  all, I wanted to NOT have to go back anymore because that would mean I am a five-year cancer survivor.  I wanted to be this person:

After a bit of a wait, the nurse called me into the exam room. “Dr. Gerhig will be in shortly,” she said after asking me a ton of questions. Then she left, closing the door behind her.

I whipped out my phone and snapped a selfie for Friend for the Ride and for myself.  I worked fast. I didn’t want the doctor to catch me taking a selfie in her exam room and think I am majorly weird.

About ten minutes later, there was a knock. “Come in.”

“This is it!” Dr. Paola Gerhig announced as she stepped into the room. “Five years!”

We talked about what I was to do if I had any symptoms. She instructed me to visit my gynecologist, who would determine if I needed to see Dr. Gerhig next. Menopausal women can bleed for many reasons, but I am to rush to the doctor with even a spot of blood. We also discussed genetic testing, which I’ve decided to do (more about that later).

The actual exam takes about five minutes. I always hold my emotional breath.

“Looks good,” Dr. Gerhig said.

When I got off the table, she hugged me. “This is huge. Five years cancer-free is  very significant.”

Then I said to her what I’ve said for five years: “Thank you for saving my life.”

“You’re welcome.”

She left, and my eyes welled up with tears.

My good news plan was to celebrate with the same beautiful and delicious cookie I celebrated with in this post:

But alas, the hospital Starbucks didn’t have any sunflowers, so I selected a cookie pop. It’s got a bit of an anatomical look to it, which is either slightly funny or kind of gross.

I’m not sure I even tasted that cookie pop. I was too wound up.

When I  got to the parking garage, I gave the hospital a long glance. My guess is I’ll be back, for one reason or another, but hopefully, my days as an endometrial cancer patient are over.

My happy mind spun. Was I going to jinx myself by sharing my news? By being so happy?

But I couldn’t hold back. I posted on Facebook and enjoyed the kind words of so many. Since the beginning, I’ve been open about my illness. Endometrial  cancer is the most common gynecological cancer and the most curable if caught early.  My goal is to spread the word.

Cliff bought me festive handmade presents in celebration the next week at the Farmer’s Market in Charlottesville.

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I’m especially fond of my new checkbook cover. I’ve had the same green plastic one for 35 years.

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Of course my CHECK UP was present enough. It’s one of the best presents of my life because on that good day I got to spread my arms wide and say:

P.S: I was pleased to receive my first shout out in the Washington Post. My friend Steve Petrow interviewed me for his article on celebrating cancer anniversaries. You can read the article here. 

 

Menopause

Yoga for Your Pelvic Floor

This post was written for us by Logan Biggs of Home Care Delivered. Take it away, Logan, and thank you!

Defeating Your Bladder Leakage: Tips for Reducing Accidents

Losing control of your bladder can feel like you’ve also lost control of your life. Instead of you calling the shots, it’s now your bladder in charge, telling you what you can do, when you can do it, and where you can go.

Nobody’s day should be dictated by bladder leakage, especially when there are so many ways to keep it under control. A little understanding of what’s going on, and how you can manage it manage it, can go a long way.

Bladder Leakage – Why It Happens

Bladder leakage is not a disease, but a sign of another medical condition. Many things can cause it: Pregnancy, lower estrogen, and even gynecological surgeries like hysterectomies. Another culprit is the weakening of the sphincter muscle. The sphincter muscle is what keep the bladder closed. As we age, that muscle loses some of its strength, making it harder to hold urine, allowing leaks.

Almost half of women over 50 experience this kind of leakage.

How To Deal With It:

Strengthening the sphincter muscle can help reduce bladder leakage. The stronger it is, the lower the chance there will be an accident. There are a couple ways you can do it:

Yoga

Studies have shown that certain Yoga poses can help reduce bladder leakage. Here’s a few you can easily do at home:

Utkatasana – Chair Pose

Start with your feet parallel to the hips. Slowly bend your knees and lower into a squat. Ideally, the thighs should be parallel to the floor. Extend your arms so they align with the head and upper torso.

 

Viparita Karani Variation – Legs Up the Wall Pose

Lie on your back and place your hands behind your hips. Slowly lift your legs until they are straight and perpendicular to the floor. Arch your back and tuck the chin slightly towards the chest.

 

Salamba Set Bandhasana – Supported Bridge Pose

Lie on your back and clasp your hands together under your hips. Lift your hips off the floor until your upper and lower torso are flat. Keep your feet flat and arch your back.

Kegels & Pelvic Exercises

Kegels and other pelvic exercises can also help strengthen the sphincter and reduce bladder leakage. When doing Kegels for incontinence, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Find the right muscles – Make sure you’re working the muscle group that’s connected to your bladder. To find it, begin urinating and then try to hold it. The muscle group that contracts is the one you want to target.
  2. Do enough repetitions – You’ll need to do at least 60 reps per day in order for the Kegels to have a lasting effect on bladder leakage.
  3. Don’t overdo it – Like all exercise, working the pelvic muscles too hard can cause damage and could weaken the muscles further. Make sure you rest your body and give yourself time to recover.

For more information about Kegel exercises, visit this guide.

Incontinence Products

Yoga and Kegels will only reduce bladder leakage if the it’s being caused by weak muscle strength. For other kinds of incontinence, the best solution may be an absorbent product.

Some women default to using feminine products because that is what they are familiar with, and worry that an incontinence product will add bulk or be uncomfortable. Today’s incontinence products are very thin, discreet, and easy to manage while on the go. The real trick is choosing the right one for you. Here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Pick the right product – There are three basic types of incontinence products: bladder control pads, pull-on underwear, and adult briefs. Each one is made to handle a different level of leakage, so make sure the product you choose can handle your needs.
  2. Make sure it fits – Incontinence products only work as well as they fit. Generally, they should be snug against the skin and cover enough area to prevent urine from escaping.

Note: Medicaid and a few private insurance plans will cover the cost of incontinence supplies. If you have Medicaid, check out this Medicaid guide to incontinence supplies to see what’s available in your state.

Menopause

Confession: I Am a Pantyhose Nerd

A few weeks ago at a bridal shower, a friend pointed to my legs and said in a voice of astonishment, “You’re wearing pantyhose!”

She was right. It’s true.

As the world has turned against pantyhose, I embrace them. Here’s why.

  • In cooler weather, they keeps my legs at least somewhat warm.
  • They  smooth out all imperfections in the skin on my legs. Pantyhose cover pokey veins too.
  • Dress shoes eat my feet. When I wear pantyhose, I have no trouble with blisters. I know I could wear the footie things, but they slip down. Plus they hide in my dresser drawers, never to be found again.

I don’t find pantyhose uncomfortable like so many women do. I buy a size that fits me well.

I don’t wear them in the summer. They definitely are hot. But the rest of the year, I’m a pantyhose girl.

Menopause brings bravery and a what the hell attitude (some of the time). Yet I am definitely interested in staying stylish and watching the nerd appeal as I age.

So what to do? Wear them or not?

I’ve decided to be a pantyhose nerd. I wear super nude shades (to try to hid the fact I’m wearing them) and in the winter, black sometimes, which I swear still looks stylish under the right dresses.

What about you? Are you a pantyhose nerd or do you hate them? Do tell!

Menopause

One More Time

I’m hearing that some of you did not receive the corrected post I sent out two hours ago, so let’s try again. Here’s what I sent: 

Whoops. That post went up before it was ready.

I’m sad to say, I’ve lost track of who sent me these wonderful Western doors.

I found this stylish door at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

And this elegant one  at Lago Mar beach Resort, where Cliff and I stayed before we got on our cruise ship in February.

Here’s a door near the pool on the ship.

All the bathrooms had these lovely sinks.

Cliff reported there were fun quotations over the urinals in the men’s room.

This was a sign at an herb farm on Grenada.

This one graces the Hilton there.

And a nice painting inside the ladies room.

Here’s blue ceramic on the door of the rum factory in Grenada. Yum on the rum!Rum

I loved this one at Orchid World in Barbados.

Found this pleasant sign on St. Maarten.

This rustic door can be seen on St. Kitts.


And one more on St. Kitts.

St. Kitts

Once again, my apologies for letting this post go out too soon. A jolt to this blogger on a Sunday morning. Have a greet day, everyone!

Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Fifty-Let’s Try This One Again

Whoops. That post went up before it was ready.

I’m sad to say, I’ve lost track of who sent me these wonderful Western doors.

I found this stylish door at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

And this elegant one  at Lago Mar beach Resort, where Cliff and I stayed before we got on our cruise ship in February.

Here’s a door near the pool on the ship.

All the bathrooms had these lovely sinks.

Cliff reported there were fun quotations over the urinals in the men’s room.

This was a sign at an herb farm on Grenada.

This one graces the Hilton there.

And a nice painting inside the ladies room.

Here’s blue ceramic on the door of the rum factory in Grenada. Yum on the rum!Rum

I loved this one at Orchid World in Barbados.

Found this pleasant sign on St. Maarten.

This rustic door can be seen on St. Kitts.


And one more on St. Kitts.

St. Kitts

Once again, my apologies for letting this post go out too soon. A jolt to this blogger on a Sunday morning. Have a greet day, everyone!

Menopause

Menopause and Me (and You)

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I’m delighted to be named a Healthline Best Menopause Blog of the Year. Here’s the link to the announcement with descriptions of the winning blogs:  https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/best-blogs-of-the-year.

I love menopause! Despite it’s challenges, I think its a liberating and creative and transforming time in a woman’s life. But as you may have noticed, I’ve been focusing on menopause less in recent years. I’m now so far out from the Great Pause that I have trouble coming up with fresh material on the subject. I’ve turned to other topics that are pulling at my heart and body and mind.

So those of you who are in the midst of menopause or approaching it, I encourage you to follow the many fine menopause bloggers on the Healthline list. I hope Healthline will continue to include me since there are plenty of menopause posts in the Friend for the Ride archive, and menopause will still be featured from time to time.

Is it okay with you, oh loyal and wise and gentle readers, that I’ve mostly moved on to other topics? Do tell me how you feel. Thanks!

 

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