Category Archives: Menopause

Some TMI with a Happy Ending

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A few week ago, my friend Miriam Hendeles wrote me about her episode of spotting. I asked her to tell us her happy ending. I wanted to post a contrasting ending to my story of endometrial cancer. Take it away, Miriam, and thanks!

So some background. I’m a worrier. I constantly worry about this and that. Health. Relationships. Finances. World politics. You name it. Because of my worry, I sometimes hover over my adult kids. Most times I don’t, so that’s good.

Helicopter

That’s me hovering. See? (only sometimes!)

Anyway, regarding the regular worries: Whether it’s a concern about a relapse of my past foot problems, or anxiety about one of my sons not being reachable across the country for about an hour more than expected, or something random going on with one of my grandchildren, or something I think I said wrong to someone, I worry.

And when I worry, I vent to my husband (and my friend(s) and my mother and my sisters)  about my concerns.

My husband (and sometimes the others) listens to my rationale for the worry, and tells me all his reasons why I have no need to worry.   But I don’t believe him. He tries to convince me — when it’s a health related worry – that I should let the “poor doctor do his job and worry.” But I still don’t listen. He even uses humor and teases me about it but aside from getting me to chuckle, it doesn’t work.

He reminds me to have faith and be positive. He’s right.

Screaming Woman

Yes, it can get pretty intense, I admit. I need to chill. I guess I have a lot of room for growth in the faith department. I need to work on that. Which is what this post is about.

Last week, I had cause to worry about something regarding my health.

For the past several years, since entering middle age,  my body has been transitioning.  This time of transitioning, known as Menopause, is supposed to be a Biggie. For me, it hasn’t been much of a big deal. I have had none of the horror experiences that others (including my mother when she was my age) had such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Yes, I’ve been kind of moody and anxious. But aren’t I always? (see above intro to this post). Yes, I’ve kind of sort of been having sleep issues. But that could be attributed to my drinking tons of water during the day so of course I get up myriad times during the night. And I always (mostly) fall asleep. Right?

So based on my doctor’s assessment all these years (again, I lost count), I’m slowly and gradually transitioning into menopause. Whatever that means, because as I just explained, I have none of the real symptoms.

None of  bad and horrible menopausal symptoms that all of the blogs that I read talk about.

So back to what happened last week.

I found blood. A drop. A bit. A really itty bitty amount. But still it was blood. And I was scared. I knew the rule that if you find blood “post” menopause, it’s “cause for concern.” Doesn’t mean it’s bad. Doesn’t mean it’s cancer G-d forbid. But it has to be checked.

So I did the responsible thing and went to see my doctor. And yes, I worried before the appointment and even while seeing him.

He didn’t seem concerned, but took a blood test to determine where I was in menopause. And told me his hypothesis of why I was bleeding and that he wasn’t concerned.

But me being, well,  me, I still worried.  After taking the blood test, I went to my car and called my husband and basically told him that I don’t believe my doctor. That he’s just placating me.

Looking back and typing this, I’m realizing how neurotic the behavior was, but since I have decided to tell you this entire (TMI) story, I will.

So I went home, and waited for the doc to call me the next day, which he did. I was driving into my office at work, (funny the things we remember) when my cell phone rang. It was my doctor, telling me that I’ve got “lots of estrogen floating around” in my uterus, which in layman’s language means I’m in Peri-menopause. Surprise. Surprise. He then told me that he was even less concerned because once one has estrogen, then bleeding is more common.

Ahh. Got it. He told me to come back the following week, after the July 4th weekend and he’d do an ultrasound. He put me through to the secretary, Janet (yeah, we’re on first name basis these days) who gave me an appointment for the following Tuesday.

All I could think of was how in the world would I survive the five day wait till the appointment?!?

I googled everything to do with my situation and then called my husband, declaring all kinds of morbid thoughts aloud to him.

I was nervous. I googled some more and more and more.

Did you know that these days according to Google, we all are dying? Well that’s the case with me. True story.

Anyway, I don’t know how I survived that day, Thursday. But I did. And Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Lots of prayer. Lots of ruminating of what if. Oh no. Nerves. On and on. More prayer.

I emailed and message my friend Barbara Younger, who has had a lot of experience with post-menopause stuff. She was very encouraging and kind.

Finally, Tuesday. I went to the doctor. He came in. Examined me. Did an ultrasound.

Thank G-d. “Miriam, you’re fine. No fibroids. No growths. All is well.” Deep breath!”

I thanked G-d for my health. But wondering: how I can avoid all that worry in the future? Most of the time (according to Barbara Younger, 7 out of 8 cases of post-menopausal bleeding are not the Big C….but still. We worry (speaking for myself here, huh?)

Fear

So Note to Self for future:

  1. a) put a limit or cap on how much to go onto Google. Maybe one time per day for 10 minutes (it’s too much to ask us nervous folks to avoid it altogether, I would think).
  2. b) call one friend to vent but make sure it’s a realistic  friend who won’t make you more nervous.
  3. c) keep busy for the time you are waiting for Heaven’s Sake!!
  4. d) have faith in G-d that He will take good care of you no matter what.
  5. e) don’t read commentaries and analyses into what the doctor says. Take him at face value. If he says you’re probably okay, then you will.
  6. f) always, always appreciate and take care of your health.
  7. g) Have faith…and oh! it may even help to try some music therapy!

Oh – one more thing I want to say: I hope all the above wasn’t too much TMI. Was it? (Just checking…)

Miriam

Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC is a mom of adult sons, grandmother of an adorable bunch of little boys and a music therapist who works in hospice care. During her spare time, Miriam blogs at Bubby Joys and Oys about the joys and oys (Yiddish for challenges) of being a Bubby and mother-in-law. Miriam also has a website for her posts about being a mother-in-law and some cool advice for struggling mothers-in-law. Miriam lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Hayim who is a terrific grandfather! (“Poppy!”)

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Downsizing:The Silber’s Tin

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The downsizing continues! This post features items that I’ve given to specific people.

After my mom died in March, I mailed a dear family friend one of Mom’s paintings. I put this old Baltimore bakery tin in the box too since Kay lives in my hometown. I bet she can find someone there who loves the old Silber’s Bakery as much as I did.

I’m no longer teaching picture book classes, so my characters are going to an elementary school in Tidewater Virginia. My friend Ann will pass them on to teaching colleagues at her school. Can you name each character? (Strega Nona, Yertle the Turtle, a Wild Thing, Ramona, and Max grace the top row.  Sylvester and Lilly sit on the bottom row.)

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I’ve put some of my items, such as the characters above and the Santa below, on Facebook. The Santa is heavy, so I specified local. In fifteen minutes, my friend Allison said she’d love to add him to her Santa collection.

Santa

I wondered if pushing my stuff on Facebook was tacky, but Facebook friends reported they had great fun checking out the items I was offering up.

My girls haven’t wanted a lot of my things. I’ve gotten used to the idea, but this came with some pain at first. Kath finally said to me, “Someone else will enjoy them.” My aha moment. But she loves crocks! Here are two of mine, now in her fireplace.

Crocks

And Matt, my son-in-law the gardener, has strawberries growing out of my great-grandmother’s strawberry pot.

My friend Cheryl took an old stone garden cat and these yellow ware bowls.  I had two garden cats (the same ones) and although I love the bowls, I haven’t used them in years.

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My brother brought this xylophone back from Africa. Our choir director said he’d be glad to take it and either use it at church or pass it on to a percussionist friend.

Xylophone from Africa

This was a tough one. My mom and dad’s kitchen china. It brings back those days long ago, but I want my own kitchen dishes. A friend who is into vintage things was looking for a new set. It’s hers!

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Pam Briggs, who works at Leland Little Auction Company here in Hillsborough (another downsizing story), has helped me mightily with the deeper emotional issues regarding keeping family treasures. “You only need a few items to be reminded of a loved one,” Pam says. “You don’t need a room packed with their old things.”

On to one of the toughest yet! My dad brought this figure back from Japan after the War. Mom adored him. I don’t. I love the image of my father returning to his beautiful fiancee, with treasures in hand, but this guy kind of creeps me out. I put him on Facebook and a friend from childhood, who knew my parents well, said she’d be pleased to have him.
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Giving your treasures to specific people is lots more time consuming than simply donating them, but it’s been another happy piece in my downsizing puzzle. I know where they are. I know they are honored and appreciated. Believe me, I’ve done lots and lots of donating, but for treasures that pull at the heart, this has been my golden ticket.

I’m hoping Cliff will agree to let his mom’s pancake griddle go. I’m itching to put it on Facebook. Who wouldn’t want a griddle named Happy Day Griddle-Grill!

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Here are links to my other downsizing posts:

Downsizing: The Recycling Shed

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Downsizing: Take a Photo?

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Downsizing: Up to the Attic!

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Downsizing: Spare the Pig?

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Downsizing: Glass Upon Glass

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Downsizing: Keeping the Quirk

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Downsizing: The White Elephant

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Downsizing: The Bicycle Nightgown

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Feeling Kegel Frustrated? Now there’s PeriCoach

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PeriCoach with handbag

Here’s an innovative product created to help women master the art of the mighty kegel! The post is prepared by Analytica Limited, the developers of the PeriCoach System:

The millions of women who experience bladder leakage now have a new option to strengthen and tone away their problem instead of covering it up with pads.

The PeriCoach System is a discreet device and smartphone app that helps women perform at-home pelvic floor muscle training, exercises recommended by the American College of Physicians as first-line treatment for urinary incontinence. PeriCoach is the only system that includes a web portal allowing clinicians to remotely monitor their patients’ progress.

“Pelvic floor muscle exercises are a great, non-invasive treatment for urinary incontinence.  However, with verbal or written instructions alone, many women find ‘Kegels’ difficult to do on their own, and they become frustrated with the lack of progress,” said Leslie M. Rickey, MD, MPH, associate professor of urology and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University.  “PeriCoach offers reassuring, visual feedback and allows clinicians to monitor progress between visits.”

Urinary incontinence affects close to 18 million women, yet many suffer in silence, which often stems from the misinformed idea that incontinence is an untreatable consequence of having had children or a result of aging.

The PeriCoach System is simple: a device containing three biosensors is inserted into the vagina.  The biosensors detect the strength of each muscle contraction and record each exercise session. These results are instantly sent to a smartphone over a Bluetooth wireless connection.  The app collects and analyzes the readings and gives a picture of how the user is doing over time.  It also sends exercise reminders to women and her results to a clinician or pelvic health specialist.

The PeriCoach System was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2015 and is now available by prescription from a clinician, nurse or physical therapist. PeriCoach can be ordered directly at www.PeriCoach.com with an uploaded prescription.

“It is shocking that women continue to suffer the challenges of bladder leaking when, in many cases, they can address it with consistent and properly performed pelvic floor exercises,” continued Dr. Rickey. “Women need to stop accepting bladder issues as a natural consequence of childbirth or aging and take control.  I hope women and clinicians will take advantage of this new technology.”

Analytica Limited is a Brisbane-based public company (ASX Code: ALT) specializing in the development of innovative technology-based solutions for unmet medical needs, manufactures and markets the PeriCoach System. For more information, visit www.AnalyticaMedical.com

PeriCoach with phone copyI received compensation in return for posting this information about PeriCoach. I believe kegels work and so am glad to suggest methods for learning to do them effectively.

Experience 2015: Massage!

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Spa

Daughter Laura treated me to a massage when I visited Dallas last month (a belated Mother’s Day gift.) My one and only massage was fifteen years ago, and I’d long forgotten it. This felt like a new experience, so I’m counting it in my Experience 2015 series.

While we were shopping that morning, the spa phoned Laura. “Bad news,” Laura said after the call. “The female massage therapist you were scheduled to see is sick. They want to know if you’re alright with a man.”

“Sure,” I said.

If you’ve had male doctors do all that doctor stuff to you, how intimidating could this be?

When we arrived at the spa, Cemetria, Laura’s massage therapist, pulled her aside. I watched Laura smile and nod. She reported later that Cemetria whispered, “Is your mom still okay with this?”

Score one for Barbara being chill!

Except for needing to tell Eric he was pressing WAY too hard into the area below my shoulder, the massage was excellent. I loved the spa atmosphere too: the herb tea, the lavender oil, the robe, the fountain in the waiting area, the robes and slippers.

Thoughts on the actual massage?  Two impressions remain strong:

  • What does it mean to be in a dimly lit room with a complete stranger who is rubbing you almost everywhere? Although I wasn’t afraid or even creeped out, on some level, this did feel odd/weird/slightly invasive. But there’s an expansiveness to it, too. The touch of a stranger, in a safe situation like this, allows you to focus on your physicality. With no real emotional connection to the massage therapist, it’s you and your body. Your body right now. The age it is. The shape it is.
  • The best parts were when Eric worked on my fingers and toes.He massaged each digit, and in the days since, that sensation has stayed with me, whispering,” All of you is important. All of you can be healed. Every inch. Your whole body. Your whole being.”

Between my cancer and my mom’s death, it’s been a tough year. I’m not complaining, as I’ve been embraced by great love. But something about this year and my massage experience, convinces me to try massage again. That it’s worth the money, now and then. My friends have recommended a massage therapist in our town, a woman, and I’m going to call this week for an appointment.

What about you? Is massage part of your life sometimes, never, or on a regular basis? Is it a simple pleasure or do you think it aids your body and spirit beyond that?