Menopause

Michele’s Story: HRT to the Rescue

headshot for Barbara

HRT or not? That’s the question for many women. My gynecologist is a strong HRT advocate. Yours may not be, or you may, for many reasons, choose not to take it. I love to present your stories on this blog. Here’s part of Michele’s menopause journey and her experience with HRT. Take it away, Michele and thanks!

There is a life on the other side of menopause, but getting through the menopause fog can be one of the scariest rides a woman will ever take. If you are reading this and you are like me, chances are you may feel like you’re driving in a car that is going to derail and end up in the gutter. Or you have just bought a ticket for the scariest roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on, and you want it to stop so that you can get off.

The desperation that I felt earlier this year was undeniable, and I just wanted to feel like I could stand on solid ground again. I knew that something in my body was terribly off balance and something was definitely wrong within me. I was convinced that it was a chemical imbalance, but none of my health care providers even gave menopause a mention or a second thought even though I was menopausal. One of them even suggested that the recent death of my father could be the cause of my symptoms, stating that grief often affects people in strange ways.

After months of a myriad of tests and a ton of out-of-pocket money, I never got a definitive diagnosis. One doctor thought it might be complex Lyme Disease causing my brain fog. Another doctor suggested that it could possibly be my thyroid causing my issues, and yet another doctor quickly prescribed an anti-depressant drug (that I did take to the pharmacy but never took a pill) because the diagnosis was attributed to grief.

One afternoon, after having yet another episode of sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I sat down by my computer and turned to Google with a question, “I’m a 50-something year old woman who is losing her mind, and I do not know what is wrong with me.”

I was overwhelmed with over 2,000,000 hits on the topic of post menopausal symptoms and HRT replacement. I ended up on the Hormone Health Network and began reading about HRT replacement as a remedy for my symptoms.

From that site, I discovered Barbara Younger’s blog. I knew that it was an answer to my prayers for help in getting back to my normal self again. I quickly fired off an email to Barbara saying,

     “Hi – I found your blog thru the Hormone Health Network when I was searching for HRT alternatives to deal with the brain fog that I believe is being caused by Menopause. I’m a 50-something yr old (ruptured brain aneurysm survivor) who thought she was losing her mind or worse. For the past several months I’ve had anxiety, mild depression, trouble sleeping, profuse sweating, etc. I’ve had CAT scans, blood work, etc and no one suggested it may be Menopause. Yikes! Anyway, I have scheduled an app’t with a gyno and an Endocrinologist doctor but in the meantime, I’m wondering if you used HRT and that led to your endometrial cancer? I truly feel like I am in need of HRT.

Looking forward to your response (and praying that this “roller coaster” comes to a halt before I jump off!)
Sincere love,
Michele”

Here’s one line from Barbara’s email reply:

Menopause causes lots of body/mind changes, and that’s just what your case sounds like to me.

I made an appointment with an endocrinologist, and he ordered blood tests. Within 2 days, he personally called me to say that my estrogen levels had tanked. Because my uterus was still intact, he thought that the best course of treatment would be the Combi-Patch which contains both female hormones: an estrogen (estradiol) and a progestin (norethindrone). The application is twice a week, and he mentioned it would be low dose for a short period of time until my body responded. The doctor assured me that we could monitor my progress together.

It has been one month since I began using the patch, and I can happily share with you that I AM MY HAPPY SELF AGAIN! Yay!

What a difference a month and a little hormone replacement can make. I got a part-time job at a farm market, where I love to shop, and my marriage is back on solid ground. My friends have even begun to invite us to social gatherings again (now that they realize I’m not a crazy person).

I’ve decided to share my story with others because I’m alive to be able to do so. Two months ago, I was actually considering whether or not it was worth going through another tortuous day. Imagine that!

Just yesterday, I took the dog for an early morning walk and looked up at a beautiful sunrise and thought, “thank God for Google leading me to other women like Barbara who were brave enough to share their story.”

I’ve decided to share my menopause story because I want to be “brave” and save others from crashing like I did.

I am also going to write it all down so that one day our girls can read all about it just in case they come face-to-face with the menopause demon and get stuck on a scary roller coaster ride. They will realize that HRT replacement can help them bring that roller coaster to a halt and get them back on solid ground again.

Much love to all of you from a sister who no longer suffers from menopause side-effects,

Michele

Michele and Family

Michele Starkey is a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild and has written several devotionals and Bible studies. Her stories have been published by Adams Media, F&W Publications, and Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Since rediscovering life post-menopause, she is currently working part-time at a family- owned produce store where she loved to shop.

After living the world over, she resides in the Hudson Valley of New York with her beloved husband, Keith, and their rescued dog, Duffy. They are all anxiously awaiting the birth of the first of many grandchildren who will bless their lives.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/contributor/michele_starkey/

Menopause

Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

Jen bling from Zoe

 A post by Jennifer Delabar

I want to thank Barbara for inviting me to share my tale of woe about menopause.

What can I tell you about menopause that you don’t already know? My story, I’m sure, is a common one. It started with my missing a period here and there starting around age 40 (when my gynecologist advised me that I was just “getting old”), to the present day, when I’m 48 and not too happy with Mother Nature.

I’m too young to be in menopause” I kept expressing to anyone who would listen! I was under the mistaken belief that only women over 50 had to think about menopause.

No one can prepare you for what happens to you when your period finally stops coming. You actually miss those horrible cramps, ruined underpinnings, Dorito binges and black rage weeks. At least with the menstrual cycle there was an end in sight. With menopause there is no hormonal drop at the end of the cycle. It’s crazy-time all the time.

I had gone to my mother as most of us do, for some answers. She told me “I don’t remember going through it”. Thanks, mom.

Back to square one. I was desperate to talk to someone about what was happening in my life. I would be in line at the bank or the grocery store, beads of sweat forming on my forehead and under my eyes, and look at the person behind me and say, “They should really turn up the air conditioning; it’s so warm in here.” Hello blank stare. It was January.

Garage sales were always a big draw for me. Lots of people milling around, there must be other menopausal women there that could commiserate with me! But the only comment I ever received was a disheartening “Oh yeah the hot flashes never go away.”

So alone with nowhere to turn! It’s been three years and countless buckets of sweat have escaped from my pores since my last period. I no longer look for answers from strangers. I have found that most women don’t want to talk about it. We are like a secret society that no one wants to belong to!

I tried to talk to my friends about menopause.They were still getting their periods, and they couldn’t understand what I was going through. They didn’t know how to respond. I could feel their fear and pity looking back at me. Secretly in my evil menopausal brain, I couldn’t wait until they entered menopause and then they would come crawling to me, looking desperately for the answers to those “why” questions.

Why so many hot flashes, why the crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of feeling feminine?

I will look at them lovingly and say “I don’t remember.”

Jenifer Delabar is the divorced mother of one awesome son, who is 22 years old. She’s a student of Buddhism. She lives on Long Island and works as a legal secretary and has a degree in funeral service.  Jennifer loves to read, learn, practice yoga and never stops asking questions.

From Barbara: I too, found that many women either didn’t remember menopause or didn’t have much to say when I asked them. That’s why I started this blog. I thank all of you for chiming in with your own experiences!

Menopause

Happy Menopause Awareness Month!

MM_September_Celebrate_MAM_FB

September! Do you believe it? We’re more than halfway through.

But while you’re thinking about fall sweaters or football (love it/hate it) or apples, apples, apples, pause to remember that September is National Menopause Awareness Month. That Silent Passage isn’t so silent anymore.

The Hormone Health Network designed the fun bra graphic above. (Here are some of my thoughts on droop and The Girls.)

The network’s Menopause Map helps you determine where you are in the menopause journey.  Check it out here.

Menopause Map

Click here to read their comprehensive guide to menopause. Don’t miss this excellent resource.

Guide

Thank you Hormone Health Network!

HHN_Endocrine_Logo_4C

And no matter where you are on the menopause road, Happy Menopause Awareness Month!

I’m always looking for guest posts, especially posts about menopause. Please email me (address at right) if you’d like to write one.  Let’s share our stories! For as Todd Stocker tells us, “Stories give color to black and white information.”

Giveaway Winners! I’ve been lax this summer about posting the names of giveaway winners, but here’s the latest list. Congrats to Kay Lynn and Jo, who won Menopause Mops; Stephanie who won Susan Gabriel’s Fearless Writing for Women; and to Audrey, who won an Affirmation Card Deck and print from Marylou Falstreau.

Menopause

Cancelled! You Heard it Here!

 

Cancelled

 

News flash!

Menopause is cancelled.

You heard if first on Friend for the Ride.

All those symptoms.

Gone.

I got it straight from a Menopause Fairy.

31410

 

And she got it directly from the Menopause Queen.

So toss your menopausal woes to the April winds!

The bad news is you will now be having your period for the rest of your life.

tampon

But your skin will glow,

Your bones won’t creak,

And you’ll sleep like you are sixteen.

Yep.

Menopause is

images

No fooling!

I think, in some ways, I’m going to miss menopause.

What about you?

Menopause

Encountering the Seven Dwarves of Menopause

Seven-Dwarfs-of-MenopauseA post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan:

You are hot and itchy and you want to punch people. You laughed and some pee came out. You are exhausted. You cry at the drop of a hat. You can’t sleep, and you have no idea what you were looking for in the closet. You haven’t had a period in a year.

You desire a romantic encounter, but you feel so…dry. And you’re not really feeling very sexy anyway. It’s painful to admit that your body is increasingly becoming bloated, despite your best efforts to stick to your eating plan and exercise protocol.

My friend, it’s no mystery, you’re just under the spell of the seven evil dwarves of menopause. Once upon a time they were the adorable seven little guys who helped Snow White escape from the curse of her wicked stepmother, but now they’ve mutated into gremlins on a mission to haunt the midlife woman.

So instead of thinking of them in terms of Snow White, maybe “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would be a better fit.

These seven dwarves are hideous, sinister beings whose names are Itchy, Bitchy, Leaky, Sleepy, Sweaty, Weepy, and, of course, Forgetful. And hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work they go…

These dwarves of menopause have been described by Suzanne Somers in her book, The Sexy Years, but she’s only one of the many midlife women who’ve had their own encounters with these tiny tormentors.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these devilish dwarves and offer some advice about how to handle them.

Itchy is heckling you because your entire body is losing moisture, not only in your skin, but also in your eyes and even your vagina.

Bitchy makes your mood shift all over the spectrum, often causing you to overreact to minor irritants and seem a little crazy.

Leaky latches himself onto gravity and your aging process, making it very easy leak pee at inopportune moments, like when you laugh, cough or sneeze. This can also lead to urinary tract infections.

Sweaty brings hot flashes and night sweats. You might wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve just left the gym after a high-intensity cardio workout.

Sleepy makes his presence known when you’re unable to sleep through the night, sometimes because you’re feeling overheated.

Weepy causes you to cry hysterically for no good reason, simply because your hormones are out of whack and your emotions are all over the place.

Forgetful comes in the form of a foggy brain. If I remember correctly, studies show that this will pass once you get past menopause.

Stay tuned, and in the next post, I’ll share some steps you can take to get these diabolical dwarfs under control—so you really can live Happily Ever After.

Mary Buchan has spent the past 30 years as a wife, mother, registered nurse and singer/songwriter.  In 2012 she re-purposed her nurse’s cap to start her own coaching practice with a focus on life reinvention. Mary is also a blogger and the author of the soon to be released book  Over It: How To Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself ( Spark Publications).

Mary B

Check out Mary’s website, where you can also find her blog:   http://marybuchan.com/

 Grammar Tidbit: When I loaded Mary’s post onto my blog, I saw the word “dwarves” come up in spellcheck. A little grammatical investigation led to this fun answer, linked to our Hobbit friend, J.R. Tolkien.

Menopause

Euphoria! The Best Part of the Menopause Roller Coaster

MTM hat tossPreview

Yep!

Euphoria.

I’d be living my regular life and all of a sudden.

Pow!

I’d fly into the best mood.

Dust bunnies, pudgy stomach, piles of projects.

Didn’t matter.

Life was a beach!

A big, wonderful, splashy, happy beach.

Of all my menopause symptoms, this was by far the most fun.

Actually, none of the other symptoms even came close to the idea of fun.

Websites suggest the euphoria is caused by fluctuating hormones.

I like to think it’s a prize from the Menopause Goddess for enduring the dregs of The Great Pause.

The euphoria for me was fleeting, lasting about fifteen minutes and happening perhaps twenty times over a year or so.

Life’s all about grabbing the gusto.

If menopausal euphoria splashes your way, catch that wave and enjoy!

Anyone else have a similar happy story to tell?

Mary Richards

Photo: I’m sure you recognize Mary Richards, long before menopause, tossing her hat in the air during  a euphoric moment.

 http://www.blogdash.com/full_profile/?claim_code=5ca7ac09a5289ce472ab7e764002629c

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, Periods

I Didn’t Pause for Menopause

When blogger Ruth Crates told me that she flew through menopause, I asked her to write us a post to present that side of  the story.  Take it away, Ruth!

Menopause?

I think I was so busy I missed it.

Since I am now 62, and I haven’t had a period in a while, I am pretty sure it happened.

Let’s back up just a little bit…

menarche

When I reached the age where periods were probable, my mom sat down with me (briefly) and we had a talk.

What I remember most about the talk was the fact that my grandmother never told my mother about the entire process.  Some subjects were just taboo in the 1930’s; this was one of them.  When her first period came, she seriously thought she was going to die and was afraid to tell anyone.   Luckily, her older sister intervened.

Even though Mom didn’t really give me a lot of information during the talk, she at least wanted to spare me the fear of the unknown.

She  gave me a little book created by Kotex  called “Now You Are 10”.  It explained everything very nicely and even had a diagram explaining how to use the little belts we had to wear to hold the sanitary napkins in place.   I never did get the hang of that!

now you are 10

Girls are always at some hormonal point in their lives.  I figure we get 10 years of no worries.

Then you have:  Premenstrual, Menstrual, Postmenstrual,  Pregnancy, Post pregnancy, Perimenopause. Menopause, and Post Menopause.  It’s the never-ending story!

I have gone through all those stages (some of them several times).

Unfortunately, now I have reached the stage which I have taken the liberty of calling “Oldness.”

I may be done with all of the above afflictions, but now there are new things  like memory-loss, confusion, arthritis, joint-replacement, and the ever popular incontinence.

As for the menopause thing, I had a pretty easy time of it.

My periods were never  regular except for a brief time in the 70’s when I was on “The Pill”.  So I can easily dismiss that symptom.

I don’t recall a single hot flash.

I did have night sweats for a long time…. maybe even as long as 10 years, but I blamed it on my mattress.

Since my periods were irregular, they were sometimes “super-heavy” and unpredictable.  I bought a rubberized bed cover to protect the mattress.  I always thought that the rubber discouraged air flow and  resulted in the sweats.  Maybe it was actually … menopause!

This I am sure of:  paranoia is a direct result of menopause.

When I turned 57, I had not had a period in several months and I began to have thoughts about being pregnant. It could happen.  These thoughts took on a life of their own and I began to obsess about it.

I had several mini-panic  attacks thinking I was pregnant.

I actually went to the doctor and had a pregnancy test done.   My doctor, thank goodness, is a woman, so I think she sensed how disturbed my thoughts were and wanted to put these fears to rest.

Of course, the results were negative, and I was quite relieved. I guess the funniest part about this obsession is that my husband had  a vasectomy 20 years earlier…. I mean, really, what were the odds!

I have always thought that obsessive and unrealistic thoughts were a side effect of menopause, at least in my case, because usually I am pretty sane.

Every woman’s menopause is different.

We should be careful not to compare our experience with others too closely. Experiencing an uneventful menopause is definitely preferable to having a difficult one.

Taking your menopausal symptoms seriously is sound procedure.

Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is just good sense.  The better your doctor knows you, the better chance you both have of being able to figure out what is going on with your body.  That is something we all need to be aware of no matter what time of life we are in.

Regardless of how you deal with the stages of your life… they are your Life.

Enjoy the changes and embrace each stage because there is always another one on the way!

Ruth profile

Ruth Crates was born and raised on a Midwest grain and livestock farm and has  lived her entire life within a 30 mile radius.  She’s  been married to a grain and livestock farmer for 41 years, and they have three children (An attorney, a carpenter, and a librarian) and three grandchildren. Ruth taught for 35 years. She’s now retired and loving it! She started blogging to record stories for her children and grandchildren. Check out her  blog at Retiredruth: Life in the 50’s and Beyond.