Tag 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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Mindfullness and Menopause

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Paula

A post by mindfulness instructor Paula Huffman:

As you may have noticed lately, the word mindfulness is getting tossed around a lot! Is there something to this concept of Mindfulness or is it just another trend? And, you might ask yourself, “What is Mindfulness? What does that mean?”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center began developing what he called “Mindfulness programs” back in the early 70’s to help people with chronic pain. The methods were so successful that programs flourished and began to be used to help clients with all sorts of issues from chronic physical and mental illness to everyday stress! Now these programs are available world wide! Kabat- Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of awareness. When practicing Mindfulness, we are making a conscious effort to remain aware of what is going on right now! We work on moving out of Auto Pilot and start to live life again!

Mindfulness wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. It provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck and back in touch with our own wisdom and vitality. Through the Mindfulness practices, we can learn to identify stress triggers and stress indicators. We practice bringing awareness to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations while they are happening. Learning the Mindfulness practices can help you to manage stress by allowing you to function from a calmer baseline, manage catastrophic thinking, and choose to respond skillfully to difficult events in your life.

Mindfulness is not a religious practice. Mindfulness classes are educational experiences and not group therapy. Through mindfulness classes you will learn practices such as Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with attention to the breath, Walking meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.

As with many concepts that become more popular, the pure essence of those concepts can become diluted. In some cases, the word mindfulness or mindful may be added to something so it will sound enticing and sometimes the concepts are not really being used or taught with a full intention or from a sound knowledge base. As Jon Kaba- Zinn developed his programs, he made sure to say that Mindfulness is taught to others from the experience on one’s own practice.

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts such as weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, increased reactivity, mood swings, and more that are often related to this time of life. Learn how to cope with stress and other symptoms by using mindfulness practices such as Mindful Breathing, the Breathing Space to Step out of Auto Pilot, Seated Meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.. 

For those who live near Hillsborough, North Carolina, Paula is offering a series on menopause and mindfullness. Here’s the scoop:

Managing Menopause the Mindfulness Way 

Upcoming Introductory Series…

Menopause Symptoms Making you Feel a Little Wild?

WIld

6 Weeks starting May 13th

9-11 a.m.
$150 for the series

Location: Carolina Wellness Institute
121 W Margaret Lane  Hillsborough, NC

Register: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com
919 260 0255

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts related to this time of life.

Common symptoms associated with menopause might include:
– Weight Gain
– Sleep Issues
– Hot/Cold Flashes
– Fatigue
– Increased Blood Pressure
– Urinary Urgency and Incontinence
– Generalized Muscle Aches
– Increased Reactivity and Mood Swings

Want to learn how Mindfulness and other holistic practices can help? Each session will include:
• Presentation and group discussion on a Mindfulness theme related to menopause
• Stress management through identification of stress triggers and indicators, thought, emotion and physical sensation awareness.
• Learning how to step out of auto pilot and live your life!!
• Introduction and experience of Mindfulness Practices including Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with Attention to the Breath, Mindful Walking, Mindful Movement and Loving Kindness Meditation.
• Discussion on home practice and how things are going
• Bonus of topics related to the physiology behind the symptoms, complementary and alternative therapies including nutrition and herbal support, acupuncture and more.  These topics will be presented by licensed practitioners who provide women’s health services.

Facilitated by Paula Huffman BS, RN, ERYT, Mindfulness Instructor

Paula (in the photo at top) has been a Yoga and Meditation practitioner for close to 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse and certified Yoga Instructor. Paula completed studies in leading Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management programs with Jon Kabat Zinn and the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical Center on two separate occasions. She has been teaching Mindfulness classes for 6 years classes with the Program on Integrative Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Please feel free to contact Paula for information or questions on these programs: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com

Hormones and Superheroes: A Menopause Novel Giveaway

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Going Through the Change

(Cover art by Polina Sapershteyn)

A post by speculative fiction writer Samantha Bryant:

Menopause can be a pretty scary word. In a world that values youth and physical perfection above experience and knowledge, especially for women, getting older is fraught with psychic landmines. The process can make you doubt your own self worth.

Besides what the world thinks, there’s that feeling that your body is betraying you, changing physical shape around you and surprising you with new changes in function. You can start to feel like you can’t trust your own senses. Is it hot in here? No? Guess it’s just me, then.

As a writer, when something scares me, it comes out on the page. In the stories and characters I create, I can deal with the things that worry or upset me. I always tell my husband that it’s cheaper than therapy.  That’s exactly what happened with Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. The novel follows five women as their journey through the change of life takes some unexpected turns: superheroic turns.

While the subject matter is definitely the stuff of comic books–human flight, wielding fire, and transformations are unlikely to be a problem for any of us here in the real world–the book also explores the heart’s truths of this time of life. One of my characters, Helen Braeburn, is taking it especially hard.

“Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be ‘old enough’ and then had crossed over into ‘too old’ without finding out what it was she had been waiting for.”

And

“It was a truth of life that as a woman aged, Helen thought, people tended to treat her more and more like a child. Salesclerks called older women honey, just like they might a child. Senior food and movie tickets were sold at a reduced price, just like a child’s. Discounts and nicknames weren’t so bad in the scheme of things, but the assumption of incompetence was hard to take.”

Even in her lighter moments, Helen still struggles with aging.

“Getting old sucked. Of course, so did being beaten up by a giant lizard with red hair, and strangled by a cheerleader.”

Writing this book definitely has helped me deal with all my anxieties about aging and menopause. I hope my readers will find connections with the experiences of these characters, too.

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Going Through the Change (digital or print) to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by May 15 saying you’d like to be the winner. U.S. only. Thanks! Comment link is at the bottom of the post.

Book Launch Party: Meet the author, Samantha Bryant, at Fly Leaf Books on Saturday, April 25 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 2 PM!

Amazon link is here.

Going Through the Change

Introducing the stars of the show, the menopausal superheroes! These wonderful drawings were done by artist Charles C. Dowd.

Here’s Helen, who brings new meaning to “one hot mama.”

Helen

Jessica, who finally lightens up, literally.

Jessica

Linda, whose inner strength becomes her outer strength, and it comes with a surprise!Linda

Dr. Liu, who doesn’t see a problem with the means she uses to get to her ends.

CindyLiu

Patricia, who always had a thick skin, but now is bulletproof!

patricia

Samantha Bryant is a writer, mother, and middle school Spanish teacher, so she knows a thing or two about being a superhero. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with her family and dog.

Check out Samantha’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant
Here she is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mirymom1
And Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamanthaDunawayBryant/posts
To read her blog, click here: http://samanthabryant.com

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Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

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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!