Friday, October 28, 2011

You're gray WHERE?!?!?!

Today, as I was eating my scrumptious pumpkin pancake for breakfast,  I happened to flip open the pages of a magazine, and I kid you not the following question practically leaped off the page at me. Are you ready for this?

" Is it safe to color my graying pubic hair?"

I was so repelled, and yet much like the urge we sometimes get to peek at a car wreck on the highway, even though you know it might make you upset, you do it anyway. So I just had to read the answer. Apparently it is "safe" and there is a product called "Betty" that does the trick. Who knew?

Yikes.....are you kidding me?  (now this is the part where my attempts to be mindful might be stretched a tad!") Can it be that a woman needs to feel something is amiss in the lower 40 when the hair is graying?  Who is to blame for making someone even think to question this fact of life,  or more importantly, what possesses a company to produce a product that apparently does the job so well? Obviously there is a market for just such a product. Please forgive me as I do not mean to make anyone feel bad if you are reading this right now and using it. Let's just hope you are doing it for you and not to make someone think you are anything less then perfect as is! Could this be yet another attempt by a company to make us feel inadequate or less womanly since we are aging or growing old? Do you realize that most of the way a woman feels about her body, or a man for that matter, is due to images and stories that the media produces in order to make us all feel "less then" what we are at any given point in time?


Case in point: I was listening to XM radio several months a go, to a favorite talk show of mine that is no longer on air due to the host having a new gig in Chicago working for the big "O." I loved this show as it made me laugh out loud quite often at the hosts utter lack of artifice or attempts to be anything less then authentic (an aspect of people I find to be the most appealing). I would be in my car, visible to all around me yucking it up like some crazed loon. (My apologies to loons lovers everywhere!) Anywhoo.....there was a commercial that played repeatedly on this show that started out something like this:

"Are you tired of being embarrassed by your ugly brown age spots? If so blah blah blah.......

I would hear this commercial so often and every time it never failed to make me angry. Why? Not because I have age spots, which I am most proud to say I have earned every single one of them, but because this commercial was attempting to make me feel less then adequate for having a very naturally occurring pigmentation discoloration that occurs as we all age. And yes, they are related to all that luscious sun bathing I did in my youth, on the lounge chair in my back yard,  with Sun In (remember that one?) slathered on my hair and Coppertone Oil on my body as I prayed for the zit that popped out on my chin to recede before the days end!


I would be less then honest if I did not admit that initially, when I first heard the commercial I found myself starting to think, hmmmm maybe I should cover them up, maybe it is ugly, maybe I am less womanly as a result and then reality hit me! Wait just a minute, this is exactly what the advertisers are hoping! They paid someone a lot of money to use highly effective wording in order to make me feel exactly what they need me to feel so  perhaps I give in and try it for 30 days, risk free of course.

Advertising has gotten far more devious in their attempts to do this over the years using psychological trigger words to elicit a certain response and also by utilizing music and sound tracks that cause us to have auditory reactions that make us "feel" the way they want us to feel. So in a nut shell, we are being masterfully manipulated to think, feel and sense what ever they need us to think, feel or sense and buy the product! Sounds crazy, huh? But true! So we know all this and yet we still allow ourselves to be manipulated.

I am just as guilty with my arrays of creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, make up, vitamins, food products, clothing, etc that all in some way came to me a result of some very clever marketing designed to make me purchase it. I know it, and you know it and we all do it! No matter how green you are, healthy you are or how untouched you think you are by ads.....you still are! OK, maybe if you are nun or a monk, I will let you slide on this one, although I have seen some pretty spiffy watch on monk's wrist recently! Gift perhaps? Things that make you go hmmmmmmm?

So, keep it "real" people and do what you must to make yourself feel good every day. All I ask is that you catch yourself now and again as you buy a product and say "am I doing this for me, or because some advertiser found a way to tap into my insecurities about who I  should be?" You might be very surprised what your answers are!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sometimes you HAVE to laugh!

I love the scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation movie where the parents and in-laws are arriving to spend time for the holidays at the Griswold household. There are lots of hugs, kisses and general pandemonium going on at the front door, as well as conversations ensuing concerning the various medical ailments afflicting them all at this stage in their lives. The scene is so vividly captured and acted so well, it is a funny and yet poignant reminder of real life for so many of us. I even recall traveling back and forth from Boston,  to visit my own parents some years ago when they lived in a lovely town called Trumbull, Connecticut. We would spend hours sitting around the kitchen table catching up, while Mom went through the littany of ailments and afflictions that were affecting my folks, who at that time, were in their early sixties and doing quite well for their age.

Those were relatively mild things mom chatted about at our kitchen table talks,  especially compared to what life is like for my Mother today. She has COPD and congestive heat failure, on top of a myriad of other conditions stemming from these two diseases. An oxygen tank was just brought to the house Monday night and Mom is now permanently attached to those tubes and tank. A handicap ramp was installed (at great expense) from the driveway to their sun porch in order to accommodate her wheelchair. She has two walkers and a special medical chair/recliner that does double duty as her bed. There are toilet assisting devices, potties in the family room,  and chairs propped up all over the house for my mother to sit in and take a rest after walking 4 or more steps, sometimes less, when she feels able to make it to the bathroom. Two entire shelves of her antique hutch in the kitchen are covered with her AM, PM and the "as needed" meds. A large antique crock on the dining room floor is filled to the brim with former medications that are no longer being used. The dining room table, that holds memories of all our past holiday meals as kids,  is barely visible from the array of medical supplies either in use, yet to be used or never to be used again. (My mom is very much a child of the depression and nothing is ever thrown out that might serve a useful purpose yet again!) Home health aides visit a few times a week along with physical therapists and a nurse every now and then who supervises them all. This is only a smattering of the things that have come to pass since Mom first went into the hospital in May of 2010.

Things got really tense recently when mom came home from the hospital after two very long months. She was in her wheelchair, out of breath from the exertion of leaving the car and attempted to climb the 3 short stairs in to the house from the garage. She raised one foot and quickly realized she was not going to be able to do this on her own. Sensing the fear and frustration coming from her and all of us,  I quickly recalled something rather unique about their garage. It had been used as an office for the builder when the homes were first going up and it was completely insulated, plumbed and heated. I said at that moment, sensing a need for lightness, that mom need go no further, all we needed was a little sheet rock tacked up on some two by fours,  a throw rug or two scattered about, and a large flat screen TV hung on the wall and she had no need to enter the house again. Everyone relaxed, laughed and suddenly what could have been an overwhelmingly sad moment turned into all of us trying to out do one another on what could be done to "spiff" up moms garage hang out!

Now I could also wax on about the evils of smoking, but that would be pointless and not really productive to do at this time. My Grandmother on my Mom's side lived to be just over 90 and smoked every day of her life never visiting or needing a doctor.....ever! As did my fathers dad as well. Conversely, I have known people to die of lung cancer who never smoked a day in their life, and many women with breast cancer who I have met who are some of the healthiest living people on the planet. Now, I am not advocating a Woody Allen "Sleeper" movie view of life. Although that was so incredibly funny to envision a world, when he wakes up all those years later, that believes smoking and high fat food are now considered healthy, so everyone eats and smokes to their hearts content!

As my husband left for work at 7:20 this AM he mentioned his MRI appointment for his knee? Shoulder? Or some other nefarious body part? It is not that I am not interested, it is just that in the scheme of things it is inevitable that the body starts reminding us of expiration dates felt, but not known. We are all trying to do whatever we can in this life to prevent the inevitable decline that is coming. And rather then wallow in its embrace, I find it far more fun to just take it as it comes and try to laugh more often. I know it truly sounds so cliche, so please indulge me,  but laughter is good medicine, and even at my lowest points in life I always found a way to laugh. It does make everything seem a bit more bearable and a lot more "real!" So, lighten up if you can and do yourself some good. Smile more often and read the book "If I had to live my life all over, I would have picked more daises!" It is a wonderful read and gentle reminder of the things that truly matter in this life as told by women in their prime.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sympathy, Empathy, or Feeling Sorry?

Definition of Sympathy: harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.
Definition of Empathy: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

There is a vast difference between feeling sorry for a person and feeling sympathetic and/or empathetic toward them. Sympathy gives us the ability to express our like minded feelings no matter what the cause or condition. Empathy allows us to feel and innately understand through our words and actions what another is experiencing. Through both, we are afforded an opportunity to feel a connection to another fellow human being and what could be better then that? We might not know precisely how or what someone is feeling, nor have we  perhaps experienced the exact same circumstances, but we have an inexplicable need to say or do things that demonstrate our understanding.
Now, "feeling sorry" on the other hand is counter productive and makes vast assumptions about the other person. What I mean by this is, it could make you feel "better " or "superior" to the other person simply by thinking "wow, that must be awful, glad I am not going through that." A very real and very human response to others ups and downs in life. I think we have all felt this way at times, I know I have caught myself doing it.

No one really likes it when people feel sorry for them. I know I don't since there is nothing in this life I am not up to the challenge of changing or improving. Life may knock me down or throw me off kilter, but I try my absolute best to stay on course. My whole life has been about change and reinventing myself over and over and over again. Complacency is not for me and chances are it may not be for you too. I am a doer, and a seeker continuously looking for ways to better not just my life but that of others. My methods may not be so obvious, but they are nevertheless there.
 
Let me explain, back when I was going through my breast cancer options I was very expressive about my personal decisions as a means to both gain strength from the sharing of information, and to help other women realize that it could just as easily be them and not me. But more importantly to let others know that early detection works! My cancer diagnosis was caught so early it was not staged, and was very treatable. I chose a more radical approach (although more and more women are choosing to do this given the statistics on recurrence and personal history of breast cancer in families) then a breast conserving lumpectomy.

It entailed a good deal of courage and strength to make the decision I made as it would not be one I could reverse later on. I am a very determined and intelligent woman who makes choices based on both research and my own personal insight. Once a decision is made I follow through and try not to look back. Not always an easy thing to do, I can assure you, but second guessing choices is a dead end street that gets you no where quickly. You simply make a choice and you move forward. There is no right or wrong choice, there is simply your ability to decide a plan of action that feels right to you and only to you. We can take into consideration the thoughts of others but ultimately in order to grow as a person we need to make that decision for ourselves. To do anyhting less  defeats our purpose and might make us second guess our actions for the rest of our lives. Not a very useful process.

Some people felt empathetic toward my choice as they too had been there themselves or with family members, some people were sympathetic knowing how tough a process it was but understanding my need to take control of my life. But then there were those that just plain felt sorry for me and those were the hard. Those were the people who kept asking "are you OK?" and "is everything all right?" almost daily or when ever I encountered them. I saw in their eyes a lot of fear and pity, and a total inability to relate to me as a person and not a disease.

For me personally, writing about my life's experiences in so open a format is my way of saying we all feel pain, we all feel joy, and we feel what ever we need to feel. Our life is so enriched when we discover that we are all more alike then we think. It is not about wanting others to feel sorry for us. In this life it is about recognizing that we all have "pain" of some sort be it physical, psychologial or spiritual in nature and we all want the same thing: to live in a realtively peaceful way free from as many of the painful realities of life as possible.

So, the next time you feel a reaction toward someone who has shared with you something that is effecting their lives, stop and ask yourself before you speak  "am I feeling sorry for this person or am I feeling a sense of empathy and/or sympathy?" And chose your words with care. Sometimes saying nothing is the greatest gift we can give someone. Just knowing you are there in any capacity for a person is simply enough for many to know and appreciate.





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thyroid Roller Coaster

Started my thyroid meds as of last Thursday and boy does it feel like a roller coaster ride! I was so amped up the first two days I cleaned and did things around the house that would have ordinarily taken me days to complete! Now, while in theory that sounds great it felt like I had to stay in perpetual motion and not by choice. I have to admit though that I felt much clearer and focused and my mood was elevated as well. And that felt very good indeed. Then Sunday night came crashing in with heart palpitations and constant night wakings from the pounding of my chest. Whoopee! That was nuts, but a calm center, deep breathing and a healthy dose of meditation got me through that rough patch. Spoke to the doctor last night and he is lowering my dose as my system is so hypersensitive. I have been that way since I was a kid and even vitamins and aspirin can throw me for a loop. Advil makes me feel drugged and loopy so I avoid it and only use it as a last resort.

Last night was better, had frequent wakings but no pounding heart and my pulse feels rather normal right now. WOW! I had no idea thyroid meds can rev up your body in such a crazy way. I had heard about it from friends and read about it online, but it is so amazing to go through it yourself. Wheee!!!!

Plugging along.....


Friday, October 21, 2011

Doctor Visit

Yesterday, I had my first appointment with a Dr Kenneth Blanchard in Newton, MA. He is the author of the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism. Quirky, knowledgeable and utterly delightful, this Endocrinologist has been a trend setter and rebel in the field of Hypothyroidism for over 30 years. While there are some doctors who are starting to pick up cues from Dr. Blanchard, most still follow protocols and outdated practices regarding thyroid disease that focus more on aligning your "numbers" to standards of normalcy rather then taking into account the physiologic aspects of this disease and working with patient one on one, in constant contact to achieve a feeling of balance. I cannot tell you how many women I have encountered since speaking out about my diagnosis who tell me they saw little to no change on their meds or are either way too hyper or depressed, both signs of inadequate or overmedication. But their doctors tell them, "your numbers are within normal." Well, normal for who? Our bodies tell us far more then a number and that is what truly matters.

Now, I am new to this, so I have much to learn. I was put on on new drug called Tirosint a gel form of Levothyroxine that is completely free of any additives, dyes or fillers that caused a good deal of allergic reactions in the older, more established thyroid meds. Also there were problems with absorption for many people who take the other more commonly prescribed pills.

My first night? First, I felt really tired and wanted to go to sleep, but then I  became really jazzed up after trying to sleep for a few hours and found myself awake. I reasoned that my body did not like taking it at dinner, so I switched to AM today and am going to keep on that schedule for my two week trial and see how it goes.  The doctor wanted me to try evenings at first since a lot of his patients find it very soothing, but I am that one patient in 1,000 who is so super sentisive to any changes to my body that even vitamins can throw me for a loop! So I listen to my body and will just wait and watch see how it goes with the AM.

I have felt the way I feel for so many years now, I am not really sure what "good" feels like anymore and frankly that even scares me a little! I know this sounds absurd but it is true. The only me I know is the one who has struggled with finding answers and there is a part of myself that still thinks "is this yet another blind alley toward optimal health? This may not be the panacea I am looking for, but I hope it allows for an improved way of life so that my change of life is not so dramatic as it has been or so that I can cope better with the fall out from menopause. Thyroid disease can and does wreak havoc with the ups and downs of this time of life, so I do hope I will weather the storm better!




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mayhem



Did you realize that women were institutionalized not so long a go in history, for expressing or exhibiting symptoms of thyroid disease, perimenopause, PMS and menopause? And can you blame them...only kidding!!!

Truly, how shameful to think that doctors viewed most of what went on with a woman's reproductive and endocrine system as a never ending source of mystery and had an almost total disregard to learn more since females were considered to be so inferior. Terms were used to define a woman's unease as the vapors, nervous dispositions, hysteria, and in some cases, insanity. These esteemed physicians of the Victorian era often left women with little to no relief of any sort and families often placed these poor "creatures" who deserved more, in mental institutions. A sad reflection of how far we have come, yet how much further we have to go toward understanding the delicate balance of hormones provided by the thyroid, adrenals and the myriad of other glands that make up our endocrine system.

So if you feel on some days like my pumpkin friend above, rest easy, you are not alone.

Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that can greatly effect us all in so many ways. Do not be afraid to push your doctors toward going beyond the standard TSH tests, especially if your tests comes back normal as mine always did for years. If I had known then what I have learned in these last few weeks since my diagnosis, I would not have been so complacent to think it was all related to my "change of life." We have much to blame in our current health care system for the total lack of time doctors give to each patient. So a quick and often times, inaccurate diagnosis is often made in order to make our symptoms fit the coding on the doctors  inusrance billing sheet. Yet another sad but true fact. Health care has come a long way from our Victorian sisters barbaric care, but we still have long way to go toward  opening the door to care that combines traditional treatment options along with integrative practices, that allow time for true one on one care.

You have to play an active role in your health care, another fact that is hard for people to manage or control due to time constraints of their own. As a result, there is new, burgeoning career field  for personal health care advocates. These are people hired by you to get the very best care possible. They manage your insurance, doctors and medications and make sure you get what you need to be the best you can be. But of course, this comes at a price and there is a very limited number of people working in this field as it  requires a certain amount of medical training along with extensive insurance billing experience.

So, do what you can and learn what you must, but trust your instincts and go beyond the obvious. You and I have a right to feel as good as we can in this life!





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breast Cancer

I cannot let the month of October go by without an homage of sorts to Breast Cancer, especially given that we see the pink shirts, ribbons and the awareness campaigns everywhere. As someone who knows what it is like to be diagnosed with breast cancer firsthand, I feel best able to speak from a place of knowledge and experience.

It was not a shock to hear the words from my Radiologist those 8 long years a go, that I had cancer, I simply knew already. Like many women and men diagnosed with cancer, I had a dream months before my actual diagnosis. I saw a wonderful, caring surgeon with blood on her hands look at me with soulful eyes and tell me I had cancer. Do you ever have dreams in which you are sobbing so hard that you wake with tears in your eyes? I do on occasion, and have always felt that a good deal of my insight about my life comes from moments like these. We all have this ability to tap into this part of ourselves. It is just that so many of us are caught up in the flow of life and tend to ignore the signs that tell us what we instinctively know, but are doing our best to avoid.

This dream was so vivid and came LONG before I had even been to doctor or had a biopsy. So when I woke and told my husband that I had cancer he said what any loving, caring person would say, "it was just a dream....let it go." And while for his sake and mine too, I tried, I knew deep down inside that the dream was my body's way of letting me know something was indeed wrong. 6 months and a mastectomy later I was indeed a firm believer in the power of intuition and insight.

You see, we lost my sister-in-law, my husband's sister to breast cancer 4 or so years prior to my diagnosis. She had 3 children all under 10 and I am forever grateful to her for her unbelievable strength and courage in the face of what must have been a devastating diagnosis of Stage IV cancer. Mine was not staged as it was DCIS and so microscopic in size that someone once told me it was smaller then the width of human hair. I opted for a radical procedure for my type of diagnosis. I made my decision after much careful research and consults with my doctors. Perhaps that fateful dream guided my hand in my decision. If it did, I was not conscious of this fact. All I knew was that I can live without my breast, what I cannot live with is the thought that I might not trust my instinct to know that having this procedure was right for me.

On the day of my mastectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in Manhattan, (the absolute best place to be for cancer care in the country, in my biased opinion of course) I was sitting in the pre surgical waiting room with another woman who was also waiting to be escorted to her surgery. (MSK has an empowering practice in their breast cancer division, that you WALK into the surgical room, not get wheeled, as a way to make you feel in control of your surgery. I loved this fact but it is not for everyone.) This woman started talking to me and I vividly recall my first thought was "oh no, I hope she does not say anything to make me second guess what I was doing." She went on to say she was 78 and this was her 4th operation for a lumpectomy, a procedure typically done for women in my situation with DCIS. She asked me why I was here and when I told her my decison, she looked me straight in the eye and said : "I wish I had done what you are brave enough to do now and at your age."

She told me that 4 operations in 30 plus years is 4 too many and that if she had it do do all over, she would have done what I was doing now. I was forever grateful to her for saying so since she so aptly voiced what I felt played into my own decision. Soon after an orderly came in calling out my first name and looking at the two of us expectantly, unsure who was his next patient. We both answered "yes?," and started to laugh when we suddenly realized we had the same name! That does not happen often as our name is one that was never in popularity nor very common. I will never forget that moment and noted it as further proof that I made the right decison and have never looked back. Ever!

Words of advice: "Do not assume since you have no personal history of breast cancer in your family that you are "safe." 80 to 90 percent of the breast cancer diagnosed comes with no formal medical history of breast cancer in the family. We had no history of breast cancer in my family. A lot of women do understand that a history of breast cancer puts you at a higher risk, but not having a history just makes you only slightly less at risk. So get those mammograms! Do not put them off.

In closing, I had wonderful woman in a cancer support group tell me years ago that "knowing you have cancer is like having the radio on all the time. Sometimes the volume is loud and sometimes it plays softer, but never the less, it is always on." And that is indeed how it is to me. I know it's on, but I don't need to listen to it all the time. That's called choice, along with lots of meditation and a healthy dose of hutzpah!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Alone?

Feeling Nervous!! Have my doctor appointment this Thursday to see an endocrinologist known for working with people in a one on one way to balance the Thyroid. So many years of wondering if I had a Thyroid problem and having it disproved by every doctor due to a "normal" TSH. I have learned so much in these past few weeks since my diagnosis. There is a TON of great information out there on the WEB.

Mary Shomon has a fantastic website, to access it see Helpful Links on my Blog. It is listed under Thyroid Information. She is incredibly knowledgeable and a well known and published Thyroid patient advocate.

Bottom line, most doctors and endocrinologists do not work with you to find YOUR balance and correct dose of meds. Once your numbers are within "normal" they call it quits, so to speak,  and consider you regulated. DO NOT accept this!!! You have a right to feel good, and a right to seek out doctors who truly DO work with you!!!

Sometimes you feel SO ALONE, but help is out there!!!! Trust me, I know the feeling. I am nervous because that is just part of who I am, and because I want so much for this to work. Been feeling too crappy for too long now, time to get some improvement. Not looking for the moon here, just a tiny glimmer of sunshine.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aches and Pains

Throbbing, all over achy feelings in feet, hands, and joints that make me wake in the middle of the night. Is it  thyroid related?  Sharp shooting pain emanating from my elbow down to just above my left wrist daily now. Tendonitis? Right knee area that locks up on me when I practice Yoga in almost all positions. Is Osteoarthritis flaring? Left arm/shoulder becomes painful to move unless I massage it as I take my 45 minute walk each day. Is this Bursitis? Rising and shuffling on painfully sore feet some days to the bathroom each AM. Is this Plantar facitis again? Painful migraine that arrives each month like clockwork. Is this menopause? Body moving slowing each AM until all my joints "wake up" and allow me to move more freely. Is this the colder morning temperatures of late or just simply a precursor of things to come?

There are things I can simply no longer do without painful reminders of the limitations set not by my mind, but my body. Things like: playing games or drawing on the floor with my son, kneeling in any position, propping my head up on my elbow when I lay on my side, running, jogging, jumping, ascending or descending stairs, turning too quickly to pivot on my feet,  sitting in any position for too long, and writing too long on the computer keyboard.

The body is an amazing creation, no doubt about it. When it all works, it hums along like a well-oiled piece of machinery, think of a Mr. Machine toy, anyone recall that one? However, when the body starts to remind us of the fragility of each muscle, tendon, bone and sinew we quickly realize our limitations. Rather then wallowing in what my body can do no longer, I look for ways of appreciating what it still can do...which is a lot more then some people and yes, perhaps much less then others.

In essence, I try to re-frame my thoughts in order to not compare myself to what or who I was at 20, 30 or even 40. Thinking like that gets me nowhere quickly, and I can do that all on my own without moving! So, we do what we can, and we think what we must to make the pain a little more bearable and the fact that we are here at all so much more poignant.  And if that doesn't work, I have a heating pad in the living room, foot brace on the stairs, 3 different sized ice packs in the freezer, Arnica, Alleve, Tylenol and Advil in the medicine cabinet, knee and arm braces in my dresser and Epsom Salts in my bathroom! Gotta love it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mother

 Isn't it ironic how our memories of childhood can seem softer in the light of a parents illness and decline? Instead of wallowing in the pain and dissatisfaction of missed opportunities and hoping for something that could not be, our hearts open up a bit more to the closing chapters in a life lived. We seem to let go of all that was said and focus more on what still needs to be said. We suddenly find ourselves thinking "that's MY mom and she cared and loved me when I was sick, cranky, angry, and most unlovable at times." Just as we all strive to do for our own children every day. We don't think, or at least try not to think,  about the day that our bodies will give out or our own health will decline, we just do. It is a new experience for me, watching someone I love so much struggle to breathe, walk a few steps and sit down, and get through yet another day. This was a person who gardened with ferocity, ate with gusto, laughed heartily and fought back passionately. I am forever connected to this person and have never felt that so strongly as I do now. Mom just turned 80 on September 8th and celebrated her wedding anniversary as well on that very same day. Today, I am reminded of the lyrics from her favorite song:


Try To Remember
(As sung by Roger Whittaker)
Try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
when grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
when you were a tender and callow fellow,
Try to remember and if you remember then follow.

Try to remember when life was so tender
that no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender that
dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender that
love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember and if you remember then follow.

Deep in December it's nice to remember
although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
without the hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Motherhood

Motherhood.....I am 49, married and blessed with a wonderful energetic and loving son who is 7. Confusion and frustration sets in for me when I want to give in to my body and mind's desire to slow down, take it easy and relax. I admit it, there are days when I say "what was I thinking?" Referring to the decision to become a mother and raise a child. I knew adopting our son in my 40's would be challenging but I recall thinking "good, I will be through perimenopause by the time he is in high school! That should be good, right?" AGH!!! I never thought for one minute that all these hormone fluctuations and ebbs a flows in the brain chemistry would be felt so frequently. My moods and personality can shift so swiftly, one minute all is "Om Mani Padme Hum" and the next it is the crazy, bendy, twisty, high speed roller coaster of mood swings, a carnival ride no one wants to be on for long, I can assure you! This is supposed to be the time when most people my age are becoming empty nesters and feeling great sadness tinged with anticipation about this new transition in their lives. Me? I am trying so hard to feel good enough each day to be "there" for my son in every way imaginable. Why? Because having a child is a gift and raising that child to be able to cope and handle the stresses and strains of life is so important. Sitting around and constantly saying "Mommy's tired and needs to rest" was not something I liked or wanted to do, and yet my energy level has declined so much over the last 3 or 4 years. My ability to handle stress and to remain calm in the face of unexpected shifts in my day have been diminished. And lastly, Mommy no longer felt like smiling as much when the insomnia that got bad this past winter got even worse in the early summer. YIKES...I knew I needed to seek out more answers as I was not satisfied to follow in my Mother and Grandmothers footsteps of dark rimmed circles under eyes and mysterious whisperings of "she is going through the change." As though that answered it all....not for me....I am always striving to be the absolute best version of me that I can be. So when I had lost 24 pounds since last summer and heard the same well-intentioned line from well wishers about " you must feel great!" While my lips said "yes" my mind said " you've got to be kidding me, some days it is all I can do to get out of bed and move from the pain in my joints and the lack of consistent, restful sleep. I knew I needed to improve upon the direction of this "change" in order to be there for my son, who is the love of my life.....so my journey began yet again this past June 2011to find answers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thyroid

Thyroid Alert!!! I want every woman who is at or nearing mid life to PLEASE run don't walk to your nearest medical professional and demand, not ask for the following tests: TSH, Free T4, FreeT3 and Anti Thyroid Perioxidase especially if you are or have been experiencing any of the following: depression, anxiety, mood swings, heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat, cold feet and hands, hair loss, very dry skin, fatigue, throbbing pain in joints, insomnia, weight gain in mid region of body, constipation, migraines, changes in monthly menstruation flow, foggy thinking, and sensitivity to cold. DO NOT allow your doctor to tell you you do not need all 4 of these tests.

I have spend the better part of 19 years seeking answers for all of the above symptoms and have been told my various health care experts that you have PMS, depression, anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and most recently perimenopause. I despise labels in all forms and yet it was so hard not to define myself as a depressed, anxious, bowel challenged, moody, sensitive woman with moderate to severe menstruation and menopausal issues. In fact, I had heard this diagnosis so often that I never truly thought to question it.

Still, through all this there has been a persistent voice inside my head that has repeatedly told me to not give up and to keep seeking help from what ever source possible because I knew there was something more to all this......I was NOT going to give up.....although sometimes I truly cried and cried and kept crying, because the thought of another day of this agony was so demoralizing.

Some folks who don't know me so well, might be somewhat surprised with what I have written here since people see me as this outgoing, energetic, up beat person who is very friendly, loves to talk and seems to roll with life's punches. That IS me in large part...but for the last 4 or 5 years I have found it almost impossible to be that person any longer for any great length of time. Anger, irritability, mood swings, sadness, confusion, forgetfulness have all been a daily part of my life that it has impacted my family relationships, my friendships and my desire to socialize. I felt that some days it just was not worth the effort and the pain, fatigue and overwhelming feeling that something was so wrong in my life.

Well....I am here to say that were it not for an NP who had the foresight to order the above 4 mentioned thyroid tests and for my PCP's ability to diagnosis me, I might be spending the next 10 or so years of my life going to more doctors and seeking more relief from symptoms that have only recently been kicking into high gear. I found out that I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis and am off to seek the care of a specialist sometime later this month. I am hoping that this meeting brings about some real answers to my life and some relief to my symptoms. My Thyroid Antibodies are 874, normal is 8 or below.....so my body is quite literally attacking my thyroid causing my already overtaxed and overstressed body to have much more extreme symptoms of perimenopause.......and it probably contributed to my severe PMS symptoms when I was younger as well. In fact, I am convinced that this condition has plagued me for many years and yet no one saw fit to question my thyroid beyond a standard TSH test that always was within normal range.