Thursday, October 9, 2008

Menopause

I have been wrestling with this issue for more than 4 years. I had surgical menopause in 1995. In 2005 I began having more stress than before, with Mom's cancer surgeries #5 and 6. The stress of coping with a career that I had to put on hold was immense. Perimenopause is when you still menstruate, but are having menopausal symptoms. Menopause is when you have not had a period for one year. It is my opinion that menopause symptoms and caregiver stress are related.

I found much more attention for this issue lately: Oprah, various non-medical self-appointed experts have, at least, found more options. There are a lot of sources of information, ensure you seek reputable ones on your journey.
I think I am on the upturn, but still need to work out hormone issues. With hot flashes, panic attacks, fearing loud noises, and many interrelated stress <=> hormone <=> menopausal issues. I found a compounding pharmacist who makes 4% progesterone cream, plus I take DHEA supplements. I was not sure that the cream was strong enough, and in consultation with my physician, I have had another hormone test. I am trying pill form now.
I have some osteoporosis, since we do not absorb calcium as easily as menstruating women. I take calcium and magnesium vitamins, as well as vitamin D. I try to get 10 - 15 minutes of sunshine every day with a one hour walk outdoors. I am watching what I eat, I have some issues with digesting whole wheat, apparently is is more difficult for menopausal women. I have fibroma-type lumps here and there: a couple on my foot, one near my spine that we are watching.
I write about my journey as I hope others might learn about my mistakes and my issues, which seem to be common to many. Suzanne Sommers writes of her journey and has written of,
"The seven dwarfs of menopause showed up:
Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful, and All-Dried Up".

The sandwich generation is a difficult one. Just when you think you are making progress...good job, career advancements, children grow up and become independent, then workplace stress and ailing parents cause you to regroup and rethink life plans.Just remember to breathe.
Another thing to watch for cardiovascular health issues previously thought uncommon in women. There are several indicators for risk of cardiovascular disease, which is otherwise symptomless in many people.

1. Previous heart attacks, strokes or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
2. A Body Mass Index (BMI) that exceeds normals: too much weight for your height.
3. High cholesterol
4. Diabetes
5. High blood pressure
6. Being a smoker
7. Eating fast foods more than 3 times per week.
8. Drinking more than 2 drinks per day, on a regular basis.
9. Adding salt to your food.
10. Not getting the recommended 5 servings per day of fruit and vegetables.
11. Experiencing abnormal levels of stress on a regular basis due to personal or professional issues.
12. Exercising and bringing up your heart rate for 30 - 60 minutes per day.
13. Living alone.
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Check out your options. Consult your physician. Get yourself some help!

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