Sunday, December 26, 2010

Woah hormones...

The obvious distractions aside, you know what the really difficult thing about menopause is? The *#(&*(& hormones!!! Its horrible! I'm supposed to change my estrogen patch on set days throughout the week. I forgot to take a patch out of town with me recently and you would've thought I turned into Sybil (for those of you new to this world Sybil was the first person diagnosed with multiple personality disorder in the 1970's). It was horrible. I cried more than I have in a long time, gave my husband a hard time about trivial issues and felt like the world was coming to an end.

That, my friends, is one of the most difficult things about menopause; feeling like I'm going crazy when I don't have a hormone patch to change. My girlfriends and relatives of the same age are thinking about breast-feeding and fertility issues, maybe losing weight, training for a marathon, not hormones. So I had my little 5-minute pity party and tried to get over it.

Then, I woke up this morning. It was probably the 115th-120th morning I've woken up feeling like I'd done a dance marathon the day before. Problem is, there was no dance marathon yesterday. It doesn't matter if I do anything, I wake up sore more than half the time.

Frequently when standing up after sitting for a long time, I have to get all the kinks out, its like I'm 90 ($*&* years old and I hate it.

My doctor says these are all issues we have to work out with my hormone levels. I think its horseshit that I literally have the body of a 60 year-old. When I say it, I'm not exaggerating or being funny, I literally have the body of a 60 year-old.

Lack of estrogen and other hormones for as long as I was without, causes long-term damage and effects to the body. Some of the symptoms of that damage is the fact that my back and hips hurt, my knees crack and sometimes I just feel old and creaky. Like stairs in an old Victorian mansion. Beautiful and aged, yet old and creaky.

Monday, December 20, 2010

You can still talk about children around me.

Hey you - you can still talk about having kids around me! And you - you can still talk about trying to get pregnant in my presence! And you - please keep telling me about your doctor visits I love living vicariously through you!

And you, especially YOU...please ask my husband how he is doing. And you, over there, who doesn't like me, please still talk to him, he needs to know people care too.

And you - don't be afraid to talk to me or ask me questions. I'm fine with everything and frankly, it would be nice to know you cared.

That's all for now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When trauma brings about love and new friendships

For every tragedy there is a triumph...for every loss of friendship there is a new one...for every lost battle there is a lesson learned...for every girlfriend of my husband's who I wasn't 'too sure of' when we first started dating, there is a new good friend.

The past months have been difficult to say the least. Certain people have bent over backward to make sure I'm ok, see if I need anything or anyone to talk to. I'm a private person by nature. The fact that I write two blogs, a dating column and have a Facebook page with more than 2,000 friends is completely out of character for me. Let me repeat - I am a private person by nature.

Just because I am okay with the whole world of blog readers to know I am prematurely post-menopausal doesn't mean I share anything beyond that easily. The inner-workings of my mind, my insecurities, my hopes and fears, my dreams and secret guilty pleasures. The people I spend too much time thinking about, the elephants I cry about and the dogs I pray for. Very few people know any of this.

So, I found it strange that during what I will (someday) affectionately refer to as 2010, I became close to the least likely people in my life.

That's really all that needs to be said. There's something to be said for strong, independent and confident women who will reach out to another woman when she is in pain. There is something to be said for people who embrace people because they're good people, not for any other reason. There is something to be said for people who are able to not think about themselves for a brief period of time and during that time, put someone else's feelings before theirs.

I love good people. You guys know who you are. Thank you for letting me open up to you and thank you for not giving up. Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that while I am powerless to change people's opinions and actions, that doesn't mean it has to be a reflection on me.

Monday, December 6, 2010


My mom sends me a text message last night "Look at the front page of the Gazette." The Gazette, (the Cedar Rapids Gazette) is my home-town newspaper. I googled it, and saw the front page was a picture of a dog at the Cedar Valley Humane Society (yay for the Gazette helping the animal shelter!). The dog was precious, just adorable. Her following texts were about how cute the dog is, and how she wanted to run right down there and get one.


My mom is a wonderful mother, grandmother and grand'dog'mother. She really is. She has come a long way over the years. One of my fave pics is of my mom (all 100 pounds of her) snuggling up to Stella, my extra-large black pit mix. They're snuggling. So cute! Well lets just say my parents travel A LOT and a dog does not fit into their lifestyle. So, my mom gets her 'dog fix' whenever she comes to KC to visit me and Kurt.

I reminded her of this. I included an invitation to come to KC next weekend if she needed her dog fix. The great thing is, she is really making strides because we were just home for Thanksgiving with our 150+ pounds of dog in tow!

So, I get to thinking about this. And I thought how sometimes its really difficult to be around my pregnant friends. Or to talk to them. Ultrasounds are kind of hard. But really, I can live vicariously through them. I had a good friend over for dinner last night and she brought her BEAUTIFUL baby girl. Her daughter is five months old. She has the most amazing blue eyes and a smile to die for. I just wanted to eat her she was so cute.

They spent a good several hours at the house...I held the babygirl...played with her and walked her around the house. We looked at the Christmas tree. It was wonderful.

So mom, I guess we have yet one more thing in common - you can't have dogs so you come stay with me anytime you need your fix. And I can't have kids so I will call upon one of my many amazing friends or my brother and sister-in-law whenever I need my 'baby fix'.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family dynamics, oh how thee change

I wrote and rewrote this article only to come to the conclusion this is definitely a two-parter. In discussing family dynamics, there are just so many different themes that arise. The theme of the sibling dynamics changing throughout the years, the theme of parent-child dynamics changing throughout the years and the all-important and oftentimes highly dramatic issue of when a member of a family brings in a significant other.

Family dynamics change over the years. Siblings mature and move into adulthood. Therefore, these relationships can become strained or closer based upon the type of relationship. The relationship between a big brother and little sister or may stay just that, a big brother and his little sister or may become more of a friend to friend relationship.

The relationship between myself, an older sister and my younger brother has gone from sibling to close friend throughout the years. Parental relationships with kids change as well. Kids who are dependent upon their parents during adolescence may remain so into their 20's and 30's. These same kids may become entirely independent after adolescence, which allows for a relationship based on equality and friendship with their parents.

Now, combine these changing relationship dynamics with a marriage or relationship.

When the son goes off and gets married, his relationship with his mother changes just as it changes with his siblings. I gained a friend when my brother married his wife. When he got married, everyone in the family gained a sister/daughter and years later, nieces and grandchildren.

When a daughter marries, oftentimes her relationship with her mother takes a turn. Mine took a turn for the better and my mother and I have never been so close. Many girls fight with their mothers during this time, thus changing the mother/daughter dynamic for the worse.

The relationship between a father and daughter changes a great deal when the daughter gets married, just as her relationship with her brothers and sisters do.

Unfortunately, I have noticed in many relationships that the significant other gets the brunt of the blame for these changing relationship dynamics. In fact, I remember a painful time when my family blamed my sister-in-law for my brother's "changes." In hindsight, these changes were simply maturing.

Why are people so eager to blame the significant other for changes in the daughter/son/sibling/friend? Is it really too difficult to admit that, over time, our relationship dynamics change, we grow up and move on?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Does the Honeymoon Have to End?

As of late I've participated in numerous conversations with people in regards to the "does the honeymoon period have to end" issue that seems to plague many relationships.
Does the honeymoon period end in all relationships?

Does the honeymoon period have to end?

When your significant other displays symptoms of laziness of selfishness, does this mean the inevitable ending is near?

In my experience, relationships ebb and flow. They are like riding a roller coaster - you may have a really good ride followed by a slump, followed again by a really good ride. But, the whole time, you are on exactly that - a ride, an experience.

Friends of mine are predictable in their ebb and flows. They are happy and on the same wavelength for several weeks, then they have an off week.

Another friend of mine has learned to pull away from her partner whenever her partner starts acts irritably. The whole, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing.

I have a framed print in my house - it used to be in my bathroom so everytime I brushed my teeth I read it. Now, I have it memorized. "Think about the destination but don't worry if you stray, because the most important thing is what you learn along the way." So, while we think of "forever" and celebrating our 50 year anniversary, it isn't only the destination that is important...its also the little things you learn about each other every day. And, you can't learn those little things if you only concentrate on the destination itself. Don't get distracted thinking about the ultimate goal because the little every day things will pass you by, and those are the most important parts.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Side effects of hormones or...ulcer?

Last night I suffered what was quite possibly the worst stomach ache I have ever had. This has happened a few times before (each time of course was the worst stomach ache I've had) where the pain was so severe I was in the fetal position, propped up on my knees and elbows in bed. Weird thing is, each time it has happened we've been traveling. Unfortunate for us!

Kurt and I took a careful look at my lifestyle and routine last night, in an attempt to self-diagnose what was going on. The only major changes are a) I eat a LOT more fruit than ever before (a smoothie every morning and fruit at night) and b) I am under an exorbitant amount of stress.

Kurt said, "Ulcer. You have an ulcer." He is positive it is an ulcer. When I got my first stomach ache a few months ago, we thought it was a side-effect of one of the two hormones I am on. Although, a stomach ache is not a potential side-effect of either of the hormones, it was the only thing that made sense.

I've kept a journal (food, side effect and lifestyle journal) over the past couple months. So, since I was in the fetal position crying for 3 hours last night my first chance to google "ulcer" was this morning. My sister always makes fun of me for self-diagnosing on the Internet but, I have to say the symptoms and causes really do match my symptoms and recent lifestyle choices and events.

I have a doctor's appointment that I intend to bump up. I can't handle another of these stomach aches. They're indescribable. Anyone out there know anything about ulcers?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What is a healthy relationship and, does it - GASP - involve change?

The other day someone complimented me. They said Kurt and I have changed, as individuals, since coming together as a couple. She said I have embraced my gifts and passions more than ever before. And Kurt has noticeably begun doing things he enjoys more than ever before. He goes to football games out of town, he nurtures his friendships more and he enjoys the little things in life now more than ever.
We have very little time together, due to our schedules so when we do have time together we embrace that time. We sometimes merge "my things" or "his things" and sometimes we just do, "our things."

Before meeting Kurt, I was a writer and animal advocate. I was a dance teacher, a cheer coach, a friend and daughter. Since meeting Kurt, I've begun and nearly finished my first book, written a handful of short stories for anthologies and written nearly 1,000 articles all of which have been published. I have jumped into animal activism with both feet, instead of tip-toeing into it as I had before. I know I am making a difference and have the strength to continue to do so. I am a better daughter, sister and better friend since knowing Kurt.

Why the change? Because Kurt makes me believe in myself. Kurt is my biggest fan, my coach, my team mate. He believes in me therefore I believe in him.

How has he changed? Since meeting me, Kurt has embraced his friendships and nurtures them. He spends more time with friends and this current football season has been the craziest yet for my husband. He has all-niters with his BFF going over DVR'd football games until 6 in the morning. He has taken up property management which is something he's always wanted to do and maybe just needed that little voice off to the side telling him he could do it, he is amazing at what he does.

How else have we changed? I've always been a planner, a scheduler. Not having a date and time for everything made me anxious. Kurt was fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants spontaneous and flexible with everything. We've molded into a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants couple assuming it works with the schedule:)

I am a confronter. I confront. I don't like passive-aggressive and I can't stand talking behind backs. I think everyone should get the balls to tell people what they think instead of whispering and wasting negative energy.

This of course, is not always the best way to handle situations. Kurt comes from a background of absolutely no confrontation, let's keep everyone happy and not ruffle any feathers. I've learned that although this goes against everything I am comfortable with, this is oftentimes the way things need to be done - for everyone else's comfort levels.

I am private. Kurt is not. Since meeting, I've become less private and Kurt has realized there are some things that are nobody else's business.

People change when they're in relationships. And 99% of the time its a good thing. If I became a heroin addict because Kurt was, clearly that would be a bad thing. Kurt running more because of me, and me doing yoga more because of him, these are not bad things. These are good things.

So, to you out there who've heard "you've changed since you met Bob" or "you're a different person now that you're with Ann" - think about it...This is really a good thing, isn't it:)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazy times and...Christian Porn?

One of the writers in my writers' group - Bob - wrote a story about Christian porn. Yes, you read that correctly. I would say of the five of us in the group, he definitely has the most vivid imagination. He wrote a story about a couple. The couple introduces the protagonist to Christian porn - videotaped sexual escapades between a married man and woman.

We'd all read the story, those of us in our group, however our spouses had not. Why would they? A copy was passed out at our dinner the other night, and a conversation about Christian porn ensued. Shortly thereafter, someone pulled out their Droid (thank goodness for technology, where would we be without it? Having nice dinner conversations about politics and religion while NOT googling innapropriate topics) and googled "Christian porn."

Try it.

You will get pages of search results.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hour in the life!

My chai latte was on the stove. I drank my orange-mango-peach smoothie, and realized I needed to clean out the blender. But it also occurred to me I needed to clean the counters. With dishrag in one hand I opened the door underneath the sink to get the all-purpose cleaning stuff. Couldn't find it.

Went upstairs to my office where I believed the all-purpose cleaner to be. Saw that I had some paperwork that needed to be tended to.

Organizing the paperwork I found some investment paperwork.

Headed downstairs to the dining room to find my "investment paperwork" folder. In the process I found an old checkbook.

Went into Kurt's office with the old checkbook to shred it (shredder kept in Kurt's office.) While in Kurt's office I noticed his garbage was full; I'd forgotten to empty it into the trash for today's pickup.

Took the trash outside to the curb. On the way back I checked for mail. Realized yesterday was Veteran's Day - no mail. Somehow being around mail reminded me my paycheck would be in my account tonight. This prompted me to go to my laptop on the coffee table to balance my checkbook.

Sitting at the coffee table it occurred to me I needed to vacuum the area rug. Because the area rug is underneath the coffee table.

I went back to Kurt's office where we keep the vacuum (one of them) took it back to the living room. I also remembered I want to sell my Kirby vacuum on Craigslist.

I hop back on the laptop to list the Kirby vacuum on Craigslist. Wait, I need to take a picture of the vacuum first.

Then I can vacuum the area rug.

As I'm vacuuming the area rug it occurs to me the coffee table needs to be dusted first. I turn the vacuum off and go to grab my all-purpose cleaner and rag to dust the table. Then it occurs to me my chai latte was still on the stove, the blender still needed to be cleaned out and the countertops were still dirty.

And I still didn't have my all-purpose cleaner.

Just an hour in the life of me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make a Statement

Every decision, every word and every action we make or say, makes a statement.

What clothes we put on to go to work makes a statement. Its says, "I care about my job, my co-workers" and "I take myself seriously." What we put on says "I am a professional." Or we can make the statement "I got home late last night and was a little hungover this morning, couldn't wake up early enough to shave" or "breakfast with you isn't important enough to put on a fresh pair of jeans."

When we pass the stranger on the street, whether we say "hi" makes a statement.

When we see that girl we don't like but she looks really cute, whether we say "You look really nice" or "I love your shirt, where did you get it?" makes a huge statement. That statement says, 'I am confident enough in myself to make your flame grow brighter."

When our best friend starts finding other friends we can make a statement. We can make several statements actually. We can say "These new friends of yours sound fabulous, I'd love to meet them sometime!" Or, we could say "You're spending an awful lot of time with those people lately, you're changing. You quit drinking since you started hanging out with them, what's up with that?"

I have a writer friend. She had a bad day. In the midst of her bad day she sent me an email. The email said "I just want you to know that when (not if) your book is published you're going to be big. So big. And I am so proud to be your friend." I re-read that email many times. It amazed me that someone could be so selfless, to have a bad day, have many things on her mind and yet, have the confidence and support and compassion to send me this email. She knew I needed to hear it. That is a big statement.

I challenge you, to make a big statement. Forgive the unforgivable. Love the unlovable. Pray for the person you least want to pray for. Complement her when you can't stand her. Say 'hello' when they aren't looking.

I've learned recently when someone is hurting me, to see them as a victim instead of a perp. (My therapist's idea. It works.) I promise you, by seeing the bully as a victim instead of a perp, you will feel sorry for them. You will see they are not perfect and have issues of their own that don't have anything to do with you. Make a statement. Forgive her, understand her and accept her for the imperfect person she is.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Writers' dinner....

My writers' group consists of five people; T, K, B, D and me. Three women, two men. About a month ago, T decided to have a dinner party for us, mostly so our spouses could meet each other and our crazy writer friends.

I don't know what the others expected but the first one was really fun. Take a liberal activist, a conservative Senator, a casino employee, a CEO of a major company in KC, a stay-at-home mom and several other completely opposite personalities and put them in the same room - the result is awesome! We did have so much fun.

Well, that was a month ago and our second writers' group dinner party was last night and K's beautiful home. We'd never met her husband before and even doubted he existed -thought maybe he was an incredible figment of her fiction-loving mind. Oh he is very real, very sweet and very hospitable.

It was a great time. I was so tired. I honestly thought we would go, eat and leave. And the cool thing about this group is that no one judges and no one needs explanations. If you need to leave, you leave, no questions asked no justifications expected.

That was my plan last night. Between campaigning for Prop B, working at the shelters and Chain of Hope, writing my book and working a long day at the firm yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to go home and rest my head. Kurt is good with whomever and wherever, he is such a people-person. I never have to worry about him. That being said, everyone was having a great time and I was definitely the party pooper when I dragged him away at nearly 10:00!

I think I'm going to push for our dinner parties to be on "school nights" so I'm not the only lame person going home before midnight.

T did message me awhile ago to tell me she and her husband left within moments after we did. Apparently after that, the party got out of hand and crazy.

You know how those fiction writers are.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Prop B...

How in the world could ANY lawmaker repeal the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Law"??? I mean, all we're asking for is the essentials: food, water and veterinary care. Really? Lawmakers in both the Missouri House and Senate are beginning the repeal process (some, not all lawmakers thank GOD).

How can ANY "reputable breeder" assume that Prop B will put them out of business? If they consider themselves "reputable breeders" (which really, is an oxymoron if I've ever heard one) they should already be providing food, water and veterinary care.

The issue of the "limit" seems to be getting peoples' panties in a bunch. Are you telling me that 50 breeding females is too few? So, the commercial puppy mills out there with 250 breeding females (not to mention all the males and puppies) are able to care for the hundreds of dogs in their care?

I think not.

C'mon people. Let's fight to keep Prop B on the books. This is really stinkin' ridiculous. I can't believe I'm writing this post - can't believe I have to. We all thought the election would be a landslide. It's called the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Act" for Christ's sake!!! Who can argue with that?

I need to meditate, calm down, bring down my blood pressure.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Easier said than done...

What things do you wish you could do, but can't? I'm not talking about "I wish I could run a marathon this weekend" or "I wish I could grow my nails out" I'm talking about things like, I wish I could not let that negative lady at work affect me. I wish I could not cry when I see elephants in the circus. I wish I could not let things bother me that I can't control.

My sister said, "Think about the serenity prayer. Whenever something is bothering you, just think of the serenity prayer." First of all, I don't have the serenity prayer memorized, I suppose that is something I should work on. When something irritates me - whether it be a slow driver in the fast lane, or something someone did or said - I inhale deeply, pray a little, then try not to think about it again.

Another coping mechanism I've recently come up with is to "put myself in their shoes." Actually, this technique would've been extremely useful had I considered it back in my school days. But alas, I did not. For example, that person who irritates me? I think to myself, maybe they're so jealous of me that they have to be mean. Or, maybe the person driving slow in the fast lane, on their cell phone, is actually in the middle of an important phone call and someone is ill. Or maybe, that person just lost their job.

It's kind of a game. I'll be driving and someone is going slow in the fast lane. She is young, on her phone and laughing. I am tailing her because, well, you're supposed to get over if you're going slow in the fast lane! I think to myself, maybe she just found out she is pregnant, or lost her job or maybe she just found out she got a raise. These are all things that I do not know how I would handle them, and they may cause me to not pay attention.

One of my biggest pet peeves (apart from slow drivers in the fast lane if you couldn't already tell) is when people don't stand their ground. Back in high school I believe this was referred to as being "two-faced." Let me break it down for you...if you don't like someone and you talk behind their back, don't then be nice to their face. And if you are with a person who is badmouthing someone you do like, stick up for that person!

Back to the focus of this blog which, is, that I wish I could not let things affect me that I cannot control. I'm getting better at it. Its tough though.

Let me also utilize this forum to say that I am sick and tired of political ads on TV!!! I am dreading watching DWTS tonight because I just know the two-minute commercial slots will be inundated with Harztler v. Skelton and Blunt v. Carnahan...BORING!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More than menopausal

Being menopausal doesn't define me. Have I let it, lately? I am so much more. I am wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer and animal welfare activist. I am daughter-in-law, lover and fighter. I am peacemaker and mistake maker.

I am also, participant of NaNoWriMo.

Nanowrimo is the National Novel Writing Month - every year during the month of November. I've been writing a book (not novel which would be fiction, but that is a small detail) since February. My book was titled: Hope for Tyson: The Kate Quigley Story however has taken a turn and now is untitled. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a crazy dog lady, involved in animal welfare and rescue, who protests at Ringling Bros Circus venues and judges people who wear fur.

Since 2006 I've had the pleasure of knowing Kate Quigley. Kate pretty much makes me look like Mike Vick in her compassion for animals. I started writing articles for various publications about Kate's work and then one day at coffee, Kate told me she'd been approached by publishers in NYC about her life's work. But, since I'm a writer (struggling), friend and animal activist, why don't I write the book she asked. I was elated. So, that's what I'm doing.

More than menopausal...I'm also a sister. My brother and I drove to Columbia last night to meet our sister for dinner. Our mom does it with her siblings every so often, so thanks for the idea Ma! We met at the Geisha Sushi Restaurant in Columbia off 8th and Broadway. Awesome food, superb service - our waitress Kristen had fun with us. I'm pretty sure we were her most memorable table last night.

After dinner we walked around the downtown Columbia area - I do NOT miss being in college! We saw hysterical Halloween costumes my favorite of which was Dora. Probably because my sweet niece Grace loves Dora.

Yes, I am more than menopausal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shock to my system

My doctor increased the dose for both hormones; Prometrium (Progesterone) and Estradiol/Vivelle (Estrogen). I was still having some issues (symptoms) as well as undesirable side effects. She has been so open with me that I am the second person in her long and distinguished career to be in this situation, before the age of 45.

Hmmm let me rephrase that like a big girl. I am the second premature menopausal woman under the age of 45 that my doctor has treated in her esteemed, 30+ year career. Such a rarity that she speaks with her "colleagues" about me and my situation. One of the reasons for bumping up the Estrogen was because there is still some concern for the health of my overall body and body functions. Essentially, without the normal hormones of a 35 year-old my body will function as a 50-60 year-old's body. The concerns are bone loss, osteoporosis and dementia. Some would joke I've already begun the latter.

So, by increasing my dose of Estrogen my body will have the hormones of a pseudo-normal 35 year-old and the hope is I won't encounter bone loss, osteoporosis or dementia until much later in life, if ever.

I still have some of the lower-dose Estrogen patches so I intend to finish those however I did begin the increased dose of Prometrium last night. I took it at 9pm. I read and fell asleep around 10pm. I woke at 11:30, 1am, 2:30 and 3:30 am. Finally at 4:15 I took my dogs for a walk and started my day.

Guess it will take awhile to get used to...after all, my body has had very little if any hormones for at least 18 months. Shock to my system!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another doctor's appt...

We have another doctor's appointment today. Supposed to be a follow-up. The follow-up was scheduled for Nov. 22 but due to some issues that have arisen we've moved it up to today. Nothing major, just more side effects. Or, maybe not side effects, maybe other issues. Who knows!

Went to "Social Network" last night. AWESOME movie. Can't decide if Jesse Eisenberg deserves a best actor in  leading role Academy Award more for his role as Mark Zuckerberg or Justin Timberlake as best supporting actor. And that's not just because JT is hot, he was amazing as Napster inventor and bachelor-lifelong-partier Sean Parker.

We went with a couple who aren't even on Facebook, know very little about Facebook and yet still thought the movie was insane. (Insane, meaning AWESOME). We hadn't been to a move in a long time it was so fun!

I've decided to go to a Pet Writers' Conference in NYC in February. I've been working very hard on a book about a local animal rescuer. A little woman you may know, Kate Quigley. My writers' group has been very supportive of my writing this book and, while we all acknowledge the market will be small, the book could be hugely popular. So, my goal is to have a good 250 pages done by that conference in Febraury. Some of the people involved in the book Saving Gracie will be there as well as many of the people involved in the book The Art of Racing in The Rain (bestseller told from dog's point of view). I can't wait. I'm nervous but so excited. I hate traveling and yet, 2010-2011 will go down as "Sarah's traveling years."

Maybe menopause has changed me for the better in that I'm not so scared to leave my comfort zone now? That would be nice. My husband would definitely like that.

One positive thing I have experienced lately that honestly, I never thought would coincide with menopause, is that I need less sleep than I did before, and I have a great energy about me. Sometimes this "energy" might be called crazy, yes, however most of the time my energy is welcomed and I have honestly never felt better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

Reading the Sunday paper cover to cover in PJ's on the couch while the house is silent...iced tea...smoothies...watching Stella do "downward facing-dog"...cute text pics from friends (Melissa) for no niece Grace when she says "Sarah!!!!!"...mindless reality tv...thunderstorms...the smell of dryer sheets...folding laundry...walks with the dogs in the morning when we have the world to ourselves...the smell of white tea oil...a good night's sleep...ceiling skinny jeans fitting...bubble baths...finding money..."Rock me Amadeus"...a novel so good I can't put it down...when my wedding ring catches the light and reminds me how lucky I am...short pregnant women...motivation to do yoga...doing my body feels after yoga...journaling...praying...kneeling at a Catholic church just being with me and God...Christmas...the first snowfall...the smell of coffee in the morning...people watching on the Plaza...high-heeled shoes that are comfortable...the word "copasetic"...watching my brother with his mom's step-dad's "yeah!"...hand massages...paying all my bills and having money left-over...dreaming and reaching my goals...clarity...celebrity gossip..."Johnny and June" sister's cooking...remembering Tyler...painting pottery...driving alone with the radio cranked...crunching leaves beneath my feet...when I come home to Kurt and the dogs waiting for me on the porch...road trips with my husband...planning...schedules...routine...forgiving...a good cry...Jolie Justus...realizing I can't control the other person...letting go...Iowa Hawkeye football...a day with nothing to do...guilty pleasures: Facebook and The Hills...Say Yes to the Dress...the underdog winning...writing a really good sentence...alliteration...laughing so hard I cry...clean floors...clean counters...veggie sandwiches...hope...Max and Leo playing...making a difference...knwoing that while we cannot save all the starfish I made a difference in the life of that one, and that Grandma pixie cut...growing my hair out...knowing I will someday go back to my pixie cut...SUV's...dusk...dawn...thrift stores...smelly soaps..."Ice Ice Baby"...complimenting someone who wasn't expecting it...smiling at a stranger...saying hello to the hopeless...a gap in traffic...Max nudging my hand to pet him....Max becoming really persistent until I do pet him...clean with an old friend...a truce...agreeing to disagree...respect...Barack Obama...confidence...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is it obvious?

(This blog entry was written a few days ago...)
Love this weather. I absolutely heart fall. In fact I heart fall so much I would move somewhere without summer and instead, two falls.

Woke up, took dogs on walk this morning. It was probably 55 degrees. I wore a hoodie and pants and a skullcap to keep my ears warm. I was perfect on the walk - didn't sweat and of course wasn't too cold.

Got home and showered, dressed in layers: jeans, t-shirt, sweater and vest. Kept all my layers on while I worked from home. It was 61 degrees at my house.

Met girlfriend for coffee at 11:30. Took off and put on my vest and sweater every five minutes. Seriously. Layers on and I turn beet red, and sweat profusely. Layers off I cringe at the chills. She kind of stared.

She said, "Hot flash?"

I said "Is it that obvious?"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Allow me to clarify...please...

When I first told my Mom, her response was perfect. I don't even remember what it was, or what I expected but I remember just feeling well, ok. Then she was down here the next weekend to take care of me. When I first told my Dad he was as good as a Dad can be I suppose. Sad maybe, but at the same time its got to be crazy to have your 35 year-old daughter in menopause. Talk about making a guy feel old.

Some of the other family members were supportive, surprising..again I don't remember what responses were I just remember how they made me feel.

"I'm so sorry Sarah." Is a good first response. "How are you and Kurt dealing with this?" Is also good. "How is Kurt?" Is great.

Once we establish a dialogue about the subject you can try to make me laugh. E.G: "Well Sarah, you always say people shouldn't breed while there are so many that need to be adopted" now that, is funny. My gravestone will probably say "Don't breed or buy while pets in the shelters die you stupid idiot."

My husband has made me laugh as well, "Children are SO expensive. Too expensive!" He is frugal and because I know he partly feels this way, it is funny and is does make me laugh. Or better yet, when Kurt and I are totally relaxing (rarely happens!) on the couch; me with a book cuddled up next to him watching 9:30 at night. He says "If we had a baby honey do you know how different our lifestyle would be? You couldn't cuddle up next to me cause YOU would be taking care of the baby!"

And then there's the jokes about my height and how I would be as big out as I am up if I were to get pregnant.

So just allow me to clarify my previous post. I was reflecting on people who, upon hearing the news, automatically say "I didn't think you wanted children anyway" or "Oh no biggie, you can always adopt!"

Save those comments for when you have established a dialogue with the person.

Since posting the last column I've been contacted privately by many people who have someone in their life dealing with infertility. Those people have now reached out to them...please people, talk about it with whomever you love that is being affected by it. You can't begin to fathom (unless you've dealt with it yourselves) what it is like to know that birthing/procreating is an impossibility. Reach out to them.

Random menopausal thoughts...

1) Never say "you can always adopt" if you have a loved one who can't physically have biological children. Duh. That is an option, yes, however more sympathy less solution-orientedness.

2) Never say "Oh I didn't know you wanted children" no explanation needed. Idiot.

3) If you are related, kind-of related or even acquaintances with someone suffering from infertility or premature menopause, ovarian failure, anything that would make it impossible to get pregnant and have children, give them support. Talk about it. One of my good friends wasn't able to get pregnant for years (however she has been blessed and is now in her second trimester!). I remember feeling like I couldn't or shouldn't bring up the topic with her. I was wrong. I should have talked about it more than I did. She probably wanted to and/or needed to talk about it. Being a mother was one of the most important aspects of life to her, and being a father was one of the most important aspects of life to her husband.

Just like when Tyler died (my soul-mate dog) in May...I WANT to talk about it. I want to relive my wonderful memories of him. That's the only way to keep him alive. Yet, I find myself rarely talking about him. My niece Gracie talks to me about Tyler. That's really the only person. Children are so smart. I guess I can't wait until Gracie is old enough to realize Aunt Sarah can't have babies and may need to talk about it.

Being faced with not having children is hard. Its a loss, like a death. We need to grieve. Not acknowledging this makes us feel like we're making a big deal out of nothing. This IS a big deal.

A brave, awesome girl contacted me a few weeks ago via email. Her name is Sarah too. She thanked me for writing this blog. She was diagnosed with cancer and has been struggling through the chemotherapy, radiation, roller-coaster of emotions and mortality issues that accompany cancer. She is younger than me (which is REALLY young!:) She said reading this blog gave her an idea for something that may prove therapeutic and she may try being open about her cancer.

Another friend of mine, Barb, from back home in Iowa, is a TWO-TIME breast cancer survivor. Her FB updates revolve around her journey. I love her honesty, her raw hope and struggle and keeping up with her battle against breast cancer.

Apart from rambling, venting and spewing out random thoughts..I'd like anyone to know that its a really big deal when a woman finds out she cannot have a child. I don't care if she already has 4 children and is 45 years old, or if she is 35 and never thought about having children. Part of being a woman is being able to carry a child, to carry a miracle, to create a life with your soul mate and to bring that life into this world.

This is taken from the book, "The Art of Racing in the Rain":
     "I admire the female sex. The life makers. It must be amazing to have a body that can carry an entire creature inside....other than a tapeworm, which I've had but that doesn't count as another life, really. That's a parasite that should never have been here in the first place." (told through the eyes and viewpoint of Enzo, the mutt in the story.)

One more thing...if you know someone experiencing fertility issues, in premature menopause or anything along those lines...reach out to them. Put your differences aside and reach out to them.

Every single day that I wake up I grieve for the baby I will never carry to term, deliver and raise. Every day I see toddlers, my nieces, pregnant women, and I grieve. And every night before I go to bed I thank God for all my blessings and I know He has a plan for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Essential Oils take me away...

Lavender helps with anxiety. Ginkgo biloba helps with aging and memory. Bilberry and ginseng help with hot flashes. Black cohosh and dandelion root are also good for things I just can't remember what because I've done so much research I can't keep it straight.

Nancy at Perfect Scents off Main and 51st in the South Plaza area can make a crazy good "hot flash" concoction. I try to be as natural and holistic as possible. Therefore, utilizing essential oils, aromatherapy and soy milk have become a part of my daily regime.

Seriously folks, whether you are dealing with hot flashes, anxiety, constipation, trying to quit smoking, morning sickness, hay fever, a stubbed toe or loss of appetite - try essential oils. Visit Nancy at Perfect Scents.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hot flashes for Dummies by Sarah Mullally

The room spins, you feel slightly nauseous, your skin is on fire from the inside out and you feel like everyone can see the billions of sweat beads bursting on your face and neck.

Welcome to your hot flash.

I dress in layers. All the time. I can't wait for winter. But then occasionally right after a horrible hot flash I feel chilly and therefore need to put layers BACK ON. Fun times.

I accidentally misplaced an entire box of my Estradiol patches so was without a patch for about 5 days. (Insurance wouldn't cover another box until certain date). I thought I was going to die. I literally had the air conditioning on all the time (its been rather nice lately and certainly no need for the AC) and walked around naked half the time.

I've never been a huge "I need my caffeine" girl but what little caffeine I was putting into my body I have put the kibosh on. Hot flashes LOVE caffeine - they feed off caffeine. I have no problem switching to decaf tea, coffee and cutting down on my all-time guilty pleasure; the CHAI LATTE.

Have to go - I feel a fabulous flash comin' on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is EVERYONE pregnant?

It seems lately that everyone is pregnant. Seriously. Please message me if you are not pregnant. I even saw a guy at Loose park the other evening - and I swear he was pregnant.

I thank God every day for the most amazing man as my husband. Loving, supportive and always makes me laugh. How do the two tie in? Me seeing a billion pregnant women and having the most amazing husband ever? Well, I assume he too, sees pregnant people everywhere. Kind of like Haley Joel Osment in "Sixth Sense" said, "I see dead people." Well, we see pregnant people! And infants! And newborns..everywhere. It's like they're taking over Kansas City.

Whenever I see a pregnant lady Kurt squeezes my hand. He occasionally makes a joke too. About how he loves my body the way it is and he loves our lives the way they are...that two dogs is enough for us to handle and we don't have any room in our adorable bungalow for children. Then he jokes about Kansas City's school system and "where in the world would our children go to school? You will have to sell the next great American novel sooner than later baby if you want to put our kids in private school."

I don't mind when people ask me, "when are you and Kurt having kids?" I don't mind that question at all. The inquirer might feel sheepish when I answer although that is not at all intended.

I met with a new writer friend the other morning, for coffee. We swapped manuscripts we are currently working on. Completely different styles of writing - hers imaginative, creative, fiction and descriptive. Mine, dialogue-based nonfiction magazine articles. We are the same age. She just had a baby girl 7 weeks ago. She looks amazing. She is the "granola" type I always wished I could've been in college. Maybe high school too now that I think about it. Clear porcelain skin, eyeliner and long dark hair parted down the middle. In some ways she belongs at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and in others she belongs in a Woodstock documentary. That being said, she is extremely intelligent and has sophisticated taste in literature. We chatted forever, critiqued each other's works and I realized its okay to not have children because, although she is the mother of two, her children do not an identity make. Does that make any sense?

We all have people in our lives' who are "the mother". Some of us have people in our lives who are "the gay guy" the "bitch" or the "crazy dog lady". I know I never wanted to be labeled as anything. I think it always kind of scared me that if I did have children I would be labeled as Sarah the Mom. Not, Sarah the cool animal activist or Sarah the wife or Sarah the lover or Sarah the best friend or sister. Just, Sarah the mom.

This new writer friend of mine was about a billion things, and "mother" was only one of them.

That's all for today. Oh yeah, I drove around Kansas City's slums feeding, watering, un-tangling already short chains for dogs all day with Kate Quigley. MOST amazing woman. Her "people" in the ghetto literally call her "the angel". Then I had a therapy session. Now I'm about ready to power down.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


For any of you "Twihards" out there - when I typed this title (Complication) it reminded me of the scene where Edward and Bella are outside Bella's house and Edward looks concerned. Bella asks what is wrong and he replies, "minor complication". Then, as he drives away, Jacob and Billy Black drive past him.

Anyway, that's how my mind works!

So there's been a slight complication. Nothing big really, just a learning experience. Mainly the learning experience is that I'm not a doctor. While this has been a source of frustration for my husband since day 1 - I commonly stop meds at will  - now it has sunk in that I, Sarah Elizabeth Estlund Mullally, do not have my M.D.

Awhile back the specialist prescribed two hormones: Estradiol (estrogen) and Prometrium (progesterone). I started the Estradiol first because she gave me samples. I was lazy about filling the prescription so didn't start the Prometrium until 2 weeks afterward.

The Estradiol, as I have stated in previous posts, is wonderful. WONDERFUL. While I fully understand my body needs the estrogen, applying the patch has probably gotten rid of 80% of my hot flashes, nearly cured my insomnia and helped bring me off Ozzy's Crazy Train 99% of the time.

The Prometrium however, resulted in a bit different experience. Five days after the first application I started having major side effects. I'm still too private to get into the exact side effects publicly but lets just say it was startling and, upon researching the side effects, were considered "serious and severe" side effects. So, I (thinking I know what's best) stopped taking the P. My husband told me mutliple times to call my doctor and tell her I'd gone off the P. It took me about 2 weeks to  make this phone call a priority and once I did, I got a lecture from the nurse and doctor as well.

Needless to say the E and P work as "yin and yang" so that is the first reason I should have consulted the doctor sooner. I didn't cause any harm at all by stopping the hormone yet, I didn't necessarily give the E a chance to work as well as it could/should have been. My doctor had me on the smallest dose of P possible so she/we are going to mess around with a few different dosages of other drugs but I learned the importance of the yin and yang...and not self-diagnosing as my sister would say.

It has been a challenge to find medications/hormones that a) weren't tested on animals and b) aren't made with animal bi-products. In the meantime, I've been resorting back to the essential oils which I got from Perfect Scents (and no I am not getting any kick-back from them I just think they're awesome and the lady who owns the place knows everything).

Anyway, I know I haven't posted in awhile and I SO SO SO SOOO appreciate the readers/audience. Please keep commenting and messaging me with anything.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When you least expect it....and other random monologues

Last week was crazy, this weekend was crazy. We went to Hermann for a wedding. We stayed at Hermann Hill Inn. This was the most amazing place I have been in a very long time. MUCH needed get-away.

So I keep bothering my husband to "let" me get another dog. Not that we need another dog. We need another dog like I need less eggs. Hee hee. I have even pulled the "I can't bear children please let me save another dog" trick and he is so smart he comes right back with "why do we need another dog Sarah?" And that's when I say "because there are so many that need homes" and he's made his argument right there. Its not that we need another dog at all. And, there will never be a shortage of dogs that need homes.

I tell you what - how many of you readers are on hormones? Hormone replacement of any kind? It has been amazing. Its like more than any happy pill/relaxer pill anything I've ever experienced. I'm just, chill. My husband used to get me so riled up (on purpose, and pre-menopausal emotional roller coaster). This is the Estradiol I'm talking about. I experienced some pretty scary side-effects to the Progesterone replacement....still have to call my awesome doctor and tell her I've discontinued use of that on my own. May not have been the best call on my own but I couldn't deal with it...besides Progesterone is a reactive treatment for symptoms, not a pro-active treatment for potential disorders or diseases down the line. So, I really don't need to take it. Which, reminds me, I really need to call my doctor tomorrow.

I had this pre-protest meeting/party at my place Saturday night. Really great group of people - what do you expect when dealing with animal lovers! - and this one girl came - I will call her "S". She was so beautiful. Her skin was porcelain she didn't have any wrinkles or crows' feet. She was beautiful and sweet and I would have put her at 28. Tops. During the discussion she dropped that she was near 40. And by near I mean within 18 months of 40. Some women have the luck, that is for sure.

That's all for now. Need to put finishing touches on Kansas City's biggest, baddest and bitchiest Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey circus protest!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Relief. Major relief.

So, we left the doctor last Monday, a week and two days ago, with them sending my blood into the Mayo Clinic for more testing. There are many reasons why ovaries fail. Some causes are not too terrible while one cause can be the dreaded "C".

Well I've been sweating a little bit the past 8 days 4 hours and 16 minutes...give or take...BUT the doctor called just a short while ago and told me I do not have anything but ovarian failure! This is me doing my happy dance because ovarian cancer was a slight maybe....

So, I messaged my family, called my husband to tell them all the good news...that my ovaries failed. Nothing else. I'm healthy as a 55 year-old woman. (insert smiley emoticon here)

When I called my husband I heard an odd noise in the background. I asked what it was.

"Oh, that's Stella." He said.

I laughed.

He said, "She's kind of half yawning half making that happy noise."

I laughed again. "Why?"

"Cause I'm laying with her."

Awwww I am SO BLESSED. I really am.

My Menopause Monologues: Hello, sleep? Are you out there?

My Menopause Monologues: Hello, sleep? Are you out there?: "I just ask for one night of sleep - just one good night of sleep. Please? Is that too much to ask? Ironically, I've found as I 'age' I do n..."

Hello, sleep? Are you out there?

I just ask for one night of sleep - just one good night of sleep. Please? Is that too much to ask?

Ironically, I've found as I "age" I do not need nearly the amount of sleep I used to. Up until about 6 months ago, if I didn't have my 8-9 hour beauty sleep I was a raging byotch the next day. Without my sleep I was useless, cranky and emotional. Now, I am seriously fine on 5-6 hours. However, that doesn't mean I don't miss my full nights of sleep.

My doctor prescribed Rozerem. I may have already mentioned that. I didn't like it. First of all, the warning label and side effects about scare the shit out of you, then come to find out I could take a Rozerem before running two miles and not even be phased. Lesson learned - Rozerem doesn't work for everyone.

Occasionally I will take a couple generic-brand Tylenol PM's. For a good night's sleep. Then, I find myself anxious for a few nights afterward that I don't sleep well unless I take my BFF's the TPM' I take them as seldom as possible.

I've found many different forms of meditation one of which I am particularly found of before bedtime - coloring mandalas. My mom got me a "World Mandalas" coloring book. Sounds interesting, right?  A Mandala is a geometric design (usually a circular design) which symbolizes the universe. Used chiefly in Buddhism and Hinduism to aid in meditation, I take my Crayola pack of colored pencils and color away. Helps me be "in the now" which settles my thoughts...mind...and even soul. Then, I can go to sleep peacefully and without anxiety.

Although I have to be honest, a Xanax sounds good too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Acknowledgment and relief

I've recently begun to feel a huge sigh of relief come over me. I started Estradiol last Wednesday. This is a synthetic form of estrogen (no animals harmed in the making, distributing or testing of this - its made in a lab) in the form of a patch. I change the patch on Wednesday and Saturday and do this for an undetermined amount of time. Basically, when I have reached "normal menopause age".

While the Estradiol has greatly improved my symptoms, the main reason for this hormone replacement therapy is that my body is void of any estrogen at all. The normal woman's body produces estrogen until they're near 60. The female body NEEDS estrogen to avoid bone loss, dementia and osteoporosis among many other diseases and conditions.

The hot flashes and insomnia are still with me but the mood swings are nowhere to be found! I love it! I'm even more chill than my oh-so-chill husband.

More to come...however I am busy co-organizing the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey protest which we will be conducting next week at the Sprint Center...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Denial, acceptance, support from my husband...

We both cried when we heard the news. My husband is a wonderful man; so supportive and caring. I'm not sure if we ever would have had children however, it tore us apart to not make that decision ourselves - that decision was made for us. I know God has a plan.

I immediately began doing research. The more I learned the more frightened I became. Then later, the more I accepted this. Its not like "I have hepatitis" is the equivalent of "I have menopause" instead, its more like "I'm going through some changes and need support and understanding from those closest to me". And that was my first step - not being ashamed.

This blog is partly in reaction to my unwavering sense of stubborn to not give in to the humiliation I initially felt. I am an extremely private person so, this is a bit suprising to many people in my life. I think, if word of this blog spreads and I could help support just one person going through this, it would all be worth it. Well, it would not be in vain.

There is literally nothing out there in regards to information about premature menopause. The only information is in regards to premature menopause resulting from cancer/chemotherapy or a hysterectomy. It's been frustrating reading the same thing countless times, "....between the ages of 47 and 55..." and "....menopause occurs around retirement which gives you a chance to really take care of yourself"...."...your children have just left the house for college".

I wanted to scream, "I am only 35! Why is this happening to me? I'm just starting my life and my career! My only children at this point are 4-legged and won't be attending college, does this mean we can't have biological children if we want to?"

Ironically, I have noticed I have completely "chilled out" these past few days. Feels amazing like, for the past year I was winding myself and my sanity tighter each moment. Now, its unwinding. Very slowly and yet surely.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FSH and other acronyms

I've done hours upon hours of research. What exactly happens to your body when you "go through menopause"? Why do you get hot flashes, insomnia, and horrendous mood swings? Why can't you get pregnant anymore? Why does it usually happen to women in their 50's and what went wrong that it happened to me in my 30's?

I learned the most important acronym during a woman's lifetime from puberty to menopause, is the FSH level. FSH stands for follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone is one of the things that can tell a doctor what phase of life a woman is in. For example, a woman in her child-bearing years would have an FSH level of somewhere between 5 and 25. A woman with an FSH above 25 would most likely be nearing menopause (also referred to as perimenopause) and a woman with an FSH level above 50 would most likely be in menopause.

What exactly is menopause? Well, contrary to popular belief menopause is not just when a woman starts having hot flases or getting moody. Menopause is (according to MY understanding through my doctor and research) when a woman has not had her period for a year, and has elevated FSH levels. Some women begin experiencing hot flashes and mood swings however have their period for another ten years. This is technically perimenopause, not menopause.

Apaprently I am quite extraordinary because less than 1% of women experience menopause before 40.

Whe body stops producing estrogen which leads to the ovaries no longer releasing eggs. But, actually there are no more eggs. When we are born, we have the most eggs we will ever have so you can see that throughout life our egg supply dwindles until we have no more eggs left.

When the body stops producing estrogen it seems everything kind of goes "out of whack" and, "out of whack" can lead to hot flashes which easily leads to insomnia which is an excellent (yet bothersome) segue into mood swings.

Ahhh..the joys.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Menopause at 35?: Day at the Doc

Menopause at 35?: Day at the Doc: "Yesterday we had an appointment with the BEST gyno I've ever seen. Ladies, if you want a referral - please message me. She spent over and ho..."

Day at the Doc

Yesterday we had an appointment with the BEST gyno I've ever seen. Ladies, if you want a referral - please message me. She spent over and hour with my husband and me answering our questions, and even pulled out her iPad to learn more.

I learned many things yesterday. First of all, menopause is when you're a year out from your last period and have elevated FSH levels. Age 35 is extremely young and rare, and the doctor was somewhat concerned. She kept referring to "ovarian failure" which, I don't really like to think my ovaries are failures! She took more blood which is being sent to Mayo Clinic (no worries - they send their samples there) in fact they took eight vials of blood. I hate needles, especially really long, big, fat needles in my arm for a couple minutes. I was so terrified. Then I saw the vials on the counter and nearly passed out. Then I asked the nurse if I needed a blood transfusion since she had taken so much.

She (the doctor) said is was not possible for me to get pregnant however she once saw a 45 year-old woman who hadn't menstruated for several years, get pregnant. Anything is possible, but she would be suprised.

She immediately jumped into talking about hormone replacement therapy. This is when I learned the most. And, this is how I understood it: the average woman's body stops producing estrogen in her 50s, when she is menopausal. At this point the body starts to feel the affects of decreased estrogen. These might be osteoporosis, bone loss, heart disease and dementia. Since my body has stopped producing estrogen at age 34, there are many repercusions other than hot flashes and mood swings. Basically I'm 20 years early to have a decreased estrogen supply so I'm pretty much setting myself up for all those fun things later in life.

I've done a lot of research on my own in regards to HRT and I don't think its safe, or the best option for me. First of all, increased levels of estrogen have been linked to breast cancer and blood clots. I brought this concern up to her (doctor) and she very sweetly said, "Sarah you don't have any estrogen. Putting you on estrogen replacement would give you a little estrogen, certainly not elevated levels that would cause breast cancer."

One of the main reasons I am against HRT is that animals are harmed in the process. With Prempro, the company abuses horses. Urine from a female horse (mare) is used to make Prempro. Therefore, female horses are kept confined in tiny stalls. They're kept pregnant their entire life in these stalls. Very miserable existence. Plus, who wants to take a pill made from urine??

She (doctor) talked to me about Estradiol. I have yet to research this - I intend to today. Estradiol is transdermal (in the form of a patch or gel). The intent would be to give my body some small amounts of estrogen to hopefully ward off bone loss and dementia later in life.

Like I said, I need to research estradiol on my own but she did give me sample patches to try. She said they would help the hot flashes, mood swings and even sleeplessness within a few weeks.

Need to start working but that was our day yesterday. I still have so much information that I want to write about (fertility, hormones, holistic remedies, etc) I feel like a walking menopause directory!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings, oh my!

My mom often spoke of her hot flashes. I may have thought she was exaggerating because I just couldn't understand how in the world your skin could feel on fire, or you could break out into sweat in the dead of the winter.

I was dead wrong. She wasn't exaggerating.

Hot flashes are, for me, the number-one-bar-none-worst part of this journey. Or wait, is it the insomnia? Or maybe its the roller-coaster of emotions that make me feel like I'm taking a ride on Ozzy's Crazy Train.

Hot flashes are so incredibly uncomfortable. A hot flash comes over you within seconds. You feel hot as hell, uncomfortable and occasionally its difficult to breathe. Quite possibly the worst part is the sweating. My face breaks out (or at least I feel like it breaks out) into a billion beads of sweat and its very uncomfortable. Not the kind of uncomfortable that working out and being sweaty brings, but uncomfortable like a heavy and intense flash of humidity.

Like I said in a previous post, I began experiencing "night sweats" when planning for my wedding. Since it never occurred to me I could be anywhere near menopause I didn't even consider that as an option. Night sweats seemed to go along with the stress and anxiety of everything going on in my life at the time. Looking back on it, I really should have known, shouldn't I have?

The weight gain was pretty obvious. Bless every one's hearts around me for not saying something especially because I was more swollen than usual for my wedding. Thankfully I have had no trouble getting the weight off. Now, its obvious that too was a sign I was near menopause (the weight gain).

The mood swings actually didn't become dominant until just recently. I actually think I handled the past year pretty well considering I was engaged, married, dealt with some pretty difficult people and relationships, had my dog pass, and am trying to make a career as a writer. Now, I look back and can see times where my mood swings were more severe than was standard for me.

Sleeping sucks. I mean, trying to get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night sucks. Actually sleeping is heavenly, when it happens. I've always been a sleeper and definitely never had any problems with it! I had my doctor prescribe me something to help with the "insomnia" (waking up at 2am, 3am and not being able to fall back to sleep) she prescribed Rozerem. I would not recommend it. First of all it didn't do anything for me at all, and secondly the possible side effects are terrifying! So, I occasionally take a generic form of Tylenol PM. Other nights, I just don't stress if I wake up and can't go back to sleep.

I am against HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for both animal welfare and health reasons. I've learned a lot about acupuncture, herbs and oils as remedies for the symptoms related to menopause. I will go into detail about my findings in my next post. I have to go to work, and I have an appointment with a doctor at 1:00 today to make sure there is no underlying cause of the premature menopause. Which, I'm sure there isn't, just need to be thorough!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It took 34 years of living, 19 years of dating and well over 1000 first dates to find my soul mate.Our first date was July 5, he proposed September 5 and we were married December 4.

I never thought I wanted kids. This suprised many people. I have worked with kids in many different capacities throughout life. Most recently, as a dance and cheer coach. I was a role model, mentor and confidant for girls ages six to 18 for years. I have two nieces and acquired eight more nieces and nephews through my marriage.

My now-husband and I were honest with each other about the fact that neither of us thought we wanted children. At least, no time soon. When we married, I was 34 and he was 37. We had by no means written off procreation entirely, just any time in the near future. After all, we are newlyweds.

I am naturally high-strung and anxious. During our three month engagement and planning our wedding I became moreso; anxious, emotional and even gained quite a bit of weight. I had gone on the birth control pill years before and never really had much of a period in fact, I can't remember the last time I bought tampons or pads. My doctor's take on this was, "Don't complain! Lots of women wish they didn't get their period!"

During the planning period I also began to have night sweats. I thought these night sweats were most certainly due to the stress and anxiety of moving and planning a wedding.

Once married, my husband and I considered having children. Maybe the reason neither of us ever wanted children was because neither of us had ever met anyone that a) we could imagine spending the rest of our life with and b) procreating or parenting with.

I was always hesitant to have children due to my parents' messy divorce when I was a child. However, once I met him, I knew this would be forever and a messy child-custody trial would never be an issue.

Premature menopause runs in my family. My mom began menopause at 36 and two paternal aunts were done by 40. When my husband and I discussed having children we knew I should have a blood test to determine where my hormone levels were; if they were near perimenopause we might speed up our process of getting pregnant and if I was not nearing perimenopause we would stick to our original plan and wait a few years.

My annual was approaching anyway so I didn't make a special appointment. Instead, I had my regular doctor run a blood test at that appointment. She was going to check for everything from hormone levels to cholesterol and the health of my thyroid.

Since our wedding, by changing my diet I'd lost the "I'm in love and planning a wedding" weight and was back to a size 6. I don't eat meat and cut out all dairy. However, also since the wedding my "nights sweats" became morning sweats, afternoon sweats and evening sweats. Also known as "hot flashes".

My appointment was on a Monday. My doctor told me to call her office on Wednesday for the results of the blood test. Friday morning, I realized I'd forgotten to call. I called her office and left a message for her to call me.

That evening at 6:30, my doctor called me back. I will never forget her exact words, "Your tests were fine. All your results are fine; your blood sugars, cholesterol, thyroid, everything. But..... I can't believe this because you are such a baby but your tests also conclude you're post-menopausal."