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.