Wednesday, September 17, 2008

5 Menopause Facts Every Woman Should Know

I was having a hot flash and found myself furiously googling "menopause". In the interest of women everywhere, here are the top five facts that jumped out at me (in no particular order.)

1. Menopause is a natural and important part of every woman's life. Most women experience this stage after age 40 and spend a third of their life in this phase. (source: WebMD )

Emphasis mine. WTF? My doctor told me that the perimenopause phase "could last up to 10 years" - which is significantly less than one-third of my life - so someone's got some 'splainin' to do. I do not intend to spend 30 years or more in menopause.

2. Menopause often causes or worsens sleep disturbances. (source: multiple )

Apparently, part of the sleep disturbance symptoms during perimenopause and/or menopause may just coincide with the menopausal period and may not be of endocrinological (hormonal) origin. I say BAH to that. I have always slept well, and now I don't. I have at least 7-10 days every month where I have varying degrees of wakefulness - sometimes multiple times in one night, sometimes spending hours awake. And sometimes I'm hit with serious fatigue (so much more than just "tired". )

3. A diet high in soy has been shown in some studies to decrease postmenopausal hot flashes. (source: multiple )

I actually eat a lot of soy products and can eat an entire bowl of edamame in the blink of an eye, but what is the POSTmenopausal crap? I need something to reduce hot flashes NOW. But I have noticed that I crave soy when I'm having a rough day of flashes.

4. As estrogen levels drop, the small amount of testosterone that a woman produces may have more pronounced effects on her body. For instance, she may develop coarse hair on her chin, upper lip, chest and abdomen. (source: iVillage )

Oh, mama. No one ever told me about the whiskers. Why is this a secret? It's a terrible thing to touch your face and feel a sharp poke. Then you have to run to a mirror and make sure it isn't visible even though it feels like Rapunzel. But after reading this delightful tidbit I'm all frantic about the possibility of "chest and abdomen."

5. Symptoms that no one talks about so that when you experience them you think you are sick or crazy (but you aren't.) For me that includes sudden unexplained bloating not really tied to my cycle; inexplicable feelings of doom and dread; and inflammation in the joints.

I only just found these things out by poking around on the internet. When I say "bloating" I mean at an uprecedented level somewhere north of 5 pounds, and not knowing if you have gained weight or if it will be gone in a day or two. And as for doom and dread - there are days when I just can't shake feeling really nervous and down. I'm convinced of all kinds of depressing things and would generally prefer to just lie on the couch and watch Project Runway reruns. And inflammation in the joints really blows me away. For the past year I have been waking up frequently with very stiff fingers and lamenting that Arthritis was probably beginning. Now I suspect that it's hormonal.

There are other weird things that women report, too - like irregular heartbeat; itchy, crawly skin; bleeding gums; tinnitus; thinning hair; "burning tongue"; and occasional incontinence. These can all be symptoms of menopause - check with your doctor to be sure it's not something more serious. But isn't it good to know that it may all be part of "normal"?

So there you go. This change is BIG and can affect you both physically and mentally. It's strange and uncomfortable. But knowing about it helps.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Owl Hill, Our Farm in the Catskills

Did I mention that we (Beloved and I) bought some property in the Catskills? It's a lovely rural area and we are going to build a house in a year or two. We've named it Owl Hill. Because I wanted to. And it is on a hill.

We have six acres with a barn that acts as a maternity ward for some local cows, a small horse stable, and a falling down shack. We have a stream and some apple trees, and a huge expanse of meadow.

So yesterday we were there and had to clean out 50 years of debris from the little horse stable thing. It was filthy and way hard, but it looks so good now! We pulled out more than a dumpster's worth of junk and (literally) shit.

So there is a link here to my fitness journal - first, cleaning out a barn is EXERCISE. Second, if you are carrying logs and planks and bales of barbed wire your menopause symptoms abate. Either that or you are so hot and sweaty anyway that hot flashes don't affect you. I recommend it.


Friday, September 5, 2008

How Does This Happen?

Now that I am exercising regularly and trying to get more fit and saying "well, I only want to be fit" (while secretly wishing to be a bombshell )-- I've been thinking about how the heck I got here.

So maybe you are reading this somewhat smugly and thinking "wow - 100 pounds. That would never happen to me!"

Oh, my naive friend - you have no idea. Don't think of it as 100 pounds - think of it as less than 10 pounds a year, over 15 years. See what I mean?

And it's like one day you wake up and say "how did this happen to me?" Not that it matters - what matters is getting fitter and healthier - but still.

So that's how it happens. Slowly and easily. Don't ever let up on your vigilence or your ass will take over the world. *sigh*

Do you think a 48 year old menopausal woman can get hot again? (And I do not mean "hot flashes".)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm Back, Baby!

It's been a long, hot summer and not too much progress on the weight-loss front. Lots of mean surprises on the menopause front.

But I'm back with a new attitude and renewed commitment. Not sure why - maybe it's the "first day of school" syndrome.

I'm ignoring the lady-bits today in favor of fitness - went to the track and FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ran all the way around (400 meters) without walking. Beloved was there for support, and although all the way around I told her that I couldn't do it, and then I did, I got some ornery bee in my bonnet and somehow PUNISHED her by running another 400 meters. I know. It's f***ed up.

So...if this old thing can run, so can you. I'm just sayin'.

PS - I should define "run". It means not walking, but has no relation to the concept of "speed" at all. A two-year old could easily keep up with me.