My Menopause Plan

March 26, 2018

I felt my first hot flash on January 20th of this year, which was 20 days after the start of my last period. It was a subtle sense of warmth and not at all bothersome. I didn’t really know what it was until it kept happening every evening. Along with the mild warmth, I felt an odd energy sensation up near my neck, like a buzzing. It’s hard to describe. It would last maybe 30 seconds. I don’t know why the flashes only started up in the evening (like 6 p.m. ish), but that was the pattern.

I started having really poor sleep because of this new phenomenon. The frequency of the flashes ramped up as the days went on. The heat increased a bit, although ‘hot’ is not the word that fits. If there was sweat it was quite minimal. This was not at all like times in the past when I’d wake up drenched in sweat.

I’ve always been a sleep-with-socks-on-but-little-else type of person. Socks were always a necessity. The only exception was during the heat of summer. Now I kick my socks off…and it’s winter!

The menopause-based insomnia seemed directly related to the hot flashes. They’d wake me up. I’d push my comforter off, but within a few minutes I’d get cold again. I’d cover up again, fall back asleep, then wake up again. This would go on all night. This was not good, needless to say!

The other symptom that I experienced was a feeling of irritation or chafing or sensitivity or soreness right near my urethral opening. Looking in a handheld mirror, there was a redness. For a few weeks, intercourse was not comfortable. It wasn’t infection, it was hormonal. I thought that was the end of sex as I knew it.

Fast forward to now…

I don’t notice any hot flashes. I sleep just fine. I don’t have the irritation. I have comfortable intercourse. Phew.

Here’s what’s working for me:

  1. I take Emerita Midlife Balance Formula 2x per day. This is an oral supplement that contains Red Clover Extract, Eleuthero root, Dandelion root, Dandelion leaf extract, Alfalfa leaf, Black Cohosh Extract root extract, and Chaste Tree Berry.
  2. I rub about 1/2 teaspoon of MoonMaid Botanicals’ ProMeno Women’s Wild Yam Cream on my arms, at bedtime.
  3. I obtained some lavender essential oil. It’s supposed to be good for sleep. I mixed the oil in a carrier oil. I dab my finger in it, then rub it on my neck, at bedtime.

I started the supplement on February 7th and the cream on February 10th. In my calendar on February 17th and 18th I wrote that I slept much better. The next week my sleep was back to normal. The flashes became minimal. The change for the better was like night and day!!

I don’t know if the flashes were going to die down on their own or not (I doubt it). I don’t know which product is helping more or less than the other one. I have confounding variables at play! But- I don’t want to change what is working!

I am healed!

 

 

 

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The Top Two Things (Focus: Hormones)

March 25, 2018

The top two things are hormones and digestion.

Apart from doing actions and movements that are not good for me to do, I’ve come to the conclusion that those two factors have the largest impact on my symptoms, for better or for worse.

The topic of this post is hormones.

My situation right now is that I haven’t had a period since January 1st of this year (such a nice, neat date to remember!). I hear that menopause doesn’t officially start until it’s been a full year without a period. However, I’m pretty certain that I’m month 3 into that year. I’m 46.

Before this “road-to-menopause” phase, I estimate that I started entering peri-menopause in the year before I got unexpectedly pregnant (when I was 42). Before I was pregnant, my menstrual cycles were regular but I had some unusually long ones (hence, the pregnancy). After my son was born, I never regained any regularity.

I’m looking at the menstrual calendar app on my phone, with data going back to August 2016. Here are the lengths of my cycles, starting with most recent and going back in time:

22, 23, 43, 22, 33, 27, 23, 54, 24, 24, 21, 48, 38, 27, 42, 37

Before I stopped having periods, I definitely felt worse in a cyclical pattern. I wrote about that in my post, “Cyclical Patterns” on November 4, 2015. Leading up to this road-to-menopause, I had a curiosity and suspicion that my symptoms just might get better with the drop in estrogen that accompanies menopause.

I do think my suspicion is true because I’ve been consistently feeling on the ‘better’ end of the spectrum, and I’m not noticing the highs and lows any more. The improvement has come from what I’d describe as a lack of hormone-based swelling. You might visualize that the prolapse “is what it is” at baseline, but then the hormones add a component of swelling on top of the baseline. Extra swelling in the vulvar region made the bulgy feeling worse. On top of that, there was a hormone-based pain, right in front of the pubic bone. The combination was unpleasant. Now, it appears that those days are over! Therefore, I’m feeling noticeably better.

This means one thing: I’m healed.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m So Happy to Be Back!

March 22, 2018

I AM BACK! Oh my goodness! Way too much time has passed since my last post. The last post was in July 2016 and now it’s March 2018!

Where did I go, you ask? Well, my husband and I moved to a new city (Wenatchee, WA) in August 2016. I started my new full-time job as a school-based occupational therapist at the end of that month. Then, in November 2016 I started an online degree program at Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, AZ), to get my Master of Science in Psychology.

The purpose of going back to college after almost 20 years was to gain a better pay column at work. The schools pay based on years of experience (in the schools), and based on degree/college credits. I went to OT school back when you could be an OT with a bachelor’s degree, therefore I started my new job in the bachelor’s degree pay column. This represented a huge pay cut compared to what I was making as a medical-based therapist. However, I love working in the schools!! Therefore, it only made sense to get a master’s degree ASAP. But ugh, the work! I had to put my head down and get ‘er done!

And now, March 22, 2018, I am just 6 short days away from being ALL DONE! The process of getting my degree while also working full-time and raising my son has been e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g! On top of that, my perimenopausal symptoms during the last year did not help! Yikes!! Having to deal with the relentless graduate workload already made me feel a ‘baseline-irritability-but-could-basically-keep-my-shit-together’ (on a good day), but then the combo of graduate workload + working full-time + typical annoyances of life + annoyances caused by my prolapse issues + wicked hormonal fluctuations (presumably) created what often felt like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Not pleasant. Good thing my husband is so unbelievably awesome!

I feel so much better now, though. I am done with the work of graduate school, and I have gotten past the emotional turmoil of peri menopause. I seem to be in the menopause phase since I haven’t had a period since January 1st. The hot flashes were rough in February, but now I seem to have a good plan (more on that later). Long story, short, I am feeling pretty damn good right now.

Guys, I have SOOOOOOOOO much I need to catch up with. I have missed this blog. I need this place to come and chat with myself and anyone else who finds me. The last year + has been all about total life imbalance, but now I am blessed with the opportunity to regain the balance again. That makes me so happy.

I plan to do a lot of blogging in the next days, and months. It’s hard for me to keep from typing all night right now! But I shall pace myself. I do need to sleep!

I am healed!

Boxers

July 1, 2016

This is a big deal.

All afternoon I’ve been hanging out at home with boxer shorts on…without wearing underwear underneath.  That’s a definite sign of progress!

Up until even a couple weeks ago I never felt comfortable wearing nothing.  As in– when I get out of the shower and I walk across my bedroom, I’ve always felt really “agape” and “open” and “unsupported”…basically “not good.”

Hence my comfort wearing thong underwear.  I’ve done posts on that in the past, as you will recall.

Something’s been happening in the past couple months.  Healing is still happening.  It takes a long time.  It’s been 22 months + since I had my baby.  My prolapse symptoms have been evolving and changing and getting better little by little and bit by bit.

I measure my progress in funny ways.  Like wearing my boxers without undies.  Hooray!

I feel at peace knowing that…

I am healed!

Sneakers

June 24, 2016

I’m doing a test here by trying to write a quick post from my phone while riding in the car. Maybe if this works I’ll post more often.

Sneakers: that’s what I’m wearing to work now. I used to prefer Dankos. But then I realized that the Dankos don’t give me much shock absorption in the pelvic region.

Dankos are wonderful if you stand in one place without moving much. I love them for my feet.

But now I need sneakers. Tennis shoes. Whatever you call ’em.

I feel so much better with the “give” of a spongy sole. My pelvic region is much more at peace!

I’m working as an OT in school now, so sneakers give me more mobility to keep up with the kiddos. Plus, my own kid!

I am healed.