Menopause

 

Menopause

Menopause (noun)
the period of permanent cessation of menstruation, usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55

I’m not sure how the dictionary definition of menopause could be so simplistic, since this experience is anything but, and then let us layer in multiple sclerosis on top of that, since the MS isn’t enough!

I’m writing about this a) because I’m likely going through it and b) because I haven’t seen much in the way about MS and menopause, other than I’ve heard from women with MS who have been through it. Some say they didn’t really even notice since many of the symptoms mimic each other.

These details are for women who have had regular menstrual cycles throughout childbearing years, and are never meant to take the place of questions to your ob/gyn.

Let’s start with peri or pre which is “around menopause.”  During this time you can expect to experience the early symptoms of menopause: changes in period cycle, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and / or mood swings. This can start eight to 10 years ahead of actual menopause (during your 30s and 40s).

Symptoms of perimenopause may include: irregular periods (you can still get pregnant!), periods that are heavier or lighter than usual, worse PMS, breast tenderness, weight gain, hair changes, increase in heartbeat, headaches, loss of sex drive, difficulties concentrating, memory issues, muscle aches, Sound familiar? Yep MS!

Menopause officially beings when the ovaries produce so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released (this also causes your period to stop), and remember, women are born with a certain number of eggs and that’s it! An official “diagnosis” of menopause is when you have gone a year without having a period. Due to health and other reasons (family history) you may go through menopause earlier than the standard.

Your doctor can do blood work to check hormone levels. For someone with a history of regular periods, this might be in your early 50s. For me this is a bit more complex because my neuro told me to go on the pill (and stay on it) early on after diagnosis to help control symptoms while ovulating and during menstruation and it worked really well. So well that I haven’t had a period in over 10 years and I never plan to again!

As estrogen levels drop, you might start experiencing: hot flashes (get in line!), night sweats (nothing more fun than changing sheets half awake), depression, anxiety or irritability, more mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, dry skin, vaginal dryness, frequent urination. I’m telling you, MS can give menopause a good run for its money.

There are many options for treatment (or not), but always talk to your healthcare provider about any new or changing symptoms. Just like MS there is no reason to suffer in silence.

What has your experience with menopause (and MS) been? Please do comment!

Signed,
Sweating in 27 degree weather…period, end of sentence

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Decade

shutterstock_1502928137

Decade (noun)
a period of 10 years

My gram once told me that I was the least sentimental person she’d ever met because I was throwing out an envelope that a card came in. In reality I am a very sentimental person, but once thing I’ve never really done is looked back. Is there a difference between second guessing decisions / choices and looking back longly / wistfully? Yes.

For me this decade brought illness and pain I couldn’t have dreamt up. It brought the things that everyone goes through in 10 years, but what it gave was much more. It gave me improved health, spending more time with family and close friends, a new path professionally, and more ability to give back to others.

So while it’s a new decade for everyone, and for me personally (turning 50), Jan 1 is no different from any other new day and the ability to experience life and opportunities to help others.

I know the troubles the planet is going through seems insurmountable right now, but never underestimate the ability of one person or a small group of people, to change the world.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!

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Change

Change

Change (verb)
make or become different

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.”

Humans are creatures of habit. Most of us like the status quo, not rocking the boat, and the “idea” of a linear path. In reality, most of us experience the chaos and utter mess that life is, but in that chaos we can often find beauty.

chaos

The last couple of weeks has started a process of yet another change in my life. Not sure if it’s the whole with age comes wisdom thing, since the older I get the more I realize I don’t actually know. Or if the noises in my head have gotten quieter over the years. Or if being diagnosed with the MS 10 years ago, and what I’ve been through since has shown me I can get through nearly anything, but I’m good.

But now that I’m over the hump of “holy fuck,” which genuinely always happens. Like when I made the decision to move to D.C. years ago and had to postpone it by two months because I was having daily panic attacks. But once I make a decision it’s onward and and upward. So now, I am rather looking forward to the change.

When I started this blog several years ago, I used to jot down lists of words / topics to write about thinking that’s the way it “had” to be done, but now they just come to me, and I don’t actually write them until they are literally bursting out and I MUST get it down.

This evening after seeing Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach in all his glory), one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs came on, you know, the one that everyone screams at OTHER concerts “ironically.” > Freebird > In it they sing about change and being free as a bird, although about changing relationships, and likely a love partner, being “free as a bird,” can be about any change in life.

“This bird you cannot change…I must be traveling on now…cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.”

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Three

Three

Three (noun)
the third in a set or series

Three years ago I woke up overnight having a really bad flare-up. And what I’d learned by that point is that IV steroids are really just like throwing lighter fluid on a flame, more harm that good. Plus I’d never been able to tolerate the oral taper. It was also during that flare-up that I had a through the looking glass experience, and just kept following the March Hare down, down, down. Fortunately I have a great doctor that helped me through it. Combine that with the not being able to treat the flare-up hard, life was like crawling through quick quicksand for three long months.

Fast forward, three years, and I am flare-up free. Not only that, but the symptoms I do have are usually mild as long as I avoid heat and humidity, as if that’s possible four months a year in NYC.

I can’t help but wonder what the algorithm is to keep from having the flare-ups. What’s changed in that time is starting a business, working from home, friends, family, Pilates, boxing, THC/CBD, and treating depression. I’m so happy to have me back, so I guess it’s a good idea to keep doing all of the above. This has been another great year, and looking forward to the future more than ever.

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A Lot

 

A Lot
A lot (noun)
very many, a large number; also, very much.

I am a lot of
love
music
smart
tenacious
ferocity
happy
sad
mad
confident
reliable
devoted
sympathetic
fortunate
sensitive
passionate
intrigued
fascinated
inquisitive
curious
nosy
eager
anxious
brave
daring
hopeful
sarcastic
rebellious
unique
dynamic
content
spirited
soulful
pensive
reliable
empathy
caring
kind
dedicated
satisfied
strength
courage

I am a lot. Take me as I am, whatever I am.

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Regret

spilled milk

Regret (noun)
a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done

They say you shouldn’t have regrets, but if you’ve lived any kind of life, I don’t see how that is possible. But there is a difference between letting that regret cripple you versus making mistakes and learning from them.

I think it’s important to celebrate successes, but ultimately most people will agree that we tend to learn more from the mistakes, and then hope we don’t make the same ones over again. Sometimes MS feels like one gigantic mistake, and ultimately it is, but not one that I made, one that my genes did.

Living with MS feels a little like sliding doors, where if you went in one door versus another, what might have happened? Had I never been diagnosed with MS, would I be the same person I am 10 years later? Is anyone the same person they were 10 years ago? Of course there is no way of knowing, so is it really worth wondering?

While I would welcome giving the MS back, it is something I can’t regret, since it’s not a mistake I made. And it’s taken a long time to get here.

Stay cool…

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Processing

Processing

Processing (verb)
perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it.

May has been a time of processing for me. I turned 50, and in April had “officially” been living with multiple sclerosis for 10 years.

Turning 50, while a milestone for sure, don’t really feel any different from 47, 48, or 49. Where it did feel different was to see my name written in front of it. As in join us for Name’s 50th birthday party. Wow!

For my 40th birthday I got MS, so I knew 50 had to be better, and so far the last two weeks have been great. I celebrated for about 10 days, although not necessarily on purpose.

Ten years ago when I was diagnosed, my neurologist told me there would come a day when the MS didn’t seem so big, and that other things would take its place. But given how sick I was in the year after my diagnosis, I couldn’t see a time where he could be correct.

The days around my birthday were filled with music, museums, personal training & Pilates sessions, dinner with my BFF, and a party with people I love, including my parents who are still very active and aim to be here for a long time (oh and I even managed to fit in work as well). And while I was tired, like anyone would be, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the good wishes and people who went out of their way to celebrate with me.

I feel lucky that a combination of working from home, regular exercise, CBD/THC, disease modifying drug, and a full life, has helped to keep the MS at bay (no relapses for 2.5 years). And while people are surprised to hear I have little symptoms every day (but you look so good), if this is as bad as it gets, life will continue to be good.

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