Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Just Want to Sleep!

It use to be that from 1-3pm everyday I would go to my bed, with my blankie and have the most delicious nap. Now I'll be lucky to get 1/2 hour nap without waking up. Forget a whole night's sleep! I fall asleep at 10pm and wake up at 3pm and that's about it for the evening. Then I toss and turn until it's time to wake Maren up at 5:40am.

Apparently not sleeping well is a side effect of menopause. I've been doing some internet googling about diet and sleep. Here's some foods that help you sleep: #1 natural sleep aid, bananas. (Also #1 cause of Teri's constipation) So I try to avoid them. Oatmeal, honey, warm milk, turkey. All these things help with the sleep. Actually I've been trying to eat Oatmeal with honey and warm milk before bed and it seems to be helping.

I'm kind of back to the hot flash thing though, which totally kills the sleep. An open window and understanding husband helps that. (If he's not understanding, throw him out the window. . .)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yikes, I Thought I Was Over the Hysteria

I was under the erroneous impression that I was on the down hill slide of the whole menopause thing. Then suddenly the annoying hot flashes, and the somewhat uncontrollable hysteria is back. I'm sure the fact that the stock market has gone up and down and we are now living in a "new world" has nothing to do with it. On the upside I'm happily sitting in my new house, with the knowledge that I didn't lose my money in the stock market. No I spent it on my new house and taking a new saliva test, so I can legally beg my doctor for a new progesterone prescription. I would say I spent my money wisely, wouldn't you?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We Made it Another Month!

It's Sunday night, and we made it the five days! My friend Gail came up Friday night and we took Maren to dinner. We started indoctrinating her into the YA-YA sisterhood. Part of her was horrified, (Gail gave her, her annual Victoria Secret bag at Anthony's) and part of her was laughing hysterically. At its best the YA-YA sisterhood prepares us women for the not so fun parts of being a woman, but helps us look at it with humor and optimism. At it's worst we torture each other in ways only women can. I'm not sure where I'd be without all the great women who have influenced me in my life. I might be on Oprah though for heinous acts against my family and children!

I remember when I was about 15 and living with dad in the apartment. We had a renter downstairs that came up almost every night to eat dinner and watch T.V., Dave Shott. As a typical girl going through major PMS, I was crying at the dinner table, saying I hated my life and I just wanted to die. Dad turns to Dave and says, "Do you think there's something wrong with her?" Dave looks at me, and says I don't know. Dad's like, "That's it, if you don't pull yourself up by your bootstraps, I'm taking you to the doctor." "You have no reason to be this unhappy!" At that point I could have used a little bit of the sisterhood! Steve is so much more enlightened than my dad about hormones, yet I knew dad loved me. . . Now it's just a pleasant memory.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Five Days Off. . .

This is the beginning of the five days that my family dreads the most. The five days a month I have to go off the wonder drug progesterone to maintain the effectiveness. So I have a few strategies to not commit any violent crimes during these five days.

Of course I try to get outside as much as possible. I'm hoping to clean up the garden and trim a bunch of bushes. Hopefully this will work, although I have a lot of sewing to do for my church group, and of course this is canning season which also keeps me inside. Steve's gone this week to Austin, which is good news for him. Then he's going to Utah to bond with his brothers, Alex and Parents. So he's out of firing range, except for e-mails and phone.

My best strategy is to not overbook. This is not always successful, since I'm not only the progesterone queen, I'm also the queen of ten pounds in a five pound bucket. This week promises to be busy. . .swimming for Sophie, enrichment board meeting and sewing class to teach for me, and a concert for Maren on Wednesday which means all of us gone Wednesday evening.

During this week it's really important for me to plan in nap time, (which is always a plan for me), because without the progesterone I don't sleep very well. I was talking to my Aunt Lois, who's 74. She is still on progesterone and it helps her sleep too.

I try to be extra careful about what I eat. Sadly like PMS, there is "times of the month" during menopause where I crave more carbs and all the things that give me the short term happiness, and the long term food hangover after I've eaten. I try to eat more protein and a lot of leafy green vegetables.

I also try to plan things I enjoy so I'm hoping to go out with a friend Monday evening while Sophie is at swimming, (family home evening will be later), and then this weekend Gail is coming to save us from ourselves. Go to dinner, sew, watch movies while Steve is gone. By Friday I can happily be back on progesterone and it will be well in my system by the time Steve comes home on Monday.

So I've already given everyone in the household fair warning . . .(which also seems to head problems off at the pass).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Breakthrough

So I started figuring out what kind of food made my depression worse, but I couldn't figure out what would make it feel better. So back to "The Mood Cure" book I went and started looking at each section that I felt had some symptom that I suffered with.

The general premise of Julia Ross's book "The Mood Cure" is that Americans don't get a enough nutrients in their diet anymore to build the "happy" chemicals, like serotonin that we all need. So for instance she believes that a lot of drug addicts or alcoholics "self-medicate" because the drugs give them that short term "happy" that their bodies are craving. For the average American that doesn't have substance abuse issues, a nice warm roll, or your favorite candy bar full of sugar can give you that same euphoric feeling, until the sugar crash happens. The author Julia Ross believes Americans are addicted to sugar. So she really recommends cutting as much sugar out of your diet as possible. After doing this for a couple of years now, I have to say I really feel better. We've largely stopped baking many of our favorite things, and I noticed a big difference in the kids moods as well. They've even noticed the difference. I'm certainly not saying we don't eat ice cream anymore, or other sweets, but we don't have a warm plate of cookies around all the time either. I started taking some of the enzymes and vitamins she recommends to build serotonin. Taking vitamins that build serotonin also help stop some of the sugar cravings which just start a viscious cycle of cravings and depression.

Here's what I started with:

Wake-up - 25mg. DHEA, 1000mg fish/flax, DLPA - 500mg., L-Tyrosene 500mg., 5HTP 200mg.

After Breakfast - 5HTP 200mg., B-50

Lunch - DLPA 500mg., L-Tyrosene 500mg., 5HTP 200mg.

4PM - 5HTP 200mg.

Bedtime - 5HTP 200mg., Gaba 1000mg. , Valerian root 500mg.

I actually started feeling slightly better, but it still wasn't great. I was talking to one of my friends, Kay Vanderveen, and she was going to an alternative medicine doctor that had an MD. I liked that idea because I had hope that my insurance would pay for some of my testing. (Anthony Burden really doesn't take insurance, but he's very reasonable, and at that point I didn't care what it cost!) So I made an appointment with Anthony Burden, a weight specialist at Northstar Medical in Bellingham. He had learned a lot about moods, while working with people with weight issues, because so many people have mood issues that are overweight.

He was the first doctor that took the time to actually ask me pertinent questions and to listen to me. I had been on birth control pills for 23 years, and a lot of my symptoms pointed to estrogen dominance. Basically in my case my body reacted very badly to my own estrogen. Thinking back on it, it totally made sense to me. When I was 10 years old I felt this utter depression. Then again at 15 years old, at 20 right after I got married and coincidentally started "the pill", then at 3o too. All the hormone pivotal years in a girl/woman's life is when I was feeling really low. He suggested I try taking some natural progesterone and he said he would suggest the same enzymes that "The Mood Cure" recommended, and of course protein and more protein.

At first he just gave me some Prometrium pills. I only took one pill a day in the evening, and it made such a difference. It was the breakthrough is soooo needed. I started sleeping better, which made me feel more hopeful in the morning. Progesterone together with the enzymes I was taking was really helping but at different times of the month, I still felt like I needed more progesterone, because I was still feeling really agitated. Eventually Dr. Burden put me on a Progesterone cream as well as a pill and that was a great combination. The only problem is for the progesterone to be truly effective I have to go off it for 5 days a month. (The family just heads for the hills those days).

So probably for a year, this was my regime. I feel like finding Dr. Burden and progesterone was such a Godsend. There was still a lot more to figure out, but there was serious hope. . .

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Food Diary

One of the things that The Mood Cure Book recommends is doing a food diary. I was really resistant to the idea, because it just seemed like a huge hassle. I already knew that chocolate made me crazy. I mean one M & M puts me into an agitated frenzy and I get a headache. So if you can't eat chocolate what more do you need to know? I decided I had to do something though because I was seriously miserable. I never really understood depression. I'm sad to say that I always figured people with depression just need to go for a walk and they'd feel better. So I when I was so depressed that it scared me I decided I better actually take this book seriously, since I couldn't find a doctor to help me.

I took a cheap notebook and divided it into sections. I would write down each meal, what I ate and then how I felt after I ate it. For me the feelings are pretty immediate. If I eat white bread or pasta for dinner, I'd get a mild headache, but by morning I'd wake up crying. Anything with obvious sugar is instant death. I might have an acute sense of my own body. A lot of women I talk to say if feeling bad after eating sugar was that immediate they wouldn't eat it either. Pretty much what I figured out is. . .I need a lot more protein. So a typical day of food for me is:

Breakfast - cold cereal and a boiled egg

Snack around 10am - nuts or fresh fruit

Lunch - one piece of Squirrely Bread (sprouted whole grain bread) with meat and cheese, or if I really feel adventurous, peanut butter and low sugar jam, a pickle and maybe some more fresh fruit

After Nap Snack-(around 4pm)Go Lean protein shake (vanilla)

Dinner - Some kind of meat, with lots of fresh vegetables. Preferrably something green, then some other vegetables. Lately we've been grilling yellow squash and onions in a basket on the grill, or frying fresh green beans in olive oil. This is the first year I've actually eaten what we've grown. So if we're having hamburgers, I try to eat only one side of the bun, Mexican, I try to eat one tortilla. I'm powerless to resist chips and salsa, but I break the chips in half and try to eat as much salsa to one chip as possible. Potatoes are better for me than rice, but brown rice is better than white. I really try to avoid pasta. Whole grain is better, but I still feel pretty down after eating it.

After Dinner Snack - Another Go Lean protein shake, if I'm dying for something to eat.

So looking at this menu it seems pretty barren of treats, and it is. I figured out, it just wasn't worth it to me to cheat, because I'd wake up crying. That being said, I seem to be able to "tolerate" Mallards ice cream once a week. (Yes I'm shamelessly plugging my favorite ice cream store) Actually now that I've been doing "The Mood Cure" for about a year and a half, I can cheat once in a while, but if I know I'm going to eat some sweets I need to really eat a good meal before hand with a lot of green vegetables and a lot of meat. I also need to excercise outside if possible. I'm totally afraid to think what my cholesterol is, but right now jumping off a bridge is more a risk than a heart attack.

I have lost weight eating on this diet, but then again we also were building the house. Right now my weight seems to be creeping up. I'm a little worried that its the menopause midrift weight happening. How do those 60 year old actresses stay so thin and beautiful? So eating differently really made a huge difference, but it was only the beginning. . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

You Might be in Menopause if. . .

You wake up one morning, look at your husband and say (to yourself) I can't stand the sight of you . . .you kick your dog (that you normally love) and you yell at all your children . . .not just the one that has lately been driving you crazy. That's pretty much how it happened for me.

I've always had hurrendous hormones. I use to say to Steve, "For the next ten days, everything you do is wrong." I would be uncontrollably emotional and irrational. Chocolate would make it worse. Then three years ago we were at our family cabin on Whidbey Island, which happens to be my favorite place in the whole world. I felt so down, I wasn't even happy at the cabin. Our oldest son was leaving on a two year mission for our church, so we had all kinds of our favorite people there. The children were all "frolicing" in the water, I love to watch the kids have fun at the cabin. I use the term "kids" loosely because a lot of these kids were 19 years old. Then Sophie our 6 year-old had her first loose tooth. Maren our 14 year old said come here I'll pull it out. I said "Nooooooo", there it was the beginning of the end of our ideal family. People were leaving home and I couldn't stop it. Kids are annoying. You think you won't get attached, then they suck you in. . .then they leave home. It's a cruel game they play with you. Anyway, I'm not so sure this had anything to do with my down feelings, and bad hormones, but it certainly didn't help. In the midst of this, we sold our house with the beautiful view, and life was really kind of hard. There was a lot of things to be grateful for, but I just couldn't ever feel happy. I'm saying, never. I'd wake up crying with a pit in my stomach. I'd feel bad going on a walk with my family. I love walking with my family. That's one of my all time favorite things to do.

I went to my woman gynocologist, and described my symptoms. She said there was nothing that could be done. I asked if I should be tested for menopause. She said there was no way I could be going through menopause at 42. She suggested some tesosterone cream, which I tried, but it didn't do that much. Finally she said I could go on anti-depressants. I had been on them for PMS, and they did help. The problem was, they always wore off. They'd work for a year, or two, then I'd have to switch to a new drug. I also just kind of felt dead emotionally on them. Finally I'd been praying about what to do, and a friend had given me a book to read. The Mood Cure Book, by Julia Ross. I felt like I should read it. I did, and it was the beginning of some improvement. . .