"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A New Year Resolution for EVERYONE!

I am not big on New Year's resolutions ----- as most of you already know, they are generally broken by mid-February, and then when you break them, you feel so bad you do something unhealthy. For me, it would be stuffing my face with a half box of Oreos just because I fell off my "diet"-----I've been eating too emotionally in 2012, and I am now refocusing on eating healthy and asking myself before I put something in my mouth am I really hungry? Or, am I tired, in pain, bored, angry?

However, I have one New Year's project/resolution that absolutely every one of you can keep. Before next Tuesday, sit down at your computer and compile (or update) your health history. Include:
  • Name, full address, and telephone number
  • Surgical history (for me this is a big one---I had 15 surgeries post accident and there is no way I could remember them all without a written list)
  • Current medications (name, dose, frequency)
  • All bioidentical hormones (names, dosages)
  • Supplements/Vitamins (complete list, this is important especially if you see more than one doctor)
  • Names, specialty, and phone number of every doctor who is treating you
  • Emergency contacts
I updated my list this morning, and I always keep a copy in my purse. I also make sure any physician that treats me has an updated copy of the list (trust me, doctors love it when a patient does this!), and I give a copy to any new physician that treats me.  I have also given a copy to the three friends listed as emergency contacts. 

Don't make excuses, don't put it off-----DO IT! And have a happy, healthy, peaceful 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Take 2 minutes to try one of these stress-busters

I am guessing that most of you are experiencing some stress right now because the Christmas holiday is fast approaching.  I know I am, I don't celebrate Christmas and the commercials, the incessant holiday music, and the fake gaiety are annoying me.  It's a yearly thing, some years I cope with it better than others----this year I am about in the middle.  I generally have the biggest smile on my face on January 2!  I definitely have to be aware of stress eating this time of year (I'm not very good at it right now, I'll be honest) and I try to keep to a fitness routine as much as possible.  The Y is not holding water classes on Monday or Wednesday (and obviously are closed Tuesday) but I can go and do a weight workout, or walk, or work out at home with my light free weights. 

I came across this article from Today (NBC) Health on some tips to help you cope with not just holiday stress, but whatever stresses you at any point in the year.  I know I need to focus on my breathing more this time of year, just doing that often breaks the pattern of negative thoughts long enough to reduce my stress levels.  I've already mentioned exercise, and I have about 7 amaryllis bulbs planted in pots that I am nurturing----I didn't think about it at the time I planted them, but watching them grow has helped to relieve the stress of short winter days and long nights. 

Have a great weekend, for those of you travelling, stay safe.  I know the Northeast is getting some stormy weather today, here in the Carolinas it's just cold and windy.  No significant precipitation expected through at least Christmas Day, which is good for those out on the roads. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I don't know about you, but I need to commit this to memory and repeat it at least daily!

Menopause quality of life unchanged by soy supplements

I've never taken soy supplements because bioidentical hormones cured my hot flashes (progesterone specifically).  However, I know a lot of women have used soy, either in supplements, or by adding it to food, to help with hot flashes. 

Check out this article from Reuters.  A two year study conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University concluded that the quality of life reported by women taking soy supplements vs. women taking placebos was about the same. 

A couple of quick points about the article:

  • Wow, the women in this study took either the supplements or the placebos 3 times a day for 2 years?  God bless them, I'm doing well to remember to take my vitamins once a day!  I have to wonder what the overall compliance rate on three times a day was.

  • I'm curious about the line in the article that says the study "set out to look at the effects of soy extracts on bone health, and did not recruit women specifically with hot flash or quality of life concerns in mind".  However, the article doesn't mention any of these women having DEXA (bone density) tests done at any time.  Bone health is measured by the T scores on a bone density test, not by a quality of life survey. 

Speaking of bone health, you are all taking your Vitamin D, aren't you?  The sun, even when it is out, is very weak this time of year so we need to be taking Vitamin D3 supplements if our levels are not optimal.  If your doctor tells you that your levels are "normal" (big difference between normal and optimal), be wary.  By the way, always ask for a copy of any bloodwork you have done and keep a file.  If your doctor tells you you don't need a Vitamin D test, pitch a fit, insist on being tested, or find another doctor! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ADHD and Bioidentical Hormones!

Hi everyone, hope you are enjoying a good second half of your weekend.  Here in NC, it's in the mid 60's temperature wise, so when I finish this post I am heading out the door for a fitness walk with my Nordic walking poles. 

I've gotten several inquires via Facebook and my email about how bioidentical hormones affects ADD/ADHD.  It's a topic I am quite familiar with, as I was formally diagnosed with ADD when I was in my late 30's.  I already knew I had it; I have two Master's Degrees in education, and through the psychology courses I had taken knew I had many of the classic symptoms.  Ritalin use was at that time just becoming widespread, and it was thought that children outgrew the symptoms as they matured.  We know now that although an adult may (or may not) be better at coping with the symptoms of ADD, it is not something you simply outgrow.  At least I had some insight into some of my childhood difficulties; I was a huge daydreamer, very easily distracted and hugely disorganized, but I attributed it to an exacting, verbally abusive father who had me living on pins and needles at all times.  My mom used to send me upstairs to get something for her, and more than half the time I used to come back downstairs and ask what it was she wanted me to get.  I'm very intelligent but was only a mediocre student until I got to high school courses I was interested in, and I excelled in graduate school.  I was very disorganized, and a first class procrastinator. 

In my education courses, we learned quite a bit about helping students cope with ADD issues, and I was able to put many of those coping skills to use in my own life.  For those of you who are wondering what some of the signs/symptoms of ADD/ADHD include, here is a list from WebMD.  Numbers 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 used to describe me to a "T".  I never married, so #3 was never tested, and #8 does not apply to me at all.  I am chronically early because I am such a people pleaser. 

I resisted taking medication (Ritalin was the drug of choice when I was in my 20's) for the condition, partly because I had a doctor who didn't believe in ADD and thought it was a bogus diagnosis. I struggled, but worked hard to compensate for the problems the ADD caused, and I was for the most part able to manage the symptoms.  Remember, this is back before Internet, smart phones to send reminders, etc-----I relied on a lot of lists, almost to the point of absurdity.   When I was 33, I was in a horrific car accident that has been detailed elsewhere here on the blog.  Between the medications, anesthesia, surgeries (I ultimately had 15 orthopedic surgeries to get put back together), stress (I became medically permanently disabled and so lost my teaching career) my coping skills went out the window. I was also deeply depressed and the medications I was taking for that were adding to my lack of ability to cope with much of anything.  Here is a very partial list of side effects for antidepressants,  the restlessness, anxiety and headaches just added to the ADD issues.

I was in therapy with a psychologist by the mid 90's and he was the one that diagnosed my ADD officially. Much more was known about the condition by then, and I was so desperate that I agreed to go on Ritalin.  It did help a little; I felt like I was able to concentrate a little more, and I made a herculean effort to get more organized in every aspect of my life.  Once Concerta became available (the long acting time release form of Ritalin) I went on that, as the Ritalin for me was only effective for about two hours at a time, then I could feel its effects wear off.  The Concerta caused my already poor sleep to become very poor sleep, the medication seemed to stay in my body longer than it did for most people.  By 2002 I had a partial hysterectomy, which accelerated my peri/menopause changes.  Add the brain fog, distractibility and lack of sleep (all common peri/menopausal symptoms) to an already addled ADD brain, and it's a very special kind of hell.  My whole life consisted of just trying to get out of my own way, I was exhausted, frustrated, scared and very unhappy. 

I started the bioidentical hormone protocol in September 2006.  Dr. Carr started me just on progesterone at first, so that we could make sure I could tolerate the hormones well, and if anything was causing unwanted effects we knew what was causing it (bioidentical hormone optimization is as much art as science).  I use progesterone cream (prescription strength) and started with it 3 times a day.  Within 10 days I knew something was happening------and it felt amazing.  First of all, I had far more energy than I had had in years, and with more energy I was more motivated to really work on coping with the ADD.  Secondly, I all of a sudden realized I was reading more, which meant I had more concentration!  As someone who is a huge book lover and has an insatiable curiosity about the world, this just blew me away.  I spoke with Dr. Carr about 3 weeks after I had started the progesterone, and I so clearly remember him saying to me "you even sound more focused on the phone!"  I asked him about discontinuing the Concerta, and over about 4-6 weeks, we worked together to wean me off the Concerta.  Never, and I mean never, go cold turkey off a drug, and ditto, never, never wean off a drug without talking to your healthcare provider.  Ever

It's now been more than 6 years since I have taken any form of ADD drugs, and I have never looked back.  I am also off 5 other medications (including all antidepressants) and I know just not having all those toxic substances in my body also help to clear my mind and be of additional help in managing my condition.  Let me be clear, progesterone does not "cure" someone of ADD/ADHD, but it gets to the underlying cause of the disease (thought to be an overproduction of adrenaline, which is reduced by the hormone balance) and makes it far easier to cope with. 

Do I still exhibit symptoms? Sure!  I'm still somewhat of a daydreamer, I have to make an extra effort to prioritize and not procrastinate, and I often tell people when I first meet them that if I break eye contact with them, I'm not being rude, it's how I focus/refocus.  I'm very aware of it, and I work on it all the time.  My knitting friends will tell you my most obvious manifestation is that I have at least 4 knitting projects going all the time (right now it's a man's sweater, a pair of bed socks, two shawls, and a scarf-----sigh), and I have tried nearly every craft imaginable at one time or another in my life.  I usually am reading two different books at once, one fiction and another non fiction, if I didn't consciously control myself, I'd have 10 different books laying around the house half read.  I've edited and reeditied this post at least a half dozen times trying to stay on message. 

Are there gifts that come with this condition?  Absolutely.  I am very creative, have a very quick mind (and a mouth to match, that's not always a good thing but it's who I am), I have as I have aged become a better multitasker.  I've been known to hyperfocus, sometimes that's good when something needs to get done and have my undivided attention, sometimes it's a curse.  Most of us with ADD/ADHD have above average intelligence, that's not bragging, that's just fact. 

If you suspect you may be ADHD/ADD, please see and talk to your doctor.  If your doctor dismisses you, find one who will take you seriously.  There are a number of books on the market on ADD/ADHD in adults, I just downloaded Your Life Can Be Better by Douglas Puryear---- I will let you know after I have read it what I think (it's available for the Kindle/Kindle app right now for $1.99)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hot flashes may return after ending antidepressant

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have ranted more than once about the all too common use of antidepressants for hot flashes, but I know some of you are fairly recent (welcome!) readers. 

I was grinding my teeth this morning reading this article from Reuters/Modern Medicine.  Before I met Dr. Carr and got my hormones bioidentically balanced, I was on Lexapro, which was the most recent in a long line of the antidepressants I had been on for at least 12 years.  The Lexapro didn't do a damn thing for my hot flashes, if anything, it made them worse.  Most women that I have talked to that have taken antidepressants for hot flashes have had similar experience---the drug helped little if at all.  Lexapro, like all antidepressants (like all drugs period) has a  myriad of side effects, check out this page from Web MD that lists the side effects.  I was shaking my head when I read the list----some of the most common and troubling symptoms of peri/menopause are fatigue, excessive sweating, trouble sleeping, and loss of libido.    Every one of those problems is a side effect of Lexapro, if I can figure that out, why can't most doctors?????  Not mentioned on the WebMD list, but known to be a side effect of antidepressants is brain fog (and oh, my, did I ever have that---sometimes I wonder how I ever functioned.)

It's just common sense that once you stop the antidepressants, your hot flashes will return.  Bottom line, taking antidepressants for hot flashes is just putting a band aid (and not a very effective one at that) on the problem.  Women have hot flashes during peri/menopause because they have a hormone deficiency, NOT a deficiency of antidepressants!  If you go to your physician with hot flashes, and he/she immediately whips out the prescription pad and gives you antidepressants to get you out of the office, think long and hard about the toxicity of the drug, the side effects, and perhaps look at finding a doctor who is an expert on bioidenticals.  If you need help finding a healthcare practitioner, please feel free to reach me at holyhormones (at) gmail (dot) com

I am often asked how long after I started the bioidentical hormones did I notice an improvement in my symptoms.  For the hot flashes, within 3 days of starting the progresterone cream, I was done with hot flashes and haven't had one since.  For the acid reflux, seasonal allergies, restless leg syndrome---gone. Completely. Within two weeks of starting the progesterone (the testosterone and eventually the estradiol came later) I was off five medications. 

If you are currently taking an antidepressant ------ DO NOT STOP COLD TURKEY AND ONLY WEAN DOWN ON THE MEDICATION WITH THE APPROVAL AND ASSISTANCE OF A DOCTOR!  I know I am shouting, but I cannot stress this enough.  The withdrawal process should be done slowly, and only under the supervision of the doctor who prescribed the meds for you.  It took me about 4-6 months of slowly weaning down off the antidepressant with assistance from Dr. Carr. 

Enjoy your week, everyone.  I don't celebrate or observe the holiday season, but for those of you who do, I hope this first week of December is feeling festive and happy.  I'm looking forward to the winter solstice on December 21 -----then the days start to get longer and spring gets a little closer!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Multiple Sclerosis Linked to Vitamin D Levels, Study Says

I picked a nice, sunny day (here in NC at least) to share with you an article from The Wall Street Journal.  The article discusses a research study done on the possible link between low Vitamin D levels and developing multiple sclerosis. 

A couple quick points:

  • A Vermont physician, Dr. Andrew Soloman, recommends that his patients take between 2000 and 4000 IUs (International Units) of Vitamin D daily.  Seeing that makes me very happy, the Institute of Medicine in the US only recommends adults taking 600 IUs of Vitamin D daily, and many doctors (including my own) say that is nowhere near enough Vitamin D to maintain healthy levels in the bloodstream.  I personally take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily, and the brand I use is Ortho Molecular, which is made in 5000 IU capsules.  In the winter (mid November to early March) I take 10000 IUs daily.  Dr. Carr's optimal range of Vitamin D levels is 70-100 ng/ml, and I am generally happy if I can get my levels to about 70. 

  • The article briefly discusses how the use of sunscreen can affect Vitamin D levels.  This is something you need to discuss with your doctor, but I will tell you that I don't use sunscreen, and I know it has helped to keep my Vitamin D levels healthy.  I have never had a problem with skin cancer and I don't burn (even in NC summers when I am in the outdoor pool for about 40 minutes 4-6 days per week). 
As always, talk to your doctor about your Vitamin D levels and how much Vitamin D you need to take daily. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Women's Health In Midlife Begins With 6,000 Steps

Do you have any idea how many steps a day you walk?  I don't just mean fitness walks (although I am a big fan of those, my Achilles tendonosis is finally improving to the point that I can take short walks now, I am careful to stretch before and after so I don't set myself back.)  Right now on the days I fitness walk that gets in about 2,000 steps, but I honestly don't know how many steps I take in a day. 

I know for quite a while there was a big movement for 10,000 steps a day, and from what I have read that's not all that easy to achieve on a daily basis.  I ran across this article in Medical News Today that discusses a study done on the effect 6,000 steps a day has on the health of middle aged women.  Turns out there is evidence that getting in that level of movement in a day may reduce the incidence of diabetes and metobolic syndrome. 

I've been experimenting with pedometer apps on my iPhone with limited success, but I do have a cheap pedometer I use on my fitness walks.  I'm thinking I might put it on at the start of the day tomorrow and track my steps for 7 days and see where I'm at.  I don't have a "typical" week, often how far I walk or how much I move around is dependent on how well my back and hip are doing on any given day.  On days that the pain level is manageable, I do more, on days when my back is flared up, I rest more.  The weather here is supposed to be pretty good this week (albeit cold, I am going to miss my 65 degree days!) so hopefully most days I can get in a short walk to boost my numbers.  Steps I take during a gym workout will count, the only time I won't be counting steps during a workout is when I do water workouts. 

I'm posting this not just for informational purposes, although I think this article is important to share with everyone----I'm also hoping to hold myself accountable.  Look for an update next Sunday to see how many days I wore my pedometer, and how many steps I took each day! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A wonderful aspiration (just wanted to share it with you)

Gift Guide 2012: What To Get The Menopausal Women In Your Life

Good morning, and hope that today finds you refreshed and over your turkey hangover!

I had to laugh when I saw The Huffington Post's 2012 Gift Guide for Menopausal Women, but I have to admit some of the ideas presented are pretty good.  Most deal with ways to help with hot flashes;  moisture wicking pj's, cool sheets, mattress pads that keep you cool.  I wouldn't mind one of those mattress pads even though I never had night sweats (one of the few menopausal symptoms I didn't have) ------ I'm one of those people who loves to slide between cool sheets, and I am constantly flipping my pillow around to get the cool side. 

While all these ideas are great, the best menopausal gift you could give a woman is to pay for a consultation with a top bioidentical hormone specialist so that she can get her hormones optimized.  The health benefits, far beyond just alleviating her hot flashes, are priceless in so many ways.  Hormone balance is truly a gift of life. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Menopause: Relaxation Good Therapy for Hot Flushes

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday yesterday.  I was invited a couple different places but declined as the holiday season is simply not my thing (for a lot of reasons), but I cooked a turkey in the crock pot on Wednesday (I love turkey) and am planning to munch on turkey breast all weekend (good source of protein).  Yesterday I went to an early showing of the movie "Lincoln"-----I highly recommend it.  It's definitely an Oscar contender, and Daniel Day Lewis was amazing as the title character. 

This article from Science Daily jumped out at me this morning.  I do meditate, I don't do it as regularly as I would like to, but it absolutely helps me with relaxation, particularly when my chronic pain level is elevated.  I was meditating even at the time of my worst menopausal symptoms (before I got on the bioidentical hormones).   I can't say I think it made any difference in the frequency or severity of my hot flashes (or as they are referred to in the article, hot flushes). 

A couple of observations after reading the article:

  • It is not completely understood why women have hot flashes, as the article states, the decrease in estrogen certainly plays a role. However, very few articles in the mainstream media ever mention the effects of decreasing progesterone in a woman's body as she ages, and those of us on progesterone know how beneficial it is to have our levels optimized by bioidentical hormone replacement.  I was astonished to have my hot flashes (and they were severe and frequent) stop completely within three days of starting the progesterone cream.  Estrogen replacement only is not the answer for true hormonal optimization. 

  • I'm curious about the women in the study---"60 women who saw a doctor for moderate to severe symptoms occurring at least 50 times a week---but who were otherwise completely healthy".  How was their "completely healthy" status determined?  Was blood work done to eliminate any thyroid imbalances or other hormonal deficiencies?  Thyroid deficiency is way under diagnosed in middle aged women, and way too often not even tested!  None of these women were classified as overweight or obese?  Had they had DEXA scans to rule out any evidence of osteopenia/osteoporosis?  No sleep disturbances (I sometimes wonder if ANYONE can get through menopause without a sleep disturbance, and that certainly affects overall health.) None of these women were taking any medications for anything?  No arthritis? 

  • The data compiled comes from the participant's self reporting to the researchers.  The decrease in hot flashes for the women practicing the meditation techniques is impressive, but did the fact that they were journaling their experiences have any effect on their recollection of the number/severity of their symptoms?  I found it interesting that even the women who didn't practice the meditation routines had a decrease in their frequency of hot flashes.  The meditation also didn't seem to affect the participant's cortisol levels (stress hormone) but to be fair, 3 months might not be enough time to see a significant change in cortisol levels. 
As for the cortisol levels, I know my levels get very high because of chronic pain issues, and I have lived with anxiety and depression  much of my life.  The hormones have helped tremendously, but I also take supplements (Cortisol Manager by Integrative Theraputics at night, and Adrene-Vive by Ortho Molecular each morning).  The combination of the two have dropped my cortisol level by about 30%, right now it's at about 14.  Dr. Carr and I would like it under 10, but if I can get it under 12 I think we would both consider that a victory. 

I get asked if I use meditation programs or "apps" when I do my relaxation exercises, and I do.  I love using Andrew Johnson's meditation apps on my iPhone and iPad, he has a very soothing voice that really works for me.  Try out several different voices and apps to see what best suits you.  I just noticed that Andrew Johnson has an app for coping with Christmas, hmmmm,  I think I maybe need to check that one out!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone.  I will try very hard to update the blog more frequently and regularly, it's been a rough couple months but I think I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Study Finds Exercise Increases Life Expectancy, Regardless of Weight

I think it was serendipitous that I read this article from Yahoo Health News today.  I was able to do a circuit training workout this morning and then this afternoon was able to take a (short) walk with my Nordic walking poles.  The problem in my hip (detailed in post below this one) has really messed up my exercise routines........I've had to go slower, modify some of the exercises, and work out more gently for almost a month now, and it's making me (and my back because I am losing core strength) crazy!  This week I have definitely seen an increase in the amount of time I can work out before the pain gets too intense, and my recovery time after a workout is quicker than it has been. 

I do work out at a moderate intensity for about 2 1/2 hours per week, so I was happy to see that, even though I am still overweight (working on it, but slow going) that I am helping to increase my life expectancy.  I joke that I need those extra years to finish up all my knitting projects, read all the books on my Kindle, and catch up on my email.  My workouts usually consist of two circuit training classes per week, one other weight workout (very light weights because of my orthopedic limitations)  either at the gym or at home, at least two days of water aerobics (really helps keep my joints moving), and I try to do at least some stretching every day.  The last few weeks, some days the stretching is about all I have been able to do.  I was fitness walking a lot about two years ago, but last year had a bad case of Achilles tendonosis and so had to stop for quite a while.  I am very, very slowly starting to walk around the neighborhood using Nordic walking poles.  I just put an app on my iPhone that works as a pedometer, tried it for the first time today but stopped to take pictures with my iPhone camera (fall colours are just past peak here)-------I think either the pedometer resets itself when you use another app (camera).  I need to play around with it a bit more to learn how it works. 

Hope everyone is having a good week, we had a sunny and very mild day here today. The colours are still pretty but fading fast, and it makes me sad the days are so short now. I always am happy to see the winter solstice arrive and the subsequent lengthening of the days.  When I lived in NY the darkeness and lack of sunlight was truly depressing, I sure wish I had know more about Vitamin D supplementation back then......here in NC, the days are more often sunny than not even in the winter, but the sun isn't strong enough for the body to produce much Vitamin D.  A sunny day, however, is an emotional boost, and I like to get out and take even a short walk just to enjoy the light and fresh air. 

Get out there and exercise, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I haven't forgotten you!

I know it's been a while since I have posted.  I haven't forgotten you, a couple of things are going on:

  • I have some sort of problem in my hip (I think it's a pulled tendon) that is making it very difficult to sit for more than a few minutes at a time.  Limits my computer use!  Even worse, it's screwing up my exercise routines (I am able to exercise some, but it's a lot slower, modified routines, and it's tough to keep up my core strength, which is so important for my back).

  • The news right now is so dominated by election coverage, the meningitis outbreak from that one pharmacy in MA, and now, Hurricane Sandy that health related articles, particularly about menopause, are getting pushed to the back burner.  This happens sometimes when there are a bunch of big news stories all at once.  I'm sure once the election is over, the news will settle down a little and more articles that are appropriate for this blog will be featured. 
I'm from NY State, so of course, my thoughts are certainly with all of those in NY, and the other coastal states, suffering from that terrible storm that came ashore on Monday.  Here in NC, I live in an area that was actually largely unaffected, a few showers and wind and cold, but no property damage, loss of power, or anything like that.  NC was in the odd situation of having a hurricane warning at the east end of the state, and a winter storm warning at the west end of the state.  It's snowing about 2 1/2 hours from here in the NC Mountains, schools are closed and some have lost power.  Cold and gray here today; I went to the gym this morning, just got back from lunch with a friend, and now I am in for the day.  Plan to snuggle in for a little horizontal time to rest my back, and I think I will snuggle in with a good book.  Tomorrow I plan to put a big pot of chicken noodle soup in the crock pot ---- makes the house smell so good!

I promise to post any good articles about bioidentical hormones (or related menopausal issues) as soon as they come up, but for now, have a happy, safe Halloween.  Someone asked me what I was going to be for Halloween, and I said "home". 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today is------

World Menopause Day (no, really, such a thing exists!)  I hope you all are celebrating it as I am, by not having hot flashes, having a good night's sleep, improved bone health, improved cardiac health, better cognitive function, and the list goes on!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hormone update!

Good afternoon from sunny but cool North Carolina!

Thought it was time to update you a bit on my own "hormone journey"........

Back early this summer, I was experiencing problems with really disrupted sleep. I felt like I wasn't sleeping for more than 60-90 minutes at a time, and many mornings I was awake for the day by 5 am.  Not good.  Dr. Carr tested my estrogen level and found it had dropped even further, and he suggested that I begin taking once weekly estrogen (estradiol specifically) shots.  He gave me the option of using the creams instead, just like I do for progesterone and testosterone, but because my sleep was so disrupted he said doing shots would get my level up faster. 

I started the injections in early July.  The downside first. I gained 6 pounds in 2 weeks.  Took me 4 weeks, but I lost those 6 pounds.  Way upside----I can't tell you how much better my sleep is!!!!  I now sleep hours at a time and definitely feel more rested.  An additional benefit----I think my cognition seems to be better too, I just feel like my brain is working a little better---more focused, not as forgetful.  The estrogen costs about $50 for a five week supply (that includes my syringes), and the needle in the syringe is so small that I barely feel it.  I inject into my upper arm every Sunday morning.  This is far more cost effective than using the creams, and I only deal with it once a week rather than every day. 

I talked to Dr. Carr last week and we discussed how I was doing on the estrogen shots, and I asked him if testosterone by injection was available for women.  Turns out it is!  I'm really liking this because right now I am taking testosterone twice a day as a cream, and I sometimes forget that second dose in the early afternoon (plus I have to put it on my upper arm which is a pain in the winter when I wear long sleeves).  Starting next week, I will be taking a teeny, tiny dose of testosterone by injection weekly.  Besides being easier, this is going to be WAY more cost effective----the bottle of testosterone costs about $100 but will last for a year (remember, tiny dose), and my testosterone cream was nearly $100 for a 60 day supply! 

Now, this is not for everyone, particularly if you are not comfortable giving yourself injections.  I just wanted to let you know what is working for me, and if it's something you might be interested in pursuing, talk it over with your healthcare professional. 

Have a great week, everyone! I love the month of October, always so much to do, and the weather here in NC is gorgeous!  I made my annual trek to the NC State Fair earlier in the week, and as always, had a great time.  I posted some pictures on my Needle Notes blog if you would like to take a look.  A day out with my friends is good for my mind and spirit!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Compounding Pharmacies

You have no doubt heard a lot about compounding pharmacies in the news the last couple weeks.  My heart and thoughts go out to those affected by the contaminated spinal injections from the New England Compounding Center in MA ------ what happened was a terrible tragedy.  As someone who has had back injections in years past, it scared me and I understand how concerning it is to those of us who depend on compounding pharmacies for our bioidentical hormones. 

Important to remember that this was one pharmacy, not all compounding pharmacies as the media would like you to believe.  From my reading, the NECC went way beyond the scope of compounding into manufacturing, and the contaminated drug was something that was already readily commercially available and has been for years.  New England Compounding Center violated the scope of their pharmaceutical license, and they should and have been shut down.  For most of us who take our hormones transdermally (creams), intramuscularly (injections) or by pellet therapy, the body has natural defense barriers for contamination.  Those barriers to not exist for medications injected directly into the spinal coloumn. 

Also, the mainstream media is hyped up about how the FDA needs to crack down on compounding pharmacies.  The FDA stands for FOOD and DRUG ADMINISTRATION.  Their job is not to oversee pharmacies period, compounding or your local big box pharmacy.  That is the purpose of the state pharmaceutical boards, and they are collectively represented by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP).  Click here for their mission statement and purpose. 

I am frequently asked how to find a compounding pharmacy in a particular area.  The Professional Compounding Centers of America lists their mission as:

PCCA’s mission is to strengthen the role, position and skills of member compounding pharmacists so they can meet the unique health care needs of patients through our exceptional service, highest-quality products, shared innovations and education.

I use their "find a compounder" tool frequently to help people find an independent compounding pharmacy in their area.  Every compounding pharmacy I have used for my hormones is a member of PCCA.

The Professional Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB) is a group started in 2006 (thereabouts) to try to bring some order to the standards for independent compounding pharmacies.  Not all compounding pharmacies are PCAB accredited, and in fact, I understand from talking to several compounding pharmacists that the process is quite rigorous.  Only a handful of compounding pharmacies in each state are at this point accredited by PCAB, but my guess is that this number will increase over the next few years as compounding pharmacies a) become more popular with the increase in use of bioidenticals, and b) compounding pharmacies come under greater scrutiny by the public.  PCAB has a link to assist you in finding an accredited pharmacy in your area.  They also have a great page of information for consumers that is well worth taking the time to read. 

The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) lists their mission as: 

 to protect, promote and advance the art and science of pharmacy compounding. (IACP website)
They also have a  site for consumers  P2C2 (Patients and Professionals for Customized Care).  You can join their mailing list by clicking here, and/or their Facebook page here.

I hope this information helps; I know it's a lot to absorb and it can get very confusing.  However, it's worth the effort to research the issue, after all, this is your health we are talking about and compounded medications and hormones are every bit as powerful as any other medication we put in our bodies. It's important to be safe. 

HRC’s New Owner Defends Clinic

HRC’s New Owner Defends Clinic: HRC Medical will be in court next week trying to stop the state Attorney General from shutting the entire company down, after investigators found it had been run in a "persistently fraudulent manner."

This is an update to a post from last week about HRC Medical.  If you are a patient at one of their facilities, you just need to be aware of this, and possibly start researching other options if the company encounters other issues and you have to seek hormone treatment elsewhere. At the very least, find out what your options are as far as getting a copy of your medical records in case you need to change practitioners. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Attorney General Seeks Closure Of HRC Medical (TN)

If you are a patient at HRC Medical at any of the TN locations (I believe they are located in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville), you need to check this article out from NewsChannel5.com.  The station did an investigative report on HRC Medical earlier this year, and the TN Attorney General's offfice has taken action based at least in part due to the findings of the investigative piece. 

Also, there are issues with HRC Medical in the state of NC.  This letter to Dan Hale, the now retired head of the company, from the Attorney General of the state of NC, is interesting reading.  I've gotten a number of complaints about the NC centers located in Cary and Charlotte. 

On another topic, I am certainly aware of the issues with the fungal meningitis in the news recently and that the steriods injected came from a compounding pharmacy.  Please bear in mind this was one pharmacy, and from what I have read and researched, this is not the norm for compounding pharmacies.  I am compiling a list of ways to check out the safety record of a compounding pharmacy you may be considering, and I will have a post about it up shortly, hopefully by the weekend.  Also, you are hearing a lot in the news about how "lax" the FDA is on compounding pharmacies. That's very misleading, that's like saying the FDA is far too lax in handing out driver's licenses -------- compounding pharmacies are not under the jurisdiction of the FDA.  Pharmacies, compounding and otherwise, are regulated by state pharmacy boards.  Much more on that, too!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This woman is my hero!

Wow. As someone who was bullied as a kid and even reecently as an adult about her weight, this woman is my hero.

Like Fine Wine, Sex Gets Better With Age

I'm going to play devil's advocate here a bit ----- check out this article from The Huffington Post.

A couple of points here:

The article talks about having spontaneous sex (and keeping the blinds closed).  If you are (bioidentically) hormonally balanced, chances are your libido is healthy and this is great if it happens.  If you are depleted of hormones, a whole different story.  You are tired because you're hormonally imbalanced, and your sleep is likely disrupted by your lack of estrogen.  If you're tired, you don't want sex, you want to sleep, or at least rest.

If you are hormonally balanced but your husband isn't, HE may be the one not wanting sex.  Low testosterone causes fatigue, loss of libido, erectile problems.  For a satisfying partner relationship, it needs to be satisfying for both partners!

Point number five in the article is very important----if you are not in a long term, monogamous relationship, absolutely protect yourself from sexually transmitted dieases.  Just because you can no longer get pregnant doesn't mean you don't need a condom with a male partner. 

Point number six struck me as odd ---- you'll have more time and energy to devote to your relationship.  Not necessarily, see above about fatigue, loss of libido, etc if you are not hormonally balanced, and many of my friends who are about my age are not only dealing with children who are teens or in their 20s, but also dealing with aging parents.  Some tell me they have never felt more overwhelmed in their lives!

Wishing you all great sexual health!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Here's a weight loss tip for you: Get some sleep!

I've written posts on this before, but not in a while......getting adequate sleep is crucial in losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. Trust me on this one, I know what I'm talking about. Check out this article from Todayhealth.Today.com.

Weight and sleep issues are two of the most common complaints I hear from peri/menopausal women, and I have been there (and still am) on both counts. I know that when my sleep improved with the hormonal balance, the weight was easier to lose, and easier to keep off. Conversely, I know when I go through periods of either elevated pain or high stress, my sleep gets way off, and I CRAVE sugary, sweet junk food.....and the weight goes up with literally no effort. I'm far better about controlling my cravings, but it will always be a struggle. My cortisol (stress hormone) level is always elevated, but once my hormones got balanced (and I felt so much better), my sleep improved, and my cortisol level has dropped by about 30%. I also take Cortisol Manager (by Ortho Molecular) at night, and I know that has helped my cortisiol level. When my cortisol is lower, my sleep is better, so it's a cycle.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We have far to go in educating people about biodientical hormones:

(and yes, I get that I am somewhat on a rant today...funny how these issues come up in batches!)

Many of you know, either from remarks I have made on this board, or from reading my Needle Notes blog, that I am a knitter. I never have less than three projects on my needles at any one time (right now it's a scarf, another scarf, a man's sweater, and I am using my very limited crochet skills on a baby blanket for a friend's grandchild) and I have used knitting not only as a way to pass time and be involved in a hobby, it is often very good meditative therapy for me. I have knit to manage pain (if I am absorbed in my knitting I can relax a little more and my back pain seems not so overwhelming), to manage stress, and I have met some great people through knitting groups.

I'm a member of an online knitting group called Ravelry, it's a social media site for knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists of all kinds. Some people refer to it as Facebook for Knitters, but it's not set up like Facebook, there are all sort of groups you can join (or not join) and it's a great source for education, patterns, connecting with others of similar interests, etc. There are groups for nearly any interest you can think of, political, demographic, fiber interests, religion, non religion, and so on.

I'm not going to name the board that this was on, but I was alerted to the post and asked to respond. This is what the post said (there has been an ongoing discussion of the problems with menopause, hot flashes, getting older, etc. and I have detailed my experiences with bioidenticals numerous times--in fact, my Ravelry name is Holyhormones....not surprising, I am sure):

My husband is an endocrinologist. He says that bio identical hormones have exactly the same effects, pro and con, as any other sort. In other words, your body responds to estrogen in the same way whatever its source. There are lots of bio identical adherents, but there are no good evidence based studies that support it. HRT is HRT and the risks are as great. I wouldn’t take the risk (but then, full disclosure, I didn’t have hot flashes), but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion from an endocrinologist, or from a GYN who specializes in menopausal problems (as opposed to someone who mostly does OB)
Recent true story: Last month I saw my very sweet, female dermatologist to get a renewal on all my prescriptions, and a skin check. One of my Rx has to be compounded by the pharmacy, which Walgreens will do. She mentioned that if I had trouble getting it she could refer me to a compounding pharmacy and I replied that I had used one near my home. She suddenly looked very alarmed and asked why I was going to a compounding pharmacy, and was relieved that the answer was to get an antibiotic for my cat, who needed a human drug in a chicken broth suspension. Her response was that she was relieved, and had been concerned that I was using bioidentical HRT which could have been the cause of my thinning hair. Yet another reason to be wary!

Those of us who have researched and experienced bioidentical hormone optimization know that this statement is simply not true. Premarin and Prempro are not hormones, they are drugs, and as such, have significant risks and side affects associated with their use. These are the drugs that were used in the infamous 2002 WHI study that is often cited by healthcare professionals who argue that ALL hormones are dangerous. Why Premarin and Prempro are still being used is beyond me, but that's a discussion for another day. I found it also interesting that the endocrinologist only addressed the issue of estrogen, when in fact hormone balance is not just estrogen, but also progesterone and testosterone. If your doctor is just slapping an estrogen patch on you to get you out of his office (the estrogen/estradiol in the patches is bioidentical), think about getting another doctor who is an expert in hormonal balance.

Bioidentical hormone optimization is simply replacing what was in our bodies that we lose as we age, and we are replacing it with hormones that (while synthesized in a lab) are molecularly identical to what is in our bodies. Huge difference! In very simplistic terms, we (especially women, but men also) develop a myriad of health issues as our hormone levels decline....mood swings, hot flashes, depression, sleep disruption, loss of libido, (and I am one of those people who thinks sexual health is vitally important) thinning bones, elevated cholesterol, increase of abdominal fat, heart problems and I could go on. Doesn't it make more sense to simply replace what was lost in our bodies than to prescribe a myriad of expensive, toxic drugs to simply mask symptoms or manage the illnesses brought on/exacerbated by hormonal imbalances? As my doctor is fond of saying when he hears me raving about another person I know who has been put on antidepressants for hot flashes "She doesn't have a Prozac deficiency, she has a hormone deficiency!" I could also do a lengthy post about how many side effects there are in the drugs used for many illnesses/conditions that could be helped by hormone optimization, and I likely will at some point, but that too is for another day.

I know what I'm talking about because I have been on both sides of the drug/hormone issue. When I moved to North Carolina (and before I met Dr. Carr and my pain managment physician Dr. Hines) I was on so many drugs I filled up a large Ziploc bag. Two kinds of blood pressure meds, antidepressants, Concerta for ADD, Provigil to wake me up, anti anxiety meds, anti-inflamatory meds and on and on.......and at 320 pounds, it was pure luck I hadn't developed diabetes or a heart condition (yet). I also had osteopenia, the precursor for osteoporosis, even more dangerous for me because I was prone to falling (and looking back, I think some of it was from being unbalanced on all those medications). How I managed to get out of bed and function on all the meds I was on is absolutely beyond me (and my doctor). I was in a fog most of the time, had zero energy, and oh, yes, my pharmacy bill between me and my insurance company was over $700 per month.

Once I got on the hormone optimization protocol, I was able to eliminate 6 medications within 6 months. Now all I take by prescription (besides my bioidentical hormone creams) is thyroid hormone (my previous physician kept telling me my thyroid was normal, but now I know there is a big difference between normal and optimal), and medication for my back. Everything else is supplements, I take about 8 different supplements daily, including Vitamin D3 (5000 ius). My energy level is far better than it ever was, my osteopenia is completely resolved, my lab values come back right on the money, my cognitive functioning is way improved, and my quality of life is far better than life before BHRT. Oh, and an interesting point, I used to have very cystic breasts, which is thought to be a risk factor for breast cancer. My breasts were so lumpy that getting a breast exam with any new practitioner took forever because they were concerned they had found a problem. Within three months of starting the progesterone, my breasts had almost completely smoothed out, the difference in doing self exams now is remarkable.

Another interesting point regarding the thinning hair: my hair since being on the bioidentical hormones (especially the progesterone, that's the one I started with and the others were introduced gradually) is (without modesty) GORGEOUS! I wear my hair short, but it is thick, healthy, shiny and hold my style beautifully. Even Dr. Carr has commented that most women my age would kill to have the bounce in my hair that I do, which of course makes my stylist very, very happy. My nails have never been stronger or healthier (and I am tough on my hands)----I rarely break a nail, and they do not split or bend the way they used to.

I plan to respond to the comment posted in a thoughtful, reasonable post (as soon as I stop grinding my teeth). I know that I am doing what is healthy for me, and I am blessed to have a doctor who cares enough about his patients to think for himself and want the best for his patients (and in case you are wondering, Dr. Carr takes bioidentical hormones himself and has for years).

A cautionary tale-----

Hope everyone has had a great week and is enjoying the second half of the weekend. Very cloudy and gloomy here in NC, it would be a good day to settle in and read or knit. I have far too much to catch up on, however, for that luxury today (including catching up on the blog) so at the end of the day, I am hoping to feel very accomplished!

I sometimes think I am jinxed with compounding pharmacies. I have detailed the multiple issues I have had with both Town Center Pharmacy and Fireside Pharmacy in Palm Desert, CA. Messed up orders, having to ship hormones back to them to get replacements (at my expense) when they are the ones who messed up, and so on. My last prescription of progesterone cream from Town Center Pharmacy was awful, whatever base they used "shredded" all over my arms, and I more than once had to change outfits because the progesterone shards got all over what I was wearing. This time I didn't even bother to contact them; not worth the effort, they have blown me off on more than one occasion and it's not worth getting upset about anymore.

Got my latest batch of progesterone at Greenfield Pharmacy in Vista, CA (Dr. Carr uses them for hormone pellets and has been very satisfied with their quality). I called them on Tuesday, 9/4, inquired about the price for my progesterone, and placed the order (they had to call and get it transferred from Town Center Pharmacy). They promised to call me back as soon as the order was filled and get my credit card number (word of advice, don't leave your credit card number on file with a pharmacy, I learned the hard way after several screw ups!). I hadn't heard from them by Friday, 9/7, so I called and asked if the hormone was ready. The person I spoke with told me "well, it often takes a couple days to compound". If that's true, a couple days would have meant it was ready on Thursday. She put me on hold and when she came back said the pharmacist was working on the prescription right then (uh, huh), got my credit card information and that was it.

The two bottles of progesterone arrived last Thursday in separate envelopes). First of all, the prescriptions were labeled as being filled on 9/5/2012 (Wednesday), so by the time I called the prescriptions had been filled for two days. Why lie about something so easy to catch? Wouldn't it be just easier to say "ooops, I'm so sorry we didn't call you, let's get this taken care of right away!" I'm so sick of the compounding pharmacies lying over stuff that any patient with working brain cells can figure out!
The minute I looked at the label (always, always check your hormones/meds as soon as they arrive or before you leave the pharmacy!) I knew the directions were not written out the way I know Dr. Carr prescribes progesterone, and I quickly went to check what my old bottle of progesterone said (the one from Town Center). That bottle says:

Apply 1 gram (1/4 tsp) four times a day.

In the past, most of the prescriptions have said "...4 times a day to forearms." I've taken the bioidentical progesterone for 6 years, and so I know how to administer the hormone.

The bottle from Greenfield says:

"Apply 1/4 teaspoonsful (sic) 4/days as directed by MD."

This bothers me greatly, because I think these directions could very easily be misinterpreted to make a patient think they only needed to take the progesterone for 4 days, not 4 times a day. Big, big difference. I emailed Dr. Carr to give him a heads up, and he contacted the pharmacy. I intend to write to the pharmacy (they don't have a website that I can locate) and also express my concern.

Bottom line: if you are starting with a new physician, hormone specialist or any other healthcare provider, make absolutely sure you clearly understand how much (also should be noted that there were no measuring spoons with this order of progesterone, and the applicator they sent with the bottle is useless and confusing), how often, and where the medication should be applied. I've seen numerous instances of mix ups in this area----one woman was putting her testosterone on right on top of her progesterone, thus effectively cancelling each other out, another woman had no idea how to open the bottle of progesterone to correcly dose (she was exposing the progesterone to more air than necessary), and a third was way overdosing on testosterone. In every instance (and there are many more I could cite) this was a clear lack of communication somewhere in the triangle of healthcare provider--patient--compounding pharmacy. If what is written on the bottle of hormones/medication does not absolutely, exactly match up with what you were told by the doctor (or what you understood from the doctor)---do not hesitate to call the doctor's office, ask to speak with a pharmacist, or both. This is your health you are dealing with, and worth the effort to check and double check.

On the upside, I tried the new progesterone and the quality seems to be fine, it rubs well into my arms and does not have the shredding issue I had with the batch I used this summer from Town Center Pharmacy. Their response to my conerns about the label instructions will determine my future association with them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Menopause Evolved To Limit Competition Between Older Women & Daughters-In-Law, Study Suggests

Since I have neither been a daughter in law or a mother in law I will abstain from commenting on this article from The Huffington Post. I thought it was interesting, however, and want to share it with you.

Utah jury orders drug companies to pay woman $5M

In the continuing saga of women suing Pfizer (they bought out Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the original makers of Premarin and Prempro) and winning a large jury verdict. Check out the details from 10TV.com.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Study sheds light on why women gain fat following menopause

Menopausal weight gain is so frustrating for women (me included, I've battled weight issues my entire life.) There actually is something to the theory that the decline of estrogen (along with a number of other factors) does affect weight gain in women going through the menopausal transition. Check out this article from Medical-News.net, and pay particular attention to the first paragraph of the second page (and yes, I am aware that the article is a little dense for those of us who are not medical professionals!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Menopause Awareness Month

Yes, it really exists! If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you are already aware of menopause (perhaps painfully so) but if you want to be "official", check out this link to the website for Menopause Awareness Month!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Compounding Pharmacies

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG) is not a fan of bioidentical hormones. Not even close. I think a lot of it has to do with them being in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry, but whatever the reason, way too many women go to their gynocologists looking for help with bioidentical hormones for their menopausal difficulties, and are flatly told that compounded medications are useless, dangerous, not regulated, I've heard a dozen different lines.

Peter Koshland at Koshland's Pharmacy is an expert on bioidenticals, and I have tapped into his expertise several times regarding issues relating to compounded medications. He has written an excellent post about ACOG's position on bioidenticals on his blog The Compounder's Forum. Be sure to read it, and perhaps even make a copy of it to present to the next doctor who tells you about the "dangers" of compounded medications.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bioidentical Hormone Treatment For PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

If you are not already reading the blog Bioidentical Hormone Health, be sure to enter your email address to subscribe in the upper right hand corner of their home page.  It's one of the blogs I read regularly.

Interesting article on their blog today about bioidentical hormones and PCOS (polycystic ovary disease).  The article has information that is important for those of you who have this condition, and is worth passing along to daughters, friends, etc who may be struggling with PCOS (it's a leading cause of infertility). 

I spent considerable time this morning going through about 3-4 weeks of newsfeed alerts (I get emails each day that alert me to articles on the web pertinent to about 20 phrases associatied with menopause), and have found some great articles to share with you.  I hope to get as many as I can up over the next week or two, but please bear with me, my schedule over the next couple weeks is a little crazy.  If you are following the news, you know that the Democratic National Convention is going to be in Charlotte, NC next week, and I am a volunteer! I'm going to be a hospitality greeter at the airport and at a local hotel.  I'm excited to be a part of something so historic for the city, I love meeting new people and I think it will be a lot of fun.  If I get any good pictures, I will post them over on my other blog (Needle Notes) so stay tuned.

Enjoy this last week of summer, I can't believe we are at the end of August already. It was a difficult summer in many ways; I am looking forward to the fall.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Heart attacks in women....

I was sorry to hear that TV personality Rosie O'Donnell suffered a heart attack recently.   She is now home and reportedly doing well, which is great news.....the world needs all the laughter it can get!

Rosie talked on her blog about her experience.  Most of you who have read my blog for any length of time know I am an advocate for women's heart health, and I proudly celebrate women's heart health the entire month of February each year (I was thrilled to see even the knitting community is getting in on the act, go check out this new book Knit Red: Stitching for Women's Heart Health).  Many women, however, mistakenly believe that chest pain (common sign in heart attack for men) is the leading symptom in heart attacks for women, too.  Not true, the symptoms when a woman has a heart attack are are varied and often more subtle. Check out this excellent article from WomenHeart.org on signs and symptoms of women's heart disease. 

Dense breast tissue doesn't add cancer risk, study shows

Generally, when I post an article like this another study comes out within a week with opposite findings. However, because I know this is a topic of interest to nearly all women, I'm sharing with you an article from this morning's edition of USAToday.com.  I was considered to have dense breast tissue when I was younger because I never had a child, and because of a history of breast cancer in my family (I lost a maternal aunt at age 42 to the disease in 1960, a maternal first cousin at age 56 in 2004) I began having mammograms at age 35.  By the time a study had come out that mammograms in women under 40 with dense breast tissue were nearly useless ---- I had already had two mammograms.  In a perfect world (which is likely not to exist as long as insurance companies are involved in our health care) we would be getting MRIs of our breasts (found to be more accurate in detecting problems) instead of mammograms, but I don't see insurance coverage for that any time soon. 

I'm sorry my posting has been so sporadic the last few weeks, my back has been acting up (hard to sit at the computer), trying to learn the new computer (which is problematic when you can't sit at it for very long at a stretch) and a lack of good articles to share with you (often happens in the summer) have made for a perfect storm of very little blog posting.  Enjoy your week!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strength Training for Women

I know I carp on this a lot, but it's so important to do strength training. My mother had a severe case of osteoporosis (she lost over 4 inches of height the last 10 years of her life) and a fall in 1995 made her an invalid until she died in February 1998.  I am absolutely determined not to go down that same path, and with hormone optimization, Vitamin D2 and weight training, I'm well on my way to staying tall and strong!

How to Meditate Effortlessly-Deep Meditation Experience to feel great,enjoy your own company and take faster decisions in life.

If you have a Kindle, downdoad this book on meditation (check and be sure it's still free, it was on the free list when I wrote this post!) 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don't Let an Old Person Move Into Your Body [Kindle Edition]

Good morning! I have a new desktop computer (yay!) and so will hopefully be back up and running full bore very soon.  Biggest issue right now is I strained my back big time trying to get this new computer put together, so my sitting time is very limited right now. 

For those of you who have a Kindle or a Kindle app on your tablet device, here is a link to a book that looks sort of interesting.  The title is Don't Let an Old Person Move Into Your Body, and right now it's a free download.  Follow this link.  Be sure, however, to check and see that the book is still free before you download it, as the price can jump back up without notice. 

Enjoy, and have a great first full week of August.  Stay hydrated!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Menopausal Computer Issues

Hi, everyone, I don't want you to think I have forgotten you.  I am in the process of getting a new computer, and in the meantime I have been using my iPad to post to my blogs.  However, over the weekend I developed an issue with the app saying something about my network not being ready to post (nothing has changed in my network, so I think it's something wrong with the app) but bottom line, not able to post unless I am at someone else's computer (as I am today!)  Hopefully everything will be cleared up in a week or less, but until then, stay cool, stay hydrated, and enjoy this first week fo August!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Physical function poorer after menopause: study

How ironic, I was just moaning to myself that today is a weight workout day at the gym (I'm fine once I get there, but I do not like working with weights....boring).....and This article from Reuters pops up.

I'm not at all surprised by the results of the study. Menopause (without bioidentical hormone replacement) causes weight gain, mood swings, sleep disruptions (who wants to exercise when you are exhausted), and cognitive impairment (when you can't get out of your own way.). I've seen a great many instances of this among my friends, women in their 50's and early 60's who act like old ladies because they can't get around. They are less mobile and energetic than the ladies at water aerobics who are in their 70's and 80's!

Bottom line, slow the effects of aging by getting your hormones (bioidentically) optimized, and then do as much as you can to stay active in both mind and body. Off my soapbox and off to climb into my gym clothes.

Have a great weekend!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Email Issue

Hi everyone......someone emailed me last night asking for information about Dr. Carr's practice......and I have tried to respond 4 times but keep getting delivery failure notice. If by chance you are that person (long shot since blog readers always see Dr. Carr's contact information on the upper right side of the blog) please email me again at holyhormones@gmail.com. Thank you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New toy for Andrea!

I am constantly looking for exercises that build core strength...it keeps my back strong. Saw this on Amazon.com for less than $20 and ordered it....tried it out, lots of fun and a real challenge! Looking forward to adding this to my fitness routine!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Pharmaceutical Drugs Are 62,000 Times Likely to Kill You

Pharmaceutical Drugs Are 62,000 Times Likely to Kill You

My thanks to Dr. Carr for sharing this article today on Facebook. Most of us taking bioidentical hormones are also taking supplements.....and we often face criticism and ridicule from friends and family, and sadly, also too often from primary care physicians.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pfizer Loses Prempro Ruling, Must Pay $10.4 Million

Good morning! Another major lawsuit ruling against Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has been upheld, to the tune of $10.4 million. Why Premarin and Prempro are still on the market, when they are know. To be dangerous and there are safer alternatives available, is beyond me. Read about the ruling on Bloomburg.com By clicking here.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Some great exercises......

To tone your arms......I do all of these except 3 & 4 ...... and will start incorporating that exercise into my routine tomorrow. For those of you who have never used a balance ball before, I love mine and it really helps with core strength.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 20, 2012

To start your weekend with a a smile!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Inactivity 'killing as many as smoking'

Check out this article from BBC Health.com on how physical inactivity may be as dangerous to our health as smoking.

I am now on my way to get in my water workout before the thunderstorms roll in (very hazy, hot and humid today in the Carolina's). Get out there and be active!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

9 Ways to Keep an Aging Brain Sharp

Good morning! The brain fog that comes with peri/post me opausal changes can be absolutely maddening, so I am always on the lookout for ways to keep my brain active and engaged. I keep up on current events, do Sudoku puzzles, a few other games on my iPad, read, and I knit lace shawls from charts (with the added benefit of having a nice collection of shawls to wear in the cooler weather!)

Check out this article from Online Psychology Degree.com on Nine Ways To Keep An Aging Brain Sharp. I need to work on numbers 8 and 9, and I love the picture under number 6!

My thoughts are with the victims of the shootings in Colorado......today is one of those days that I am not planning to watch the news.....it is simply too heartbreaking. Wishing all of you peace in your heart.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Obesity Plus Low Vitamin D May Add Up to a Greater Risk of Diabetes

Good afternoon everyone! Since regular readers of this blog know I am big on Vitamin D supplementation (you are getting your Vitamin D level checked, aren't you?), I thought
This article from Science Daily might be of interest to you. A recent study indicates that patients who are obese and who are also Vitamin D deficient are at much higher risk for diabetes than patients who are obese OR Vitamin D deficient.

Speaking of Vitamin D.......I am heading out to the outdoor pool to get in a cardio/stretching workout (did weights this morning at the gym), and while I'm outdoors in the pool I'll get a good dose of Vitamin from the NC sunshine! Have a great day, everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another site with some great ideas for water workout exercises!

Hi, everyone, I have not forgotten you......there just haven't been any good articles in the news this week on menopause/hormonal balance and related issues.

I've been dealing with a flare up in my back, and it's been very hot here in NC, so I am spending some time most days working out in the pool in my subdivision. Often I am the only one in the pool (which I love), and I get in my daily dose of sun/Vitamin D along with my workout. I do a lot of core strengthening, as the stronger my core is, the more stable my back is....And that helps my endurance. I do a lot of stretching, too, to stay as flexible as I can. I'm working out a bit more gently right now because of the flare up, but I know it doesn't last forever and I'll be able to up my workout intensity soon. I am also doing light weight workouts either at home or the Y for bone strength. There is an upside, however.......having to slow down and rest a bit more has increased my knitting time (I have a sweater for me, a sweater for a friend, and a shawl for me currently in progress), and also my reading time (hope to have a review on a menopause book for you later this week).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Free (for the time being) Book For Your Kindle!

For those of you who have a Kindle, the book Power of Vitamin D New Scientific Research Links Vitamin D Deficiency to Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Kidney Disease, Fibromyalgia, ... Diseases, Dental Problems and Depression. [Kindle Edition] is free right now, I downloaded it but have not read it yet. Many times these books stay on the free list for a day or two, so go grab this before the price goes back up. Click here for the link.........Click here

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Something to think about......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 8, 2012

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Higher Doses of Vitamin D Prevent Fractures in Older Women

Good morning, everyone! My apologies for my sporadic posting, and be aware my posts may look a little different for the next week or so. My computer died (moment of silence for dead computer) so I am working entirely from my iPad right now!

Vitamin D has been much in the news lately, a recent study indicated that post menopausal women should not take Vitamin D and calcium because there was no effect on the risk of fractures. First of all, the levels of Vitamin D studied (400-600 IUs daily) are far blow what most progressive practitioners are recommending for their patients right now. Dr. Carr has had me on 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 (10,000 in the winter months) for nearly 6 years, I have never had an ill effect for it and it most certainly contributed to curing my osteopenia. Secondly, Vitamin D affects more than just bone health.....it has been shown to positively affect mood (think seasonal affective disorder), and studies suggest it helps prevent some forms of cancers.

A new study detailed this morning on Yahoo News/HealthDay shows that there is a reduced risk of fractures among older people when the amount of Vitamin D taken is ABOVE 800 IUs daily. This is significant for all of us, because hip fractures and loss of mobility are one of the leading causes of death among the elderly, and loss of mobility certainly diminishes quality of life. I can speak with some authority on this, as my mother, who was seriously affected by osteoporosis (she lost 4 inches in height) fell and broke her upper arm, spent weeks in the hospital, never fully recovered and spent the last several years of her life as an invalid. Caring for her fell entirely on me as an only child, and it was utter hell. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I am absolutely determined not to follow in her footsteps......I work out nearly every day, take my supplements and hormones, and although I still struggle with healthy eating.....I try to do my best.

As always, discuss Vitamin D supplementation with your healthcare practitioner, but if he/she blows you off and refuses to test your Vitamin D levels......don't stand for it, insist on getting the blood test.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hot Flashes Don't Signal Poor Heart Health for Most Women: Study

This article from US News and World Report.com may be of some comfort to those of you suffering with hot flashes:  a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society indicated that there is likely no increased risk of cardiovascular disease for women who experience hot flashes around the peri/menopausal transition.  However, if the hot flashes persist for many years (without hormonal optimization) or they begin many years after menopause, there may be a higher risk for cardiovascular issues. 

It's important to remember, however, that this study is looking at ONE factor----hot flashes and their onset.  We know that the lack of hormones can and does cause all sorts of issues, and it is known that estrogen is heart protective.  Way too many women seek out hormonal care only because of hot flashes or weight issues, not taking into consideration all the other ways hormone optimization can improve their health.......decreased inflammation in the body (think arthritis), cholesterol (thyroid is a hormone, and increased cholesterol can be a sign of thyroid imbalance), heart disease, body mass, bone health (this is a big one for me, my mother had severe osteoporosis), increased well being, sexual health, vaginal atrophy, and the list goes on and on. 

Sleep Deprivation Affects Immune System Like Physical Stress

Good morning! 

Many of us in the peri/post menopausal transition list lack of sleep as one of our most distressing symptoms.  I know until I got my hormones optimized, many nights I was sleeping less than 3-4 hours a night, and they certainly weren't all in a row!  The hormone fluctuations make women tired to begin with, and night sweats also disrupt sleep, so it's a wonder we can function at all during this time.  Prescription sleep aids have their own set of problems (addiction being one of them--believe me, I know, I had a terrible time getting off them), and the sleep you get from sleeping pills is often not what is called a "good sleep", more of a drugged state.

This article from PsychCentral.com discusses a study that finds sleep deprevation can affect the immune system, much in the same way as physical stress (I consider sleep deprevation/chronic fatigue to be a physical stress!)  This is not something to fool with, or to feel like you shouldn't discuss it with your doctor because it isn't "important".  Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of physical issues (obesity, diabetes) and can also be a safety issue ------- many car accidents are at least in part caused because of poor reaction time by drivers, falling asleep at the wheel, etc.  Sleep deprivation is part of the success of Starbucks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

10 Open Courses on Human Happiness

One of the neatest things about my new iPad is the educational opportunities it will afford me-----I haven't yet taken a free online course but hope to over the summer.  I'm a lifelong learner, and I know that keeping my mind challenged will help ward off cogntitive decline.

I received an email from onlinecollegecourses.com asking to to share an article with you about 10 courses available online (all free) on human happiness.  I'm happy to do so, and if you take one of the courses, drop me an email through the blog and tell me what you learned!

Today is the first day of summer-------wishing you a happy, healthy and memory filled season!

Bioidentical Hormones Prevent and Reverse Osteoarthritis

Anyone besides me dealing with osteoarthritis?  Raise your hands.......yep, thought so!

If you are not already reading Bioidentical Hormone Health, you need to add it to your list of must read blogs.  Some excellent information!

I'm a fan of Dr. Jeffrey Dach (he's the doctor who refers to synthetic hormones as "monster hormones"), and I was particularly interested in his guest article today on BHH.  I particularly like that he makes the point that the cellular degeneration (from lack of hormones) may be "normal" (mainstream medicine's favourite word when it comes to bioidentical hormone balance and why we should not worry about getting our hormones optimized) but it certainly isn't optimal.  The article also discusses how estrogen replacement can help reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. 

Although I have had osteoarthritis for a number of years (family history of it), I know without a doubt that the hormone optimization has limited the progression of the disease.  It has also allowed me to the flexibilty and strength to exercise every day, which in turn further limits the damage to my joints from the arthritis.  I know, too, that the testosterone I take has strengthened my bones and my muscles, again allowing me to exercise harder, which in turn has helped my mobility.  Because of the problems in my back and hip, I still fall occasionally, but am strong enough to get up on my own and recover more quickly.