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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Menopause brain fog

I frequently get emails from patients telling me that they know they are experiencing "brain fog", "goofiness", "mental incapacity", "I'm addled" or any other term to describe a decline in cognitive functioning.  I empathize with them, because besides being post menopausal, I have Attention Deficit Disorder, and I have often said "hey, try being ADD and hormonally imbalanced at the same time, it's a very special type of hell!".  The progesterone I take transdermally helped my cognitive functioning immensely------before I went on it, I had started feeling like I was "stupid", and logically, I know I'm not-----I have two graduate degrees in education, earning the most recent one less than 10 years ago.  Getting my thyroid running optimally has also had a positive effect on my brain function.  It's very scary, because when the cognitive changes start happening, the first thing I think so many of us think is could it be early onset Alzheimer's or dementia.  Also, too often when we bring concerns like this to a health care provider, women get blown off with "you're just going through menopause, it's normal", "you're just stressed out, relax", or any of another half a dozen lines. 

About 10 minutes ago I responded to an email from a lady who apologized for asking some questions that were partially answered on the blog ------ she said she was feeling "addled". I told her no need to apologize, I can talk about hormones all day long (just ask any of my friends) and I am always happy to respond to question emails.  I hit the send button, then went back to the inbox-----and the article on my news feed was this one about menopausal brain fog.  Well, holy cow, talk about great timing! It's a brief article, but I thought it was worth sharing. 

Charlotte, NC area practitioner

As most of you know, I live in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, but I go to CA for my medical care with Dr. Carr.  I've gotten quite a number of requests for referrals to someone in the Charlotte, NC area, and although I have given out some names, I've not been hugely impressed with the feedback I have gotten from anyone being serviced by those practices.  

A friend today told me that her pediatrician recommends (and goes to) a nurse practitioner in the area who works for Carolina Family Healthcare. Her name is Kristen Kristen Spratt and the office number is 704-847-4001.   I love it when I get personal recommendations for practitioners, especially since I do not get my hormonal care in this area.  If you go to Kristen and wish to share a review, by all means contact me through the blog!

An affirmation to remember:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Warning: Extra hormones in the house

I went through this at our house as I was a later in life (my  mother was 37 when I was born, a year aftre her first marriage but my father's second go around).  I was in the throes of puberty, Mom was in peri/menopause (and maintained until her dying day that she sailed through menopause with no problems whatsoever----I beg to differ).  Add to that my father (pack a day smoker and an alcoholic) had his first heart attack 2 weeks before my 14th birthday, then had a second cornonary and died 2 months after my 15th birthday (he and I were not close----he had already raised one family and I was shall we say unexpected), leaving my mother as a single working parent.  Let's just say it was uh-----moody at my house. 

Good article to share with you today from the Minneapolis StarTribune.com; this is a more common issue today as women are more routinely having children later in life.  Hang in there, everyone, my mother and I got along great (mostly) after I turned about 16-17!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

5 Surprising Ways Naps Improve Your Health

Full disclosure, I am not a napper.  Unless I am dealing with a higher level of back pain and need extra med (or a muscle relaxant), I don't get sleepy during the day, nor do I feel the need to sleep.  I think the progesterone gives me so much more energy that I'm just not inclined to nap.  I also find that if I do nap it disrupts my sleep at night. 

However, I know that many patients in the peri/menopausal transition either do nap or wish they could nap.  I ran across this article from MSNHealth.com on five health benefits derived from regular napping.  Pay particular attention to paragraph 12 (discusses testosterone levels in young men and their level of sleep)-----I wonder if it's because men who don't get enough sleep are likely to be more stressed, therefore burning through their hormones faster.  Stress will make anyone burn through hormones faster, and I am living proof.  If my stress level gets too high (either from emotional stress or the physical stress of chronic pain) you can see it in my blood levels.. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dr. Carr's Exciting News!

I'm so pleased to announce that my personal hormone physician, Dr. John Carr, is relocating his practice to a  new office, effective April 9, 2012.  The new address will be Dr. John D. Carr, Aging and Hormonal Health, 35400 Bob Hope Drive, Suite 108,  Rancho Mirage, California  92270.  I don't have a new office phone number yet, but as soon as I do, I will be sure to post it. The website for Aging and Hormonal Health (can also be accessed by Googling johncarrmd.com)  remains the same.   Also, for those of you who are new blog readers and are on Facebook, Dr. Carr has a Facebook Page that he uses to post articles of interest ----- you do not need to be a patient in his practice to subscribe to the page.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reasons That Vitamin D May Matter

First of all, I want to thank my friend Jane for sharing this article with me from The New York Times Health Blog (it never popped up on my newsfeed so if she hadn't shared it with me I wouldn't have seen it-----I've really met some awesome people through the blog!)

Full disclosure, I take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily, and in the winter months 3 days a week (M-W-F) I take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D3. Even at what may to some people seem to be high levels of the daily dose, I struggle in the months outside of summer to get my level up to what Dr.Carr considers the optimal level of 70-100 ng/dl (that number varies widely among practitioners, but for most of those who are BHRT experts, they consider the "standard normal" 30 ng/dl level of Vitamin D to be woefully inadequate).

I am out in the daylight/sunshine almost every day, but it's important to note that if you live in the Northern two thirds of the country, from about mid-October to late March, you are not going to get adequate Vitamin D from the sun even if you stand outside naked all day (and for a lot of reasons,  I don't recommend doing that.)  Also, as we age we simply do not absorb Vitamin D from the sun the way we used to when we were younger, and so it's vitally important to get your levels checked (and rechecked to make sure you are staying at an optimal level).  In the summer, I swim for about 40 minutes outdoors (sans sunscreen) about 4-5 days a week, so my level by August-September gets up to about 70 ng/dl-----I've never been able to get it any higher.  From October to late spring, my level usually drops back to about 58-63 even with aggressive supplementation. 

Take a good quality Vitamin D----I use Ortho Molecular brand:
It can be purchased through Dr. Carr's office,  and you do not need to be a patient in his practice to purchase vitamins and supplements.  You are better off investing a little more (it's not an expensive supplement) and staying clear of the drugstore/big box store brands, often they do not contain an adequate amount of the vitamin to raise your levels to the optimal numbers.

I hope everyone is enjoying the same kind of beautiful weather we are having here in the Southeast----we broke temperature records (in the mid 80's) a couple days this week----trees are in aggressive blooming  mode, about 10-14 days ahead of schedule.  For those of you who are new to the blog, you may not know that one of the many benefits of bioidentical hormone optimization is that it cured my seasonal allergies (and Charlotte is considered to be one of the top five worst places for seasonal allergies).  Hell, especially this year, I'd take progesterone just for that-----walk through the grocery store and you will hear people sneezing their brains out. Same at the gym. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I was watching a health report a few months ago that the term "boomeritis" has been coined for those of us over 50 who injure ourselves while trying to increase our fitness level.  Sigh. Me.  I have a pulled calf muscle. Damn it.  Pout.  Just in case it happens to you, I'm sharing the WebMD page on strained muscles.  I'm going to go elevate my leg and put some ice on it. 

Surgical menopause, early age at onset linked to worse physical functioning later in life

This article from EndocrineToday.com is worth sharing with you for two reasons:

1. Many of us, hormonally balanced or not, have undergone at least a partial hysterectomy, and in many cases, full hysterectomy (I had my uterus removed in 2002 for severe bleeding and fibroids, I do still have my ovaries).   Even with the ovaries still intact, a partial hysterectomy can greatly affect the function of the ovaries, as they lose at least part of their blood supply, which generally means a significant decrease in hormone production.  We need to be aware and take steps to keep active and stay as physically fit as possible (diet, exercise, and hormone optimization so we have the energy to exercise).

2.  The Endocrine Society came out with an "official" position statement on bioidentical hormones a couple years ago.  Ask any doctor who knows what he/she is talking about in relation to bioidentical hormones, and they will tell you that since hormones affect every system in the body, the physical decline is highly likely to be the result of hormonal imbalance brought on by early menopause.  Even I can figure that out, and I am not anywhere close to a doctor. 

This is perfect for those of us in the peri/menopausal stage:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Menopausal Symptoms Negatively Affect Work Ability

Some of the technical language of the study may be over your head (it was certainly over mine) but the gist of this article from DoctorsLounge.com is that when a woman is dealing with menopausal symptoms, it negatively impacts her work life.  I'm sure many of you, like me are thinking "Really? And in other breaking news, the sun will rise tomorrow."  Cognitive impairment, lack of energy, depression, hot flashes, night sweats, lack of sleep ----- yes, my guess is that they negatively affect a woman's ability to work at her optimal level.  Sadly, we need a study to convince many employers (not to mention doctors and insurance companies) that menopausal symptoms do affect productivity and should be taken seriously. 

What is Pre-diabetes and how can I avoid it?

Good article explaining pre-diabetes from the Pembroke Mariner & Express website.  Since diabetes is such a growing problem in our society, and is contributing wildly to the cost of healthcare, knowledge is power.  Bioidentical hormone balalance, along with diet and exercise, go a very long way to reversing Type 2 diabetes, I have talked first hand with patients who have reversed the disease with hormone optimization and lifestyle changes. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Besides hormonal balance, a few things to remember to stay healthy!

ALWAYS consult your physician first-----

But I thought I would share with you this PDF on McKenzie exercises, they are often prescribed for sciatica pain (hot topic at the gym today!). I hope you never need it, but just in case.......

Have a great day, everyone. I did the hardest workout I have done in a month today (still recovering from the back thing) and it felt great, but I know this afternoon I will have some "playing quietly" time, which means laying down with an ice pack, and reading, knitting, or working on my new obsession of kumihimo (my hand work is actually a great stress reliever for me, and has been an immense help in dealing with chronic pain issues----if you don't have a hobby, I strongly suggest finding something that you like and can do with passion, it greatly adds to the quality of life!)

Injured boomers, beware: Know when to see doctor

Gee, I wonder if they heard about my recent back "boo boo" and wrote this article? No, I'm pretty certain I am not the only one dealing with an over 50 body that I am trying to exercise, and I know without a doubt that exercise has made my back stronger and made me more mobile overall. We were actually dealing with this today in Quick Fit class ------ both my fitness instructor and one of the class participants are trying to deal with sciatica issues (and I've been there, that really hurts!) Check out this article from the Charlotte Observer!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Today's Post

For some reason, Blogger is not allowing me to edit and format my post today, so I apologize that the post below is a little difficult to read (broken lines, paragraph spacing, etc). I'm not sure what is wrong, and I will go back later today to see if I can make it look a little better. Meanwhile I thought a "goofy" looking post was preferable to no post at all, and the topic below is important and affects many patients.

Study: Sleeping Pills Linked with Early Death

I used to sleep like a baby. When I was in my 20's and early 30's, I could hit the pillow at 10 pm and be fast asleep by 10:05 pm. That all changed when I was was in a horrific car accident in 1992, and my sleep has been way off ever since----partly due to chronic pain issues, partly due to post traumatic stress disorder (which is much better than it was, but flares up when I am in a lot of pain or under a great deal of emotional upheaval.)
I have taken a bunch of different sleeping aids, and I was on Ambien for over a year when I started the bioidentical hormonal optimization protocol. I weaned down off the Ambien over a period of about 2-3 weeks (I think, it was a while back now). I now use Cortisol Manager (that also help with adrenal fatigue), Magnesium (take it at night----good for a number of issues, cellular health, etc, and it helps with pain), 2.5 mg of melatonin (over the counter, I get mine at Walmart), and when I really have trouble, I still occasionally use a 25 mg Benadryl tablet. My sleep isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than it was before the hormonal balance. Of course, the fact that I am overall in better health, and I eat better and exercise, probably also contributes to my better sleep.
I read this article http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/28/study-sleeping-pills-linked-with-early-death/ in Time Magazine last week, and since I know so many of you are struggling with sleep (particularly if you are not hormonally balanced) that I thought it important to share with you. A study of over 10,000 patients was done at the Scripps Clinic, comparing those who had been prescribed sleeping pills and those who did not take prescription sleeping aids. A couple of points in the article that I think are important:
Paragraph 2: "researchers found that those who had prescriptions were more than four times as
likely to have died during the study’s 2.5-year follow-up as those who didn’t
take the drugs."
Paragraph 3: "...the researchers also documented a 35% increased risk of cancer among people
taking sleeping pills, compared with the non-prescription group. The risk of
developing lymphoma, lung, colon or prostate cancer associated with sleeping
pills was greater than the effect from smoking."
Read further into the article and you can see that the data was adjusted for some health issues including asthma, heart disease and obesity. It did not, however, adjust the data for possible mental health issues like depression (and interesting side note----most of us who are going through or have been through the menopausal transition and dealt with a "mainstream" doctor have been offered antidepressants-----I've long said we do not have Prozac deficiencies, we have hormone deficiencies!).
If you are taking prescription sleeping aids-------never, never go cold turkey off any medication without physician supervision. Never. I know that sleep disturbances are one of the chief complaints I hear from patients who are in peri/menopause---and it's a vicious cycle---you're exhaused from fluctuating/low hormone levels, then you can't sleep (often from night sweats) and that makes you more tired. The more tired you are, the more you crave carbs (at least I did) and then you gain weight, and you're so exhausted exercising is difficult if not impossible.
Note: my apologies that I had to insert the link to the Time Magazine article the way I did, I am having trouble linking articles the usual way. I think it might be a Blogger issue!