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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another fresh new year is here...by William Arthur Ward

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!"

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and hormonally balanced 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I don't like the word "resolution" when talking about the new year to come; it's been my experience that when I set a resolution I blow it before the end of the first month.  The word goal seems to work for me, yeah, we'll go with that.

One of my goals for this year is to read more to my potential; in the last couple years I have fallen into the chick lit and romance novel rut because it's good escapism.  While there is nothing wrong with chick lit/romance novels, and there are a few authors I will continue to follow, I need to challenge my brain more.  I have a couple non fiction books out of the library right now, and also a novel that is a little bit weightier than what I have been reading.  

I also need to work more on my emotional eating issues (and I have a couple books in my library on the subject----I will review on the blog).  I need to ask myself before I put something in my mouth --- am I really hungry? Or (more likely), am I tired, bored, angry or in pain?

However, I have one New Year's project/resolution that absolutely every one of you can keep. Before the first of the year, 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 am going to update my medical history 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.  

It's important to review the list more than once a year, particularly if you are on any medications or hormones (and if you are reading this blog, you probably are!)  I know in my own case, Dr. Carr has made at least three adjustments to my thyroid medications this year; once to change from Levoxyl to Synthroid (because of the Levoxyl recall) and then we have had to make two adjustments to the dosage of Synthroid to get me to optimal levels.  Make sure you update your medical history when such changes occur.

Don't make excuses, don't put it off-----DO IT! And have a happy, healthy, peaceful 2014!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

S-EBM (Selective Evidence Based Medicine) Takes a New Turn

Editorial note from Andrea----had to share this bit of humour with you!  In the post below this post, you will see a more serious (and a little bit snarky) response to a story about multivitamins and supplements (this is the story from USA Today).  While I will agree that multivitamins are largely a waste of money (check the labels on most multivitamins and you will see that there are very, very small amounts of vitamins in each tablet), even people who eat well and healthy are still almost always lacking in some vitamins and nutrients.  Those of us who still struggle with our eating habits (including me) definitely need to be taking supplements to stay healthy.  I take a number of different supplements, including CoQ10, Vitamins B, C, D, K and magnesium (I take others too, but would need to go check the list).  I know those supplements, along with my hormone optimization, have kept me off a whole bunch of medications (much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry!)  Enjoy, and I encourage you to sign up for Orthomolecular's newsletter!

Commentary by Andrew W. Saul, Editor
(OMNS April 1, 2012) Perhaps I listened to too many Bob Newhart records while growing up, but even as a kid I knew that Abraham Lincoln did not have a PR agent. I also knew, although to this day I like their material, that neither Sherlock Holmes nor P.D.Q. Bach ever lived. Like most kids, I learned all too early that there was not really an Easter Bunny. However, I learned in school that large dinosaurs were slow moving, cold-blooded, and many mostly sat around in ponds for buoyancy to support their enormous weight. It was literally decades later that the lessons changed: the fast-stride spacing of footprints along with a lack of tail-tracks had caught up with the textbooks. Belief systems die hard. Many people have read many media reports about many dangers of many vitamins. In keeping with the media's current standard of accuracy (and noting the date of this release), here is an information leak.

Confidential Memorandum from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters (WHOPPER)

Most Secret: Your Eyes Only

Distinguished members, our decades of disparaging nutritional therapy have paid off at last. The public, and their healthcare providers, are completely hoodwinked. By pushing "evidence based medicine" on the medical professions, we have elegantly slipped in our choice of evidence to base medicine on. And this is no mere journeyman accomplishment: this is high art. Mr. Machiavelli would be pleased. Certainly the pharmaceutical cartel is. We are well on our way to eliminating the competition, namely that increasingly irritating "orthomolecular medicine" faction.
Here's how we are winning the Vitamin War: It is entirely too obvious, from our reading the nutritional literature, that vitamins and minerals are a well-proven, safe and effective therapy. Of course, anyone knows that to work they must be employed in appropriate doses, just as any drug must be given in an appropriate dose. That is the problem, but it is also our opportunity. Since high nutrient doses work all too well, we eliminate all those embarrassing positive high-dose results simply by ignoring them. By selecting, pooling and analyzing only unsuccessful low dose studies, our conclusions exactly fit what we want the public to believe.
We also make certain to use either synthetic or fractional vitamin E to "prove" that that nutrient not only has no therapeutic value, but is actually dangerous and can kill! Sure, it is an onion in the ointment that there have been no deaths from vitamin E in 28 years of poison control center reporting. But that's a mere fact, and easily ignored.
We are not going to rest on our proverbial laurels. Now that we have set the precedent for shaping medical practice into pharmaceutical hustling, there's even more we can accomplish.
Here is our master plan. We have solidly established that research data can be selected, pooled, meta-analyzed and then dictate solidly "scientific" conclusions. It is now a mere step to do the same in other disciplines, including education, politics, and the social sciences. For example:
  • Using data only from poorly-funded urban schools, we can prove mathematically, by statistical analysis of grade-point-averages, that inner-city kids have no academic future.
  • By collecting data as to how many 19th century women graduated from college, we can show that women then were not as qualified to vote as men are today, and overturn the 19th amendment.
  • If we assemble data on screen time and analyze actors' roles from Hollywood movies made in the 1920s and 1930s, we can demonstrate that some races are best qualified to be domestic workers, tap dancers or to operate laundries.
  • By giving a large sample of the homeless 25 cents each, we can show that higher personal income is ineffective against poverty.
  • If we tabulate inventory at Ferrari dealerships exclusively, we can prove Hondas are scarce.
  • Repeatedly taking the temperature of thousands of cadavers is justification that funeral homes do not need central heating, at least not at night.
Here is unlimited opportunity for social engineering, and we owe it all to S-EBM: Selective Evidence Based Medicine. Yes indeed: it logically proceeds from our widely-publicized analyses of vitamin supplementation, analyses that were limited to studies that used low doses. Math is a wonderful thing: when we sliced statistics into sound-byte-sized pieces, we even proved that vitamin E kills; vitamin C is worse; don't even THINK of taking those B-vitamin supplements; and even multivitamin pills are dangerous. Give us a just while longer: we will rip the carbons out of vitamin D next.
There is so much to look forward to!
(End of memo)

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you:http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
James A. Jackson, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email:omns@orthomolecular.org Readers may write in with their comments and questions for consideration for publication and as topic suggestions. However, OMNS is unable to respond to individual emails.

The Final Word on Supplements Yeah, Right.

Commentary by Mark McCarty

(OMNS Dec 21, 2013) "Centrum Silver Adults 50+" was the low-dose multivitamin tested in a much-trumpeted recent study that "proved that supplements don't work." Here is the manufacturer's webpage for this paragon of applied nutritional science: http://www.centrum.com/centrum-silver-adults-50-plus#tablets However, to actually see in detail what's in the product, you have to click the tiny "Product Labeling" link directly under the package illustration . . . and then scroll all the way down to the fine print in the "Ingredients" box.
But it is worth the effort. In addition to three artificial colors, note the whopping big doses (this is satire, now) of protective nutrients such as:
Vitamin D - 500 IU (Bet they thought they were going way out on a limb, adding that great extra 100 IU!)
Vitamin E - 50 IU (All provided by cutting edge, synthetic dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate)
Magnesium - 50 mg (Wow, one-eighth of the RDA, in the ever-so-soluble oxide form!)
Zinc - 11 mg (Cleverly well below the elevated range shown to exert any "dangerous antioxidant activity" by inducing metallothionein [1])
Calcium - 220 mg (Note the 4.4 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium; way too high, and that is nota satirical comment)
Lutein - 250 mcg (Macular degeneration is now a thing of the past!)
Evidently, the failure of this nutritional powerhouse to prevent dementia can only mean that all supplementation is inherently worthless.
Granted this supplement did reduce cancer incidence by 8% (http://www.nbcnews.com/health/daily-multivitamin-cuts-mens-cancer-risk-8-percent-large-study-1C6519472), but who can remember back that far?
Of course, you would think that even modest, conservative doses of micronutrients might provide some benefit to the many mentally-challenged people whose baseline diets are overloaded with empty calories. So to give the supplement the very best chance to demonstrate efficacy, the researchers chose a population of research subjects most likely to be nutritionally deficient: American physicians!
Now that we have gotten all this supplements nonsense out of our systems, we can all go to our doctors to get prescriptions for the many drugs proven to prevent dementia (of which there are none).
But as for vitamins, thank heavens our ever-vigilant media have set us straight again! Whatwould we do without them?
(Mark McCarty is a nutritionist and Research Director at the non-profit organization Catalytic Longevity. He is also President of NutriGuard Research, and a consultant to several medical clinics.)


1. In regard to zinc - are you aware of this result from the AREDS1 study?:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15136320 The 27% reduction in total mortality observed in those getting 80 mg zinc daily has been largely ignored - even though it was a robust finding in a rather massive controlled study - presumably because few people understand it. It likely represents a protective effect of metallothionein induction, which is dose-dependent above the usual dietary range of zinc (and is likely of minimal significance with modest zinc intakes). A key target of metallothionein is cadmium, which is emerging as a major mediator of multiple risks, even in people without industrial exposure: http://catalyticlongevity.org/prepub_archive/Cd[1][1].pdf published here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22959313

For further reading:

Are Antioxidants Bad for Us? A Response to Dr. Paul Offit http://catalyticlongevity.org/prepub_archive/Are%20Antioxidants%20Bad%20for%20Us.pdf
Excellent analysis of the flawed research used to attack multivitamin supplements:http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/Flawed-Research-Used-to-Attack-Multivitamin-Supplements.htm
Gossard B, Schmid K, Huber L, Joyal SV. Flawed research used to attack multivitamin supplements. http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/Flawed-Research-Used-to-Attack-Multivitamin-Supplements.htm
Additional humorous commentary on vitamin-bashing:
Multivitamins dangerous? Latest leak from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n15.shtml
How to destroy confidence in vitamins when you do not have the facts: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n02.shtml
Confidential Memorandum from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters: scroll down at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v08n11.shtml

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email:omns@orthomolecular.org This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some weekend "reading"...

A few quick reads for you from my news feed this week:

Suzy Cohen is a pharmacist who writes a syndicated column.  Last week, a reader asked about erectile dysfunction, and I thought her answer was worth sharing with you.  I particularly like the first line of the second paragraph of the answer, comparing giving a man Cialis/Viagra for erectile dysfunction instead of finding out if he is hormonally deficient to jump starting a battery every time a car won't start to replacing the battery outright.  Brilliant, and the analogy can be applied to so many other health problems.  As I wrote in an earlier post, Brisdelle, which is a reformulation of the antidepressant Paxil, is being marketed to women for hot flashes.  Ladies, we have hormonal deficiencies that need to be addressed, not Paxil deficiencies!

On nearly the same topic (giving drugs when hormonal balance is more likely the answer)---I'm sure most of you have seen the news reports about new guidelines for giving statins (cholesterol lowering) drugs to more patients.  Often, high cholesterol levels are due to thyroid imbalance, and yet I am constantly astonished at the number of patients who tell me they have NEVER had their thyroid levels checked, or who only have ever had a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test.  A normal TSH is not necessarily indicative of normal thyroid, a complete panel of blood work should always include T4 and T3 levels.  Even among the women that I know who are taking thyroid medication, they are only taking medication for the T4 thyroid.  Very few doctors (unless they are hormone specialists and/or practicing age management medicine) even check the T3 levels.  Dr. Carr does a thyroid panel on me several times a year to make sure I am taking the right dose of my T4 med (I was using Levoxyl until it was no longer available, I then swiched to Synthroid and had to up the dose as it is not as effective for me) and T3 (I have that compounded, and I take it twice a day......will be taking second dose as soon as I finish this post!)

I had a wonderful day yesterday going to my first college basketball game! So much fun, I understand enough about the game to follow it, and it was simply a wonderful day with a great friend and a new experience for me.  I was driving home from Charlotte about 5 pm when I realized how early it gets dark.  No matter what, we are not getting enough sunlight exposure this time of year (even on the days when the sun is fully out!) and so getting adequate Vitamin D is vital.  From early October to at least mid March, I increase my dose of Vitamin D from 5000 IUs daily to 10,000 IUs daily, and it generally keeps me in the optimal range of 70-100 ng/ml (blood work test).  Are you taking enough Vitamin D?  The paltry amount in a multi-vitamin won't cut it (usually less than 400 IUs), and it is nearly impossible to get it from food.  As always, check with your doctor, and if you haven't had your level tested, insist on it at your next visit.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend......today is kind of an "in" day for me (although I ran to the grocery store earlier this morning).  I'm catching up on laundry, resting my back, and this afternoon I am going to either dig into a new book or pick up my knitting for a while.  Breathe deep, enjoy your day and have a good week!

PCCA Awards Peter Koshland, PharmD, With George Roentsch Scholarship

I want to add my congratulations to Peter Koshland of Koshland Pharmacy on his receiving the The George Roentsch Scholarship from the Professional Compounding Centers of America.  I am a regular reader of Peter's blog, (and I have referred a number of people who tell me that their doctor wants them to go on Paxil for hot flashes to Peter's recent blog post on the subject---it is important reading), and if you live in the San Francisco Bay area, I highly recommend his pharmacy (click here for website.)  We need more pharmacists like Peter to advocate for bioidentical hormone health!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This and That.......

Good afternoon from sunny and relatively warm NC!  A gorgeous fall weekend out there, but we are likely to get nailed with a cold front by mid week. Ah, such is the season here in the Southeast.

Today I am going to address a few "hormonal issues":

  • I'm sure nearly all of you have either heard or read about the study done by the Veteran's Administration regarding testosterone and men over 60.  I understand the study was featured in a segment of Good Morning America, and USA Today and a number of other newspapers did articles about the study findings.  First of all, all of the men in this study were at the VA for cardiac catheterizations, which means most of them already had confirmed heart disease.  This is not 8,700 healthy men we are talking about.  Many had other risk factors for heart attacks, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.  Also, although not discussed in the USA Today article, another article I read said the men who were given testosterone were using the gel form of administration, which is known to have widely varying effects on raising men's testosterone levels. Nowhere have I seen any discussion of the levels of testosterone in the men who were taking testosterone, either before or after they were given testosterone. The study is absurd and I am sad that it has gotten as much press coverage as it has....it drives me nuts when so little real, valid information is shared about these studies. Dr. Carr has taught me so much about reading past the headlines, and even reading past the contents of the article to ask questions about risk factors, methodology of studies, and even who might be sponsoring the study (if it's a drug company, be very skeptical.)

  • Not hormone related, but since a significant number of middle aged women and men have knee problems (me included!) I thought you might find this interesting.  According to NBC News, doctors have discovered a new ligament in the human knee called anterolateral ligament (ALL). My first thought was "great, one more ligament for me to worry about popping!" 
  • Yes, it's time for me to go off on another rant about Vitamin D levels.  The days are getting shorter, the sun isn't as strong as it is during the spring and summer, and almost all age management/bioidentical hormone specialists will tell you that anyone over 40 needs to be supplementing their Vitamin D3, that you cannot keep your levels in the optimal range with food and sunshine alone.  Dr. Carr likes his patients to be between 70-100 ng/ml (blood test), and the last time mine was checked in late September it was a nice, healthy 78.  I am often asked how much Vitamin D I take.  From April to about early October, I take 5000 IU's daily, and the rest of the year I take 10,000 IUs daily.  I take it with Vitamin K for better absorption.  I do not use drugstore brands of Vitamin D, right now I am taking Life Extension brand, but have used OrthoMolecular with good results.  The only reason I don't use Ortho right now is because it looks EXACTLY like my DHEA capsule, if I drop one on the floor (a common occurrence since I fractured my arm in August), I have no idea which one it was to replace it.  My jaw dropped when I read this article from NBC News Health about an uptick in rickets in the UK, which is caused by Vitamin D deficiency.  In this day and age, in an industrialized country like the UK (with health care for all), this is an entirely preventable problem!  I know my bones are stronger because of my Vitamin D optimization, and there is considerable evidence that Vitamin D helps with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  I also believe it has helped boost my immunity, as I am very rarely sick, I have had maybe two very light colds in the last 7 years, have not been on an antibiotic in at least 8 years.   As always, check with your doctor, but if he/she blows you off about getting a Vitamin D blood test, stand your ground and insist on getting one!  I've had a number of people tell me their doctor says they don't need a Vitamin D test because they (the doctor) are sure it's normal.  Number one, normal and optimal are two different things, and secondly, if your doctor can tell by looking at you that your Vitamin D level is normal than he must have some sort of superpower. 

  • There's a "new" drug out for hot flashes called Brisdelle.  It is not a new drug, it's simply Paxil (an antidepressant, and an old one at that) that has now been FDA approved for hot flashes. Check out the list from Web MD of side effects for Paxil, you will note it includes sweating, which is kind of ironic since the drug is being given for hot flashes.   We have a hormone deficiency, ladies, we do not have an antidpressant deficiency.  I am continually astonished (and appalled) at how many women are taking antidpressants, have been for 10 years or more, and don't think it's a big deal.  I took them for years before I got my hormones balanced, and am happy beyond belief that I do not take them anymore.  As always, do not, and I mean NEVER, go off an antidepressant cold turkey......weaning off an antidpressant should always be done under the supervision of a doctor.  
I think that's about it for today.  Happy Veteran's Day to all of you who have served our country.  My mother, as well as her sister and brother, were all in World War II at the same time.....I cannot imagine what my Grandma went through.  

My mom, circa 1942

Mom's sister, my Aunt Rocky (Betty), not sure of the date but about 1942 also.

Mom's brother, my Uncle Jack.  Again, circa 1942-1943.  I never met Uncle Jack, he died of a lung ailment when I was two years old. I am told I have his (and Aunt Rocky's) sharp, wicked sense of humour, and for that I am grateful!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Good for the soul-------------

I've been away for a few days-----my first trip to Myrtle Beach! My friend Karen had an oceanfront condo for a week, and she graciously invited me to come stay with her for as long as I wanted.  I drove down Wednesday afternoon, and we all left about mid-morning on Saturday.  We mostly relaxed, at unhealthy food (hey, I get points for being honest), swam in the hotel pool (heated, and it was above average temperatures while I was there), and I spent part of Friday meeting the parents of a friend for lunch.

I took a couple slow but powerful walks on the beach------helped me to clear my head, reset my priorities, and I think now I am ready to put the effort into really, really getting back on track.  The weeks following my arm fracture have been very stressful---pain, physical therapy, anxiety about falling again, life stuff and so on.  Although I have been exercising, I haven't felt like I've been able to get back to maximizing my potential consistently, and the walks on the beach gave me time to talk to myself gently (I'm working on not beating myself up) about taking better care of myself.  I'm ready.

I wanted to share a few of the sunrise pictures I took (I'm still in awe that I had that kind of view each morning while sitting in my jammies!)......click here to see the entire album of pictures on Facebook (you do not need to be on FB to see the album).   Enjoy......I'm going to download these into my iPad and use as a slideshow with an "ocean wave" sound...........it will help me focus on my meditation.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bone Density Study!

Hi, everyone, I have not forgotten you----life has been a bit hectic (mostly good stuff), and I simply have not had time to sit down and write a post.  My goal for the rest of the year (and beyond) is to write a minimum of one post every seven days!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been to Charlotte Radiology for a bone density test (DEXA--dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry).  I hadn't had one in four years, and I think I was a little obsessed about knowing what my bone density was after I fell at the gym in August and broke my arm.  Both Dr. Carr and Dr. Hines (my pain management specialist) assured me that my arm broke because of the existing plate from a long ago car accident, but to calm my fears Dr. Hines ordered the test.  

If you have never had a DEXA scan, it's painless and quick.   You lie down on an x-ray table and a machine makes several passes over you.  The whole process takes about 15 minutes. Actually, the worst part about it for me was filling out the damn paperwork beforehand---seriously, if they want my social security number, then give me more than a half inch space to write it down. 

Got my results back about two weeks ago............and drum roll, please......I have normal bone density!  Here's the report:

  • Dr. Hines and Dr. Carr said that it was likely that I had localized osteopenia in my right arm because of the plate that has been in there for 21 years.  That does not, however, automatically mean I have systemic osteopenia/osteoporosis, and the DEXA scan bears that out.  I was irritated when the surgeon who repaired my arm in August told me that I needed to start taking calcium.  Dr. Carr has long said that calcium is not what builds healthy bones (testosterone, Vitamin D, and weight training exercise), and I feel like the surgeon just looked at my arm bones and made an assumption that all of my bones were weakened.  In fairness, I need to add that other than that, I really do like the hand surgeon who is taking care of me----he has taken the time to explain what is going on with the arm, and has been honest to tell me why my thumb is still not moving very well (later post).

  • Although my bone mineral density numbers (BMD-first column) are down just a little bit from my scan in 2009, I am still pleased that they are above 1.0.  It's incentive to work harder in the gym.  My T scores are down a little bit too, again, incentive to work it! 
  • Note that my "Z" scores are better now than they were in 2009, that's because I am four years older, and the "Z" scores compare my bones to others the same age as me.  
I will be honest to tell you that I am still not at full tilt with my workouts since I fell in August.  I'm struggling still with being in the gym (I am back at the YMCA, cannot make myself walk back into the Gold's Gym where I fell, and that has nothing to do with them---the thought of it just flips me out and I am afraid it will make my flashbacks worse)----I'm having flashbacks about falling.  I had a pretty bad flare up of arthritis in my right knee about a month ago, and that has also slowed me down.  I was very concerned that I had torn the meniscus in my knee, or had done something that would require surgical intervention, but a visit with Dr. Hines revealed that it wasn't a surgical issue (he did say, however, and not for the first time, that I will eventually likely need a knee replacement).  I have had extensive surgery done on that knee from the car accident in 1992, and the x-ray revealed that I do have some localized osteopenia in that leg also, as a result of the pins/screws and wires that have been in that knee for many years.  At my request, I went to see a physical therapist for a consult about what was safe for me to do in the gym knee wise, and so I am trying to tailor my exercises to making the compensatory muscles around the knee, as well as the hip and gluteal muscles as strong as I can.  For the time being, my fitness walking has to cease, it puts too much strain on the knee and will exacerbate the problems that are already there.  C'est la vie.  

How did it get to be the end of October already?  I can't believe Halloween is Thursday (the scar on my arm is my costume, I'm going as a zombie).  We've had our first freeze of the season here in NC, that doesn't usually happen until early November.  Brace yourselves, as soon as Halloween is over, the Christmas holiday commercials begin----ugh.  Have a great week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jars for your hormonal creams!

Hi everyone, no, I have not forgotten you! Life has been a little chaotic lately.  I'm still in physical therapy for my right arm rehab (for those of you who don't read this blog regularly, I broke the arm in a fall at the gym in early August).  I do very little at the computer on the days I go to PT, it is helping me regain the strength in the arm, but boy, does it hurt afterward!

I have very good news, however, I had a DEXA (bone density) scan last month, and it is normal!  I do have some localized osteopenia in my right arm because I have had a large plate in that arm for 21 years, but the osteopenia is localized, not systemic.  I will write a more detailed blog post later this week (along with a good link that explains how to read your DEXA scan), but wanted to share the good news with you!

I know many of you, like me, use creams as your method of taking one or more of your hormones.  I use progesterone cream several times daily, and it comes from the pharmacy in large jars that are too cumbersome to carry around.  At one time, I was able to get small jars with screw on lids from the pharmacy, but they no longer have them and the ones I had were getting worn out.  I finally found some that fit the bill............through Amazon.com (they have everything!.

Here is the link for the smaller jar (came in a package of 10).  The jar holds 1/2 ounce, which for me is about 8-10 doses of my progesterone.  The jar is 1 1/8 inch high, and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. I also used one of these smaller jars to keep some coconut oil next to my bed, much better for chapped lips than lip balm (I use it on my cuticles too).   The larger jar on the right holds one ounce (good size if you want several days worth of cream to travel with) and this jar is large enough to hold a day's worth of supplements for me.

Hope this helps, I accidentally left the little jar I was using with progesterone at a friend's house, and it made me nuts to not have it in my purse for a couple days!  I am usually out and about around lunchtime, which is when I take my second dose of progesterone.

Hope the weather wherever you are is as lovely as it is here in NC-----but I must say, it was a little nippy this morning!  I think the low hit just below 40 degrees.  Our leaves don't hit peak colour for another week, but the trees are showing signs of turning.  Love this time of year.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pfizer's new drug for menopause..........

Oh, good, Pfizer (with FDA approval) is introducing a new drug to the market for post menopausal women. They haven't done enough damage with their drugs Premarin and Pempro, which, if you are a regular reader of this blog, know are synthetic hormones made from the urine of pregnant mare's.  They are NOT hormones, they are drugs, and they were the substances used in the Women's Health Initiative (the study that was halted because of the increase in health issues and deaths).  Now Pfizer wants menopausal women to take Duavee, which is a combination of horse pee and a drug known as a selective seratonin receptor modulator (SERM), which is supposed to prevent post menopausal osteoporosis.  Bone stressing exercise (weight training), testosterone optimization, and Vitamin D optimization are known to prevent osteoporosis too, but most women would rather just pop a pill (even a pill containing horse piss) than make the effort to prevent osteoporosis in a more natural way.

Besides the fact that ingesting horse pee has been proven to be unsafe for humans, the methods to collect the ingredient necessary for making Premarin/Prempro is abusive to the horses involved.  I shared a video with you about that in my last blog post, and Dr. Carr shared another one with his patients :

I had a rather interesting conversation with a woman recently----she shared with me that she takes Premarin cream for vaginal dryness. I mentioned that I have successfully used estriol cream for a number of years for vaginal dryness/atrophy, and was dismissively told that her doctor wouldn't prescribe that. I got the sense she had never heard of estriol cream before I mentioned it, and therefore had never asked her doctor about it, so how does she know he/she won't consider prescribing it.........but never mind, that's another issue.  I told her that the methods used to collect the urine from the pregnant mare's was very abusive and tortured the animals involved, and she held her hand up and told me she did not want to hear me talk about it in a tone that said she wished not to be informed so that she was not inconvenienced.  That's fine, I stopped immediately;  the woman owns a dog and says she is an animal lover.  I guess that means dogs.  In the conversation, I also learned that Premarin runs about $100-$125 per tube, my estriol cream is much less than that and has the added benefit of not torturing animals.  For me, that's a win-win.

Friday, September 20, 2013

If you need another reason to never take Premarin/Prempro ------ watch this video.

My hope is that if you are reading this blog, you already know how dangerous Premarin and Prempro are, and that you know that those are not bioidentical hormones (although they are often referred to as "natural"). What you may not know, however, is how the urine is collected from the pregnant mares---it is animal cruelty, and far too often the offspring resulting from the mare's pregnancy is subjected to euthanasia.  It's heartbreaking.

On a much happier note, never underestimate the power of a "girls day out"!  I went to the Southern Women's Show today with two of my very dear friends, and it was a hoot!  Of course, I spent too much money (but to my credit, only bought one $10 piece of jewelry!)------I got some very cool gel type heat packs for my back and arm, several different cream cheese dip mixes, and a food grater.  I also sampled butter beans and ice cream in the span of 10 minutes (never had that combo for breakfast before, but you only live once!), picked up a ton of literature to plan a few in state vacations (I'm embarassed that I have lived in NC 9 years and still haven't scratched the surface of all the state has to offer as far as neat places to visit!), and sampled about 5 different fragrances (and honestly, none of them spoke to me!)  Had a great lunch out afterward, and it was just about spending the day with people who I like and respect, and who like and respect me.  I love introducing people from different parts of my life to each other.

Tomorrow a day of running some errands and seeing friends, then off to start a new week! Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Autumn (it starts Saturday!)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vitamin D Deficiency Often Seen in Traumatic Bone Breaks

Note that the study says "often" and not "always"!

I'm a bug about Vitamin D.......just ask any of my friends.  I take 10,000 IU's daily to keep my Vitamin D level optimal, and normally work out with weight machines several times a week to help with bone strength.    My vitamin D levels are checked several times yearly to make sure I stay in the optimal range. As most of my regular readers know, I fell at the gym last month and broke the radius bone in my arm, but in my case, I do not believe it was a case of my bones being fragile.  The break occurred just below an existing plate in my arm, and I am pretty confident that no one's bones are a match for a titanium plate.  I am going to have a DEXA scan done this fall just to make sure the rest of my bones are strong, and I will post the results here when I have it done.

When I read this article from Health Day/US News and World Report, I was struck by several points:

1.  The article does not state what the researchers considered "recommended" levels for Vitamin D.  The National Institute of Health lists a level of 20 ng/ml as being "adequate" for bone health in healthy adults.  Most progressive doctors (including my own) recommend much higher optimal levels for their patients; Dr. Carr likes my Vitamin D level to be between 70-100 ng/ml (my last blood test came back at 79).

2.  More than half of young people in the study were Vitamin D deficient, many severely.  That's scary, and indicative that it's not just older people (and by older I mean over 40) need to have Vitamin D levels tested.

3. I went from the gym to the hospital by ambulance, and was in the ER 4 hours.  The emergency room staff had NO interest in the fact that I take bioidentical hormones, nor were they interested in the list of supplements that I take.  All they wanted to know was what prescription medications I take regularly.  I was referred to a hand specialist/surgeon in Charlotte because of the complexity of the case, and their office never asked me about Vitamin D, supplements, and seemed totally indifferent to my taking bioidenticals.  The surgery didn't take place until three days post injury, it was outpatient and I went home about 2 hours after I came out of the anesthesia.  My friend Karen, who took me to the hospital, stayed with me for two days post surgically (yeah, I am one blessed puppy to have friends like her).  She was chatting with me on Friday night, and she said when the doctor came out to talk to her post surgically, he told her to tell me that I should start taking calcium. I have never taken calcium, and Dr. Carr has told me repeatedly that calcium is not what builds healthy bones; and calcium can cause cardiac problems in some women.  Healthy bones are built by weight training exercise, testosterone, and Vitamin D.  

Estradiol and Men.....

Oh, boy. I knew when I read this article from USA Today that this study was going to cause a firestorm among doctors who are knowledgeable about bioidentical hormone replacement in men.  The study was conducted by an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and published in the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.   Even from my VERY limited knowledge on the subject, I was struck by the fact that the study was trying to measure the effect of estrogen on the weight and body mass index of men, but that no mention was made of the diet and exercise habits of the study participants.

I forwarded the article to Dr. Carr, who was vocal and swift in his condemnation of the study.  He has always told me that high estrogen levels in aging men is a problem that needs to be dealt with because it causes problems with erections, weight gain, growing breasts, etc. If you go to the bottom of the USA Today article to the comments section, you will see his scathing review of the study.

Hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful mid-September weekend.  It's gorgeous here in NC, I have had the air conditioner off for two days, and loving the deck door and windows being open.  I am in puttering and nesting mode, starting to change my closet out from summer to Fall, and this afternoon hoping to sit out on the deck for a while with a book or a needlecraft project (I may even see how far my broken arm recovery has progressed and try to knit for a bit......physical therapy is going well!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Every little bit counts.....

Hope everyone has had a good start to September. I am enjoying a few last days in the condo swimming pool, it's pretty hot here right now, but by next week will only be in the 70's (which is fine with me!)  I still haven't been able to go back to the gym, I guess I was more traumatized than I realized, because even driving by the gym right now is still making me really upset.  I know my anxiety level at falling again is way, way up there-------it's a manifestation of the PTSD that I dealt with after a long ago car accident.  I'm working thought it, and hope to get my workouts back on track (to the extent I can----the surgeon said no upper body workout on machines for at least another 6 weeks) as soon as possible.  I'm so frustrated!

As soon as it cools down, I want to deal with some of the fear of falling by getting out and doing a little fitness walking in my subdivision (I use Nordic poles to walk with, so that will give me a bit of stability).  I was heartened to see an article from MSNBC Health about a study that shows that every bit (even a minute or two) of moderate activity is associated with lower body weight and body mass index.  Earlier studies had suggested that exercise had to be done a minimum of 10 minutes at a time (preferably 30) to make any difference in overall fitness.  The article suggests a number of ways to add a little more physical activity into your every day life......hey, physical therapy (you would be amazed at the stuff they have me do to try and get the mobility back in my arm!) adds to my overall fitness!

Get out there, and even a minute at a time, do some exercise!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Scars and hormone absorption!

This comes under the heading of "until it happens to you"............

As I have detailed in the blog a number of times, I use bioidentical progesterone cream 4 times daily.  I put 1/4 teaspoon on my forearm (where the skin is thin and the blood vessels are near the surface for maximum absorption) and then I rub my forearms together to rub the cream into my body.  I've done it this way for nearly 7 years, and it has worked very well.  I know some practitioners have their patients rub the cream into their abdomens or inner thighs, but even in slender people (which I am not!) there are layers of fat, and the hormone deposits into the fat, thus reducing absorption into the system.

When I fell at the gym in early August, I realized that my normal way of dosing my progesterone would no longer work.  I called Dr. Carr's office as soon as I got home from the ER, and was told that an acceptable alternate site was into the upper inner arms (which didn't work at first as my right upper inner arm was very badly bruised and sore, and I couldn't reach my upper left arm because of the injury/splint/sling.)  Another acceptable site was up around the base of my neck/collarbone, where again, the skin is thin and the hormone will more readily absorb.  I used either my neck, or had one of my friends rub the cream all up and down the inner part of my left arm for about 7-10 days after the injury.

I returned to the surgeon 5 days post operatively, he removed the sling, the bandages and told me I could now get the operative site wet (which was music to my ears, so much easier to shower and wash my hair!).  The stitches came out 12 days post operatively, and I am now 24 days post surgery.  The scar, as you can see, looks great........I am using Vitamin E oil on it about 4 times a day.  I have a long way to go with rehabbing the arm to regain function; the middle, ring and little fingers are working well, the index finger is about 50% functional, but the thumb is still of great concern.  I'm slowly regaining some mobility in the wrist, it is no longer "painful" per se, but aches like crazy later in the day.  During the surgery, the doctor removed the existing plate in the arm, repaired the fracture, and put in a larger plate (titanium, no, I will not set off the detectors at the airport!).  I can easily feel the plate beneath the skin, and jokes have been made about how I am all set for Halloween as long as I want to be a zombie.

However, the long scar/scar tissue, and the plate in my arm means that the absorption of progesterone in that arm will be forever compromised!  I now have to rub my progesterone up and down the length of my left arm (which is still a bit of a challenge because my right arm/hand are still limited in motion, but I'm getting there).  It's a little inconvenient, as the weather gets cooler and I start wearing longer sleeves, it will take more effort to get my progesterone dosed 4 times daily.  I'm sure I will work it out.

Bottom line, if you are taking any hormone transdermally, and suffer an injury/surgery to the area where you normally dose your hormone, you must talk to your health care practitioner about alternate sites for applying the cream!  In my case, it's a double whammy of both a metal plate very close to the surface of the skin, along with significant scar tissue, but even the scar tissue alone would likely cause a compromise of the hormone absorption.  As it is, I have a hard time keeping up my level of progesterone, as stress makes you burn through hormones faster-------and this whole injury thing has been stressful in a huge way!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pre-Injury State Key to Senior's Post-Fall Function

Good morning, everyone! First an update on my arm fracture............I fell two weeks ago today, and considering that short period of time, I think I am doing quite well.  I wear a light ace bandage on the arm, more or less to warn people that I have an injury.  My scar is a doozy, over 7 inches in length.  The stitches come out tomorrow.  Functionally, my fingers seem to be doing pretty well, I can make a light fist, and I am able to carry light objects. I am typing this post at a desktop computer, and although my typing is slower and less accurate than usual, I am working on getting back that important function.  There is considerable concern about my thumb, I can move it back and forth at the base joint, but have no other movement (or feeling) in it----yet. I start physical therapy either later this week or early next, and I can't wait. I can take care of my grooming, some light household chores (I am getting in a housekeeper for a few weeks to keep my pain in check), I'm driving, and I am back to mostly a normal schedule.  Dr. Carr has made a few upward adjustments in my hormones to promote healing.  Stress and pain will make you burn through your hormones faster, and I can tell my progesterone level is struggling:  few very mild hot flashes, and my focus is less than optimal.  I'm confident as my recovery progresses that I will be back on top of my game soon.

Now, the caveat when I share this article with you from MedPageToday.com------I do not, at 55 years old, consider myself to be a geriatric case! Far from it, in fact, I was at the gym working out when I fell (doing a weight workout, which promotes bone health).  In fact, I was pretty impressed that with only a little assistance from the EMT (who was very nice looking, by the way) I was able to get from my sitting position on the floor with a broken arm, up to my knees and then I popped right up on my feet!  All those leg machines I have been doing during workouts obviously helped more than I realized.

For a few days, however, I really did lose my independence, and it quite honestly scared the hell out of me.  My mother, who had severe osteoporosis and spinal stenosis, fell about two years before she died and she was an invalid for those last two years of her life.  I took care of her full time, and it was a nightmare for both of us.  My independence and mobility are almost an obsession with me.  My mom was not in great health before the fall; for a couple of years she really worked at losing weight and went to the pool with me at least three days a week, and it helped her energy level and mobility immensely, but then she got away from it and went downhill pretty rapidly.

Bottom line is that those of us in our middle age years need to pay attention to keeping healthy (hormone optimization, diet, regular bone stressing exercise, challenging our brains) so that we have a better outcome when we do face health challenges in our later years.  I can't wait to get back to the gym, not because exercising is my favourite activity, but because I don't want to lose the muscle strength/mass I have gained by my regular workouts.  I have a very messed up back also from a long ago car accident, and core strength is absolutely crucial to my mobility.

Hope everyone is enjoying these waning weeks of summer.  It has been a rainy, cool summer here in the Southeast, and honestly, for a lot of reasons this is a summer I would rather forget-----I'm looking forward to Fall and some fun "girls days out" with my friends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Oh, Good Grief!

Hello. Eeyore here, I am posting because my human (Andrea) is, uh, broken.  She has a good excuse as to why she hasn't been blogging.  

She was finishing her workout at Gold's Gym last Tuesday, and while she was walking to the next machine, she tripped, stuck her right arm out to break the fall, and landed hard on the concrete floor.  She broke her right arm (radius bone) and had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance.  Besides being in a lot of pain, she was scared to death and more than just a little embarrassed.  Let's just say she has never been known for her gracefulness.

Four hours in the ER (but she said it wasn't all bad, she and my girlfriend Karen cannot stop talking about the utter hotness of Josh, the nurse who made and put on Andrea's splint).  The break occurred just below an existing plate in the arm from her car accident years ago, which likely contributed to the break (she is very conscious of and works hard on her bone strength, which is why she was at the gym!).  The ER referred her to a hand specialist surgeon, she saw him on Wednesday and he told her she would need surgery to put in a new, longer plate. 

Surgery (outpatient) took about two hours on Friday, and although she wasn't in a lot of pain immediately afterward, when the nerve block wore off in the middle of the night Friday, it was a total nightmare.  I won't go into details, it's very hard for me to talk about.

The pain slowly subsided during the day Saturday, and by Saturday night she was able to get up, strap on her pain pump, get her sling back on, and get to the bathroom and back.  Big accomplishment.  Sunday was a much better day. Today she is even better, and her pain level is so much better.  She can now shower, wash her hair and get dressed without help.  She is going back to the doctor Wednesday, and about a week after that has her stitches removed.

No knitting or crafting for her for a while.  Thank goodness she likes to read!  As you can see by the picture above, I am staying right on top of things (literally), and providing moral support.  Her friends, especially Miss Karen (my Red) and Katie have been taking amazing care of her.  She is one deeply blessed human to have such great support. 

I will continue to be her spokesdonkey until she is able to resume blogging..  Be sweet and have a great week!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hot Flash Diaries Unreliable

A number of women have told me that their doctors have asked them to keep a "hot flash diary", in other words, track the number and severity of their hot flashes in a 24 hour period over a period of time (couple weeks, months, whatever.)  They then take the diary into their doctor and supposedly treatment options are at least in part considered on a woman's "hot flash history".

A University of Pittsburgh study (check out this article from ThirdAge.com) suggests that this method of tracking hot flashes and/or night sweats is ineffective, and that women often under report the number and severity of their hot flashes, or over report the number of night sweats.

I'm not at all surprised that self reporting systems are inaccurate in these situations for several reasons:

  • It's well known that peri/menopause can cause cognitive issues.  Before I got my hormones balanced, I couldn't remember what I had for breakfast, never mind the number of hot flashes I had in a day (and it was at least 20.....which isn't unusual.)  Can you remember 20 of any incident in the course of a day?  
  • Night sweats (which oddly enough, was one of the few symptoms I didn't have).....night sweats can cause huge, exhausting disruptions in sleep, and trying to accurately report anything when you are sleep deprived is like bailing out the ocean with a Dixie Cup.  
  • Peri/post menopausal women generally have very busy lives, work, home life, raising kids, often caring for elderly parents..........do you seriously think they have time to think back and accurately record their hot flashes at the end of the day?  In a journal?  I do everything on the computer. 
  • A lot of women either suspect or know that even if they keep a scrupulous record of their vaso-motor symptoms (fancy term for hot flashes), their doctor is not going to take them seriously.  The doctor may have already announced his/her bias against hormonal treatments, which, unless the patient seeks care from a physician who is knowledgeable about bioidentical hormones, leaves fans, air conditioning, loose cotton clothing, sucking it up, or antidepressants, none of which get to the root of the problem (hormonal imbalance) and in the case of antidepressants, can make a bad situation worse.  Think about it, one of the side effects of most antidpressants is excessive sweating, so giving an antidepressant to a woman who is having hot flashes................
In an almost totally unrelated topic..........did you know that Fudgesicles have only 40 calories?  I've been a fan of them since I was a kid (although I will tell you they don't taste anywhere near as creamy as they did back then), and I keep a box in the house year round for "chocolate emergencies".  I just finished one before I sat down to write this post.  Thought I would share that with you in case you want something a little sweet without going too far off the course of healthy eating!

Hope everyone has had a good July, hard to believe on Thursday it will be the first of August.  We've had a very, very wet summer here in NC, areas just west of us had a foot of rain in less than 12 hours Friday into Saturday, widespread flooding and damage.  Let's hope Autumn is bright and beautiful!

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Good morning, everyone, wanted you to know I have not forgotten you.  I had a flare up my back spasms on Friday (I swear, I was really doing ok, went to the gym to do my back strengthening exercises and everything!).  I got in the shower about 5 pm, bent down to put some sugar scrub on my heels, and wham------the spasming started.  It was awful, took me 20 minutes to get dried off and into my jammies and sit on the bed.  I was finally able to get to the freezer a little later for a large ice pack for my back (to relieve the inflammation), and laid very still on my back in bed for quite a while.  For the firs 24 hours I could only take a very few steps, painfully, using my cane.  Today as I write this (Sunday noonish), I am better, still painful but not like it was. I am up walking every hour to stay as mobile as possible, and if one of my swimming buddies is available later, I would like to get in our condo pool and just walk around for a few minutes to stretch and stay limber.

Other than the fact I still need to lose more weight, I really am doing the right things for taking care of my back, I'm aware of ergonomics, I do back strengthening exercises at the gym, I swim/water aerobics (good for core strength), take fish oil to hold down inflammation, Vitamin D for bone health (along with my hormones), I stretch daily, and so on.  Sometimes these things just happen, frustrating as that is.  I am super blessed to have great friends taking care of me; one sent her husband yesterday to stock my house with groceries (that was on my Saturday morning to do list, wouldn't you know), and another friend brought me dinner, a yummy bagel to snack on, and spent several hours keeping me company yesterday! Other friends have been checking on me.  I'm going to nap this afternoon, but try to stay awake as much as I can otherwise so I sleep better tonight.

I am (hopefully) going to go through my newsfeed today (fortunately I have an iPad so I can do computer stuff laying down) and see if there are any good hormone/menopause articles to share with you, and I will mark them and post them this week.  Getting very hot here in the Southeast, as I know it is in other parts of the country, so please make sure to stay hydrated (another tip recommended to alleviate muscle spasms, you better believe I am sucking down water like crazy!) and keep cool as much as possible.

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

F.D.A. Approves a Drug for Hot Flashes

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying this first week of July.  I know many of you on the West Coast are struggling with very hot temperatures, and in the Midwest and East Coasts, many of us (NC included) are dealing with severe thunderstorms and some flooding. I saw pictures of cars under water near where I grew up in Central New York, and here in NC, we have been dealing with localized flooding for a couple weeks now. Last Friday night, the community where I live got 6 inches of rain in less than three hours!  We are fine here, but some of the back roads were washed out near here.  We've had much less sun than we normally have in the summer, too, and usually by now I have decreased my Vitamin D daily supplements from 10,000 IUs daily to 5,000 IUs because I am out in the sun swimming in our subdivision pool.  Not this year, I barely have any colour at all......most of the days I have been out have been very cloudy and I've even worked out a couple times when it has been raining.

I saw this article in the NY Times, and it made me furious.  It's a great example of how messed up the FDA is, and how truly little regard the agency has for the health of the American public.  Back in the spring, it was reported that a committee that advises the FDA had voted (by a wide margin) against approving the drug Brisdelle for hot flashes.  The active ingredient in Brisdelle is the same ingredient in the anti-depressant Paxil (generic name paroxetine).  The committee felt that although in clinical trials the drug did reduce the number of daily hot flashes of the study participants, patients receiving a placebo also experienced almost as much improvement in the number of hot flashes, and the risks associated with Brisdelle outweighed the potential benefit.  Despite the committee recommendation, the FDA decided to go ahead and approve Brisdelle anyway, and it will be on the market later this year.

Here's a list from Web MD of some of the side effects of Paxil/paroxetine.  I took Paxil for a number of years (before I got my hormones balanced)  for depression issues, and I experienced a number of the side effects listed in the link above.  The sixth one listed, excessive sweating------yes, I experienced that in spades!  Great side effect for someone who is already experiencing hot flashes.  Drowsiness, trouble sleeping, head pain, weight gain (I gained 25 pounds taking it),  nervousness, don't these all sound like symptoms of hormonal imbalance/menopause?

This comes down to the FDA being in bed with the pharmaceutical companies, and putting the safety of patients way down on the list of priorities.  The excuse of the 2002 study (referenced in the article) about the safety of hormones is a tired and quite honestly absurd argument, the hormones used in that study were NOT bioidentical.  I know I have said this repeatedly, but instead of filling patients up with toxic medications with marginal effectiveness and significant side effects, doesn't it make more sense to just replace (bioidentically) the hormones that were in the body in the first place that we lose as we age?  I am ever grateful for Dr. Carr and other progressive physicians/healthcare providers that can use logic and common sense to see that hormonal balance to treat the underlying problem is far safer and more effective than just handing a patient a prescription to mask a symptom.

As always, talk to your healthcare professional about this, and NEVER, and I mean NEVER, go off any medication cold turkey ---------ALWAYS wean from any medication under physician supervision.

For those in the US, Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Estrogen May Help Prevent UTIs After Menopause

I'm guessing that a lot of my readers can relate to the problem of recurrent urinary tract infections, particularly in the peri/postmenopausal stages of life.  The infections usually cause frequent and/or painful urination, and can cause significant pelvic discomfort.  The usual treatment is antibiotics, and from many women I have talked to, they end up on antibiotics several times a year, if not more often.  The antibiotics can  have a whole range of side effects, and it's important to note that after a number of courses of treatment, the body can build a resistance to the antibiotics, and stronger antibiotics have to be used.

I think a better approach is to address the issues surrounding why so many peri/post menopausal women get frequent urinary tract infections in the first place, and one of those reasons is the genital and urethral tissue becoming thinner and more fragile with the loss of estrogen.  Most peri/post menopausal women notice vaginal dryness and/or atrophy as they age, but are often too embarrassed to talk to their doctor's about it (and we will address that in a separate post!)  This is not just a matter of sexual health (although that is very important) but about urological health.

A study detailed on WebMd.com discusses using vaginal estrogen in post menopausal women to alleviate the deterioration of the genital tissue.  The article is not specific as to whether bioidentical estrogen was used, and if so, if the estrogen used was estradiol, or the weaker form of estrogen, estriol.  I have taken estriol cream vaginally for about 5 years (and writing this post reminded me that I need to call the pharmacy to order more!)  I have not had a urinary tract infection in years, and I attribute that post menopausally to the estriol cream.  I have it compounded, and it's about $100 for a three month supply.  Not having to be on antibiotics (I haven't been on an antibiotic since 2007, and that was for a bug bite I scratched too hard in my sleep!) is wonderful.  Ironically, when I was younger, I was one of those women who used to get a vaginal infection every time I was on an antibiotic (which was frequently, I taught high school and spent much of every winter battling upper respiratory infections and strep throat).

Talk to your doctor about using bioidentical estrogen for vaginal dryness/atrophy.  I have a couple good articles to share with you, so hopefully I will be able to post several times this week.  Happy first full week of summer!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

54 years ago today------

Yep, today is my 55th birthday! My fifties are turning out to be my best decade yet, and the bioidentical hormones have had a great deal to do with feeling so good and strong.  Yeah, the chocolate obsession goes waayyyy back :)  I'll be back later this week with a real post, but today I am taking it easy (although I did hit the gym this morning!)  Having a celebratory dinner with friends tonight, and several more celebrations to come!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Progesterone and Brain Health.......

For the past several years, studies have been conducted to gauge the effect of using bioidentical progesterone on patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (fall, car accident, other causes.)  Naturally, as someone who takes bioidentical progesterone herself and has seen a significant increase in my cognitive function, I have taken interest in these studies. It is my hope that someday progesterone therapy will be a mainstream medicine standard for treating traumatic brain injuries.

One of the important facets of this treatment protocol is using the progesterone as soon as possible after the brain injury to minimize the damage.  This, of course, presents a challenge to healthcare practitioners, because consent for treatment, particularly in clinical trials, is vital. I was in an experimental medical protocol trial once, many years ago, and it was related to a medication that may or may not (never knew if I received the medication being studied or a placebo) have been administered during a reconstructive knee surgery.  I remember that the medication being studied was supposed to help relieve nausea post surgery, and that pre-operatively I had to sign a boatload of consent forms. For the record, I was wildly sick to my stomach for 24 hours after the surgery.

Because patients with TBI are often unable to consent to participating in a clinical trial because they are incapacitated or unconscious, obtaining consent is often difficult to impossible.  The Boston Globe has an article on their website detailing the dilemma of getting consent for the progesterone and TBI study being conducted at Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital.  I hope the researchers are successful in finding a way to navigate the laws in place, because this is an important study that could affect patients of all ages.

If you would like to learn a little more about how progesterone affects brain health, be sure to read this article from Virginia Hopkin's website, she is a terrific resource for information about bioidentical hormones.  Be sure to sign up for her newsletter!