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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't forget!

Tomorrow is National Wear Red for Women's Heart Health Day!  Let's all do our part to raise awareness for women's heart health, our own and that of the women in our lives.  I'm going to be attending a women's heart health fair on Saturday with a couple of my friends (will share any pictures I get over the weekend), and I have a pretty red shawl to wear.  All of February is Women's Heart Health Month, so expect many of my blog posts over the next few weeks to be "cardiac" related!

It's also Superbowl weekend, and quite honestly, you should be astonished I even know that (not particularly a sports fan).  I do know that the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49er's are the two teams involved  (but I had to look it up on the NFL website to double check), so if you have an allegiance to either of those teams, I hope it's a great weekend for you!  I will probably have the game on for a while to watch the commercials (although I know a number of them are already online), but will be switching over to PBS at 8 pm to rewatch an episode from Call the Midwife, then a new episode of Downton Abbey (hooked on that show).  However you spend Sunday, make it happy (which is always heart healthy!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

And the answer is:

This is called a Kubotan!  I took a self defense course on Saturday (and I HIGHLY recommend everyone find a course in their area and take it) and we learned about Kubotans.  It attaches to your key ring, and you carry your keys in your hand using it when you are walking to or from a parking lot.  If you are attacked, you can use it to hit your attacker in the neck or face, or really, any part of the body and it will cause enough pain  to someone that you can get away.    I purchased mine at the class for about $11, but Amazon.com carries them for about $6.  

Here's another version of a kubotan, this one is called Safety Cat:

Safety Cat - Click Image to Close

The advantage to this style is that it is much smaller and lighter (about 3 x 2 inches, and very lightweight).  You attach to your key ring, and then slip your fingers through the cat's eyes.  I'm ordering a bunch of these for gifts. 

Have a great day, everyone! I worked out early this morning, so I need to rest my back for a bit, I will watch the Inauguration and feel blessed that I live in a country where we can elect a President peacefully and gather to celebrate on a beautiful winter day.  We are very blessed to live in America.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

10 Things I’ve Learned From Living With Chronic Illness

I debated about this post because nothing makes me crazier than people who constantly complain and whine about a chronic health condition.  I know it has shaped the way I deal with chronic back and hip pain from a long ago car accident, I have spoken about it before here on the blog (especially as it relates to how I burn through my hormones faster than a lot of people because my body is under constant physical stress.)  There are only a few people (both Dr. Carr and my pain management doctor, as well as a couple other important people in my life) who know the full impact the accident injuries have on my day to day living.  I've struggled (and continue to do so) to accept my physical limitations, I've come a long way, but still, 21 years post accident, sometimes get very angry and frustrated when I can't do something (or do it as well or as fast) as I want or need to.

I ran across this article from Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy from a Facebook post (one of my FB friends is a regular subscriber, I hadn't heard of him until today because I do not have RA).  It's a list of 10 things to be learned from living with a chronic illness (or injury).  Number five in particular can apply to those of you who are still struggling with menopausal symptoms and are seeking bioidentical hormone care.  The rest are ideas that in one way or another, we can all apply to our daily lives.  Enjoy, get out there and move, and have a great Sunday!

Drug Agency Recommends Lower Doses of Sleep Aids for Women

I suspect a lot of people reading this blog either right now have trouble sleeping, or have at one time had trouble sleeping.  I know that before I got my hormones balanced, I had a horrible time with insomnia, and I have at one time or another taken Ambien, Lunesta, and a host of other sleep medications.  To my knowledge, I never drove impaired, but it scares me to think I might have on occasion.

The news about lower recommended doses of Ambien hit the news last week, and this article from the NYTimes.com is important reading.  Apparently, the active ingredient in Ambien and some other sleep medications (zolpidem) is staying in the body longer than previously thought, and especially in women, and it is thought to contribute to excessive morning sleepiness.  That sleepiness is thought to have contributed to a number of accidents.  Since this story broke, I have had a heightened awareness about impaired drivers when I hit the gym early in the morning.

I haven't taken any prescription sleep medications since about a month after I started on the bioidentical hormone protocol.  I now take melatonin to sleep, along with Cortisol Manager (it's a supplement that helps with high cortisol levels----it's reduced mine by about 30%!)  I also knit in the evenings to help me relax.  I have also used Benedryl (over the counter, it's an old allergy medication) when I really can't drop off to sleep.

Hope everyone is having a good start to 2013!  We had four days of gloom and rain here last week; I was SO happy to see the sun on Friday!  It's been sunny ever since, but by Tuesday and Wednesday the highs will only be about 40 degrees------brrrrr (well, brrrr for NC!)  I'm heading out for a walk this afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Making the most of a trip to the gym...

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

It's funny, every time I share an article here on the blog on Vitamin D, I automatically look out the window to see if it's sunny or cloudy (today it's sunny in NC.)  I hope to go out and get in my walk this morning before I meet with my Saturday peeps for lunch ----- I firmly believe maintaining friendships and social relationships is just as important as bioidentical hormones for quality of life. 

But I digress.  I carp on Vitamin D levels constantly, because it's an important prohormone and far too many people have not had their levels tested.  A substantial number of people who are in the post menopausal years are dealing with chronic pain issues, and this article from CBSNews.com is important reading.  A Mayo Clinic study suggests that people with inadequate levels of Vitamin D take more narcotics for pain management than those with adequate Vitamin D levels.  It's worth looking into if you or someone you care for is taking narcotics for pain management. 

When the discussion comes up about Vitamin D, I am frequently asked how much I take.  This time of year (October to about March), I take 5000 IUs every other day, and 10000 IUs on the alternate days.  Come springtime, when the sun is stronger and I am outdoors for longer periods of time, I am usually fine with 5000 IUs daily.  Come summer here in NC, I am in the outdoor pool in our subdivision at least 4-5 days a week, even so, I still take my daily Vitamin D dose.  Dr. Carr likes his patients to be in the 70-100 ng/ml range, we consider it a victory when my level gets to about 70. 

Time for me to inject my weekly doses of testosterone and estrogen (I've already taken my first dose of progesterone for the day), climb into my workout clothes, and head outside to walk.  Oh, warm up a bit first with some stretches ---- particularly calf and Achilles tendon stretches.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Your beer gut may lead to a broken hip

Osteoporosis is (mistakenly) thought to be a disease of women, when in fact, by the age of 65, men are just as at risk for hip fractures as women.  However, very little is said or written about men and osteoporosis. 

I found this article from NBC News.com pretty interesting, and it's very concerning that men in their 30's are already showing signs of weakening bones.  I asked my own hormone physician, Dr. Carr, about the article (he's a great teacher when I have questions about stuff I read in the media), and he explained to me that excess fat tends to lower testosterone levels in men, and that lower testosterone levels tend to promote fat gain.  Both ways, the bones suffer, and that's not a good thing.  I don't know if it's just because more people have been out in the stores lately because of the holiday season, but over the last 5-6 weeks, I've noticed several men in their late 60's-early 70's (estimate) who have what it known as a dowager's hump, their spinal columns are very bent and they are hunched over.  A clear indication of osteoporosis of the spine. 

I know it seems I carp about bone health a lot ---- and one of the things that I am most proud of is that with weight training exercise, testosterone optimization, and Vitamin D optimization, Dr. Carr and  I were able to reverse my osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis) and now my bones are comfortably in the normal range for density.  My mother had severe osteoporosis, in fact, she lost 4 1/2 inches in height over the course of about 15 years. She lost her balance and fell on carpeting at home in 1996, she broke her upper arm bone and was hospitalized for nearly 3 weeks.  She became very frightened to walk, and was essentially an invalid for the last two years of her life.  It was miserable for her, and a nightmare for me trying to take care of her.  I am absolutely determined to not go through that as I age, and I have the added incentive to keep my bones strong in that I occasionally fall from accident injuries.  I have landed hard several times and never (so far, knock wood) done anything more serious than scrape up my hands and/or knees (and ruin a couple pair of slacks, sigh).  I hate doing weight exercises, but I do them to stress my bones and keep them strong. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HPV in women at or after menopause may represent an infection acquired years ago

This article from News-Medical.net and several like it hit the news about two weeks before the holidays, but I thought it was better to share it now when possibly more people are reading the blog (I know the holidays get crazy for most people and catching up on blogs is way, way down on the list of things to do!)

Studies are suggesting that the human papillomavirus (HPV) may reactivate in women of the baby boomer generation.  Women in that age group came of age during the sexual revolution, and the increased use and availability in birth control may have increased the likelihood for women in their 50's and 60's to have had multiple sex partners.  The virus can lay dormant for years, but many women, as they age, have a decrease in the immune system, which can lead to reactivation of the virus.  Although the problem is not rampant, it is worth discussing with your healthcare provider at your next visit, particularly if you feel you might be at risk. 

Happy New Year to all-----wishing you good health, hormonal balance, and an abundance of laughter and great times in the coming year!

Resolving to be more flexible in the new year!