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



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Taking a break....

I have not forgotten you!  There have been few articles about bioidentical hormones and menopause worth sharing lately.  That, combined with some back issues that make it difficult for me to sit at the computer, account for my lack of posting lately. I am going to take a short hiatus from this blog, and hope to be back to regular posting by mid November.  In the meantime, if you need to reach me, please email me through this blog and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I hope everyone is having a wonderful autumn.......the weather sure has cooled down here in NC and I am loving it. Long, lovely autumns and springs are our reward for hot, icky summers here in the Southeast.

Take care, stay safe, and I will be back in a few weeks!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pink Ribbons..........

There's an interesting program coming up on LOGO TV this coming Thursday, September 11:
6:00 AM Pink Ribbons Inc. TV-14

Breast Cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans every day, and the disease has become a hot-button issue for corporations seeking to support a cause. But where does all the money raised in the name of Breast Cancer actually go? This feature-length documentary delves deep into the money trail behind the scenes, uncovering startling truths...

A lot of people would be surprised to find how vehemently a lot of breast cancer patients object to the pink ribbon hoo haa every October.  It is often known as "Pinktober" and not in a nice way.......and it is important to know that far too often, the pink ribbon merchandise hawked in October (and throughout the year) gives very little, if any, of the money from the sales of the branded merchandise to breast cancer research.  I always roll my eyes when someone hawking pink ribbon merchandise goes on and on about how "we are raising awareness of breast cancer".  Really? If you aren't already aware of the existence of breast cancer, I'm not sure you belong out in public unsupervised.  I am a huge advocate of regular mammograms (have you had yours yet this year.....if not, put it on your list to schedule one this week!) and monthly breast self examinations.  It makes me sick to see corporations making huge amounts of money from a very gullible public.

On the same note, check out the book Pink Ribbon Blues by Gayle Sulik.  You will never look at a pink ribbon merchandise display the same way.

Good thing I got my swim in early this morning, as right now the skies look like we are ready for an impending thunderstorm.   I'm struggling with back pain today, so although I have gotten a fair amount of little stuff done around the house, it seems like it has taken forever as I am taking frequent breaks with a heating pad.  I need to step up my core workouts, and get back on my balance ball, as I know my back doesn't hurt as much when my core is strong.  Have a great week everyone, hard to believe we're into the second week of September already!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Labour Day Weekend!

Hello, everyone, I have not forgotten you! This time of year (late summer), there always seems to be a dearth of good articles on bioidentical hormones, menopause, and the like.  I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend.  I'm not doing much, staying off the Interstates with all the holiday traffic.  I've been working out in the outdoor swimming pool, and catching up on little stuff around the house.  It's kind of nice to have a few days of down time.

I know that at least some of you have had experiences with Epi Pens, either for yourself or for a loved on with severe allergies.  I came across this article from Moyers and Company, and it illustrates just one example of how out of control the medical system is in this country.

I've had my own bad experiences with pharmacies the last few weeks.  It has been well detailed that I am not happy with either of the compounding pharmacies in the Coachella Valley (CA) area, and have had an ongoing search for a pharmacy that can deliver my bioidentical progesterone at a reasonable price with good customer service.  Dr. Carr's office mentioned to me they were trying out a new pharmacy in Colorado (I will not mention the name).  I emailed them and asked for a price quote on my progesterone, but I accidentally left off that I wanted a quote for a 90 day supply.  When I called to give the pharmacy my credit card number, I was told that the price of the prescription would be THREE TIMES the price that I have paid at any other pharmacy for the progesterone.  I usually pay about $180 for a three month prescription, and the price I was quoted by the Colorado pharmacy was $540.  When I questioned it, I was told "well, that's a lot of progesterone cream you are ordering." Yes, it is, and that's a lot of price you are gouging me for.  Needless to say, I am not using that pharmacy, and the search goes on for a pharmacy that suits my needs (and for the short term, I guess I am stuck with the Coachella Valley pharmacy I am using).  

This problem is not limited to compounding pharmacies.  I get my estradiol and my testosterone from regular pharmacies locally, and I have found a huge difference in prices.  Last year, I was going to get my estradiol from Walgreen's, but when I went to pick it up, I was told the price was $84.  That's almost double the $43 I was paying at Target (it has since gone up $10....I just got a refill last week).  I had hoped to get my once yearly bottle of testosterone from Target also, but was told last week that there was a manufacturer's shortage and I wouldn't be able to get the medication until mid to late September.  Funny, CVS had it on the shelf, they didn't even need to order it! The price was $101, which is pretty much in line with what I have paid at Target.  Rite Aid quoted me $119, but since they can't fill my basic medication needs (even with advance notice that I am going to need the prescription), I don't plan to use them unless absolutely necessary.  I haven't asked Walgreen's what they charge for a vial of testosterone, they lost one of my prescriptions for two days and I had a terrible time getting it filled, so they are on my "are you kidding me!" list too.

Two other quick notes:

I read the TIME Magazine article (cover story) on "Manopause"..........the use of testosterone in males.  No new information there.  If you want to get a good handle on testosterone therapy, I strongly suggest reading Testosterone For Life by Abraham Morgentaler.  Excellent book!

Get your thyroid checked if you have not already done so!  I have spoken to at least three people in the last couple weeks who have many of  the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, but who have never had their thyroid checked!  It is a hugely undertreated disease, and is easily controlled with medication. I take two different thyroid medications....Levoxyl for T4 and a compounded medication for T3.  Makes a world of difference in how I feel.  If your doctor refuses to run the tests, it may seriously be time for another doctor.

That's it for now.........don't forget, the days are getting shorter, and if you are one of those folks who cut back on your Vitamin D consumption in the summer because you are out in the sun, you are getting less sun now and it's time to think about going back on your higher dose of Vitamin D.  I take 5000 IUs in the summer, and about the first week of October I go back to taking 10,000 IUs.  Those dosages keep my Vitamin D levels at a nice, healthy 70-100 ng/ml.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Losing friends in mid-life...

This is a story worth reading. I had a very bad experience several years ago with some women that I thought were friends (they weren't, they were just using me as a taxi service and a way to meet new people because they weren't able to develop friendships on their own.) I befriended these women because I thought I was being compassionate (and I have a lifelong habit of wanting to "fix" things for everyone)..........it went awry and I am very, very glad these awful women are no longer part of my life. I am much more careful about who I allow into my life, and I no longer take on "pity projects". I am very blessed to have a great circle of real friends of both sexes who have been there for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually time and time again. After reading this article, I do see a lot of the points made in the relationships of people that I know.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Manopause.....

I've been very busy with out of town company for the last few days, so I am several days behind in reading my newsfeeds.  Catching up this morning, I came across this article in The Huffington Post.  It appears Time Magazine has a cover story this week about male menopause, which they refer to as manopause.  The correct and true term is andropause, the time in a middle aged man's life w hen he loses his sex hormones, testosterone and progesterone.

The article appears to tout the theory that men should just embrace their declining hormones as part of the "normal" process of aging.  He should accept his loss of testosterone, accept his estrogen dominance (and the health problems that go along with it, particularly the weight gain) and live the second half of his life with loss of libido, loss of muscle mass, loss of bone and all the other issues associated with hormone imbalance.

I don't get it, and I never have. As Dr. Carr has told me innumerable times, "normal" and "optimal" are two different things. It's "normal" for a man to lose his libido, become tired, develop a myriad of health issues that require a handful of medications to manage.  It's "normal" for women to lose their hormones, and experience hot flashes, weight gain, sleeplessness, bone thinning, and loss of sex drive. It's not optimal for either sex, and doesn't it make more sense to simply replace (bioidentically) the hormones that are in the younger, healthier body that we lose as we age.  Mainstream medicine doesn't think so-----they yell and scream about the efficacy and safety of hormone replacement (often citing a 12 year old Women's Health Initiative Study that used Premarin and other fake hormones).  The mainstream medical community would rather you take a handful of drugs (and great expense and who knows what level of toxicity) than be hormonally balanced in the second half of life.  Take a look at the levels of decline in hormone levels cited in the article-----between 70 and 100 percent) and is there any wonder we start having health issues as we reach our mid -40's and beyond?

Quick story:  about 4 years ago I had to go for an MRI on my lower back.  The technicians were very nice, two women close to my age.  After I finished the test, for some reason we got chatting and they asked for my email address for the hospital records. When I gave it to them, they laughed at the "holyhormones" part of the email. I explained that I take bioidenticals, how much they had helped me, and that the hormonal balance had helped me get off 7 medications.  They looked at each other, and one said to me: "we noticed you don't take much medication (they ask you for a list of all medications when you go to the radiology center)....almost every woman your age who comes in here is taking some sort of an antidepressant."  Wow. That's scary.  We have hormone deficiencies, not antidepressant deficiencies.

Second weekend in a row it's rainy and gloomy here in NC.  Below average temperatures too, but I'm not complaining about that (except it makes it hard to get my water workouts in----yesterday I went in the morning because we were expecting heavy rain in the afternoon/evening).  My company is gone, although I am picking one of the ladies up today and we are meeting up with her husband at a midway point for her to go home..........today is a good day to catch up on little stuff around the house.  Hope everyone is having a good August so far!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday, July 27 this and that-------

(sigh) Something messed up with the posting on my last post-------I cut and pasted the letter I received from Dr. Carr's office about his practice-----for some reason, only about half of the text of the letter is showing. Not sure how to fix it, but the bottom line is that Dr. Carr's practice is full, and as of AUGUST 1, 2014 any new patients will be placed on a waiting list until there is an opening in the practice.  Dr. Carr has long said that when he hit a patient load that he could handle effectively as a solo practitioner, he would stop accepting new patients and put them on a wait list. It's the only way he can provide individualized attention to the patients in his practice.

I have a phone consult with Dr. Carr this week; I am having mild hot flashes.  They are nothing compared to the horrendous hot flashes I had before I got my hormones balanced, but I suspect my progesterone level is low. I have a very hard time keeping my levels optimal when using creams.  So if you are having hot flashes, I am feeling your pain!

I never had much problem with night sweats, but I have spoken to a number of women who have and are absolutely miserable (not to mention exhausted) dealing with them.  I came across this article in The Huffington Post which is kind of those good news/bad news kind of articles.  Caffeine can worsen hot flashes and night sweats, but it has also been shown to improve mood and lessen memory problems in peri/menopausal women.  I don't drink coffee, but I am still drinking too much diet soda, which has about 45 mg of caffeine.  A medium cup of coffee has about 260 mg of caffeine.  I have occasionally taken a caffeine tablet, which contains 200 mg caffeine, if I have had a lousy night sleep and need to be at my "best" in the morning.  I try not to do it too often.

Speaking of sleep, again from The Huffington Post, a helpful graphic about napping-----should you or shouldn't you?  I am not a daytime napper, as I have found that it too often disrupts my nighttime sleep (which is already not optimal, but much of that is chronic pain issues.)  Once in a while, on a cold, dreary, and/or rainy day, I curl up for a nap, but those days are rare.  I do usually lay down for a little while in the afternoon with an ice pack on my back, as I find it helps with my back pain and allows me to do a little more in the late afternoon than if I didn't take the break.  I don't sleep; I either read, knit, catch up on hormone articles on my iPad, or the last couple weeks............catch up on House of Cards on Netflix (I just got Netflix, so it's like a new toy!)

I just recently discovered a great page presented by PBS called Next Avenue-----some great articles for us "mature" adults.  Came across this one about brain health, something that we all think about as we age.  I have had a number of friends who have dealt with parents, siblings, or partners suffering from dementia, and I have seen the devastating effects that dementia/Alzheimer's has on an entire family.  I am grateful every day that I never had to address those issues with either of my parents, my father died when I was young, and while I was the full time caregiver for my mother in the final years of her life and it was tremendously difficult, her brain was as clear as a bell until the day she died.

That's it for today; it was rainy and miserable here in NC when I got up this morning, but the storms have pushed out and it's partly sunny, at least for now. We may be expecting severe storms later today into tomorrow, not unusual for this time of year. What is unusual, however, is that once the storms go through, we will have highs in the low 80's for most of the week, which is an absolute blessing in the Southeast in late July/early August!  I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.  I'm off to a big quilt show on Thursday with a friend, and I hope you all have a great week ahead!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Important Change Regarding the Office of Dr. John Carr

As most of my regular readers know, Dr. John Carr has been my physician for over 10 years.  I have referred a number of patients to Dr. Carr, and his practice has grown significantly since he began practicing in CA in 2006.  I received this letter from his office this week:
I am writing this week to notify you of an upcoming change in our office status. Starting August 1st, I will no longer be accepting new patients, and all potential new patients will be placed on a waiting list until a space opens. Spots will be offered to new patients when existing patients choose to leave the practice.

As many of you are aware, my practice has grown rapidly over the past two years since I opened the Bob Hope office. My intention has always been to offer consistently superior individualized care for each patient. Though I have hired new staff in recent months, the practice is nearing capacity with regard to my ability to maintain the quality of care I seek to offer. I do not plan on adding any additional physicians, and therefore need to control the growth.

Several of you have spoken to me about a spouse or friend you have encouraged to see me. I urge you to pass along the information in this letter so that your contact might either join the practice before it closes to new patients on August 1st, or be placed first on our wait list. Further, I urge patients who wish to continue care at the end of their subscription year to indicate their intention through timely communication with the office. 
Thank you for your attention to this announcement about changes at our medical practice. I sincerely appreciate your support, and I look forward to our continued work together. 
 
To your good health! 
John D. Carr, M.D. 

If you have been thinking about becoming a patient of Hormonal Health and Aging in Rancho Mirage, CA, you need to call the office NOW to make an appointment for an initial consult.   The contact informaton for Dr. Carr's practice is on the right side of this blog underneath Dr. Carr's picture.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Take a deep breath------

I find that when I am consistent in practicing deep breathing exercises, it helps not only control my anxiety, but also helps me to cope better with back and hip pain.  I think it also has a positive effect on my blood pressure (I used to be hypertensive, but it's been under control since I started on the bioidentical hormones nearly 8 years ago.)

Check out this very short video by Dr. Andrew Weil.........his method of deep breathing exercise is called the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise.  A number of women have told me that while deep breathing does not necessarily reduce the number and/or severity of hot flashes, it does reduce overall anxiety and makes it a little easier to get through the hot flash.  I'm recommitting myself to being consistent in my deep breathing, and I hope you will join me.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This and that, Sunday, July 13

Good afternoon! It's been a crazy, hectic few weeks-----I moved into the city of Charlotte.  I love living so close by to everything, but getting my apartment unpacked and settled has been a big strain on my back and hip---thus my lack of posting.  Sitting is still difficult, but life is slowly getting back to normal (whatever that is!) and so hopefully I will be back on track soon.

Ugh, I am having hot flashes! They are not severe, but definitely there, so I am off to get my progesterone, FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and Estradiol levels checked this week.  I suspect the stress of moving, along with the stress of increased back pain has made me burn through my hormones more quickly than usual.  I was pretty sure my progesterone level was down a bit this spring, as I had a bit of allergy symptoms, and usually I am not bothered by allergies at all (and believe me, before I got my hormones balanced I was allergy central!)  Will keep you updated on the numbers when I get my blood work back.  If you are taking bioidenticals, and you notice something doesn't feel quite right----call your practitioner and get your levels checked!  A lot of different factors can cause hormonal imbalance, and usually a blood test and a bit of tweaking of your hormone dosages can get you back to where you feel great!

I have been released from the arm surgeon, but I found out I have left arm "tennis elbow" (no, I do not and have never played tennis!)  It's most common cause is just plain overuse of an arm, and between being left handed and having to use the left arm a lot in the last year because of the fractures in my right arm----yep, it's been overused!  I went for a one time PT appointment for a home exercise program, and I have to ice the arm five times a day (what a pain that is!)  Click here for a more thorough explanation of tennis elbow.

I wasn't aware of the existence of this device until I saw a post about it on Facebook this morning.  Sadly, the post had a lot of snarky, nasty comments, and pelvic muscle health is not a laughing matter for a lot of women.  A lot of peri/post menopausal women suffer from incontinence because of lax pelvic muscles, particularly women who have had numerous children.  If you don't know what Kegal exercises are, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.  As many of you know, I was in a horrific car accident 22 years ago, and in that accident my pelvis was shattered.  I learned about Kegal exercises from a terrific physical therapist, and I have practiced them ever since.  I'm not always as consistent with the exercises as I should be, but I do pretty well.  I think the device is a great idea, and honestly, when they are on the market at the end of this year------I plan to have one!

Hot as Hades here in NC but that's pretty typical of summer in the South.  Good pool weather, and that's where I'm headed right now.  I have missed you all, and hope everyone is having a great summer.  I promise to be more consistent with my postings now that life is settling down!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Change of life......

So to speak.....

I haven't forgotten you; I have been checking my newsfeed daily for any articles about menopause/bioidentical hormones that I thought my be of interest to you.  Nothing interesting.

I do have big news, however, I am in the midst of packing up my life to move about 30 miles into the city of Charlotte (NC).  I sold my condo and I have a great new little place in a wonderful part of town.  While I have enjoyed my time in the Lake Norman, NC area, being in the city of Charlotte will allow me opportunities to do lots of cool things that right now are a (relatively) long car ride.....something that challenges the endurance in my back.

It's been a whirlwind spring, between the two surgeries and fiasco with my arm, the house being on the market, getting it sold and getting my life packed up.  So far, so good (and I know the hormone optimization does help with this)....I haven't had a complete meltdown...yet.  I'm a bit of a type A personality, am a fusspot by nature and like to have everything absolutely under control..........and any of you who have moved at any point in your adult life know that moving is one of those life events where things are never quite totally in control.  I'm being very mindful of both my back/hip and my arm, so it's slow going, but I'm getting there.  The big move is next Monday, June 16, and the house closing is later in the week.  In the midst of all that is my birthday on June 18..........which for me is a month long celebration!

I'm excited and a bit anxious, and of course have much to do in these next couple weeks.  I'm back in the outdoor swimming pool where I am living currently, and the new complex has three pools, so I am hoping to get back on track with my workouts.  It's been nearly a year since I have been able to really get in consistent, challenging workouts, and I have missed it.

If I don't post for the next week or so, know that I am thinking of all of you and I will be back to hormone posts soon! Stay cool, stay safe!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Get a grip!

Good morning, I am enjoying a lovely, mild, low humidity day here in NC, and I hope wherever you are, it's a great Sunday!

I scanned my Facebook feed this morning and came across this article shared on PBS Next Avenue.  Most of my regular readers know I have been struggling with my right arm (see posts for March and April for the full story) and so regaining the strength in my hand is very important to me.  I can knit a bit, but only for about 15-20 minutes at a time maximum, then I need to rest the arm and hand and go back to it a little later.  I have ordered the Theraputty mentioned in the article, and plan to work with it throughout the summer to get my grip optimized!

Onward and upward, this is a busy month for me with some exciting changes in my life!  I'll keep you posted, until then, have a great start to the month!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pharmacy closing........

Hi everyone, I haven't posted in over a week because there is a dearth of articles worth sharing on bioidentical hormones, menopause and the other issues we discuss here on the blog.  I haven't forgotten you, I promise!

I started calling Greenfield Pharmacy in Vista, CA yesterday to refill a couple prescriptions, and have gotten a rapid busy signal, indicating that the phone is not operational.  The pharmacy does not have a website.  I had to do a lot of digging and searching to find out any information at all, first I came up with a Yelp review by a customer who lives in that area:

I am not sure what is going on over there, I have been using the pharmacy for going on 3 years for my bio identical hormones, the only problem I had was that the store always opened late. The owner comes from orange county. But my meds were always ready. As of April 25th, they are closed and do not return calls, I drove over there and there is a sign on the door that says they are closed and to call and get your prescription and go to another pharmacy. They have never returned my calls. The sign said until May 4th. I don't know what to think, perhaps a family emergency? A Illness? Accident? But at least some one should return calls.

I kept searching, and finally came up with this article from the site Law of Compounding Medications.  Greenfield Pharmacy has been (temporarily) shut down by the CA Board of Pharmacies.  Viewing the decision handed down by the CA Board, the pharmacist there was practicing with a lapsed license.  

Ugh. I feel like I am cursed with compounding pharmacies.  I've had multiple issues with the two compounding pharmacies in the Coachella Valley, and this blog post from late 2011 will explain why I really, really don't want to deal with Fireside Pharmacy again (additionally, two people that I know personally have both had issues with Fireside Pharmacy, so the poor customer service I received is not an isolated incident).  I will contact Dr. Carr's office tomorrow and get new prescriptions ----- still not sure what pharmacy to use yet.  Not a hassle I need right now (or any time).  


On a more positive note, I had an appointment with the arm surgeon yesterday, and he is absolutely impressed with the amount of healing/bone growth that has taken place in the last 5 weeks:




In fact, the bone has had so much growth that it is causing what is called "crepitus" in the arm----it clicks and makes some very odd noises. It feels like the bump of bone growth is bumping against the ulna bone in my arm when I try to turn my palm up.   It is painful, and I am still restricted in what I can do, although he told me I can start using 1-2 pound light weights to work out (ugh, I was using way more weight than that before all this hoo haa started last summer.)  I still can't knit for more than about 15 minutes at a time, which is very frustrating.  It's finally gotten hot here in NC, and so I am hopeful that this week I can get back in the swimming pool to work out, my back has really been feeling the lack of workouts lately.  One step at a time, I know.  


I hope everyone had a safe, enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.  Traffic around here on Memorial Day weekend is nuts because there is a huge NASCAR race being held about 25 miles from where I live. Lots of people who don't know where they are going,  and they drive like they're participating in a race, so I generally stick relatively close to home.  I have lots to do around here..........I have some changes coming up in my life in the next weeks and months, so I am keeping very busy. I will talk some more about those changes in my life very soon!  Meantime, enjoy this first week of "summer" (even though the calendar says June 21 is the first day of summer, I always consider Memorial Day and Labour Day the bookends of summer!)  Stay safe, stay cool!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

This and that--------

Good morning! Holy cow, it's a little chilly here this morning in NC, and cloudy to boot.  One of those days I could just curl up and knit all day, but I have an 80th birthday party to attend this afternoon (at a winery, but I don't drink!)

There have not been a lot of articles (correct that to say articles worth noting) about hormone balance lately, but I did run across this one from the Huffington Post.  I'm not shy about asking pretty much everyone if they have ever had their Vitamin D levels checked.  I'm astonished at the number of people who have never had their levels checked, and often it's because their doctors tell them that their levels are "normal".   I generally tell them that "normal" and "optimal" are two different things; its normal to have declining hormone levels as we age, but it certainly isn't optimal.  I've also told people that if their doctor can just look at them and tell them their Vitamin D level is normal, without benefit of blood work, then their doctor is "extra-special" or just doesn't want to be bothered with the blood work.

I sometimes get asked how much Vitamin D I take daily, and jaws drop when I tell them that from October to May, I take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily, and from June through September, I back it down to 5,000 IUs daily (mostly because I am out in the sun almost daily exercising in the outdoor pool.)  Dr. Carr likes his patients to be between 70-100 ng/ml (blood work levels); mine usually runs about 75-80.  My last blood work indicated that  it had dropped to about 60, but it was taken in the middle of my arm surgery saga, and during that time my vitamins/supplements were off schedule.  The anesthesiology department told me to stop all supplements 7 days preoperatively, and with two surgeries 3 weeks apart that blew my schedule out the door.  I'm back on track now, and I am confident when my blood work is taken next time my Vitamin D level will be back to an optimal range.  My point is that the article referenced above clearly shows that it is nearly impossible to get adequate Vitamin D through food.  Bottom line, get your Vitamin D levels checked, and if your doctor gives you a hard time.....don't take no for an answer!

I've been hearing a lot about compounding pharmacies lately, mostly because of the botched executions a few weeks ago in Oklahoma.  Most of the talking heads on TV are spewing out the same line about compounding pharmacies not being regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), in an effort to portray the compounding pharmacies as a bunch of rogue, lawless entities that have to be reined in.  Compounding pharmacies, like all pharmacies, are regulated by state pharmacy boards.  The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating drugs, just as their name states.  I saw an interesting post awhile back that said something to the effect that it's important to remember that every drug recalled by the FDA was once approved by the FDA.  Think about the number of drugs the FDA has recalled or ordered stronger warnings for in the last few years (Lunesta, the sleep medication,  is just the latest, it has not been recalled but the recommended dose has been ordered cut in half).

Finally, an update on my "arm saga".  Still some pain if I use it too much, my fingers are moving pretty well, thumb still moving slower than my fingers.  The scar is healing great:


Although I know the plate inhibits absorption a bit, I am pretty much back to rubbing my progesterone cream on both forearms, which I am sure is also helping the scar heal.  I can knit, but I am trying to be careful to not knit for too long a stretch and take breaks.  I am anxious to have the outdoor pool at my condo development open up soon, since that is still the only exercise besides walking that I can do right now.  My back really feels the lack of core strength :(

How did it get to be almost the end of May ------ next weekend is Memorial Day weekend!  Around here that means lots and lots of extra traffic, as Charlotte Motor Speedway is holding a huge NASCAR race.  I stay relatively close to home to get away from the madness.  Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy May!

Good morning, and I hope it is at least half as beautiful weather wise where you are as it is here in NC! I've already been out for a fitness walk, and I think I am going to catch a little "laying in the sun" (20 minutes on each side) time after lunch.

I highly recommend a mini-vacation to reset your mind and your life. I took one last weekend, and it was an utter blast! Everything came together beautifully, I went to see Bruce Springsteen play in Raleigh, and the concert was fabulous! He played 3 hours, never left the stage for more than 30 seconds, and looked like he could do another 3 hours!  Great music and a great time!  I also got to go to a beautiful park to an arts and crafts festival, and a personalized tour of Durham and a great brunch with friends.

On the same topic of resetting your mind, this article from Dr. Karin popped up on my Facebook feed last week......it spoke to me and I wanted to share it with you.  One of the manifestations of post traumatic stress disorder (I have it from a long ago car accident, I'm much better after a lot of therapy but it still crops up occasionally) is the tendency to ruminate and focus too much on  a bad event.  I know several years ago after a bullying incident from some really awful women, I kept running it through my mind because it was so upsetting.  It took a while to get through it, although now I am ever grateful to not have those women in my life anymore.  Hormonally speaking, getting them out of my life helped to reduce my cortisol level (cortisol is the stress hormone) to near normal levels.  Right now I am struggling with elevated cortisol, but I know some of that is just the physical and emotional stress of all the arm issues and surgeries this spring.

This is an important update to those of you who take thyroid medication for T4 thyroid issues, particularly if you were taking Levoxyl (brand name) until it was pulled from the market last year.  I have taken Levoxyl for over 7 years, very successfully, until it was pulled from the market last year because of manufacturing issues.  It was not supposed to be available again until Summer 2014, but just for kicks I asked about it at the pharmacy about a month ago. I was surprised to find that it is back on the market, and as luck would have it, I was due for a refill on my T4 thyroid prescription.  I asked Dr. Carr's office about it, and am now (or will be by Tuesday, I'm just now running out of my old prescription of Synthroid) back on Levoxyl.  Dr. Carr prefers to use the brand name of Levoxyl rather than its generic "equivalent", which is often not consistent in the dose of thyroid ingested.  Another benefit............Synthroid was costing me about $90 for a three month supply, and Levoxyl is only $24 for a three month supply.  That's just a little extra money to put toward supplements!

Off to enjoy my Sunday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hobbies.....

A very quick post this morning, but I thought this was important to share. As many of you know, I am a knitter (and I can already knit post surgery on my arm, just in very short sessions of about 15 minutes at a time.)  Check out this article in the Washington Post about the possible health benefits of knitting or other creative pursuits.

If you are wondering what this has to do with hormones.....plenty.  Engaging in a relaxing, creative activity calms the  mind, which in turn reduces stress.  I can tell you from experience that when I am super stressed, my cortisol (stress hormone made in the adrenal glands) goes way up (not good), and I burn through my hormones a lot faster (also not good because it's harder to get to my optimal levels.)

Speaking of reducing stress.............I have a fun weekend planned, including seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert tomorrow night.......oh. yeah.  Can't wait, my stress level has been through the roof lately and I'm ready to break out from the routine for a bit.  I likely won't post again until early next week, so I wish you a great weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I hope this finds everyone having a wonderful day, filled with all good things and a day that will leave you with good memories.  I had nothing special planned for today, but yesterday got together with friends for lunch and catching up.....so it has been a good weekend.  Friday and yesterday were rainy and miserable here, but today the sun broke through in the early morning, and it has been a nearly perfect day weather wise.

Went to the surgeon on Thursday for a post operative visit and suture removal.  Ten days post surgery, the scar, while large and conspicuous, is healing so much better than it did when I broke the arm last summer.

(Remember, this picture was taken only 10 days post operatively)

This surgeon definitely took more time in suturing the wound (36 stitches), and he obviously took his time in bringing the edges of the wound together carefully, which makes for less keloid tissue (the red, raised scar tissue you often see months or even years after an injury.)  After I had the first surgery in August, the physical therapist suggested that I use silicone strips to aid in wound management.  I got a package from Amazon.com (the strips are commonly used post C-section by new moms), and while I think they did help some with preventing keloid tissue from forming, they did not stay on well, and were inconvenient to use.  This time I am going to stick with using Vitamin E oil on the scar several times per day, and massaging the scar gently a few times a day to prevent adhesions.

I can make a light fist, although my thumb is still a little slow to react when I bend it.  I think that will just take time for the tendon and muscles that work the thumb to recover from the trauma of being moved around during surgery.  I'm getting some of the "zinger" pain that is indicative of healing.  I am restricted to "very light" activity with the arm.  No heavy lifting or heavy use. I can knit; I took a small project with me to the surgeon's office last week and worked a few rows while I was waiting.  The muscles in my arm still have a ways to go.....so for a while, I will be knitting in short sessions, but at least I can do it. Knitting for me is very relaxing and meditative, and the lace patterns I follow to make shawls exercises my brain.

The Friday before the most recent surgery, I had hormonal blood work done, and predictably, my hormone levels are a little off.  My estrogen level stayed pretty consistent, but both my testosterone and progesterone levels had somewhat tanked.  Stress makes a person burn through their hormones faster, and not just emotional stress (which I have had plenty of with all this arm business!).  Physical stress, like elevated pain levels, will also cause hormones to be burned faster.  My testosterone level was still over 60, which is on the very low end of "optimal", but Dr. Carr prefers my level to be up around 90.  I'm not able to inject my own testosterone because it goes in my left arm (and it's my right arm that's injured), so one of my guy friends injects it for me.  He was on vacation one week, and I was in surgery the next, so we missed two doses, which is rare.  He injected me last Monday (Dr. Carr upped my dose just a bit to get me back on track) and so I am confident my levels will get back to "really optimal" within a few weeks.  Testosterone level is vitally important, as it is the "healing" hormone, and my levels being up will help the fracture in my arm to heal.  I sent Dr. Carr a file of the x-rays as soon as I got home from the doctor's office, and he said he could already see bony callous forming, which is a sign of healing.  I am absolutely confident that without the bioidentical hormone balance, my recovery would be a lot more difficult.

One of the things I have found frustrating with these surgeries is that when the anesthesiology department calls for their "pre-op" questions and "discussion" ------ they insist I have to stop all supplements up to 7 days before surgery.  I understand the need for some supplements to be discontinued, especially aspirin (I take one each day for cardiac health), Vitamin E, and fish oil (both of which can cause issues with bleeding). The only reason they tell patients to stop all supplements is for their convenience, so they don't have to go through the list and tell patients which ones are really likely to interfere with the surgery/anesthesia.  In my case, with two surgeries in three weeks, I have been off and on my supplements for more than a month, and it shows in my blood work.  My Vitamin D level went from 87 to 60, and my DHEA dropped to about 165 (optimal is 200-400....mine is usually right around 300 or so.)  Other levels were off too.  What is annoying is that, especially in the case of the DHEA and the Vitamin D levels, these are substances that promote healing.......and they need to be at optimal levels to get me back on track!  Check out this article from Healio.com on Vitamin D levels.

If you have not yet had a DEXA (bone density scan), and you are over 50, I strongly, strongly urge you to get one.  If you have one you will know if you have a bone density issue systemically, you and your hormone specialist can address it and get you on the right track with hormones/supplements and weight training exercise.  I had had three bone density studies done before I broke my arm last summer (the most recent until then being in 2009), and I asked my pain management doctor to order another on one me last September just to make sure there was not an issue of systemic weakness in my bones.  I detailed the results in a blog post from last October for your reference.  I've more than once talked about how everyone should have a one page medical history with them at all times, with surgical history, medications/supplements and hormones taken regularly, and emergency contact numbers.  I put a copy of the DEXA scan on the back of my medical history to give to the staff taking care of me at the one day surgery center.

I'm getting stronger each day (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and outside of not being able to do workouts (which is making my back a little crazy......I need to rebuild my core strength!) I'm just about back to what I consider a "normal" schedule.  I can tell my stamina is still a little off, but I remind myself that it has only been 13 days post op.  It will get there, and we are going to have a beautiful, sunny and mild week here in the Carolinas, which is good for the spirit.....spring this year has come in fits and starts, and we even had a light frost last week.....unusual in the Southeast.    Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

She's baaack.....

Hi everyone, I am back from  my latest round of orthopedic surgery (see posts below for the full story).  I'm feeling better each day, the arm aches but it's not intolerable, and most importantly, I was able to drive 3 days post surgery.  I couldn't drive for 9 days before the surgery, and I am very independent, so being grounded was tough on me emotionally and spiritually.  I am blessed, however, to have wonderful friends who were more than willing to take me where I needed/wanted to be (never underestimate the power of a fresh haircut, eyebrow waxing, and mani/pedi to lift sagging spirits.)  I've been out for several walks around the neighborhood, and hope within a few weeks to resume at least a partial workout schedule.

I got really sick to my stomach post surgery this time, and I have no idea why because I have tolerated anesthesia well in the past.  I started getting sick about 6 pm (we were back from the hospital by about 1:30 pm......the minute I opened my eyes in the first phase of the recovery room, they were trying to get me out of there post haste.)  The nausea lasted through the late evening, and although I was able to keep a little bit of ginger ale down during the night, I lived on toast and vanilla protein bars (I like Power Crunch vanilla, no nuts, 13 grams of protein, and only 4-5 grams of sugar) for several days post operatively.  I have found the bars to be less expensive ordering through Vitamin Shoppe, and free shipping over $30.  My stomach still feels sort of off, but getting better each day.  I think if they drew blood on me right now, it would come out the colour of ginger ale and be bubbly.

I received a "care" package from my wonderful friend Katie. She knows a thing or two about nausea, as she is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  She had mentioned to me a while back that a lot of her friends used "Gin-Gin" candies to help with morning sickness nausea, and that she kept a bag of them in the knitting bag that she takes to chemo.  A week before the surgery (the most recent surgery) she sent me a great package from Amazon, and included in it were three bags of these "Gin Gin" candies.  I tucked them in the drawer next to my favourite chair, and asked my friend Karen (who has taken care of me all three times I've had surgery in the last 8 months) to bring me a bag of them Monday evening.  The Gin Gins are a hard candy, about the size of my thumbnail, and three pieces are only 35 calories.  They really, really helped with the nausea, and I am going to make absolutely sure I have them in the house at all times!  They are delicious too, and with such a low calorie count, a non guilty treat.  Each piece comes individually wrapped (I had to cut open the little wrappers as my hand movements were limited and they were tough to open), so now I also keep a few in my purse.  This is what the bag looks like:


And they are available through Amazon.com.  I hope none of my readers ever need them for nausea, but I wanted to share this tip!

I will be back later in the week with a "hormone" related post, I have a couple articles to share with you.  I know a lot of folks, particularly here in the Southeast, are really suffering with what I heard termed as "Pollenocalypse" (pollen apocalypse)....very bad seasonal allergies.  I have said it before, but prescription strength progesterone has all but eliminated my seasonal allergies.  I haven't taken allergy medicine in almost 8 years now, and when I first moved to North Carolina, my allergies got worse because the foliage and flora here is more abundant and different than it was where I grew up in Central New York.  Dr. Carr explained it to me that allergies are a form of failure of the immune system, and that the progesterone strengthens the immune system and is thus better able to fight off foreign substances like pollen and other allergens. I will attest to progesterone strengthening the immune system; I have had maybe two very light colds in the last 8 years, and that is it.  I'm out and about in the world nearly every day, touching doors, grocery carts, gym equipment (God, I wish when people are sick they would stay home from the gym.......it makes me crazy to see people sneezing on the equipment) so I am certainly exposed to a variety of germs.  I haven't gotten a flu shot in 8 years either, and have had no problems with the flu.

For those of you who observe, Happy Passover, and for those of you who observe, blessings this Holy Week and may your Easter be wonderful (and include a little chocolate!)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gym policies................

I have repeatedly talked about the benefits of exercise, and the importance of both aerobic exercise and weight training (particularly important for strong muscles and strong bones.) For the last 9 years, I have been a member of the Lake Norman branch of the Greater Charlotte area YMCA.  They are the closest facility to my home that has a pool, and water aerobics is good for strengthening my back, and also for flexibility.  

As of last week, I am no longer a member of the Y............their corporate bureaucracy and incompetency  intolerable.  Below is the email I sent to cancel my membership:



On March 14, I called the Lake Norman branch of the YMCA and asked that my membership be put on hold because I was having surgery on March 17.  I was told I had to come to the Y in person to put my membership on hold.  I found out about the surgery late in the day on March 13, and I had workmen at my house ALL DAY on March 14.  I called in because it was not possible to come in that day.  When I was told I had to come in, I  decided to  just waste the two weeks of membership fees to save myself a hassle. By the way, I wasn't able to use the pool facilities for two weeks before that because I got a skin rash from one of the  Lake Norman Y's pool area's disgustingly moldy water noodles, so that's four weeks of wasted dues.  Yes, I reported it to the front desk, and I was given the customary corporate line about how "we will certainly look into it."

I was not able to use the gym for two weeks post surgery.  Last Friday, I re-broke the arm the arm that was operated on, I am now in a heavy cast, CANNOT DRIVE, and am not  having surgery until April 7.  Since the Y is so inflexible about putting a membership on hold, I decided to cut down on the amount of money I am wasting on dues and  I would just cancel my membership.  I called the corporate office, and (why am I not surprised) told that I have to go in person to my local branch to fill out the paperwork.  Before even allowing me to explain that I am not able to come in because of my injury, I was transferred to the Lake Norman branch.  Whoever I spoke to told me that I needed to call you between 10-2 and also email you at this address.  The person on the phone stressed that I need to do both, because apparently I have nothing else to do except jump through the YMCA corporate hoops.

I AM UNABLE TO COME INTO THE YMCA BRANCH AT THIS TIME.  I can't drive, and while I am blessed to have a number of people drive me while I am injured, they are busy driving me to doctor's appointments, the hospital and other NECESSARY appointments. This fiasco ( I find it astonishing that I am the first Y member to have an injury that prevents them from coming in to a branch to fill out corporate's precious paperwork) is simply not worth the unnecessary stress this has caused.  

I am cancelling my membership effective immediately.  I want the paperwork either mailed to me, or scanned and attached to a return email for my signature.  Please do not bother me with a telephone call, I have grown weary of the time wasted listening to the corporate pablum spit out by branch directors/administrators.  I clearly understand that the YMCA's mission is to make it so difficult for members to suspend/cancel their memberships that they will give up and just keep having the dues taken out of their bank accounts, but I live on a fixed income ... and cannot afford to pay for something I cannot use.

(signed)

I sent the email to the membership coordinator, and the next morning I received a return email from her telling me she had cancelled my membership.  No paperwork for me to sign.....so all their bureaucratic run around was nonsense.  Despite my request not to be called........yep, Friday morning I received a call from Ben, the "executive" director of the branch.  It was corporate pablum, and a stress I did not need or want.  I tried to explain to him that I did not want to take the drastic step of cancelling my membership, I just wanted it put on hold while I was recuperating.  I had very much hoped to be back to gym workouts by the end of April at the latest. What a mess.  

The point of sharing this with you is that if you belong to a gym...........be damn sure of what their corporate policy policy is regarding suspension and/or cancellation of membership.  This has been an utter nightmare for me, and since I was never given the paperwork the Y insisted was so important, I have absolutely no proof (beyond the membership coordinator's email) that the membership really has been cancelled.  Most of you reading this blog will, at some point, need to take time out from the gym for medical reasons, and I would hate to have one of my readers go through a similar hassle.  

This and that......

I have surgery scheduled tomorrow morning to repair the (re)fracture of my right wrist.  Details in the posts below on the saga of my right arm.  Needless to say, I am frustrated and beyond upset (I can only imagine how my stress level is affecting my hormone balance right now-----I had hormonal blood work done Friday, but I'm having hot flashes indicative of low progesterone.)   I wanted to post today, since I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be doing much at the computer this week!

First up, from The Age.com, an  article about the progress on a genetic blood test that will predict the age that a woman will reach menopause.  This could be immensely useful not only for women trying to plan families, but also for women who wish to start (bioidentical) hormone therapy before they reach menopause. Often a woman can predict their menopause transition based on when their mother experienced menopause, but if the mother has had a partial/complete hysterectomy, is dead, or is not the daughter's birth mother, or several other factors, daughters are left to guess at when they will go through the menopausal transition.

I'm so stressed out right now I want to eat everything in sight, and much of it isn't healthy.  I'm craving Brach's malted milk Easter eggs (and Brach's is the only acceptable brand.....I'm picky).  I know that music can calm me down or wind me up, and right now Pharrell William's song "Happy" is one of my favourites. Check out this article from Huff Post Healthy Living about using your iPod to help manage your emotions.  During my "downtime" this week, I need to hop on iTunes and listen to the songs on the sample list.

As I have detailed before, I take estriol cream for vaginal dryness.  The medical term is atrophic vaginitis, and here is a list of symptoms from The Mayo Clinic.  I got a new prescription for the cream a couple months ago, and when Greenfield Pharmacy sent me the cream, they neglected to send the adapter for the jar, which is necessary to get the cream from the jar into the vaginal applicator.........and Greenfield forgot to send the applicators too!  I called and very sweetly and politely asked for the supplies needed to administer the estriol.  Got them in the mail a week later.  I called Greenfield Pharmacy to refill the prescription a couple weeks ago, and it never occurred to me to ask them include the jar adapter (mine has a tear in it from putting it on and off the jar every time I use it) and some syringes.  The bottle arrives Tuesday, and......you guessed it.....no supplies.  I called the pharmacy, explained the situation.  First person either had no idea what I was talking about or didn't want to be bothered, so she switches me to another person.  I explain the whole issue again and the tech says "well, we'll see what can be done."  I was furious, and I called them back five minutes later and told them not to bother, I would get the supplies elsewhere.  The compounding pharmacies tout their superior, personalized service, but it has been my experience that they are no better than the big box pharmacies, and in most cases, are worse.

I have a couple more articles to share with you, but this post has taken me forever to type, and I need to go ice my arm again (story of my life this week.)  Enjoy this first full week of April.......I hope that it's spring wherever you are!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I haven't disappeared......

But in the continuing saga of my right forearm (check posts below for full story).......I rebroke it on Friday morning......picking up some papers off my desk.


Obviously, the bone was not as healed as the surgeon thought it was..........I will update as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quick Update

Hi everyone, typing is still difficult, so this will be a quick update....

I had the plate taken out of my right forearm on Monday morning (see the post below this one for details!) .........all went as expected. My pain level was far, far more tolerable than when the plate was put in last summer (to repair a fracture).  My friend Karen took me to the hospital, and we were home by 2 pm.  I slept off and on after I got home, and was able to manage the pain pretty well. I didn't sleep great last night because I had to keep the arm elevated (and I am a flipper when I sleep), but took a nap late this afternoon.

I can drive a bit tomorrow, it will feel good to get out and about (I do not do well being cooped up, and OMG, daytime television is AWFUL!) Stitches come out in two weeks, but I can take the bandage off Thursday.  Putting my progesterone cream on is a pain right now, but I'm managing pretty well.  I injected my estrogen on Sunday, and one of my friends will inject my testosterone into my left arm on Thursday (he has been doing that for me since I fell last summer, as my right thumb has some limitations and using a syringe is one of them!)  I'm very glad this is over, and I can already tell that I have less pain in my hand and fingers than I did before the surgery....the tendons were really getting irritated by the plate and it definitely needed to come out.

Hope to be back by the weekend with a "hormonal" post.  Oh, by the way, in the post below this one I talked about putting together a one page medical history......I took mine to the hospital for inclusion in my chart, and the nurses and  anesthesiologist were very impressed with my efficiency!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Those are the breaks (sorry, bad pun!)



The regular readers of this blog know about the continuing saga of my right forearm.  I broke it at the gym last August (I had an existing plate in the arm, fell on it and the titanium plate was stronger than the bone, and so the bone broke).  Had surgery three days later to remove the old plate, repair the fracture and put in a new plate.  The bones in that arm have some localized osteopenia, and the fracture seemed to take forever to heal.  I started having pain in the wrist and into my fingers not too long after the surgery, and it was determined that the plate would have to come out of the arm.  The goal was to make it six months after the original fracture, and I made it to seven months one week. 

Started having increased pain last week, so I called the doctor's office for an appointment.  Got in the next day and it was determined that we couldn't wait any longer, so my St. Patrick's Day will be spent having surgery to have the plate removed from the arm. I am assured that this surgery will not be as painful as when the arm was fractured (thank goodness, that was AWFUL!) and that I will be able to start using the arm almost immediately.  I will have a soft bandage on for at least several days, which means wrapping my arm in a garbage bag for showers and washing my hair with one hand.  I will be tough........I can endure anything for clean hair!

While this news is only peripherally related to hormones (my testosterone  and Vitamin D helped the fracture to heal!), today I was updating my PDF file of my medical history, and I thought it was a good time to remind you to do the same. 

My medical history includes:
  • Name, address, phone, date of birth, email address
  • Current medications
  • Current list of names and dosages of bioidentical hormones
  • Current list of all supplements
  • List of all previous surgeries (and for me this takes up most of the page, this will be my 17th orthopedic surgery, most of the surgeries were due to a car crash back in 1992)


I make it all fit on one page, and I have it as a PDF file that I keep on my phone. I have printed out two copies, one for my purse, and one to give to the staff at the hospital on Monday morning.  It just makes everything more efficient.  

If you don't have a written medical history, then take this post as a gentle reminder that you need to have one.  If you have one, take a look at it this weekend and update it if necessary (mine was up to date except for one dosage change on one supplement).  

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope to be back online by Wednesday of next week, although I may be typing one handed for a few days.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tackling Menopause’s Side Effects

Good morning! Just a brief post here, I wanted to share with you this article from the NYTimes.  The article was posted about a month ago, but I had trouble linking it at that time (not exactly a computer expert here!)  First of all, that the American College of Obstetricians/Gynecologists took this long to actually come out with guidelines about the care of menopausal women is absurd.  The article is an interesting read, but paragraph 14 particularly caught my eye:

"Data do not support the use of progestin-only medications, testosterone, or compounded bioidentical hormones".

First of all, I am living proof that testosterone not only help with libido, but also increases bone density.  For those of you who are new readers, I had a DEXA (bone density scan) in 2006 that showed I had osteopenia.  I started the bioidentical hormones shortly after that scan, and had a repeat test done in 2009.  Not only did I no longer have osteopenia, but my bone density was comfortably in the normal range.  I strongly suspect that the carefully worded phrase "data do not support" means they simply weren't studied.  Mainstream medicine would rather fill patients up with expensive medications (all of which have side effects) rather than simply replace (bioidentically) what is in our bodies that we lose as we age. Frustrating, to say the least.


Friday, March 7, 2014

This and that---Happy March!

Hi, everyone....from rainy, icky North Carolina! We had an ice storm last night, and while everything is fine at my house (except for not being able to go to the quilt show today in Charlotte...temps above freezing but very heavy rain, and the venue had a terribly potholed and gravelly parking lot) over a quarter million people are without power in the state. Keep them in your prayers!

I haven't forgotten you, but there has been a dearth of "hormone" articles lately.  However, a few articles are popping up that caught my attention:

Vitamin D Increases Breast Cancer Patient Survival  A subject near to my heart lately, as one of my friends (who is 10 years younger than me!) is battling breast cancer.  A  UC/San Diego study of over 4000 breast cancer patients shows that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood are associated with increased rates of survival.  I still have way, way too many people tell me that their doctor says they don't need a Vitamin D test because their levels are normal, and when I ask the person how they know their level is normal, they tell me because their doctor says so.  And, by the way, normal and optimal are two different things, it's normal for post menopausal women not to have any/many hormones in their bodies, but it sure as hell isn't optimal!  My Vitamin D level is a nice, healthy 78 ng/ml, which is well within the optimal range of 70-100 ng/ml.  I swear, a healthy Vitamin D level has helped keep me sane (relatively speaking) this winter, I am so, so ready for spring!

New testosterone drug is out called Aveed........it was rejected THREE times by the FDA, who now has declared the drug safe.  Seems simpler and safer to just take bioidentical testosterone (I do, as do several of my male friends----obviously we take it in vastly different doses). I inject it once weekly, with no side effects other than the occasional pimple.

Bioidentical Hormone Health.....if you are not already subscribing to this newsletter, why not?  Check out this great article on myths and facts about progesterone.  Way too many people (including health professionals) try to tell patients that synthetic progestins (sometimes called progestegens) are the same as progesterone, and they are not.

That's it for today, and don't forget-----turn your clocks forward Saturday night! It's worth losing an hour's sleep (or in my case, just sleeping an extra hour on Sunday morning) to have it light longer in the day, I crave longer days this time of year. Have a great, healthy weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feeling lonely? It may increase risk of early death

Although I love my solitary time, I am a social creature. I love to spend a day with my friends, and as often as I can, you will find me with a group of friends having lunch, movies, socializing, perhaps shopping (not usually all in the same day!) I am one of those people who get life energy from my relationships, and I believe that the word "Friend" should always be spelled with a capital F.

Turns out being a social creature is good for my health.  A study detailed in this article from USA Today that people who are lonely face a 14% increase in risk of an early death.  It doesn't surprise me; I know of a few people who I would consider to be lonely (not transient loneliness, but those who don't have many friends and a lot of relationships in their lives).....and I truly believe that their isolation will shorten their lifespan.  I thought it interesting that lonely people have a higher level of cortisol, which is the stress hormone.  My cortisol level several years ago was very, very high, but I have made conscious steps (along with some supplement help) to bring the level down. Ironically, one of the factors that has helped me bring the level down is getting some awful, nasty women out of my life.  Most people can say that they know someone who makes them sick, in my case, I have blood work results to back it up!

Medicines Made in India Set Off Safety Worries

Almost all of us take some form of prescription medication, so this article from the NY Times is important reading.

I take thyroid medication, two different kinds for my T4 thyroid and my T3 thyroid.  The T3 medication is compounded and I get it from a compounding pharmacy.  Until last year, I was taking Levoxyl as my T4 medication, until production of the drug was suspended. I then switched over to Synthroid, and found (like many patients) that it does not work as effectively for me....I had to adjust my dosage upward twice to get my blood levels back to optimal. Dr. Carr has always insisted that his patients take brand name thyroid medications, as many of the generic drugs are not as effective and the dosing is not as consistent. Sadly, many insurance companies will only pay for generic forms of drugs if they are available, and in too many cases, the brand name drugs are out of financial reach for most people.

Many years ago, before I got my hormones balanced, I took the antidepressant Paxil.  I was unknowingly switched to the generic version after taking it for several years, and I had a very bad reaction.....it was almost like withdrawing from the drug cold turkey (which is something you should never, and I repeat, never do with an antidepressant!)  My anxiety level went through the rough, my depression deepened, I had a feeling of skin crawling, it was awful.  At the time, I wasn't even aware of how far off the generics can be from the brand name drugs....and even different manufacturers of generic drugs can vary widely in efficacy.

If you have been taking a drug that has been effective and all of a sudden it's not effective, check and see if you have been switched to a generic, or if you are taking a generic and it doesn't seem to be working, if there could be ea problem with the drug itself.  Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist with any and all concerns.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A little funny to get you through the week.......

I shave my legs weekly all the time because even in cold weather, I generally wear shorts to the gym.  One of my friends posted this on her Facebook page, and I just burst out laughing, so I thought it would be fun to share with all of you.  In the winter, I try to put cream (CeraVe Cream works best for me) on my feet every night, but sometimes, I just want to be lazy and skip a day or two.  I keep myself motivated with the thought that sandal season is just around the corner (here in NC, I can start wearing sandals at least some days starting in mid to late March, and through at least mid to late October, sometimes later!) and that I want my feet to look pretty when they are half naked.  I have a thing about lizard feet, women of any age who wear sandals should make the effort to keep their feet as soft as they can.  It's also a safety issue....cracked skin on the heel (or anywhere) is at risk of infection, and can making walking very painful.

Last week at this time we were on winter weather watch/snow storm warning, and today it hit 63 degrees! Made me a little giddy, although I know that we are expecting another blast of cold next week.  Tomorrow it may reach 70 degrees!  Our average high this time of year is about 55 (which is why I live in the south now...I'm originally from Upstate NY.)  Bring it on, I am ready for sun, singing birds and blooming flowers!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Had to share this with you.....

When I looked at this picture, my absolute first thought was "my brain is organized?"  And for the record, I am definitely a right brained being.....very emotional and very creative!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend....I was out and about today for the first time since Tuesday (I made it to the gym Tuesday morning, but shortly after I got home the weather moved in and I had been housebound since).  A great day, I had lunch with four of my friends (the Saturday Lunch Bunch), then stopped at the rubber stamp store to say "Hello" to another friend, then a quick stop at JoAnn Fabrics, and then home for the day.  I'll be back tomorrow with a "real" post.....until then, enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Smoking Can Speed Menopause for Some Women

Good morning! Happy Valentine's Day to all.............

First off, I am keeping everyone in the path of the latest snowstorm (33 days until spring) in my thoughts. Here in NC, we are slowly digging out, it was so bad here mail delivery was suspended yesterday! Schools are still closed today, and the early commute was a nightmare (not many cars on the road, fortunately...lots of closings and delayed openings with local businesses) but the temperatures are warming and the sun is out! I may venture out this afternoon, even if it's just to drive over to the drugstore and pick up my prescription at the drive through window!

I suspect this does not apply to many of my readers, but if you need another reason to quit smoking, check out this article from NBCNews.  Women who are smokers and have a certain genetic mutation can experience menopause up to 9 years earlier than women who do not smoke.  Nine extra years an awfully long time to go without hormones, which as you know, affect every system of the body.  That's on top of all the other health risks smokers face.

Will probably post again later today.....I have about 3 articles bookmarked to read and share.  Stay warm!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yep---we got it.


This is what it looked like out my front door this morning----I live just north of Charlotte, NC.  For the  most part, the area has handled the storm pretty well, and most people have heeded the pleading of our Governor and the local media to stay off the roads.  It snowed yesterday, then it transitioned to sleet and freezing rain last night, then big, fat, fluffy snowflakes this morning.  It's above 32 degrees right now, I can hear it dripping outside. Much of this will refreeze tonight, making roads bad again tomorrow morning, but then the warm up arrives.  By next week we will be near 60 degrees.  I'll be back later with a hormone post (I have a couple good articles to share with you), but until then, stay safe, stay warm....I know this storm is hitting the Mid Atlantic and Northeast now!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sex Matters-Drugs Can Affect Sexes Differently

Good morning from snowy North Carolina! It's snowing lightly here now, but we are expecting a big snow and ice storm tomorrow.  I headed out to the gym this morning and it was packed...I think everyone is figuring this is the last gym workout for several days.  I'm tucked in the house with plenty of projects to work on and plenty of (mostly healthy) food to get me through the next few days!

I have tried several times to embed the video from last Sunday's 60 Minutes report about how drugs can affect men and women differently.  I wasn't able to successfully embed, but if you click this link it will take you to a video of the segment.........it's important reading. It will also make you kind of mad.

This afternoon I have a bunch of newsfeed articles to go through, and I hopefully will have several more posts for you this week.  Until then, if you are in one of the affected areas of the storm...please stay safe, and for goodness sake, if you don't have to be out driving in the bad weather, stay home!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Groundhog Day---Happy Super Bowl Sunday....

And in my little corner of the world----happy day after Syracuse University beat Duke in NCAA basketball!  So excited, I am very "rookie" basketball fan, but lived in the Syracuse area for many years so SU it is! It was a great game, when it went into overtime in the final seconds, I wasn't sure my heart could take it! Speaking of hearts....

February is National Women's Heart Health Month! You are wearing red next Friday, February 7, aren't you?   From the Mayo Clinic, a list of signs and symptoms of heart disease in women (the classic symptoms of chest pain are not always present in women having a heart attack).  I went to a Women's Heart Health Fair yesterday and picked up some great information that I will share with you this month.  One of the many reasons I take testosterone is that testosterone strengthens muscles, and remember, the heart is a muscle.....so I am making my heart stronger!


Interesting article in MedPageToday.com about the link between low Vitamin D levels and increased severity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).  I continue to be amazed at how many people tell me they have never had their Vitamin D levels checked.  It's a simple and easy blood test, and costs usually less than $50.  I have my levels checked about 2-3 times a year, and the last time it was a nice, healthy 78 ng/ml (Dr. Carr likes his patients to be between 70-100 ng/ml.)  I take 10,000 IUs vitamin D3 this time of year (from October to mid April), then I cut to 5000 ng/ml for the summer months (I swim in an outdoor pool about 4-5 days a week in the summer.)  


Do not forget to drink plenty of water....every time of the year, actually, but particularly when it's been so cold (we went down to 5 degrees here in NC, which for us is very, very cold!)  I can tell how dry the air has been by how chapped my lips get, and I am lotioning my feet religiously so I avoid dry, cracked heels.  I'm making sure I get plenty of water too.....don't wait until you are thirsty!  


I hear the Groundhog saw his shadow this morning so there will be six more weeks of winter.  Some areas of the north will be happy if it's only six more weeks of winter, I am anxious for spring! Have a great week, everyone!



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014 (will this month never end?!??!??!?)

I feel (a little) bad about whining about winter......I live in the Southeast, and our winter has been nowhere near as severe in terms of cold and snow as up north.  However, I live in the Southeast to largely avoid winter, so....I'm whining. I have said at least  half dozen times in the last week that I am afraid that January will never end this year.  So that whooping and hollering you hear next Saturday will be me turning the calendar page!

Speaking of turning the calendar page, you do all know that February is Women's Heart Health Month, right?  And you know that we are all going to wear read on Friday, February 7 to honour all women who have a heart (yes, I know, we all know a few women who are heartless, and let's keep them out of our lives so our hearts can remain healthy and strong!)  Check out the National Go Red For Women Campaign site.  I have given (and am planning to give those I haven't seen yet) my friends dark chocolate bars wrapped in red paper to celebrate the month------each year I give out a little red themed gift to tell those I care about how much they do for my heart and my spirit.

Next topic is not exactly "hormonal" but I think most of us will agree that one of the little "joys" of post menopause is dry skin.  Particularly in the winter, I swear I can hear my moisturizer suck right into my skin, and dry feet make me nuts.  Here in NC, I can start wearing sandals at least part of the time about the end of March, so I do everything I can to avoid the dreaded "lizard feet".  I have used and continue to use CeraVe cream (available at your drugstore, big box store, and on Amazon).  However, the elevated cold and associated dryness in the air has made my skin dryer than normal this year, and while I was browsing in Walgreen's last week I came upon this (in the foot care aisle):

It kind of reminds me of a lip balm for your heels. I have been using it for about five days now, and I swear my heels feel a little softer!  I can't remember the price exactly, I think it was about $7.50.

I'm going to say this publicly-----I am again drinking way too much diet soda.  I know better, I know the bad effects of diet soda and I was so proud of myself for giving it up completely for almost three months last year.  Even when I started drinking it again, at first is was only when I was out with friends, etc.  I cut down again last summer, and was almost off it about the time I broke my arm------------and then the stress of the fracture, recovery, the problems with the arm, stress and anxiety issues.......    No more excuses, I am going cold turkey again tomorrow. Wish me luck. I have a fruit infusion pitcher on its way from Amazon, which I hope will help in the transition. I don't drink coffee, and I only drink tea when it's really cold.  Wish me luck!

We are going to be back down into the single digits at some point this week........but I know in almost 56 years, spring has never failed to arrive sooner or later (and that's from someone who spent over 40 years in Upstate NY!)  Have a wonderful week, everyone!