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

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!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This and that..............

Greetings from sunny and (relatively) mild NC!  That cold snap a couple weeks ago was annoying, but I know it wasn't nearly as bad here as in other parts of the country. I hope everyone is ok.  You are all taking your Vitamin D3 right now, aren't you?  Besides  helping with seasonal affective disorder, it also helps build your immunity.  Here in my area, there is some influenza going around, but I've heard more about bronchitis and upper respiratory infections being prevalent.  Don't forget simple things like frequent handwashing (and then the frequent application of hand cream so your hands don't get too dry......doubly important for me because I am a knitter) and be very careful to not touch your face/eyes/nose when you are out in public.  Touching your face after you have touched a contaminated surface is a very easy way to catch something.

I saw the surgeon on Friday about my arm (fractured in a fall at the gym in August), and new x-rays show that it is continuing to heal.....thank you testosterone and Vitamin D!  The plate in the arm is going to have to come out, but not for at least another 6-12 weeks.  The doctor said he would like the site of the fracture to be "rock solid" healed, then he can just take the plate out, and I won't have to have another (smaller) plate put in, nor will I have to wear a cast on the arm for a period of time. I'm all for that!

The only downside is I have some restrictions on my exercise program right now so as not to stress the right arm.  No upper body exercises with weight machines at the gym, and using the light free weights at home only on the left side.  I need to keep the arm splinted when I am out and about. I can still do lower body machines, recumbent bike, and water aerobics.  I'm going to do a little fitness walking too, not enough to exacerbate the Achilles tendinitis in my right ankle, but enough to help with core strength. I walk with Nordic walking poles to give me a bit of an upper body workout, and also to help with my balance.  I really need to focus on core strength right now, I know it isn't up to par, and when it isn't it makes my back and hip problems worse.

  • Speaking of exercise, interesting article in USAToday about retirees and exercise.  The article makes some good points (whether you are a retiree or just wanting to get into an exercise habit no matter what your age):
  • If you haven't exercised in a long time, check with your doctor about any limitations.  Just common sense.
  • A few sessions with a personal trainer is a good investment. I have worked with a trainer at various times in my life, and as soon as I get this next surgery out of the way and I can get back to upper body workouts, I plan to work with a trainer again to maximize my potential.
  • Check and see what programs are available for "mature" adults at your local gym, either the YMCA or a privately owned workout facility.  Some health insurance providers pay for at least part of a gym membership if ordered by a doctor, and some Medicare plans offer free gym memberships. It's worth looking into.    

Switching gears, this article on RedOrbit.com makes me want to grind my teeth.  A study done in Vancouver, BC supposedly shows that progesterone does not raise the risk of heart disease in recently postmenopausal women.  That's already been well established in other studies.  This article raises the issue of the WHI (Women's Health Initiative) study that was halted in 2002 because the results showed that the use of "hormone replacement therapy" increased the risk of certain health problems.  What the article doesn't tell you is that the HRT used in the WHI study was NOT bioidentical hormone therapy....in fact, far from it.  The drugs used in the study (and they are drugs, not hormones) were Premarin (which is a synthetic form of estrogen made from horse urine------it's only a hormone if you are a horse) and progestin, again, not a hormone but a drug.  The WHI study has been "dead" for nearly 12 years now, it's time for the media and critics of bioidentical hormones to stop using it as an excuse to deride all hormone replacement therapy.

Possibly because it's the start of the new year, I'm seeing articles and video links pop up on my blog advertising compounding pharmacies that offer "hormone consultations" to patients who think they are having health problems related to hormone deficiencies.  The pharmacies offer saliva testing (because by law they cannot order blood tests---only a physician can do that) and then they sit down with the patient, go over the results (usually for a fee), and then refer the patient to a doctor who is willing to prescribe the hormone protocol for the patient.  Be very, very wary of these types of arrangements.  Number one, most physicians proficient in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy will tell you that blood testing is far more accurate than saliva testing.  Secondly, the role of a compounding pharmacist is to fill the prescriptions as directed by your doctor, not to tell a doctor what to prescribe! A doctor (or nurse practitioner) is the only one qualified to review your labs, take a thorough medical history of past and present issues, do an exam and determine your hormonal needs.  I know of instances where pharmacies are contracting with doctors ----- the pharmacy goes over the saliva lab tests, sends the list of recommended hormones to a contracted doctor, who sees the patient once for a very few minutes and just prescribes whatever the compounding pharmacist recommends.  The doctors involved are not hormone experts, if they were, they would be ordering/reviewing lab work, meeting with the patient, and based on the meeting and patient history, prescribing an individualized protocol of bioidentical hormones.  In my next post, I will review and detail ways to find bioidentical hormone care in your geographic area.

I think I hear a heating pad calling me-----my back is giving me fits today.  Time to lay down for a bit, read and perhaps knit......and check my newsfeed (love my iPad for this) to find any other interesting hormone articles to share with you. Until then, have a great week!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vitamin D-----it's what's for winter :)

I am officially sick of winter already, and that's from someone who spent over 40 years in Upstate NY but who now lives in the Piedmont of North Carolina!  It's gray, gloomy, and a band of rain just went through.  Just heard on the news that we will hit record setting lows on Tuesday, and will be at least 48 hours below the freezing mark (our average daily high about this time of year is about 50-52 degrees.)  The lack of sunshine is what is getting to me...........I'm starting to think there is no such thing as enough Vitamin D (just kidding!)

I've gotten several inquires in the last couple weeks about Vitamin D levels and the best brands to use.  Be aware that this is coming from me, who is not a medical professional, and I encourage everyone to consult with their doctor or healthcare provider about Vitamin D and everything else.  My own doctor likes to have his patients at a level of 70-100 ng/ml and the level is determined by a blood test.  If you have never had your Vitamin D level checked, do it at your next doctor's visit.  If your doctor says you don't need to have the level checked, I would ask why and if the answer isn't satisfactory, look into getting another doctor.

The last time my Vitamin D level was checked was in late October, and it was a nice, healthy 78 ng/ml.  I am often asked how much Vitamin D I take.  From early October through mid April, I take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D....no, that's not a typo, that's ten thousand IUs Vitamin D.  I need that much to keep my levels optimal, and I have it checked at least 3-4 times a year.  From mid April to October, I take 5000 IUs, because I am out in the sun more, and in the summer, I do my physical therapy exercises in an outdoor pool at least 4 days a week.  An interesting benefit of the Vitamin D optimization is that I now tan beautifully, and I will shock a lot of you when I say this, but I do not use sunscreen.

Make sure you are taking Vitamin D3, which has better absorption.  I am asked what brand(s) I use, as I use the brands that Dr. Carr's office recommends, or other quality brands. I stay away from supplements from the big box stores, as they too often contain far less of the supplement than indicated on the bottle, the quality control just isn't there.  I prefer Life Extension Vitamin D3, and I have also used OrthoMolecular Vitamin D3 and Nutrigold Vitamin D3.

To aid in the absorption, I also take Vitamin K, specifically MK-7.  I have successfully used brands by Jarrow, Life Extension, and one other brand (yellow label on the bottle, I think) that right now I can't remember the name.

Hope this information helps.  One of the books on my list of recommended reading is The Vitamin D Revolution by Dr. Soram  Khalsa, it can be ordered through Amazon.  If you have a Kindle, or the Kindle app on your phone or tablet, check out this free book Power of Vitamin D.

Stay warm, and stay safe!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Spring countdown.......

A little off topic here, but then again, maybe not.....after all, I'm concerned about the holistic health of my readers, and hope is part of feeling emotionally well.  You will notice a new addition to the blog tonight, on the right side just above Dr. Carr's picture------a countdown to the first day of spring!  I know many of you are struggling with bad winter weather tonight, and even here in NC it's gray, cold and gloomy.....I know my spirits could use a lift right now.  Enjoy, and I will be back over the weekend with a hormonal post.

How exercise revs brainpower

Happy 2014! I hope your year has gotten off to a good start.  My thoughts are with those of you in the path of the winter storm heading to the Northeast; I have friends in Chicago and they said it was pretty rough there yesterday.  One of my friends who works in a school near Syracuse, NY had an unexpected extension of her holiday break, and believe me when I tell you it has to be pretty bad in that area for schools to close.

Here in Charlotte, the first "real" morning of the New Year was very cloudy, chilly and gloomy.  I had to literally talk myself into going to the gym this morning; my back and hip are very painful today and I could easily have stayed in my jammies and in bed (something I do not do, by the way).  I did get to the gym, and although I had to modify my workout to accommodate my endurance and pain level, I did manage to do some time on the recumbent bike and a few weight machines.  I'm done whining, now, thank you for listening.

I brought up the topic of exercise because I found this interesting piece in the Charlotte Observer about the cognitive benefits of exercise.  The physical benefits of exercise are pretty obvious to everyone, but exercises effect on the brain is often overlooked.  I've been working out regularly now for about nine years, and I like to think that it, along with my hormonal optimization and healthier eating has improved my cognitive functioning and concentration.  As I have said many times, I am not setting any records in the gym; most of what I do are exercises prescribed for me by a physical therapist to keep my joints mobile and to maintain bone strength.  Core strength is critical for me, and when I miss a few weeks of exercise (like I did when I broke my arm this summer) my back and hip make me crazy.  I have a friend who is an excellent example of exercise benefiting cognitive function; I've seen him hugely scattered and distracted before a workout, and after a session with his trainer, he comes back focused and ready to tackle whatever task is at hand.

I am not one of those people who hops/crawls out of bed in the morning and can't wait to get to the gym.  I have a hard time understanding those who really enjoy working out, but to each his/her own.  I go because I know it's healthy, that I have to keep my back and joints as strong as possible, and to maintain bone and cardiac health.  If exercising regularly is on your list of goals for 2014 (good for you)-----find something you like to do.  Don't forget that it's important to combine aerobic exercise (water aerobics, walking, treadmill) with some sort of strength training.  Ideally that strength training would be with weights, I use a few weight machines at the gym and have a set of very light weights for home use.  Water aerobics is my preferred cardio activity now; I used to love to walk but right now that exacerbates the issues in my back and hip.  You might find it helpful to have an exercise buddy (I don't, but know a lot of the ladies at the gym).  If you have health issues (and who doesn't at this age), check with your doctor to see what exercise is safe for you to do, and if necessary, ask for a referral to a physical therapist to help you design an exercise program to reach your fitness goals safely.

I'm off to rest with a heating pad for a little while, I don't sleep but am sorting through my newsfeeds to find other interesting articles to share with you.  Enjoy the rest of your day, and stay warm!