I used to be a prisoner!

Hello and greetings from planet no baby house!

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Me as a cat. Me-OW baby!

So much has happened since you were last here.  Since Joy, AKA reader extraordinaire, wanted to know about my experience with sleeping on the floor that is where I shall begin.  I started my floor slumber trial back in April and frankly it didn’t last — but not for reasons you’d easily guess.  Most people can’t get comfortable.  I could.  I slept fine.  It was like times of the past … sleepovers as a kid.  I slept just over a week on the floor.

I embarked upon the floor sleeping before I received my weighted blanket.  Sleeping on the floor was cool and refreshing which helped my hot flashes and night sweats — I have since moved on to modern medicine for that problemo.  More on that later — one thing at a time Peeps!

Ah floor sleeping … just like the native American, the homeless, those who have passed out, much of Asia, indoor campers and the like.  It went down like this: I put my old puffy quilt down as my mattress, covered myself with a sheet and my favorite kitty suckle blanket (the one my little cat loves to make biscuits with and get drooly).  I put down 2 pillows: the normal one for my head and a little one for between my knees.

cat suckle blanket

Not my cat and not our blanket … but he sure is a cutie, isn’t he!

The problem entered when I started using the weighted blanket, and more critically when I discovered a very large black spider traipsing the floor. spider meow photo The weighted blanket became a problem because it’s 15 lbs. (not that I’m a super weakling or anything) and moving it from the bed to the floor back to the bed is a problem.  I couldn’t leave the blanket on the floor because of the spider issue and stepping on a weighted blanket is akin to walking on tiny Legos.  Ouch ouch and ouch ouch.  All I can say about spiders is thankfully those buggers don’t have wings!

The floor sleeping adventure began every night with either sleeping on the bed and then moving to the floor, or the reverse.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and switch places — usually during my first night sweat.  This required HEAVY blanket moving.  I gave this up and starting staying in bed with my weighted blanket.  (I adore you my little weighted blanket of love!) NOTHING will get you up faster out of your floor bed than said spider coming to crawl in beside you — unless you have a spider fetish or are unbearably lonely.  Yes, I do know that spiders can crawl unto mattress beds — LET’S NOT GO THERE!

I used to be a prisoner to my hormones … or lack of one in particular: Ms. Estrogen!

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Yes, it’s really me. Estrogen get me out of here!

After continued hot flashes and night sweats, I gave up ALL coffee and alcohol (wine to be exact).  I did this incredible stunt for 6 weeks  … kind of like Lent and I’m not even Catholic!  Giving up said liquids helped, but wasn’t perfect.

I met with a menopause doctor. Yes, really a menopause specialist who started me on an estradiol patch 0.01 mG I change weekly, along with nightly vaginal estrogen cream (yummy, yummy!)

 

 


While the vasomotor symptoms of menopause generally improve over time, vaginal symptoms usually worsen and do not improve without treatment. Women may attribute these changes to be a part of normal aging and may not be aware of safe and simple treatments.

Before menopause, estrogen stimulates the exfoliation of vaginal cells. As these cells exfoliate and die, they release large amounts of glycogen. This glycogen is hydrolyzed to glucose and lactobacillus converts the glucose to lactic acid, which helps maintain vaginal pH between 3.5 and 4.5. After menopause, with declining levels of estrogen, this pathway is less active, which may allow postmenopausal pH to increase to the range of 5.0–7.5.

Vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition resulting from a decline in estrogen in the urogenital tissues that affects up to 45% of postmenopausal women.

Source: Reviewing the options for local estrogen treatment of vaginal atrophy The International Journal of Women’s Health: March 2014.

I am now up to 0.05 mG estrogen transdermal patch and also using the vaginal cream 4-5 nights.  And I’m sleeping so soundly.  Sleep with estrogen is way better than Ambien, Benadryl, Sominex, any alcohol, melatonin, chamomile tea, Kava, passion flower, or anything else I’ve tried!

I need to send that menopause doc some flowers! tumblr_inline_nflqf7Wa6Z1qchwzp

As far as the hot flashes and night sweaties, nothing works better than estrogen.  I’ve tried Effexor, Gabapentin (neurontin), black cohosh, Kava, evening primose oil, living on a prayer, and wishful thinking — *NONE of these have been scientifically statistical to work for vasomotor symptoms (VMS).

*Disclaimer: if they work for you, woo hoo!  Count yourself lucky! But you may want to read more here: Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes The North American Menopause Society.

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Wishful thinking … feline style!


Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) associated with menopause can cause significant discomfort and decrease the quality of life for women in the peri-menopausal and post-menopausal stages of life. Hormone therapy (HT) is the mainstay of treatment for menopausal symptoms and is currently the only therapy proven effective for VMS. [my emphasis]

VMS are the most commonly experienced effects of the menopausal transition and include both hot flashes and night sweats. Long-term estrogen depletion can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis as well as cause vaginal and vulvar atrophy. … VMS affect an estimated 60% to 80% of post-menopausal women, but may be experienced by up to 90% of women during the peri-menopausal stage.

Source: Transdermal hormone therapy in postmenopausal women Drug Design, Development & Theory: February 2009.

I learned something else by going to the menopause specialist: estrogen replacement therapy may be a good osteoporosis treatment or preventative measure.  I had no idea!  I’m at high risk for osteoporosis.  Are YOU?

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:

  • Being over age 50 (almost there!)
  • Female sex (last I checked … husband hasn’t told me otherwise!)
  • Menopause (yep, I took the dead ovary test .. my FSH is high!)
  • Family history of osteoporosis (Thanks a lot MOM!)
  • Low body weight / being small or thin (I was thin until perimenopause and I started eating buckets of ice cream … OK pints — quality not quantity) 
  • Broken bones or height loss (I chipped a tooth when I was 9, does that count?)
  • Being white or of Asian or Latino heritage (I’m white and my first boyfriend was from Mexico!)

Controllable Risk Factors:

  • Not getting enough calcium and / or Vitamin D
  • Not eating enough fruits & veggies
  • Getting too much protein, sodium and caffeine  (But NOT coffee specifically) 
  • Having an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Losing weight
  • Taking certain medications like steroids

If you’re approaching menopause, your body will likely alert you to the sudden drop in estrogen with physical signs (such as hot flashes) and psychological changes (including mood swings). The effect on your bones won’t be as obvious, but the loss of estrogen will certainly affect them [my emphasis]. If you have a high risk for osteoporosis and are approaching or have already reached menopause, estrogen replacement therapy may be a good osteoporosis treatment or preventative measure.

Source: Estrogen Replacement Therapy for Osteoporosis Endocrine Web: May 2017.

Osteoporosis Infographic Poster


 

 

 

A lot of non-hysterectomy stuff

… can happen in one month!

If anything, this blog proves that life does and will go on after a hysterectomy.

Dental stuff … have YOU ever had a tooth besides a wisdom tooth (AKA 3rd molar) pulled? I had to have a molar pulled 3 weeks ago.  Sad, sad is me.  Newsflash!  The tooth fairy no longer visits after you’re an adult.

I’m not happy about losing this tooth … this molar number 18 to be specific.  Here’s a previous post about dental pain. If you like to read about pain click that link. If you want to read MY favorite post of this entire blog click that link.  Honestly, the pain I experienced written about in that previous post makes my husband’s kidney stone look like nothing … either that, or I have a lower tolerance to pain!

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And what does the “Dentist of the Year” get? … A plaque!


One of my cats has allergy induced coughing.  Did you know that asthma in cats looks like puking?  It’s true.  I did not know. My cat makes this weird barking cough just like the cat in the video (see below).

My kitty is now doing well after being checked out by the vet, and doesn’t have severe asthma thankfully.  He’s responding well to Zyrtec, an over-the-counter antihistamine (normally for humans, off-label use in cats) I crush in his food at least every other day.  I also have an albuterol inhaler with a spacer to give him a rescue treatment for any of those coughing episodes.

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Cat having an asthma attack:

Check out FELINE ASTHMA. There’s another excellent example of a cat having an asthma attack in that blog post.

 

According to the Cornell University Feline Health Center, up to 5% of cats suffer from feline asthma. Feline asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled particles, called allergens. The immune system of a cat susceptible to allergens will trigger an inflammation of the airways, leading to breathing difficulties.

What are the symptoms of feline asthma? An asthmatic cat can have labored, open-mouthed, or rapid breathing, wheezing, coughing, and even vomiting. Cats with breathing issues will often sit in a crouched position, extending their head and neck forward while coughing or wheezing.

Facts About Feline Asthma / FACE Foundation


My husband had a kidney stone two weeks ago.  Whoa, can that man take a lot of pain!  And did you know that typically speaking, a stone under 5 mm usually doesn’t require surgery? His was 3 mm — I guess he’s an underachiever.  Oh, if only he could push out diamonds! His dad told him to drink beer to pass the stone.  He also recommended watermelon.  My husband opted for the beer.  Sure enough, the next day my husband drank two beers and voila, he gave birth to his stone!  Beer as medicine … who knew?

Beer kidney stones


 

Hot Flashes vs. Hell Flashes

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Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Really I am.

Once upon a time I had hot flashes intermittently throughout my late 30s to late 40s.  It took THREE attempts to get off the combination hormone Estrogen/Progesterone, but I did!  After the third and final attempt, I was hot flash free after just over six weeks.  This final time I stopped hormones my mindset was different.  I embraced the burning ember feeling in my face, the formation of beads of sweat with the burning up sensation at night with cold shivers to follow.  I felt the heat rise and fall, reassuring myself this was a normal process when adjusting to being not so hormone-augmented any longer, hoping this feeling was transient.  The bothersome perimenopausal symptoms slowly faded, with the hot flashes and facial flushing being the last to go.

After this reprieve I decided to have my thyroid tested.  My TSH level (thyroid stimulating hormone) was barely elevated above the normal range of high — I was (still am?) sub-clinically hypothyroid.  I had some hypothyroid symptoms so my general partitioner put me on a low dose of Levothyroxine — 25 mcG to be exact.

For better or for worse, hypothyroidism is largely not under our control, [my emphasis] says Dr. Daniel Einhorn, M.D., an endocrinologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla., who notes the disease is primarily genetic. Family history may be the greatest indicator of troubles ahead, but since so many people are undiagnosed, you could have a family history of thyroid disease and have no clue about it.

Full article

After four weeks of Levothyroxine I felt like I had more energy.  Then just about six weeks into this medication regime I started to have WEIRD hot flashes — more like HELL flashes — periods where it felt like ice was dripping down my neck covering my back and upper arms while simultaneously feeling an inner burn. Nighttime became its own hell.  I couldn’t sleep through the night because I was sweated profusely. I was hot and freezing at the same time.  How was this possible?  I thought maybe these symptoms were from drinking coffee in the daytime and wine at night.  Ha ha ha!  Cute  me and my hypotheses!  These symptoms were different than those related to coming off the hormones.

I thought these problems instead could be from the Levothyroxine. 

If your thyroid is out of control, all of your efforts to curb perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, hair loss, and achieve hormone happiness will be for naught [my emphasis]. What’s more, your symptoms might not be perimenopausal or menopausal at all. So talk to your perimenopause and menopause specialist about your symptoms and when you’re experiencing them. It’s a great first step in determining if your so-called menopausal symptoms are really symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

Ellen Dolgen


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From The Awkward Yeti comic — Check it out!


I broke the scored thyroid tablet in half and tried taking a lower dose daily for four weeks … the chest pain and palpitations stopped with this decreased dose.  Oh, did I forget to mention I was having those too — the chest symptoms?  Oh, and the hyperacusis  … read below:

Individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which do not seem loud to others, such as the noise from running faucet water, riding in a car, walking on leaves, dishwasher, fan on the refrigerator, shuffling papers [husband’s voice, his breathing or even his heart beating … possibly the sound of any new hair growth on his beard as well]. Although all sounds may be perceived as too loud, high frequency sounds may be particularly troublesome [good thing I am not married to a canary!].

By this time I’d had enough experimenting on my body and said “F-you Levothyroxine!” and stopped it.

I am sub-clinically hypothyroid and many people aren’t even medicated at the TSH level I had!  (I don’t recommend anyone stop their medication without consulting a real life professional … just so you know!)

Subclinical hypothyroidism, also referred to as mild thyroid failure, is diagnosed when peripheral thyroid hormone levels are within the normal range, but thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is mildly elevated. It is common, occurring in 3-8% of the population, and carries a risk of progression to overt hypothyroidism of 2-5% per year. There is no absolute consensus on which patients to treat, although there are some clear recommendations.

It took another four weeks until the weird hellish symptoms went away. In the meantime I kept drinking coffee in the daytime and wine at night — you know, a healthy balance!  I’m no longer having hot flashes or night sweats.  Hallelujah!  I feel fine and am off any routine medication.  So happy.  Hormones are just plain weird and their effects REALLY linger.

I have concluded that hot flashes from Levothyroxine’s thyroid-hormone effects are much, much, much worse than any hormonal perimenopausal symptoms — a very interesting comparison and an experience I don’t wish to re-experience.  On an interesting note, the Levothyroxine lowered my cholesterol though!

How Does the Thyroid Cause Cholesterol Problems?

Your body needs thyroid hormones to make cholesterol and to get rid of the cholesterol it doesn’t need. When thyroid hormone levels are low (hypothyroidism), your body doesn’t break down and remove LDL cholesterol as efficiently as usual. LDL cholesterol can then build up in your blood.

Thyroid hormone levels don’t have to be very high to increase cholesterol. Even people with mildly low thyroid levels, called subclinical hypothyroidism, [that’s me!] can have higher than normal LDL cholesterol. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) found that high TSH levels alone can directly raise cholesterol levels, even if thyroid hormone levels aren’t high.

Full article

Why The Connection?

When thyroid hormone levels drop, the liver no longer functions properly and produces excess cholesterol, fatty acids and triglycerides. The liver, which metabolizes cholesterol, also has a key role in thyroid hormone metabolism. In addition, thyroid hormone serum level is very important for normal liver function. The liver in turn metabolizes the thyroid hormones and regulates their effects in the body. What’s more, thyroid dysfunctions are frequently associated with abnormal liver tests.

Another explanation for the thyroid-cholesterol connection is that hypothyroidism slows the body’s ability to process cholesterol. This processing lag occurs thanks to reduction in the number and activity of receptors for the bad LDL cholesterol. These receptors normally help metabolize LDL cholesterol. When the number of receptors decreases, LDL builds up in the bloodstream, increasing both LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Hypothyroidism also significantly changes the metabolism of steroids and other hormones that are made from cholesterol. For example, the hormone progesterone is made from pregnenolone, which in turn is derived from cholesterol. Likewise, vitamin D is produced through the action of ultraviolet irradiation on cholesterol in the skin. Hypothyroidism reduces the conversion of cholesterol into progesterone and vitamin D, contributing to total cholesterol load.

Full article

Let’s just say that stuff quoted above EXPLAINS A LOT!

had vitamin D deficiency.  I am now in the normal range (at least my Vitamin D is) after taking 10,000 units of vitamin D3 daily for three months.  I am eating oatmeal intermittently to help improve my cholesterol.  I simply can’t tolerate the thyroid medication.  I feel OK … but my ankles still have a slightly swollen butterfly appearance on the outer aspects.

Hormones are simply weird and mysterious.  Cats are also mysterious and often weird as well.

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The BEST cure for constipation

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Yep, you read that correctly … the best cure for constipation is revealed here.  No worries because I’m not selling anything!

For years I’ve had intermittent constipation.  After my hysterectomy I thought my constipation was cured … nope.  It was only a temporary reprieve that didn’t last.

Constipation is the most common digestive complaint in the United States, outnumbering all other chronic digestive conditions. ~ Epidemiology of constipation in the U. S., Sonnenberg A. Koch TR., 1989.

And I’d bet constipation is also a huge problem in Canada, England, Australia and other industrialized countries as well — probably all the countries where we have the luxury first world problem of overeating, while complaining, “Waaah, I’m so full!”

If you are from Haiti (or some other country plagued by starvation) (WARNING — the photos on that link are quite graphic … you’ve been warned!) my apologies as I’m not trying to belittle the gluttony vs. hunger problem.

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By the way, eating bananas cause me constipation!  Along with rice and concrete.

Reasons I’ve decided to share this cure about constipation on the blog about hysterectomy:

  • Nearly every woman who has a hysterectomy has constipation sometime in the recovery process.
  • If you’ve had a surgery with anesthesia constipation is not your friend … but it’s not your enema either!
  • Constipation just plain sucks!

Who knew I would be sharing recipes here! My blog is really useful … someone should read it.

I think the French have been hiding this secret dish from us — us meaning the entire world.  I recently discovered shredded carrot salad from one of my very French friends.  I have two (or deux) French friends … both are from France but one sounds very French and looks very French … while the other one only educates me on wine with his accentless accent.

One evening the super French friend was telling me how he makes shredded carrot salad every week for he and his family of four.  I can’t say shredded carrot salad sounded yummy but I was drawn to the mystery of its purported popularity.  Apparently, this is a French thing.  Who knew?  I’ve never been to France and my accentless French friend has never revealed this French secret … I will have to discuss this with him when he’s back from his Caribbean sailing excursion.  And isn’t the word Caribbean odd?  Like I thought for sure it was spelled with two Rs.

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It always struck me as odd The Pirates of the Caribbean DVD has a piracy warning.

On to that shredded carrot recipe that will fix your constipation … I’ve been making it for weeks now and my poops is great!  Is that TMI?!  How many times do I have to remind you that you’re on a hysterectomy blog and anything health and bodywise goes?  Don’t worry, I won’t be posting any photos of my great poops … you’ll just have to take my word.

Grated carrot salad is a favorite dish for French kids. They eat it regularly for school lunch, and it’s popular at home as well. Even adults enjoy it as a starter. As a testament to its popularity, you can even find grated carrot salad pre-packaged in supermarkets.

Carrots are one of the few vegetables that French people regularly eat raw. For some reason, they tend to prefer most of their vegetables cooked.

~ From another WordPress blog

My super French friend didn’t tell me about grated carrot salad to fix my constipation woes … it is only by eating it regularly I discovered this.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic of carrots, but the last time I spoke with him he told me how he makes homemade mayonnaise.  I’m not going there because it sounds like way too much work.

More about carrots …

[R]aw carrots contain unique fibers that bind toxins, particularly excess estrogen, in our intestines while not feeding unhealthy bacteria (similar to what a charcoal supplement would do.)

One study showed that daily consumption of a raw carrot at breakfast for 3 weeks reduced serum cholesterol by 11%, increased fecal bile acid and fat excretion by 50%, and modestly increased stool weight by 25%. This suggests a [positive] change in bacterial flora or metabolism. The changes in serum cholesterol, fecal bile acids, and fat persisted 3 weeks after stopping treatment.” – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition … The effect of raw carrot on serum lipids and colon function.

Additionally, Dr. Ray Peat found women reduced their problematic estrogen levels by the daily consumption of 1 medium size carrot. Less estrogen generally means less inflammation and liver stress, and better thyroid health [my emphasis].

~ From MamaNatural


There are many, many, many variations on this shredded carrot salad.  I keep it simple. The current recipe I like to make is:

Carottes Râpées* or Grated Carrot Salad

  • 8 large carrots (peeled and shredded … use a food processor or you’ll be shredding by hand for a long time!)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (I use light olive oil … I found the extra virgin greenish olive oil was waaaaay too strong tasting)
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey or juice of an orange (OPTIONAL — most of the time I leave this out)
  • 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (you can also use lemon juice, but I like the digestive health bennies of the ACV)
  • 1 bunch of chopped parsley (I usually use dried parsley and this works just fine, and you really can’t overdo the parsley)
  • Salt to taste (be careful not to oversalt … strangely you don’t need much salt)
  • Black pepper to taste

Mix everything together and then put it in your mouth!  Depending on how fast you eat this, you can probably keep the salad up to a week in the fridge.  Also, you can add a spoonful or two of these carrots to soups, mix it in salads or simply eat it straight up!  This carrot salad also goes well with plain yogurt and your digestive system will thank you.

*Do NOT pronounce this as “carrot rapes” … please, please don’t say it like that. People will look at you strangely and certainly won’t want any part of your salad. Say it like this: CLICK HERE.

I love, love, love this recipe … in fact I’m going to go eat some carrot salad now and will be right back!


Should you want to get all Frenchy fancy pants you can make the recipe like this video:


So, the secret is out … let me know if you try it and how your constipation improves.

Here are more tidbits. If you carrot all you will read them:

  • Carrots are a root vegetable that originated in Afghanistan. They were purple, red, white, and yellow, but never orange.
  • Carrots are related to parsley … and also the poisonous water hemlock!

parsley family
n.
A large family of aromatic herbs, the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), characterized by compound leaves and small flowers grouped in umbels, and including vegetables such as carrots, celery, dill, and parsley, spices such as anise, coriander, and cumin, and poisonous plants such as the water hemlocks.

  • A baby carrot isn’t exactly a baby. Baby carrots come from a large carrot that has been rolled over blades and thrown around in a metal cage to be rubbed down to a short, round-ended baby carrot.  WHAT A WASTE!
  • The Ancient Greeks called the carrot a philtron, which translates to “love charm.” They believed the carrot made both men and women more amorous.
  • People first grew carrots as medicine, not food, for a variety of ailments.
  • Cats can eat carrots.

Can cats have carrots? The answer: Yes! Though cats are obligate carnivores, and therefore do not require any fruits or vegetables to meet their nutritional needs, carrots are perfectly (and maybe even somewhat beneficial) safe for cats. Carrots are not at all toxic to cats, so there is nothing to be worried about if your cat has been munching on these beloved root vegetables.

  • Mel Blanc, the voice of cartoon character Bugs Bunny, reportedly did not like carrots.

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You didn’t think I’d leave you high and dry without at least one more cat photo, did you?


2017:Gratitude & Aspirations

There will be NO New Year’s resolutions here … they often make me feel worse.

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WORK:

I continue to be grateful for my job of over 11 i-work-hard-so-my-cats-can-have-a-better-life-170e1years! While my job has had its ups and downs throughout the years, I hope 2017 will bring an excellent coworker (new hire) to the group.  I also hope to eventually accept a minor but significant change in my job duties and that my ego can get over the addition of a mind-numbing task. 2016 made me feel proud in how I handled a overly-sensitive supervisor.  2016 marks the best year in over a decade I have dealt with this person.  I aspire for 2017 to be even better in my interactions with said supervisor.  While I never expect to become buddies with this person, I do hope for the happiest and emotionally healthiest interactions possible.  Wish me luck!


HEALTH:

I am grateful my health is overall good despite a lingering shoulder bursitis and newly diagnosed hypothyroidism … oh, and the mysterious ankle edema.  I aspire to raise my vitamin D, somehow get rid of the ankle swelling and learn how to motivate myself to exercise.  I am grateful  I don’t have TCOS (thoracic outlet syndrome) like I thought I did, but instead have bursitis of the shoulder with rotator cuff injury.  With the rotator cuff injury there is likelihood my condition will improve, whereas the TCOS sounded like a never ending bag of sh*t I would endure perpetuitously.

I am grateful my 2014 hysterectomy has given me a quality of life back that I didn’t have prior to my surgery.

advice-cat


RELATIONSHIPS:

Regarding relationships: family, coworkers, spouse and friends … I aspire to be more assertive, assessing situations while calling out things that just don’t seem right or that I don’t agree with.  Usually, I simply want to get along, go along and don’t speak up.  I am grateful for a wonderful drama-free relationship with my in-laws.  This unto itself is a miracle for most! taco-for-followers

I am grateful for the bloggers I follow for they often make my day and lighten my mood when I’m down (especially the cat blogs).  As for readers of my blog, I am also immensely grateful because your comments mean a lot to me as well as any likes (that star button I’m sure you’ll likely press after reading this) — I love when people reach out!  And while my blog isn’t the most active one on the planet, I aspire to continue to make it a source of interest, support and humor … oh, and a place for cat pics too!

Dear 2017,

Hi!  How are you young one?  Welcome into existence. My aspirations for you include trying to figure out the human race … pretty lofty, huh?  Well, maybe just trying to treat my body better and to figure out how to be more mature in some ways while still having fun.  I don’t have any grand expectations but simply to be happy, be grateful for what I have, purr more, say thank you even more, bounce back sooner from disappointments and eat more licorice all while continuing to love my cats.

Take care! (and please take care of everyone and me too!)

❤ Elizabetcetera


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Why & how I stopped HRT

I never thought I’d be able to stop HRT (hormone replacement therapy).  I tried twice before without success.  My intolerance to hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, headaches and brain fog kept me coming back to hormones the two times I tried to quit.

I had no real idea how any woman managed to stop hormones successfully.


There are a lot of people who simply can’t relate to my life with this challenge.  They include and are probably not limited to:

  • Any woman I know who is not taking and has never taken hormones
  • Those women who have gracefully eased into menopause
  • Any male — definitely my husband, father and father-in-law
  • Those against many, most and / or all medications of all kinds

That list above is about every person I know.  I’m not sure why but it’s important for someone to me and vice versa when I’m experiencing challenging or upsetting experiences in my life.  I’ve had this feeling with innumerable issues — the desire to find others who are experiencing or have experienced what I’m going through.  Many people I talk to say they don’t need anyone else to relate to them; I wish I could be that resilient and nonchalant, but it doesn’t feel natural for me.  Emotionally, I get a lot from others who share their experiences with me and I don’t feel so alone.

acceptance-quote

Intellectually I know exogenous hormones can be detrimental to one’s health for various reasons.  I don’t like being on a medication that has to be taken daily.  It’s interesting what can make the final push to get one to start or stop something.

I hesitated writing this post because I wanted to make sure I was off my hormones (a low dose synthetic estrogen and progesterone combination) before I made the sweeping statement, “I’m off my hormones for good!”  It’s been over two months since I quit the Lo Lo Estrin … and I didn’t exactly quit because I wanted to — not like the other two times I didn’t succeed in stopping — I wanted to stop then simply for the sake of quitting.

I quit HRT because I started to get changes in my body that I had no idea as to what to attribute them to.  I stopped the hormones and any PRN (as needed) medications to see if it would make a difference.  I developed swelling in my ankles and I read many sources stating hormones can contribute to or cause this.

Some other medications can also cause swelling in the legs. These drugs mostly affect the water balance in the body or cause blood vessels to leak fluids.

Medications that can cause edema include:

  • Vasodilators
  • Calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine and amlodipine
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone
  • Steroids, both androgenic and anabolic
  • Diabetes drugs like thiazolidinediones (say that fast with a mouth full of marbles!)
  • Estrogens such as oral contraceptives and replacement hormones  BINGO!
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) and TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants)

I’ve NEVER had any problems with hormones — at least no obvious ones. The only problems I thought about hormones causing were heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cancer.  While peripheral edema can be a side effect of hormones I never put much thought to it.  Sometimes you have to experience adverse effects personally vs. reading them on a list to visceralize what can happen in real life.awareness-then-acceptance

This ankle swelling has done it for me.  As soon as I read this as one of the side effects I went off Lo Lo Estrin cold turkey.  I am scared sh*tless as to what I may have done to my body with various medications over the years.  I’ve never had ankle swelling in my life.  Coupled with the unsightly appearance of lateral swelling to my ankles is a sense of shame and embarrassment that I caused this … making me feel very cautious with whom and when I divulge this problem.

It only took six weeks for me to stop having perimenopausal symptoms from being off the low dose estrogen-progesterone combo.  Those six weeks were no walk in the park though — I got restless sleep, sweated nightly (and daily) and hot flashed constantly.  My mindset was different in this third attempt to quit.  I actually accepted the hot flashes telling myself I’d get used to them, embracing each episode riding it out as each one waxed and waned.  This became my new normal.  And then one night I didn’t have any sweats during my sleep which progressed to a full week without them.  The daytime hot flashes became fewer and fewer to now where I might have one or two brief hot flashes every several days.

Yay for me!  I did it.  I got over the hump with the hot flashes, night sweats, headaches and insomnia.  And because I don’t have the hormonal headaches any more I don’t need the Fioricet (acetaminophen, caffeine and butalbital combo).  However, the swelling to my ankles has not improved and I’m in search of other causes.  ankle-cankles On the upside, my ankles are now easier to shave without a fear of nicks due to their fluffiness and in the process of deciphering the ankle edema mystery, I’ve also successfully kicked hormones to the curb!

Now I have to figure out how to get to the bottom of this ankle edema before I have full on cankles! 


i-need-a-hug-cat


My Proactive Thought for Today!

Since my last post MY PARANOID THOUGHT I have been thinking about ovarian cancer and my ever-increasing girth — the weight gain just in my mid-section.  My legs and arms are still thin — a body shape I like to call the “beetle body” — something I swear I’d never have (or want) … NOT to be confused with the 1988 movie Beetlejuice! 

beetle

Beetle body — skinny legs and plump “torso”.

My earrings and socks still fit without problems! Yay me — no obese earlobes!  While I spent a lot of time today thinking about “how fat I am” — a thought I never used to have. I also thought about this whole get-healthier-weight-loss process as a journey.  It took me a while to pack on this weight and now it’s going to take some time to take it off … too bad I can’t just drink it off!

My proactive thought is patience.

Yep, patience with myself and constant reminders of how I got here and how to get off the BMFT — Belly McFat Train!  Today I had a salad and it actually filled me up without the gluttony guilt.  I was “good” for at least one day.  Tomorrow is around the corner though …

How did I get into the stupor of eating and drinking whatever?

HOW did I get here?!  Because this is not me.  I haven’t lived in this place … this state of mind or stomach.  I have been eating and drinking to assuage stress, tension, tune out and eat everything I’ve never tried before.  It’s like an alien took over my body or I woke up one day experimenting on myself by seeing what the experience of gluttony was.  I can see why people like gluttony though!  Just look at Louis C.K.! (YouTube: Louis CK on “getting fat”).

chicken cartoon gluttony

More fun at Savage Chickens!

Yesterday I thought about wine and how somehow I’ve become Bacchus in female form. Where did I get to the point I thought numbing myself out with food and drink was OK? Is this a mid-life crisis? I don’t feel super depressed or worthless or anything … I don’t feel exactly inspired nor energetic either.  I used to go to yoga and do things … and then Netflix took over my brain.  I’m tired of movies now … seriously.  I cancelled my mail subscription, but the hubby still has streaming online because I’m not quite ready to break off completely yet!  (nor is he)

 

Cat Netflix movies?  Too good to be true?

cat-violent-thrillers Fake Netflix

Wait, wait, wait … if these cat flicks are real then I’ve definitely cancelled my subscription prematurely!  Oh folks … these are only faux feline films!  As the good searchologist I am (not to be confused with Scientologist which I am definitely NOT) these are not legit movies … yet.


BACCHUS!

God of the grape harvest, Bacchus is the liberator, whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care. He is the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre.

Bacchus Cat

Bacchus as a cat … a big one.  And yikes, what is that little boy to the right doing?  Peeing?  This is truly odd art even before the cat was added!

This truly explains a lot … I have become possessed by Bacchus!  Too bad I’m not Catholic or I could have an exorcism.  Oh well … I’ll have to figure things out as usual.  One of the reasons AKA blame-excuses I use with my enchantment of wine is due to the awesome blog Wine Folly!  I MUST tell you not to click on that hyperlink because if you have any liking or interest in wine you won’t make it back to read this post … you’ll be sucked into the awesome vortex of how wine is explained in understandable terms, then you will want some wine, then you will drink some wine and some more … then the double vision will start and alas I will have lost you.  So whatever you do DO NOT CHECK OUT WINE FOLLY!  Please don’t for the love of my blog!  Oh f-cm it … I can’t control what you do online!

I have LOTS of excuses why I don’t & won’t get healthy:

  • My right great toenail is split vertically so I have to wait for that to mend.  (There is a story behind this and I’m not going there … don’t worry, nothing kinky or weird.)
  • I’m still healing emotionally from the “friend” who stood me up for yoga — twice!
  • Yoga reminds me of being “rejected”.
  • I simply need to accept my peri-menopausal, post-hysterectomy body as is.
  • I’ve eaten healthy for so long in the past that I need to try the “other side”.
  • I’ll start working out and getting fit when the majority of people around me do.
  • I’ll get physically fit when I’m truly appreciated by people — ha ha ha ha — that’s the funniest one of all!   (and the MOST delusional)
unicorn delusional humor

Not an actual recent photo of me or my cat.  The unicorn, however, is real.

I’m OK without wine with dinner tonight.  No big deal. Somehow I think I’m European or something … but without all the walking and fresh organic eating … merely the French, Italian & Spanish wine drinking — enough to make someone European, isn’t it?

And now I have decided to give up coffee — not that I drink a lot by any means, but I notice the few times I have coffee I get screaming hunger pains several hours later.  Coffee abstinence will be easy and help me move in the right direction of decreasing my cravings of needing wanting to eat almost continuously! I can finally remove the food bag from around my neck!

horse feed bag morral

A horse’s feed bag — called a morral.  Your new vocabulary word!  Use it 5 times today in a sentence. Or better yet strap one on and eat away!

I dream of what I will eat as I drive home thinking if I should stop by this fancy grocery store or the other one or maybe get take-out … again.  My brain has somehow been highjacked by food obsession.  I SWEAR I have been overtaken by the Goddess equivalent of Bacchus.  I’m not implying I’m a Goddess but I’m not implying I’m not … yet!  There is always hope!

It has been however many days since I wrote my last post and I’ve LOST 6 lbs. (2.7 kG for the Euros out there, and 0.42 stones for all the Druids) due to eating healthy, taking the stairs whenever possible, not drinking any alcohol, eating much more fiber, avoiding added sugar and swigging loads of water.  I’ve always heard in the beginning of weight loss it’s usually mostly water weight that’s lost BUT if I’ve been consuming gobs of water, how could this loss only be water weight?

I got on the scale this morning, and woo hoo, the weight-loss train is coming to my house and picking me up!  Choo choo! Train eat humor

I high-fived the hubby and put on some pants where the buttons weren’t about to bust off. (click on the Louis CK YouTube link for more details on ill-fitting pants)

It’s a journey and I’m taking it!

All aboard!

PS: Just how does this post relate to hysterectomy?  Were any of you severely disappointed realizing this post wasn’t a bonafide hysterectomy post?  If so, please complain in the comments section.  Also, any and all cat comments will be appreciated.


 

 

 

 

 

Ab Flab & blah blah blah

Next month will be my one year hysterectomy anniversary — AKA hysterversary.  

How’s it going, you ask?  Fine, good, great and uneventful.

I was thinking today I’m ecstatic I had that cervix part of the uterus taken out because ever since it’s been goodbye to constipation.  I know you’re thrilled to read about my internal workings!  I’m pleased that Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with codeine) isn’t a monthly regimen anymore and that horrible fatigue has taken a hike.

Here’s a little TMI, R-rated stuff for you … if you’re not at least 18 years-old, stop reading.  (Just being dramatic for attention, it’s not all that and a bag of powdered sexy donuts!)  I was able to be “on top” for the first time … my fear was gone.  I didn’t rip open like the last bag on Earth of Lay’s potato chips (mmmmm, potato chips) … all was well and now that position is back in the repertoire of well … I think you get the picture.  Hubby’s happy.  I’m glad I didn’t break; it took me eleven months to get over the fear of this particular position and I’m quite sure it was safe to do it sooner … but well, like I said, I didn’t want to be busted open with all my surgeon’s good work shredded to bits.

Now, my only mission is stop eating like a lazy sugar-carb addicted slob.  Saying good- bye to candy bars, donuts (powdered ones are the only ones I was eating), cookies, candy bars, cake, coffee latttes, bread, candy bars, Cheetos, and did I mention candy bars?  My belly is a big chubby-wubby and it’s NOT from the hysterectomy folks.  Lots of people women like to blame their weight gain on hysterectomies, but I’m going to let you in on a secret.  My flabby abby is due to poor eating and lack of exercise.  Yep.  It’s true.

carbs cartoon

I’m not saying I’m going to become some fitness guru or ab model, but I gotta do something about this waistline or I’ll be shaving years off my life due to gluttonous eating. Man, eating is fun!  And eating sh*tty bad-for-you food is even funner.

No promises here about future weight loss and a flat ab.  But admitting the problem is the first step … although I think realizing there IS a problem is truly the first step.

How can you admit something without realizing it first?!

No ab photo for you today … maybe a one-year ab photo the end of June.  We’ll see how shy and proud (or not) I feel.  I would also contribute my 12 lb. (ugh, hate to say it aloud and publicly) weight gain is due to my sloth-gluttinism.

According to BODY LOGIC MD:

Estrogen: It is common for estrogen levels to diminish during menopause causing cessation of ovulation. The decreased production of estrogen by the ovaries causes a woman’s body to search for other sources of estrogen. Another source of estrogen is fat cells, so your body learns to convert more calories into fat, in order to increase estrogen production. This means weight gain.

Progesterone: It is also common for progesterone levels to decrease during menopause. Progesterone’s role in weight gain is more deceiving; low levels of the hormone do not actually cause you to gain weight, but instead cause water retention or bloating. This annoying side effect makes you feel heavier and makes your clothes fit tighter.

Testosterone: Testosterone in a women works to build and maintain muscle mass among other things. These muscle cells work to burn calories in your body and cause a higher metabolism. Levels of this hormone decrease during menopause causing the loss of muscle mass and hence result in lower metabolism. This also results in weight gain.

Other Causes: Insulin resistance and stress are also responsible for a woman’s difficulty or inability to experience weight loss during menopause. Insulin resistance occurs when a woman’s body incorrectly converts every calorie into fat; this is an extreme case of estrogen correction. Overtime, your body resists the insulin produced in your blood stream and you therefore experience weight gain.

Stress is also a contributing factor to menopause weight gain. High stress puts your body into panic mode, preventing weight loss. Basically, your body begins to store food since stress hormones, namely high levels of cortisol, are telling your body that you will not be eating again for a long time. These stored calories result in weight gain. Stress hormones and weight gain are a common problem among women.

fuck food cartoon

I know stress and anxiety have been a big part of my weight gain situation.  It’s called the stress of my job.  Actually, it’s not the job itself as I love what I do, but rather the physical bodies I’m surrounded with and I’m not taking about the patients — THEY are the best part of my job. I stress eat … while the powdered donuts, almond Snickers, cafe lattes, bacon, Cheetos, and butter shortbread cookies have only been temporary reprieves from the work angst I’ve been feeling.

So, yep, my desk job with all its stressors gets me munchin’ on all kinds of inappropriate crap because somehow my mind is temporarily distracted by the serotonin preserving-producing pseudo-food I’m loading into my gastro trough.  I’ve never understood emotional eating until now.

emotional eating cartoon

I like this doc’s answer (read below) on the whole hysterectomy-weight gain idea … it’s similar to what my GYN told me:

There is some evidence showing that women tend to gain more weight after hysterectomy than after natural menopause. Why that is, especially since these women still have their ovaries, just isn’t clear.

This weight gain doesn’t appear to be due to any effects from low estrogen/progesterone levels, but, rather, from changes in lifestyle (primarily becoming more sedentary) and because postmenopausal women tend to lose muscle and gain fat. That, in turn, leads to a slowing of your metabolism. Put more simply: Your calorie-burning furnace is operating on medium instead of high.

WEIGHT GAIN after HYSTERECTOMY  ~ Dr. Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD

The wonderful HYSTERSISTERS site says:

[There] is a common misperception about hysterectomies and hormone replacement therapy— that they cause weight gain. Scientific studies do not support this belief. [my emphasis]  Having a hysterectomy doesn’t “make” women gain weight. Taking HRT doesn’t “make” women gain weight. Some women gain weight, some lose weight, and others stay the same.

Dieticians and nutrition scientists agree that in human beings, weight gain and loss is about “calories in versus calories out.” Simply put, if the calories you consume in food and beverages outweigh the calories you expend in exercise and other physical activity, you gain weight.

Funny-Weight-loss-Cartoon-W6302

MY hysterectomy is not to blame for my weight gain. I am.

Sadly, I get all the credit. I’ve also got to move beyond the work-stress blaming excuses and get moving — literally!

D@mn!  Am I going to miss those CHEETOS! 😦 

*DISCLAIMER

D@mn!  Am I going to miss those Cheetos!

D@mn! Am I going to miss those CHEETOS!