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


 

 

 

3 Years Ago Today

Apparently I started this blog three years ago.  WordPress reminded me it was my anniversary.  I’m glad I’m not in a relationship with someone real to be responsible to remember this date because I really blew it.

Hey!  Let’s recap the three years … briefly.  Really.  I have to get back to my useless internet search of stupid stuff.

  • Glad I had my hysterectomy.  No regrets.
  • Today … kind of got teary-eyed today when I saw a baby that “could” have been mine — in other words, she could have passed for my offspring.  It was short-lived as I have not forgotten how much fun life is without a little being or beings in tow to constantly be responsible for.  However, I do have my cats and husband so there is some responsibility there.  Oh, and my job — please don’t let me go there.  It’s been a bundle of stress lately to the point I’ve had chest pain.  Again, let me NOT go there.
  • I have subscribed to a whole bunch of blogs over these three years.  Reading on WordPress IS my new hobby.  Most of the blogs I read are cat blogs … OK, I really just look at the photos.
  • I’m still having intermittent hot flashes. I blame my diet for this: wine, coffee and some sweets.  I suppose I want the coffee, wine and chocolate MORE than not having hot flashes.  Maybe one day I will get over these minor vices, but until I will suffer through my intermittent flushing, flashes and sweating. Oi vey.  Poor me.
  • I’m moving soon and will have to put off my eventual cat (or other subject, but probably not) blog.  I’m stockpiling photos of my little furbears!
  • My dad turns 80 this year.  I have nothing more to say about that.  He is healthy and happy and that’s all I could really ask for.
  • I have an anxiety feeling that started with spring.  I wonder if it will go away with summer?  The recent stress of my job has not helped this arena one bit.  I am being silent-bullied at work.  I didn’t know ignoring someone was a form of bullying.  Apparently, it is.  Check out being ignored as a bullying tactic (Bully Free at Work)I feel embarrassed to admit that I am being ignored by a couple people at work.  Anyway, I’m trying to deal with this the best I can.  Ugh.
  • Today is the first day I honestly considered getting a tattoo and possibly had some insight as to at least one reason someone might get inked — to put personal words and/or a symbol to remind themselves of something that means quite a bit to them … like a permanent post-it note reminder!  I thought about three tattoos I’d like: 1. the “evil eye” … sometimes I feel some people are jealous of me and I’d like to have a particular tattoo to distract them, 2. some sort of symbol of Karma symbol or a phrase about Karma — something to remind me what comes around goes around, like that of what’s happening to me and to remind myself that my actions, positive and negative, come around back to me as well, and, 3. the word “reciprocity” — I often give to people who do not give back and I need to stop this; I need to pause giving to those beings who reciprocate kindness and actions that I do, to stop giving little gifts to people who are unable to say thank you or give in kind and to simply be friendly but not overextending myself.  But honestly, I’m too chicken to get something permanent placed on my body. I doubt I’ll ever get a tattoo.

Did you know?  A belief in the evil eye is widespread on every continent.

The Evil Eye (ayin ha-ra) is often defined as the ability to bring about evil results by a malicious gaze. In most cultures the belief is prevalent that some human beings have the power of sending destructive rays, so to speak, in order to cause harm to those of whom they are envious or otherwise dislike.

Evil Eye in Judaism

Hamsa evil eye tattoo

NOT a photo of me … or one of my cats either!  I so own some Hamsa earrings & necklace and an evil eye bracelet — my very first item purchased from Etsy. 

I’m not really superstitious.  Really.  I don’t believe in ghosts or angels or spells or speaking in tongues or seances or heaven or hell or reincarnation or astral projection … part of me feels silly even thinking about things like Karma and the evil eye.

Did you know? The relationship of karma to causality is a central motif in all schools of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist thought.

The theory of karma as causality holds that (1) executed actions of an individual affects the individual and the life he or she lives, and (2) the intentions of an individual affects the individual and the life he or she lives. Disinterested actions, or unintentional actions do not have the same positive or negative karmic effect, as interested and intentional actions.

Wikipedia on Karma

Karma quote Wayne Dyer

Hmmm … I better behave better!

Did you know? To really take inventory of the quality of your friendships with the goal of eliminating any non-reciprocal or toxic friends, it means we value ourselves enough to believe we deserve better, we deserve to be treated the way we treat others.  The importance of reciprocal relationships.

It’s important to take an inventory of our relationships and determine if there is an overall reciprocity. Healthy relationships deserve it. Those that don’t have it, might need to be re-evaluated.

TheOpenedBox.com

reciprocity quote

I got a lot of account closing to do!

My take away from from the bullying article referenced above is be friendly, firm, but not familiar, and in the meantime, look to serve, be helpful, and trusted with all you come into contact with – this will help to secure your connection with … [all relationships].

Wow.  I didn’t mean to write so much.  Have a great day!  And of course, see below for the cat photo you’ve been waiting for!

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Happy Easter!  You can tell this was an old photo because this photo was taken before the days of safety helmets.


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.

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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! 


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Liebster Lobster!

I’m finally getting around to those two Liebster awards I was nominated for.  When I got the first one from A Girl Named Wanda I thought it was the lobster award.  That’s how my brain read that anyway.  So, I thought, wow, somehow I’m going to get a lobster in the mail and as I read more I discovered I was only seeing what I wanted to see.

Thank you Wanda even if it wasn’t quite the nom I was imagining and salivating over!

The other blogger who nominated me was Jenna of Put A Date on It! 

Thank you Jenna … but you were going to be one of the people I nominated for the Liebster award and well, now I have one less person to choose from!  Thanks a lot! 😉

What the heck is the Liebster award and why me?!  liebster

Basically Liebster translates to dearest, beloved or favorite in German … not lobster.  The word Lobster in German is hummer … hmmm … that’s interesting.  The Liebster is an award with no judges and one can merely accept or not accept.  The award encourages new bloggers to get to know each other and keep writing … it’s also sort of like a chain-letter, not to be confused with a pyramid scheme though!

Apparently there are several sets of rules with this award, so I’ll make a hybrid of my own, since I’m both flexible and incorrigible like that.  There is also an honorary Liebster award with no strings attached by simply accepting and not having to do the homework … I mean, answer questions.  

Here are the rules for this award:

Upon receipt of the award one is to:

  1. Link back to the blogger who gave it.
  2. Paste the award on the blog.
  3. Choose 5 blogs to pass this award to (they must have fewer than 200 followers).
  4. Let the recipients know about their nomination by leaving a comment on their blogs.
  5. Answer & create 11 questions.

So … to pay-it-forward the blogs I have chosen to award the Leibster are:

Bloomin’ Uterus (because she puts out informative stuff about endometriosis)

The Reluctant Cat Lady (because a cat is involved sometimes and she’s inspirational)

Classy Cat in Columbus (because the cat photos are beautiful, as well as all the others photos too)

The Broken Ovary (because the humor and writing are worth reading — PLEASE WRITE MORE!)

Raves & Rants (because some of her rants are really good … who doesn’t rant from time to time?!)

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 Due to being nominated by two people I’m answering a hybrid of their questions.

1) Cat or dog person, and why? Cat person, duh.  If you read my blog at all you’ll see that I ❤ cats.  While I could have imagined my life without a uterus, I can never imagine my life without cats. cat thing

Cats because:

  • soft, very soft fur
  • cute, cute faces
  • easy to pick up and carry around
  • love their meowing voices
  • they are relatively low maintenance
  • hearing them purr makes me smile
  • obviously I like to be the needy one in the relationship

2) Name three things that inspire your writings or pictures. My personal experiences, a general sense of humor, and a desire to share information.

3) Why do you blog? I blog because I love to write whether it be letters, responses on other websites or email.  I need an outlet for all these over-flowing words from my brain.  I blog in the hopes that sharing my experience will help others … even if only in some tiny way … and possibly in ways I hadn’t even intended!

4) What can always make you smile?  My little cat kneading and suckling on a blanket. There’s no way I can frown or scowl through that!

5) How did you come back from a low point in your life? I read as many books on the subject as possible, I scoured the internet for all the information I could find, I cried my heart out until I could cry no more, I started an online support group, saw a therapist and talked to anyone who I trusted that would listen non-judgmentally and offer genuine emotional support.

6) What is that one quality you look for most in a friend?  Loyalty.

7) Give one word to describe your blog.  Descriptive.

8) How did you start with blogging? I initially wanted to write about a more controversial subject but decided utility was more important.  I wanted to share my experience since I couldn’t find anyone describing it like I wanted to learn about it — I became that person.

9) Worst habit?  So embarrassed to admit this, but picking my lips.  Sometimes I’ve been able to go months without doing this and then I just break, get bored or nervous and I’ve got to  pick.  I try to get up and put chapstick on so I won’t do this.  Ugh, hate this habit.

10) Recently discovered new food interest.  OMG — Vietnamese crepes!  Why didn’t anyone tell me these were so damn good!  I want one now.

banh xeo 

11) What do you think you’ll be doing a year from now? I really, really, really don’t know.  I may start another blog in addition to this one.  I simply imagine status quo … steady life, steady work and loving my cats every day.

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If any of those nominated choose not to participate I completely understand. But if a choice is made to accept the award please answer the eleven questions above (you can create some of your own if you simply can’t answer all of the ones above).

And I have to send out BIG thank-yous to everyone who subscribes to (follows) my blog in this short time period of five months!  I also thank so many of you who are reading this from around the globe.

❤ Hugs … Elizabetcetera

*DISCLAIMER

CAT LIFE