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For some, hot flashes are no laughing matter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I haven't blogged directly about this issue yet. I've only alluded to it. The reason for my reticence is that I don't really know how to discuss it, or with whom. Thatís because most people donít consider hot flashes a serious issue. For most people, they're something to joke about; so people who suffer with them tend to be highly selective about with whom they will share their grief, lest they be scoffed at. It also gives you a label and permanently alters the way people look at you.
My first few hot flashes happened in the early part of 2008. They were no big deal; they were few and very far between. I had no way of knowing how horrible my life would soon become. By December, my hot flashes were so severe, so debilitating, my life was turned upside down. I couldnít sleep, couldnít function, and couldnít leave home.
If youíve never experienced hot flashes, itís difficult to imagine how hellish they can be; and even if you know what they feel like, you probably DONíT know what MINE feel like. If I had to describe them, Iíd tell you to imagine being burned alive. Like literally ROASTING in a huge oven.
Dressing, applying makeup, or fixing my hair is futile; Iíll only be drenched in sweat, sitting in front of a cyclone fan, wrapped in a towel soon anyway. EVEN HEAVILY SEDATED, the hot flashes wake me up several times every hour- they always seem to hit just as I finally start to nod off from the last one. Iím too exhausted to find words- as I told my husband this morning, I feel as if I am being tortured to death in the slowest and most prolonged manner possible. I lie down at night on bath towels spread over the bed sheets, and go through over 2 quarts of water overnight to replenish what I lose through sweat. I generally refill my glass in the middle of the night, sometimes guzzling in front of the fridge; my naked, clammy body shivering violently after each bout.
Iíve read that about 75% of women experience hot flashes at some point. Of those, 10-15% of women experience ďsevereĒ hot flashes, like me. Reading the words these women have written online is heartbreaking. What we all have in common is a sense of medical abandonment: weíre told to tough it out, and nothing can be done, and increasing our HRT is too dangerous. Is it not dangerous that we get behind the wheel of our cars everyday, despite the fact that we have barely slept in months? I am a zombie. We all feel that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. The perception we encounter is that ĎTheyíre only hot flashes- big deal. Youíre a hypochondriac. Theyíll pass.í
I have two public speaking presentations to deliver in the next two days. I have yet to BEGIN work on the one I will deliver tomorrow morning. I feel like the walking dead.
Last week, I had 6 speaking engagements, and had to make an excuse to bow out of the last two. I have a 20+ page report to write in the next 3 weeks. And three final exams.

I have NO IDEA what to do. Last week, my doctor ran out of ideas- NOW what?? There is no medical specialty, and from what I can gather, not much research looking into hot flashes and treatments- Iím sure thatís because they just arenít seen as a very big deal (and men generally donít get them). I feel like hopeless and defeated, like I am

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NOTBLUSHING 4/22/2010 3:30PM

    "would it work to SLEEP IN A TUB OF COOL WATER"?
Are you %$#@ KIDDING ME??!
This is exactly why I haven't blogged about it.
The lack of understanding is mind boggling.

Hot flashes have ZERO to do with how warm or cold I feel the rest of the time. It is not even 50 degrees outside- ALL my bedroom windows are open- my bedroom is damn near freezing-
and yes, I wear COTTON UNDERWEAR.
NONE OF THESE THINGS has an effect on hot flashes, except to make me shiver violently when I am soaked in sweat.

I have doubled and tripled my HRT. I'm currently playing musical doctors, HOPING somebody can end this nightmare, and PRAYING my insurance doesn't get cancelled (AGAIN). In the meantime, I'm DELIRIOUS from chronic sleep deprivation.
This is why women don't talk about it!!!

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MBSHAZZER 4/22/2010 10:11AM

    NB, I am so sorry you are going through this. I suffer from hot flashes / night sweats about once a month (no idea why), but no where near the scale that you do. For me, it's disruptive, uncomfortable and unsettling - I can only imagine how bad yours must be. I agree that it must be frustrating on top of everything else to not be taken seriously. I hope you can find some relief soon.

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PHEBESS 4/22/2010 10:05AM

    So sorry you're going through this, and yes, I totally understand - though mine aren't that severe.

Couple of thoughts - has your dr tried other kinds of HRT? Like Ogen (which is soy based, not horse based). Maybe your body is reacting to something in the Premarin type stuff?

Have you experimented with eating (or not eating) different things? I find caffeine and sugar increase my flashes (which tend to come with a sugar-low feeling too) and drinking tea instead of coffee has made a huge difference.

Would it work to sleep in a tub of coolish water? Probably not the safest thing, but it keeps you cooled off. With one of those neck pillow things. I realize this is weird, but I've dozed off in the tub when soaking, and it's amazing how comfortable it really is. Water cools your body something like 4 times more than air, so this is worth trying. Just don't fill the tub too full, because you really don't want to slump down into the water and inhale - not good, LOL.

Also - all cotton undies - they breathe more and that helps keep you cooler. (Another reason I tend to wear all natural fibers in general - and woven fabrics are cooler than knits, even if way less convenient.)

Again, so sorry you're suffering like this - and I know the summer weather can exacerbate the situation. Good luck! I hope you/the dr figures out something that helps!!!!!

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JLPNURSE 4/22/2010 7:04AM

    I wish I had advice or suggestions that would help you but I have none. I am so sorry you are going through this.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SECRETFUN 4/21/2010 11:13PM

  the naturopath is a good idea. I feel for you hon. There actually is some hot flash research going on, but not much around you that I know of. It is hard to do. Really hard, and I think many times they ignore the issues of body fat and dietary fat.

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GWTRIKER 4/21/2010 10:10PM

    I had a MALE doctor tell me the mood swings etc associated with menopause was just bad manners!! I was very lucky, I would have "warm surges" and very few hot flashes. The funniest one was when I was driving a young man to work in winter and something ahead stopped traffic suddenly. All of a sudden I heated up and fogged up my entire car!! I said "sorry Brian" and rolled my window down. It was embarrassing but I survived--LOL

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DAWNWS1 4/21/2010 9:57PM

    Unfortunately, I don't have anything much to offer except to let you know I'm so sorry you're going through something so difficult. Maybe it's time to see another doctor (if you haven't already, and make sure she's an older female!) Have you considered seeing a naturopath? I realize things are very severe in your case, but maybe there are natural remedies that might at least lessen some of the symptoms in conjunction with your HRT? Acupuncture even? Don't know, just throwing out some ideas that popped into my head.

I've only ever had 1 or 2 (brought on by birth control pills, I'm not in menopause yet), but my mom had bad ones (not like yours, but still miserable) only AFTER starting HRT. Has any adjustment been made in your HRT at all??? I know you've probably already thought of all these things, but thought I'd mention them just in case. emoticon

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People would rather complain or pay lip service

Thursday, April 08, 2010

...than lift a finger.
Some of you know that I spend a great deal of time on volunteer work in my city. And when I say work, make no mistake- it is heavy labor. It is hard and it is filthy. And I already mentioned that I'm a volunteer.
Okay, so, I am seated on a local government committee too. I worked long and hard to be on the committee. Not because I like politics, or am well suited to them, but because it is extremely important to me that I do everything I can to accomplish some specific community goals:
A) beautiful, healthy urban trees
B) clean urban neighborhoods
So that is what motivates me. I like clean, shady streets.
That's not to say I'm a selfless person- I know that clean, shady streets will very positively impact my property value, and that filthy, blighted neighborhoods with no tree canopy are called GHETTOES, and there goes my investment as a homeowner.
So I care for trees, and I plant trees, and I clean up. This year more than ever.
In doing so, this year I have met many more of my neighbors. Many have thanked me, which is nice. And many have talked about helping.
TALKED about helping.
I know that I'm the only person who can do the tree stuff, and I'm very exacting in my standards, and I definitely want to do it alone. But I'm not the only person with the unique skill set it takes to put trash into a can. So, I find it kind of appalling when one of my neighbors says something like 'let me know if you need any help' or 'come to the Civic League meeting, you'll find all kinds of people willing to volunteer'. The word that comes to mind is DISINGENUOUS.
I want to say, 'well gee, thanks for inviting me to my Civic League to locate volunteers, but I'll be busy volunteering.'
Point being, if you have to be persuaded, are you really a volunteer?
Somehow, *I* managed to notice the litter on the ground without traisping to a community meeting and hearing someone make the breakthrough announcement that it would be nice if litter were confined to trash cans, and seeing if there were any likeminded folks in attendance.
In the past two weeks, I have been asked by three different people to come to the meeting and speak about trees. Today, the President of the League, knowing me solely from my cleanup efforts, sent me an email suggesting I publicly grill another speaker- who represents the city- about trash collection policies during the meeting. Wonderful! You want me to be your pawn? This person also seemed to be chiding me for suggesting that residents working together can solve simple problems (like litter removal) by themselves, much faster than the city can; and accused me of asking her boyfriend to use his pickup truck for landfill runs- a complete fallacy. He came up with that idea on his own.
So, I understand that my community would rather complain about litter than pick up litter. But I'm surprised that I'd be seen as a traitor for doing it myself, and a radical for suggesting we should clean up our own neighborhood.

I have cleaned up a huge, huge amount of crap from the alleyway behind my house in the past 10 days, including enormous carpet rolls. I even bought a new saw to make some large items manageable.
There are still two discarded mattresses back there. I was going to leave those for the city to pick up, but now I'm so incensed by that email I'm going to load them on my truck tomorrow morning and haul them to the dump. I'm going to load up every last scrap and spend all day cleaning that alley. Then on Saturday, I'm going to go to that meeting, and when the President asks me to talk to the city representative about all the trash in the alleyway, I'm going to smile sweetly and say "What trash?"

The ugly politics of finger-pointing is why I haven't been to any Civic League meetings in the past ten years. While they're all congregating to complain, I'll be out volunteering, and working to make my community a better place.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MBSHAZZER 4/10/2010 12:04PM

    No good deed goes unpunished!I can totally relate to this blog... I am on my condominium association board and that is another thankless job. No one wants to help or attend meetings but they sure can complain!

I like your plan for the meeting! :D

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_UMAMI_ 4/8/2010 9:56PM

    You are a one-woman locomotive! I hope they see the light...
before it hits 'em.


(p.s. I HATE litter and litterers. Gold medal for your efforts!)

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PHEBESS 4/8/2010 9:02PM

    Oh yeah, everyone is good at pointing out the problems and making suggestions - and very few people are good about just DOING it! That's part of what makes you so unique!

And yeah, I'd be ready to wring a few necks....

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SECRETFUN 4/8/2010 8:09PM

  Honey, you would be a good engineer. ID problem and get stuff done to solve problem. Not plan meeting to discuss policy to coordinate solving problem. Clean up, write down what you did, how long it took to do it, and then divide by the number of people in the room. For the amount of time they spend in the meeting, what could they be doing? Some things will be fixed time (like your tree work, or a single drive to the dump), but not everything. Do you need two trips to the dump Friday? If so then ask how many people here have a pick up? OK, that is something that could be cut in half time wise. I bet much of what you do tomorrow, even if it is 6-8-15 hours of labor, could be done by half the people you will find in that room during the entire time they are in that room Saturday.

So I am glad you are going to the meeting and I would love to hear you say exactly what you have done and ask your neighbors what they have done, then do something like we did which was thank the county for allowing residents (but not businesses) to access the dump for free and for expanding hours greatly on holidays and weekends so individuals could do such home and community efforts and take the refuge to the transfer station. They have loads of recycling and helpful personnel, and we just thanked them sincerely and told everyone they should be signed up for their email and twitter updates. Lay it on thick but with really useful information. They can still talk and whatever, but if they are planning a July 4th holiday, why not a park clean up? This year we found out about our neighborhood clean up late, it conflicted with another volunteer thing we were doing, but that does not mean I can't pick up trash when I am out for a walk.

Mattresses...heavy trash pickup. I think that goes to the neighbors, not the city. Not the city's problem.

Good luck, and take care.

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OBXFIREGUY 4/8/2010 7:43PM

    It's not my fault you want to do all that work. Maybe your neighbor did something to make you pick it up! emoticon

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I don't know HOW I got sore abs

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I haven't been doing any ab work at all!
I HAVE been pruning trees, and riding my bike, and trying to jog more, but I haven't been doing sit-ups, crunches, planks, or anything like that. I've barely dug a single hole this season. I have been sawing limbs at an INSANE pace; I had no idea I was using my abdominals for this. And really, no matter how many sit ups I do, and no matter how hard I TRY, it is just about impossible for me to MAKE my abs hurt. They just never seem to be fazed, so I'm pretty happy about the hurt! I only wish it would be my troublesome UPPER abs, rather than the lower abs, that were getting hit!

And while I'm on the subject of bike riding- the weather has been great, so I've been riding quite a bit more than usual. I've been to the video store, the grocery, and to school.
Last Friday, I slept late, and asked my spouse to inflate the tires for me while I got dressed. I left the house in a panic, him holding open the front door so I could mount up and hit the road flying. He waved to me as I zoomed away.
Then, on Saturday, something amazing happened- he asked me to go for a bike ride with him. I was stunned. I stared at him momentarily, scanning his face for the punchline, but detected only sincerity. I leapt up enthusiastically and off we went, riding around happily for the next hour. We would have gone longer had my rear tire not exploded loudly, so we got in some walking as well.
On Sunday, I pushed my luck, and asked him to walk with me to Blockbuster to return a movie. He has been walking with me and the dog more frequently, but the walk I was suggesting was more than double our usual distance. To my delight, he agreed- and furthermore, he even helped me saw up scrap wood and load it into the dumpster when we came home. Now, this is not a physical stretch for me, but for HIM, well, this is major physical labor.
I asked him at one point what made him want to go for a bike ride, after so many years (I bought us both bikes as an anniversary gift, seven or eight years ago, and that was the last time he rode). He said that it was watching me leave for school, and the swish of air blowing back my hair as I hit the road. Go figure!
Whatever the reason, I'm glad he was inspired.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MBSHAZZER 4/10/2010 12:02PM

    WHOOO!!! Awesome! I'm glad you are such an inspiration to your hubs!

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JLPNURSE 4/7/2010 7:03AM

    It is probably one of those core muscles that sit-ups don't even hit. And we use abs for everything. Hope it's better soon.

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_UMAMI_ 4/6/2010 11:47PM

    So sweet! My husband has managed to get skinny*, while I struggle. But he's also really supportive. I just wish he could be a workout buddy, and he's so not into working out. He's Uber Geek.

(Hmmm...maybe I should let my hair grow out and swish it as I ride off on my Gary Fisher mountain bike, which he covets....).

*skinny w/ lost muscles. Hellooo....he should know I like guys with some muscles?!

Great post, and good to see some Happy.
(Abs? What are abs? Still seeking these elusive abs.)

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SECRETFUN 4/6/2010 10:28PM

  If you are correctly using your body and holding yourself (many people do not) you should be calling on your abs, so good for you! And great about DH and the together trips, too!

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MINIMOE1 4/6/2010 3:28PM

    Yep, nothing like sawing limbs to wake up those abs. Mine would prefer to keep sleeping, but ....
Great that your spouse is getting active too.

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PHEBESS 4/6/2010 2:35PM

    That is so cute, that your hair blowing as you rode off made him want to ride off into the sunset with you!!!!!! so romantic!!!!

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MEGANC1988 4/6/2010 1:33PM

    Your abs are your core! Doing pretty much anything, if you're using proper form, you're working your abs. Way to go!

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Make mine a double. No wait, I've already tried that....

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This is a picture of me, in my bed, trying to sleep, every night.

I've got to go back to the doctor.
The symptoms have returned, and they're BAD.
Very, very bad.
I'm so apprehensive about seeing her again, because I'm just not convinced she "gets" it. The first time, she thought I needed antidepressants, and I had to refuse them vigorously to get her to prescribe what I knew I needed. Well, it's been over a year, and my condition is further along... I need to increase my dose. I DON'T need her to warn me about what MIGHT happen if she increases the dose; I'm fully aware of what MIGHT happen. I've read about it, I've heard about it (even from complete strangers). The thing is, I cannot live with what IS happening. I am living a nightmare every day. I have no choice but to accept the risks. I can't sleep. I can't function. I need to explain this to my physician, who doesn't understand. Perhaps one day, she will understand- she will have more patients like me... or she will endure it herself... but maybe not. Most people don't have anything NEAR this level of hellishness, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MBSHAZZER 4/10/2010 12:00PM

    Ugh, sorry to hear you are not finding any relief. Maybe a different doctor would get it?

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JLPNURSE 4/4/2010 10:27AM

    I'm not sure what the picture means, but it doesn't look pleasant. I hope you get relief soon. Changing doctors sounds like it may be a good idea.

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SECRETFUN 4/3/2010 11:12PM

  Good luck, hon. I hope you find some relief soon.

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SECRETFUN 4/3/2010 11:12PM

  Good luck, hon. I hope you find some relief soon.

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_UMAMI_ 4/3/2010 9:52PM

    I'm an almost-45-year-old female, and wondering if this is something I'll be relating to soon....

I hope you find some peace, and that your doctor is there on your behalf.


ETA: I kept thinking about this, because my husband is on anti-depressants, and I think so often it's about a prescription, rather than what's pertinent to the patient. My husband, (a totally loveable weird chemical mix) got some scripts that were completely wrong for him ten years ago. Now, on the right "mix", he's awesome. I'm still scared that he needs meds daily, but he's such an amazing being on them, I just figure that's his dark chocolate (my metaphor): he needs this to be himself.

Comment edited on: 4/4/2010 1:13:04 AM

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Why is it SO EASY to make the scale go HIGHER...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

... and such a STRUGGLE to get it LOWER? I swear, I can bust my tush for 3 weeks to earn a 5 lb loss, but just ONE week of slacking off will yield a number that is 5 lbs HIGHER.
I tell you, it's EFFORTLESS. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Enough complaining for now.
So, Saturday I did my annual 10k here in town. I'm very proud to say, I was 47 seconds faster this year than I was last year.
Not much, but I'll take it.
Just before the finish line, I spotted a friend in the crowd and called out to him. After the race, I texted him and asked him who he was looking for. He said his girlfriend was participating. Well, I thought that it was GREAT the she was in the race, but rather sad that HE was not... especially because he has put on a lot of weight in the past few years, and was looking as heavy as I've ever seen him.
I asked what kind of time his girlfriend pulled. He gave me the number, and quickly added that MY time was 4 minutes faster than hers, swelling my head a bit. I didn't even know that the times had been posted, but he sent me a link to a website that had all the official times. Wow.

Back to work now- I'm buried. It never fails that every year my business goes from zero to swamped in the space of two weeks, as soon as the weather breaks and the daffodils pop up.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 3/30/2010 7:21PM

    Yah on your improved time! Weight loss is hard but you are strong!

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PHEBESS 3/30/2010 7:16PM

    Congrats on the better time!

And, yeah, well, the lbs love to come back, don't they? Like guests you want to leave - they come and stay and stay and stay.

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LSCHULER72 3/30/2010 9:41AM

    Gravity just plain bites, doesn't it?

Way to go on your 10K!!

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MBSHAZZER 3/30/2010 9:36AM

    WHOOOO!!! Nice job on the 10k!

Work - feast or famine, right? Glad to hear your business is doing well though!

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