A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, October 27, 2013

PeriWHAT???????? Navigating This New, Unexpected, and Uncertain Time of My Life!

     *****MEN -  if you don't want to read about issues related to a woman's monthly friend please stop reading NOW!  :)  WOMEN - The purpose of this blog post is not to scare anyone, just to raise awareness.  It's ok to talk about hormonal imbalances ladies, this is a fact of life!  We don't need to suffer in silence.*****

     Before October 7th, 2013 I had this very inaccurate view of what I thought happened in Menopause. First of all, I thought Menopause was something that happened to women when they reached their 50's and 60's.  I am 39 (for another 67 days).  So naturally, this was something I didn't need to concern myself with for at LEAST 10 more years, right?  I seriously thought Menopause consisted of occasional hot flashes along with some missed periods.  Then, all of a sudden it was all over, and that was that!  Simple? Yes!  Naive?  Absolutely! I mentioned my former views about Menopause to some women who have gone/are going thru it and they laughed!  Yeah, I should know by now that things are rarely as easy as they appear to be from the outside looking in! LOL 

     So naturally, when my monthly friend came to visit just 2 weeks after the last friend showed up, I thought I was dying.  Cuz, you know, that WAS the most logical conclusion after all! :) LOL :P  We went to Immediate Care at the South Bend Clinic that evening. I was pulled aside by a Nurse and told that they could see me, but that there was probably nothing they could do for me.  Her next words will stick with me forever! She said "Honey, this is normal for a woman your age".  Huh??? WHAT??  This sure as heck was NOT normal for me!!!!  I am only 39 years old!! In all of my 25.5 years of having this monthly visitor, she was like clock work and within a few days of her expected arrival! Her visits were very predictable! She certainly never appeared 2 weeks early!!! That afternoon I had already called my OBGYN's Office and made an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner, but I couldn't get in to see her for another 9 days. No one seemed to think this was an emergency, except for me!  Although my Husband was quite concerned as well!
     In the meantime, I did some online research and learned about "Perimenopause", which is something that can begin anytime between the ages of 35 and 55. Why hadn't I been warned about this?  Upon describing my situation to some girlfriends, I realized that they had never heard of this happening either.  I hadn't been the only one kept in the dark! They all assumed, as I did, that as you neared menopause, your periods would be fewer and farther between, not that they could come more often and could sometimes WAY overstay their welcome. They all said they too would be concerned if this happened to them! 

I was relieved to find this blog site: http://www.theperimenopauseblog.com/.  The slogan is "Yes, It's Real & No, You're not going Crazy!" Phew!!!! :) That's good to know! :)

You may be asking What IS Perimenopause? 
Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in a woman's 30s or even earlier. (WebMD.com).

Here are 35 Possible Symptoms of Perimenopause (These symptoms were taken from Healthline.com, written by Magnolia Miller on Feb 23rd, 2012):
  • Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings, sudden tears
  • Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
  • Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Crashing fatigue
  • Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
  • Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
  • Disturbing memory lapses
  • Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence
  • Itchy, crawly skin
  • Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
  • Increased tension in muscles
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache change: increase or decrease
  • Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
  • Sudden bouts of bloat
  • Depression
  • Exacerbation of existing conditions
  • Increase in allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
  • Dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
  • Changes in body odor
  • Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Gum problems, increased bleeding
  • Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
  • Osteoporosis (after several years)
  • Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
  • Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing,' buzzing etc.
"The hallmark of perimenopause is the erratic, unpredictable symptoms which literally seem to come out of nowhere. As a result, women often feel confused, powerless, and overwhelmed which, unfortunately, only exacerbates the symptoms and intensifies the feelings of losing control. 
If you are having a difficult time coping with the symptoms of perimenopause, it is very important that you understand it is not a sign of mental weakness or a lack of self-control.  And though it may seem as if the symptoms will never end, they do.  And if you’re still feeling crazy after that, just remember what George Carlin said, “It’s because men are stupid.”  (Magnolia Miller - Healthline.com - June 18, 2012)

     I went to see the Nurse Practitioner the morning of October 16th.  My special visitor lingered on and was still there when I went to see her.  At this point, it was day 10 of her visit.  The NP said they could do an endometrial biopsy to rule out uterine cancer, they could do an ultrasound, or we could wait and see what next month would bring. Wait and see what next month would bring???  I wanted to end this months visit first!!! :)  I chose to have the endometrial biopsy done to be proactive and/or to ease my peace of mind. She also did an exam, and said everything was as it should be, and that there were no fibroids or anything. I was told they would call me with the results in 5 days or so.  Thankfully, just two days later I was told the results of the endometrial biopsy were normal.  Phew! I did not have Uterine Cancer.  Praise Jesus! :) That was a huge relief!  I was still concerned though, I mean my friend was STILL visiting and it was day 12.  What was going on?

     The next week I was exhausted and it was heavier than it had ever been.  I felt weak and it was a struggle just to get thru my normal days of work.  My NP had me get a blood test on Tuesday evening, so they could see if I was anemic.  My NP Appointment was also moved up from Thursday to Wednesday.  When I went to my Appointment my friend had now been visiting for 17 days, yep you read that right, SEVENTEEN DAYS!!!!  My NP told me I was not anemic.  When I asked her if she thought I was in Perimenopause she said she thought it was probably too early for that, i.e. that I was too young.  She did suggest I start taking a low dose birth control pill to even out my hormones and therefore make my period go away. It was around this time that my theme song became the song by "The Band Perry" which is called "All I Want To Be Is DONE"! LOL Jonathan laughed at me when I started singing it and calling it my new theme song after I heard it performed on The Voice last week! :)

     Before this point in my life, I had always been against taking a birth control pill for myself.  However, this now became a completely medical decision for me. It was affecting my energy and my daily life.  My hormones were obviously completely out of whack!  With all of the research I have done over the past 3 weeks, I am now convinced that I have started the "Perimenopause" phase of my life.  I still am surprised that I had never heard of this before and was so ignorant about this phase of a woman's life.  Why isn't it discussed?  Why don't older women give younger women the heads up about this? If they did, would we even believe it? Probably not because it's just so CRAZY!  LOL  Some women (like my Mother, sail thru Menopause).  She NEVER had any of the symptoms I am experiencing, therefore she couldn't warn me about them!

      I obviously don't have all of the answers, but I do know that I want to raise Perimenopause awareness and warn those my age and younger of things that could  affect them in the future.  Granted, I am on the young end for it to be happening to me.  From what I read it seems 45 is the average age for the onset of Perimenopause.  But, I am a woman and I know my body and I know that something has definitely changed! I've learned that perimenopause can start earlier in women who have never been pregnant.  I have never been pregnant.  I also have learned that the age at which a woman's Mother went thru Menopause is a determining factor in predicting when you might go thru Menopause. My Mom was completely done at 47.  Therefore it stands to reason, that with my Mom going thru Menopause earlier than the average, along with the fact that I have never been pregnant, that I would go thru it sooner than the majority of my peers.  FYI:  It isn't considered Menopause until a woman has gone 12 months without a period.  "The average age of a woman having her last period, menopause, is 51. But, some women have their last period in their forties, and some have it later in their fifties. - See more at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause".

     I hope and pray that "Lo Loestrin Fe" will help to balance out my hormones. What I've learned from my research about Perimenopause is that it is a very unpredictable and uncertain time in a woman's life.  That's exactly how I feel!  It's quite unsettling, although not nearly as unsettling now that I've realized this is "normal", whatever that is! LOL :) I have a feeling, that like it or not, I'm in for the hormonal ride of my life!  I can't change it, so I might as well roll with it!  In case you were wondering, my visitor finally left (for now at least, after her 19/20 day unwelcomed visit!).  I'm so blessed to have such a caring, wonderful, supportive, and encouraging Husband by my side!

     Oh, and one more thing.  I've read that Perimenopause is like Puberty in reverse!  Oh JOY of all JOYS! LOL :)  Women, we don't need to suffer in silence!  It's nothing to be ashamed of!  It's ok to talk about our female issues!  Let's warn the next generation! If something changes with your body, get it checked out!  It's always good to rule out the worst case scenarios, but I just wanted to make you aware that if something like what happened to me, happens to you, it really could be "Normal", as CRAZY as that may seem! :)