Perimenopausal and other Earthly delights

StillRockinMay 22, 2011

Hi Ladies, I am new to this forum and found it because I was desperately searching the web for new coping strategy ideas. I am 44. No period in 6 months. Rt. ovary and tube removed two years ago, along w/ uterine lining, and implants in bladder for Endometriosis. Year later...emergency surgery for ruptured appendix, that apparently had been perforated for "at least several weeks" according to surgeon. Twas a miracle I survived, but I did, however, I have never really obtained my pre-surgical health status. Have adhesions in my uterus and in abdominal cavity, which can make eating a challenge. I struggle to maintain 115 lbs. after losing to about 102. Have recently discovered that I have 3 bulging discs and 4 benign spinal column vascular tumors. Then, started having balance issues, and this "all-over body pain" several of you have described. Was referred to a neurologist, and brain MRI showed several small "white foci" spots or lesions on my brain, possibly suggesting MS. But nerve tests and blood markers were normal. So, I am basically in a holding pattern until they run the tests again in a couple of months. I am having radical night sweats, hot flashes during the day, mood swings, foggy brain, phantom burning sensations all over my body and face, chronic migraine headaches, and skin irritations. I think that the hormonal stuff, fibromyalgia, and MS type symptoms are related somehow, and I have been reading and trying a variety of things that I will share in hopes it helps some of you. The big challenge is to get up every day, accomplish something, keep moving the body, and eat healthy! Even with all your efforts, it seems like there are just days when nothing seems to work. I have a pain mgmt. doc that gives me Tramadol and Vicodin. I take on average two of each a day, but take time off from the drugs btwn. prescriptions refills to help my bowels adjust and not become too dependent on meds, and to totally feel my body and try new ways to deal w/ symptoms. I do not sleep well and usually give up about pre-dawn. I used to medicate and try to get a little more sleep, but decided to try another approach and seize the day. I hobble out of bed right out into the garden where I meditate, pick snails off my plants, prune, meditate, talk out-loud to God, give thanks, and sometimes feel my grandmother (an avid life-long gardener, now dead over 20 years) near me. And, I remember her little words of wisdom about growing things, life and literature. A routine has become very important, to my self-esteem and sanity. From there, I tend to my house in some way to make a tidy and happy environment for myself and my family. Some days I have to lay down again by mid-morning. If I do, I try to do some laying down type of easy movement to stretch and do some phys. therapy exercises for back and pelvic floor. I do NOT watch TV at all, and taking that mindless chatter and background noise helped a lot! I listen to NPR or books on tape. In bed, and especially w/ headaches, I use a sleep mask to cut out all light. I am blessed to have a great hard-working partner and a small business that allows me to work from home, and often from bed. Sitting and typing for more than an hour or so does not work for me. To keep moving, I return to the garden a few times a day, even for a few minutes to breathe deeply. I do a health shake every day with the following stuff: probiotic yogurt, fresh fruit/berries/ etc., liquid Vitamin B12 (given initially as injections from Neuro. doc for deficiency, which really helped w/ brain fog and some of the neuropathy),liquid D3, liquid multi-vitamin, protein powder, flax meal, flax oil, chia seeds. Just found some chrondroitin w/ no fish product to add to the mix. Depending on status of bowels I adjust ingredients, and if I can't tolerate it, I make fresh vegetable broths or chicken broth. For anxiety, I use Valerian Root sometimes or Tension Tamer Tea. I have Ambien for sleep sometimes, but really try not to make that a habit either. Any more exercise is tricky as it seems to have a severe back-lash in terms of pain and fatigue. I live on an extreme hill-side so let the garden gently guide me up and down those stairs. But, it is hard, and there are days that the joints and feet just throb. Arnica is a good rub, and Capsaicin is a good rub - just keep it away from eyes and your bum and any open cuts, because it will burn. The Cap. helps w/ the aching nerve-type pain better than Arnica, and some studies suggest that its benefit accumulates over time and can really promote healing. Because my mom's mother died at 45 of ovarian cancer, and my mom has had breast cancer and a lot of skin cancers, HRT is not advised. I am quite fair and have had some pre-melanomas remove from my legs. One grew back and had to be removed 3 times, but so far no actual malignancies. Have also had some lumps in my breast. Have had core biopsy and needle aspiration, and while these cells are "highly differentiated" and termed "pre-cancer" none of those have been malignant. I totally understand the mind-space that possible frightening possible diagnosis can mean, so I try to keep a balance between doing diligence on my own behalf to be able to speak to docs. But, it is important to not claim your diagnosis or possible diagnosis as an identity. Learned that the hard way. I have also tried to learn new things - how to make a Wordpress blog, how to Skype, how to edit little movies, and help my nephew write songs and edit the tracks using GarageBand. It is important not to let a doc refuse you pain meds for chronic pain. It is important not to lose yourself in pain meds. It is important to have periods where you feel the pain and find ways to distract yourself to build tolerance and hopefully new neuropathways in your brain. I wrote a feature article about Neurofeedback a few years ago and am going to try that soon. It is brain training that involves real-time EEG. You look at a screen and try to think in such a way that accomplishes a task - like controlling a graduated bar that bounces up and down. When you do it, a bell rings. It worked wonders with a friend who had a terrible car accident and was in a coma, and lost short term memory. It also worked wonders w/ a niece w/ learning disabilities. I visit the chiropractor and have a massage when I can, but the expense is prohibitive for an ongoing routine there. So sometimes a hot bath, sometimes a vigorous rub on myself where I can reach...The other hard fact I've had to realize is that my immediate family loves me and want to understand, but they get tired of hearing my complaints. I try to find other outlets and reserve my best for them. They know, and I am not talking about being a silent martyr, but care-taking is hard too. It can make people feel trapped and frustrated and even resentful. I have seen chronic illness destroy relationships. Great right? Yet another thing to try to cope with, but it is the truth, and if any of you have ever done like a pain management seminar, that topic will come up. Sometimes days I cry a little, and I go ahead and let it out when I am alone, but when it's done, I pet my animals, pick myself up, dust myself off, pluck snails in the garden, smell earth and sky, and just keep going. Life is precious, and even in this state, I find that there is so much joy and beauty to be found, and taking ownership of all I can, taking responsibility for making life work somehow...makes it easier. I can feel proud of myself most of the time. This experience has made me a lot wiser and more compassionate. And, if I am about to really blow my top, a little marijuana doesn't hurt either. Not too much. Just a little. Sparks the appetite, calms the nerves, sometimes inspires creativity, sometimes helps sleep. Discovered it when my partner's father was going through chemotherapy. Worked great for him too. Have smoked it and used it in a tea. So, that's my story. Hope it helps someone. I will keep on "casting a wide net," and if I find things that work, even for a little while, because nothing seems to be the consistent cure-all, I will share. - Blessings and peace to you all

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