Monday, September 17, 2007

Today's Menopause Topic: Hormone Replacement Therapy - Only YOU Can Decide if it's Right for You!

Hello, Laaaaaadies...it's Menopause Madness Monday again! As some of you know, this is where we talk about the wonderful world that is menopause! Woo-hoo. Well, technically speaking, I do all the talking, but I "talk" so much that if you read it out loud, it almost sounds like a real conversation. And listen, all you spring chickens, don't think this discussion isn't for you just because you're not lucky enough to be feeling the effects of this fabulous time of life just yet. Your time will come (now why does that sound so ominous, hmm?) and trust me when I say, it's better to be prepared. Unlike I was. Talk about your blissful ignorance! Wow. I was the poster child for "Menopausal Cluelessness". Not cool. Many of the symptoms of menopause can be scary and confusing and just downright frustrating. The same could be said for treatment options. Take HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for instance. Studies have shown that taking HRT can lead to greater chances of getting cancer. And yet, plenty of woman take them. Why? Well sometimes, it's the right thing to do, despite the cancer angle. How can that be, you ask? I'll tell you...and I am only speaking of my own experience here. If you read the list of symptoms in last week's post, you will have seen this one:

11. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease, feelings of dread, apprehension, doom

Doesn't sound bad enough to risk cancer, right? Wrong. It can be bad enough. A few months ago, I was having a horrible time with anxiety and worse. Every single morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I was consumed with feelings of doom, for lack of a better word. I would lay in bed and wonder what was going to go wrong that day. Who was going to get hurt? What bad news would be coming my way? Which loved one would I lose? Was I going to die? What great catastrophe was waiting right around the corner? Over and over, I'd ask myself these questions. Every single freakin' day. Yeah, try feeling that for days and weeks on end. I thought I was losing my sanity. Let me be clear...this was not depression. I've been depressed before. I've been stressed to the limit before. This was nothing like either of those things. I wasn't thinking of harming myself or anyone else. I was more like "waiting" for something bad to happen and I felt that "the something bad" was inevitable. It was going to happen, period. I had no idea that that was one of the many symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats? Yeah, I'd heard of those. Duh...who hadn't? But this? Not as common. Or not as commonly discussed, anyway. So, after much discussion with my doctor (a lot of which involved visions of me choking the snot out of him for even daring to think a young, vibrant woman such as myself could possibly be suffering from menopause!), we determined that short term use of Hormone Replacement Therapy might be the best course of action for me. Yeah, I'm nervous about cancer. Nervous? I'm scared witless about it! But there is every indication that short term use of HRT won't drastically increase my chances of getting cancer. And there is also every indication that failure to modify my hormone level will lead to certain insanity on my part. Okay, so maybe that doesn't seem so very different from my current level of derangement, but I'm telling you, it would be. During the time of my hormonal madness, I had forgotten how to smile, much less laugh. Do you know how awful that feels? I mean really, what's life without laughter? It's misery, for everyone involved. For you, your family, your friends, your pets, your neighbors, your mailman, the nameless-faceless saps who make the mistake of dialing your phone number...you get the picture, right? For me, HRT is the right thing to do. For me, for now. But, while they've helped with that one particular debilitating symptom, don't go thinking they are the miracle "cure" for all menopause symptoms. They're not. I still get hot flashes (although they aren't as severe) and I still have night sweats occasionally. In fact, I still suffer from quite a few of those fun-filled symptoms, but the important thing for me is that they've helped alleviate the "doom" thing. Now please do not think that I am advocating HRT use. I am not. In fact, I'm telling you straight up - I hope to not use them for more than 18 months, max. And if it weren't for those "doom" feelings, I probably wouldn't be taking them at all. I had to decide what was best for me. I weighed both sides of it and decided, with the help of my doctor, that at this time, these are best for me. Only you can decide what's best for you. I've gotten a little bit of the "oh my (head shake, head shake) you take HRT. You shouldn't do that, my dear. You're going to get cancer" from some well-meaning but uninformed people since I've "come out" about my HRT use. How do I tell them that the alternative would leave me an empty vessel, cancer free or not? I suppose I could tell them that I understand the risks of cancer are not significantly increased with short-term usage, but my saying that won't make them believe it. So I usually end up nodding my head, saying something inane like "oh, yes, I know" (and just how stupid does that sound? Someone says "you're going to get cancer if you use those" and I reply "oh, yes, I know". I feel like at that point in the conversation, I should stop and write DUH! in big letters across my forehead because...damn. Then I often wonder why I'm almost embarrassed to admit I take HRT. I guess because I don't want to look stupid for gambling with cancer. But the truth is, I don't feel I'm gambling with it. I feel like I'm doing the best thing I can to get me through this particular phase of my menopause. How you get through it is totally and completely between you and your doctor! But, even if your doctor is the most wonderful human being on earth with 14 Ph.D's to his/her name, I would still encourage you to do your research on this subject. Knowledge is power, as they say. And it's your body, your mind and your health. Be pro-active and learn all you can! And get off my back about me talking hormones! It's none of your bizwich (that means "business" in hipster-speak). Hey! I'm menopausal - did you think I would get through an entire post of this size without saying something snarky? P-u-l-l-l-l-ease!

Now on to something else real quick like...I want to leave you today with a piece of advice for anybody who lives with someone suffering through menopause. This is important, people, so listen up. When a menopausal woman walks into a room and says "It's hot", do not under any circumstances, reply in an off-hand, unthinking and uncaring tone of voice "nah, it's not hot in here" because I can assure you it is indeed hot and your stupid, careless remark just caused the temperatures to reach near boiling. If you doubt the validity of this claim, feel free to contact my husband. I guarantee you he'll set you straight.

To Pam: thank you for your last comment regarding last week's Menopause Monday post - you made my day!!!! Oh okay, I'm lying...you did better than that! You made my week, my month and maybe even my year! :)

25 comments:

  1. Oh, you have my sympathy. My mom said the happiest day of her life was when she finished menopause. It is a bear, and I dread it already. My only prayer is that I don’t have teenage kids surrounding me, nagging me and making me insane.... like I did to my mom. Poor woman.

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  2. Kari-I'd do exactly the same thing as you, it would be a case of 'give me the tablets now!!!!' The doom feeling sounds awful-nobody should have to put up with that day in, day out! And as you say, it affects everybody around you too! Really they should bring out a training manual for husbands who live with menopause sufferers, full of useful tips like the one you mentioned! Wait, that could be 'the book' lol! Naturally, it would involve a global perspective, starting with you interviewing people in the U.K....

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  3. Yeah for Menopause Mondays! In May I was having a very rough time with all of that stuff. I started to take some stuff from the health food store called Evening Primrose oil and some extra vitamin B stuff. It did seem to help either in my mind or for real, either way I didn't care as long as I stopped crying at the Clinique counter. LOL

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  4. The docs just don't even want to discuss HRT with me! My sister had breast cancer and I'm high risk apparently...I have to say...knock on wood...my symptoms are not bad enough to warrent holding a gun to their head and saying "Hand it over doc" yet...
    Every woman has to do what is right for them...

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  5. Glad you stopped by my neighborhood, I can't wait to read future discussion on Menopause Monday. I have been enjoying(did I say enjoying....oh no!)Menopause for 5 years now, symptoms have slowed but......... Enough about that, you asked about Steed Pond, it is 3 blocks from my home here in Utah. It is named after the farmer who owned a great deal of land in our city. There is now an elementary school, 3 regulation size softball fields, 4 tennis courts and a walking trail surrounding the pond. Come on over and have dinner with us anytime!

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  6. Congratulations for doing what's medically right for you. I've just started down the menopause road. I go from being weepy to forgetting my dog's name to wanting to jump over the counter at the bank and smack the teller who has just asked me for identification even though I've been banking there for the last 30 years. Sigh. Even though your post was a serious one, you totally cracked me up. I'll be adding you to my Monday schedule.

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  7. Not to get all medical on you... but there are studies about using Effexor to treat symptoms of menopause. For those who can't or won't take hormones.
    Kari~ I look forward to getting your take on Menopause... and life in general. You, my dear, are on top of things!
    I am looking forward to next Monday~ if I don't forget.

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  8. OMG Kari--as I'm sitting here reading today's update on the MENthing--the phone rang & I had a severe, SEVERE case of #12--mental confusion!!!! I am at home, have been for about an hour, have changed clothes, and, as I'm reading, the phone rang--I immediately looked at the caller ID and answered with MY WORK ANSWER!!! It was a Dr's office here in town & the gal cracked up. Realizing what I had done, (after I looked around at the house, wondering when I came home!!!) I could do nothing but hee haw!!! And this has been going on all day--my boss thinks I'm loco today--Whew, am I glad to be, oh crap, where am I!!! I sit around like an old lady in the nursing home, staring into space---yeah, wasn't prepared for this symptom--

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  9. I have just dragged myself off the couch to come in and see what is going on in the world of MEN...you know, MENopause, MENtal illess, and I find you have taken over the world, so I guess it is safe for me to crawl back to the couch, since you have everything under control. Not that I ever doubted you. I'm thinking of nominating you for the Nobel Peace Prize you have helped so many crazy...no, not crazy...what's the word I'm looking for? So many people needing to understand the basic problem they are suffering through...I notice men have a lot to do with it...ok, see you tomorrow...back to my pity couch

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  10. If it's any consolation, most any type of meds can cause cancer so what is one supposed to do!! Sigh. I say do like you did...do what's right for YOU. I'm on medication for chronic anxiety (been taking it for a year now) which I've had for 20 years and it's the first time a med has helped me so much...I'm living my life again and can go out instead of being stuck in the house with agoraphobia. Oh, I'm SO with you about someone saying it's NOT hot when you say it IS hot!!! lol When my husband gets in the car it's to find the air conditioning on full blast coming right at him...that's when he knows I've been driving! lol When I'm in the car with him and he says he's freezing while I'm sweating I tell him "tough, put a coat on"!! xox

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  11. Mmmmmmm, and now I make you *hate* me. How you ask? By truthfully telling you that I simply stopped having periods and had one hot flash and that was that.

    *Yes Virginia,* it can happen that way.

    But hugs to you, as you are certainly not having my experience.

    Mari-Nanci

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  12. Kari...Thank you...Thank you...Thank you!!! for posting the symptoms...I know I have seen them before...I mean eeee-gads...I'm living through most of them as we speak...but I guess I hadn't realized how much the anxiety thing plays a part...but after reading your post about feeling the gloom and doom...the anxiety and the feeling of something bad that could happend at any minute...helped me so much...I have been feeling panicked now for a few weeks...always afraid of something...not knowing what...but knowing I feel like absolute "poop" thinking that way...I know I'm suppose to turn all my fears into faith by presenting them to God...but honestly this "anxiety" thing has a mind of it's own...and I'm pretty sure it comes straight from the devil! So again....thank you for the heads up...now I know I don't have to panic or increase my Xanax...well, unless I need to! You're a great cheerleader for us out here who are experiencing the same thing...you are so honest and forthcoming with all you feel and your symptoms...that well...it almost makes me FEEL better...until the next hot flash...read my latest post...from my time in Colorado...you'll note I did not have one hot flash while away...so what is that about???

    Thanks again to my heavenly hormonal; habitually hot; half-crazed with the change; hanging with me hoping things get better; hormone treating; hell of a woman!!! Does that sound like good HRT or what??? Oh! and speaking of HRT...you have done your homework...so you are doing what is right for you...and with a limited time to take it you will do great!! And what medicine doesn't cause cancer...let me know...and I will faint...just fall down...dead to the world...FAINT! Oh...and what's worse worrying about cancer (which most of us will do at some time or another) or worrying about getting "shanked" in prison b/c we have committed harry carrie (kari...ha...funny aren't I?) on an innocent bystander one day...someone who most probably disaggreed about how "HOT" it is...or the Doctor that tried to tell us all will be alright in a short time...Meanwhile, just hang in there...yea...you gotta know that's a man!! Not man bashing mind you...I just know there is NO WAY in God's Green Earth that a man can understand ANY of what we are going through...anymore than I can understand "why" they always flinch, grab, and turn whenever they see a sharp, blunt or knee-highed object coming toward them!!

    blessings...
    "T"

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  13. I am SO NOT looking forward to menopause!

    It's been knocking at my door!

    I keep shouting "NOT BY THE HAIRS ON MY CHINNY CHIN CHIN"!

    BUT......I don't think that's working!

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  14. Kari, you are HILARIOUS birthday girl! And I want those necklaces! And I want to paint my door. I've already bought the blue paint, but now I want to paint it red! CUTE WREATH! Take those HRT drugs! yes yes yes. I've suffered anxiety and I can't even IMAGINE dealing with those feelings of doom. They are more dangerous than cancer, in my opinion. They have treatments for cancer. lol. OHIO? I loved that post! Untrained nagging. ha. I love it. And as always I laughed my head off as I caught up on your blog. And I hope you left your sign up. If there could be a visual warning before a telemarketer phoned my house, they would see a similar sign! DON'T CALL ME. I'M NOT ANSWERING YOU!!! It's discourteous to assume that people want your product. Just leave a flyer ... so there can be a pile of trash, like on my door. We get like ten a day.
    Glad your birthday was greater than great, glad you are getting some help with the menopause symptoms, and I never think you are growling or terrible. I always think you are funny. Oh .. . and I can relate to the need to buy garland! I have a bannister for Pete's sake. It calls to me all the way from home when I am in Michael's "decorate me! I would look fabulous in that!" ha.
    OK. Almost 2 a.m. But I just HAD to catch up on your blog! I've missed it SO MUCH. My child custody mediation date is Thursday. Wish me luck!

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  15. kari
    You do what you need to do to help you through this time in your life.I too had feelings of impending doom as part of my symtoms, but not as severe as yours.I took evening primrose and it helped The point is you do what you need to do to get you through it.although washing loads of sweaty sheets aint much fun!

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  16. Okay, I'm not really one of the Spring Chickens you're talking about (just turned 39), but I'm not to Menopause yet. But...I can see it on the horizon. I figure it will hit about the time Sydney becomes a teenager. Won't THAT be fun???

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  17. I started suffering from 'pre menopause' symptoms 10 years ago. Someone clued me into all the hormones that are injected into the meat we eat. Since I started using Organic or all natural meat (with no injected hormones) I've had less symptoms. Now, fast forward 10 years, I'm having symptoms again, but so far nothing bad enough to harm anyone.

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  18. ..."which involved visions of me choking the snot out of him for even daring to think a young, vibrant woman such as myself could possibly be suffering from menopause!"...

    Priceless!

    Look, the way I see it, when your brain chemicals start mimicing blow fish venom, do whatever you gotta do to make it go away.

    I wish you guys would find something that works, already, before IIIII have to go through it!

    Go out and try everything, Kari, and tell us if it worked~ HRT, acupuncture, getting your chakras balanced, industrial-strength Midol, slathering peanut butter all over your body~~ I don't care what it is, just FIND THE CURE FOR ME, before I have to go through it!!!!

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  19. Oh crumbs! Hope I don't need all that for a while yet!!

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  20. Just stopping by to lend my support for whatever decision you make!

    Pat

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  21. maybe four more years for that :-(

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  22. I can say its hot in here and they Shiver tothe thermastat:>

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  23. Kari...I just want to say you are one HELL of a woman...and that is not just my delusional menopausal mind speaking. I think you are just pretty durned spiffy. Yup.

    Now I think I will go and sit in front of the open refrigerator door and then wonder why I am doing that. A mind is a terrible thing to uh, uh, what was I saying?
    Is it hot in here??

    Hugs,
    Sue

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  24. Wow! Great discussion. It's so nice someone is not afraid to talk about all this. You are young to be going through this but I guess the time comes when it comes! Keep up the good work. Stephanie

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