Breast Cancer Awareness

October 20, 2009

breast-cancer-ribbon-stained-glass-alana-schmittLive one day at a time, and make it a masterpiece!

Breast cancer is one of my most insidious worries.  Ever since my Mom got cancer when I was in junior high, I have worried a lot about this!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has touched all of our lives, and it’s time to stop it in it’s tracks!

Here’s a few short but very informative videos about detecting it early and SURVIVING!


Estrogen at menopause, good or bad for you?

October 14, 2009

Researchers seem to go back and forth on this one.  I’m sticking to my low dose bio-identical estrogen patch for now:

Hormones may ward off dementia

By JEFF DONN, Associated Press

BOSTON – New research suggests that hormone therapy taken soon after menopause may help protect against the mental decline of dementia, even though it raises that risk in elderly women.

The study adds yet another frustrating twist to the back-and-forth findings about whether hormone-replacement therapy protects against diseases of aging. Though the accepted answer has been “no” in recent years, the latest evidence suggests that timing of treatments may be key, at least for heart attacks and now for dementia.

“When you give it may be very important,” said Dr. Sam Gandy, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

The new findings were released Wednesday in Boston at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Experts cautioned that they are preliminary.

Lead researcher Dr. Victor Henderson, of Stanford University, agreed that it’s too soon to consider putting younger women back on hormones to forestall dementia.

For decades, women routinely took hormones to treat the hot flashes of menopause and to ward off ailments of aging. Then, in 2002, a milestone study showed higher risks of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer with estrogen-progestin treatments. Estrogen-only pills were later also linked to stroke.

As a result, millions of women gave up the pills, and government experts advised women to use them only for severe menopause symptoms and to take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.

But in recent weeks, mounting evidence has emerged that women who take such drugs closer to menopause may get more benefit or confront less risk than women who start taking them later. An analysis this month indicated the drugs do not raise the risk of heart attack for women ages 50-to-59, and they seem to survive longer with the drug.

The latest findings focused on 7,153 women in an offshoot study of the huge Women’s Health Initiative that tracked breast cancer and heart disease. The cognitive study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by Wyeth, which sells hormone treatments.

Previous research showed that women who take hormones after age 65 experience a 75 percent increased risk of dementia over other women.

But this study found the opposite for women who took hormones before age 65: Dementia risk was reduced by nearly half.

Dementia developed in 22 of 2,228 women — or only 1 percent — who took hormones at the earlier time, but in 84 of 4,925 who did not — or 1.7 percent. The apparent protective effect was especially strong for Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia.

“It’s an intriguing and biologically plausible finding … but it needs to be confirmed,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who helped research the Women’s Health Initiative.

She said replacement hormones may preserve blood circulation in the brain.

Amy Ferris shares her confessions from a midlife crisis: Marrying George Clooney

October 12, 2009

One of the BEST benefits of being the Midlife Crisis Queen is being automatically mailed a few of the latest books published about midlife.

MarryingGeorgeClooneyBeing a librarian from way back, I ALWAYS appreciate a good read, and Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a midlife crisis is just that!

Any book about midlife crisis that can make you laugh and cry at the same time, is well worth reading.

From her love affair with Ambien to her midnight musings as she cruises the internet, Amy Ferris captures the deeper turmoil and confusion that only menopause can bring.

At first I thought her book would only be a light and sometimes hilarious romp through Amy’s own version of a midlife crisis with great lines like, “I no longer have a waistline!” and her compulsive need to Google old boyfriends and lovers.  She definitely kept me on my toes and laughing through her discussions about being a control freak even AFTER her own death.

But at the end of the book, Amy graciously shares her last days with her mother before she died.  No more touching words have been written about the passing of a beloved parent.

Exploring Your Dark Side

June 16, 2009

dark side of the moon small blog

Hot flashes are God’s way of preparing you for hell!

One advantage to menopause is the opportunity it provides to explore your dark side.

My whole life I have been conditioned to be a nice girl.  Even when I’ve felt angry as hell, I have tended to still hold it in and “play nice.”

Granted if everyone plays nice, the world is an easier place to deal with.  I certainly understand why most of us were taught not to act on every angry impulse we allow ourselves to feel.

HOWEVER, when menopause hits, playing nice flies out the window.  It suddenly isn’t even an option.  It sometimes feels like all those decades of playing nice when I really didn’t feel that way, have finally culminated in my own private nuclear explosion inside my head!

This is the time we are offered the opportunity to, as some psychologists call it, explore our dark side.  It isn’t a bad thing to finally check out the whole other side of your personality, the part that you never showed to anyone for fear that they wouldn’t ever speak to you again.  Face it, this all comes out regularly in our dreams.

Trust me, we all have one, and the more vehemently you resist acknowledging it, the darker it is!  It’s a bit like learning how to release decades of pent up anger.  It’s there and it wants to have a voice!  That is why menopause is so convenient.  It’s the perfect excuse to let her rip!

Unfortunately our dark side emerges right about the same time as we begin losing our ability to remember things, especially if you’ve had a major brain injury recently like I have.  Oh well, perhaps that is also fortunate.  You can release lots of pent up anger and then forget all about the fact it ever happened!

Soy Estrogen Patches and Candida Overgrowth

May 9, 2009

What I have learned from having a Vivelle Dot estrogen patch for the past two years is that the source of their estrogen is either soy or yams, most likely soy because it is cheaper. When I contacted the manufacturer Novartis, they said soy is their main source of estrogen for their patches.  My doctor says there are no patches made specifically with yams instead of soy.

Because I regularly show an allergic reaction to soy, I suspected that my patch was giving me problems, but I now believe my many problems with itchy sores and infections on my feet in the past five months had nothing to do with my estrogen patch, and everything to do with my bad diet which included a fair amount of sugar and alcohol, not to mention antacid and antibiotics which led to the perfect storm of a serious Candida infestation in my intestines.

candida-albicans for blogEveryone is different, but I now suspect most of my diverse health issues over the past few decades were Candida related.

Candida albicans occurs naturally in our gut, but only grows out of control when we take antibiotics, anti-ulcer drugs and antacids, make poor dietary choices with nutritional deficiencies, or experience impaired immunity.  I would venture a guess that most of us have suffered at least one of these factors in the past few years.

If we have Candida overgrowth and do not attend to it, it can lead to intestinal lining damage which leads to leaky gut syndrome, insufficient intestinal secretions, liver dysfunction, cravings for carbohydrates-rich foods or yeast, and even death. 

Many serious health problems can be caused by Candida overgrowth like:

diabetes, adrenal burnout, hormonal imbalances (e.g. estrogen dominance), allergies, fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), eczema, hives, psoriasis, poor memory, numbness, burning, tingling, insomnia, muscle aches, swelling joints, muscle weakness, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gas, vaginal itching or burning, impotence, loss of sexual desire, menstrual irregularities, infertility, anxiety or crying, cold hands or chills, shaking or irritability when hungry, mood swings, headaches, dizziness or loss of balance, chronic rashes or hives, food sensitivity, nasal congestion or post nasal drip, chronic bronchitis, rash or blisters in the mouth, and

thrush: A disease caused by the fungus Candida albicans characterized by small whitish eruptions on the mouth, throat, and tongue.

The Candida bacteria grows happily in our gut until some combination of events causes it to start to grow out of control.  When an overgrowth occurs,  it makes it more difficult for our body to derive proper nutrition from the foods we eat.  Then it eventually starts hitching rides to others parts of our body through our bloodstream to cause ancillary rashes and infections like my recent problem with my toes or my ongoing case of bronchitis which returns almost every winter.

These infections don’t go away until the underlying overgrowth is dealt with, usually by starving it of it’s major food source: sugars of all types.  In addition, we must build up the good bacteria in our gut by consuming water without chlorine, acidophilus, unsweetened live culture yogurt, coconut oil, and green tea.

BTW, to starve the Candida overgrowth of it’s sugars you must eliminate the obvious sweets in your diet as well as all caffeine, alcohol, white flour and rice, white and sweet potatoes, all yeast and wheat-based breads, all fruits and fruit juices for a while and most dairy products.  Stevia and Xylitol are the only artificial sweeteners allowed on the anti-Candida diet.  Bread, fruit and dairy can be added back in later after the overgrowth has subsided.

Cold Turkey Menopause!

April 8, 2009

Hot flashes are God’s way of preparing you for hell!

Sorry I haven’t been writing much lately, I guess I’ve been struck with a serious case of “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

I’ve been totally distracted with my continuing nightmare of a foot infection that will not DIE!  I’ve now seen or consulted with seven medical doctors, none of whom have been the least bit helpful.  I figure it must be time to turn to alternatively trained professionals like naturopaths and dieticians, etc.

If you read my post from March 31st you know I cut out my estrogen patch a few weeks ago because I suspected that that could be the culprit.  No such luck!  If anything my foot problems have gotten worse since I gave up my patch.

One thing IS for sure, my attitude has gone to hell without my regular estrogen fix!  After just a couple weeks without it I cry too easily, but worse I want to KILL ALMOST EVERYONE I meet!  I’ve decided to call it KILL-People-itis!  I drive down the street just hoping someone will get in my way so I can mow them down!  Take away my estrogen and I become a very scary person!  I am reminded of the post “MURDER AND MENOPAUSE” I ran last year…read it, it’s a hoot!

My brain also feels like Swiss cheese.  I cannot remember anything, like why I’m writing this blog!!!  I move constantly from one room to another forgetting why I even went there in the first place.  I’ve been watching lots of movies like I did after my brain injury.  That way if I forget something it doesn’t really matter.  I can always rewind!

Oh if we could only rewind our lives and try to figure out why we’ve done all the ridiculous and stupid things we seem to remember in midlife!  How was I ever as silly as I was at age 20?  But menopause conveniently helps us forget everything at once.

I’ll tell you one thing!  Now that I’m convinced that my foot problem is not estrogen related, I’m slapping on a new patch right now….

Allergies, Food Habits and Personal Change

March 31, 2009

I have been struggling with a health issue for months now!  It started in mid-December with itchy toes, which turned into nasty bubbles of infection within a day.  A quick trip to Urgent Care revealed that I had developed a staph infection on my toes.  I started on some serious antibiotics immediately.  I had no idea what caused my infection to happen.

Everyone said go get tested for diabetes, so I did.  There was no diabetes, but the infections kept coming even after a strong course of antibiotics.  So then I went to get a dermatologist’s opinion.  She said she thought it was no longer an infection but had morphed into a strange type of eczema: dyshidrotic which only effects the feet and hands and apparently has no cure.

I could not accept that I would be itchy on my feet and hands forever with no end in sight!  Then I remembered my estrogen patches which I had raised the dosage of in mid-December.  I called Novartis, the makers of Vivelle Dot patches and asked them what the source of their estrogen was and guess what?  It is SOY, the thing I am very allergic to.

I found out about my soy allergy in my mid-40’s when I started eating everything soy to combat perimenopause with phytoestrogens.  I broke out in full body hives, itchy, weeping sores starting on the inside of my arms and spreading almost everywhere!  It was miserable and took three different types of doctors to finally figure it out.  After I quit eating soy, the hives still did not go away for a full 20 days afterwards!

I found out a little over a week ago that I’ve been mainlining soy into my blood stream for months and then wondering why my body doesn’t like it!  So I stopped the patch and slowly the itches are receding.

I’ve also launched a study into how people change.  I heard about a woman who is writing a book about human change.  She has requested that participants in her study change one thing in their lives for 30 days and then report back to her about their experiences.

I have decided to keep a complete food diary for 30 days to gain more awareness of what I eat, and how that might be impacting my body.  I’ve started reading every food label to see if it contains even the slightest amount of soy and then notice if it makes my hands itch.  I want to change my eating habits and begin to treat my body better, looking less at how much I eat as the quality of the food I put into my body.

I’ll let you know how it goes.