Well, that was fast. Two weeks ago I brazenly declared Eric and myself in full-bore preparation for an April Half Ironman. That was before my hormones tightened the screw on me.
So we pushed it back to May, which now even seems fairly remote as far as possibilities go.
THOSE OF YOU WHO WIG OUT OVER TMI AND FEMALE ISSUES, BAIL NOW.
I’M NOT KIDDING. CLICK OVER TO ANOTHER POST. CLOSE THIS EMAIL. READ NO FURTHER.
OK, YOU WERE WARNED. THIS BLOG WILL HOLD NOTHING BACK, B/C IT’S NOT VERY DARN HELPFUL TO OTHER WOMEN OUT THERE IF I PUT A SMOKE SCREEN OVER THE TRUTH.
I’m trying to maintain my normal bonhomie and positive outlook. But it’s getting harder. For the last four years, I’ve eaten handfulls of bio-identical progesterone to help defuse the bully in my body –estrogen — and it has helped, but each cycle gets worse.
First, though, my gyno told me that I am NOT going through perimenopause, because I am too young. She told me this when I was 41, 42, 43, and 44 (my current age). “Ms. Hutchins,” she said, “it will be 10 years or more. And you’ll know when it happens.” Oh, and she put me on estrogen-rich birth control to “even me out.” It’s a miracle I didn’t commit murder while that poison coursed through my body; I could have sent her the bill for my defense attorney, I guess. So I ditched the unneeded and damaging birth control. And I relegated her to ‘scrips for mammograms and annual PAP smears, and switched to Hotze Health & Wellness Center for taking care of ME.
Everything I had read screamed PERI-MENOPAUSAL, PERI-MENOPAUSAL. At Hotze, they said, “Could be. Only time will tell. Let’s get you feeling better.” So, a few times a year, the staff at Hotze increases my progesterone. I stay one step ahead of the werewolf.
But in the last few months, the process has speeded up. (I promise, I’m getting to a point sometime soon — Half Ironman, Pamela, you were talking about training for a Half Ironman) It started with sleeping problems — exhaustion/insomnia/exhaustion/insomnia and so on. Then, increases in the 3 a.m. night sweats. Next, the migraines and carb cravings shot up; my kingdom for an apple fritter! So did my weight.
One day I woke up and realized I felt sad; melt into the Earth sad. My hormones are raging beasts, not depressed ones, so WTH? My cycle shortened from 28 days to 17. My breasts swelled up like angry cantalopes. (And angry cantalopes are really really…oh, I don’t know, I couldn’t think of anything but cantalopes, so maybe I have the first angry cantalope breasts in the history of the world, but run with it — the big fat suckers are pissed off, ok?)
Other body parts wanted in on the “beat the crap out of Pamela” game. So my urethra contributed recurrent UTI’s. And every injury I’ve had in the last 10 years — all the old healed-up ones — rose from the dead and zombie-marched through my body. Old hamstring pull on right thigh? Torturous. My struggling feet and achilles? I was walking/running on burning stumps. A right groin strain from a few years ago? It was like I’d stabbed myself with a butter knife that lodged and slowly rotated on its own. My left shoulder, the proud bearer of a “snuggling” injury from 2007 (ye-es, a snuggling injury — we had to change sleeping positions, and it took months to heal)? So painful I cannot do any of my normally easy arm and shoulder stretches. This wacked out muscle memory, this macabre parade of old wrongs against my body, made no sense. Makes no sense. Is crazy as hell. Yet it’s real.
The unimpacted parts of me? My heart and lungs. If I can somehow make it, stiff-legged, through the painful part of my run (two or more miles), then I burst out of my stumbling body like a butterfly from its chrysalis and I soar.
Sometimes I don’t make it past the first half mile.
The constant of my period with cramps and an accompanying UTI has decreased my bicycling enthusiasm. During a ride last week, the pain was so intense that I did something I’ve never done before: I pulled over to the side of the road and stood with my bicycle for 45 minutes while Eric went and got the car.
And swimming? Between the migraines (which include nausea) and the immobile shoulder, I don’t think so.
Does any of this mean I CAN’T train? Of course not. But when you add these things to my melting-bone sadness and exhaustion, training is not appealing. Training is thus not happening very frequently. I am weak. I am ashamed.
“Sounds like peri-menopause,” a friend said.
From her mouth to my doctor’s ear. The doctor I’d like to string up by her ankles right now. While that sounds a little extreme, I’m FEELING a lot extreme.
I don’t want to get my hopes up too far that the end is near. And yet I could use some hope. I’m hoping against hope that my hope is rewarded. I’m hoping that all of this STOPS. Either by nature or knife — I’m not above begging for a hysterectomy, y’all.
In the meantime, I have to get a grip on this. I can’t float and fail. I will go forth with purpose and a PLAN, a wonderful beautiful marvelous plan, even if I end up in the same place. Here it is:
- I’ve changed a menopause-friendly diet: soy milk, blueberries, multi-grains, turkey, fish, bananas, yogurt, cranberry juice IN; sugar, fats, simple carbs OUT. I think I’m supposed to lay off the coffee, but hell-to-the-no. I don’t drink alcohol, so nothing to give up there.
- I’m scaling back on the exercise: more walking, hiking, stretching, and weight lifting. I think if I take the pressure off that every workout must live up to a “personal best” on the long march to Ironman that I will do something instead of nothing.
- I’m starting the year with doctor’s appointments, to rule out any other (unlikely) issues.
- I’m looking for the world’s best natural sleep aid. Right now I am using melatonin, but I’m open to suggestions.
- I’m scaling back. I can’t do it all. I will tell myself NO. I think. Maybe.
Those of you spelunkers who have made it through the dark cave ahead of me: advice is very welcome.
The rest of you: ignore me while I cry in the corner.
I wanna be Pamela again.