Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Normalizing

The good news is that I had a follow up on my MRI and my brain appears to be normal! (Wait, my mirthless neurologist advised me, with no trace of cute, that my brain is "healthy". Normal is not something she can comment on.) The less good news is that I still have to deal with these headaches and to find some sustainable fix, all without the benefit of triptans, those serious meds that nonetheless beat migraines into submission.

The other good news is that I have a renewed sense of motivation and I booked an appointment with my naturopath, a practitioner who helped me tremendously a few years ago when I was falling apart from long undiagnosed postpartum depression and anxiety - not to mention a subclinical thyroid disorder and some serious adrenal fatigue. I wrote about this in 2008, btw, during a week long series on health and lifestyle.

I believe in, and have practiced, many alternative modalities, though I don't talk about them much here. Over the last year I've been seeing an acupuncturist to try to manage my headaches (and to deal with the fallout over pertussis). While I totally believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture - my parents are acupuncturists with a longstanding clinic - the acupuncturist I saw recently did not crack the code vis a vis my headaches.

The truth is, I've changed a lot since I re-established a healthy, sane lifestyle a bunch of years ago. I'm in the midst of serious hormonal change and I have to consider new ways of approaching diet and supplementation to manage it. The former regimen isn't going to work for my current self. But even as I'm very motivated to resolve this, as I must be, I'm also tired.

I won't be the first to posit this, but nature is an evil bitch to throw pubescent daughters together with perimenopausal mothers. Furthermore, I won't lie. It's rough times here and I'm not exactly remaining objective or equanimous. (Mind you, neither is my kid.)

So that's my mini update on this topic - which, I suspect, I speak about entirely too often and in polite company.

Today's question: Wise Ladies who have transcended this particular life stage: Can you offer those of us going through it (ok, namely me) how your life is beautiful and healthy on the other side.

28 comments:

  1. I can't help with the daughter (I have sons, and although they are hormonal, it's different) but I would urge you to see if there is a food/headache connection. I started having migraines in my 30s and finally figured out that chocolate was the culprit. I hope you get some help all around.

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    1. I've had a lot of time to consider the food factor in all of this and, interestingly, I don't think food is the culprit for me. Mind you, I have cut out most gluten - all flour based foods - and we'll see if that makes a diff. I can drink wine and eat chocolate all the time and it doesn't seem to make a difference. Light, on the other hand, and the week after ovulation, are difficult to navigate. Thanks for your perspective Jill.

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  2. You scare me!! I just counted when my daughter will be a teen... Darn! right when I hit menopausal age.

    Hope you find a way to deal with the headaches... :(

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    1. Not trying to scare you! But it is scary :-)

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  3. Good news about the brain, at least! :-)

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    1. I know :-) Let's accentuate the positive!

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  4. Hang in there K! I'm with you on the hormonal deficiencies and applaud your attempts to get your diet right!!

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    1. Thanks Pam. It's good to know I'm not alone!

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  5. Love your blog, even tho' I passed Home Ec sewing with a C+ c. 1980.
    I began to have migraines in my mid-30s. I'll admit I never understood those folks whining about 'headaches' until I experienced the neurological shit storm that is the migraine. Even once tamed the after effects linger for a day. I've learned to use the pro-drone to my advantage tho: as soon as I sense that floaty, slightly surreal feeling, sometimes accompanied by scrambling my words, I know one is imminent within hours & I take preventive action: this could mean Ambien or muscle relaxant, as sleep often breaks the cycle. (I cannot tolerate triptan's either). Or Fioricet, more side effect free for me.

    Over 10 years I've found that the biggest - & cheapest - bang for the buck is magnesium. I've taken 250 mg daily for years, & it has cut my migraines in 1/2. Down to 2 per month. It stabilizes blood pressure, relaxes nerves & muscle fibers, just calms the whole cycle down. When I do get one, I find the nausea is reduced as well. I've now been taking herbal anti-inflammatories for (boswellia, circumin) other issues but have noted a reduction in migraine severity as a welcome bonus. The fluctuating hormones definitely make them worse but oddly, hormone balances like black cohosh & soy have made no impact.

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    1. Callie you are so sweet. I use the prodrome in the same way - get myself some Advil migraine and go to bed. It's the only way to reboot. Of course, those other migraines (the ones that don't come with warning) are the trickier to manage. Your idea about taking Ambien is good. I can't take muscle relaxants (also due to heart condition which rules out lots of meds).

      I've been taking magnesium for years (for my heart) but I've upped the dose to 400 mg a day (they wanted me to take 600 but my stomach can't handle it). I'm also using magnesium oil, which a commenter recommended. It's good for insta-muscle relaxing. I take 400 mgs of B2 also. Apparently that cocktail is very useful for a certain subset of migraineurs whose migraines are hormonally triggered. Have you thought of adding the B2 to your mix?

      Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate your feedback and the info!

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  6. Hopefully by the time Button hits the teens I'll be out the other side of menopause. I'm just struggling with the 5 year old teen-in-training. How do they learn to flounce at such a young age? Fingers crossed your naturopath has some ideas.

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    1. Ha! I sense that kid could throw you over the edge on a bad hormone day - even at 5 :-) But she is SO adorable.

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  7. Do you happen to clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night? For a period of time I found that stress + a failure to wear my night guard to prevent grinding my teeth lead to terrible migraine-cluster-tension headaches at least twice a week.

    Recently I've moved to a new city, changed jobs, and I religiously wear my night guard and I almost never get these headaches anymore.

    It's just my experience but I thought I would share it in case it could be helpful!

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    1. You know, my TMJ has been much worse lately so I have to consider this. I had a mouth guard years ago but I couldn't stand it. Maybe I should consider trying again. Thanks for the info!

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    2. I have this issue too. I definitely notice an increase in migraines when I skip the night guard for a few nights. The jaw clenching leads to tension headaches, which then trigger migraine.

      I cannot stand the standard night guard; feels like a football mouth guard, pushing against sides of your cheeks. I had a great dentist in WA who suggested making one from the material used for bleaching. Win! It's very thin, flexible & non-irritating. They last about 2 years.

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    3. Next time I go to the dentist I'm going to have this discussion. The thin material is what I need, I suspect.

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  8. All I can say is that I totally understand being too exhausted to do what you know you need to do health wise. With the kid - stick to the basics, warm, dry, fed, loved, pick your battles well, there is an end. Hang in there.

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    1. I'm trying to stick to the basics, which is harder than it seems. Everything seems to turn into a fight and I don't know how. Thanks for corroborating my sense that this does have to improve.

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  9. I guess one of the benefits of becoming a mother in my mid-forties is that I went through the worst of pre and real menopause when my daughter was in elementary school. (It didn't make being a new mother easy, though.) I wish I could say that it is all rosy on the other side. There are different issues, but they are there none-the-less. I have had hot flashes regularly (10-12 per day, I know TMI) for 5 years and they don't seem to be abating. I have adjusted my clothing accordingly. I think modification of your eating may be of help. It is a tough road to go down, but may be worth it for the relief.

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    1. Lord - hot flashes were my mother's perimenopause cross to bear. I've avoided those to date, though the week of night sweats every month is a real treat :-) No doubt, there is nutritional modification in my future. In fact, on the basis of what I already know, I've adjusted my diet over the past couple of weeks. I don't want it to be a shock when I have to add new things to the mix after seeing the naturopath.

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  10. I started seeing a Naturopath late last year because I was at my wit's end with exhaustion, insomnia, lack of mental energy, the whole bundle. She did a saliva panel of tests on me and said I had severe adrenal fatigue and was probably veering off toward being insulin resistant as well.

    Now, more than 6 months later, with some major dietary changes (almost eliminating carbs) and taking supplements, I'm feeling so much better! Who knew!?!? It irks me that so many "regular" doctors I went to kept telling me everything was fine so I figured this is what it's like to be mid-forties with two kids (7 and 4 1/2). It takes a lot of work, research, seeking out alternate diagnoses and "treatments" for us to piece together all the pieces an figure out how to get to a better state of health.

    BTW, you're really scaring me now because I'll be 52 when my daughter hits 13! She's already a handful now at only 7. Feisty and confident. Good qualities in some ways, though hard to parent sometimes! -- Helen

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    1. I remember when first I went to see my naturopath under the same circumstances. I was floored by how much better I felt within 2 weeks.

      I'm so sorry to scare you, Helen, but I'm overwhelmed by this parenting moment. It's a bitch!

      If it makes any difference, statistically, you'll hit menopause at 51 :-)

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  11. Having my kids fairly young meant my three daughters and I synched our PMS'ing for years . . . not too cool! I found those years pretty challenging -- teen girls can be pretty toxic to their moms and it's tough to remember that it truly is not personal. It's about our role rather than us, but it's next to impossible not to take personally being called a bitch or told we're hated. . . But yes, we started having more good than bad days by 17 or 18, and have been getting along really well for many years now. . . so there is hope, if you can just hang on! As Helen says, that confidence and feistiness will stand her in good stead through life, even if it makes for challenging parenting in the meantime. . .

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    1. Toxic is really the word. I feel so under siege. Even as I try to keep my perspective, honestly, I can't keep my perspective!

      I suppose the feistiness is going to be very useful to her as she goes through life. I just wish she could apply it a bit more strategically.

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  12. I'm really glad your brain is ok but hate it that you are still suffering with the headaches. As for kids, all I can say is that they do grow up and it's very, very nice having grown up children.

    Menopause is different for everyone. My perimenopause went on and on, year after year. I'm still carrying around 19 extra lbs gained during that period of time, although I blame most of the weight gain on stress (job loss, divorce, trying to retool/re-enter economy), not menopause. The good news is that the stressful times have passed and the stars are realigned. It looks like 2013 is the year I may finally have the energy and focus to get rid of the weight. 9 lbs down, 19 to go. And that is just to get back to normal. Then there's the extra 10 lbs I dream of also losing. Never give in, never surrender!

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    1. I know! That's how I feel :-) And grown up children are so good! I'm one!

      My mother's perimenopause lasted 15 yrs. Lord. She too gained weight which she has recently lost altogether. I think her system just had to settle down - which may be just the same thing for you. I see my body changing through this time, but for me, it's more about softening. I don't mind it - I think it's as much due to doing less muscle toning exercise than I did when I was younger - but I'd prefer (to understate things) not to go up a dress size.

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  13. I am so glad to hear that your doctor says that your brain is healthy. That must have come as such a relief. I hope you continue to start feeling better.


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    1. Thanks Margaret! It is quite a relief. If you read on, you'll see how I'm going forward with the goal to resolve these headaches...

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