Friday, May 27, 2011

The Life and Times of Perimenopause

I'll be 51 two months from now, and I had never heard of perimeno until May of last year. The word may have been said around me during my lifetime; but, I never heard it - nor had anyone spoke about it directly in my lip-reading presence.

So, when I started experiencing extreme dizziness, migraine headaches, electrical shocks, and bodily joint pain - everybody knew for certain that my cochlear implant had gone bad and I was about to die with such a foreign object gone awry within my skull. Yep, even my family doctor became intensely alarmed and sent me directly for a CT Scan and blood tests...he knew something was very wrong in my brain, and it related to my deafness.

But, all tests came out clear.

Randy had then decided that something very rare was going on within my body, and that I was surely dying; he was to retire immediately, and we'd travel, enjoy the world, and most of all each other

Problem was, my dizziness and blurred vision increased so severely that I had become bed-ridden with nausea, as well as losing ability to have proper balance. I could not drive, read, ride my bike, nor swim. My life changed drastically within a short period of time - 3 weeks or so.

Eventually my doctor sent me to a neurologist who, after studying all my tests, set down his pen and eye glasses, and began asking me weird questions...

How old are you? - Almost 50
Are you sensitive to light to the point that you want to be in a dark, quiet place? - No; but, I'm like that with sound...and it's not me, because I've been given the gift of hearing, and I love sound...but, I can't handle even looking at my phone - for the mere thought of hearing it ring sickens my stomach.
Have you missed any periods? - No
Do you have heart palpitations? - No
Do you have physical pain? - Yes, and in ways that I've never experienced in my life

"Gina, you are going through perimenopause," he said.

It was the neurologist who explained the difference between perimeno and meno to me. 

And, he was right. He told me what to expect, and that I was in a very rare category of symptoms - bodily, physical the time, I had not one common symptom: missed periods, hot flashes, mood swings...but, he said it was possible they would come within the next few months...and they did.

Everything he said to me eventually came true...and, I'm still in the pre-menopause stage. He said it would most likely take 2-3 years for me to reach menopause. So far, it's been one year.

He put me on medication. I didn't want to take medication, and I rebelled for 2 weeks; but, my symptoms worsened, and my family doctor scolded me severely, and told me to start taking them immediately (he had been discussing everything concerning me, with the neurologist). I obeyed after that, and the medication (Topiramate - 100 mgs/daily) brought my incessant migraine, dizziness, blurred vision, and electrical shocks into order. 

After a month on the medication, I hesitantly saddled a bike...I wasn't sure if I'd fall or not; but, I truly wanted to ride again, and I did. It was heaven. Two months after being on medication, I started driving my car again. It took me a long time to talk on the phone; and, I still have trouble with confidence; but, I do talk on the phone every now and then.

Like most women, I'd rather not take medication; but, I've learned that sometimes we need more than changes of diet and exercise. I never entered Hormone Replacement Therapy/Treatment, never needed it (*yet*); but, I've also heard that many women believe it gave them (or others) cancers of various kinds. I can't judge on that, and I know there are women who felt they had no other choice but to take some form of HRT in order to have a life of sanity back; so, I pray for healing, wisdom and direction for all.

After 9 months on Topiramate, I realized my 24/7-migraines, blurred vision, and dizziness were no longer pressing and pulling within my, I slowly went off the medication. I have not had trouble in that area for 3 months now - Praise God!

The reason I'm writing all of this is because: 1) I'm going through it, and 2) Perhaps you are too,  know someone who is/has, or will someday in the future. It's a natural process that we should be aware of more than we are.

I went to Barnes and Noble today, with a couple questions (does joint pain, achy muscles, swollen feet and ankles, tender breasts, fall in the perimeno category?)...yep, they are perimeno symptoms. Here's the section I went through (notice they placed Perimenopause in -- Diseases)...A natural process is a disease? I don't think so...

Here's what I gathered from reading...

Perimenopause can occur within women aged between 35-50 (I'm a late bloomer).
It's good to take Flaxseed oil every day - helps with fuzzy thinking, and provides Omega essentials.
Take Fish Oil, too.
Take a good Multi-Vitamin that has Magnesium and Zinc...or get Magnesium and Zinc separately.
Drink lots of water, and eat balanced meals...Citrus fruits are great, lots of veggies, lean proteins, nuts and legumes.
Exercise -- take brisk walks strength training.
Limit alcohol intake to one beverage with dinner.
Keep away from a lifestyle of caffeine - it constricts the blood vessels (especially if you're enduring perimeno headaches/migraines).

Every. body. is. different - so listen to yours, and be kind to yourself. Know what YOU need to do for you. I don't care if someone else was able to do this or that, and you feel you should be able to as well...Newsflash --> maybe you can't. Maybe it's not what YOU should do. Accept yourself.

You know, I had LOTS of people tell me they had never heard of my symptoms, and surely there was more to what I was going through than what my doctors were saying; but, I had seen them for myself, had gone through all of the tests, I was the one in the rooms discussing my life with them, and I was the one enduring all the symptoms -- so, I chose to follow my doctor's orders. I fully believe they had my best interest at heart; they took time to be with me, and did not rush me out of the room...they truly wanted to find the problem, and hoped that it had nothing to do with my deafness, implant, and brain, etc. And, they turned out to be absolutely correct in all that they, if you feel you are doing the right thing, and seeing the right doctor, then pray, trust their guidance, and move on.

Deafness wasn't to body is simply going through Perimenopause.