Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Holidays! AND fewer mood swings!

What my doctor decided to do

So, I've been on Progesterone for ten days now.  What is progesterone?  Progesterone is naturally secreted by the ovary in the second two weeks of the menstrual cycle in reproductive age ovulating women. Progesterone or progesterone-like substances called progesterone's or progestins are also ingested by women in birth control pills, menopausal hormone replacement therapy, or just sometimes to induce a menstrual period or regulate abnormal bleeding problems if menses are skipping or bleeding is irregular or prolonged. Progesterone has been used also as therapy for PMS syndrome and for women with infertility or frequent pregnancy loss.

Apparently, my levels were all askew. The Doc was suspicious that this problem was the culprit for many of my "issues", and that's what the tests confirmed. I'm using the cream formula that must be compounded at a special pharmacy (not many chains do this, but many locally owned pharmacies do).

Women who have low levels of progesterone often have infertility problems and when they do conceive, they are at a higher risk for miscarriage. You may have low progesterone levels if you have any of these symptoms:
• Irregular Periods: Your menstrual periods have gaps or inconsistent spaces of time between cycles.
• Spotting: You have occurrences of light pink to red mucus when you wipe between cycles.
• Clots: You experience clots during your menstruation.
• Weight Gain: You gain weight even when you haven’t made changes to diet and/or exercise routine.
• Memory Issues: You may forget things that seemed clear a few minutes ago, your thinking might be fuzzy.
• Vaginal Dryness: Your vagina is dryer than it should be; there isn’t mucus when there should be.
• Anxiety/Depression: You may have feelings of fear or sadness without basis. Worry about things that shouldn’t affect you strongly.
• Breast Sensitivity: Your breasts are sensitive and may ache if touched.
• Night Sweats: You wake up sweaty and uncomfortable in the night
If more than one or two if these symptoms seems familiar and occur at the same time you get a test for hormonal imbalances. This will help to determine what can be changed to resolve the problem.

Reasons for Low Levels of Progesterone Hormone in Women
• High Estrogen Levels: Higher estrogen levels can overpower the body’s hormones, throwing production of other hormones including progesterone out of gear.
• Chronic Stress: Stress affects your body in many ways. It can make you sick and it can upset the normal function of your body when it overtakes your life. Chronic stress is stress is one of the causative factors of low levels of progesterone hormone in women.
• Lack of Proper Exercise: Exercise is essential to good overall health. Without it your body’s natural functions don’t get the proper signals they require to determine how best to maintain a healthy level of activity.
• Resistance to Insulin: A condition that doesn’t allow the body to use the insulin it makes. Associated with obesity, it can also play a part in low Progesterone levels.
• Lack of Proper Nutrition: When the body is starved of proper nutrition it is unable maintain itself. Certain foods may also help unbalance your hormones.
• Medication Interaction: Certain medications don’t interact well with each other and can have side effects that affect your body’s function.
• PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome): A disorder caused by a lack of ovulation in a woman, this disorder causes issues with the interaction of hormones, ovaries and brain. It also usually means infertility without treatment by as doctor.

Read more:
So, this means what?
Well, this means that I'm gonna try this and see how it goes. I'm still taking everything else I've been taking, but I've added this to the mix. So far, I haven't noticed much improvement, but I'm hopeful that my body will begin to show improvement. Even if I only see improvement in one or two of the issues I have been suffering with, then I think I will be happy. There are many who think that natural alternatives to drugs are the only way to go. Below are a list of natural alternatives (some I will be adding to my lifestyle) that are said to naturally increase the levels of progesterone in a body.
Schedule a Doctor’s Visit: Go see your doctor and see if your progesterone level is low enough to require treatment. If it is, see how low it is so that you can best determine progesterone level you are losing and the urgency with which you need to seek treatment.
Find Natural Supplements: Look for supplements that match what you require to properly regulate progesterone production. They are available in oral, intra-vaginal, injectible and intra-dermal forms. Oral supplements are generally only available through a prescription from your doctor. Please be sure to research each supplement before starting to take them to determine side effect and allergy issues.
Stay Tested: Be sure to keep seeing your doctor and get regular testing on your hormonal levels. The balance needs to be maintained. High levels of progesterone can be just as risky as low ones.
Watch Your Diet: Only eat foods that don’t boost hormone production lest you or else you risk unbalancing your hormones otherwise.
Avoid These: Avoid blue cohosh, vitex, saw palmetto berry, lavender, tea tree oil, licorice, hops, rhodiola rose root, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover blossom and motherwort leaf as they all increase levels of estrogen further lowering progesterone.
Reduce Stress: Stress reduces progesterone production drastically, the less you have of it the better.
Exercise: Improving your overall health does wonders for the regulation of all your body’s hormones and secretions at the same time as helping you feel better about yourself.
Diet: Eating these foods can help improve your progesterone levels: Wild Yams, walnuts, whole grains, soy milk, red meat, chicken, shellfish, turkey, turmeric, thyme and oregano. Foods that are rich in vitamin B-6, zinc, and promote progesterone production like these can help.
Get Your Vitamins: Zinc, magnesium and vitamins such as Vitamin B-6 and Vitamin C, are generally found to be lower in women who have low progesterone. Getting more of these vitamins in your diet and vitamin intake can help boost your levels.
Stop Smoking: No seriously! Smoking has been shown to bring on premature menopause and increase infertility in younger women. The more you smoke and longer the higher risk there is to bring on these side effects.
Try Natural Supplements: Chasteberry is one of several supplements you can get that may boost progesterone levels.
Environmental Toxins: Pesticides and contaminants found in food can alter the way your body produces hormones. Petrochemicals can cause bind to the receptors in your body that detect estrogen and thereby alter the way your body produces estrogen and its balance with other hormones in the body.
Of course, I must insist that you get tested and not self medicate even if you feel sure that this is the reason you are having problems.
This is day ten, and I still hurt, my head feels a little less foggy, I may have more energy than I usually do, I can't tell yet if my mood is better or if I am less likely to break into tears at the drop of a hat, but I'll let you know about that.
At the beginning of the year, I intend on drastically changing my diet. I know it's going to be hard, but I feel like I need to do this. I will eliminate all the unnatural sugars and processed foods from my diet. I've done this once before for another reason all together, and I had wonderful effects. I lost around 30 pounds, and felt much better, but that was long before the Fibromyalgia fully took hold. I am slowly taking measures to eliminate stress. I know that's easier said than done, but I feel like my quality of life is in jeopardy.
At this point in my struggle with Fibro, I think I'd do just about anything to make it better. I know that there are plenty of you in that same boat, and I pray that each of us are able to find relief until it's cured. I don't think that God put this on us, and I don't think that this has necessarily happened for a reason. I do believe that we can work to make change, we can always use our circumstance to help others and that is what I'm trying to do. Even if I only manage to help one person, then I have done something positive. As I search for information and try to find remedies, I will continue to post and tell anyone who is still reading or who stumbles across my quaint little blog what I have found. I would love you to post anything you have attempted, even if it didn't help you! We know that some things help some of us and some things help others, and I don't believe I have met one person who is like another even in their list of symptoms, nor in their list of things that help their battle with fibro.
I pray for you, pray for me. We will continue to stand together until we come out of this cured, and I want each person who reads this to take away something positive and in turn, give something positive to someone else. I wish you all a happy holiday, and a reminder to take each day a minute at a time. Remember to count each blessing and don't look over the itty bitty ones. 
This is my latest "itty bitty" blessing.  "Adara"

Monday, November 15, 2010

New things I'm trying


I have been absent for many days for a variety of reasons. It's been a time of "one thing after another" and other such nonsense.

New things...
Did you know that Fibromyalgia affects around 14 million women? I didn't realize the number was so high, nor did I realize that it has been a recognized condition since the 1800's.  It, just like Lupus and several other conditions were thought to be caused by inflammation (it was called fibrocistis then) or mental issues.  That breaks my heart to think about how many people have suffered with this condition, and they were just shuffled aside or told they were crazy. I can tell you first hand that I have wondered if I was crazy. If this pain was really all in my head. You don't have to be told by too many doctors that ,"your tests all came back ok. I don't think there is really anything wrong with you." or "You are just depressed." to begin to question your sanity. Luckily, I have wonderful people around me that believe in me and believe that this thing called Fibro is real.

I have been hurting a lot these past few months, with little to no relief. No, I require no sympathy! However, I do want you update you as I try some new treatments and see if they work for me. Here are the two things I am going to attempt:

Guaifenesin: An expectorant found in some cough syrups and Mucinex.
It is said that this somehow flushes your body of  excess phosphates. Excess phosphates are thought to hinder cellular energy production and other cellular malfunctions.

I've been taking this for a few days now, and although I have seen no benefit yet, I will continue to take it for at least two more weeks.  I'll keep you updated.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: I went in for the consult, sent in my spit test and am going back tomorrow to see what the Doc says. I am hopeful that it will help with some of my mood swings and feeling so down in the dumps. I know that hurting on a continual basis and being so tired is a major cause, but... MAYBE there is hope in a cream that will replenish something my body is deficient in. 

I know, I know... There are mixed reviews about this, but at this point, I am willing to try just about anything. Those who don't feel this way have no idea what it's like. I want to assure you that the aches and pains are not mild and it's almost impossible to live and function in a normal way if you have no energy and you have widespread pain. I can honestly attest to saying, "I understand why and how people become addicted to pain killers." I assure you I have done no such thing, but I can see why people turn to that! Dealing with this is indescribable at times. There are days that I can deal with it and move through the day with relative ease. Other days are not as easy, and I find myself constantly fighting back tears. The pain dances over my body and my spirit, and I feel like it has stolen some of the best parts of me. Yet, I keep pressing forward. I am determined to find a remedy of healing! Not just for myself, but for all those who I know are in the same set of shoes I am in. Keep your chins up and your heart and eyes focused on God. I know it's hard, but I keep reminding myself of that scripture...

"...and then He told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." I Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What if God doesn't heal me? And other paranoid thoughts.

Today, Tomorrow, or Tuesday?

There are days that I am convinced that God is going to heal me. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. I know that God, the creator of the entire Universe can and does heal people every day! I know this! I believe this! I do not doubt the capable hands of God, the one who knit me together in my mother's womb could certainly cure what ails me. If Jesus could heal the rotting skin of a leper, make the blind man's eyes see clearly, heal an unclean woman with the issue of blood just because she touched the hem of His garment, and raise a three day old dead man from the grave, he could heal whatever it is that makes my skin ache, my brain fog up, my immune system not very strong, and my joints hurt for no reason. He could make a lame man do the Cha-Cha if it would glorify Him.  Ahh... That's something to think about... If it would glorify Him.

What if leaving me in my present state for the moment would bring Him more glory? Now, I'm not talking about anyone else in this world. This is my personal revelation for my personal self. I'm not sure that sentence was proper English, but oh-the-well. What if? WHAT IF... I need to learn something, slow down and smell the roses, teach someone else something I have learned, just listen to Him more carefully, or all of the above? He could choose to heal me tomorrow, two years from now or right this second, but what if that would just make my life easier and bring Him no glory at all?  What if I would never become the woman He has called me to be if I didn't carry this sickness for a prescribed time? Should I beg for healing if in this process He is intent upon teaching me something that being healed could NEVER allow me to be taught?

Things I think about

I like to read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul says, "I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he did in fact was push me to my knees... At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, "My grace is sufficient; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."

I'm not comparing myself to Paul, so please don't anyone get their knickers in a twist. I do however find myself thinking that I'm in pretty good company. If Paul of all people wasn't healed, then God must have had a pretty dang good reason for allowing it to continue. So, it stands to reason that God must have a pretty good reason why He hasn't yet healed me... Maybe?

Oh, woe is me...

After I get over my regular pity parties... I try to find any light I can possibly find. Sometimes I start thanking God for everything from indoor plumbing to a roof that doesn't leak! (It works!) It occurred to me that during this time in my life, while I learn to deal with this "syndrome", God wants to teach me some very valuable tid-bits. He may even intend for me to relay a few of those fancy findings to you. I could be wrong, and it wouldn't be the first time that's happened. You can ask my husband, children, mother, friends, pastor, etc., and they will all let you know how very often I am wrong.  However, I don't think I'm wrong about this. I'm sure, if I didn't have this I'd have something else to deal with or struggle through. Don't you all have something you struggle with? Well, there are a few other things I deal with as well, but that's another blog. I'm pretty convinced that this thing is not nearly as bad as some of the other things the world could have thrown my way. I don't think that God "put this on me", but I do think that whatever the trial, He will allow you to learn from it. Perhaps you could say that He's allowing me to keep it, because... well, I don't know why. You will just have to ask God that question.

NO, I don't think that's against God's purpose and plan. I have to trust Him and stop questioning my faith and my relationship with Him. I do have enough faith. I have enough faith to walk through this with Him at my side and not question the fact that I am not healed. I know He's there, right there with me every step of the way, and He will not leave me. The fact that I have this malady does not define my level of faith! It doesn't dictate to anyone how close I am to God. I know it's easy to do (I've done it too) when we get an idea in our head and heart as to what a "christian" (or whatever)  is supposed to look like.

Yes, I may whine a bit here and there! I feel like I've been hit by a truck on a regular basis! If you love me, you will look over those moments and move on, just like I look over those "moments" in the lives of those I love... Yes, you know who I'm talking about, and you know what "moments" I speak of. I try not to have them on a regular basis. Seriously... Remember when we talked about love? This would be a perfect time to practice it... on me...

I leave you with this

I hope you are healed today. I really do. I know how stupid it is to feel this way and not have a good reason. I grasp at straws on a regular basis for a reason as to why. I still pray for healing on the days that I don't feel like getting out of bed, and I just want to cry. I'm not the "man" Paul was, and cannot keep my request of healing to a three time limit. I still hope for things unseen, and I ask for them on a regular basis. God is just gracious enough to give me only what is good for me, and what will glorify Him.

2 Corinthians 12:10
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size- abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.