Menopause Matters

My mission with this post is two-fold.   I want to preview a book new to the market (I have yet to read, have skimmed a few (more than a few) pages but found it VERY readable) as well as submit my entry to win the FLOW book by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim per The BookLady’s Blog which if you don’t yet know about, you can click HERE to enter.   But you have to hurry – deadline is tomorrow.  (sorry)

First, let’s highlight Menopause Matters:  Your Guide to a Long and Healthy Life,   a nonfiction book by MY doctor, Julia Schlam Edelman, MD, published 2009 by Johns Hopkins University Press and available in many many places.   DO seek it out.

In fact, I just had a followup visit TODAY* where Dr. Edelman and I discussed my satisfaction and my uterus’ (uterus’s?) healing from the endometrial ablation procedure performed last December.

I’ll start from the beginning…

You could say it all began around a summer campfire when one friend was sharing (laughing at with) a story about how our friend C___ called and asked, “Can you tell me again about the Appaloosa?”   when she was really trying to say ABLATION.    Come to find out that three of the five of the women present had happily experienced the solution of an endometrial ablation to problems of heavy erratic bleeding aka menorrhagia.

I thought to myself, “Self, I have heavy bleeding and its ANNOYING (need I repeat how annoying) habit of not coming when the calendar said it ‘should’.”    I not only had an irregularity of periods but I would spot when I was least prepared AND I would have one day of cramps so bad that I couldn’t sleep or worse and was changing tampons every hour.

Yet, on the other hand, I knew I didn’t have it that bad.    Did I?   I knew people suffered worse, didnt’ I?   Still.   What did I really have to put up with?   HOWEVER… these friends of mine (the Appaloosa friend eventually had it done as well) kept saying “It has been the BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE.”

I asked around, found a doctor that was highly recommended, was coached by my friends on what symptoms to say I had, and made the appointment.

Frankly, I admitted that I had heard about the wonder of ablation and caved to peer pressure, “I WANT ONE!”    Dr. Edelman was sympathetic.   Then she submitted me to a barrage of tests to make sure I was worthy.

By that I mean that we proved and disproved a few things to see if an ablation would be the best option for me.   It was.   I found out I was anemic; all this crazy blood loss was draining necessary iron from my system.    I found out I had troublesome fibroids which were disruptive and not normal for female monthly cycling;  I found out I did not have cancerous cells that needed attention  (whew).

What I want to convey is that the situation was NOT one that I went in to see a doc, asked for an ablation and they said, “yes.”   It took a few months and more than a few tests to find out that I was indeed suffering and that an ablation could offer me relief.

I must note that when I told my mother what I was doing, she shared that she wished such things were available to her…      Maybe they were and her doctors didn’t share?    What I hope to offer here is that if anyone thinks they must suffer premenopausal annoyance as a matter of course, ASK the questions!   Don’t assume all is ‘normal’ because we expect things to go  out of whack with our systems as we enter this certain age!    Oh, and don’t assume you have to have a hysterectomy.

I had the Novasure procedure.       It is a brand, a specific procedure of many a variety of different ablation techniques.    Don’t let one person’s experience determine your opinion because there are MANY types of ablations.

Dr. Edelman’s book discusses and explains ALL types and the history of endometrial ablation and shares personal anecdotes from real people.    This is an easy to read and helpful guide.

When I first heard my friends talking about ‘ablation’, I couldn’t find much when I googled.   I even bought a menopause book and was shocked and saddened that it only had one paragraph out of 600+ pages (and the index didn’t list it under “A” for ablation but under “E” for endometrial ablation.  YOU AND I know that discussions even in informal conversation DO NOT use correct medical terminology!!!   One more reason I LOVE Dr. Edelman’s book – the index is impressive and user-friendly.)

It’s now three months since my ablation; my followup appointment confirms it a success – I’m very VERY happy.   I have had extremely small barely-mentionable spotting on that day I would have had my period if the calendar could be trusted and only a few days of back pain that I always wonder if I lifted something wrong.   “Oh yea,  it’s my monthly cycle – take an Advil.”    And I’m good.

I do not feel sad about no longer having my period;  truly, I’m ecstatic.    I didn’t really have any problems or issues with it overall when I did have Aunt-Flo visit – well, at least up until it got long and drawn out and unpredictable and spotty.     I just figured it was because I was over 40.   THANK YOU my DEAR friends for sharing and laughing about that appaloosa confusion so that I could learn about something new, realize that I had similar problems and that a solution was available.

A solution that was not that big of a deal to get through.    The procedure took all of 90 seconds – not that I remember, of course, because I was put under anesthesia but still only spent a morning at the out-patient clinic, home by noon, and told to ‘take it easy’ for the weekend.   (There’s other specific stuff but not all that restrictive – do your own research and respect doctor advice.)

Also, I was not aware how anemic I was and will be taking iron pills for awhile yet.    Not a big deal;  it’s ALL GOOD.

Back to the issue of Flow and the discussion of menstruation.     Lots of the posts are about “the first one”.    I only remember that I was told to consider that to be a man, you had to shave EVERY DAY  and that a woman only had to deal with one week a month.    (I didn’t buy that argument.)    I was also MORTIFIED that my Dad was told and felt it necessary to bring up that I was lucky that I wasn’t an American Indian woman from the Old West Days who had to go spend a week in a tent away from the camp when it was ‘my time of the moon.”   Yea, thanks Dad.   I still wasn’t comforted.

I also remember being shocked to find out that men worked at the companies that sold tampons and pads.      I guess I assumed that only women would run and operate such a business.    I don’t know exactly how old I was then, but it really baffled me!

* Dr. Edelman is just starting her marketing campaign for her book and I was telling her all about my book blog.   I told her I would be honored to read her book (I had read about 10 pages while waiting for the appointment – it’s so readable AND informative).   She seemed eager to learn more about the book blogging community and I told her all about this FLOW discussion.     A book signing opportunity is in the works and believe-you-me, I will be there to cheer her on.    I hope anyone who has concerns about menopause will consider her book as a terrific source of reference and not just base credibility on my little hick blog  – –  Dr. Edelman is VERY impressive, knowledgable and caring.      The goodreads.com description is here.  CLICK!

And no, she’s not giving me anything (I was too shy to ASK for the book! – not too shy to ask if I could be hired to work on her in-the-works blog, but then, I’m a goofball) for giving this plug.    I just like and admire her.  and I THANK her.

.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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36 thoughts on “Menopause Matters

  1. Great post Care and thanks for sharing the details of your experience with your doctor – very cool that she has written a book that looks very helpful for women!
    I’d also like to say that when venturing into the womens health section of the bookstore or library it can be intimidating or confusing because there are just so many books being written – anyways – the point I want to make is that knowing which publisher is involved helps greatly in narrowing it down to the more reliable, and respected sources.
    Noting that this book “Menopause Matters” was published by Johns Hopkins Uni Press really is important – they are a very big name in health resources and are highly rated!
    My acquisitions course has been so helpful in evaluating sources, and the information I am gaining is just as helpful for individual book buyers (especially when looking at medical-related non-fic)

  2. You did it! I love the fact that you were able to tie the two books together. Outside of menstruation, I think menopause is discussed even less, and many women have no idea what to expect when we do start getting to “that” age. The spirit of FLOW was to discuss all of the taboo subjects related to women’s health, and I think you did an excellent job of doing so. You have also given possible help to other women out there who do not have to suffer but do because they do not have the full information. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  3. Thanks to Rebecca for putting you up to this and to you for posting about this particular procedure. I’m pushing **cough, cough** and know that menopause is just around the corner. Given the trouble I had when I started my period a million years ago, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to end it just a miserably. So I’ll have to be on the look out for your doctor’s book.

    1. Haven’t everyone’s answers to Rebecca’s post been amazing? I am looking forward to reading Flow as well as as having this one as a reference for the days ahead.

  4. I had a consultation with a gynecologist about endometrial ablation last year. I don’t think I’m ready to pursue it, but I’m glad to know about your experience.

    And how cool is it that your doctor has written a book?

    1. When I first heard the term ‘ablation’ I was frustrated that I couldn’t find much information or it was too technical and sparse. Then I decided to track my periods and write down all problems and when. I kept saying I should see a doctor and wonder why I waited so long!

  5. Thanks so much for both bringing the book to our attention, and blogging about why it mattered to you! As I read your post, I started thinking, “hey, this could be about me!” I have a friend who’s going through the hysterectomy very shortly and couldn’t be happier…I know that I have to get this book, since i face many of the same symptoms (I love how you put that Aunt Flo came when you were least prepared, and they never say, oh by the way, your back hurts, you cramp, and no matter what, it’s an awful time and you really DO want to be in a tent/hut/house/city/country far away from anyone you know for that week of the month). I’ll definitely be looking for this book in the next week or so. I’m also very happy it’s worked out so well for you – and I like how you say to do your own preparing and reading before visiting the doctor. Plus I have been anemic for years, know all about those iron pills (ugh).

    1. Thanks so much for this wonderful encouraging comment. I am glad that I had another option than a hysterectomy but I’m not sure everyone is aware of ALL options – nor that these are real problems. I have been amazed by the conversations that have been a part of as I went through this process. I can’t wait to get this books and really look at everything – not just the part I was most interested in at the moment. I think it will be a great resource.

  6. Looks like a very useful book! I’ve been told that I’m approaching peri-menopause, but right now the only problem I have is that my periods are getting slightly closer together. I think I would miss it when it is completely gone, but I can understand why so many women are happy when it is!

  7. I don´t know what I expected from your blog today, but I certainly hadn´t seen this one coming 🙂

    I don´t understand all the details, but why not add my own story: three years ago or so I suspected something was wrong with my uterus. I went to my wonderful doctor who agreed and sent me to the hospital – within one hour! But that was only because it was immediately before Christmas and she didn´t want me to worry during the holidays. They confirmed what I thought, I had a large, but benign, tumour. Three months later they removed tumour, uterus and a lot of endometriosis.

    And do I miss any of it? No, certainly not. Life is so much easier now.

    1. ha! I really need to speed up my reading and enjoy some fiction again. I seem to have a lot of nonfic going right now…

      Thanks for jumping into the conversation and sharing! How NICE of your doctor to consider worry over holiday issue. Been there and DIDN’t have such a caring professional (long time ago – not Dr. Edelman…) so I do understand. Glad all has worked out well for you. 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing your story, Care, and for bringing Dr. Edelman’s MENOPAUSE MATTERS to our attention (as well as FLOW.)

    One of my friends (one that I know of, who has discussed it, I mean), has had an ablation, and is so happy with the results and the relief of her symptoms. It’s not something I’ve had to look into, but the success stories are so encouraging.

    I agree with you 100% – as much as menstruation is still sadly a taboo topice (although that seems to be changing), menopause is even more hidden under a rock. I guess I’m at that point where I should pick up the rock and research more about the stage I’m in, and what to expect. Denial is a powerful thing.

    Please keep us updated on Dr. Edelman’s book tour; we can meet up and discuss menopause after 🙂

  9. Sending you much love and support. Aunt Flow is such a beast for a “normal” woman. And seriously, what is “normal????” I have been blessed with a regular and average experience. It’s a major inconvienience–especially during my dance season. (Seriously? An all-white costume? Thanks-so-much.) But, I cannot imagine being in the amount of pain, not being regular and the like. Ugh.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I would like to read this book as well. Women’s Health and Women’s Issues are such an important platform for me.

    You go girl. I’m so glad your proceedure did what you needed it to!

    Love you! XOXO

  10. Care, thanks for sharing this… I went thru so, so much, years ago with my periods. As a young woman, I had very regular periods, but strong cramps, and heavy flow & my periods lasted 9-10 days…ugh! Then when I became sexually active, went on the Pill, and had regular, milder periods. As a married woman, when we decided to start to try to have a baby, I had LOTS of trouble. After 1-2 of years of no success, and continued tough periods, I had an infertility work-up. I had a Laparoscopy, and was found to have Endometriosis & adhesions. I was put on Danacrine (Danazol) for a couple of months ?, and was told to wait a month & then try to get pregnant. We got pregnant the first month & were ecstatic!!!
    We had our precious baby daughter, and 19 months later our second precious baby daughter!
    Decided to wait a little, suffered an early miscarriage, then another early miscarriage. Got pregnant with our precious son. After he was born, I started with TERRIBLE, violent periods.
    Wanted to DIE, they were so bad.
    After MONTHS of trying to find out what was wrong, even a doc who said it was all PSYCHOLOGICAL, I went to an OB/GYN who put me on Depo-Provera. This completely cured me of my excruciatingly painful periods.
    However, I have always thought that the Depo-Provera may have helped cause my breast cancer, but I’ll prob never know.
    What kinds of crap we go through as women… it p’s me off to think of that doc saying it was “in my head”!!
    Anyway, I can’t help but wonder if an “ablation” may have helped me…. (my son is 18 now, so things have certainly changed since then!)

  11. I didn’t know about this…thank you for the information.

    There are days that I’m terrified to get up in front of a class and teach. Last summer, I got out of the car to go into Hastings at Warrensburg and found that I was …saturated from crotch to knee. No Hastings that day! Returned to Sedalia as quick as I could.

    It’s good to know there’s help for this kind of nonsense.

  12. care,

    a very informative post and pre-review of a topic that seems to really be something women are interested in reading about. growing up, i always wondered why there wasn’t some magic wand we could wave and make periods go away. i mean, we put men on the moon for pete sake! it sounds like this was the answer to your situation and i’m glad it worked out for you. even better that your doctor wrote a book on the topic–good luck to her and much commercial success with the book. 🙂

  13. GEM

    Carrie,
    So brave! I have to say that I had what I think was normal perimenopause and menopause and have been enjoying no periods for 8 of the best years of my life. I do think that even in this day, we still don’t have enough information. Everyone talked about hot flashes (not that bad for me), but nobody said how irregular you would become. I don’t think I was ever bad enough to seek treatment, but I was shocked that you could have super heavy periods like you had never had before! I’m glad you took care of it and am doing well!

    Love, Gail

  14. Our bodies and what we do to them & what we don’t, then add on what we KNOW and what we don’t. I always say, you just don’t know what you don’t know. It’s a challenge to figure out ‘normal’.

  15. Very informative and awesome post Care. My mom is going through her menopause and she is having the worst time. All those things that you’ve heard that come with menopause? She has most of them including depression. She is taking medicines and all but it really doesn’t help a lot accept to keep her depression in control.

    Good you were able to have the procedure.

    1. I had never heard of it either when my girlfriends were all ecstatic to share about their experience. I seem to run into two types of people when this conversation comes up – those so very happy they had it done and those who have never heard of it. Well, the third group could be those who have no interest? 🙂

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