Archive for the ‘women’s bodies’ Category

An update on my post from Sunday

Good – My blood work came back showing marginally low Vitamin D, which a OTC Vit D supplement with 1,000 iu’s per day should correct.  Easy peasy!

Better – Since I seem to get more migraines during the winter than during the summer, we’re going to beef up my preventives by adding Baclofen, a muscle relaxer.  Last March, I got stuck in a 3-week-long mega-migraine cycle that couldn’t be broken.  No fun.  The plan is to prevent a reoccurrence this year.  My neuro gave me her top 3 recommended meds and I chose to try Baclofen first.  (Have I mentioned that I ♥ my neuro?  And her PA?  And their awesome nurse?)

Best – My MRI showed no signs of MS!!  Whoohoo, non-existent bullet dodged!  They did pick up sinusitis, but that’s old news by now.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled that they didn’t find anything serious.

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I had a follow-up visit with my urologist back in December.  It was my first visit since he diagnosed me with an OAB back in October and was pretty much a quick, in-and-out deal.  The medication he put me on (Vesicare) seems to be helping, although I feel like the improvement has plateaued by now.  However, at this visit he mentioned a technique–called Timed Voiding–that’s designed to slowly retrain your bladder to have more appropriate urges.  Basically, you choose a manageable time interval, say 1-2 hours, and limit bathroom trips to that interval.  I’m not a huge fan of the name…so I prefer to call them my “Pre-scheduled bathroom breaks”.  It’s pretty much a mind-over-matter technique, and it really works for me.  Love it!

In my original post, I mentioned that I was going to follow-up with my neurologist about any connection between my OAB issue and a potential neurological link.  Last month I had a routine follow-up visit with Dr. M, my fabulous neurologist, and I asked her about the OAB link.  She was immediately concerned (making me glad I brought it up).  Contrary to what my urologist indicated,

Migraine history + bladder issues = Concern about Multiple Sclerosis

Other risk factors I have are: 

  • Being female (women are twice as likely as men to develop MS)
  • My age (most people who develop MS are diagnosed in their 20’s or early 30’s)
  • Living in a temperate climate (MS affects approximately 1 in 2,000 people in temperate climates, while those in tropical climates have a 1 in 10,000 chance)
  • Being caucasian (whites are at the highest risk for MS)

So, Dr. M ordered an MRI with and without contrast, as well as blood work to check my Vitamin D levels.  (Recent studies show that sufficient Vitamin D levels confer some protection against developing MS and/or progression of the disease.) 

Needless to say, this is all scary as hell for me.  MS is nothing to take lightly, and ever since my visit with Dr. M (which was otherwise positive), I’ve had a nice little knot of panic festering somewhere just above my diaphragm.  My gut feeling is that I don’t have MS, but I haven’t been able to shrug off the initial “holy crap, what if…” reaction, either.  

My MRI is scheduled for tomorrow morning, so I should know in a couple of weeks….

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I’ve thought long and hard about this post and whether or not to write it.  While this might prove valuable to share with other women–like my migraines–it’s a subject that is embarrassing to me.  I mean, really, who wants to talk about pee-pee problems?

I’ve never had a particularly competent bladder, but since last spring my bladder and I have had some serious issues with each other.  Urinary frequency and urgency became every day hassles and I felt like I was always holding, even if I’d just left the bathroom.  The location of the nearest bathroom became my constant focus–when I was driving, at work, at the mall, everywhere.  My worst nightmare was entering a public restroom and finding a line.  And yes, there were a couple catastrophic events involving long car rides and poorly spaced gas stations.

At first, I thought this was because I had been on steroids twice this spring–once in a failed attempt to break a several-week-long migraine cycle, and then for my second sinus infection of the season.  However, as spring stretched into summer my issues only got worse and my hopes that this would fix itself began to fade.

The vacation we had been looking forward to all year became a giant source of stress for me due to my bladder issues.  First the 12 hours in the car–miserable and frustrating for both hubby and myself–and then the time spent in unfamiliar territory which may or may not have easy to find bathroom facilities.  All I wanted was to enjoy our vacation, yet I was constantly worrying about my bathroom dilemma. 

I don’t know why it took me so long (to be honest, I do–I was embarrassed), but I finally decided it was time to do something about my bladder issues after we got home from vacation. 

To start with, I called my OB/GYN’s office, hoping that it might just be an ongoing mild bladder infection.  I didn’t really have any other symptoms, but this seemed like the most logical place to start.  My Dr’s office thought so, too, and had me come in to supply a urine sample.  However, when my urinalysis came back clean (“really beautiful pee” they told me!), they referred me to a urologist. 

OK, so I kinda flipped out a little about that.  Here I am, an otherwise healthy 27-year-old woman, and aren’t urologists just for, like, old men with prostate issues?!  I now know that’s not accurate, but I felt a little odd calling to make my appointment.  I felt even more uncomfortable when I walked into their waiting room and realized I was by far the youngest patient there.  And then I was pretty much mortified when my urologist walked into the exam room and introduced himself to me; I wasn’t expecting him to be relatively young and good-looking!

I learned a couple of important things at the urologist’s:

  • My bladder was completely emptying when I urinated.  (Thus, my urge to urinate, even immediately after leaving the bathroom, wasn’t due to there still being urine in my bladder.)
  • Since I don’t have a history of frequent bladder infections, cystitis (bladder inflammation) was pretty much ruled out.
  • Lack of additional neurological symptoms  ruled out a neurological cause.  (Those with MS and other neurological conditions often suffer from bladder issues.)  NOTE: I plan on touching on this with my neurologist at my next appointment.  I’ve read that there seems to be a link between overactive bladder and certain conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety, ADHD, and IBS.  Since migraines are also linked with several of these conditions, I’m curious if there is also a link between migraines and overactive bladder issues.
  • Since I wasn’t having leakage issues, weak pelvic floor muscles was ruled out as a possible component.
  • It’s often impossible to determine the cause of overactive bladder issues.
  • Caffeine, carbonated beverages, and acid foods/drinks can often increase overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Many younger women (and men) in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s experience bladder control issues.

So, I was diagnosed with an overactive bladder, which basically means that my bladder is getting its messages mixed up.  It’s telling my brain “Gotta go–now!” when my bladder isn’t actually full.  This message reaches the brain, which then tells the bladder muscle to contract.  (Basically, the bladder is one big, smooth muscle and when it contracts urine is forced out.) 

My urologist recommended trying an overactive bladder medication, Vesicare, for several months to “reset” my bladder-brain messages, then wean off the medication and hope the problem is solved.  I was disappointed that there weren’t really any other treatment options–besides watching my soda consumption, which I already do–but I’m a believer in ‘better living through chemistry’ when it’s necessary.  I’ve been taking the Vesicare for a month, and low and behold, things with my bladder are gradually getting better.  Since the Dr. said it usually takes a few months to see a marked improvement, I’m pretty happy.  Here’s to having the bladder of a camel in 6 months!

Perhaps my story will motivate other women who are dealing with bladder issues to seek assistance.  If I learned anything, it’s that I shouldn’t have waited so long to do something about it.

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Long ago, I photocopied an article called “50 Quick Stress Cures” from a Ladies Home Journal and stashed it away for future reference.  Today, while de-cluttering my desk, the article resurfaced.  (Funny how these things pop up at just the right time, isn’t it?)

Since I’m a condenser by nature, here’s MY top 10 stress reduction strategies:

1. Talk to someone – “Bottling things up is for brewers.”  Exchange a listening ear with a close friend or significant other.  I’m lucky – my hubby is 100% trustworthy with my gripes and I also have a close friend who is an excellent listener.  Of course, I provide the same for both of them.  (Hubby is also excellent at providing such true–but unhelpful–advice as “Just let it go”, and “No one cares as much as you think they do.  They’ve probably already forgotten about it.”)

2. Choose your food wisely – Always eat breakfast (preferably a healthy one), which I’m a first class grump.  ‘Nuff said.  Eating almonds, fiber, dark chocolate, or a bowl of oatmeal before bed are other easy dietary stress busters.  Finally, add drinking black tea, a glass of red wine, and staying well-hydrated to the list and you should be in good shape.  (I drink green tea because it’s lower in caffeine.)  A note on the red wine: make sure you don’t drink your daily glass right before bedtime; it’s actually a stimulant.

3. Laugh – “[Laughing] decreases stress hormones in the bloodstream [and] relaxes muscles.”  Watching Family Guy usually does it for me.

4. Do something girly for yourself – Whether it’s a haircut/color, buying a new nail or lip color, or just shaving your legs, doing something feminine for yourself is an easy pick-me-up.

5. Play with your pet – I’m lucky, I can tease my kitty, play fetch with the dogs, or groom my horse.  They’re all forms of therapy for me.

6. Stretch – Stretching releases toxins that build up in the body’s soft tissues.  Thus, stretching=instant detox!

7. Have sex – “An orgasm a day keeps stress away.  Well, perhaps you don’t need one every day, but research is clear that the massive endorphin release that happens during orgasm has a calming effect on the body long afterward.  And let’s be frank: partner optional.”  Ditto for exercising in general.

8. Loose yourself in a good book – My #1 favorite form of stress release.  I read for a few minutes (or longer) in bed every night before I turn off the light.  This is my routine, and it tells my mind “OK, time to turn off up there”.  I usually fall asleep just a minute or so after turning off the light.

9. Crank up the music – Loosing yourself in a song is a great stress reliever.  I usually indulge in my car with my sunroof open.

10. Do some handiwork – Whether it’s knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, or sewing, the repetitive motion and mindlessness of these crafts allow your brain some downtime.  Plus, you get to enjoy–or gift away–the results.

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It’s been a week and a half now–I’m just now getting a chance to sit down and write about it–but I finally had my first appointment with a new Neurologist (Dr. M) for my migraines.  I absolutely loved her!  I’m so happy I decided to “shop around” for a doctor with whom I felt more comfortable.  I highly recommend this–it’s most definitely worth it!

To back up a little in the Saga of the New Neurologist, I decided after a visit with my original Neurologist (Dr. P) last May that I wanted to find a new doctor.  Not because he wasn’t a good doctor (he is), but because we weren’t a good match.  I felt anxious, rushed, and flustered at every appointment.  (Well, we only had two, so I should say both appointments.)  My migraines have a strong menstrual connection, and I felt uncomfortable taking to him about that aspect.  Partially due to my reluctance to talk to a man about my menstrual cycle, hormones, use of the pill, and birth control options, and partially due to his lack of sufficient tact during these discussions. 

Once I made the decision to switch Neurologists, the challenge began.  I knew I wanted a female doc, and there weren’t very many female Neurologists in Dayton, OH on my insurance plan.  One of the few (Dr. M)happened to be part of the same practice as Dr. P, so I called and attempted to switch to her.  However, I hit a brick wall in the form of the office staff.  After giving me a different run around during the first conversation, the second time I called they stonewalled me by stating that the practice didn’t allow transfers from one doctor to another.  Ladies (and gentlemen), if anyone tells you this, while it’s possible that it’s true, it’s unlikely.  So, don’t give up easily and definitely not before you’ve tried all avenues.

Long story short, it took several months, but I ended up talking to Dr. P (who happens to be the founder of the practice) and explained the situation to him (in friendly, vague terms of “I’d just feel more comfortable discussing things with a female doctor”).  He told me that they didn’t have any policy against switching doctors within the practice, unless the patient was unhappy with the type of care they received.  After I assured him that I was content with the quality of care and just preferred talking to a woman, he made the necessary arrangements for me to get an appointment with Dr. M.  See, easy as pie!  (Well, besides the endless phone calls and 6 month lapse in care because of the hang up, but I’m over being bitter.)

So, what was so great about Dr. M?  First, she took time to listen AND answer my abundance of questions.  Second, she spent a lot of time going over my history, which tells me that she wants to start at the beginning in order to find a workable treatment plan.  Thirdly, she gave me options, which gives me the feeling of active participation that I’m looking for.  Finally, I feel very comfortable conversing with her.  Plus, she happens to have a migraine pattern similar to mine, which makes me feel like she knows were I’m coming from.      

And so, I’m still chipping away at #21.

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10.  I’m ready for spring.  The birds have been proclaiming that spring has arrived every morning for the past week or so, but 20 and 30 degree weather does not equal spring, at least in my book.

9. Robins are definitely year round inhabitants here in Southwest Ohio.  They are VERY happily eating worms in my lawn!

8. My hubby and I met for lunch today, which is a first since we moved to Dayton.  I LOVE that we work in the same city again.

7. I’ve been debating over going to see an upcoming movie called Little Ashes, starring (among others) Robert Pattinson of Edward Cullen/Twilight fame.  From an artistic standpoint, I think it looks brilliant.  However, there’s a small, very petty part of me that’s scared to see my onscreen hunk play a gay–sorry, bisexual–role.  I’m very curious; first because the story of Salvadore Dali is an interesting one, and second because I’m curious to see what else Robert Pattinson can do onscreen.

Salvadore Dalis Lincoln in Dalivision

Salvadore Dali's 'Lincoln in Dalivision'


6. I’m making pot roast for dinner tomorrow night.  I have everything ready to go so I can throw it in the crock pot just before I leave in the morning.  That way we get to look forward to the house smelling delicious when we come home from work at the end of the day. 

5. I hate underwear that bunch.  WHY did they go to using cheap, crappy elastic?  (I mean, security is essential in that, ah, area.)  Oh, because they can make more profit per pair of underwear sold.  Awesome, now I get to deal with the consequences on a daily basis.  Ok, rant over!

4. The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguements today in a case in which a Cincinnati, Ohio mother is suing her former employer for firing her for taking breaks to pump breast milk during her work day.  I think you can guess what I think about that

3. I’m just a little proud of the homemade hamburger buns I made yesterday–sesame seeds and all baby!

2. Quote of the day: “Huh, it must work on bruises, too.” –my husband, upon seeing Rhianna’s newest  Cover Girl commercial 

1. Happy birthday Terra!

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When I checked my email this evening, I found this

with a note from my dear aunt.

Here is my reply:

Thank you for the link!  It made me think a little harder about an obviously difficult issue and an even more complex choice.  While I recognize–as a morally obligated Catholic, pro-life voter–how important the Pope’s endorsement of McCain is, I think it’s too simple an answer on which to base the decision of who will be the next president of America. 
First, Obama & McCain’s personal opinion of abortion is the same–they are both christian, pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong.  The difference between them is what they feel they should do with their beliefs. 
McCain believes that he is to change existing law to fit HIS morality.  While I happen to fully agree with his morals (on abortion at least), I don’t feel that the President of the United States should have the spiritual authority to press his personal morals on the rest of us.  What if he happened to feel strongly that women should only be permitted to give birth in a hospital?  I definitely don’t like the idea of the federal government making moral decisions, health decisions, or other such decisions for me.
Unlike McCain, Obama feels that his moral obligation starts & ends within his own church/household/family/friends.  He feels that–in a democratic society such as ours–each citizen should be allowed to implement his or her own moral believes freely.  I.e. the federal government shouldn’t be giving moral direction (that is the Pope’s job, afterall, right?).  Instead of changing the law to make abortion illegal, he supports implementing programs to educate women & (hopefully) make abortion less likely. 
If abortion is made illegal, it won’t make the abortion issue go away.  Abortions will still happen, just less safely.  And my concern is that banning abortion will open the floodgates for other federal laws that trample our basic freedom to choose what we think is morally correct.  Isn’t it better to encourage & educate each person to make their own moral decisions?  I’m all in favor of eliminating abortion to the fullest extent possible, but at a local level–through religious leaders, churches, support organizations, etc.
As a Catholic voter, I believe it is my duty to choose the candidate whom I feel will uphold the rights, liberties, and obligations I hold dearest.  Yes, one of those is the protection of all things innocent.  But, another (greater) duty is to protect each citizens’ right to hold their own conversations with God & the liberty of choosing their own moral path.  While I hope & pray that each mother chooses what I think is right, I don’t think that setting a president of letting federal government call those kinds of shots is morally right either.  Abortion, pro-life, pro-choice–it’s not a clear-cut, black and white, yes or no issue.  Unfortunately, the choice is simply which is the lesser of two evils.  For me, a person’s right to have their own conversation with God ranks highest. 
Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that the Church says is that it is immoral to vote for a pro-choice candidate BECAUSE s/he is pro-choice. However, we may vote for a pro-choice candidate despite being pro-choice IF there is a proportionate reason.  And, during this election especially, there are so many valid reasons not to support the pro-life candidate.  In all areas, Obama is more pro-humanity than McCain.  I hate to steal someone else’s words, but someone who posted at CatholicVote.com put it so well:

“Now, with regard to the election, I will vote for the candidate that most closely resembles the qualities I imagine Jesus to have – the darker skinned, thin man who worked with the needy, not the one who ridiculed him for doing so (”community organizer! sneer”) The one who comes from a humble beginning, not the warrior son of a warrior son of a warrior. The one who married a devout Christian woman of modest means, not the divorcer who married a wealthy heiress to a liquor fortune.
The gentle one who quotes scripture when he speaks, not the one who angrily vows to “fight! fight! fight!” The one who tries to understand and console those on both sides of the abortion issue, and does not blindly condemn those caught on one side of this always unfortunate situation. ‘Let those who are without sin…….’”

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me.  I’m curious.  It’s not an easy decision in any sense of the word. 
Your niece


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My mom forwarded a blog post to me the other day that, truth be told, royally pissed me off.

I briefly considered writing my own post about the new BirthTrack™ Continuous Labor Monitoring System, but Rixa (of The True Face of Birth blog) summed it up so well that I’d recommend reading her blog post on the subject.  I’m just going to add a little to Rixa’s post. 

After reading her post & checking out the BirthTrack™’s website, I was amazed.

What male, childless inventor decided this device was a brilliant idea?  Wherever he is, he should be castrated immediately and have his license to practice medicine revoked.

This is not the first device to be screwed into the baby’s head while still in the womb.  Fetal scalp electrodes have been around for years (according to this research FSE’s were used in 755 out of 1,000 live births in 1991).  FSE’s are routinely used in the hospital setting, despite the fact that research shows their use has no positive effect on fetal outcome.  Think they aren’t really screwed into the baby?  Try this hospital’s description on for size:

A long, plastic electrode guide will be inserted into your vagina. A small spiral wire at the end of the electrode will be placed against the fetal part and gently rotated into the fetal skin.”

After internal fetal heart rate monitoring, the electrode site on the newborn baby will be examined for infection, bruising, or a laceration. The site will be cleansed with an antiseptic.”

Risks of internal monitoring include, but are not limited to, infection and bruising of the fetal scalp or other body part.”

Fetal Scalp Electrode

Fetal Scalp Electrode

Way to say, “welcome to the world, little one”! 

There’s no “gently” about it, but at lease this hospital (who I’m not affiliated with and have nothing against) provides parents with information regarding the procedures they “offer”. 

That said, I didn’t intend to bash the FSE in this post, though I’d like to point out that EVERY pregnant woman/couple should DO THEIR RESEARCH and be aware of all aspects of pregnancy, labor, and birth (including medical devices such as the FSE) before writing their birth plan and agreeing to such procedures.

Back to BirthTrap…I mean BirthTrack™.  Not only does it involve the aforementioned FSE, but it also consists of two “clips” attached to the cervix.  The company’s marketing site states:

Also three sensors are attached: two to the cervix and another one which is incorporated into the fetal scalp electrode.”

Excuse me, that does not go there!  Also, and perhaps this question comes from my lack of understanding and there’s a logical answer, but wouldn’t two sensors clipped to the cervix interfere with proper dilation and effacement?  How is the cervix going to thin and stretch (efface) uniformly if these devices are clipped to it?  Also, what happens to the sensors as the baby descends through the vaginal canal?  I assume the answer to the latter question is that they’re crushed by the baby’s head as it passes through.  Umm….?  I know it’s overshadowed by birthing the baby, but ouch!

Take a look at the BirthTrack™ birth scene and tell me what’s wrong with their picture of “the perfect labor & delivery”:

Directly from BirthTrack's website

Directly from BirthTrack's website

First off, where is this woman’s support team (partner, family, or other)?  Where is her care provider?  Oh wait, their all sitting back watching the monitor–which is basically a robot that tells them “all they need to know”–instead of focusing on supporting the woman’s labor.  And of course she’s on her back, because you can’t get up or move around while continuous fetal monitoring is going on.  She’s also not allowed to keep her own clothes on, perhaps because it’s standard in many hospitals but also because FSE’s (and thus, by association, BirthTrack) increase the risk of infection, use of C-sections, and other procedures.  

And don’t get me started on what a sterile & over-controlled birth this scene portrays. 

Of course, that’s what BirthTrack™ is trying to represent: the ultimate in human control over birth–a naturally un-uniform, un-micromanageable event.  This “ability to control” mentality is the heart of their direct-to-consumer (that would be the mother-to-be) marketing scheme.  When it comes down to the bare bones of this marketing ploy, it’s all fluff.  The amount of actual, factual information offered to mothers-to-be is very, very scant.  They’re simply playing on an expectant mother’s fears by attempting to offer her a sense of control. 

Since by it’s very nature birth is uncontrollable, isn’t that false advertising?

What really gets me is that:

1) this company is introducing a product without a lot of research to back it up (“over 300 women” isn’t a large test group);

2) introducing it as the “latest and greatest” when it’s not (the FSE component has been around for many years and physicians/midwives routinely gather the cervical dilation/head station information less invasively);

3) marketing directly to expectant mothers without giving them substantial supporting information and research on which they can rely to make their decision to use this device;

4) expecting women to allow–hell, even to appreciate–their bodies and babies to be treated like machines with little concern for their comfort and safety.

In my opinion, the BirthTrap (I like my new name for it!) is a medical device to be considered for use on prisoners of war as an interrogation device, not on precious mothers and babies.

Just my two cents.  What do you think?

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