Friday, November 21, 2014

Hello. My name is Elissa and I leak pee.

Let me start by saying yes Mom, this is oversharing but I'm actively choosing to do it. 

And yes, I leak pee. I'm finding it annoying. Uncomfortable. Embarrassing  Humiliating. Kind of creepy. Incontinence ads and products are now harder to blatantly ignore. 

This year I finally mentioned it to my gynecologist. Last year and the year before I was too mortified to say anything but as the situation didn't  magically rectify itself I took a deep breath and said it out loud. Turns out there are specialists I can see and I could even get a Botox shot to staunch the flow (it's not really a flow, it's still just a leak). That thought was profoundly disturbing on many levels: 

A. I'm not a fan of Botox

B. I'm not a fan of needles anywhere near my bladder

C. from what I understand once Botox wears off the problem is worse than it was in the first place which could lead to

D. an endless cycle of bladder Botox shots 

In another vein entirely I spoke to a pelvic floor expert who educated me on what the pelvic floor does and how it's set up. I had no idea what there were two criss crossing bands of muscle, kind of like hammocks at right angles. And, that with concentration and practice you can work on strengthening individual bits. I can now tighten and release front, back, left and right. I only do this in private as I can't help but clench the corresponding parts of my face which I assume looks more than slightly ridiculous. 

It could be helping. It could be keeping things from getting worse. Not sure. 

That's another hard part about this aging/menopause process. There often aren't answers. And I like answers. I like finite. I like knowing. This is the opposite of knowing. 

I suppose in the general scheme of things I should be grateful that it's a pee leak and not a pee gush. 

Look at that, I found my pee silver lining. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

it's only a number

Yesterday, after having my blood pressure the nurse asked me to hop on the scale. 

Immediate reaction: boots or no boots? She said either way. So I gingerly stepped on and watched the black digital numbers quickly increase until they stopped at 145. 

145. 

And the spin began. 

I'd left my heavy shearling boots on. Plus my jeans and t shirt and sweater and scarf. That had to equal 5 pounds. 

Thoughts flooded over me. 

I weighed 142 when I started the kidney donor journey. 

137 when it was over. 

133 when I got pregnant with Iz

128 when I got pregnant with Jack. 

165 when I gave birth to both. 

123 when I was in art school desperately trying to be 118. 

106 at my anorexic thinnest. 

These pulsed through my head in mere seconds as the nurse asked questions. And then they stopped. 

Totally stopped. 

What never started, and this was the very first time in my adult life, was: 

you loser you are so fat you eat too much you have to go on a diet you don't exercise enough you pig you are so lame you'll never be thin you should be ashamed of yourself

Those repetitive, negative thoughts that were deeply embedded in me for as long as I can remember. I haven't owned a scale in close to 30 years because every time I stared at a number I didn't want to see that hateful rant would start in my head. I used to weigh myself as soon as I woke up, before and after I went to the bathroom, without clothes and then with. And I berated myself every single time. 

When I was pregnant and gained 9 pounds at the beginning the nurse chided me for gaining too fast. So I by the next visit I lost 3 pounds. We decided to keep my weight a secret from me going forward. I'd face away from the scale and she wouldn't leave my chart where I could see it. 

But yesterday, after that initial spin cycle I thought: 145. Ok. 

And then gratitude swamped me. For my healthy body. For answering no to every question on a very long, intimidating health questionnaire. For practicing yoga the day before. For donating a kidney. For walking to the office on a freezing cold day. For being fine with the clothes I fit into. For being a vegetarian. Even for giving up sugar to take care of myself. 

For appreciating this comfortable home my soul lives in.

It took until 50 to not care about what the number on the scale says. And at this point the number of my age doesn't phase me either. 

 

Monday, November 17, 2014

it's all sugars fault

Last night I treated myself to a heaping bowl of chocolate granola. Actually it was plain granola with chunks of chocolate throughout. In the recent past I enjoyed it so much that it became an unexpected addiction. Some days I was eating almost nothing else. And so, as I tend to do, I gave it up completely. 

Last night though I was feeling peckish (love that word) and I dipped my toe back into the chocolate granola pool. 

A. It wasn't as fabulous as I remember and 

B. I had trouble sleeping all night, waking up more than once sticky with sweat despite the fact that my bedroom was freezing cold. 

The last two times I encountered this hot flash situation (one for sure, the second time I'm not quite as certain), I'd eaten more sugar than I usually do. 

Could it be that, at least in me, sugar sets off hot flashes? 

Sigh. That would suck. I don't eat much sugar as a general rule but now that the weather is more wintery, every afternoon finds me on line somewhere, usually Starbucks, ordering a hot chocolate. With whipped cream. Mmmm. Hot chocolate with whipped cream.  
What a delicious finger warming, smile inducing mid afternoon treat. 

But pure sugar no matter how hard I try  to justify the calcium connection. 

And just perhaps it could be the cause of these night sweats. 

So, I'm giving up sugar for 40 days. Hoping it makes my nights cooler and more filled with actual sleep. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

wanting what you have

Wanting what you have.

I think that's a great concept. Something to aspire to. Appreciating how green my own grass is instead of coveting someone else's. Honestly I  live a life filled with gratitude. Most of the time. That's been one absolute bonus about getting older. My level of grateful, my ability to bypass drama far more often, my increased comfort in my own skin have been tremendous pluses during this part of the journey. 

But it's not all positive. It's not going to be all positive. With age comes good but also not so good. A first colonoscopy comes to mind. The gas output increase (my mother was rather horrified I shared that with the world). Those memory blips which can be remarkably disconcerting as I struggle to remember the name of an actress or where I put my keys or whether I already added flour to the batter. 

My drooping, purple lined, jiggly thighs (they deserve their own paragraph). 

Getting older is a microcosm of life in general. Positive and negative rolled together. Unexpected changes. Trying to maintain control but having to accept that I can't. Same old same old. 

But not really. It's never the same old same old in life. Not when you're really in it instead of just coasting. Aging can be a powerful reminder to be in the moment instead of being somewhere else. 

Hmmm. That was pretty profound. Am going to sit in that for awhile. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

my period really, really likes me

For the past few years my period has shown up every 23 or so days. More frequently than the average person and certainly more often than they used to. But for quite some time it's been remarkably punctual and by the book. Heightened anxiety beforehand. A craving for sweets. Massive cramps for half a day or so that on occasion require a hot water bottle intervention. And then after 4, maybe 5 days, we part ways for yet another cycle. 

And that's fine. It's all uneventful. Regular. Expected.

But yesterday my period turned up unexpectedly. Early. Even earlier than my ridiculous 23 day cycle. 

For this month we're at 21 days. 3 weeks. That's barely enough time for the bloating to subside before its starts up again. My skin can't decide whether to clear up or break out. 

I'm wondering if this is just a blip on the radar or if things are starting to shift in a bigger way. 

No answer to be had. 

But fingers are crossed this shortened cycle isn't a trend my period wants to stick with for the long term. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

hot flashes: 2 - me: zero

For the past two nights I've had trouble sleeping. Not falling asleep - that's usually not an issue - but staying that way. I've woken up sweaty, sweating, needing to be on top of blankets when usually I can only be burrowed under piles of them. 

Yup. Hot flashes. 

I laid there quietly, breathing my way through, hoping they'd pass quickly and never come back. They've brought my nemesis anxiety with them. Sigh. I work so hard to keep it at bay but here we are again. 

I'm wondering if I've been having too much sugar lately. Do I finally give up hot chocolate after saying I would for week? Or perhaps it's just chocolate in general. Maybe heat in the building when it's still warm outside. Could be stress of high school and now college searches. Facing big jobs I can't get myself to start. Too much volunteering with not enough making money. Not knowing what to make for dinner.

I want an answer. An explanation. A concrete reason why this is starting to happen. But, there isn't one. Learning to live and be ok with the unknown sucks. I suppose, looking at the bigger picture, we're always living in the unknown - it's just easier to pretend we're not most of the time. 

Today's another day where finding the gratitude is challenging. But I'm trying perhaps my metabolism is speeding up and all the sweating is ridding me of toxins on for size. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

not age appropriate

Today my 16 year old and I went thrifting. We discovered there's an outpost to a cool store we'd been to in Brooklyn not far from where we live so we spent a lovely fall afternoon walking uptown, prepared to browse. 

I walk in and was overwhelmed. Rack after rack jam packed with clothes. And then I felt old. Or at least too old to shop there. I, who am usually pretty comfortable in my skin felt dowdy, dumpy, embarrassed by everything from my messy hair to my hot pink Nikes. As my daughter fell in love with a full length sheer ball gown skirt, I scoured the racks and managed to pick out anything drab and grey. 

We tried things on and even she said most of what I picked was too shapeless, too conservative, too bland for me. 

While on one hand I know that, why do places like this make me feel so style-challenged, so insecure, so old?

I don't have an answer to this one, yet. But I'm hoping to find that grateful frame of mind from before so next time I thrift I'm not beating myself up quite so badly.