To be blunt, for me, this has been the Summer from Hell. To be totally honest, it was months in the making.
The fact that I’m sitting here able to type this Tale of Woe is testament to the power of prayer, the help of many – and sheer Redheaded Determination.
Sitting here typing, I’m still weak and lightheaded and break out in occasional hot flashes that make me want to throw up.
At least I now know what ‘It’ is and with each day that passes, the prescribed medications drag me closer to Wellness. Oh, please hurry…
But first, let’s backtrack:
Last March, after rather a crushing career blow that wiped away a year and a half’s worth of heartfelt work, I felt depressed and tired. Who wouldn’t?
Writing it off to a depression that could be explained, I continued beating myself through the Day in, Day out tasks of Life. There were mornings when it was hard to get out of bed, but I did. Then came increasingly stiff and painful joints. Working out became harder and harder and I became weaker and weaker. I finally stopped.
After an hour of watching TV, I’d get up from my chair and lurch across the room like Frankenstein. My ankles and feet didn’t pivot and the stiffness was unreal. Pulling up the covers at night actually hurt my fingers so much it disturbed my sleep.
Then, despite the vitamins and minerals I regularly take, there came the awful sensation of pins and needles – and what felt like snakes slithering underneath my skin and through my muscles…I wrote this off as being stress-induced inflammation and a lack of exercise.
Then came dizziness and lightheadedness, which made driving loads of fun. Then inability to handle heat and light…then my blood sugar began to drop out from under me EVERY SINGLE HOUR… then my blood pressure followed suit. And then the real clincher: profound anxiety and panic attacks.
I panicked in the grocery store, in elevators, while driving, while in the shower and finally, while lying in bed. It was UNBEARABLE.
I finally canceled all meetings and appointments and just stayed in the house. I then started developing Claustrophobia– on top of Agoraphobia. I eventually began to resemble Bill The Cat. Remember him??!? Not a good look….
I wasn’t up to much by this time. I was losing Myself, and in a major way. My self-esteem plummeted, and a bit of strange, doughy weight showed up on my midsection.
Just Kill Me Now.
One day while managing to drag myself to our local small-town pharmacy, the Pharmacist (a friend of mine) asked me how I was doing. I’m sure he asked because he already knew by looking…
I proceeded to tell him I feared I was permanently broken. He asked for clarification and out of me poured the torrent. As I hyperventilated and broke into a sweat, a small smile curved one side of his mouth. He glanced around and then leaned in. He then looked me square in the eye and whispered ‘Carrie, you’re out of Estrogen. And I mean OUT.’
I scoffed. ‘I went through Menopause over 14 months ago. I’m way past that Dave…’
The other half of his mouth smiled and he said one word: ‘TEXTBOOK’.
By this time, I’d already dragged myself to my Naturopath and she’d run me through the wringer: every test -and then some – and a complete saliva hormone panel. No stone left unturned. The problem was it would take 2 weeks to get the test results back. My battle to survive -and not lose my mind during the wait- began.
While I waited, I did what any self-respecting person would do: I made an appointment with Dr. Google…
After Googling all my many, varied and horrible symptoms, up popped chat room after chat room filled with suffering women the world over, all begging for answers. And Whammo! I soon discovered I was NOT alone. All these severe symptoms of menopause are unfortunately rather common. The Far Side of Menopause. The Dark Side of the Menopause Moon.
Now, I’ve been a Menopause specialist for years. I know this stuff backwards and forwards. But THIS… this was a hellish demon unlike anything I’d ever encountered. I had my suspicions but decided it had to be an autoimmune condition because it was far too horrible to just be plain ol’ Menopause. WRONG.
After 2 weeks of white knuckling, my test results came back. All was A-OK, EXCEPT MY ESTROGEN LEVELS. There were none. And I mean NONE. They couldn’t even get a reading, mine were so low. I actually have levels of estrogen so low they’re considered dangerous. Who knew. When my ND told me the news, I burst into tears. And then sweat. And then I had a panic attack.
Like almost everyone else in the world, I’d been following the Keto diet for 2 years and upon reviewing my medical record she discovered that she’d pulled me off my bio identical hormones in 2014 so that I could transition into Menopause naturally. Things had seemingly gone just fine, but as the stresses in my life accrued and the Keto lifestyle dragged on, my brain dumped its serotonin stores and my estrogen tanked totally. The Hellish Demon got its claws into me and before I knew it, within a matter of a couple months, any sense of self, any ability to function flew out the window. As she described it, my plummet was 4 times what the average woman’s plummet would be because of these 2 factors.
I tell you this Tale of Woe so that hopefully 1) you won’t have to follow in my footsteps and 2) if you find yourself ‘There’ already, you’ll be able to take comfort and hang on. Get thee to your ND/MD, have a complete hormonal panel run and see where you stand.
The sad fact of the matter is this: in this day and age, there are women out there terrified they’re losing their minds, STILL. There are women out there in need of help- and help is not coming. STILL. Had I gone to my MD, my help would not have come either. He refuses to prescribe any hormones for his middle-aged patients because he doesn’t believe in them. His answer: anxiety medications and antidepressants. This is heartbreaking and horrifying all at the same time.
I’m now taking compounded, topical bio identical estrogens (my Lady Cream as I like to call it) and a bit of Progesterone cream for balance. Within 2 days, the awful stiffness and joint pain went away and hasn’t returned. I’m now off the Keto diet and am adding a bit of sweet potatoes and cellular sugars to help with Serotonin development, back to the more balanced Paleo diet instead. I’m sleeping much better and little by little, my body is relaxing. It’s going to take time to get my estrogen and serotonin levels up but with each day a bit of Me returns and the awful symptoms subside.
If you’re suffering, please realize you’re not alone and get the help you need. We don’t need to SUFFER our way through life! There is help but if you don’t take it upon yourself to reach out and grasp it, you’ll be left to suffer in the dark and scary woods alone.
Needless to say, once my Dr.’s appointment was over, I called Dave the Pharmacist. When I told him the news, he laughed and then he said “Carrie, Night and Day! It’s going to be like Night and Day once these creams start working. You’re going to feel like you’re 20 all over again!”
I’ll take 54 and not at Death’s Door, thank you very much…. come On Lady Cream!!
Copyright 2018 Carrie E. Pierce all rights reserved
Health and Beauty has been Carrie E. Pierce’s career focus for over 28 years.
Throughout her career, Carrie has served as: Guest and Corporate Makeup Artist for numerous major, international cosmetic companies and as a Hollywood film, TV and special effects makeup artist.
She’s provided skin care and makeup services for the fashion industry, as well as restorative make up procedures for burn and scar patients, cancer patients, domestic violence survivors and women suffering with self-esteem issues.
Carrie is a licensed Aesthetician, Certified Color Analyst, Menopause Skin Care Specialist, Author and Co Host of a nationally syndicated radio show.
Together with Life Coach Kris Cavanaugh Castro, Carrie has co created a coaching program created especially for Midlife women- and the men who love them. Called ‘Making Peace With Menopause’ this program covers the myriad health, beauty, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of the Menopause journey.
It’s Carrie’s mission and her passion to help women be the best they can be – especially as they move through Midlife!