There is one thing that those who know me well realize, and you will also come to realize if you stick around for a while. Time is a relative concept for me. When I say that I’ll post the rest of the story “tomorrow”, that means tomorrow”ish”. Just like my daughter’s school start time is 8:15″ish”. I was born with the procrastinator’s curse; it sometimes even annoys me. So here, without further ado, albeit a day or so late, is the rest of the story…
When we last met, I was sitting across the desk from the new integrative MD, soaking in his tons of advice to prevent breast cancer recurrence while simultaneously scanning his entire being for self-doubt or hesitation. I can’t help it; it’s what I do. I have to think that you know more than I do, or at least that you believe you do, before I’ll listen to one iota of what you’re telling me. As I related last time, I saw no chinks in his armor, and I was fairly impressed.
One of my main purposes in making the appointment was to find out if it would be possible in any way, shape, or form to use bioidentical hormones to feel like more alive and womanly. Now, I have it better than many “menopausal” ladies, meaning that I sleep pretty well most nights, I only have a few, minor hot flashes, and my energy level is decent. If the only concern was hot flashes, I’d have this licked.
No, the nagging problem that makes me willing to put myself at great potential risk is a combination of apathy, mood swings, and an overall feeling that I may never be “happy” or fully functional again. I’m not miserable or suicidal; I’m just blah. Blah at work, blah in love, or on bad days, fighting with myself to keep from snapping at my kids. I’ve given up on the chiropractic office idea for now because it feels too overwhelming. I feel very withdrawn from the outside world. And I know from experience that all this is due to low estrogen. I’ve reacted badly to hormone fluctuations my whole life, and this is the mother of all roller coasters!
So, I’ve made the decision to go ahead with the hormones….
I was relieved to see that there was a prescription for hormone cream sitting prominently on the doctor’s desk when I walked in. I talked to him about Dr. Wright’s work, and he said that Dr. Wright was one of his biggest teachers. He told me that the key to hormones is balance and that without even testing me, he could tell me that mine, at this moment, “sucks”.
He said that menopausal women no longer make much estriol, estradiol, or progesterone. What they make from their fat cells is estrone, a potent form of estrogen. Without estriol and progesterone to balance it, it has the potential to cause cancer. So it is actually dangerous, from this perspective, to deny someone in my situation the opportunity to balance her hormones. Not a mainstream opinion, for sure, but one that has merit.
When I got over my initial excitement about the hormone prescription, I saw one next to it for Arimidex, the ugly step-sister of Femara. I’m sure my jaw dropped as I thought “WTF!!??”. After all this expense and gut-wrenching doubt, he wants to put me on an estrogen blocker? I had to object. “I know several ladies who’ve taken this, and I really just don’t want to do it. The side effects are terrible. The joint pain, the brain fog, etc.”
He looked at me with a knowing smile. “The side effects are terrible because they have no estrogen. I’m going to give you estrogen, so I expect you to do fine.”
“Then why are you giving me Arimidex?”
“Because I don’t want you converting any estrogen to estrone. The aromatase inhibitors stop that conversion. So I want you to take the hormones for about a week and then start the Arimidex.”
Ok, well I sure didn’t see that one coming, and I’m not sure I like it. I already vetoed Tamoxifen, and here we go again. Maybe I can bring myself to take it if he’s telling the truth and I can sidestep the bad stuff.
In addition to the hormones, I got a lot of supplement and diet recommendations, B12 shots, and labs including a hair analysis test for heavy metals. I felt pretty good, like I finally had a plan.
And then I started the hormones. Not at all what I was expecting. Stay tuned for the riveting conclusion…