My Menopause JourneyFeb 27, 2023
Menopause is only a day...
Have you ever had the pleasure of reading a looong and very good book? You're excited for the ending but not sure what to do next?? Well, my friend, that's how I felt on January 11th and 12th of this year - when I experienced menopause!
So far, post menopause has proven to be a time of new ADVENTURE! I'm glad to be on the other side... but it didn't come without it's share of challenges!
Preparing to be "Prepared"
I spent 2022 preparing for my menopause. It was a year plagued with strange and seemingly unexplained symptoms: muscle pain, rollercoaster emotions, fatigue, strange skin issues, and sleep issues. The onset of the symptoms came after our January bout with the virus that will not be named. My husband and I spent the better part of winter recovering from the brain fog, lingering fatigue and muscle soreness that accompanied our sickness.
Spring came with a new challenge - severe hip pain. My hip woke me at night - so add sleep disruption to the pain. My hip reminded me it was there ALL DAY LONG! I visited my chiropractor, massage therapist, and physical therapist none of them could figure it out. No menses, low mood, exhausted. I began to dive into my data on my FEMM App and piece together what I could. I began to ask myself, "Am I going through the 'change'?"
By the end of March my moods became increasingly more difficult to navigate. By the grace of God this would be the year where my husband would be working less from home - it was a good thing and a not-so-good thing. I found myself lonely at times - my moods would swing and then I'd eat, I'd eat standing at the kitchen counter! It took several weeks for me to see the pattern - I wanted to move when the moods hit but... the pain in my hip! So, instead, I snacked and snacked some more.
By July, my BMI had ticked up along with my body weight... still no period! I saw little relief from a new massage therapist, my chiropractor was still mystified. During this month I traveled for Fidelis and then the unthinkable: IBS! Never in my life had I experienced something so painful and alarming! Let's just say that the 4.5 hour drive home was an adventure! I suffered silently for the next month. My husband's work became stressful and I didn't want to add to his stress - so, I kept my symptoms to myself.
August brought a vacation to Michigan for my birthday. It was on this trip that my husband became keenly aware of what I had been struggling with - to say I was embarrassed is an understatement! He became worried as he realized that for the better part of the year I had been experiencing so many physical issues.
A Glimmer of Hope
September sent me diving deeper into the symptoms which now included: hip pain, weight gain, mood swings, IBS, food sensitivities, bloating, night sweats, restless sleep and food cravings. Even my FEMM app was confused! LOL! As a FEMM educator, I could see the writing on the wall... even though I didn't really want to believe it was happening to ME!
Three phone calls: Mom, Gynecologist, and FEMM provider. My mom shared her menopause experience (thankfully, her symptoms were short lived - which meant mine "could" be too!), my gynecologist confirmed what I was experiencing and gave me a little info and some marching orders, and my FEMM provider ordered a full panel of blood work. Then, I prayed - prayed that there would be some answers but if there weren't, I prayed for His peace.
The gynecologist asked me to journal my food (go figure!!) to identify the bloating and IBS triggers. 30 days of logging my nutrition paid off as this prepared me for my FEMM appointment. Along with new protocols from the gynecologist and the chiropractor I was prompted to dive deeper into my nutrition in this season.
Hard Work - Big Change
With renewed vigor I remained in my research as I awaited results from all of the tests. The hip wasn't improving and the stress level was increasing with the lack of sleep. Late in September, while in my morning prayer the Holy Spirit helped me see... ESTROGEN - "I'll bet my hip is related to Estrogen", I thought!! Knowing Estrogen is related to inflammation in the body I searched PubMed for ANYTHING that I could get my hands on relating to estrogen and muscles!!
Let's just say St. Anthony threw me a bone! A study about estrogen and muscle recovery caught my eye! I reached out to the PTs and got a reply. Turned out my symptoms were pointing to exactly that!! Estrogen imbalance and the remedy... rest followed by directed strength work with longer periods of rest and recovery. I added a daily red clover tea infusion and a healthy dose of patience to my regimen.
While awaiting bloodwork results and strength gains, I turned to a Naturopath Endocrinologist which I had done some work with more than a decade ago (I had participated in a study he was conducting), I decided to work on my liver function. It was time for me to actively assist my liver repair and help it restore its efficiency.
In 28 days I saw tremendous change. Weight dropped, inflammation came down, sleep was more restful! Then... it happened, I was pain free!
In October the results were in...and I still hadn't had a period. My numbers were certainly pointing to menopause. My supplementation was tweaked a bit and then more waiting.
Clinically speaking, menopause is a DAY - it's THE day which marks one full year without menses. Knowing this, if I were to have any type of bleed at this point the year would start over. Fully aware, I maintained my charting, supplementation and strength training - all while monitoring nutrition and sleep! The most important work though, was the daily prayer habit which the Lord had graced me with!
Anchored in prayer, the holidays came with some sadness at the loss of several friends and community members - however, with more balance in my hormones, navigating the sadness wasn't as difficult as it might have been had I been where I was earlier in the year. Thanks be to God!
Awaiting the Inevitable
As the New Year came my menopause date was closing in! Now the gravity of my passing fertility began to be felt. There were some sad days, reminiscing my children in their youth, remembering the miscarriage, and navigating NFP with my husband. Good and bittersweet memories... all part of a healthy reproductive continuum marked with God's Providence, Mercy and Love!
Looking back with so much gratefulness for my marriage, my sons and ALL of you who have journeyed with me through the years! Now a new chapter is unfolding and I couldn't be more excited!
On January 12, menopause happened... on January 13, I began post-menopause with a renewed sense of what it means to be a wife, a mother... a woman!
Please join me on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 (4pm Eastern)* for the ICW Office Hour where I will explore menopause with you. I would like to provide insight on how you can navigate this season of your life. If you're not approaching menopause yet, well, this information just might be even more valuable! Looking back, I believe the Lord allowed me to experience these things in a big way so I could one day share this all with you... and maybe even assist you with your journey through the reproductive continuum.
Come and hear ideas and strategies for EVERY woman no matter her place in the continuum. My prayer is that this office hour will provide what you need to navigate some of the changes and challenges this season brings.
Menopause for me has been an incredible experience of God's grace and a reminder of His beautiful creation in the Female Human Body.
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*All ICW Office Hours are recorded and stored in the Living Integrated membership space at www.integratedcatholicwoman.com
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