Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Random Thoughts…

Some things on my mind today.  You may or may not agree or like them.  But then…this is my blog, right?  Right.
My list:
  • My Husband turned 30 this week. (Happy Birthday Dude!)…and with that birthday went any possibility of his being a dad “in his 20’s”.
  • I’m sure that in the top 12 thoughts of all people who discover their infertility, is the phrase: “And to think of all the money I spent on condoms!”Photobucket (more…)

A Special Shout-Out

A while back, I received this awesome email:

 My name is Kelly and I am a science teacher. I teach science and biology in our high school. A few of my summer students came across your site while researching for their current research project on topics related to fertility and reproductive health. (more…)

Scare Tactics: The Great Reproductive (in)Justice

BlackCelebKids posted this picture in their Hot Topics yesterday and my jaw hit my toes.

This billboard, is a part of an ad campaign by the pro-life group LifeAlways.

A billboard that reads, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” has been placed in the heart of SoHo by Life Always™ as a part of a new national campaign to expose the truth about how Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods as they perform over 300,000 abortions a year. This particular billboard is about half a mile from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Life Always board member Stephen Broden said that Planned Parenthood has had a devastating effect on the sustainability of the African American population.”

Sigh.
My heart is pained.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, there has been huge interest in Planned Parenthood since last week, when the House of Representatives, voted to strip the 95 year old organization of its federal funding. The decision was wrapped up in frilly bows and tape, but the bare bones of the matter is that it is centered around the pro-life movement.   Because Planned Parenthood does in fact offer abortion services,  these crafty legislators feel that they would much rather leave the three million people who use the clinics without care, than be involved with such an organization.

How intelligent. (more…)

Reproductive Health…in a Recession

If I’ve learned anything about politics, its that you can’t please everyone all the time.  No matter how you slice the bread, someone is always going to complain that they got the bad piece.  And in the case of decisions that include health or finance, there will always be one side staring at the other going, “I don’t get what you’re so worked up about”.  When the Affordable Care Act ,was instituted, allowing young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health coverage until age 26, I had quite the over-dramatic moment.  For the thousands of people who were boldly unimpressed with the President thus far, I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug his neck.  I guess, they’d never been where I’d been.

For me,  reading over the details in the fact sheet, it was hard not to remember how I felt myself, when I aged-out of my mom’s health insurance.  I was almost done with college, but silly me, I was not yet done with getting sick and having medical concerns.  No longer covered by my mom’s Blue Cross, I was the only person in my house subjected to making the emergency room, my primary care physician. When I finally got a job that included benefits, some two years later, I learned that health insurance was the fatted calf of all great jobs.  The fear of losing that security is what got me out of bed in the mornings, and for many of us, what kept us working at places we hated.

After finally grasping what it was like again to have a doctor to call, one who knew my name and symptoms, I never wanted to go back to the uncertainty of emergency medicine and unconcerned, overworked board of health doctors.  Well, for many of us facing unemployment and layoffs now, myself included, as well as those of us on a budget who pay for our own health insurance, we are once again looking down that barrel, and I am determined to not go at it with the same depressed attitude.  Health coverage or not, our bodies are worthy of adequate care, and we are the ones to make sure we get it.

For those of us whom our fertility is only a symptom of more pressing matters, not visiting the doctor regularly can be climactic.  For me, the irregular and massive menstrual cycles were just not going to allow me to stay away from the stirrups for too many long breaks.  Just when I would think everything was under control, She and I would spend a lovely 2 months together and I would finally have to go weeping into someone’s triage for relief.  Yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even urinary tract infections can also become reproductive health problems for which many women need recurring treatments and maintenance. Finding a comfortable place that can help us monitor our bodies until we can return to more regular care, is vital to creating a healthy reproductive tract.

In beginning my search for a health center, I started with Google.  I did a basic search for women’s health clinics in my area.  When I found a few that looked interesting, I also took my search over to Yelp.com, to check out the reviews.  Hearing what other patients are saying about their quality of care and bedside manner is an excellent tool in making your decision.

Private facilities with sliding scales are a great choice for those of us with little cash to spare, but a desire to remain on top of our health.  Many women’s clinics around the country provide specialized services and empowerment to those in need.  Here in Chicago, for instance, there is the Chicago Women’s Health Center.  This organization provides treatment on a sliding scale, with the lowest appointment fee being just $20, which is the cost of the lab work! The clinic focuses on educating women (including LGBT women) on how to  holistically take care of their bodies.  The health education aspect, along with the self-empowerment focus is what keeps many people who even HAVE insurance coming back to CWHC for years.  Check out the clinics in your area, and be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.  Find out what the fees are for the uninsured or if there are special programs to help you.

Fertility Note: Fertility awareness is taught on-site, which really stood out to me because most people seem to think that if you can’t afford to have a baby right now, you shouldn’t be planning for one, which I find to be a load of crap.

Speaking of special programs, investigate your state!  I found that here in Illinois, there is a Healthy Women card, that I was COMPLETELY unaware of back in the day when I was first uninsured (someone needs to step their publicity game up).  The “Pink Card”, as its called, provides every eligible woman in the state with coverage for reproductive health needs.  This includes yearly pap exams, testing, and basically any other issue that can be narrowed down to general gynecology, even tubal ligations for women over 21. The card is accepted at some doctors offices here, so it could be that some women are able to continue with the doctors they know!   There are different programs for Moms and Babies, and women with larger families or incomes, but this card is valid for the reproductive needs of women like me.  Investigate the programs that your state may have, because just like finding this out proved to me, some government agencies you’ll never know about until you look. (I found similar programs in Texas, Oregon, and Maryland to name a few)

Fertility Note: My favorite line from their website is this:

  • Patient education and counseling about women’s health, family planning and how to plan for a healthy pregnancy if and when you want to have a baby.

Illinois Healthy Women Card

Planned Parenthood remains a crowd favorite for many contraceptive choices, but it is important to note that they do provide gynecological exams and checkups as well.  The cost of many of these services depends on the location, so don’t hesitate to call them and inquire.  Planned Parenthood is a clean and trusted environment where women(and men), have gone for years.  Though I still cringe at the amount of reproductive health clinics that cleave solely to preventative medicine, I have to say that PP is greatly instrumental in keeping thousands of bodies safe and healthy for decades.

Fertility Note: While as I said, Planned Parenthood does seem to lean more towards contraception and abortion, according to their website, they are able to provide information on fertility services in your area if you ask during your appointment.  SO ASK.

Lastly, check out your County hospitals, community health centers and health departments.  These fall to the bottom of my list primarily because of the over-crowding and the enormous wait times,(or maybe that’s just here in Chicago), but I have to say that sometimes these hospitals have some of the best doctors.  They may take all day to get to you, because of the amount of other more serious cases, but when they do, they are going to leave no stone unturned. Do NOT let them intimidate you.  I experienced a colposcopy in one of the most unattractive and un-updated exam rooms, but I was also sure when I left that everything had been investigated.  The comfort of knowing I was healthy, far surpassed the discomfort of that dim, small room.  The health centers in your area may be much different than the ones I have experienced, but either way you owe it to yourself to at least visit and see what its about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  To find the community health centers near you, visit the websites of your county, city or village.  The fastest way though, is to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website and enter your zip code into the Clinic Locator.

With any place that you decide you’re most comfortable, do not leave out your fertility plans!  Even when I was down on my very worst luck, without two pennies to rub together, and in need of someone to please prescribe ANYTHING to slow or stop my periods, I did not leave out the fact that childbearing was something I was planning for.  The usual treatment option for PCOS related symptoms and irregular periods, is birth control pills.   I made sure to note my future plans because I did not want any prescriptions or treatments that would stall my process when I was able to move forward.  Whatever your situation, I hope you (and I) find health service alternatives that meet our goals and expectations, while allowing us to become healthy carriers for the lives we seek.  Not being able to afford building your family is NOT the same as not being able to afford PLANNING your family.

Recovery

I’m recovering.

I had surgery 4 days ago and it is coming along nicely. Well, what I think is nicely anyways. I decided that I would blog during my recovery because I have a ton of free time, and well now I actually have something to share. On the regular, I’m not just going to be typing away, boring you guys to tears with my regular…life. Nothing major goes on here, I’m just a regular infertile girl.  I am still at the same fertility clinic along with the same fertility doctor. But really, no major news. However, I did want to share with you guys about what I call my “maintenance drugs”, Metformin and Synthroid.

I call them maintenance drugs because they maintain my systems. I guess in a way they do make me more fertile, because they increase the functionality of my systems, but they don’t necessarily work on my reproductive system.  As I’ve been studying them, I have to say that I find it neat how blood sugar affects reproduction.

I haven’t had much to say lately, because I figured I would spare ya’ll most of  the boring details on the side effects and such.  Now that I have been taking these meds for a couple months, I think I have finally gotten used to them. In fact, I almost enjoy them. In my non-medical opinion I think increased functionality is great. The Synthroid is for a low thyroid which I never noticed that I had.  Below is a description from the US National Libary of Medicine:

Why is this medication prescribed?

Levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone, is used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Without this hormone, the body cannot function properly, resulting in: poor growth; slow speech; lack of energy; weight gain; hair loss; dry, thick skin; and increased sensitivity to cold. When taken correctly, levothyroxine reverses these symptoms. Levothyroxine is also used to treat congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism) and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).

If you had asked me three months ago had I have ever experienced any of these symptoms, I would have told you no… never noticed them. I thought those feelings were normal, and simply part of life in 2010. This is not the case. I definatly had those symptoms and more. I could have bitten your head off, but I’d been making attempts to exercise extreme control.  I chalked it up to genetics mostly, and anything else was just the throws of life.

I used to experience a world-wind of emotions daily, during which I would again, excerise extreme control. I guess you could say,I’m something of a ‘zen master’, (just kiddin LOL).  Being in the cypher with these drugs now, makes me a little sad that people go through feelings like this and never know that they don’t have to.  Never thinking to blame their thyroid.  Truly, knowledge is power.

A short time after I started on the Synthroid I started to feel more clear and even tempered and began to lose weight right away. Not only was I losing weight, but I was feeling less like I needed to depend on food period. I felt less hungry overall and amazingly like I could enjoy food more. (Ever had that “I’m tired of eating” feeling?)  Which kinda troubles me even more, now as I wonder if we shove food in our mouths to deal with poor bodily functions subconciously? Are people suffering an overweight existence, filled with inactivity due to an over/underactive thyroid?   Have I been inactive for most of my life because of said low thyroid? Obviously the weight loss is a plus, but overall my mood was in fact lifted, I even begin to thrive in my karate class.  Think about it, surely if you could enhance your ablilty to look over the “rim” of whatever “you ‘think’ may be holding you back”, and be physically  lighter while doing so… well, wouldn’t you then just go on ahead and climb over the top, of  ‘that thing’  holding you back? Possibly, defeating said ‘depressing feelings’ you never knew you had, never needing the help of anti-depressants, illegal drugs, and other mood stimulations and alterers?  Deep, but that is exactly how taking Synthroid (levothyroxine) makes me feel.

My previous experiences of speaking up to my health care providers about my infertility had landed me in the ring with Estrogen and anti-depressants. Which to me, is a bit much, not to mention the fact that in my case, the drugs won. I couldn’t tell whether I was coming or going and I didn’t really feel like I was getting better. I just felt medicated and trapped. I was curious to know if I would be on these mood simulators for the rest of my life, attempting to get pregnant for what I hoped would only be a short time.  Personally, I don’t think anti-depressants are appropriate for me.  I don’t consider myself a depressed person.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in some cases that they are necessary, but I also believe they are over-prescribed.  So present day,  I reluctantly began the fertility process again, because  I just couldn’t wrap my mind around needing Zoloft because of an hormone deficency.  For that to make sense, at least the way this doctor was making me feel, it would mean that even if I possessed all the estrogen of a normal woman my age… I would be ‘depressed’ and in need of anti-depressants.  To me, that didn’t make much sense.

The difference between then and now is not only does this Synthroid sound like it makes sense , but it feels like it too. I feel like I have had a little boost.  Like I imagine it feels like this to drink supplements everyday. The Metformin is completely different. Let’s be honest, the restroom related side-effects totally suck. But, again…it’s all about the functionality. My initial readings about PCOS appear, in this case, to be correct. I was insulin resistant. So, before I even started at this fertility clinic I altered my diet to mostly vegetraian.  Bottom line from what I can tell, the veggies are much easier for your body to digest and handle. The veggies don’t produce as much glucose and in turn are much easier on the kidney’s.  As I have said before, I am not a doctor. I most likely cannot explain what I read, they way my brain broke it down to help all my readers understand. First of all I gained all my knowledge on the subject from two books: Skinny Bitch by Rory Fieldman and Kim Barnouin and also” The Complete Idiots Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss“.  From what I can tell tell, glucose +insulin resistance =fat. Later we will research and explore more options and perhaps collect a bit more information about the subject. But when my doctor prescribed me Metformin, it began to regulate said glucose and I immediately noticed the changes. Besides the obvious weight loss, I also feel less sluggish and bloated.

Because I don’t know all the ins and outs of these drugs, I figured I would leave that talk to the experts, give ya’ll a break from my mouth, and catch ya’ll up while I lay here and recover. This is not my first battle with the knife. I have had two bikini-cut cystectomies and a laproscopic apendextomy. Now there’s something that will depress you; The thought that the only bikini you’ll wear through your 20’s is the cut from surgery. Your young body ruined, in this culture?!? Let me be the first one to tell you how well that goes along with these shallow people this day in age. Fortunately, I have a firm foundation in Jesus Christ and a healthy body image as well.  In addition to that, I have had relationships with nurturing indivsuals who understood the huge seperation in my abdomen and the flap of skin that goes with it, but had I had low self esteem or aspirations of modeling I would need that Zoloft.  My point is that I am glad to be on these ‘maintenance drugs’ that have made me feel better than Lexapro ever could.

But back to present day, I had the surgery, and to be honest with you, I have no idea what he even did. I know he removed a polyp but he said if there was any other issues to address he would handle them while he was in there. Of course my momma told me what he said but I was super druggy so… I have no idea what he said. I know there was some ‘clean-up’ involved and some removing of scar tissue  from previous surgeries but I guess that could be classified as ‘clean-up’. It may be too early to tell but, I think this surgery went pretty good. This isn’t the worst pain I’ve ever felt. At least I didn’t get cut in half  again, right?

Books and Articles Referenced in this post:

Beale, Lucy, and Joan Clark-Warner. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss. New York, NY: Alpha, 2010. Print.

Freedman, Rory, and Kim Barnouin. Skinny Bitch: a No-nonsense, Tough-love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! Philadelphia: Running, 2005. Print.

“PubMed Health – Levothyroxine.” Web. 16 Oct. 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000684&gt;.

Do Not Lose Weight to Get Pregnant

Warning: I’m going to use the word HATE, a lot in this post.  I HATE being told what to do.   I hate seeing weight in the top list of things that cause infertility.  I hate that it is something I cannot seem to get a handle on.

I mean, the most aggravating part is the feeling that I JUST got comfortable with me.  I just got to the point, a few years ago, where I don’t cringe at mirrors or slink embarrassingly into Ashley Stewart at the mall.   I have to say I’ve been completely annoyed when doctors have given me the obligatory “you should lose weight if you want to get pregnant“, speech when I usually walk out of their office and find three or four fellow big-girls who just happen to be in their second trimester sitting in the waiting room. That feeling is one I can’t really describe.  It’s like not being picked for the basketball team because you’re too short, and then seeing Mugsy Bogues on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  To put it into words it is “Are you effin kidding me“, personified.

Exhibit A: Hater Baby

While we’re on that subject, I also have to admit a sheer hatred for the fact that a baby which doesn’t exist yet, has the power to control what I eat, drink and do.  Heffa’s that turn up pregnant on “oop’s” mode don’t worry about how many glasses of wine they have, or how certain foods affect their cervical mucous.  In fact, they are probably eating and drinking the very things I’m warned about, when they turn up unexpectedly expecting.  Yet here I am, being frowned at by some invisible Ally McBeal-esque kid who is completely against my affinity towards tasty wine.

Weight loss and I just don’t get along.  We’ve dated a few times, but I found that we were incompatible.  Primarily because PCOS kept messing up our good thing. I would gorge on water and fruit, only to find that my fitness buddies were dropping pounds drastically, while I would shed only one or two.  I would walk faithfully after school or work, only to discover that aside from a few muscle spasms, I was going to be the same chick two months later.  I scarfed down Xenadrine horse pills but all I’d get were jittery nerves. Every three months, without fail, well…actually due to fail, I would give up.  I would throw in my towel symbolically with a trip to the nearest fish-house and celebrate my freedom with catfish nuggets.

At the time, I was unsure what PCOS was, or how it could affect weight.  I had, however,  been warned about my thyroid and how it murdered my BMI. I put myself in thyroid boot camp for a while, and I have to admit, I kicked it into high gear when infertility became an issue.  I figured that logically, if the hypothyroid was the “problem”, then obviously once I started taking the thyroid medication, and doing what I’d always done, the weight would dissipate.  Right. I’m sure you know how that turned out.

The next thought was that if it wasn’t thyroid, it had to be something else.  There had to be a “reason”.  Especially since I don’t eat much, and I was walking and exercising again, right?  So I moved from Xenadrine to Xenical(prescription-strength Alli).  I lost ONE dress size.  ONE.  Do you know how that feels?  I’ll tell you. It doesn’t feel good.

In fact, it feels downright flip a table-worthy.Photobucket

So now, here I am…the largest I’ve ever been, give or take a couple dress sizes.  And while I’m mostly comfortable with me,…I’m sad.  Sad because I don’t have the willpower or to be more honest, the willingness, to put myself through the weight-loss ringer anymore.  Should I lose weight?  Yes?  Do I feel like it? No.  I feel as though I could walk from here to Nebraska and get there ten pounds heavier than I left.  I feel as though the next “reason” for my size will only depress me more than the glass of Kool-Aid I just had, ever could.  And at the end of it all, I have to whine by admitting I still get annoyed at the 400lb chick somewhere pregnant with twins.  And I don’t care who tries to convince me that she is probably having a more difficult pregnancy because of it.  I’m stubborn and shallow like that.

I don’t want to lose weight just to have a baby.  I think that would suck.  And you know what?  I’m right.

Your fertility, while very important, should not be the driving factor for your fitness.  YOU, should be.  Yeah, I slipped that twist in on you, I’m sorry about that. You see, my having children is important to me, but so is NOT developing diabetes, breast cancer or high blood pressure.  I’m not going to make any promises to you, or proclaim that this is my “Resolution moment”, I’ve just realized a few things that I’m going to share.  Get a pen. (Or copy/paste, whatever you wanna do)

Mrs.Tiye’s Things Realized about Healthy living:

  1. Soda/Pop whatever you call it in your neck of the woods…ain’t nothing but water and sugar when your break it down.  Don’t believe me?  Sit your RC cola out for a couple hours and let it get flat.  Take a nice swig.  There, you see?  Now, if you really want to have a hissy fit about water and sugar our problem is bigger than we thought.
  2. Baked food is just as good as fried food, and if you need that crunch, bake it in breadcrumbs.
  3. Just because you hated your grandmother’s steamed okra, doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat it fried now.  Find a way to cook your veggies that YOU like, without killing all their nutrients in Crisco.  Even french fries can be baked you know.
  4. Water actually tastes good.  If you need “flavor”, as my friends and I like to whine about, throw in a slice of fruit or use frozen grapes instead of ice.  It is a thirst-quencher like none-other and citrus is good for you.
  5. If it’s in “walking distance”,…walk to it.  I have driven to the 7Eleven on my corner more times than I care to mention.  Its just embarrassingly lazy when you think about it.
  6. If my body was an apartment building, and I was a baby looking for a place to move into…I would fire my Realtor for showing it to me.
  7. What is the sense in bringing a child into this world who has boundless energy, if you won’t be able to keep up with them?  And when they move out and go to college, you want to be fit enough to keep your party going long after.

Lose weight to get healthy, not pregnant.  You will thank YOU for it later, and so will your future grandchildren.

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