There’s no doubt 2020 has been a rough year and nobody would disagree that this year can eff right off for most of us.
But trying to find some pockets of positives, there’s been many for me in terms of slowing down, decluttering, simplifying, personal growth, self careand getting to finish those never ending projects.
But it’s fair to say for me personally the back end of 2018 was a hellish year of multiple health diagnosis that pretty much hit me one after the other and stopped my dead in my tracks.
In November 2018 Mr DL (aka hubs) and I were over at our neighbours place one sunny Sunday afternoon having a catch up and a coffee or two. The next morning I woke telling Mr DL I felt like I’d been drugged. I was foggy, fatigued and fragile. I figured it may have been the coffee, as I’m not a huge coffee drinker and am not allowed to drink caffeine in high volume, due to a long standing chronic illness I have, which I wrote about here.
So I figured I’d be fine once I got up and went about my day. But that did not happen, in fact it got worse by the day. I went to my local GP and I figured it must be my chronic illness that has flared up (even though I have not had any issues with my illness for more than a decade). So I was prescribed medication and off I went. The medication did not help so the GP prescribed a different medication, that too did not work.
One day lead into another, then one month lead into another month and I was getting worse. I started trying Acupuncture as well as seeing my local Osteopath on a regular basis. I did receive some relief from both of these practices, but it was always short lived.
I ended up seeing a Medical Acupunturist (which in layman’s terms is a doctor who specialises in Medical (not Chinese) Acupunture using a small device like a pen) who, in true doctor fashion, informed me that I would be cured in six sessions (mind you each session lasted no more than 8 minutes ~ wow he must be a Guru I thought). I walked out of my first session feeling very optimistic and hopeful, he’s a real specialist doctor after all and he came highly recommended. But again I was left despondent and disappointed after my not sixth, but eighth session, when I realised this too is not working.
My symptoms escalated and more constant symptoms were to follow ~
Each morning became somewhat successful if I was just able to get vertical and stay vertical. I became a bit of an emotional mess realising this hellish new reality of mine is not getting any better no matter what I try and after these daily symptoms lasting nearly two years of my life, it had finally taken its toll. I know that some of my symptoms were indeed exacerbated by anxiety, but I started feeling unwell way before I started being anxious.
I was now housebound (one saving grace is that I work from home), I could no longer go to the shops or grocery store on my own, I needed assistance from a family member to walk with me so I could hold onto them as lights and crowds send me into a lethal cocktail of brain fog, vertigo and crushing fatigue. I could barely put one foot in front of the other, feeling like I’m about to hit the deck at any moment. And to say that my family had no idea what to do or say to me was an understatement.
I was mostly battling this beast in silence and alone. On the outer I looked fine, but on the inside I was feeling like I’m going crazy or dying a slow insidious death. No Doctor has any answers which made me more frustrated and angry. Was I really going to have to live out all my years like this with no quality of life. That thought was unbearable to me, I just wanted to be well.
Soon after, I was diagnosed with PPPD (Persistent Perceptual Postural Dizziness) as my previous chronic illness that I have does give me intermittent vertigo, but my new recent vertigo has lasted every single day for the past two years, so it seems my chronic illness morphed into PPPD at some point, which is actually a thing, backed up by research and you can find out more about that here.
But of course there is no cure for PPPD either, I did find body scans do help a little (a form of meditation). But I wasn’t fully convinced I just had PPPD, even though vertigo is my most dominant symptom. My gut was telling me I hadn't gotten to the bottom of the real problem yet. Whilst I soldiered on I could feel myself continuing to slide down a slippery slope of more debilitating daily symptoms including more anxiety.
As I’ve previously written about here, I stumbled upon an article in late 2019 (a year after my symptoms began) on Vertigo and the link to a Hormone Imbalance...and instantly the PENNY DROPPED!!
To give you a quick back story when I was first diagnosed with my chronic illness about sixteen years ago I ended up going on the Contraceptive Pill (unrelated reason) about a year or so later. Since then I’ve been in great health for many years. I stopped taking the Pill in November 2018...BOOM ~ that cannot be a coincidence I said to ANYONE who would listen to my ranting. All my health issues started in November 2018. My own investigations had un-covered what was really going on, I FINALLY figured it out.
Back I go to see a new female GP this time. I go in with immense enthusiasm advising her of my NEW findings and self diagnosis and she just looked at me blank, she was dissing my self-diagnosis as rubbish, I could see it on her face, her thinking oh here we go, another crazy doctor google.
I asked to have my Hormones checked, she said that blood tests are not accurate as hormones fluctuate up and down on any given time of any given day, but I insisted she do the test and my results came back in semi normal range, grrhh!
This did not dampen my spirits one bit as I knew it was now a Hormone Imbalance and the onset of Peri-Menopause. I then asked my GP to put me back on the Pill to confirm my self diagnosis. She was very hesitant, as was I, as I was put on HRT patches (HRT is a very controversial topic) it increases the risk of breast cancer, stroke and blood clot but I was still relatively (46) young. Two weeks into using the HRT patches I felt fantastic, no vertigo, no fatigue, no mood swings, no anxiety ~ GONE! Even a little libido was back, hello Mr DL !!
I had so much energy, the old me was back, I was on top of the world, When I finished the four week trial I had to go off the patches so my doctor could re-assess things to see if the HRT in fact was the answer. One week after I went off the patches all my symptoms returned with avengence. This time the GP wanted to try me on just Progesterone (aka mini Pill) to see if Progesterone could be the solution (as taking progesterone is far safer than estrogen in your later years). But that alone did not work. In conclusion we found out my hormone imbalance was indeed more estrogen related.
I was however, reluctant to go back on the HRT long term due to the above risks, but the GP said I can only take it until I turn 50 regardless (that would buy me 4 years of good health), it was such a hard call to make, but my Mum talked me into going back on it, as she took HRT for five years many years earlier.
Sadly though I was unable to continue on the HRT as a few weeks back on the patches I started experiencing constant throbbing pain in my left leg and Mr DL and my GP made me stop immediately as it could have been a sign of potential blood clotting.
To say I was finally defeated by this point was a gigantic understatement. I spent many days after that in bed, struggling to come to terms with finally finding out what the HELL was wrong with me and not being able to take something that I knew made me feel better.
I did find myself in a mix of emotion ~ on the one hand having a sense of relief that my issues where in fact due to aging and the onset of Menopause ~ to anger and frustration that I had spent close to two years believing myself to be teetering on the brink of a serious illness or that I was loosing my tiny mind, with no earlier insight or investigation from my GP’s that it could in fact be hormonal.
So after a few pitty parties in my PJ’s I started to google all things Peri-Menopause and get acquainted with my new found friend (or should I say foe) after all we’re going to be spending a hell of a lot of time together over the next decade or two together, oh poor Mr DL, he’s in for a long bumpy ride!
A Hormone imbalance was reeking havoc on my body ever since I discontinued the Pill back in November 2018 and I wanted to learn more, as they say knowledge is power. But I also now needed to find a sustainable more natural solution that would help me through this next season of life.
I wanted to investigate more on why HRT is such a hot topic and what it really does to your body over time (more on Synthetic Hormones another day).
SO WHERE AM I NOW
Knowing HRT worked for me to make me feel a million bucks but unable to take it was (and somewhat still is) very soul crushing, but there is so much information out there to learn about Hormone Imbalances and I have no other choice but to get up and just get on with living and investigating.
If you’ve been around my blog before you’ll know I’m all about LESS and All Natural as much as possible. Peri-Menopause (and PPPD for that matter) does not just affect you internally, it’s also physical, mental, emotional & spiritual. The environment you live in, products you use in your home and on your body, your stress levels and the food you put in your mouth, all have a MASSIVE impact on your endocrine system and hormones. I want to find a long term Holistic approach.
I’ve been a Minimalist for many years and my home environment is clutter free and calm most days. I also use non toxic products to clean my home and put on my body as much as possible, so I can tick off those areas for starters. Stress is a biggie for most people and you can read this post here to help you become un-busy and reduce stress. I’m now focusing on the mental, spiritual, exercise and food to nourish me from the inside out to try to at least lesson my symptoms long term, remembering this will not be a sprint but more a marathon.
Since reading multiple articles on Peri-Menopause and doing my own research, so many other women in their mid-life have similar, if not some of the same symptoms as me. Many of these women had gone from being healthy, well-adjusted individuals to physical and emotional wrecks, in some cases overnight (like me). I finally found my tribe battling the same daily issues and it does help a little to know I’m now not alone in fighting this beast.
I still suffer all the above debilitating symptoms most days (as well as Osteopenia in both my wrists ~ a diagnosis I also received back in 2018 ~ more on that another day).
But I live with hope and I’m finding some things I’ve implemented over time do help and I have days where life is bearable now, even enjoyable somedays, and I’ve even recently ventured out of the house to my local small grocery store on my own a few times (baby steps).
So I know the things I’m actively implementing are having a positive impact and as I learn more I’ll add more into my daily routines (for my PPPD, Peri-Menopause & Osteopenia) to test them and share them with you along the way.