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Archive for April, 2010

It’ll take years before heads stop tilting when I say what I do:

Person I’ve Just Met: “Oh, you’re a doctor?”

Me: “Yes, I am.”

PIJM: “What specialty?”

Me: “I’m an OBGyn. My specialty is Menopause Care.”

PIJM: (Head tilting, brows knit.) …Oh…?

Unless, of course, the PIJM is a woman in menopause who has had a difficult time of it. Her response is generally, “Finally!”

Yes, Finally!

It took a very long time for the medical community to to take the physical and psychological changes that come with the menopause seriously at all. And it took still longer before we began developing supportive products and discovering treatments that help ease the suffering of the women (not all women suffer, thank goodness) who have a difficult transition into their menopause.

This means you really don’t need to tough out the meaner symptoms that disrupt your life. Yes, menopause is a “natural” event. So is birth. So is becoming nearsighted. So is the degeneration of our joints. Few of us manage these transitions without the benefit of recent technologies or treatments. And you don’t have to, either.

Just talk to your doctor. Tell her or him that you’re finding that menopause is making life uncomfortable for you, and ask whether your doc is comfortable helping you explore your treatment options. If not, you can be referred to a menopause care provider. Or if you know you’d be uncomfortable discussing this with your primary care doctor, simply find your own menopause care provider and ask for a referral.

Menopause care providers have studied to treat the symptoms of women in menopause. You can find a list of them at the website of the North American Menopause Society (www.menopause.org).  And if you don’t have a NAMS-listed provider nearby, ask your OBGyn for help.

We’ve got it better than our mothers did. All of our lives we’ve demanded that medicine do a better job at women’s healthcare. And healthcare providers are working hard to catch up. Finally!

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A story is necessary to bring about the appropriate emotion…

When I was in my early 40s, I decided I needed to run a big race. Not so much a long race, but a big one, with crowds and a chip on my shoe and a finish line and a medal. A real race. At the time I was pretty heavy, but working on getting leaner, and putting a big race out in front of me seemed a good goal. Something to look forward to, and a kind of capstone to all the hard work of losing weight and getting fit.

As it happened, the perfect race would be run in Dublin at a time when I planned to be in Ireland anyway, riding in my husband’s bags as he went there to teach for one lovely month of May.

This race is an annual 8K, dubbed a mini-marathon, run entirely by women, and doubles as one of the biggest fund-raising events in Ireland every year. That day 40,000 women gathered in the center of the city to await the starting gun. Tradition dictates that  all these women together sing the first verse of the old Irish folk song, Molly Malone, just before the race starts…

In Dublin’s fair city
Where the girls are all pretty
I first set my eyes on Miss Molly Malone.
As she wheeled her wheel barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying “Cockles! And Mussels! Alive! Alive-O!”
Alive! Alive-O! Alive! Alive-O!
Crying “Cockles! And Mussels! Alive! Alive-O”

This makes absolutely every woman in the field begin their run with tears streaming down their faces, and feeling the ghost of Molly in their hearts, and feeling very much alive. I haven’t quite felt so glad and proud to be alive and kicking as I was that day.

Until today. Because tomorrow, MiddlesexMD.com goes live. We’re all thrilled and a little terrified, waiting here, at the starting line.

This blog has been a bit quiet for the past month as we’ve all been hurling ourselves into our final wind-sprints. This is an amazing group of experienced, wise, and funny midlife women who have worked hard for a year now to pull off Dr. Barb DePree’s dream of a smart, informative, trustworthy place for women in menopause to explore and sustain their sexuality for life.

And it has been a dream project. Important. Fascinating. We have learned so much, and look forward to learning so much more. Learning from you, for you, and making all the necessary connections that women our age need to keep feeling Alive! Alive-O!

Please take the time to take a peek soon, and tell us what you think!

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