after consulting with a reproductive endocrinologist…

May 9, 2012

illness, pregnancy

I’ve been talking to the universe (again). Alone in my car I’ll say, “So, universe, listen up.” Then I’ll continue, aloud, for a decent stretch, the way one would shoot the shit with a sister. Though I try to get to the damn point already, in case the universe has ADD.

Since I share this freely, I might as well disclose that I also make a point of visualizing things each morning and last thing I do before sleep. I don’t actually see anything, but I try to imagine myself in the life setting I want. Then—wait for it—I speak in present tense, as if I’m already living the life I desire.

With whatever it is I want, I speak as if I already have it. I don’t just speak it, I visualize it and imagine myself in it, hoping to feel at least a little of the “giddy.” For me, giddy is the feeling I most want to experience. Monetary freedom, for example, isn’t a feeling. Carefree and breezy, feelings (and a creative weather forecast).

“Amazing,” I say from my current kitchen, “I could choose to read this cookbook in my white library room, the sun soaked one that still manages to keep reliably cool and glare free, the one with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a rolling ladder, right there down the hall. Choice is up to me.” Imagining that I actually have this option stirs something up in me. Kick in the step, swagger in the walk, ass in the shake (ass comes first when we’re talking this much ass).

I imagine and speak in specific details, for example, of my kitchen, the one with the surround sound and flat-paneled TV that pulls out from the ceiling into which it’s built. The very one near my espresso bar station.

Lately our little talks have been about health. Not my health, actually, but of those very close to me who’ve been struggling. People I love dearly, people who show up in my dreams. They’ve been going through some tough things. I speak as if they’re already well, then visualize them surrounded by healing golden light, in a bubble of it, radiating nourishment and healing… just to keep them so healthy, see?

Freakish

Today, after meeting with a reproductive endocrinologist and being handed the news that yes, I am, in premature menopause, and yes the bone density tests reveal that I have mild hip osteopenia (T score of -1.54) and a normal to low spinal T score of (-1.26), I got into my car and summoned the universe to listen up but good. Then, I said, “Thank you.” Seriously.

“No, it’s not the greatest news here, but it truly could be so much worse. Thank you for guiding me into that doctor’s office when you did, so they were able to discover this now, not ten years from now. I’m already healthy and strong, and this really will only make me stronger. Do I love the idea of “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?” Of course not. I am terrified of this option and don’t know what my other options are. Have there even been any studies of women in their 30s and HRT? Not that I’ve found. “Pig,” I’ve heard before. But “Guinea Pig” is in a whole other league.

All this in combination with anti-osteoporosis drugs like Atelvia or Actonel for my bones, which I believe with long term use creates micro-fractures. This is scary and it sucks, but. But it could be life-threatening news, and I’m deeply thankful that it’s not.

Maybe this happened to me so I could write about it and reach someone who might otherwise have taken longer to drag her vag into the gyn. “She’ll then thank you universe, for having me go through this (even though it sounds kind of evil, I know it’s not). That’s what we’re here for right? To serve, to give of ourselves, to share for a greater good; we’re all connected, parts of the same thing, a part of you universe, or God, or whatever created our existence. So, thank you. Now you can make a note that I’ve received the message and there’s no reason to give me any more shit to write about.”

AMH blood testing will confirm the premature menopause one way or another, but based on the magic wand up the crotch maneuver, today’s ultrasound, where my girly gadgets were measured, gave the reproductive endocrinologist a better picture of what’s going on. And what’s going on is NOT poly-cystic ovaries. “What I’m seeing here looks consistent with menopause. There are no cysts. Nothing.”

“So, I should just assume I’m in premature menopause, without needing the AMH test results?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Then we talked cause to this unusual effect. What could have caused this, for me to be 1 in 250 women to go into premature menopause? Genetic and thyroid and attacking ovarian antibody tests have been ordered, more blood drawn, results to follow… IN TWO FCUKING WEEKS.

“You do realize I have to live with this woman,” Phil said to the doctor.

“I will drive him crazy, it’s true,” I said. Though, he will get off easy, being in New York for another two weeks beginning on the night of Mother’s Day. Still, I can be very “present” over the phone.

“Okay, how about this? If anything comes across my desk before then, anything major, I will call you before our May 25th appointment?”

Oh, joy. I’m turning off my phone now. Er, I mean, “I am already well.” They will find nothing in these blood tests. No underlying autoimmune or genetic disorders. Right people? Go on, please say it aloud for me, okay?

“She’s totally normal, ______ (Universe, G-d, Great Creator. Insert your favorite flavor)… for a woman who talks to herself as much as she does.”

May 25. You’ve got to hang in there with my crazy until then. After I shut off my phone, I’m going back to my dream kitchen to make foods, which according to my Five-Elements Acupuncturist sister, “draw out the damp.” A wing and a prayer, people.

Also, something near my heart or my actual heart has been feeling funky. Maybe it’s a pulled muscle or something on the surface, from where my laptop pokes into me when it slides up as I type with the laptop on my stomach. So tomorrow I have an appointment scheduled with Phil’s cardiologist. Let the good times roll. Next week I’ll schedule a mammogram, just to get it all over with at once. Then I’ll go shopping for jeans and bathing suits.

Like I said, if you’re reading this, it could be because you’re supposed to. So get yourself current with your doctors and blood tests, just for piece of mind. And send this on to your own loved ones because this universe might want to get in touch with someone through the shit it’s making me go through. So let this body of mine do another body good.

Get On It (Keep On It)

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33 Responses to “after consulting with a reproductive endocrinologist…”

  1. beth Says:

    Thank you for sharing; yes, get it all over at once and then decide on a course of action. Then move onward and upward.
    You are a great woman and you will be fine.

    Reply

  2. Audrey Says:

    So, I’ve been an avid fan for years, but all of your posts on early menopause have been quite frustrating. I just want to shake you and say, “Get a hold of yourself! There are many worse things that other folks deal with every day.” Admittedly, I have had a very difficult time conceiving and just went through a laparotomy to remove fibroids. Plus, I was subject to a colonoscopy, steroids (plus the added 30 lbs) and a sigmoidoscopy for my colitis, all to get to the point where we could consider conceiving again. Instead of freaking out and feeling sorry for myself, I remember how lucky I am; I don’t have cancer, I’m otherwise healthy and I lead a pretty darn good life. So, get your head out of the sand and remember that you have a lot to be thankful for.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Holy shit lady, I hear ya. I thought that’s what I was doing in this post. That was actually the whole point. Instead of whining to the universe I said THANK YOU and meant it! By the way, I think with time, when one isn’t still in shock from a diagnosis, one is able to have a better sense of proportion and perspective. When it’s raw and new, all you can really do is remind yourself that it can always be worse. But I really am thankful. That really was the whole point of this post. Wishing you well with all you’re facing–sounds like you’ve got a great attitude.

      Reply

    • Sallie Says:

      I’ve decided it’s all relative.

      To Stephanie, this is concerning, and because it’s happening to her, she’s entitled to be concerned, angry, sad, whatever.

      I say this as someone who in fact HAS had cancer.

      Is that freak out worthy?

      Of course it is!

      …But maybe not to someone who’s had cancer without insurance.

      Or in a third world country.

      Or as a single parent to young children.

      Or, or, or.

      My point is that there will always be a “could be worse” scenario for any situation, but that doesn’t preclude a period of shock, of sorrow, of anger, of fear for whatever circumstances one faces.

      I think this is maybe post #3 on this topic? Let’s reserve telling her to move her emotions along until post #7, at least, especially when said posts occur during the “testing and determining treatment” phase.

      I’m sorry for your health and conception struggles, Audrey. I hope your lap recovery is going smoothly. (Been there, done that, ugh.) :)

      Reply

      • erose Says:

        Well said, Sally. I agree that it is indeed all relative. Any time a person gets an unexpected diagnosis, they are going to need time to process it and come to terms with the ramifications. Diminishing someone’s situation, or claiming they are not entitled to feel the way they do because the situation could always be worse, is just cruel and helpful to no one.

        I have recently learned that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I am 33 years old. This diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, and of course there are treatments, but it doesn’t make it any less excruciating that I can’t hold my baby when she wakes up in the mornings because I can’t yet use my hands. Everyone has their “stuff.” No one’s stuff is less valid just because someone else’s is more tragic.

        Reply

  3. Alexandra Says:

    I like the idea that you sharing this might help someone else. Now I’m just gonna go ahead and visualize you in a nice, nourishing, golden, healing bubble. Hope you feel it! x

    Reply

  4. Ali Says:

    Thanks for sharing
    Wishing you all the best!

    And I love your visualization techniques

    Reply

  5. GP Says:

    Hi Stephanie!

    As a woman who has severe osteopenia/mild osteoporosis, I would like to chime in with what I know about that. The only hormone that makes a significant difference in bone density is estradiol (one of the three types of estrogen). If it is above 50, there is no need for hormone replacement.

    I don’t know if you’re seriously considering anti-osteoporosis drugs or not, but I would question the need for them at your stage. My bone density is much worse than yours and my bone specialist has never recommended them. As long as your estradiol is 50+ and you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, your bones are protected. Once you get that trifecta in order, your bone density will actually increase.

    Finally, if you haven’t already done this, I would suggest consulting with a bone and mineral specialist.

    By the way, your method of manifestation is very similar to mine, and I loved that you shared it here! Visualize it, feel it, thank the Universe, and then let it go!

    I am now channeling the healing Violet Flame to you, with special emphasis on your ovaries and bones. In the meantime, you might give some thought to how you feel about your femininity. Any issues with a woman’s ovaries usually stem from a mental/emotional block with how she feels about being a woman. I know this from personal experience.

    Good luck!

    Reply

  6. Carol (middle-aged-diva) Says:

    I think this is the most important post you’ve written. In fact, I’m bookmarking it, for those days when I really do want to avoid finding out what that pain is. Thank you.

    Ok, so menopause. For me, there were half a dozen hot flashes and no mood swings for anyone to live with, including me. Like my mother, I slid right through menopause.

    The shocker for ME was how dry everything got, from skin to womanly parts. Sex was painful and unpleasant without dosing up on hormone creams and lots of lube. Now THAT is a problem. Not to mention a really big shock.

    However, it’s not as big a shock or a problem as a horrible diagnosis. Life goes on, and that’s a lot. Good luck with getting this and its treatment figured it out and like you, I’d wonder how this happened so young. Holding you and yours in white light…

    Reply

  7. cc Says:

    ..”peace of mind” not “piece”. When you have kids the worst thing is imagining getting sick and not being with them until they reach adulthood. Thankfully you are going to be ok. Phil can relate to that scary feeling I am sure.

    Good luck and btw, I have a 40 year old friend who has been on HRT therapy and doing just fine. She was diagnosed when she was 35! It was a shock and sadly happened before she planned to have kids. Perspective sometimes is the only thing that keeps us from giving up and it sounds as if you have a good approach.

    Reply

  8. Kristen Says:

    I think the scariest phrase in this post was “…shopping for jeans and bathing suits.” I’m just going to by a mumu for this season and be done with it. :-/

    Visualizing us both HEALTHY, mentally and physically.

    Reply

  9. Widelawns Says:

    So it looks like I have lupus now and I’m waiting for some scary follow up lab results myself and they are not getting here as quickly as I need them to and I’m freaking out and have been feeling very sorry for myself the past few weeks.

    Then I said, you know, I have to figure there’s something I need to learn from this or do with this and I need to accept it with grace if that’s what the Universe wants from me. Maybe I’m supposed to write about it too one day, although really, I have plenty of other stuff to write about Universe!

    I don’t know. It just sucks when your body malfunctions. It’s the ultimate feeling of being out of control.

    And I keep telling myself the same thing. It could be way worse. Way way worse.

    I think I’ll start trying your visualization technique. Here I’ll begin right now.

    Wow I feel great and not tired at all and I love all this free time I have and how my book is published and a best seller and how skinny I am and how great my skin looks. I love that I finally got a hairstyle that always looks exactly like it did when I left the salon and what great news it is that grilled cheese sandwiches are actually healthy. I knew it all along.

    I’m joking, but I really am going to try it. I am all about some manifesting.

    Reply

  10. Zezelia Says:

    *Warning* I’m about to go all granola hippy on you, but I can’t help myself. Have you had a complete vitamin work up done on your blood? I know this seems like too simple an answer (maybe it is), but your body may be out of whack hormonally because it has an inadequate supply of basic nutrients somewhere. I recommend finding a reputable homeopathic MD before starting on hormone replacement therapy. Your family needs you healthy for as long as possible.

    I have struggled with PCOS and chronic depression for most of my life. I did the whole meds thing and got better than worse. I finally saw a doctor who supported her treatment with therapeutic doses of various vitamins and the results continue to astound me months later. In 3 days the depression and fatigue where gone and have stayed gone. Weight loss has been slow, but I feel like a giddy teenager again :)

    There is hope. There are options. It just takes a little work to find them. *hugs*

    PS You can have a super healthy diet and still be deficient.

    Reply

  11. azita Says:

    Stephanie, I’m just filled with admiration and affection for you. This IS a big freaking deal and you are dealing with it like a champ! Turning a frownie into something positive and healing, not just for yourself but also for others. Once in awhile I keep earnestly resolving to do the visualization thing (I think it works) and yet never follow through but I’m so inspired by you to really make it a life pattern. I don’t have any medical know-how or suggestions, but I just wanted to steer your attention to: goji berry and Maca powder. Speaking from experience (daily delicious smoothie made with both plus fruit and yogurt and ice) goji and Maca have great benefits for women’s health. I really recommend it to you. GOOD LUCK and now I’m off to make a delicious espresso from my very own espresso station, right after I take a dip in the lake on my property! (I like how you think!)

    Reply

  12. Bella1 Says:

    Wow, that’s lots of information. You have a good attitude. As one who researches a lot and often comes up empty, I think the info on HRT for younger women may be a subset of research on younger women who have had hysterectomies. There must be a medical expert or two on that. Do you know about all the pro Medical sites, including Library of Medicine and Pub Med. Going professional with the research is hard, but you will get the hang of it.

    Look at the info given older women with bone density issues. Exerecise is aa biggie, especially weight-bearing work. Also, check out soy, it has lots of estrogen, i’m not sure if that is good or bad for you. But diet is key. Dairy might be ab issue too. Finally, look at what other countries are doing especially, Germany, France and Japan. They are more advanced than US in lots of areas.

    Reply

  13. Erin Says:

    This is why your blog is so great – you could be any one of us. Every new life-step brings so many questions and the requirement of patience (yuck) and inner peace (ugh). I am grateful that you share this stuff with the rest of us — the good, the bad and the scary. You’re incredibly brave and graceful.

    (and I am SO trying the visualization trick. sounds like fun!)

    Best wishes & good vibes. :)

    Reply

  14. RC Says:

    Been avoiding the gyno for three years (moved and too lazy to find a new doctor), so in honor of you I’ll force myself to finally schedule an appt

    Reply

  15. misstraceynolan Says:

    I’ve been avoiding dealing with really painful ovulation for over a year. And now I’ve got a broken wrist. You’re making this 38 yr old think long and hard about her own situation. Thank you for that. Calling my gyn tomorrow.

    Reply

  16. Kim Says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for posting this and being so candid. Because of your postings and fellow reader’s responses I dragged my butt to my Gyno to get more tests, made appts with a fertility accupuncturist and am considering visiting a reproductive endo. My periods have been few and far in between my whole life. It was never a major concern in the past mainly because my Gyno always told me not to worry until I wanted to try to get pregnant. Well now’s that time – I’m engaged to be wed this Aug and we’d like to start a family ASAP (I’m 33). Back in Jan I had hormone tests and an ultrasound performed which resulted in a PCOS diagnosis. I know the next few months will be very difficult but your blog brings me some comfort as I know there are other women out there in the same situation. Thanks. And I am sending wishes for good health your way.

    Reply

  17. al Says:

    I’ve been to many of the top REs in NYC for second, third, and fourth opinions and so on, I highly recommend you speak to at least another doctor. The AMH number is total bullshit.

    Reply

  18. Jane Says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’m reading all these wonderful supportive comments and feel like I should say something positive. I wish you all the best and send good vibes so you can relax and not worry so much (easier said than done, I know). Sometimes I feel like my body is trying to kill itself! I did weight bearing exercises for bone density then developed osteo arthritis in my thumbs, so good bye bar bell weights & downward dog in yoga. But the good thing is I’ve been taking shark cartilage (they don’t kill the sharks just for this purpose) it has helped immensely. So I have to modify what I can do, canoeing, small hand weights, walking, dancing, this is what I do and bone density is getting better. Sorry to go on & on but I felt it could be useful to someone out there.
    Also, for hot flashes, sage pills (Vogel brand) better than going on drugs.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Thanks Jane. Yeah, they aren’t recommending HRT to help with symptoms (because I have no symptoms, no hot flashes, no night sweats, etc.). They want me on it for other reasons. Thanks again for this. Shark. I’m on it.

      Reply

  19. Theresa Says:

    WOW! Such great information in your post including how to visualize future things in the present and remaining positive. I am visualizing you having a great doc visit on May 25th!
    Good Luck!

    Reply

  20. beth Says:

    What did the cardiologist say???

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Phil’s cardiologist told me not to fear, that there’s no history of heart disease in my family, that my cholesterol is good, that if I can move or massage away a pain, then it’s not the heart. If there’s anything you can do to make the pain go away, then it’s likely not your heart. My EKG was normal, and he took a listen, nothing abnormal there. So, today, I’m off to get a baseline mammogram, my very first. My mother used to tell me that it felt like a clamp squeezing the life out of you. Though I’ve heard from others that it doesn’t hurt a bit. I refuse to read up on the whole thing. The less I expect the better. I just want this all over with. I admit, I am depressed. With Phil in New York again, I feel lonesome, especially with this health stuff going on. In the past few days I’ve been aware that I’ve been eating like a starved animal. Stopping at drive-thru windows for ice cream. Intellectually, I know this will only hurt me in the long run, make me feel worse. It doesn’t even feel good when I’m doing it. And I feel sick the next day, bloated and hard. Tired. Depressed. I need to get over it, and I’m sure I will. It’s still very new, and I still don’t know what to expect. There’s a lot going on aside from health and family. We’re also figuring out our next move in terms of schools and living, etc. A lot is up in the air, and I feel too close to the ground.

      Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      I also feel like the only that cheers me up is baking and planning a father’s day weekend menu of surprises. Only I don’t want to be eating all the things I want to bake because they’ll only make me feel like dog turds.

      I’m trying to simplify my life this week. I started in the bathroom, clearing out old hair supplies and beauty samples, ditching expensive products tried but never successfully used. I want a simpler life of less… except when it comes to my baking pantry and cookbook shelves, which I always feel need to be properly stocked with inspiration.

      Reply

  21. Cyndi Says:

    I’m sorry but early menopause IS a big deal. Most women dont understand the ramifications – they think your periods stop and you might have some hot flashes/mood swings, big whoop. Well you are immediately at a much higher risk for heart disease and as you have discovered osteoporosis, among other many unpleasant life altering symptoms. Yes some women sail through “normal” menopause with barely a blip on their radar… just a small worn out speed bump. Well for some women in normal menopause and most women in early menopause it is like hitting a brick wall. Sometimes the first sign a women is entering the menopause transition are full on anxiety and panic attacks that she never had before — caused by the hormone imbalance that occurs. I am also in early menopause and I can tell you it has been life altering. For a time I could barely function and spent many hours at a dozen different doctors (specialists, neurologists, shrinks) as well as alternative medicine (acupuncture, herbalists).
    So Stephanie – I am sorry you are finding this out. You are still a young beautiful vital woman. Figuring out the treatment plan is difficult but dont give up. I didnt have luck with hrt, it made me feel worse. I hope it is magical for you.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Ugh, sorry to hear that Cyndi! My issue is that I DON’T FEEL BAD! I don’t like the idea of HRT when I HAVE NO SYMPTOMS. I feel 100% fine. So the idea of going on drugs just to prevent bone loss makes no sense to me. Isn’t taking calcium and vitamin D and K enough along with weight-baring exercise? Because I feel fine, which is the hardest part about hearing that I’m… well, that I’m not fine.

      Reply

  22. Diana Says:

    Like.

    Reply

  23. NellR Says:

    I guess I don’t understand (perhaps I missed something) why there is all this wringing of hands when you have no symptoms. I am about to turn 44, and my mom and her mom both went through menopause at 43. I have been having hot flashes (what a bad term; it’s more like someone is turning up the dial on your body temperature) for almost a year. Neither my mom or my grandma had HRT or anything like that. I had a bone density test (so easy; just lie there) five years ago that was fine. If you’re not trying to get pregnant, why are you having all these tests? I also have a mood disorder, but if anything, this pre-menopause or whatever it is makes me a skotch more irritable, but that’s par for the course. I also deal with well-controlled Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (“low thyroid”). I suppose if down the road I end up with more symptoms, or feeling worse, I’ll enlist more opinions…I guess I don’t get the anxiety over a mammogram or whatever (I have had six in my lifetime, no family hx of cancer)…what are you really afraid of?

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      I took the bone density test and I have mild osteopenia. The doctors are concerned that I will lose more if I’m not taking hormone replacement therapies. Not only are the recommending calcium (already did that) but now also anti- osteoporosis drugs on top of HRT. That’s a lot of drugs for someone asymptomatic. And with all the associated risks of HRT, THAT is what freaks me out… the long term effects of these drugs.

      Reply

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