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The Menopause

Want to know what’s worse than this freezing cold New England weather? Hot flashes in the freezing cold weather. Heat on, heat off; layers on, layers off; covers on, covers off; my internal thermostat is all out of whack. I’m freezing one minute and roasting the next. I’m in the midst of ‘The Change’; what I’ll change into I’m not yet sure. But no doubt about it, hormones are powerful little chemicals.

I’ve been reading up on menopause lately and have many of the common symptoms: Hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, mood swings, trouble sleeping, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, headaches, electric shock sensations (this one is fun). But being a nurse, I knew all of these symptoms were normal. What did surprise me was a look at the history of the treatment of menopause.

I’m sure glad I’m not living in Victorian times when ‘The Change’ was seen as a sign of lunacy! It was generally felt that these women should be locked up. And many were. In addition to the asylum, women were subjected to all sorts of unnecessary and dangerous ‘treatments’ and surgeries.

Here is a short but fascinating summery of the history of the treatment of menopause. After reading this it appears that the male doctors were the lunatics, not the poor women.

The mad, mad menopause: LOUISE FOXCROFT charts its fascinating, and sometimes gruesome, history…

My treatment for menopause? Let nature take it’s course.

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2010!

Bissell Boys – 2001

 

2010; sounds like a year out of a science fiction movie. Today we celebrate a new year and a new decade. Hard to believe it’s 2010! I remember when I was a kid thinking how ancient I would be in the year 2000! Well, now I’m 10 years older. The young get old and the old get cold…

On the home front, the boys went from 6 to 16 in what seemed like the blink of an eye. They have changed in many ways, but largely – because of their disabilities – some things have not changed at all. The reality that our children will soon be adults and we won’t be around forever to care for them is a constant worry. We are beginning to plan for their future and hoping the boys will be able to stay at home. We will need to gradually add staff, as we get too old to care for them. They are so vulnerable and dependent on others. We need to get all the necessary supports in place to be sure they are taken care of after we are gone.

Looking back on the past 10 years, the toughest part of this decade for us had nothing to do with the boys, it was a near-death accident that I had back in 2002 and the complications that followed. This is a long story that really needs it’s own post. But let me just say that this accident drained a lot from our emotional reserve, which tends to run near empty much of the time. Physically, I haven’t gotten back to where I was before the accident and probably never will.

Continuing with this rather depressing post, Time Magazine dubbed this “The Decade From Hell”. Not a whole lot of good news in the past 10 years. Things started going down-hill with the election of George W. Bush (who didn’t really win). I can’t help wondering where the US would be now if Gore had become president. Than came 9/11, and then we invaded Afghanistan. We never did find that bin Laden guy. Then on to the Iraq disaster and Bush’s re-election. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people. Add to this the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia, the tsunami, Katrina, the Virginia tech shooting, the recession, the swine flu, what did I miss? Ugggg…. When I started this post, I didn’t plan on it being such a downer. 🙁

But on the bright side, Obama was elected and he brings us “hope” for “change” in the new decade. Hope may not be enough, but at least we have someone sane and intelligent in the White House. All things considered, I’m still an optimist with my cup of life half-full. Looking at the big picture, I’m pretty lucky and looking forward to 2010.

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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

Man, I must be having a blast!

This past Wednesday I celebrated my 52nd birthday. ‘Celebrated’ is probably not the right word. These days, birthdays tend to be more of a time for reflection, rather than party-time. Where have I been, where am I going and how the heck did I get to be 52 years old? I’ve also been thinking about time recently. It is commonly recognized that the older we get, the faster times seems to fly, whether we are having fun or not. Why is it that when I was a kid, summer vacations seem to last forever. This past summer I blinked and it was gone. Birthdays are coming at me way too fast now and there is never enough precious time in a day.

I did a bit of research and came up with an interesting answer for this phenomenon. The speed of life has to do with proportion; percentage and time. For example, When you’re five years old, a year is 1/5 of your life, but when you are 50 years old a year is only 1/50! I never did like fractions in school… In other words, when a year is 50% of your life, it seems to lasts much longer than a year that is only 1% of your life.

Anticipation may also come into play here to help slow things down for children. Kids have a lot to look forward to, they have their whole lives ahead of them. They look forward to Christmas, birthdays, graduations, going to college and on and on. When you can’t wait to get a drivers license, it seems to take forever to get to that 16th birthday. On the other hand, adults inevitably have to deal with more responsibilities, job, family, housework, etc. that takes up our time and can suck the fun out of life.

Is their anything we can do to slow down time? Maybe. Focusing more on the moments seems to slow time down a bit. The more we are unaware of time – as if asleep or living towards the weekend – the faster time seems to pass. Of course, the clock never changes, but the passage of time can be subjective.

From a Buddhist perspective, being conscious of every moment and by choosing our actions with mindfulness, we can break old habits. When we allow all our activities to run together into one big routine, it is extremely easy to get caught up in our habitual thoughts and actions, because we haven’t given any direct instructions to our mind. “Mindfulness” is about experiencing every moment with an attitude of openness and freshness. Buddha felt that it was imperative to cultivate mindfulness for all aspects of life or in other words, to “stop and smell the roses.”

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People First Campaign: A Day of Action

Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 20, 2009 the Arc of Massachusetts and a number of other statewide disability advocacy groups will participate in a virtual protest against further budget cuts to human services for our most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth. More than ten thousand individuals with disabilities have already lost some or all essential services this budget year ($45 Million cut in the Department of Developmental Services in FY’2010). These cuts included employment, day programs, family supports, and transportation that are central to people’s lives. Many families are already struggling and in need of help. More cuts will push many families to the brink and could actually be life-threatening. If these cuts go through, it will mean the dismantling of the Safety Net for tens of thousands of people with disabilities statewide.

Why is it that when times are tough, services for people with disabilities shoulder a disproportionate burden of budget cuts? Advocates fight so hard for vital services, yet these services can be taken away in the blink of an eye. The Governor and legislature must know about the potential dangers of making any further cuts to human services. What does it say about our society when our most vulnerable citizens are left without vital services?

If you work in the human services field, if you know someone with a developmental disability (such as the Bissell boys), or if you simply care about our most vulnerable citizens, here are a few things you can do to help:

* Use this Action Center to send an email to the Governor and EOHHS Secretary Judy Ann Bigby.
* Make phone calls to the Governor (617-725-4005), your senator and your representative (you can find who they are and get contact info at the Action Center).
* Use this link to sign our Twitter petition and send a tweet to the Governor (@MassGovernor): http://act.ly/ov
* Share your concerns on the Governor’s Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/GovernorPatrick
* Contact your local newspaper and tell them that you are participating in the People First Campaign.

Press release template (Word Format)
More information and talking points (PDF Format)

Tell whoever you talk to that you are concerned about the harm already inflicted on services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and that further erosion of the Safety Net cannot be withstood. Thanks.

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