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Posted Dec 02 2008 3:16am

I have been wrestling with this issue for more than two years. I had surgical menopause in 1995. In 2005 I began having more stress than before, with Mom's cancer surgeries #5 and 6. The stress of coping with a career that I had to put on hold was immense. Perimenopause is when you still menstruate, but are having menopausal symptoms. Menopause is when you have not had a period for one year. It is my opinion that menopause symptoms and caregiver stress are related.

I think I am on the upturn, but still need to work out hormone issues. With hot flashes, panic attacks, fearing loud noises, and many interrelated stress <=> hormone <=> menopausal issues I have been on 4% progesterone cream and DHEA pills. I have some osteoporosis, since we do not absorb calcium as easily as menstruating women. I am not sure that the cream is strong enough, and in consultation with my physician, I have had another hormone test. We await the results.

I take calcium and magnesium vitamins, as well as vitamin D. I try to get 10 - 15 minutes of sunshine every day with a one hour walk outdoors. I am watching what I eat, I have some issues with digesting whole wheat, apparently is is more difficult for menopausal women. I have fibroma-type lumps here and there: a couple on my foot, one near my spine that we are watching.

Having had a major depression - I am healing from that, since I moved, changed jobs, live apart from my husband, and gave palliative care to my parents - the stress was huge.I am learning to give myself permission to simply heal. Money is an issue now, with a huge penalty for retiring early, I have only been able to handle part-time work. I am going into debt to pay to have my book published, since I believe that my story is not unique and the research I did will help others.

I write about my journey as I hope others might learn about my mistakes and my issues, which seem to be common to many. Suzanne Sommers writes of her journey and has written of,

"The seven dwarfs of menopause showed up:
Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful, and All-Dried Up".

- Suzanne Sommers

The sandwich generation is a difficult one. Just when you think you are making progress...good job, career advancements, children grow up and become independent, then workplace stress and ailing parents cause you to regroup and rethink life plans.Just remember to breathe.

Also, watch for cardiovascular health issues previously thought uncommon in women.

There are several indicators for risk of cardiovascular disease, which is otherwise symptomless in many people.

1. Previous heart attacks, strokes or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
2. A Body Mass Index (BMI) that exceeds normals: too much weight for your height.
3. High cholesterol
4. Diabetes
5. High blood pressure
6. Being a smoker
7. Eating fast foods more than 3 times per week.
8. Drinking more than 2 drinks per day, on a regular basis.
9. Adding salt to your food.
10. Not getting the recommended 5 servings per day of fruit and vegetables.
11. Experiencing abnormal levels of stress on a regular basis due to personal or professional issues.
12. Exercising and bringing up your heart rate for 30 - 60 minutes per day.
13. Living alone.

Person Suzanne Sommers
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