I’m feeling odd and uneven

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”  (Sylvia Plath)

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I’ve been avoiding medical advice.

DW is anti-doctor and  my familiar doctor is at least half an hour away. Six years ago, she was close. It felt like cheating to change doctors after ten years, plus it gets harder to get naked in front of people you hardly know the older you get. But unfortunately, I have been feeling quite odd and uneven.

I fight fatigue all day, sometimes succumbing to a nap unexpectedly. My joints ache and pop. The worst though, is my left shoulder. A dull, constant throb that sometimes extends down to my elbow, causing my left ring finger and pinky to go numb. Occasionally it increases in severity, trickling down my whole back, keeping me from sleeping on my left side.

“Go to a chiropractor,” DW says, “take Advil.”

Being in constant physical unrest, and the added demands of a maturing family, have put my emotional and digestive health in overload. I feel unsettled. I feel needy and reflective. I feel critical and less patient. My stomach aches and cramps more often than not and I am constantly blaming the dog or nearest child for emitting toxic fumes.

And my favorite jeans don’t fit.

Since it’s time for my annual check-up, I finally decided to seek out a closer physician. This will also be the first year insurance will approve I have a mammogram. I also chose a doctor in our same hospital system, hoping it would make the transition smoother and my records more accessible.

When scheduling the appointment, I was very clear with the receptionist to provide adequate time with the doctor. Being a new patient, I had some questions.

“Of course,” she assured me, “Just come prepared with your questions.”

I came prepared. With a list.

  • Joint aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Dryness everywhere I don’t want to be dry (and I mean everywhere)
  • Excessive sweating everywhere I want to be dry (and again, I mean everywhere)
  • More frequent mood swings
  • Very irregular and infrequent monthly cycles
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble remembering simple things
  • Trouble getting “in the mood” spontaneously
  • And of course, my shoulder issue

The doctor took notes, smiling between each concern.

“Well, there’s a lot here to discuss,” she said slowly, “but other than your shoulder pain, everything else is right in line with Peri-menopause. It’s all perfectly normal. So let’s just focus on your shoulder today.”

Her best guess was a pinched nerve, resulting in a prescription of a strong anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer.

“Call the office back in a month if things don’t get better and we can set you up with a shoulder specialist.”

I stood there dumbfounded.

“Everything else will hopefully just even itself out,” she added quickly, handing me my mammogram paperwork.

So that’s it? Peri-menopause.

I’m stuck in the in-between.

I’m treading water in this season of hormonal imbalance.

If this is my new normal, then it is going to be a long, cold season.

15 thoughts on “I’m feeling odd and uneven

  1. Oh, I’m right there with you sister! Being a woman is like riding the ocean waves. First, was the low libido then waking up at night in a panic and not being able to get back to sleep, this year I just keep putting on weight slowly and now have a muffin top -fat where I never had it before. As if I need more. I stopped running and have slowed down. At least your doctor didn’t say what mine did; “Welcome to your 40s”
    I hope your mammogram is fine. I was subjected to a biopsy on my first – fun! everything was ok, thankfully. And that your shoulder heals soon.

  2. I liked how you used this experience in your life to tie in with the prompt. It’s a perfect example of an “odd uneven” time in life, more so for women.

    I’m 61-years-old and way past menopause. Given what you said about the new doctor, I recommend you find a better physician. This time is definitely not easy for any woman. Your body does weird things and some of them can be scary. Your doctor should help you through this and not just talk about the “shoulder” because there are many confusing physical symptoms in peri-menopause.

    Also be patient with yourself. You’ll get through this. From my perspective things did get better for me:~)

    1. Thank you for encouraging me to seek alternate medical advice. I left the new doctor’s office feeling very deflated and even more disconnected. It is a light at the end of the tunnel though, to hear that things did get better for you!

  3. HI my friend.
    well has anyone said “Fibromyalgia” to you? I ask because before I was diagnosed I literally thought I was going crazy. I get the ache, the joint pain, the numbness (although yes, a pinched nerve might just be what is going on too.) but for me the depression, the loss of words (that’s what I call it) where I know the word but it just won’t come out of my mouth. Many times I have to picture the piece of paper towel before I can say, “can I have a piece of paper towel”. All effects of my fibro. This time of year is so hard too, because the warmth of summer does help my aching…the cool breezes of autumn, not so much.

    now the peri- menopausal things, well I get that too. I’ll be 44 in less than 6 months and although my periods are fairly regular and honestly very heavy, I know that I’m suffering from other parts of it.

    I take a lot of vitamins, I sleep a lot. If a nap calls, I take it (or try to) and I listen to my body.

    like Cameron, I am so happy you’re talking about it, and that your doctor knows. Hoping you feel a lot better very soon.

    1. Oh Kir! Thank you so much for your sweet response. I had not entertained anything other than peri-menopause. I certainly will ask more questions. The worst, I think, is not the aches and pains, but the inability to find the motivation to do the very things I love so much…writing and running.

    2. Loss of words – I used to call it flat spots in the brain. It is like turning a huge wooden wheel then a sudden flat spot where you can’t turn it. You will stop trying to figure out the word used for that building farmers have that holds,uh, uh corn and horses –you,know uh, uh BARN. Oh yeah! I was out in the barn one day.

      When I saw the list of symptoms here the first thing I thought of was Peri-menopause. Been there and for me it got a lot easier, though I had to take low dose birth control with full blown onset of menopause. I just couldn’t control my temperature. Even that gets easier. (I was only 38!)

  4. Talking about it and finding other stories can help a little, I hope. I hate changes like this, where it feels like our own bodies are acting without any input from us. Good luck as you figure out different ways to feel strong again.

  5. I’m there too. Peri-sisterhood is Powerful! But, you might want to have her check your thyroid levels also. It could be that the one is intensifying the other, and a thyroid problem can cause serious issues down the road. And if the doc says, “well it might be high, but it’s still in normal, acceptable levels.” push for a mild treatment anyway. They won’t know what’s “normal” level for you unless they’ve collected that data every year from the time of your birth.

    The shoulder sounds to me like a torn labral, not just a pinched nerve. If that’s the shoulder you sleep on at night consider this: When you sleep, your body is relaxed. During this relaxed state, your shoulder can actually “pop” out of place a little each time you sleep on it. This stresses the nerves and the tendons and what not, until, eventually, the labral tears.

    A labral tear in the shoulder may or may not show up in a contrasted MRI. My husband had a tear in his that went 180 degrees around his shoulder and it never showed on any of the MRIs. It was only discovered in exploratory surgery. So, if your specialist doesn’t see anything and if you’re still feeling pain and numbness, keep pushing for answers. Don’t let them say advil for the rest of your life until every option is exhausted.

    Um, so, okay, don’t let me scare you. I’m just offering additional fears on a platter. You can ignore me. But seriously, don’t let any doctor sum you up until you are beyond 100 percent satisfied with their assessment. You know you better than they do.

    If nothing else, you’ve got the comfort of a community to support you, and we all wish you the very best!

  6. I left a comment earlier, I think maybe it got eaten. The gist was that I’m glad that you’re talking about it, with us and with the doc. And also, thanks for reminding me to call my doctor and take care of myself.

  7. If more of us talked about it like you have here, maybe we’d have more solutions, but I am so glad you spoke to your doctor. Like with pregnancy and new motherhood, soak up information, keep what works and toss what doesn’t. I’ve been avoiding medical advice, too, and this is a timely reminder to take better care of myself.

  8. We should talk, sweet daughter. I didn’t have my mother anymore when I was at your stage of life, and I would have loved to have talked with her about this. But you have me, and I am a good listener. Can’t wait to see you soon!

  9. Oh Em, I feel for you. I was Peri~Menopausal for quite some time and have since graduated into full blown menopause. Trust me it’s not any better. I have discovered a remedy that is working for me. It’s over the counter, and a vitamin to boot. One~a~Day’s menopause vitamin. My OB~GYN suggested it and it’s relieving some of my symptoms. I felt it was a far better solution than taking hormone replacements. There are also MANY holistic remedies available, check out Whole Foods holistic section.
    Every woman’s needs during this time is different, so take in all the advice you can. You never know what will help alleviate your symptoms.
    Hang in there……yoga helped me tremendously, along with a very good bottle of wine! A patient husband always helps too!!!
    Welcome to the next stage of womanhood!!!!

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