Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Here's a Taboo Topic

So.... as you may recall, I started getting symptoms that lead to my Crohn's diagnosis back in May of last year. July 5 of last year was my last menstrual cycle until recently...

I know. This is not quite a topic you expect from me much less one that belongs on a Crohn's blog, but this is so amazing I must tell the story.

I went from having normal cycles every 29 days to none. No hot flashes, or any other symptom of menopause  Ultimately August of last year was when I believed I went through menopause.

However, I discussed this with my holistic doctor, and she suspected that when I was healthy again, I'd return to a normal menstrual cycle, but she suggested that if I really wanted to know for sure if it was due to my illness, or if it was menopause, to have my hormones checked the next time I'm in for my annual exam.

So in August of this year, more than a year after having my last menstrual cycle, I was due for an annual check up and I asked my family doctor if she could also check my hormone levels to see if I'm menopausal. She took two tests: the leutinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulate the ovaries. They are not necessary for life, but are essential for reproduction. If you're not producing them in the proper amounts you won't ovulate and therefore you are likely menopausal. 

Both hormones showed menopausal results. That added to the fact that I didn't have a cycle in over a year lead my doctor to believe I was menopausal, which of course is what she informed me. I wasn't really sure if I was happy or sad. I always wanted more than one child and now I was being informed that any possibility of that happening was over. Yet on a positive note, I went through menopause without one symptom. Wow. How awesome is that!

So this past October, out of the blue, after 15 months of no periods, I had a typical period. Hmmm....

I started researching online what could be the cause of bleeding in menopausal women and found a lot of disturbing information candidly. Most of which was not good. Most of which lead to complications of the uterus. All sites I researched suggested getting the cause of the bleeding checked out by a doctor. Well, life continued and time flew by and I forgot about it until, vwa la, here comes my November period. What??? Exactly 29 days later, I have another cycle. Now I'm getting scared.

So, I remember back at what Dr. Azar told me. She with certainty said, when you are healthy again, you'll start getting your periods again. I immediately decided to make an appointment and discuss all of this with my medical doctor. Her schedule and mine didn't line up so I saw her P.A. Jennifer Haugen. I shared with her what it was that my holistic doctor told me and the entire history of my Crohn's and how I was anemic and this physical shock to my system was what Dr. Azar, my holistic doctor, thought prompted the menstrual cycle to stop. 

Jennifer explained to me a little more about the two tests I had. She explained that the tests were an indicator of if the ovaries were working. Well from a layman's perspective, I already knew my ovaries weren't working during the time I wasn't having a cycle. That only makes sense. But what I really wanted to know was why? Had they stopped working because I'm menopausal, or have they stopped working because of the physical state I have been in because of what Crohn's had done to my body.

Ultimately, additional test results have come back and I am not so fortunate to have gotten through menopause with no symptoms. The results have changed, and although they don't indicate that I'm as fertile as a 20 year old, they do indicate that having a cycle is within my hormonal state. 

In further discussions with my holistic doctor, the body some times when in shock, diverts to life saving functions only. Now that my body is in balance, it could function normally again. How amazing is that? There is no doubt that based on my age and my current hormone levels that menopause is around the corner, but can you comprehend the amazing intelligence of the body? 

To put this in better perspective, my doctor also tested my blood count because I've been anemic for over a year now, and sure enough, my hemoglobin is normal for the first time in over a year. The normal range for a woman is 12 - 16 gr/dl. I've been under between 8 and 11 since my diagnosis, and only when my red blood count is normal, it was at 13 just recently versus 10.9 back in August, does my monthly cycle return. It's as if my body knew that retaining red blood cells was important, and it only allowed the loss of these cells after my body was back to normal again.

Ultimately, my blood tests last week are normal in all categories for the first time since my diagnosis. Even my body has responded back to normal in all aspects of my life. I've even gained weight without trying again. Haha....but seriously, this means my intestines are again absorbing all of the nutrients and minerals, versus when I couldn't keep anything at all inside of me. 

The bottom of my last and only flare up since my diagnosis last September occurred in March. Since May, I have been living without any medication and everything is back to normal! I'm amazed. I can't comprehend how just a year ago I was told I had an incurable autoimmune disease, and today I live a normal life without medication, without any symptoms, and all medical tests indicate I'm normal.

Consider how many people with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis live a life filled with medicine and still don't have a life without symptoms. I remember meeting a gentleman at Del Friscos, just around the corner from where live  This was around Christmas of last year. He had ulcerative colitis. He had to get drugs intravenously every two weeks because his body developed a tolerance to the drugs I was prescribed. He confirmed what Dr. Sigmon had told me early on. He had to bump up the medication he was taking because the weaker medication that I was taking at the time, no longer worked for him. The next step for him was to have his colon removed...

Wow! How blessed am I?

I have added more food to my diet and even some alcohol:) No red wine, however. But that's okay. It's amazing how I don't quite have a taste for it any more. In any regard, My next blog will be on how I'm balancing my diet. Even that is great news. But my most recent experience and doctors visits resulted in such amazing information, I had to share this first.

Regarding my diet, I'm still avoiding all animal products and limit myself on processed foods including any grains. I'll give you more details soon...

Merry Christmas everyone! 

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