May 28, 2010

Happy Thoughts

I just found The Happiness Project blog, and it's very interesting! Full of little tips on making your everyday life happy. I love that the author doesn't seem to look at big-picture things, but shows you how changing some of the little things can go a long way. Like this entry, which brought me to the site in the first place, about daily routines and how they can add or detract from your day.

It all just supports the idea that there are things about ourselves we cannot change, but we still have control over our happiness. I can't let myself forget that, and neither should any of you.

And while we're on the subject of positivity, who's heard of the 1000 Awesome Things blog? Just peeking over there now and seeing #496, "Seeing way worse weather on TV somewhere else" made me laugh. I was the place you'd all be looking at and feeling better about. We just had an end-of-may snow shower.

On a completely different tack, did you know that fainting after stressful things like blood tests can be hereditary? According to the lab technician who took my blood today, my brain is hardwired that way and no matter how used to needles I get, I will never be able to outgrow or outsmart the fainting gene. I will have to do my tests lying down for the rest of my life. I'll also have to Google it sometime to see if there are any studies to support that. I don't know if I like the idea of that response being beyond my control.

May 23, 2010

Can you believe it's been six months?

Whoa, sorry for skipping a week. After I came back from my follow-up with the endocrinologist I felt incredibly discouraged--though not totally because of the visit. I had to go by myself, and while I managed, it was emotionally very difficult. Dentist, fine. Even my family doctor I can go to by myself. But to go downtown, ricocheting off all the harried businesspeople, trying to kill time before and after my appointment and negotiate that maze of a building to sit alone in a waiting room was very intimidating. And it bothered me that I felt so intimidated. I just didn't want to bring that kind of negativity here. I'll complain to readers about the challenges of feeling beautiful and making living with hair as painless as possible. But when I feel that down on myself for other reasons, I'd rather keep that to myself.

I'm feeling much better now.

So, what happened? Well, soon after I found myself back in that same little room with the picture of the thyroid gland, the endo came in and after greeting me asked how taking the Spiro was going. I noncommittally said it was fine in the sense that I was tolerating it, and she seemed excited until I added that I noticed no difference in the hair.

"Really?" she asked, looking quite surprised. And it surprised me that she was surprised. And though I'd known already that it wasn't working, I felt a sudden rush of fresh disappointment. She did say that the levels of testosterone in my blood were in the normal range now, and my potassium levels were good, but if I wasn't seeing a slowing of the hair growth it was time to look at the next step.

The next step was going up to 200mg a day of Spiro (about the maximum she'd prescribe someone), or trying another drug, Finasteride. I knew right away I was going to pick the drug I knew, the drug my body was familiar with, but I wanted to know about the other option.

Finasteride is prescribed to men with prostate issues or who are losing their hair--the high levels of testosterone that cause humans to grow hair on the bodies can make them lose the hair on their heads. It sounds like it is pretty similar to Spiro as an androgen blocker, and the endo said about the same amount of women find it as effective as the Spiro (approximately 70%). She also said it's more expensive than the Spiro.

In any case, I agreed to double the dose of Spiro. She recommended taking the two pills at different times of day to avoid any possible stomach upset, and to be careful about decreasing blood pressure and dizziness. She took my blood pressure again for her reference, and I made conversation by complaining about not eating as much potato as I used to. She laughed and reminded me she had not told me to stay away from potatoes. But I'm okay with erring on the side of caution. But, after a week on the new dose I have to take another blood test just to make sure my potassium is okay. Think this time I should ask to lie down for it? Heh.

So far, I'm noticing no difference on the new dose, which I started May 18th. I usually take the first pill with breakfast, and the second one around 4:00 when I take a break from work. The first time I took the second pill I felt nauseated, but I think that may have been nerves because since then, I've had no problems. The extra diuretic hasn't made a notable difference either, thankfully. I'm busy enough at work as it is.

I guess since I've been gearing up to leave oral medications in the past, starting a new dose is like accepting a new hope. Maybe this time... but if not, that will be okay, too. The more important thing is accepting that this is a part of who I am. It's also the harder thing. But it's coming along, and it's thanks to being able to "talk" about it here.

May 14, 2010

Beard-Stroking Goodness

I had seen this in a couple of places online months ago, laughed and put it aside for later. I just stumbled across it again and it made me chuckle once more. Have you seen LG's "Give it a Ponder" campaign? It's probably quite old news, now.

Not only am I glad someone's advertising this message, but I got no small amusement out of the theme of the beard as a non-gender-specific symbol of wisdom. Doubtless some people are just getting a laugh out of a beard being stuck onto girl, but hey, that's sometimes what it takes to get peoples' attention.

Check out the rest on Youtube.

May 11, 2010

Boost Self Esteem with Green Exercise

Just came back from my blood test for the follow-up with the endocrinologist next week. She wants to see if there is any change in my testosterone levels, DHEAS, potassium, and all that. Apparently, I have not outgrown fainting, as I thought. I feel bad for the technician (if that's the right name for them) who took my blood. What surprises me is that I felt less nervous this time. I guess the idea of the needle still affects me in the end.

I'm doing better now. Looking forward to what the endo has to say next week, hearing what she thinks, feeling like I'm closer to understanding. And after battling with a few spring blizzards the last couple of weeks, the sun is finally shining again and the grass is really starting to green up. Spring takes so long to get to these parts that it's always exciting when it does. It leaves again so quickly.

And it feels appropriate that I came across this article via Lifehacker, which though not about hirsutism, is about self esteem. More and more, I'm becoming convinced that is the best way to combat such a condition, since the condition itself usually cannot be "cured."

Analyzing "data from 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status" and "activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming," they were able to see health changes in all groups.

So, at least five minutes a day, and it must be somewhere green, with water if possible.

I'm ready to believe that. Winter months all gray and brown drag on and on--people are sick more, tired more, fed up more. And it's not just the cold. It's the light and the color. But I wished the article had been more in-depth, so I took a little look around the internet.

Most people know that skin exposed to sunlight creates vitamin D, which assists in the body's regulation of calcium and health of the immune system. Both vitamin D and melatonin have shown to factor into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some exposure to light improves mood, sleep and dreaming, and some theorize even headaches and fertility. So a little sun is obviously good for your health.

And physical activity, we all know that's good for you. In regards to the mind, it increases blood flow for better brain function and releases those "feel good" endorphins to help combat pain and depression.

But really, five minutes? And why green?

I guess this is nothing new. Did you know there's actually something called Nature Defecit Disorder? I didn't. It suggests that children spending more time indoors are developing more anxiety and attention disorders, becoming less active and therefore less healthy, and have less respect for the environment. There's also a theory that people concentrate better in nature, and is linked to studies in exposure to nature to improve recovery from illnesses. Needless to say, there is a lot of interest in this area. There's even an area of study called ecopsychology, nature-based psychotherapy.

You can get "green prescriptions" from doctors who want you to get serious about your exercise, stress level or lifestyle. You can undergo "green therapy" if you need psychological, social or physical adjustments. quotes a 71% depression decrease after a nature walk in an article about mental health.

In Britain there's even such a thing as a "Green Gym," a program that combines fitness with gardening and conservation. According to the Wikipedia article the participants' mental health score and depression scores improved "significantly" after three months. There's a lot of people trying this already with good results. Seems like everybody could benefit from a little green. And those of us with a condition that attacks the way we feel about ourselves can use all the help we can get.

Read more:

May 4, 2010

Holding Back

I've always wanted to do a creative marathon. Staying up to create for 24 straight hours sounds exhilarating to me. There's a lot of that going on. You can sign up for a 3-day novel writing contest and sit in a designated book store typing frantically to finish a book. You can join a group and participate in a 24-hour comic-making challenge, or a painting challenge, or a design challenge.

I'm a fan of National Novel Writing Month where participants are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But to go somewhere and be a part of a group for the entirety of a challenge sounds dirty, gritty and fun.

I'm under no illusions of how difficult it actually is to stay up for 24 straight hours. I pulled so many all-nighters in college and I remember how awful I felt the next day, standing shakily through the evaluation, stomach in a tight knot, head pounding. But the recollection of how wonderful it felt to create something, solve a problem out of thin air, and finish is much more vivid. To be able to say, "Here, I made this, and it was worth sacrificing sleep and sanity for," outshone the trembling and indigestion.

But I'm sure you can figure out why I've never done a creative marathon outside my own house. Could you imagine taking a break to try to shave in a bookstore bathroom? Ick.

Just one of the many things I feel I can't do comfortably because of who I am.

I type that with smiling resignation. I know what I'm doing. I could participate and damn all the curious looks. But I won't. Yet. Maybe Future Allerleirah will be confident enough.

Also, the results of the poll have been tallied and it looks like everyone thinks All Kinds of Fur should get into social networking. Stay tuned for links to profiles!