Stepping Into 60

When I turned 59 at the end of 2020, I was excited to prepare for my 60th birthday in 2021. In 2020 I had finally felt like I was on the right track for my health. Thanks to Noom, I changed the way I looked at food and got more exercise each day. In addition, I had revamped my wardrobe thanks to a Facebook group I found that Linda Waldon founded at LindaWaldon.com.

At the end of 2020, I felt pretty good about myself and where I was headed in the next decade. My goals for 2021 were simple. First, I wanted to be as healthy as I could be. I expected this goal to be fulfilled by continuing my exercise and nutrition journey and following up with doctor appointments throughout the year.

I have A-fib and didn’t have a cardiologist. I had become very unhappy with my last cardiologist’s office staff and had never taken the time to find another. Also, we have excellent dental insurance, and I had some issues that needed attention. And after asking for hormones for years and being told, “we don’t do that anymore,” I was determined that hormones would also aid in my aspiration to be the best I could be as a woman over 60.

There were lots of other goals, but these were my three main goals. But then my gallbladder spoke up and said, “What about me?” I had two pretty atrocious gallbladder attacks. After emergency room visits and some testing, my primary doctor sent me to see a general surgeon. He recommended that my gallbladder be removed.

In the meantime, I had started seeing a new cardiologist that I loved. I had been in a-fib for so long that I no longer felt it. She wanted to do cardioversion but was concerned that I wouldn’t work. When you’ve been in a-fib for a while, the upper chambers of your heart become enlarged. After doing an echocardiogram, we found that they were enlarged. Her recommendation was to do the cardioversion still because the procedure risks were small compared to being in constant a-fib. If it didn’t work, then we could try the powerful heart rhythm controlling medications.
While getting all this testing done with the cardiologist, I also was getting calls from the general surgeon’s office to schedule the gallbladder removal. I kept pushing it off. Now that I know what the issue is with my gallbladder and what to eat and not eat, I feel comfortable putting it on the back burner.

In May, I had cardioversion. When you have cardioversion, they sedate you and give you an electric jolt to your heart with a machine similar to a defibrillation unit. I had a nice set of burns on my chest from the paddles, but my heart did go back into rhythm and continues to stay in rhythm so far. Unfortunately, I am on some strong anti rhythm medications. Hopefully, those will be replaced in September with something much milder and with fewer risks and side effects.

While seeing the cardiologist, I sent another message to my primary care physician asking AGAIN to refer me to someone for hormone replacement therapy. But, like on repeat, she said, “We don’t do that anymore.” I don’t remember how or why, but I reached out to two friends on Facebook and asked them about hormones. They suggested that I ask for bioidentical hormones.

I sent another message to my primary care physician and asked for a referral for bioidentical hormones. The message she sent back was, “We don’t do that anymore. For bioidentical hormones, I refer to the FEM Centre.” So it seems that using the term bioidentical hormones was the secret password. But the whole exchange was aggravating and irritating.

With my referral, I made an appointment with the FEM Centre. I met with a nurse practitioner and got all of my questions answered. Yes, there are risks to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but keeping up with the routine tests can communicate to you if something needs attention.

The routine tests are mammogram, pap smear, bone density, and pelvic ultrasound. I scheduled all of these and the bloodwork needed before prescriptions could even be written.

The bloodwork showed that my body had stopped producing hormones, and I would benefit from HRT. So the prescriptions were called into a compounding pharmacy, and my other tests were scheduled.
Mammogram – normal. Pap Smear – normal. Bone Density – normal. Ultrasound – abnormal.

The ultrasound showed a thickening of my uterine walls. It is my understanding that this is normal in women who have gone through menopause. However, my walls were beyond what is considered normal.

At first, I was told that I needed to come back in two months and have another ultrasound. Then I received a phone call from the nurse practitioner (NP), and she had discussed my situation with others in the practice, and she wanted to send me to their other office for a saline ultrasound. When I arrived at the other office for the ultrasound, I found that I was also having a biopsy done. Not a surprise; we all have Google.

She was unable to do the ultrasound or biopsy because my cervix would not dilate. So she sent me home with a prescription, and we scheduled another appointment. The medication was for the same drug they give pregnant women to make them go into labor. It was supposed to relax my cervix, and she would be able to do the saline ultrasound and the biopsy. She was not.

She said she didn’t want to scare me, but she referred me to an oncologist, specifically a gynecologic oncologist. The biopsy will need to be done surgically rather than in a doctor’s office.

I was confused and asked if the thickening wasn’t a normal process. She answered that thickening is expected but not to this degree. She said she didn’t want me to worry; it was just something that needed to be followed up on, and cancer ruled out.

My first appointment with the oncologist is on Thursday. I’m hoping we can schedule the biopsy reasonably quickly and get this off my mind.

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