M. C. A. Hogarth (haikujaguar) wrote,
M. C. A. Hogarth

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James Bond, Running and Hormones

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We are having a brief spate of fall weather (lows in the low 70s, highs in the upper 80s), so everywhere you look people are outside and probably will be until the cold spell ends. We won't have weather like this consistently until end of November, early December, so we're all enjoying it while we can. I laugh when I see printed hand-outs from school or write-ups in blogs about "how to keep your child active as winter approaches." Winter is when it's good to be outside!

Since it's beautiful, I've been going to the park to jog rather than the family center... and there, I was deeply disappointed to discover I could barely run a minute, just like when I first started going to the gym almost two months ago. I thought I had gotten to the point where I could jog over 10 minutes consecutively! Depressed, this jaguar was.

Day two. It's still too beautiful to go inside so once again, I skipped the treadmill for the park. This time, halfway into my walk I remembered I'd downloaded a "cardiotrainer" app for my new phone, so on a whim I turned it on. Took a breath and continued running.

Half a minute later, James Bond intones: "SPEED: Five point NINE miles PER HOUR."

In this rolling British accent (complete with swaggering arrogance), no kidding... I almost stopped running to laugh. And for the rest of my run, James Bond informed me of my mileage and minutes run at intervals, along with my average speed, and there was something... so... unreal about it. I was in the middle of a park, close to no one, with no tools in hand, and my phone was recording where I was, how fast I was going and whether I'd burned enough calories to eat two peaches or three. It was an intrusion of the world into the cocoon of the park, and it made me realize I think of places like the park as an "un-world," and the crush of humanity, technology and concrete as more inevitable than trees, birdsong and quiet.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

At least James Bond solved the mystery of why I can't jog twenty minutes in the park: my average speed on the treadmill is 4-4.5 miles an hour. Running almost 6 is a big difference. But since I figured it's 6 miles an hour I have to run in order to make my 10-minute mile, Mr. Bond and I will see if I can train myself up to that level.

Besides, deer tracks and beautiful lakes! What is not to like!

Meanwhile, a short health update. I have been trying to figure out how to write about this for weeks, so I think I'll just dive in.

My doctor and I have been hard at work trying to figure out the source of my persistent health issues. To this end, I have had more health tests in a few months' time than I've had in my life, from vials of blood drawn to things as exotic as soaking cotton next my gums, and everywhere we looked we found evidence of... normalcy. Given how I feel, this was very distressing. But I have a good and creative doctor, so we kept looking. No mono. No recurring/lingering kidney infection. No anemia. No problems with the thyroid. No liver problems. No cholesterol problems. There were a couple of visits where he sent me home without charging me because he felt he'd done nothing for me.

And then, a test involving (no kidding) spitting into tubes and freezing them for overnight shipping finally found something: my ovaries are over-producing an estrogen. It's not... quite... abnormal, but it's pushing it.

"Well," my doctor said. "There's a problem right there."

"What will that do to me?" I asked.

"How should I put this," he said, looking down, hands on his knees.

"Oh, don't soft-foot it," I said. "Let me guess. It makes it like I have PMS all the time."

"Basically," he said.

"So what do I do about this?" I asked.

And that discussion was disturbing, because the answer was 'you're still normal—not average, but on the bell curve—and all the allopathic solutions to this problem are nuclear.' The only minor solution involved upping my progesterone level to balance out the estrogens, but that would have been like overclocking my entire body. It seems most people want to put more estrogen in their bodies, not less, and those of us with problems in the opposite direction get to consider things like wholesale removal of ovaries. We both agreed that I wanted to keep my organs, no matter how over-enthusiastic, and I went home trying not to cry with anger and thinking with some disgust that, well, yes, of course I was, because isn't that an estrogenic thing to be doing?

For a few years, I was really into herbs, and from that I remembered that there are a few that women in China have been taking for centuries to balance hormone problems. I decided not to take my issue lying down and picked up a bottle that day and took my first that evening.

Within half a day I felt completely different. Lighter on my feet, a little less crushed by my mood-swings. After my work-outs, I started getting ravenously hungry again instead of tired—ever since I got pregnant, exercise has exhausted me rather than energized me, and hasn't had any effect on my body. People living with me reported that the shape of my face started getting less round... and while no one else has noticed, my bust has shrunk a little (something that makes me very happy). I assume I'm carrying around a lot less water. Even more amazingly: No PMS symptoms. At all. elusivetiger couldn't even tell I was about to have my monthly, and usually it's obvious to him and presumably everyone else who has to live with me. But I didn't have any cramping, mood flattening... not even the PMS migraine I've been getting like clockwork since I had my daughter.


I am usually extremely wary of pills. I refuse psychiatric medicine because it feels like someone trying to swat the rumor of a fly with a nuclear missile, and if you're going to use the big guns on me I want a chart or a test proving there's a problem you can solve. Since no one has yet produced a test that can back up the claims of "brain chemistry problems," I am not going to let anyone use something on me that was originally designed as an industrial dye or a chemical replacement for a lobotomy.

But the continuum of food to medicine in terms of pyschoactive chemicals is pretty broad, and I don't know how I feel about herbs. I feel powerfully that the food you eat has a huge effect on your moods and your ability to maintain your health, since I have observational evidence proving that, so I have no problem with messing with what you eat to make sure you don't wreck your life and the lives of people around you. Herbs feel to me... I don't know. More like a salad than a pill, but even so I'm a little uncertain about using them this way.

I do, however, have a test result that says something is out of whack. Standing in the shower the other day, I was overwhelmed with resignation. Exhaustion. Everywhere I go these days I hear about the exact equality of men and women, while every day I run into the limitations that estrogen has placed on me mentally and physically, and it really is a wall. Do you know how dispiriting it is to realize that something as basic as your ability to develop muscle can be curbed by a sex hormone? I am quite aware that women can overcome these roadblocks, but they do have to be overcome. Men and women... we are not the same.

Anyway. I write this because many of my readers are women and maybe you have mood-swings and have trouble with exercise, and you might not know why. You might have my problem. Try talking to your doctor about it, okay?

And that is the end of the TMI. And since it was unpleasant, I will close with another park photo. I love my new phone camera! I have read some people complaining it's not as good as other phones', but this is some amazing resolution compared to my Sidekick. Just look at the sun on those flowers!

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Tags: exercise, florida, health, running
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