Three Women Struggling within Our Current Healthcare System

I can not sit by any longer and watch kind, intelligent and intuitive women who know their own bodies being told by medical professionals what they should do when they know nothing about hormones and how to help these women. They don’t know what’s wrong with them so they make them feel like it’s their fault. These women are not failures; the American medical system has failed them.

Yevgeniya’s Story

Yevgeniya (not her real name) is 30 years old. She has pre-menstrual depressive disorder and is trying to get pregnant. She struggles so much with her PMDD that she sometimes fears for her life around ‘that time of the month.’ A nurse practitioner at her gynecologist’s office prescribed her with an antidepressant because she couldn’t figure out what else to do.

My big question is why a NURSE PRACTITIONER at a gynecologist’s office would prescribe an antidepressant to a patient? Why? She had no right to do so. She also prescribed the wrong medication as it was making Yevgeniya feel worse. She had nausea, vomiting and wasn’t sleeping. When I talked with her, she was at her wit’s end and crying uncontrollably.

I urged Yevgeniya to get a second opinion on the medication and to do it soon. Even her husband seems to think that the medication is ‘making things worse.’  

Anastasia’s Story

Anastasia is 19. She has struggled with her hormones since she hit puberty. Her PMDD was so bad that she sought out the help of her pediatrician who prescribed her with birth control/Estrogen. The estrogen lead to migraines, one of which lasted a month long and Anastasia had to be put into the hospital to ‘knock it out.’ There, her new neurologist referred her to a reproductive endocrinologist who told her that she needed to ‘exercise more and eat less.’ Anastasia was not very overweight at the time.

The doctor then prescribed her with a progesterone implant that worked for a while. When it stopped, Anastasia began bleeding profusely and the PMDD returned in full force. Then, she was put on Depo Provera by an adult doctor, a gynecologist. Anastasia was 17 at the time. Now, at 19, the depo is not working very well. She has fibromyalgia and a strange gynecological issue that no one can seem to find.

It seems she has endometriosis but without a diagnosis or a doctor who even believes her, I don’t hold out much hope that she will get the treatment she’ll need and she will continue to feel demoralized with each doctor’s visit. She is now working with an acupuncturist to see if Eastern medicine can provide her with the relief she so desperately needs.

Martika’s Story

Martika is 26. Up until recently, everything was fine with her. A thin young woman who is vibrant and pretty, she began having episodes of feeling something ‘pop’ in her reproductive area. She’d go to the hospital scared out of her mind and the doctors would do an ultrasound and say they couldn’t find anything because it had popped already. She’s been to multiple doctors who have all told her to just ‘cope with it.’

Her way of coping with it is to change her entire diet and life. She’s afraid to leave the house and moved back in with her parents. She feels a shell of her former self and it pains me to see what is happening to her. In our work together, I have encouraged her to seek help from an Ayurvedic practitioner to see if there’s anything they can do for her.
There is more that I could say about each of these women and many more that I see in my practice and throughout my life. It seems that many women have these stories and it’s appalling, upsetting and well, it makes me angry. I want to help and I will figure out a way to do so.

If you have a story to share or wish to work with someone kind, compassionate and caring, please reach out to me. I am not a medical professional, but I am a credentialed and trained mental health coach. I can help you feel less alone.

Having an “Invisible Illness”

I have fibromyalgia. To many people, I don’t ‘look sick’. The truth of the matter is that some days my pain is so severe, I just want to scream and cry. It hurts so much.

When women especially – sorry, men, but I have more experience with woman especially since I am one myself – have invisible illnesses, they often feel invisible and that their needs are ignored, misinterpreted and poorly understood. I am here to say that we are not crazy. It’s not all in our heads.

Our pain is real and it’s debilitating. Some days it’s a struggle to get out bed and work. I am a mental health coach and assist people daily. Some of the women I work with are very ill, but they hold it in. They don’t complain. They’d rather that people didn’t know about their pain. They don’t talk about it, but it’s there all the time.

It’s real and really difficult to cope with. Depression goes hand in hand with chronic pain. That just compounds matters, heaping the mental on the physical. Personally, I know that when my emotional pain gets too strong, my body feels it. This somatic response is not unusual. The body and the mind are solidly interconnected. When one hurts, the other usually follows suit.

If I had a dollar for all the times people told me, “you don’t look sick” and I felt sick, I’d have quite a bit of a nest egg by now. The thing that hurts me the most, however, is that my youngest child also has fibromyalgia. As a 19 year old, they work very hard to do ‘normal things’ and lead a ‘normal life’, but they know that sometimes their body won’t cooperate with them. They can’t do all the things they’d like to.

I was a bit older when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I don’t fully understand my child’s unique challenges. I can sympathize but I cannot say I’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I can say, however, that I understand that when they say they’re in pain, they’re in pain. I have no question about the veracity of that statement.

But I know that no everyone does and that annoys me beyond belief. My child is not ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’ or ‘depressed’ – although they also struggle with bipolar depression like me. They are in pain and trying to take good care of themselves.

I call that extreme self-care or survival mode, when you do every thing you can to just get by. The bare minimum. Some days my bare minimum is meeting with clients, exercising, eating right and resting whenever I can find the time.
How survival mode looks for people varies. Some can’t even do what I can. I implore you, my reader, if you don’t suffer from an invisible illness, to not ‘guess’ that someone is doing well just because she looks well. I suggest that you give people grace and compassion no matter what the situation looks like. I encourage my invisible illness warriors to remind themselves that they are doing the best they can and:

WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY AND DO SAYS MORE ABOUT THEM THAN IT DOES ABOUT YOU!

 

It’s Not All in Your Head

Recently – well maybe not so recently – I have encountered a lot of women who are struggling with getting proper health care. Many times, their complaints are ignored or discounted. Doctors, both male and female, seem at a loss as to know how to care for their female clients. Many issues can be attributed to hormonal imbalances, but I have found, from my own experience and those of my clients, family and friends, that doctors don’t really understand hormones, especially female hormones. This includes specialists like gynecologists, endocrinologists and reproductive endocrinologists.

This is unfortunate, troubling and infuriating at times. My youngest child has fibromyalgia like I do. They have had hormonal problems since puberty and doctors just tell them to change sexual positions or to eat less and exercise more. That is ridiculous. I believe they have endometriosis and perhaps polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
When we went to the doctor on Friday, I was shocked and appalled at how dismissive this female gynecologist was of my child. When we got home, my child looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, they think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m in pain and I’m concerned.

So am I, my child, so am I.

As a result, I am taking it upon myself to learn all I can about fibromyalgia, hormones and ‘women’s health issues’. It is now my mission to empower women, including myself and my child, to speak up for themselves, to understand their hormones and be willing to fire unhelpful doctors.

When I got my fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2004, it had taken me about four years to get to that point and a lot of missteps by the medical community. Nearly 20 years later, I have been struggling with some doctor mismanagement (prescribing a toxic medication without checking out all my conditions and drug interactions) and am dealing with lipidemia and lymphedema on top of my Fibromyalgia and menopause symptoms.

Something is wrong and I’ve gone back and forth to my primary care doctor with very little satisfaction. He’s great but he admittedly doesn’t understand what’s going on. He led me to a wonderful lymphedema therapist who is doing manual lymphatic drainage massage but it seems the lymphatic system is as poorly understood as fibromyalgia and women’s hormones.

Ugh!

So for all of you out there who are struggling to feel heard and seen by the medical profession, I see you and I am here for you. I would love it if you’d email your stories at dcgoodson@gmail.com. I am going to use them as a launching pad for my research. I will keep posting here and appreciate your readership.

In good health (I hope!) or better yet – better health for all of us. We matter and it’s not all in our heads. It’s time our pain is acknowledged.
 
 

The Gift of Being Bipolar

For those of you who don’t know me or who haven’t worked with me before, I am not shy in admitting that I have bipolar disorder. When I was first diagnosed, at the age of 35, I was shocked, scared and upset. I didn’t want to ‘be bipolar’. Bipolar people were very mentally ill and I did not identify as mentally ill. I wasn’t having that.

Well, pretty quickly, I learned that medication made my life easier and more manageable. Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy groups – both in a mental hospital (Out Patient) and with a DBT specialist in private practice – I learned about mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. The skills in DBT, which was created by Marcia Linehan in the 80s to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which she was diagnosed with and studied extensively, helped me improve my life and my well-being.

Over the years, I’ve accepted my diagnosis. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, at times, I ride the middling highs (I’m hypomanic) and, more often than not, the lowest of the lows. As I recently told a friend, “To be bipolar is to feel real joy and deep sorrow. It is the fulness of human experience.”

When I am in my ‘mania’ phase, I am extremely creative, confident and happy. However, I do not always relish these periods because I am looking for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. When I go into a deep bipolar depression, I call it THE BLACK because it feels like I’m stuck in black, sticky goo, unable to move or feel anything but emotional pain. I have gone into the black more times than I care to admit – or count, but I have always come out of it with some deeper insights into my personality and myself.

However, that does not make it any easier. Last year, when I was titrating off of Effexor, a medication I had been on for more than 20 years (previous to my bipolar diagnosis, I was dx’ed with major depressive disorder). Each time I went down 37.5 mg, I went into THE BLACK. A few times I didn’t think I’d make it out alive. I really was in a bad way.

Now that I am off the medication, which can sometimes exacerbate mood fluctuations, I feel much better. My outlook is better and my overall disposition is more even. I am not cured by any means. I still need to take my medications daily and practice some extreme self-care. My psychiatrist and my therapist as well as my life coach have been instrumental in teaching me the importance of self-care.

I try to teach that to my clients. You are the only you you have and you should take care of yourself. You should want to. Sometimes, I didn’t. It’s not like that anymore. I feel more capable, competent and sure of myself not just because of the medication but because of my study of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – the restructuring/reframing of negative self-talk/beliefs – and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), as previously mentioned.

I also find working with my clients to be extremely therapeutic. They help me see things about myself that I wouldn’t realize otherwise. They teach me ways to problem-solve. I love the work I do as a mental health coach and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Would you like to work with me? I have slots available for the New Year. Please reach out to me directly at dcgoodson@gmail.com for more information or a 60-minute free consultation.

Cha-Cha-Changes

Making behavior modifications and habit-based change doesn’t have to be difficult. My motto is ‘small changes make big impacts.’ I know of which I speak. More than four years ago, I weighed over 400 lbs. I am now about half that weight – and still losing. I was not an exerciser at this time although I had once been a dancer and a bit on the athletic side. I had become super sedentary. Walking from the couch to the fridge was about all the exercise I would get.

Then, in December 2016, I tore my meniscus. It was extremely painful and, after going to two orthopedic surgeons, I was devastated that, due to my weight (and BMI, which was 68% at the time – a staggering number I know), I was not a good candidate for surgery to fix my torn knee cap. I was determined to get in good shape.

That January, although I am not much of a New Year’s Resolutions type of gal, I began to ride my recumbent bike. I did it for five minutes at a time, twice a week. That was all I could manage at first. The sweat dripped off me like I had run the Boston Marathon and my breathing was so heavy I thought I’d have a heart attack – or faint. I kept at it. Now it’s December of 2021 and this morning, for example, I did 15 miles in 80 minutes on the bike (I’ve had to replace the one I used back then because, as my husband put it, I “wore it out.”) I am now exercising seven days a week and no less than 10 miles a day. It’s like breathing. If I miss a day, I really miss it.

This is from a girl who was once prescribed a bariatric walker.

I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or have you compare yourself to me, but I want you to know that change, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is possible. All you have to do is want to change. It’s like that song from the Christmas special, “Santa Clause Is Coming to Town.” You just ‘put one foot in front of the other’ and change will occur.

Let’s start making our first steps towards change today. Reach out to me. I am here and happy to help.

Badass Book Reviews – The 10 X Rule

Grant Cardone is a badass. He may even be a bit of a hard ass. However, he totally gets things done. His goal is to be known to all seven billion people on this planet. Grant works hard to make that goal a reality every day. He does not believe in going soft. He goes at everything with a 150% effort. Otherwise, to him, it’s not worth it. He doesn’t believe in giving up or giving in.

Grant is a kick ass man. He came from nothing and has created a major real estate empire for himself. He has trainings and a TV show and a whole bunch of projects going on. He loves to stay busy. He’s also married to a beautiful woman and has some great children. He loves his family and gets up earlier in the morning to be with them and to exercise.

He figures that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing excellently. He over-promises and over-delivers. I love that. I do that myself. His way of going at things was a little difficult for me as a life coach, but I think that, as a badass, it’s right up my alley.

If you want to make $3 million, why not dream of making $30 million or $300 million? He really believes in pushing for the stars. He made me think of things I hadn’t dreamt of before. My life coach, Andy Onstead, suggested I read this book. I wasn’t sure, but I really got a lot of good information out of it.

I totally suggest that you read it if you have goals you want to achieve. Grant will help you reach for the stars and improve your outlook. It’s all about outlook. If you have a crappy outlook, you will get crap back. If you have a great outlook, you’ll get greatness back. I teach that to my clients. It’s all about your perspective.

What do you want to achieve? Achieve, believe and conceive. You can do anything.

Read the 10X Rule at Amazon.com today:

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Heavyweight Yoga – A Really Enjoyable Experience

AbbyLentz_YogaPose_300dpiAbby Lentz is a powerhouse. She’s 70 and a true pioneer. She got into yoga before it was fashionable and has seen it transform. She has helped transform the concept of yoga herself. She’s made it more accessible to people of size, which I will always be.

What is Heavyweight Yoga?

Her program, Heavyweight Yoga, takes basic hatha yoga poses and modifies them for the plus-sized person. It makes it easier for us to do yoga. Yoga is fantastic. It has so many health benefits. It’s like a meditation in action. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did.

But I did.

Abby Lentz

I met Abby for coffee on Thursday, June 28th. She was fun, funny and very sweet. She honestly shared her vision for Heavyweight Yoga. She has YouTube videos and DVDs on her website so those of you who don’t live in Austin like I do can benefit from her wisdom.

Her lust for life makes her seem so much younger than her 70 years and I bet that teaching yoga is part of that for her. She came to yoga at a time of transformation in her life and rebuilt herself and her career. She’s just an amazing woman.

Heartfelt Yoga Studio

When I went to her house, yes her studio is in her home, I was blown away by how cozy everything was. The first lesson is free, which is amazing. I can’t believe I went so quickly, but I just felt I had to do it. I wanted to come and see what it was about so I braved rush-hour traffic in Austin, which is considerable, to get to her studio by 5:45 pm for her Thursday class.

I was greeted like an old friend and brought into her studio. It was lit up with the late afternoon sunshine and white curtains that brought the room to life. I notice cute little tchotchkes throughout the session. My classmates were wonderful and welcoming. I was nervous. I had only taken aqua yoga before and afraid I couldn’t keep up. Everyone reassured me that it would be fine, no one more so than Abby herself.

The Class Itself

When class began, I was drawn in immediately. I could do this. I actually did better than I thought I would. Abby complimented me after class as we met in her kitchen to drink tea and have snacks. Everything about the class was just warm and welcoming. I felt so good afterwards that I signed up for four more classes. It was relaxing, fun and challenging at the same time. Amazing!

Food Funerals – Should You Have Them or Not?

Food Funerals – I love this topic. My bariatric surgeon’s nutritionist hates it, but I’m not a big fan of him. He loves Quinoa and Kale and has never had a weight problem in his life. Basically, food funerals were my way to say good-bye to foods that I wouldn’t really need in my new bariatric life. They were sort of my ‘last meals’. I prepped for a while before my surgery. I worked with my own nutritional counselor, therapist, psychiatrist and life coach.

I knew what was going to happen post-surgery in part because I had the lap band before. Certain foods were just not going to work in the bariatric lifestyle. I decided to bid farewell to things like pizza and lasagna and tres leches cake. You can decide which foods you need to say good-bye to. I made it into a mini-ceremony.

I found them very effective. They gave me closure on the fact that I couldn’t or wouldn’t eat those foods again. I know that why the bariatric surgeon’s nutritionist didn’t like them. I get it. However, I was emotionally attached to food. This was my way of de-taching emotionally from it. I will tell you the truth – I have had pizza and lasagna since surgery. I just eat gluten-free pizza and lasagna is more of a noodleless kind. I still get the flavor, but it’s not entirely the same.

Frankly, a food funeral is a good way to prepare yourself for life after surgery. It will help you be less emotional about food. Food is fuel. We need to stop having a relationship with it and learn how to live with it as part of our lives, but not the most important part of our lives. By saying farewell to it and sending it off on its way, I made my peace with food and prepared myself for life post-surgery.

I think it has helped me be more successful as a result. Should you have food funerals? That’s up to you. I can’t make that decision for you nor would I. If you think it makes sense, do it. If you don’t, no one will fault you for it.

What is fat mind? Why you need to be aware of it?

Fat mind is something all bariatric patients need to be aware of. It’s basically thinking like a fat person. Your former self had a certain mindset when it came to food. That mindset may not be the best mindset to help you succeed as a WLS patient. You may want to eat things that are not healthy for you. You may want to eat at times you are not hungry. You may want to eat more than your body can comfortably hold.

Fat mind is a way of thinking and being that keeps you stuck in the old you and the old habits. It’s difficult to counterract it, but not impossible. The first thing to do is to be aware that those thoughts are there. You can overcome them. It’s difficult, but it can be done.

Awareness is turning your attention to something. In order to be aware of fat mind, you need to understand when you’re starting to think that way. It could be when you see a trigger food like candy or a cookie. Maybe those items don’t need to be in your home anymore. It’s not going to harm your family to eat those items away from you. You can and should make your home a safe and healthy environment for you. You’ve got to take care of yourself and knowing what you can and cannot tolerate is important.

Some people can have the items around them and it doesn’t bother them. That’s fine for them. You are the only you in the world. Get to know yourself post-surgery. You will find that you are a bit different than you were pre-surgery. It’s okay. Don’t be alarmed. Weight loss surgery is life-changing. You will find out that things shift. Attitudes shift. Needs shift. It’s alright.

Relax and let it happen. Watch it unfold and you will see that your life is going to get so much better. As for fat mind, the only way to beat it is to recognize it. You need to know when it rears its ugly head so you can say no to it. You are stronger than fat mind. I guarantee you that you are.

 

What a support group is and isn’t?

Last night, I had a difficult experience. I went to a so-called support group. The vibe was very negative. There was a ‘presentation’ in a classroom. It felt like a lecture hall more than a support group. The moderators and leader were very rude and all-knowing. When a poor woman mentioned she was having cake cravings, they jumped down her throat.

This made me realize what I don’t want in a support group.

  • Judgement
  • Food policing
  • Negativity
  • Presentations without sharing

We also didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves. Sure, we wore name tags, but the room was so big I really didn’t ‘see’ people’s names.

Here’s what I think a suppoort group should be. It should be light-hearted and discussion forward. People should be encouraged to share their journeys. You can have an ‘expert’ in the room, but that ‘expert’ should listen more than they speak. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

People in the support group should have time to introduce themselves and build camraderie. People should be allowed to talk about the problems and pitfalls they find themselves in and get supportive, kind answers from the group. No one should be shamed or made to feel bad. That should be a ground rule and one that the group agrees on.

A support group is not a dictatorship. It is richer for having people’s experiences shared. It is helpful to hear from members at different levels of the bariatric journey or whatever journey they’re on. I want to bring people together, not tear them apart.

I want to build people up and give them the tools they need to succeed. Maybe someone could have told this woman that it’s okay to crave foods. You can choose to give in to the craving or not. It’s up to you. Yes, there may be consequences (i.e., dumping) to the action, but those are consequences you should understand and be aware of. They’re not meant to scare of hinder you.

You have to live your life as a bariatric patient and sometimes that life includes cake. I wish I had said something in the support group to help that woman, but I felt like it would’ve fallen on deaf ears. This morning, I’m still thinking about her and hope she is okay.

I also hope that she has enough self-respect not to go back to that so-called ‘support group.’ For more information on my support group offerings, please visit my Facebook page.

I am offering an online group and one in Austin at Genuine Joe’s Coffee shop. They are six weeks in duration and I ask you to commit to all six weeks. It’s not that much time and I do believe you will get something out of it. I will also ask you for your feedback and participation. I want it to be your support group, not mine. I’m just there to facilitate.

I hope you sign up and I hope to see you either online or at Genuine Joe’s in August. If these work out, I will be offering them more often. I wish you love, light and support today on your journey, wherever you are. If you want cake, eat some, but enjoy the hell out of it. Make it worth your while.