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About Sara Purves

Sara attended the Claude Watson School for the Arts, a prestigious Toronto based high school for gifted creative students. She then moved on to the Ontario College of Art and Design for 4 years where she majored in Environmental Design. After graduation in 1993, Sara pursued many creative arenas including: retail store design, fashion design, had gallery exhibitions of her paintings, and volunteered in many areas of the arts before settling into a career in graphic design. Sara was employed as art director and graphic designer at several well known advertising agencies and creative design shops where she worked with a variety of clients. Sara is also someone who's unwillingly entered early perimenopause and muddles her way through frustrations and solutions.

Dumbing down

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The other day my cousin was over. We decided to order a pizza. I must have asked him ten times what he wanted on that pizza. The minute he’d tell me, I’d forget.

This is not uncommon lately.

As a matter of fact, it’s down right disturbing.

I find that I have to really make an effort to concentrate. I’m a detail oriented person, so when I start to lose track of anything, I get out of sorts.

So as usual, I was looking at articles online and I came across this one that – yet again – nailed my perimenopausal symptoms. Check this out:

Perimenopause Associated with Cognitive Decline

Women lose their intellectual edge in perimenopause, but regain it in the later phases of menopause, researchers say.

“You’re a little off your game,” said Gail Greendale, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, lead author of the study, in describing the phenomenon. “You’re not forgetting your way to the grocery store, but you don’t feel as sharp or fast on the uptake.”

The researchers noted that about 60% of women report memory problems during the transition into menopause. However, the issue of ‘brain fog’ during the various phases of menopause had not been well investigated.

It goes on to say that “Most of the testing revealed that cognitive functioning rebounded when women reached menopause.”

Hmm… I forgot what I was going to do now…

Until next time

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Is cheapness a symptom of my perimenopause?

Sometimes I’m so cheap. Can I blame that on hormones too?

I used to think I was frugal. Now it’s just plain cheapness.

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Know how I know? I cut my own hair. Yup I do. I also do my own nails – I just don’t understand paying to have someone paint my nails – but I digress…

I started cutting my hair in highschool. I’m actually pretty good, if I do say so myself. I’ve even cut the hair of a few brave friends -OK, mostly guys who didn’t care how it turned out.

But now I have a pretty nifty blunt, bob do and it’s tricky to cut while backwards with two mirrors.

Anyhoo, today I realized that I need a haircut. I contemplated getting the mirrors out and then I stopped myself. I broke down and made an appointment at the salon.

Have I become so complacent, so comfy, so tired, that I don’t even care if my hair looks like I cut it backasswards in the mirror?

I once told a girlfriend of mine to kill me if I ever got that way. (Hello J.C. I’m talking to you).

Well that was me as of this morning. But as of this afternoon things will change.

Time for me to pull it together. Bring back the Me who cared a little more.

Hmm, I may even colour it too…

Until next time.

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Act my age? No thanks.

I hate that expression. What does it mean to act 40?

No one has ever told me this outright to “act my age”. Society has influenced me into telling it to myself and I’ve semi bought in.

I’m 39 years young. After ten years of self employment I’m back in the corporate workforce. Just before I started my new job I had to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe. I realized my Lululemon yoga pants probably wouldn’t cut it anymore. It’s such a shame because they are the most comfortable pants EVER. (Lululemon if you’re listening – please make more clothes that can pass as business casual, thanks).

Where was I? Oh yes, so it hurt me to sacrifice person style and comfort in order to conform to what I thought was expected of me as an “adult” business woman. The wound was partially self inflicted I know. Nobody made me, I did it myself. “Business woman”, yuck, I can’t even stand to call myself that.

I haven’t conformed completely though. Just enough to get by.

You won’t find me in a suit unless there’s a funeral (OK maybe a job interview). I’ll occasionally sport hello kitty jewelry and I love anything cute from Japan. I don’t own pantyhose and I promise you I never will. Sure my shoes are comfortable, but they aren’t your grandma’s comfy shoes, if you know what I mean.

We all have our stress life issues to deal with. Family, money, health and relationship problems plague the best of us. I’m surrounded by women roughly my age in similar situations but when I compare myself to them I somehow feel like a kid. I have all the same (sometimes more) responsibilities, yet I really feel like they are older than I am. Many look older and seem to act quite conservatively and I can’t figure out why. Maybe its a fear of showing coworkers that they might actually have a personality.

But there is something else that makes them old. Their spark has gone. I’ve figured this out because I noticed that when I compare the difference between them and myself, I become very aware that I still have some spark left.

What is that spark? For me personally it’s creativity, the desire to do something new, to express myself through design, art, writing, making jewelry etc. Work-wise, the spark comes through in that I actually do care about my clients and the work I put out there. I still constantly think about what I can do to help them and what new ventures await me.

I don’t have a fear of failing. We all fail here and there, it’s just part of life. I enjoy starting new businesses, going after what I want, having lofty goals and asking more of myself. Trying something produces a positive learning experiences. So many of us talk and talk and never actually “do”.

With almost 40 years behind me now, I can say and do things with more confidence. I’m still pretty up on pop culture. This interest is what helps me, as a creative director stay current. Without it, you’d never last in such a rapidly changing world. You’ve just gotta keep up with the “kids today “.

I believe I am acting my age, it’s just not the 40 that others may expect. What a ridiculous thing to say! Act your age. Why would anyone ever want to act old? Youthfulness is a good thing. It doesn’t imply irresponsibility or lack of professionalism. It is an addition to your maturity.

Sorry, but this is how a 40 year old acts.

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Hit the 40s? Watch out for peri menopause symptoms

Hit the 40s? Watch out for peri menopause symptoms

From The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka, Sunday October 18, 2009

By Dr. Melanie Amarasooriya

It is the time in life when mothers are at their busiest. With the enormous responsibilities they hold in raising a family, working and running a home, often their health is not given enough attention. The slightly changing physiological processes are often passed off as ‘normal at 40’.

Unfortunately, this is the time that a number of physiological changes occur in women in relation to their reproductive systems. If you are around 40, you should be watchful for this is the time to detect those growing abnormalities early. Normally menopause, for many women will occur around the age of 50 years. Yet, significant individual variations will occur, meaning that it may occur at 48 years or even 53. If your mother or sisters had early menopause, the chances are that you may also experience the same.

Even though menopause usually occurs around the age of 50, the ovaries prepare for the impending ‘shut down’ a few years earlier. So from a few years before, you will start feeling the symptoms of declining oestrogen levels in your body. This transition period is called peri menopause and will last for one year from your last period.

How do you know if you are in peri-menopause?

The common symptoms are:

* Menstrual irregularities

* Irritability, mood swings and fatigue

* Sleeplessness

* Vaginal dryness

* Reduced sexual drive

* Hot flushes and night sweats- a sudden feeling of intense heat which encompasses your entire body and may be followed by day or night sweats

* Headaches

* Palpitations

* Lumpy or tender breasts

* Unexplained weight gain

* Urinary incontinence

* Vaginal dryness

Menstrual irregularities at this time could be that the menstrual flow could be heavier or lighter, the time between periods lengthen or shorten, or even become irregular. This could be due to reducing levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels in your body. Some women will experience heavier flow lasting for several days with passing of blood clots.

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If you need to change fully soaked sanitary towels every hour for a few consecutive hours, if you pass large clots, if your clothes are wet by the time you wake up or you have to change sanitary protection at night, if your daily routine is disturbed because of the menstrual periods, or if there is a recent change in the pattern you may need to seek medical advice. Menstrual flow lasting more than 7 days is also considered abnormal.

The common reasons are physiological changes that occur during peri menopause, fibroids, non cancerous polyps, and other medical causes like impaired thyroid gland function or hypothyroidism. Rarely malignant changes in the inner lining of the womb/ uterus which is called the endometrium can give rise to abnormal bleeding.

Clinically the doctor will diagnose what the more likely cause is- whether it is a gynaecological problem – that is something wrong in the reproductive system or a medical problem – a problem related to other organ systems like thyroid gland.

Fibroids or non cancerous growths in the uterus/ womb are present in one in every three women above 30. They are harmless and may be asymptomatic, or can cause heavy periods, painful periods, bleeding or spotting in between two menstrual periods. Uterine polyps, again harmless mucosal growths can also cause spotting or bleeding between two menstrual periods or after intercourse.

However one sinister cause for bleeding after intercourse is cancer of the cervix.

Therefore all women after forty who have bleeding after intercourse should take it seriously and seek medical advice, though it could be due to dryness of the vaginal wall.

If you are over 40, have a pap smear test every three years to exclude cervical cancer or predisposing conditions to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a common gynaecological cancer and can be cured if detected early.

Thyroid problems can also affect the menstrual cycle, though they occur with certain other symptoms not solely menstrual.

Whatever the cause, in abnormal heavy bleeding, or shorter menstrual cycles, it is wise to check the blood for haemoglobin level, as the blood loss could make you anaemic. At your first consultation with the doctor you need to tell him/her about the other medical conditions you have or other drugs you are taking as they may have a role in your current problem as well.

Then you need to be seen by a gynaecologist, if other medical problems are unlikely causes. An ultrasound scan will help in identifying uterine fibroids. If there are no fibroids or any other obvious pathology, abnormal uterine bleeding after the age of 40, needs endometrial tissue sampling. That is to collect cells from the endometrium to be examined under microscope so that the abnormalities at the cellular and tissue level can be identified.

This may be done by hysteroscopy, but in our country, the commonly performed procedure is ‘dilatation and curettage’ or ‘D and C’. This is now done as a day procedure, and usually patients can get admitted with six- hours fasting and go home a few hours after the procedure.

Depending on the histology report, the treatment will vary.

If there are abnormalities in the report, in the first instance the doctor may offer you medication. But if the changes are significant or pre-cancerous, he would discuss with you the possibility of a hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus. If there are multiple fibroids and you do not expect to preserve fertility after 40, hysterectomy is the common answer. However, unless you are close to menopause, ovaries can be conserved to produce oestrogen, a hormone that has many beneficial effects. In patients who are close to menopause, hysterectomy will accompany removal of ovaries as those will anyway give up their function shortly at menopause.

The other important point about peri menopause is that even during this time you can get pregnant, though your fertility is reducing. Therefore, if you are not expecting a baby you need to use a contraceptive method.

Menopause before the age of forty is called premature ovarian failure and is associated with a number of disease conditions like osteoporosis, as the beneficial effects of oestrogen are no longer there. So if you experience early menopause or there are signs that you are approaching menopause, seek medical advice.

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The Wisdom of Menopause

THE WISDOM OF MENOPAUSE by Dr. Northrup

I loooove this book and highly recommend it to everyone. Dr. Northrup has several books out on women’s health. I admit I have almost all of them. I find them to be very inclusive. Always offering emotional as well as medical advice. This book tackles the perimenopausal stage and is worth a read. Here’s the blurb about it:

New York Times Best Seller for more than 15 weeks…Over 1 million copies sold in 15 languages.

In The Wisdom of Menopause, updated and revised in 2006, Dr. Northrup dispels some popular misconceptions and explains why the second half of your life is designed to provide you with more pleasure, prosperity, and fulfillment than you have ever dreamed possible! According to Dr. Northrup, “the change” is not simply a collection of physical problems or hormonal swings that need to be “fixed,” but rather a mind-body revolution that brings the greatest opportunity for growth and happiness since adolescence.

This vitally important book examines the connection between menopause and a woman’s emotional and spiritual life. It stresses how the choices a woman makes at midlife—from the quality of her relationships to the quality of her diet—either secure her health and well-being for the rest of her life, or put her future at risk. Dr. Northrup draws on her own life-changing experiences as well as on many intimate case histories to explore the transformative power of these years. Readers will learn:
• How menopause literally rewires the brain, triggering a shift of priorities from nesting and caretaking to personal growth and equality.
• How to listen for the wake-up calls inherent in women’s cyclic nature, from PMS to SAD to menopausal symptoms.
• How the body adjusts naturally to changing hormones, and how to make personalized decisions about HRT and alternatives.
• How to rebalance metabolism shifts and prevent middle-age spread.
• How to deal with the myths and realities of sexual changes and appearance issues.
• How to achieve life-long cardiovascular health, as well as what the real indicators of cardiovascular disease are.
• How to prevent long-term health problems such as hormone-related cancers and memory loss.
• How to live with passion, joy, and vibrant health before, during, and well past menopause.

I’d also recommend checking out her website http://www.drnorthrup.com/index.php

She’s quite an interesting woman and she speaks openly about her life, including her divorce and her own problems with fibroids and menopause.

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