It has been eleven months since my hysterectomy, and I am beginning to see changes in my body. Whereas I used to carry weight in my bum and thighs, I notice that it is shifting to my stomach. Rogue hairs on my chin seem to grow at lightning speed, but if I break a nail it takes forever to regenerate. Despite being on estrogen replacement therapy, I have been experiencing wicked hot flashes. Every morning I wake up with the blankets kicked to the bottom of the bed and my nightgown on the floor. Apparently I become hot while sleeping and strip completely down.
More frustrating than these issues have been the implications of menopause on my limb. My leg volume, which used to be stable, now wildly fluctuates. I have to be extremely careful about the food that I eat because if it contains too much salt, my prosthesis won't fit. Knowing that I won't be able to walk comfortably if I eat Doritos has certainly become motivation to make better food choices!
Unfortunately I sometimes miscalculate the amount of sodium in food. While I've become fairly adept at cooking for my new menopausal needs at home, I struggle when we eat out. This past weekend while visiting my Mom, we ordered Chinese food. The sodium content never even crossed my mind as I happily munched on the chicken and cashew with rice meal.
It wasn't until the next morning, as I tried to slip into my socket, that I realized I had a problem. My leg was swollen and, while I could wear the prosthetic, it was definitely tight. I assumed that my walking through the day would push out the excess volume, which is typical when it is swollen in the morning.
My limb had other plans and continued to swell throughout the day. By the end of the day, my leg was swelling over the rim of my socket. When I took off my leg and liner, I noticed a wide swatch of oozing contact pressure sores from where I was pressing against the back of the socket.
I thoroughly doused the area with antibiotic and hydrocortisone creams and swallowed the maximum dose of diuretic before hopping into bed. By the next morning the skin was healing, but I opted to be proactive by taking another dose of the diuretic before breakfast. I hate relying upon water pills to fit into my leg, and I view them as an emergency crutch when I make a mistake. Obviously, I made a huge mistake by eating the Chinese food. A few hours later, my leg was again fitting like a comfortable glove.
I knew that being pushed into menopause would cause some physical changes. I never anticipated that my limb would be impacted in such a dramatic manner. Monitoring my sodium and increasing my water intake are now becoming part of my daily routine. It is going to take me awhile to adjust to this new normal, but after what I experienced this weekend, I know that it is my only option if I want to maintain a healthy limb and retain my mobility.