All posts filed under: Health

Why Didn’t I Question 28 Years of Birth Control?

(Photo:Nancy Gonzalez/ TueNight.com) For much of freshman year, my fear of getting pregnant waged a battle with my fear of getting caught by my mother with birth control pills in my purse. I was a kid who had always played by the rules. In the Catholic household where I was growing up, secretly taking the Pill was beyond unacceptable. So what if I was living at college, hours away from home? Somehow, some way, I was sure she’d just know. And yet I knew that getting pregnant would be even worse in my parents’ eyes: Not only would God know what I was up to, but the neighbors would find out, too. That sealed it for me. After months of obsessing (and falling for the guy who would eventually become my ex-husband), I finally asked one of my roommates to drive me to her doctor’s office. I took my first Pill on our ride back to our dorm. I felt it catch in my dry, nervous throat. I read every word of medical fine print …

The 7-Year Prick: Chinese Medicine on Age & Fertility

(Illustration by Kat Borosky; Graphic: TueNight) Here are a few ways that classical Chinese medicine describes a women’s aging process once we get to, oh, about mid-century: “Our rich essence wanes.” “Our volume of precious fluids diminishes.” But one of the starkest might have been from my favorite Chinese medicine teacher in grad school: “Once you’re 49, your eggs are cooked.” Cooked! The class laughed. To be clear, this teacher lived through the Cultural Revolution. She was a medical doctor and acupuncturist/ herbalist in pre-revolutionary China, and had to start all over when she came to the States, ultimately becoming an amazing acupuncturist and revered teacher of Chinese medicine. She had a full head of white hair and wore stretch pants unabashedly. Every wrinkle is earned, each gray hair has a tale to tell. And she did not mince words. Back in my 30s I was among those amused in class. Now, in 2015, as I experience my own personal wanings and diminishings, it seems a bit harsh. I became a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist almost 13 …

Night Owl: On Keeping a Teenager’s Schedule in This Grown-Up Life

JULIET: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day: It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yonder pomegranate-tree: Believe me, my love, it was the nightingale. ROMEO: It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east: Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. I must be gone and live, or stay and die. Act III, Scene V is one of the loveliest parts of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: For one thing, the teen lovers are awakening after their first and only night as a married couple, after their sexy secret wedding in Friar Laurence’s cell. For another, they make arguing about whether or not it’s time to get up sound desperately romantic. It’s romantic to sleep in, everyone! Or so I argue, anyway. I’ve been a night owl for 36 years and counting. I try to float …

In an Emergency, Maybe We Don’t Want Our Privacy?

(Photo: Margit Detweiler/TueNight) Two weeks ago on a Sunday night, riding the subway home in New York, I saw a man have a seizure on the 2 train. I was in the carriage with him. I helped, a little. Others helped even more. He had slumped sideways, shaking with massive jerks, making audible thuds as his skull smacked the seat. One of the women sitting nearest him saw the moment of our terror, even disengagement. “We need to lift him.” In a rattling train, with his limbs flailing, we moved him from a seat onto the carriage floor. Then we helped to sit and comfort him for the 25 minutes it took for paramedics to reach him. He said his name was Junior, and beyond that was completely anonymous. He had bitten his tongue. * * * Ever hear the one about the man who watched people stepping over a dead guy who just lay there on the sidewalk? Or the woman who fell down a storm grate and waited for help as walkers passed …

What I Learned When I Lost My Hair

(Photo Courtesy: Shira Mizel) For most of my freshman year of college, I wore a wig. My mom’s stylist had cut and dyed it to blend seamlessly with my own thinning hair. It looked natural, but I was always afraid that someone might find out. Maybe someone would knock it off-center at a party. Maybe a professor would notice the fake hairline behind my real hairline. After a few days of clipping the wig on behind closet doors or inside bathroom stalls, I realized I had to come clean to my roommate. The possibility that she’d spill my secret filled me with terror. People would find out that I was ugly, resent my fakeness, and leave me alone in a new and daunting place. All I could do was communicate how immensely important it was that she not tell a soul. I wanted to scare her into silence and she kept quiet like I’d asked. I didn’t consider the possibility that another person valued me enough to respect my wishes. I didn’t feel valuable, only …

How the Founder of HelloFlo is Starting a Revolution, One Month at a Time

(Photo: Courtesy HelloFlo) You may have seen the hilarious videos Camp Gyno or First Moon Party, both of which went viral with their no B.S. take on getting your period. Naama Bloom is the force behind those videos, a bit of content marketing for her company HelloFlo.com. Bloom was a marketing executive when she started noodling over the idea for a tampon/pad delivery service that would set you up with products at just the right time of the month. But HelloFlo has evolved into more than that — broader health care resources for women during pregnancy, post-partum and soon menopause. I had an illuminating chat with Bloom about how she’s turning the behind-closed-doors business about women’s bodies into something a lot more practical and shame-free. Margit: So how did you get started in the period business? Naama: It started as just a fun, intellectual exercise, honestly. I had a job at a small software company and I was noticing all these subscription services popping up. One of them was for a company called Manpacks, which …

16 and Not Even Close to Pregnant

At 16 years old many important teenage milestones had been checked off the list: Drivers permit? Check. Sweet 16 co-ed birthday bash? You bet. First kiss? Well…yeah. A few years ago. But there was one important thing that had hadn’t happened yet. One big thing. No I’m not talking about getting into an R-rated movie or being invited to that kegger in the woods (this was the mid-‘80s, people). I’m talking about getting my period. If getting your period meant that you were now a woman, that meant that despite my big boobs and insanely-intense interest in boys and Mick Jagger, I somehow remained a little girl. My gang of girlfriends, along with what seemed to be the rest of the world, had morphed into adulthood – what was the matter with me? I had been to the gynecologist who said to be patient, every girl develops differently, it would come, just give it time. I started getting sympathy cramps when my best friend Susanne had them. I started wearing a maxi pad “just in …

Hormonal Havoc: Understanding the Symptoms of Menopause

Once we hit 45 years old, a thought goes through all our minds at least once: How will “the change” affect me?  Will I have crazy, uncontrollable bleeding for weeks on end, drenching sweats that happen all day and night or painful sex that makes intimacy with my husband a thing of the past? The path to this change of life, medically known as menopause, affects every one of us differently. There was a time when we got together with our girlfriends to have a glass (or two) of wine and the conversations typically revolved around topics related to our out of control teenage children, financial issues and complaining about our husband’s/partner’s obsession with football. The conversation takes a dramatic shift when you are the first one in the group to bravely admit that you had a sudden burst of fire in your body that caused you to sweat so badly it looked like you just stepped out of the shower. The terrifying look on your 30-year-old friend’s face only highlights the fact that you are entering …

Blister in the Sun: Goth Girl Goes to Puerto Rico

I hate summer. Heat and humidity make me feel physically ill and I’d far rather shovel my way through a snow bank than feel as though I’m being roasted from the inside out. Pastel clothing is an abomination, and even at my skinniest I could never pull off sleeveless or crop tops. Don’t even get me started on mandals. Men, unless you’re going to invest time and money on regular pedicures, keep those toes out of sight. But more than any other awful aspect of June, July and August, I loathe the sun. It’s just so bright. And hot. It wasn’t always this way. Growing up, my family would spend a week or two in Wildwood, NJ, and at first I tried to embrace the sun, sand and sea. I’d dutifully slather on some Coppertone and spend the morning baking and then jumping in the Atlantic to cool off. But my McHide wasn’t built for sun tanning and no matter how much sunscreen I’d use, I’d go from lightly freckled to giant sun blister within …

Editor’s Picks: Our Favorite Sunscreens

What lotions are we digging this summer for sun protection? Here are four favorites from the TueNight Crew. “This Water Babies sunscreen stick has been our go-to for the girls (ages 4 and 6) for the past three years. It’s durable and small, I keep it in my purse and the lid doesn’t break or fall off. I also use it myself for my cheekbones, eyebrows and collarbones when I’m too lazy to put anything else on.” – Adrianna Dufay, Product Manager Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, $5 * “I just recently started using Supergoop’s sunscreen serum for my face and I really like it. It’s light weight and doesn’t feel too sticky-icky (let’s be honest, sunscreen is sunscreen, no one loves how it feels on their face), and it’s been proving my very fair skin with excellent protection.“ –Susan Linney, Editor-at-Large Supergoop! 30+ City Sunscreen Serum, $42 * “In my advanced age I seem to have acquired crazy sun bumps/ sun poisoning. Yay! So sunscreen has become de rigeur (or, actually, it was like …

Talking to My Mom about Her Breast Cancer, 40 Years Later

My mom got breast cancer in 1974 and survived. I feel incredibly lucky that she’s here, that’s she’s 76 years young, and that I have been afforded a lifetime with her. In fact, I feel so lucky, that I hardly ever think about it. Aside from her urging my sister and me to get annual mammograms (which, as dutiful daughters, we do), we never really talk about her cancer very much. So I thought, on the occasion of this issue, I would. Mom, how did you discover the lump? I discovered it in the shower. It was probably near the surface of my skin. It was hot to the touch, warm. My mother had breast cancer in 1954, so I was well aware of what it could be. But she survived that for a while, right? Well, it spread. Not extremely fast, but it spread into her lungs and brain and she died in 1963. So after you self-diagnosed it, what did you do next? I don’t remember much. I remember going to HUP (Hospital …

In the Army, Out with PTSD: One Vet’s Story of Survival

  Jennifer Crane’s resume should truly read, “been to hell and back.” Enlisting in the army at 17, Crane’s first day of basic training happened to be on September 11, 2001. After deployment to Afghanistan — and suffering through a severe period of depression and dehydration — Crane returned to her hometown of Downingtown, PA in 2003 to a life she didn’t recognize. She battled nightmares, confusion and PTSD. Ultimately drugs beckoned and she distanced herself from family, friends, and began living out of her car. Fast forward 11 years, and Jennifer’s life has drastically changed — for the better. She’s a mom to two kids, works as a nurse, spends much of her time helping other veterans, and even met the First Lady just last month. But her journey was a rough one … How did you spend Memorial Day? I spent it with my family at the park. We just enjoyed the sun and good company. I try not to focus too much on the sadness I feel, but instead honor my brothers …

An Insomniac Gets Serious About Her Snooze

A couple of years ago during a routine checkup, I told my internist I’d been having trouble sleeping for quite some time — at least a year. He nodded with a sympathetic smile and said, “Get used to it.” He explained that for many women, the combination of aging and the hormonal shifts that come with menopause is a killer cocktail for getting proper rest. Some women have a hard time falling asleep, others struggle with staying asleep and some lucky ducks, like me, wrestle with both. My doctor prescribed sleep meds and suggested supplements, all of which I’ve dutifully tried. Ambien worked fairly well but made me feel sad the next day. Lunesta made my mouth taste like nickels. Trazodone made my heart race and my head spin. For me, Duane Reade over-the-counter sleep tabs work just as well as the prescription meds, but they result in a pretty dense fog the morning after. And even as the shelf in my medicine cabinet gets more and more crowded with drugs, still I never get …

The Number One Thing That’s Keeping You Up at Night

Does it surprise you that 64% of people complain of not getting enough sleep? What if we told you that using backlit electronic devices (like your phone or TV) dramatically reduces the quality of sleep you do get, and that 95% of people still use electronics the hour before they go to bed? When long-term sleep deprivation is linked to increases in obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems, breaking away from your devices to get more zzzz’s is more important than ever. Read the infographic below to find out why our constant use of electronics is preventing us from getting the high-quality sleep we need, and a few things you can do today to break the habit. This post originally appeared on TheMuse.com.  Infographic courtesy of Big Brand Beds. Photo of girl with phone courtesy of Shutterstock. Check out these other articles from TheMuse.com: Sweeter Dreams: 7 Surprising Tips for Better Sleep The 30-Second Stretch That Resets Your Desk Hunch Where Should You Live for Your Best Life Possible?

Good Mother Going Blind: Author Nicole Kear on Her New Book Now I See You

Nicole Kear was 19 years old when she learned she was slowly going blind. Sitting in a doctor’s office in her native Manhattan, on break after her sophomore year at Yale, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that would wipe out her vision over time. Given just a decade or so of sight left, she decided to carpe diem, while keeping her disease a secret. She tore through boyfriends, traveled the world, signed up for circus school, played bartender, and moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. Meanwhile, the disease quietly took its course, first attacking her night vision, then her peripheral vision, and finally her central vision — clouding it over with cataracts, erasing depth perception and bringing on color blindness. Eventually, she married the love of her life, returned to New York and her close Italian family, settled down in Brooklyn, and started having children. And in her new role as mom she decided  to surrender her secret, ‘fess up to her kids and to herself, and start preparing for …

Was My Acupuncturist Helping or Hurting Me?

My feet hurt. They hurt so much and for so long, I finally sought help to make them feel better. A personal trainer showed me a series of stretches and strengtheners. A chiropractor specializing in Active Release Therapy pressed his thumbs so deep into my hamstrings, I saw stars. A massage therapist twisted my toes like a Taliban torturer. And still, my feet hurt. Every day. Then a friend told me he’d had great success with acupuncture for a chronically sore hip, so I made an appointment with his guy, Dr. M., a compact man with an impish grin that featured an occasionally missing tooth, depending on the day. A neurologist by training, Dr. M. completed his medical degree in China and had a bustling practice in New York. On my first visit, we talked about my feet and my sleeplessness (I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours at a time for over two years). Dr. M. believes that diet is fundamentally related to inflammation, which, according to his theory, is the root …

Becoming More Bendy (Or Why Balance is B.S.)

Bendy people are not necessarily happier people. That was my yoga teacher’s pronouncement as she watched her students struggle with backbends and pigeon poses. I chuckled along with the rest of the class at the ridiculousness of that statement, but in truth, her words had real resonance. Even after years of practice, I am not particularly bendy. I sometimes glance sideways at my mat-mates, envious of those who can wrap themselves into pretzels or place their palms flat on the floor while standing with their knees perfectly straight. That will never be me. The good news is that flexibility is neither a virtue nor a talent, at least not in yoga class. But outside of the studio — in real life — I’m working like hell on getting a whole lot bendier. As I evolve, so does my definition of balance. It once meant finding that elusive spot where work and family life meshed, and I was able to successfully keep many juggling balls in the air. But now I’m past that. Balance is less …

Shedding the Winter Weight. Again.

“Fuck French fries.” That is what the Upper East Side nutritionist/psychologist said to me after reviewing my weekly nutritional intake, noting that on Wednesday I’d eaten 10 little fried yellow sticks. But it was a business lunch, my client insisted on ordering them, I didn’t want to be rude. You know how it goes. “It doesn’t matter, fuck French fries.” Seriously? And I’m paying you how much to tell me this? But there was wisdom in her harshness. She was trying to make me angry. Only it made me angry at her, not French Fries. Last year I’d decided I needed help losing weight. Not just Weight Watchers/Nutrisystem/Fresh Diet Delivery help — all of which I’ve tried and then some (and chronicled for you last year) — but real, personalized, tell-me-what-the-hell-to-do every-week help. To find just the right program/person, I created a spreadsheet. It’s the way I approach anything when I have an overwhelming array of options (like finding an apartment or hiring the right person). The spreadsheet detailed each possible option, service, doctor, nutritionist, …

A History of My Life in Diets

It’s time. Or at least that’s what I’ve said every time, since about 1982. It’s always time and never time to lose weight. There’s always a new artisanal grilled cheese shop waiting for me to experience. Damn you, Brooklyn. But this time it’s different. This time I’m in pain. You mean vanity hasn’t prompted me to try and lose weight? Nope. The fact that I’m a fashion hound and can’t shop anywhere but tasteful and drape-y Eileen Fucking Fisher? Nope. That I do my best to afford a first-class ticket so I don’t have to worry about oozing into my neighbor’s seat? Nope. The fact that my little niece likes to giggle and say to me, “You’re fat!” and then slap my belly with her pint-sized paw. Nope. And funny, that thing called love. My husband and I like to tell each other, “Every day is not a celebration.” Because sometimes, happiness is yet another great excuse not to worry (or care) about losing weight. How did I get here? Years and years, my friend. …

You Spin Me Right Round: The Benefits of Finding a Workout You Love

I approach my workouts as a chore, like doing the laundry. When you hit middle age, not exercising is not an option — at least not if you cringe when see the widow’s humps on little old ladies and swear you won’t let yourself look like that as you age. So you stretch and you sweat and you check the clock on the gym wall, hoping you’re not spending too much of your day on this nonsense. But sometimes you get lucky and find a fitness outlet that you not only enjoy, but actually even look forward to. I discovered Spinning in the ’90s, about the same time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It was a great fitness alternative to the treadmill when the joints on my hands and feet swelled up and I could barely walk. I got on my stationary bike and followed the instructor up and down imaginary hills, making like Lance Armstrong (before we found out he was doping, of course). Spinning is more of a team sport than …