The things I hear!

Published 1:23 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

It is very, very interesting listening to patients!

I hear so many things.

In amongst the concerns voiced and the conditions related, there are common threads. Indeed, there are comments that I hear over and over again! I think I’ll hit some of those “most frequent phrases” today.

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Being tired

“I’m so tired; there must be something wrong with me!”

My last column, which was printed in the THRIVE supplement to this newspaper, covered this area of problem. I’ll quickly summarize here.

Physicians are always concerned about the possibility of anemia, thyroid disease or other serious illnesses and conditions that can wear people down. I must admit, though, this comment of feeling tired is less often voiced by my elder patients and more often voiced by my patients in their 30s and 40s.

Many times, the feeling of being “so tired” is the result of overwhelming stress. Medication may be helpful, but lifestyle factors may need to be changed to experience new energy. If you note an increasing feeling of being worn out, get it checked out—we don’t want to miss a medical need. Don’t be shocked, though, if something besides a pill is recommended.


“I started two weeks ago.”

This seems to be the most common phrase I hear when I ask patients if they are exercising. I may ask in any of a number of ways. Are you walking? What are you doing to exercise? Most commonly, I hear, “I started two weeks ago.” I don’t know if it is the realization that the physical appointment is coming up that gets one started exercising, or if it is just because we all have a hard time sticking to routines. I always give my patients credit when they say they have started working at it. Once started, an exercise routine can be rewarding. Maybe this time it will stick!


“I’ve got a calcium supplement in the cabinet; I just don’t remember to take it.”

If all the exercise machines, “cute exercise outfits,” multivitamins and calcium supplements that have been purchased could force themselves to be utilized, we would have a much healthier country. Unfortunately, it takes daily personal discipline to go along with the purchase, for these aids to be of benefit. I’ve been known to comment that if all the exercise one gets is by dusting the exercise equipment off, it is not of benefit.

As far as vitamins go, there is no official recommendation from authorities for a daily multivitamin. My opinion though is that in a world where people run off to buy all kinds of unproven supplements, it seems to me that a daily multivitamin is a prudent step. As much as we eat on the run, a little nutritional insurance that provides antioxidants like Vitamins C and E, folate to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and calcium for your bones seems wise. An extra calcium with Vitamin D tablet is also a good idea. Every day a woman doesn’t get in her adequate calcium, she robs her bones to keep her body functioning as it should. A day of delay is a day of loss.

Lost urine

“I lose urine when I cough or sneeze, but that just goes with age.”

Actually this is a common fable. Many women never develop a significant problem with losing urine. If you lose urine accidentally, chances are you can be helped. I can’t make a decision for an individual woman as to whether she should address an incontinence problem. I can suggest that if she is wearing a pad all the time, or if she feels embarrassed over the wetness or odor, then it is time to investigate options. Medications and/or very limited surgery can be very helpful in controlling the problem. Available solutions are better and simpler than ever before. If a woman develops incontinence, she doesn’t have to accept it.

Normal periods

“My periods are OK.”

Many women don’t really know what normal periods are. I’ve seen women literally drug under by heavy menstrual flows, flows that actually drain their bodies of nutrients and sustenance. If your flow lasts longer than seven days, if you have to change protection more often than every couple of hours, if you have accidents soiling your bedding or clothing, or if you feel weak or even like you might faint during your menses, your period is probably not normal. It is difficult to compare flows among women. If you note any of these findings, you need to have your hemoglobin checked. You may benefit from some help.

Sex drive

“My husband thinks there is something wrong with my sex drive.”

Boy, how many times have I heard that one! There are genuine differences in male and female sex drive! I describe the male sex drive as an alarm clock because it tends to go off every 48 hours. When it goes off, he is ready! Sick, wounded, foot in a bear trap; it doesn’t matter; he is ready!

Women are just different from this. The sex drive in women is much more situational. For the most part, women must feel comfortable, relaxed, secure and loved to be sexually interested. Men and women will always have unique characters. If things are dragging, it might be a good idea to review this list of conditions above and take note. A little division of labor around the house and a little relaxation together can go a long way toward creating union.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? I bet they do! Just because they are commonly heard, doesn’t mean they don’t represent real issues from each and every woman who voices the comment. Maybe if women realize that there is commonality in our lives, they will not feel so alone in the challenges of life. Hang in there! Remember, communication makes it all easier. Don’t hesitate to bring it up and talk about it!