Fredda Clisham retires at 95, says she’s ready to see what else is out there

Fredda Clisham is an active 95-year-old who will retire in October from the University of Michigan Health System. She joined the team in 1970 as a temporary staff member in several areas. In the mid-eighties, Fredda began working part-time with Child Life and Volunteer Services.

Fredda Clisham

“Most of my time was spent sending acknowledgements to people who had made donations, books, games and toys for patients,” she says.

In 2002, the job she’d had for more than 15 years became a full-time position. Not interested in working full time, the mother-of-five, grandmother-of-three and great-grandmother-of-two transferred to the Women’s Health Resource Center. She’s worked there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday ever since. Continue reading

Pelvic organ prolapse: How a pessary changed my life

Pessaries and pelvic organ prolapseI’ve heard pelvic organ prolapse described as a silent epidemic.  Why so hush hush for a condition that affects possibly 50% of women over 50?   I had heard of a prolapsed uterus.  But, my very large, uncomfortable, growing, fleshy protrusion in the fall of 2010 was my bladder.  Why me?  I am thin, fit and active.  A gynecologist and urologist performed the corrective surgery in 2011. Since the gynecologist believed that the uterus contributed to pushing the bladder out of place, I opted for a hysterectomy in addition to having mesh sewn into the vaginal wall to keep the bladder in place. Although I had more than 400 stitches, recovery was painless and quick.  All was well for 18 months.

In August 2012, I returned to the urologist due to spot bleeding and feeling the rough edges of the mesh protruding into the vagina and out.  He dismissed my concerns by saying that, as we age, we have weak areas of our body.  What?  I was angry, incredulous and confused.

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Are you getting enough calcium?

Information about women and calciumWhen we’re young, we’re often told to drink our milk. That’s good advice for adults as well. Whether it’s drinking milk or getting calcium from other food sources, it’s important for adult women to get 1,000 mg of calcium daily. That number jumps to 1,300 mg daily for women over the age of 71, possibly due to lower estrogen levels or because poorer utilization makes it harder for their bodies to store and use calcium.

You can get the amount of calcium you need daily by drinking three glasses of milk (8 ounces each), or the equivalent of soymilk fortified with calcium, or eating 3 ounces of cheese or about 1 1/2 cups of tofu. There are other foods that contain calcium, but these are the three most common sources. For example, kale contains calcium, but you’d have to eat about 15 servings to get enough calcium.

Look at your daily diet and if you’re not getting enough calcium through your food choices, add a calcium supplement. You may only need to supplement 60 to 100 mg of calcium daily.
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Talking openly about vaginal prolapse

Five years ago during an annual exam by my gynecologist, my doctor told me I had vaginal prolapse and should go to the University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital for a consultation. I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms and hoped that living a healthy life and exercising would control the situation. Three years ago, I started to experience some symptoms, but they weren’t bad, so I continued with positive thinking and a healthy lifestyle. I did not want to interrupt my workout routine with surgery. I work out six or seven days a week taking a weight-lifting class, doing Pilates and walking.

By April 2013, I knew I had let it go on too long. Continue reading

Young woman’s stroke launches Fibromuscular Dysplasia movement

Pam Mace, founder of FMDSA, urges patients to join patient registry

A stroke at age 37 is rare for most any one, but as an active adult who had adventures like scuba PamMace3.fwdiving and skydiving, it just didn’t make sense to me. I knew my body.

The day it happened, I woke up with a headache. After going for a 3 mile run later that day I noticed my pupils were unequal. I should have gone to the hospital right away but I didn’t. I just didn’t think I could have a stroke. But I did.

It would take a year before my doctors could explain why I had a stroke so young: fibromuscular dysplasia. The diagnosis would inspire me to start a movement around a rare vascular disease that affects women in the prime of their lives.

The two most common symptoms of fibromuscular dysplasia are headaches and high blood pressure. Think about how many people are walking around with those symptoms that could have FMD but they are treated as every day symptoms that millions of Americans have.

It’s why FMD has been called the rare disease that isn’t. FMD has always been considered a rare disease, and is still classified as a rare disease. But because it manifests so differently it’s likely underdiagnosed. Some research suggests as many 5 million Americans have FMD. Continue reading

Making an informed decision about your treatment options

decision about treatmentWhen you are trying to make an important decision about your treatment options, it’s not uncommon to feel bombarded with information from many sources. For many women considering surgical options for gynecologic conditions, trying to know where to start and what (or who) to believe can be a bewildering process.

Here are 8 tips for sorting through the information and educating yourself as a patient.  In my practice, we care for women with pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, or fecal incontinence, but many of these same principles can help you when you’re faced with making any type of medical decision. Continue reading