Sex Drug for Women — Should it be approved?

women's sex drug For years, we’ve been hearing about the women’s version of Viagra, and many have been waiting with baited breath to get their hands on it. Lack of sexual desire is a very common problem in women, especially as we age. The problem is very real, causing stress, relationship problems, feelings of inadequacy and depression. Unlike the most common sexual complaint in men, erectile dysfunction, which is a bit more straightforward, hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a multifaceted issue. Stress, relationship problems, feelings of inadequacy and depression, in addition to physical problems, can contribute. You can see why this has us chasing our tails — and not chasing his.

In two days, the FDA will decide whether or not to approve flibanserin, a once a day pill formulated to increase desire. It has been twice rejected by the FDA. Both times, the FDA ruled the side effects were worse than the moderate benefit shown in the research. In one clinical trial, women taking the drug reported having 4.4 satisfying sexual experiences a month, compared with 3.7 in those taking placebo. The average in all these women prior to the study was 2.7.

Side effects include nausea, insomnia, fatigue, upset stomach, dizziness, and anxiety. Funny, I may have used all of those excuses in bed at one time or another.

There is a movement called Even the Score, aimed at encouraging the FDA to approve the pill. Started by the manufacturer of flibanserin, and backed by many women’s advocacy groups, Even the Score claims there is an inequity in the way men’s sexual dysfunction and women’s sexual dysfunction is handled in the pharmaceutical industry and the bodies that regulate. There are 26 drugs to help men enjoy a healthy sex life, and side effects include things as serious as heart and vision problems.

I would love to jump on this bandwagon, because it would be amazing if women could have a more satisfying sex life just by convincing government agencies we deserve it, too. While Even the Score is catchy, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Men, and this shouldn’t come as a shock, are more simple. They cannot get an erection. A medication is developed to drive blood flow to their penis and presto, hard on.

Women are more complicated. Lack of sexual desire, is the result of many issues. We don’t feel sexy. We think we are fat. We are exhausted. Our partner is a jerk. The kids might walk in. We need to get some sleep. Our stress level is at an all time high. Our partner is fat. We don’t think our partner is sexy. On top of these issues, we have medical issues affecting our sexual desire. Hormonal fluctuations, mental health problems, chronic illness, vaginal changes during menopause, and low testosterone can all contribute.

No matter how much I wish for this pill to be a huge success, it is doubtful it can combat all of the emotional and physical aspects of a woman’s HSDD. While women have been treated unfairly in the field of healthcare for many years, I do not think this is just an example of men’s medical problems getting more attention. It will be interesting to see if all the lobbying and petition signing will help to sway the FDA to approve this drug, which is really just putting a bandaid on a gaping wound … and a little, tiny bandaid at that, like the ones that are always leftover in the assorted box.

Perhaps, if flibanserin is approved, the pharmaceutical industry will be motivated to spend more on researching ways to improve sex for women. In the meantime, I have a few non-pharmaceutical suggestions for male partners:

— Focus on your relationship, rather than your sex life.

— Open up, and let her know how her lack of interest in you makes you feel.

— Understand, foreplay for women starts hours before bedtime.

— Be nice. Be appreciative. Be complimentary.

— Put down your Blackberry and pick up a dish.

— Pay attention to what she is saying.

— Don’t comment on the hot 22 year old on TV.

— Groom. You know what I mean.

— Encourage exercising together.

— Give a back rub with no expectations.

— Pour some wine.

— Kiss. Just kiss.

— If the kissing leads to more, be unselfish in bed.

Men might think it unfair to have to spend so much time and energy on something they can start, enjoy and finish in 5-7 minutes. From an evolutionary standpoint, the female has no reason to engage in sex after her childbearing years. So, men who want to have a good sexual relationship with a middle aged partner are fighting not only fatigue, poor self-esteem and disinterest, they have to overcome millions of years of evolvement. Maybe it is unfair, but welcome to our world.

Important to note, HSDD is only a problem if it is causing distress. If you don’t want to have sex and this isn’t bothering you or your partner, rest easy … on your side of the bed with no one pawing at you.

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How Much is Too Much?

how much is too muchA cold beer on a hot beach, a chilled white wine on a front porch or an icy margarita at a backyard party … all things I really look forward to. With less driving, more socializing and fewer responsibilities, many of us get our drink on during the summer months. I am over 21. I see nothing wrong taking a break from the stress of the every day with an alcoholic beverage … or two … sometimes more.

As a physician, I believe the occasional drink does more good than harm. As an Irish girl, I believe being over-served once in a while ain’t so bad. A couple of studies I’ve come across recently have me checking my intake. (Sometimes, I really hate the damn internet.)

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found heavy drinking among Americans is on the rise since 2005, largely due to women catching up to men when it comes to binge drinking. Woo hoo — girl power … oh wait, that’s not a good thing, right?

1 out of 10 deaths in adults, between the ages of 20 and 65, is related to excessive alcohol use, according to a CDC study published last year. It isn’t only fatal because of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Excessive alcohol intake contributes to high blood pressure, stroke, breast cancer. Additionally, falls and accidents account for a large percentage of these deaths. I really don’t want people at my funeral saying I shouldn’t have hit the bottle quite so hard. I want them to say, “Geez, we thought she’d never kick it, the old bat.”

Just because you aren’t an alcoholic doesn’t mean your drinking isn’t excessive. 90% of excessive drinkers do not meet the criteria for alcoholism, but probably do meet the criteria for ill health effects and acting like a jackass once in a while.

How much do you need to be drinking to qualify as excessive? Not as much as you may think. If you are man (and this really gets my goat) you can drink about 14 drinks a week and pat yourself on the back for your skills in moderation. If you are a woman, you can only drink about 7-8 drinks a week before you tip the scale into excessive. (Don’t tell anyone, but I’m pretty sure I had almost that many on my last big night out.) I know, I know. Total buzz kill, but as I’ve already added worry and guilt to my summer fun, I thought I might as well do the same to yours. My misery needs some company.

 

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Miscarriage — Here are the facts

miscarriageA national survey was just published in the June issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Both men and women across the country were asked about miscarriage. The survey aimed at finding out popular perceptions, and in this case misperceptions, about miscarriage in order to better treat parents who experience this often devastating loss.

The results show the average person has poor knowledge about miscarriage and its causes. Many people believe miscarriage is very rare, occurring in only 5% of pregnancies and there are widespread misconceptions about the causes of miscarriage, with many believing it is the direct result of something the mother has done. It is no wonder then, that many women fell guilt and shame after a miscarriage. Time to get the facts straight. Here is the truth about miscarriage.

– A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy.

– As many as 50% of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, the majority of these before a woman misses a period. 15% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage.

– More than 80% off all miscarriages happen in the first trimester.

– Of these miscarriages in the first trimester, the majority of these occur because of a chromosomal abnormality which formed at conception.

– Exercise, sex, work (as long as you aren’t exposed to radiation), stress and lifting heavy things do not cause miscarriage.

– Maternal health problems which can cause miscarriage include uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid problems, uterus and cervical problems, infections and problems with hormones. These are more rare than chromosomal causes and can be diagnosed and addressed by a doctor.

As terrible as it is to lose a pregnancy, it is more terrible to feel responsible. It is natural to have a a sense of loss and experience grief after a miscarriage. It is unwarranted and unhealthy to feel guilt.

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Concussion and Schoolwork

concussionToday, Pediatrics released the results of a study which looked at academic performance in kids recovering from concussion. They looked at 349 students ages 5 -18 who had suffered a concussion. Not surprisingly, children who were still symptomatic from a concussion, reported more difficulty in school and those with more severe symptoms reported the most difficulty with academics post-concussion. While a study like this may not provide shocking results, there are some important take homes for parents.

— There are long term effects of concussion, and symptoms should be taken seriously.

— After a concussion, it is wise to inform not only coaches, but teachers and school administrators. After a head injury, even a mild one, students may need additional help and attention in school.

Educating ourselves and our children about the impact of head injury is important. Instruct your children in proper safety precautions, know the symptoms, and make sure your kids understand the side effects from a concussion can be much worse than just missing a few games.

— We can infer from this study, multiple concussions may significantly affect academics. Subsequent concussions should raise even more concern.

— After a concussion, parents need to pay careful attention to many things including not only physical symptoms, but emotional problems and school performance.

Hopefully, this study starts the conversation on how mild head injury should be addressed in school.

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What Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day

what moms really wantI went shopping today. Just a few days before Mother’s Day, and the mall was packed … with moms. I went to the card store, and the Mother’s Day section was packed … with moms. I stopped at the food store and the aisles were packed … you get the idea

If you are a mother, there’s a good chance you have a mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, godmother, godmothers to your children and random “you are just like a mom to me” women. Maybe you are hosting, maybe you are visiting, maybe you are just spending the day with your own kids, but in any of these scenarios, Mother’s Day is a lot of work for … yup, you guessed it, moms.

And, for what? It is a day which starts with you cleaning all your linens after a failed surprise breakfast in bed, and quickly moves on to you making ridiculous exclamations of awe at things like clay bedazzled blobs meant to be God-only-knows what. These will sadly sit on your kitchen table for months. Likely you will end up wearing a macaroni necklace and will be covered in glitter and glue from a not-yet-dry masterpiece. Maybe your husband got you some last minute gifts, which he decides to wrap at the eleventh hour – all the while shouting for someone to bring him tape and paper. You’ll spend the next week trying to find time for returns, the return being time sensitive because he didn’t save the receipts.

While he is wrapping or helping the kids make last minute cards, you will be getting everything ready for whatever joys are in store for you. If you have older kids, much of the day will be spent sweating on athletic fields. If you’re lucky, at the end of the game, your child will bring you a wilted flower that the coach’s wife (me) picked up to try to make the kids, I mean the moms, feel special.

Then, it is off to lunch or dinner somewhere. Maybe you are with family. Maybe you are with your mother-in-law. You are probably with your kids. Even if the men actually do all the cooking – after the moms have done all the shopping and prep – it might not be the Mother’s Day of your dreams.

This got me thinking – what do moms really want? I know what I want, but I’m only one. I can’t speak for every mom. It turns out, however, I can speak for a lot of them. I asked a bunch of moms the simple question, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” I got an early, wonderful Mother’s day gift. Not only did some of them have me laughing so hard my sides were splitting, I am so relieved it isn’t just me!

It is worth noting the moms I asked are some of the most wonderful and dedicated mothers I know. They are working moms and stay at home moms. They are boy moms and girl moms. They have both young and older children. They are kind and thoughtful people, intelligent women, and caring parents. They love their children passionately and unconditionally. They would walk through fire for them. And what they want most on Mother’s Day, is a f*%#ing break.

In no particular order, here is what mothers say they want for Mother’s Day.

I would like to not be called Mom for one day, or at the very least, I would not like to hear “MOM!!!!” or “MOhhhh-uhhhhhhhm.”

A hug, a kiss and an escape route.

I want someone to plan my kids’ summer camps and schedules, set it all up, and just tell me where they need to be. Oh, and then get them there.

I would like a Brinks armored car service to partner with Uber and drive my kids to their sports – safely and conveniently.

A hug, a kiss and an escape route.

I would like to wake up to a cheerio/goldfish/fossilized ice cream free car with a full tank of gas

I would like the mask Judy Jetson put on every morning so she didn’t look like crazy mom. Judy made mornings look so easy.

I would like just a few moments of peace and quiet.

I want a tech free day. No iPhones, no iPads, no iNothin’.

I want someone else to change diapers all day. I don’t want to lift a finger, unless it is the middle one.

I want to have not shopped for, prepared or cleaned up after any of the food that is consumed all day.

An IV drip of Chardonnay.

I want there to be no laundry.

I want a full day when I don’t have to once clean the kitchen.

I want to just finish a task I start without being interrupted to … wipe something, referee something, make something, watch something or fetch something.

I literally just walked in on the boys smelling each other’s asses. Can we add no butt-smelling to the list?

I want someone to bring me coffee in bed, and then LEAVE. Leave for an hour so I can watch the news in peace.

I want a day in my own house – alone.

I want to feel appreciated.

I want a raise, or at least a bonus.

I would like to not be called “squishy mom.”

A pitcher full of frozen margaritas.

I would like to go anywhere with my kids where I didn’t have to get them ready, pack the snacks or yell for them to get in the car.

I want to sleep in.

I want to have no plan at all, and I want everyone to be ok with that.

I want a full day when I don’t have to once clean the kitchen.

I want a thoughtful gift, like a dad would get on Father’s Day. I want an iPod with all my favorite artists preloaded. I want something which tells me my family knows I am more than a maid, a secretary and a chauffer.

I want a day by myself, in my own (clean) home.

A couch, expensive chocolate I don’t have to share, and Netflix.

I want to not worry about anyone else’s mood all day.

I want a whole day when I never once say, “C’mon!! Hurry up. We’re gonna be late!”

I want someone to get the house and the kids ready for school the next day — homework done, bodies clean, teeth brushed and lunches packed.

I want a day when I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere.

I want my kids not to fight – at least within earshot.

I would like to celebrate how much fun I was before I was a mom … making my sacrifices that much greater because of the awesome me I left behind.

And the most important wish, the one that makes all of the others worth having is: AND, I DON’T WANT TO FEEL GUILTY FOR WANTING ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Every single day, we cheer for, care for, clean for, cook for, and even fight for our children. We console, discipline, worry, instruct and intervene. We hug and kiss them and tell them we love them. They hug and kiss us and tell us they love us. If the only thing different about Sunday is that we had to shop for, buy and wrap a gift for our mother-in-law, why bother?

Posted in Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Your Emojis Say About You


emojiI updated my phone this weekend. I didn’t want to, because I have a sneaking, paranoid suspicion that Apple is messing with me. Seems every time I update, it takes my middle aged brain longer to adjust. I also think there is a conspiracy to force me buy the latest iPhone before my scheduled upgrade. As soon as the new version comes out, my old phone becomes glitchy. It is important to note no one at the Genius Bar agrees with me, but hey, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

When I was forced to do this last update to avoid having to text upside down, I got a whole new buffet of emojis. For a few moments, I was happy face. I like emojis. I use emojis. But then, I became confused face. Sometimes, it takes me an inordinate amount of time to send a text, because I am searching for the perfect emoji to describe what I am feeling without actually having to describe what I’m feeling. More options, with more emotional subtleties, is only going to slow me down. Then, as is always the case for mothers, I became worried face.

I fear my kids are already losing the ability to communicate face to face. If they can substitute an emoji for every felling, for every sentiment and for every casual expression, what will be the point of ever looking someone in the eye? Insert Uh-oh face. The majority of derived meaning from face to face conversation comes from expression and inflection, not from the actual words themselves. Emojis are attempting to solve for the problem correspondance, especially in the form of quick response texting, has always had — miscommunication. When I really consider it though, my kids always seem to use the latest technology better and more effectively than me. Maybe I shouldn’t be worried face about the kids, maybe I should be scared face about us middle aged adults.

First, it was acronyms. The kids developed them, and we abused them. We used JK to offset the chance we offend someone, and we used it ad nauseam, almost as if we were afraid of offending someone with a text as simple as, “Will you pick up Maddy for soccer?” Throw a JK after that and no one knows what’s going on and Maddy is sitting on the porch without a ride. Then LOL came into favor. I have friends who just put it randomly in all their texts.  Either they were smoking pot all day and literally laughing out loud, or they were using the abbreviation incorrectly. It was as if they didn’t want the recipient to take anything they said too serious face. It revealed a deep insecurity about how their comments might be perceived, and said less about the text and more about the sender.

Now, we’ve replaced the acronyms with pictures and the possibilities are endless. I use them all the time, most often with those who know me best and will get my intention. What are my emojis saying about me, other than that I might have too much time on my hands or not enough words in my vocabulary?

Take a look at your most often used emojis. What do they say about you?

happyThis is called the joy emoji. If you are using it authentically, you are the happiest person I know. But, check yourself. Are you really so happy you are crying? This happens to me just about once a year, and only when the summer starts. Most other times, it is a gross exaggeration of the truth. Enter cynical face.

cynicalThis is my “yeah, right” emoji. If you are using it often, you are cynical and should perhaps lighten up. I probably just made you angry face.

angryAngry face is ok once in a while, especially if you are a parent, because you have children and that gives you the right to be pissed off. But beware of red, angry face.

red angryIt probably goes without saying if you are using red, angry face a lot in your texts, you should have your blood pressure checked. Red, angry face looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. Which would bring us to sad face.

really sadReally sad face replaces “Waaaaaaaa” for me. I just looked at my phone and realized I am using it way too much (second only to frustrated face), but I am in the midst of kids’ spring sports madness, so I am cutting myself a break. More concerning is this little guysad , which is less complaining-sad, and more really sad. If your friend is using this one a lot, time to take them out for a drink.

frustratedFrustrated face is my favorite emoji. I realize this could represent a major problem with my personality, but understand most of my texts right now are about schedules and carpools. How am I supposed to respond? LOL, JK

whewI call this one happy, whew face. If you are using it a lot, you might want to work on your organization skills. Lots of near misses can culminate in one major mistake, such as dressing your child in colonial clothes when the colonial celebration was the next day, just as an example winky face.

winkyAhhh, winky face, such a useful little emoji. It allows me to be sarcastic, ironic or sassy. Winky face is like a get out of jail free card. I can type whatever I want, and you can’t be mad or offended because I added winky face.  Warning: Overuse of winky face may start to diminish his powers.

snorinIf you are using snoring face a lot, take stock of your screen time right before bed. Stop texting at least a half hour before bedtime. It is terrible for your quality of sleep.

heart eyeskiss emojiI’ll group the little heart faces together. If these are in your most often used emojis, you’re a lucky person to have recipients for whom they mean something. Sending lots of love never hurt anyone, just don’t accidentally hit these guys on a work text. Hard to recover from that one.

Quick reminder: Your smartphone is actually SO smart, it can still work as a way to verbally communicate. Sometimes, there is no substitute for a human voice on the other end of the line.

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How to Deal with Lyme Disease

lymeReal Housewives’ star, Yolanda Foster’s struggle with Lyme disease is once again putting a spotlight on the illness. She is searching worldwide for a cure, but unfortunately for her, right now, the best defense is prevention and early identification. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics, and in the vast majority of patients, the treatment is effective. In fact, there is some debate over whether chronic Lyme disease is a true diagnosis, or if patients suffering with pain, fatigue and neurologic symptoms post-treatment have a different disease altogether. Medical professionals do agree Lyme disease can result in debilitating symptoms if left untreated.

 

How do you protect yourself and your family?

 

Know the Facts

  • Lyme disease is transmitted by black-legged deer ticks
  • Lyme is a result of infection with the bacterium, Borrelia Burgdorferi
  • There is no evidence Lyme can be transmitted by any other mode
  • All ticks do not transmit disease

 

Be Proactive

  • Avoid tick bites, especially in areas known to harbor deer ticks.
  • Stay out of wooded areas or areas with high grasses
  • When hiking, stick to the trail
  • Cover as much skin as possible, with loose breathable clothing
  • Repel ticks with DEET or permethrin. Use according to directions. Adults should apply on children to avoid ingestion or inhalation.
    • For more information on insect repellants, visit the EPA guide

 

Check for Ticks

  • Infected ticks have to be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours
  • After coming in from the outdoors, check yourself and your kids
  • Black legged ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, so the search has to be very thorough
  • Look in hard to see areas, like the groin, scalp and armpits
  • Pets cannot transmit disease, but they can bring ticks inside the home. Check them as well.

 

Look for Symptoms

  • Symptoms of early Lyme disease usually appear within 3 – 30 days after infection and include:
    • Red, expanding bulls-eye rash starting at the site of the bite
    • Fatigue
    • Fever and chills
    • Muscle and joint aches
    • Swollen lymph nodes
  • 70-80% of patients will get the trademark Erythema Migrans rash
  • Because symptoms are vague, being vigilant and aware is key to getting timely treatment

 

Seek Medical Help

  • If you suspect you have Lyme disease, see your doctor immediately.
  • Diagnosis is best made by history and symptoms.
  • Blood tests can be a useful adjunct in some cases.
  • If untreated, the following symptoms can occur:
    • Rash on other parts of the body
    • Bell’s palsy – paralysis of the facial muscles
    • Meningitis symptoms including headaches and neck stiffness
    • Large joint pain
    • Heart Palpitations and dizziness

 

As with most things, the best defense is a strong offense. Understand Lyme disease, have a healthy respect for its potential severity and be proactive. My daughter was infected with Lyme disease while apple picking when she was three. Before I saw the rash, I thought I had a child possessed. She was cranky, irritable and generally intolerable. I was almost relieved when I saw the rash, because I could blame her behavior on something other than bad parenting. I also knew she could be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics. She was back to normal in less than a week. Parents, always remember kids may not be able to explain what they are feeling. If your gut tells you something isn’t right, see your doctor.

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Fight Memory Loss

memory lossrecent study out of Duke University suggests teenage drinking may contribute to long term memory problems. Perhaps this explains the issues I’ve been having of late. Seems I am forgetting everything from where I parked my car to which children are mine. The cow is out of the barn on the teenage drinking — growing up in Queens, the legal age to buy may have been 21, but the bodegas sold to anyone who could ride a two-wheeler. I would love a do over in that department, but even if I got one, there are so many other factors affecting my memory.

Last week, I attended a lecture on Alzheimer’s Disease, hosted by Valley Hospital. While somewhere in the recesses of my aging limbic system, I store most of the information presented, it served as a great reminder — no pun intended.

Memory problems, when they are not the result of dementia, can be exacerbated by the following. If you are a parent, I am willing to bet you are experiencing the majority of these on a regular basis.

— stress/anxiety

— poor sleep/fatigue

— alcohol intake/medications

— over-scheduling/multi-tasking

— depression/mood problems

— aging

— having too many kids ;)

What can you do about it? We naturally lose brain function as we age. Just as the body ages in other ways — we can’t run as fast, we can’t see as well, we can’t jump without wetting our pants — the brain also ages, adversely affecting our memory. On top of this, pile on all the other causes listed above, and it is amazing most of us can get through the day.

You can fight back.

We are a society obsessed with exercising our bodies, but our minds need exercise as well.

— Play Games
My boys are loving Memory right now, and I can literally feel the cobwebs falling off when I play with them. I just taught my 13 year old how to play chess. It is amazing the brain skills this game requires. Crosswords and Sudoku are not a waste of time. Think of them as weight training for your mind. My husband was doing a work out the other day and the trainer made them memorize words before starting, and tested them when they finished. I love this combination of mind and body exercise.

— Reduce Stress
Try meditation. Headspace is a great app to help you get started. Yogis swear by the calming effects of their practice, and I’ve experienced it myself. Give it a try. Take some time each day to just sit and be. You will be surprised how effective this is at reducing stress.

— Organize your things and stick to routines
Put your keys in the same spot every time you come into the house. Get your children’s essentials organized into one space and make them responsible for them. Can’t remember where you park? Get into the habit of snapping a picture of the nearest sign. The more you can take some of the pressure off your memory, the clearer your remembering will be.

— Do things as soon as you think of them
This is my favorite tip. You need to buy a gift. Go online and do it now. You see something that needs to be put away. Do it now. You have an email to send or a call to make, do it now. The more efficient you are at getting things done, the less you will have to remember.

— Make lists and keep your calendar up to date
Keep an ongoing list of things needing to get done, and cross off after completion. Not only does this feel so good, you won’t have the feeling of, “I know I’m forgetting something.” Even if you think it is something you will remember, write it down anyway.

Those are the suggestions you might be able to follow. Of course, cutting down on alcohol, getting more sleep, saying no to more activities and having fewer kids would be ideal, but I’m a realist.  You should know when memory loss signifies a real problem. For the most part though, small issues with memory are nothing to worry about. When you are feeling troubled by them, take stock of your life. How are you sleeping? How much stress are you under? How many hats are you wearing? Sometimes, just acknowledging the problem might be a side effect of a crazy, busy life, will reduce your anxiety about it. REMEMBER to be kind to yourself, and forgiving of your shortcomings. You are not alone. There was something else I wanted to add, but I can’t think of it right now.

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