Featured Doc -Dr. Jim Gracheck, DO

Every week we highlight and recognize one of our amazing providers in a “Featured Doc series.” Today we showcase Dr. Jim Gracheck, DO who practices in Lee’s Summit, MO and has been a SottoPelle Trained Provider since 7/22/2009.

Please see Dr.Jim Gracheck, DO’s profile on our directory at: https://www.sottopelletherapy.com/doctors/jim-gracheck-do/

Follow Dr. Jim Gracheck, DO, Advanced Health Care LLC on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/james.gracheckdo

Do you know an amazing SottoPelle doctor? Nominate them here to be a Featured!

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My Car Ride

My journey began the day after I was born. I was strapped into the protective car seat in the back, bundled and feeling protected. My vantage point was the cute little toys fastened around me all the while feeling safe, loved and fussed over by my parents.

As the years pass by, I graduate to a booster seat in the backseat of the car where I can easily stare outside at the passing world with joy, wonder, and innocence. I recall being enthralled by the migration patterns of rain drops. I imagined the drops racing each other and if they made it off the window, they were free to join the clouds. Did you ever notice how pretty clouds look or that they look like funny animals? Sometimes, I named them as I did with all my imaginary playmates.

Rain drops on the car window

My teenage years in the car, I observe my parents are now listening to the radio, and not as attentive to me. They are often yelling at other people in cars or each other. What once brought them joy, I see makes them angry a lot. So, I have to find ways to amuse myself on this magical ride. I see a movie, mall and ice cream – please stop I cry. But, they don’t have time to stop.

I am old enough to take the driver’s seat. My parents are hesitant, but I have been in cars my whole life – how hard can it be? My grandfather takes me aside and says, “I have been driving a taxi in Manhattan for 40 years, just remember everyone on the road is trying to kill you!” I look at him in sheer horror, was driving and life really that scary? He smiled knowingly sharing his version of defensive driving and maybe living. But, driving is supposed to be fun – I can stop and finally go where I want.

That’s when it all changed for me. The car ride was no longer about fun, but about paying the car insurance or the gas to fill up the tank while I was in college. The bills kept coming and the car was just a means to an end.

I found myself stressed and rushing all the time. I was not looking for joy or raindrops racing, but the idiot killer driver who just cut me off as Grandpa warned. The car takes me to responsibility and the rain only means delays and traffic now.

It’s my turn to place my child in the backseat for the first time. The car is carrying my most precious person. Is the car seat in correctly, is she comfortable and bundled up safely? My mind is racing only on her safety, and I only want to get her home where I can tuck her in. I recall how my parents shouted if I unstrapped myself or distracted them while they drove. I finally understand them. They weren’t being mean – they were just scared.

I’m aging gracefully now and life is slowing down. The world is moving faster passing cars. I find that I can’t always keep up. I can’t see as well at night anymore and my kids are afraid I might not react as quickly. I spent my entire life quickly in this car.

I think it’s time to take the passenger seat.

It’s hard not having all the control, and I’m often slamming my foot to brake as my grown child drives me. I see a store I love and ask if we can stop? No, they say we don’t have the time. I shake my head in dismay – what’s the rush? I feel that the car is now a place of frustration and loss of identity. Wait, my grandchild is in the back seat. She is restless and a bit bored.

Then, I remember the raindrops.

We watch the raindrops together and I smile. My old loyal friends have never left me. I lost sight of them driving to responsibility and things which at the this point of my journey, don’t seem very important. Raindrops are forgiving and they soon restore my wonder with the innocence of my grandchild’s laughter.

The ride didn’t change – I did.

Take the time to enjoy your ride with joy and wonder. Remember the magic in your life and find a way to regain it.

Cherish the ride!

Doc of the Day – Dr. Michelle Cooper, MD, FACOG

Every day we highlight and recognize one of our amazing providers in a “Doc of the Day series.” Today we showcase Dr. Michelle Cooper, MD, FACOG, who practices in Dover, DE and has been a SottoPelle Trained Provider since 7/30/2010.



Please see Dr. Michelle Cooper, MD, FACOG profile on our directory at:  https://www.sottopelletherapy.com/doctors/michelle-cooper-md-facog/

Follow Michelle Cooper, MD, FACOG,  Dedicated to Women OBGYN on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/DTWOBGYN


Do you know an amazing SottoPelle doctor? Nominate them here to be a Doctor of the Day!

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The Upside of Aging CarolAnn Tutera and SottoPelle®’s Advancee


CarolAnn Tutera and SottoPelle’s Success

CarolAnn Tutera is the face, owner and CEO of SottoPelle® an international medical company with numerous affiliated physicians/medical practices across the globe. Under CarolAnn’s management SottoPelle® is helping thousands of patients every day with hormonal imbalance issues.

SottoPelle® was founded searching for answers to questions that impact everyone; how can we “Age Well and Be Healthier?” CarolAnn shared in her late husband’s, Dr. Gino Tutera’s, vision and drive. Their focus has always been on healing
and quality of life with a holistic and scientifically based methodology.

The brand’s mission is providing a medically based, safe, and effective Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) to age well and have healthier, happier lives. “We are technology driven to support the most human aspects of patients’ lives. SottoPelle’s reputation is for its specialized services and a comprehensive approach to the patient’s entire health status, not just one symptom. “Many people think that BHRT is just for menopause but there are many other beneficial uses of the therapy,” stated CarolAnn. “We provide a concierge atmosphere and approach that reaffirms to patients that they matter. These types of services and amenities have been so outstanding that it has attracted attention from notable celebrities, athletes, and anyone seeking a true medical partner in health management.”

CarolAnn notes that “SottoPelle® has become so much more than a career or business; for our team, it is a way of life.” She is very proud of the many successes that happen every day when a patient can resume their normal life activities. For some, it is after many years of feeling crippled by menopause, andropause, or other hormonal imbalance; or those impacted with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), athletes, veterans, or those terribly injured, who then see a dramatic improvement in their quality of life with SottoPelle®, it is hard to not be humbled by their strength and courage…and positive outcomes. Many might call this a highlight to a career, we call it an honor.

SottoPelle’s devotion and dedication to the community has been very consistent, ongoing, and unwavering. CarolAnn has been instrumental in creating partnerships with many charities such as: NFL HOF Players Foundation, Baehr Challenge, TankChair, and many local and national charity events and fundraisers.

2017 is bringing the most recent and exciting evolution of our technology and services for both patients and physicians. We are excited to be on the forefront of our newest technology and infrastructure that is evolving the integrated approach with which doctors treat SottoPelle® patients. Patients trust SottoPelle® for BHRT, and we are working very hard every day to maintain that respected position. We are allocating many resources to growing and supporting our best assets – our physicians and patients.

Contact SottoPelle®
at 480.874.1515 or
8412 E. Shea Blvd., #101,
Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

This article was originally published in So Scottsdale! Magazine.

5 Myths About Hormone Replacement Therapy

(That are far from true.)
By Dr. Meghna Thacker

Growing up in India, I had watched my grandmother go through menopause. She would have a tough time falling asleep at night (it was considered “normal” for her to get three hours of sleep at night), so she watched TV instead. As kids, we used to love doing up her hair, and we needed many hairpins to hold her bun. Over the years, I saw her lose her hair and, again, it was considered as part of “ageing”. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother went through multiple mood changes and was diagnosed with severe depression—she had to go through rounds of harsh electroconvulsive therapy, where a brain seizure is induced to lift the person from depression.

After my graduation as a naturopathic physician, I got a preceptorship position at Dr Gino Tutera’s office, now the world-renowned, SottoPelle. Being a naturopathic physician and believing that the body heals itself, I initially did not like the idea about using hormones to treat menopause. I thought that we were going against the laws of nature. But, I stayed, since I was curious to find out what this buzz was all about. I loved helping women feel better and we had women coming to our offices from all over the country and some even from international destinations.

I was in my late 20s when I started working there and probably could not relate to all the benefits that women were experiencing from the treatments. Now, 10 years later, I swear by this treatment because of the amazing results I’ve seen.

Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is different from synthetic hormones. They come from plant-based sources like yams, used as a starting substance. In the lab, they are made into the exact structure of the hormones that our body naturally makes. As we age, we don’t produce enough hormones. Testosterone levels begin to decline in women when they are in their late 30s. It causes symptoms like low energy, anxiety, brain fogginess, low libido and weight gain.

Then, as we reach closer to menopause, oestrogen and progesterone levels decline, which brings on menopause and its classic symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. By choosing to use BHRT, we are not only saving one from not developing all these symptoms, but also preventing them from developing chronic diseases like osteoporosis, cardio-vascular disease and breast cancer. If you are prone to these diseases when your hormone levels are declining, then does it not make sense to correct the hormone deficiency by natural hormones to prevent these diseases? Here are five myths about BHRT that need to be busted.

Myth #1: BHRT Causes Cancer
For healthy adults, BHRT may help reduce the risk of cancer by balancing natural hormone levels. Of course, if someone has a personal history of hormone positive breast cancer, I would not recommend oestrogen or progesterone. In fact, testosterone therapy will help them better. We have many patients who come for testosterone therapy only after they have had breast cancer.

Myth #2: BHRT Causes Blood Clots
The blood clots myth began when BHRT was first developed, and it stems from the fact that early treatments were not individualized. In fact, the advancements in BHRT allow women in particular to enjoy a healthier post-menopausal stage due to the balance of oestrogen, which mitigates the risk of developing coronary artery disease. When a doctor gets a detailed patient history, he/she can determine if a patient has a risk to developing a blood clot. A thrombosis panel can be run to find out any genetic cause for developing clots.

Myth #3: BHRT is Only Recommended During Menopause
We have patients in their 80s and a few more in their 90s who come for BHRT. These are patients who started the BHRT almost 30 years ago and have decided to continue till they live. They not only look 20 years younger than their actual age, but they act like it too. They have perfect bone density, which their doctors are blown away by. BHRT keeps you from losing your bone density and prevents you from developing osteoporosis, which is common in women after menopause. I like to monitor my patient’s bone density via Dexa Scan. I am very pleased to share that when patient has been on our therapy, I almost always notice that their bone density improves every two years.

Myth #4: BHRT Treatments Cause Hair Loss
When oestrogen levels decline in a woman, she begins to lose her hair. That is the reason that women start noticing hair loss when they get closer to menopause. By correcting the deficiency using BHRT, we are able to prevent hair loss. Hair loss is a major stressor in a woman’s lives. No woman that I know of would like to go through it. On the other hand, too much testosterone can cause hair loss. In some women, testosterone converts easily to a form called DHT (Di-hydro Testosterone), which is related to hair loss. Thus, it is the fine hormonal balance that can lead to healthy hair.

Myth #5: BHRT Causes Weight Gain
Testosterone is the hormone that helps us to burn fat and make more muscle. Yes, even women make testosterone naturally and need adequate levels of it to feel good. Of course, we need much less amounts compared to men, but don’t be of the belief that testosterone is only a male hormone. When testosterone levels drop, we begin to accumulate fat in places where we may have not seen it before. A common place is the mid-abdomen area. Women come to me and say that we have tried every type of diet and exercise, but can’t seem to lose the weight. They also say that they have never been “so flabby” in their lives. They begin losing muscle tone. By using individualized testosterone therapy, we are able to reverse this.

Patients trust SottoPelle® for BHRT, and they are working hard to maintain that respected position. As a founder and leader in BHRT, they remain determined to allocating countless resources to growing and supporting our best assets – our physicians and patients.

Contact SottoPelle®
at 480.874.1515 or
8412 E. Shea Blvd., #101,
Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

Does Your Partner Need Help with Their Hormones?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, talking with your significant other about their health and hormones with a physician is almost always fodder for an argument. The good news is, “It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way®” if the topic is approached with love, compassion, support and understanding. There are ways you can minimize the chance of upsetting the other person’s feelings if you do a little homework first.
If you’re a man, understand that your wife’s mood swings aren’t always caused by a bad day at work or the stress of dealing with the children or the never-ending list of chores at home. Chances are these everyday stressors can be amplified as a result of hormonal imbalance, premenopausal or menopausal. When a women is in menopause her body significantly decreases its production of estrogen and testosterone. In addition to mood swings, your wife may be experiencing fatigue or loss of libido. Other symptoms can include night sweats, hot flashes, unexplained weight gain and irritability. She may not realize she is suffering from hormonal imbalance and may have a hard time asking for help even if she suspects she might be “going through the change.”

Don’t let her be a stoic and suffer in silence. When you feel an openness in her presence, start by telling her she is greatly loved and valued. That you are bringing up a possibly sensitive topic only out of concern for her health. Reassure her that though her symptoms might have affected your relationship, that you are committed in helping her find answers so she can start feeling better, both physically and emotionally. Offer to read the same material with her, if possible, attend her doctor’s appointments with her, let her know you want to understand her condition, but most importantly, show her your support is consistent and constant.

If you are a woman wanting to talk to your male partner about “the change” you suspect is taking place in him, this topic is equally sensitive. We often hear of stories of men going through “mid-life crisis” when they buy the new sports car, start looking at much younger women and often chase things which help them feel more youthful. Some experts believe this phenomenon may actually be caused by a man trying to over-compensate the very qualities the he believes is slipping away from him: his sex appeal and masculinity. When a man reaches their late 30’s to mid-40s, the male body starts to significantly produce less testosterone which causes the man to have decreased libido and energy, loss of mental focus, decreased muscle mass, increased weight gain and an overall compromise in their sense of well-being. For a man, these symptoms also often cause depression. This “change” is often called “male menopause” or now known as “Andropause.”

When a woman addresses a man’s possible hormonal imbalance, the same concepts in positive communication applies regardless of whom is addressing whom. The woman must reassure the man that he is valued and loved and that this sensitive topic is being brought up out of concern for their health and well-being. Let your partner know that you don’t see him less of a man because his body is going through changes that are not in his control. Reassure him that the changes he is going through are common among men and the clinical term is called “andropause.” Read about the topic together and talk about “next steps” in getting him the medical help he needs.

The bottom line is neither the man nor the woman needs to suffer and feel they have debilitating bodies. Your relationship does not have to suffer because of the distance or walls often built between partners due to misunderstandings as a result of hormonal imbalance and mood swings that often follow. Intimacy in the relationship is possible, again. As well as the renewed sense of hope in a healthy, long future together not hindered by any physical, emotional or mental barricades often produced by hormonal imbalance. Your passion for life and each other will only grow with each passing year. But it all starts with today.

When you know something is not quite right with the person you love, it’s only natural you want to help them. Words have the power to build-up a person or to tear them down. Let’s help build the other person up in letting them know there is hope. For the past 20 years SottoPelle has provided thousands of men and women the ability to feel like their selves again. Let us help you and your loved one rebuild the road to happiness and good health.

Dr. Gino Tutera is a pioneer and leader in the field of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. As a board certified OB/GYN, he has dedicated more than thirty years of his medical career to the clinical study, science and treatment of hormonal imbalance. In 2002, Dr. Tutera founded SottoPelle® Therapy and has since been invited to speak at international medical conventions in front of thousands of fellow physicians. Dr. Tutera has authored three books on the world-renowned methodology of SottoPelle Therapy. His books are sold individually in Spanish and in English in print format or you can download the books electronically. You can purchase them here: https://store.sottopelletherapy.com/shop/books/

Individual Dosing Makes for Happy Individuals…Naturally!

We all know a lot of situations when one size doesn’t fit all: shoes, clothing, the dating scene, and coffee of course! (Either you take it black, or you don’t….2 pinks and a blue, 1 sugar, not 2…you get the idea.)
Hormone replacement is the same way. One size….does not fit all! And SottoPelle® patients are living proof that individualized dosing leads to happier more satisfied patients!

Here is something to ponder: should a 47-year-old, 5 foot 4 inch, female spin instructor take the same dose of hormones as a 47-year-old 5 foot 4 inch female attorney who works in a courtroom all day?

Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: You simply can’t assume that because these two women are the same age and height that their hormone levels (or hormonal deficiencies) are the same. One of the main differences with our proprietary SottoPelle® method for HRT is that we take into account many factors when determining an individualized dosing plan to best treat a patient’s individual needs.

That’s because, at SottoPelle®, we understand that people’s bodies work differently. Additionally, we all live, work, play, sleep and enjoy life differently— thus our providers customize dosing based on actual science and over 20 years of proprietary data which shows: People need individualized dosing to get optimal results.

The Science of BHRT — Simplified with SottoPelle®

For both men and women, the way we produce hormones is a complex biological process affecting just about every system in our body, from reproduction to metabolism, brain function to mood. Drops in hormone levels can really change the way we feel and impact our health. The drop in estrogen that comes from menopause may raise a woman’s risk for heart problems and could lower her bone density, putting her at risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis. Low testosterone in men or women can lead to sexual dysfunction, mood issues and lack of concentration, as well as other potentially serious issues.

In fact, there are lists and lists of symptoms that can be linked to hormone imbalance. And since everyone’s body chemistry and symptoms are different, a boilerplate approach to HRT just doesn’t cut it. You deserve better.

Traditional or synthetic hormone replacement in the form of creams, patches, and pills is in many ways, an attempt to put people in a box, with prescriptions written based on predetermined dosages. That can be a huge limitation when it comes to the way you feel while on HRT, as well as your health and overall well being.

At SottoPelle®, bio identical hormone replacement therapy using subcutaneous hormone pellets is different. It’s a scientifically based methodology, using pellet therapy. Each patient’s hormone levels are first thoroughly tested so we can see exactly what your hormone levels are and what your body is lacking, that’s the only way we can know how to best go about treating your deficiencies.

Each patient’s dosing is specifically designed around each patient’s needs and lifestyle. It is truly customized to your individual needs.

That’s like getting the “low fat double tall mocha latte” you ordered, instead of someone else’s, cup of black coffee!

Wondering how pellets work? Here’s the scoop.

After hormone levels are tested and reviewed by one of our trained providers an individualized dosing plan is created, and tiny pellets are implanted, painlessly under the skin. Over the course of several months and based on your bodies needs, these pellets slowly dissolve, delivering hormones in the most physiological way possible, in an effort to mimic the way our bodies once did. This delivery method offers the added benefit of keeping hormone levels stable, avoiding the yo-yo effect that can occur with pills, patches or creams.

The Upside of Aging

The Upside of Aging

CarolAnn Tutera and SottoPelle®’s Advance

CarolAnn Tutera is the face, owner, and CEO of SottoPelle® an international medical company with numerous affiliated physicians/ medical practices across the globe. Under CarolAnn’s guidance, SottoPelle® is assisting thousands of patients every day with hormonal imbalance issues that impact their lives.

The SottoPelle® success story isn’t going unnoticed. Carolann was recently named an Arizona Business Leader in 2017 for unwavering leadership and vision as the driving force of SottoPelle®’s evolution. SottoPelle® is also #1 ranked hormone therapy clinic in 2016 & 2017 by Ranking Arizona.

No one wants to get, look or feel older, and all of us question – how do we find the upside of aging? SottoPelle® was founded to respond to the innate desire to counter the impact of aging due to hormonal imbalance. “Health and aging don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Our mission is providing a medically based, safe, and effective Bio-Identical Hormone Pellet Therapy (BHRT) for improved and sustainable quality of life. “says CarolAnn.

“Although our protocol is technology driven we never lose sight of our patients and their very personal needs. We are proud that we have earned a powerful and positive reputation for a natural approach to the patient’s overall health and needs. We don’t treat a symptom, we treat people. Many people think that BHRT is just for menopause but there are many other valuable applications for the therapy,” stated CarolAnn. “What sets us apart from imitators is our concierge atmosphere and approach that reaffirms to patients that they come first. When quality of care is valued and maintained it attracts attention and accolades from notable celebrities, athletes, and anyone seeking a true medical partner in health management.”

CarolAnn noted, “SottoPelle® has become synonymous with dedication and quality. It is a transforming experience to see how we are helping people every day resume their normal life activities without debilitating symptoms or concerns they suffered with for years. For those impacted by menopause, andropause, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or any other hormonal imbalance SottoPelle has proven to be a game changer in their quality of life.”

2018 is bringing exciting growth and expansion of our technology and services for both patients and physicians. We
are excited to be on the forefront of our newest clinical assistive technology and infrastructure that is changing the integrated approach with which doctors treat SottoPelle® patients.

Patients trust SottoPelle® for BHRT, and they are working hard to maintain that respected position. As a founder and leader in BHRT, they remain determined to allocating countless resources to growing and supporting our best assets – our physicians and patients.

Contact SottoPelle®
at 480.874.1515 or
8412 E. Shea Blvd., #101,
Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

This article was originally published in So Scottsdale! Magazine.

A Day in the Life of a Hormonally Imbalanced Woman – Finale (Part 12)

The stores are already in full-on Christmas mode as Lila and I hit the mall to find me a dress for Steve and Nadine’s wedding. Lila is so proud of me for “inviting” Paul. She gives me credit even though I’ve explained three times that he pretty much invited himself.
Rifling through the racks of dresses, Lila always seems to find the flimsiest, most inappropriate dress for a forty-something woman. She holds up a slippery, sequined little green number with the shoulders cut out.

“Lila, seriously. I’ll look like a salamander.”

We finally settle on a backless red dress that’s forgiving around the middle, even though I’m looking pretty good these days. I’ve been on my bioidentical hormone replacement pellet therapy for three months now, and I feel fantastic. I’m seeing my body change in ways that make me feel great! With all the energy I have now, I have been getting off the couch more to walk and am conscious about what I eat.

Paul picks us up the day of the wedding, and I find myself more excited than apprehensive. I know Steve and Nadine must have received the reply card, so they know I’m bringing a date. I hope it’s eating the heck out of Steve wondering who it is. Or maybe I don’t care.

Alex is in a suit and Nike tennis shoes. I have never seen Paul in anything fancier than a sport coat, but he’s got a fancy black suit on and looks distinguished and handsome. He hops out to open the door for me.

During the ceremony, Steve does notice me. A couple of times. Alex is the ringbearer and my daughter Camille is a bridesmaid, so Paul and I sit close on the draped white chairs, arms entwined at the elbow, smiling. As the bride and groom have their end-of-ceremony kiss, I find myself clapping for real. I’m happy for Steve. Or I don’t care either way.

It’s hard to tell the difference anymore, I’m so consumed with my own happy.

At the reception, we congratulate the couple, and Steve has a look on his face that I can’t read, but one that makes me feel powerful.

“The woman in red commands the room,” Paul says against my cheek as we are slow dancing. “Everybody is looking at you.”

“No they’re not,” I whisper into his ear. But when I glance at my ex I see that he is, indeed, looking at me. That’s when Paul turns my chin and kisses me deeply, right there on the dance floor. All my muscles seem to liquify. I can almost feel Steve’s eyes boring into my bare back.

It’s a fun evening, but we leave early anyway. I don’t feel like I need to stick around for anybody else’s benefit. As I climb, giggling, into Paul’s car, I am grateful, so grateful, that it’s over. It feels like a door has finally shut behind me. A closet full of unwanted things finally emptied.

The next day at work, I am humming at my desk. I’m on my way to the break room when Lila grabs my hand and gives me a little dance floor spin as she passes the other way. I’ve already told her everything. We laugh.

As I’m making my cinnamon orange tea, Audra, one of the new account reps, comes up beside me and grabs the coffee pot.

“Hi there,” she says, pouring herself a mug. Audra looks about my age, maybe a little older. There’s gray in her hair, which is dry and unruly. Her face has a permanent look of tiredness and annoyance mixed with a dash of don’t-push-me-or-I-might-go-ballistic-on-you.

“Hi yourself,” I say.

“I wanted to ask you. How do you do it?”

“How do I do what?”

She hesitates, but only for a second. Audra’s got a look that shows she isn’t shy. “Listen, at the risk of sounding weird, I gotta tell you, you’ve got something going on, girl. I wanna know how you do it, that’s all. Is it a face cream? Essential oils?” She leans in close. “It’s a face cream, isn’t it? A $100 face cream.”

I smile, remember that long-ago day when I got up the nerve to ask Lila what she had going on. When she told me about SottoPelle?

“No, Audra, it’s not a face cream,” I reply. “Why don’t we go out for coffee after work, and I’ll tell you all about it.”


**You can read the previous 11 parts on our blog.

A Day in the Life of a Hormonally Imbalanced Woman (Part 11)

When I wake up a couple of days later, I feel great. Not just good– great. My energy is fantastic and I realized I’ve slept straight through the night without waking up once. I even do a few sun salutations before heading to the bathroom. I take a selfie as I’m in warrior pose. I feel like a warrior– fired up, ready for anything. Dang, girl, you look good, I think, checking out the picture. My body looks slimmer and firmer, my face a little tighter, younger. I had read that estrogen affects collagen production, that it not only makes you feel younger, it can make you look younger, too. Once I get my makeup on, I look even better. I smile at myself in the mirror. Could it be that I have my self-confidence back from having the pellets just recently? I am really feeling stoked that I feel so alive now in such a short time.
At work I am on my game. My head is clear, and I am fast, efficient, and productive, even on only one cup of coffee. I am thinking these pellets are really doing the trick for me. As the day goes along, my mind is as sharp as it was first thing in the am. I notice I am remembering more and more. That glazed look at the end of the day is non-existent. My co-workers are asking me what is so different for me? I feel alive and coherent. Not the sad, droopy gal I was just a short time ago.

Paul texts me to see if I want to meet up at the bookstore after work today. I say yes and let Alex know he’s on his own for dinner. You can imagine my surprise when the chimes on the glass door of the coffee shop entrance tinkle, and in walks my son with his backpack and hoodie.

“Is everything okay?” I ask him as he makes his way over to our table, eyeing Paul.

He nods. “Have a seat,” I offer. He does, still giving Paul the stink-eye.

“Hi there. Dr. Paul Goodman,” Paul says, offering his hand genially. “You must be Alex.”

Slowly, Alex accepts the handshake, but he looks slightly confused. “Did you say Dr. Paul Goodman?” he finally asks.

“I did.”

Suddenly my son’s face lights up. “Are you the Dr. Paul Goodman who wrote the ‘Galactic Paleo Wars’ series?”

I laugh and interject. “Oh, no, Alex, Paul is a historian. He writes historical fiction.”

Then Paul speaks for himself. “Actually, I am.” He turns to me, looking a little sheepish, but also proud of himself. “I dabble in a little sci fi, too.”

Meanwhile, Alex looks like gravity has stopped working in the vicinity of his chair, and he’s trying desperately to stay in it. “Aw, man, that’s so awesome! I love those books! Can I, like, get an autograph?”

I sit back in wonder as my new beau and my son exchange a conversation about ancient aliens and spaceships and whatnot, and Paul signs his name on a napkin. “Maybe next time you can sign the actual book for me,” Alex says hopefully.

“You bet,” Paul grins.

Then Alex seems to remember why he’s here– basically to spy on me and deliver an unconvincing cover-up story. “Oh, um, I forgot my key, Mom. Can I have yours so I can get into the house?”

“Sure thing, honey.” I wring my house key off my key ring and hand it to him.

“Oh, and this came in the mail for you. Bye!” Alex tosses a beige envelope on the table in front of me before giving Paul a fist bump and flying out the door. I flip the letter over to the front, and dread fills my chest.

“What’s that?” Paul asks, seeing my face.

There’s no reason to hide the truth. “It’s the invitation to my ex’s wedding,” I say flatly.

“Oh,” Paul looks sympathetic and takes a sip of his coffee. When I continue to just sit there, looking at it, he asks, “Aren’t you going to open it?”

Still, I do nothing. I feel flat, apathetic, my good feelings totally gone. Paul reaches over and takes the envelope from my hands. With no compunction whatsoever, he tears it open and looks at the card. “Well, this is a lovely invitation,” he says, admiring the cover, which I can’t see. Then he flips it open and I do the see the cover– a picture of the two of them by the water, looking very happy and very much in love. My stomach sinks even further.

“At the Seashell Resort, wow that’s swanky,” he goes on, putting on his glasses to read the fine print. “I love that place.”

He rummages around in his bag and pulls out a pen. I see him looking over the top of the invitation at me. “I’ll just mark you and Alex down with a plus one then, why don’t I?”

I don’t say anything, but a little smile finds its way to my face.

“I mean, the least you can do is cost them as much money as possible, right? Shall we find a date for Alex, too?” As I sit and ponder as to what just happened, I realize I am feeling top of my game again! I am feeling more my old self than I have in a long time. Let the fun begin!

Now I’m really smiling. “No, that’s okay. A plus one is fine.”

Paul fills out the reply card, mumbling about how he hopes they serve the shrimp scampi, and stuffs it into the self-addressed stamped envelope. “I’ll mail this on my way home,” he says, dropping it into his bag.

Then he holds out his hand, and the feeling of putting mine in his is starting to seem comfortingly familiar.


**You can follow the entire series on our blog.