Tuesday, May 16, 2017

PCOS Diagnosis - My Story

PCOS Diagnosis - My Story

I have been living with PCOS since I was a teenager. I having been living with diagnosed PCOS for nearly a year. You read that right. I lived un-diagnosed for over 15 years. 15+ years of never feeling well. 15+ years of searching for answers. Grant it, most of those years I didn't feel ill all  the time. I wasn't searching for answers all the time either. There were good times and bad. It was still 15+ years I could have had help. It was 15+ years of symptoms piling on top of each other.

I hope in telling my story of how I knew something was wrong, couldn't get the answers I needed, finally getting fed up, and not stopping until I got the answers I needed helps someone else out there. Help them get pointed in the right direction. Give them that push they need to get answers themselves. No one should feel like they are not being heard!

Let me go ahead and say it. I am not a doctor (shock!). I am not giving you medical advice (don't get your medical advise from bloggers!). I am suggesting if you feel like something is wrong, go to your own doctor; and get 2nd opinions! 

Fifteen Plus Years of Symptoms

For a little back story on those 15+ years. I should also tell you that left to my own devices I will google myself into pretty much any form of cancer out there. I am also a bit of a hypochondriac. As in if you puke around me (I hate hate hate throwing up!), I am going to feel ill pretty much the rest of the day.  If my husband was the forbidding kind, he would have forbade me to google anything years ago.

Rewind back to 17ish year old La'Shawn. I was in the shower and noticed a lump in my left breast. That caused me to have my 1st gyno appointment in my life. (We were not much for going to the doctor growing up). The lump was a cyst that grew from a golf ball size to a tennis ball size in the two weeks that passed from finding it to taking it out. Not cancer! :-) Anyway, gyno appointment. She mentioned in passing that my ovaries were cystic. Nothing to be worried about at 17. I might find it a struggle to have children later on. I was more concerned about the lump in my breast and I was 17. Having children was not on my to-do list at the time.

PCOS Diagnosis - My Story

Fast forward to 23 year old La'Shawn. During those 6 years I had hit-or-miss periods. Never in my life I have I been "regular". That being said, I had zero problems getting pregnant with my son. As in we were not trying. He was born a month early due to me getting preeclampsia. Which is pregnancy induce hypertension. If you want to know if that is a symptom of PCOS...why yes. Yes it is. Not that it was mentioned at that time. Just like when I was 17, we were all more concerned with other things. You know. Like me or my child not dying!

On to La'Shawn in her 30's. Once I hit 30 years old, there was a marked difference in how I felt. I at first accounted it to being older. "Surly most every other 30 year old felt 80...right?" Get ready for TMI and a lot of symptoms. I gained 40+ lbs in 3 years. 20 of it in 6 months from turning 30. The other 20 was 10 a year over the next two years. I stopped having periods. When I say stop...I mean it. I didn't have one for nearly two years. You know what I did have? Every PMS symptom imaginable along with feeling pregnant, but no period. Every. Single. Month. It was terrible! Now matter how much sleep I got (I am talking I could power out 18+ hours at one time), I was always fatigued. The hair on my head started falling out by the handfuls. Guess where it wasn't falling out? On my face! I started getting facial hair. My migraines were nearly every week. Sometimes twice a week. I got yeast infections sent from Hades.  My body ached. I got depressed. Basically I was miserable. I needed help.

If you want to know more about PCOS, check out PCOS Awareness Association. As well as consult your own medical team. 

Getting Help

Over the course of a year, I went to the doctor about every other month. I knew something was wrong; and I knew I needed help. I mean, who wouldn't with all those symptoms. I was tested from something new every time. All those tests came back negative; and I was told everything I was feeling was because I was obese. Yep. My insane weight gain (becoming obese)...was because I was obese. Let that sink in. Gaining 40lbs in 3 years (20 of it in 6 months) couldn't be a symptom of anything other than being fat itself....

I was tested for: 

  • Mono
  • Mumps
  • Lupus
  • MS
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bad liver
  • Bad kidneys
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • The Flu
  • Infections
So on and so forth. There were about 20 or more other things I was tested for, but I cannot remember them at this point. It was at least three viles of blood every time I went. Those tests came back negative every single time. Of course they did. When the doctor called with the results, I would ask what is wrong with me then. I would get, the spiel about needing to lose weight. All of those issues I was having was likely due to that. Never once brushing the subject of the actual weight gain itself. 

I had had enough. This doctor wasn't listening to me. Apparently didn't believe that I was eating less and moving more BUT GAINING WEIGHT and at an alarming rate. So...I got a new doctor. I should also note that I got a new gyno doctor as well. Going to them with the menstruation side of the symptoms, guess what I was told. If you guessed it was because I was overweight, you would be right. I will say that the nurse taking my symptoms asked me if I had heard of PCOS; and that might be what I was experiencing. 

So, not only did I get a new general doctor, I got a new gyno. A midwife to be exact. My thoughts were that she would be more attentive. They tend to take more holistic approve to medicine. Guess what. They listened!!

PCOS Diagnosis - My Story

My Diagnosis with PCOS

On a Wednesday I went to the midwife. She listened to my symptoms. Told me she thinks it is PCOS (without me mentioning it), had me get some imaging done, and called me back that afternoon with a confirmation and an attack plan. The next day I went to my new doctor, told him what transpired the day before, he was on board. He and the midwife worked together for me. For my health. 

They had me on medicine, gave me advice on what I should and should not be eating and what exercise is going to work for me. That the standard "eating less & moving more" is not going to cut it for me. It might make me maintain my current weight. I needed to lose it though! My general doctor also told me not to get discouraged. It will take me twice the effort of people without PCOS to get only half the results. So not what this lazy chick wanted to hear. lol. 

Living with PCOS

I am 8 months into my diagnosis. I am down 20 lbs. My hair not only stopped falling out, it started growing back in! The hair growth on my face slowed down. My body does not ache. My migraines (knock on wood) are down to a pre-migraine once every 2-3 months. My period is back monthly; and I am not depressed.

I have to take metformin twice a day. The PCOS has caused me to be insulin resistant. Which is basically causing me to be pre-diabetic and everything that goes along with that. I work out 6-7 times a week. I have cut carbs and sugars, and no sodas.

I feel like a new woman!! Would it have been nice to know that I had PCOS two, 10, 15 years ago?! Of course! I might have more than the one kiddo. I might not have gained those 40 lbs. I might not have felt like I was near the grave. I might not have put myself in further danger of diabetes. I might not have nearly died giving birth to my son. But I am better now. I am on the way to being healthy!

What proof? This is the difference of 5 months. December 2016 to May 2017. Just looking at me you can tell I am healthier!
PCOS Diagnosis - My Story
My face isn't swollen, splotchy, haggard, hairy, and tired now! :-) 

What is PCOS?

PCOS is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It affects millions of women in the world. Simply put, it is exactly as the name says it is. Many cysts on the ovaries. A more complex answer is that, yes it is having cystic ovaries. They don't know what causes it (a lot of time it seems to be genetic), and it is more classified as a hormonal problem than gynecological.

Hormones involved in PCOS include:

  • Androgens. All females make androgens (also referred to as “male hormones”), but there are often higher levels of androgens in women with PCOS. The excess androgens are produced mostly by the ovaries, but the adrenal glands can also be involved. Excess androgens are responsible for many PCOS symptoms including acne, unwanted hair, thinning hair, and irregular periods. 
  • Insulin. This hormone allows the body to absorb glucose (blood sugar) into the cells for energy. In PCOS, the body isn’t as responsive to insulin as it should be. This can lead to elevated blood glucose levels and cause the body to make more insulin. Having too much insulin can cause the body to make more androgens. 
  • Progesterone. In PCOS, a lack of progesterone contributes to irregular periods.

The moral of the Story

I am not here to tell you that you have PCOS. I am not here for a sob story. I don't get my jollies that way. :-) My sole purpose is this.

If you feel like something is wrong/off, seek help. No one knows you better guessed! 

Don't google that stuff. Go to your doctor!! Write down your symptoms. Get your answers! Do not let the doctors dismiss you concerns. Get another doctor and a 2nd opinion. Yes. Doctors are knowledgeable. Way way way more than I am. I am 100% more knowledgeable about me though. Just as you are with you! I wish I would have listened to my instinct years and year ago. I might be in a different place in my health now. I am getting there though. :-)

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