Never Give Up - My PCOS Struggles and Successes
by Georgia Girl
Thank you all for sharing, it is so helpful to hear from others that deal with this. I hope my contribution will help someone out there as well.
I was diagnosed at age 16 when I told my OB about painful irregular periods...I was told not to worry about it and was put on the pill. I only took the pill for a couple of years, then put it aside because I felt it was making me "fat".
You must understand, I have watched both of my parents struggle with their weight my entire life. It has been so painful to see them struggle, and now my dad has severe diabetes.
At a very young age I promised myself I would never allow myself to get obese. Hmm, that sounds good doesn't it? Well I started gaining weight at age 19, so I started running at age 19. I also went on an extremely low fat diet and managed to keep my weight down below 130 until the last few years.
I am by no means an athlete, but I am a woman of faith and hope. I am now 34 (I will be 35 in feb) and I still work out 3-5 days per week for 2 hours each day. I have many successes, but I also have many struggles, so I will share all of these:
1. My weight, I can gain 5 pounds overnight, I kid you not. I am often brought to tears over how difficult it is to lose even one pound. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get down below 140 lbs.
2. Cravings, all I really want is a diet coke and a plate of chocolate chip cookies. I don't give in, most of the time, and have gotten used to eating cheese sticks as snacks, and fish or chicken for meals.
3. Metformin, I started taking it 2 months ago, the extended release version. I could tell it was working, but I became more nauseated and lethargic each day I was on it. I actually thought I was pregnant! My doctor is now testing me for lactic acidemia, and I am not currently taking anything, just waiting.
4. Hair loss. Are you kidding me!!!! This is ridiculous! I am talking about handfuls of hair falling out nearly everyday.
Fortunately I have very thick hair, but I can see my scalp in the sunshine, horrors. My husband kids me that there must be a shedding yettie that sneaks into our shower when we are not around. Do not misunderstand, I have the most supportive husband in the world, he knows that laughter helps me deal.
5. I don't know if this is related, but lately CONFUSION AND MEMORY LOSS??? seem to be an issue. I regard myself as fairly intelligent, but lately, goodness. It is terrible. I am sometimes concerned that I shouldn't drive because I might miss a red light or something, IS THIS NORMAL?
6. Hair where I don't want it, on my upper lip, chin, breasts and inner thighs. Lovely.
7. Painful intercourse. Enough said about that.
8. Extremely painful cysts that rupture and leave me lying on the floor in pain.
8. Worrying about being able to get pregnant this time. My symptoms have increased over the last 3 years. What if my body just isn't what it was before?
Successes. (this is my favorite part)
1. I am so blessed to have a wonderful supportive husband and a beautiful little boy that is now almost three. I was able to get pregnant after a three month round of BC pills to 'jumpstart' my system. I maintained the pregnancy without any help from metformin or progesterone supplementation, no one mentioned these at the time.
2. Weight. Although I do get upset, I know it could be worse. I attribute my success here to exercise (as I mentioned my workouts above, and I compete in distance runs and triathlons) I usually bring up the tail end or the middle, but I am not racing against those others folks, I am racing for my health and my family.
3. Tweezers and wax help hide a lot.
4. I love my life and I still 'have my health' which I pay very close attention to and hopefully I can keep this from getting any worse.
One last thing that I feel compelled to share:
PLEASE follow your gut instinct, listen to your body, and if your physician tells you something that just doesn't sound right, then discuss it further, research it, be your own cheerleader.
For example, when I went to my endocrinologist, after a long discussion of my symptoms, she looked at me very puzzled and said "what makes you think this is an endocrine issue?" I felt stupid, but persisted. I was right.
Later, after taking a month's worth of 'metformin' I returned to my physician and told her the medicine wasn't working.
She treated me like I was crazy and asked if I wanted an antidepressant!!
Well it turns out the pharmacy mislabeled my meds. Although the bottle said metformin, I was taking prilosec!!!!! No wonder my symptoms were not improving. So again I was right. Believe in what you know is right.
Best of luck to you all in your struggles, I wish you many successes. My prayers are with you all.
Editor's comments: Hi, Georgia Girl! Congrats on your exercise and following your instincts. One thing you didn't mention much is what you're eating. PCOS is a complex disorder involving many different possible symptoms. But a super-healthy diet plays an important role in controlling all of your symptoms. A good reference is this PCOS Diet book.
Have you checked to see if you have insulin resistance? Insulin resistance is associated with age-related memory impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Insulin resistance can occur inside the brain, where it appears to have an inflammatory effect. It also appears to have an effect on beta-amyloid peptide, a brain protein involved in Alzheimer's.
For a multitude of reasons, including brain function, we think it is important that you find out whether or not you have insulin resistance.
It's also important to reduce or avoid chronic stress.
Chronic high levels of cortisol are known to shrink a portion of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system and plays a role in long term memory and spatial navigation. The limbic system is a set of brain structures that support a variety of functions including emotion, behavior and long term memory.
Recent studies using brain scans have shown that shrinkage of the hippocampus is associated with brain impairments seen in Alzheimer's disease, as well as chronic stress and reduced self-esteem.
There is also a relationship between insulin resistance and cortisol.
The long-term effect of chronic disorders such as PCOS on mental function is largely overlooked. 34 years of age is awfully early to be having brain function issues. We suggest you consult with a health professional.