Blog,  Health

Diagnosed with PCOS

Last week, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I’ve been considering how I wanted to write about it … then last night This Is Us kind of stole my thunder. 🙂 I’ve been thinking about this blog post for about a week now and hadn’t moved forward because I didn’t know what I wanted to say on the issue.

I’m about to get real REAL with you, so if vaginal bleeding makes you squeamish, I’d suggest jumping down to Chapter Three: F*ing Hormones where things get a little less ick factor.

Chapter One: My Period

My period has always been a little like Carrie at the prom. Heavy and horrible. Cramps so bad I would puke, couldn’t get out of the fetal position for hours and counted down the days to when I had to go through it all over again like I was waiting for the crypt keeper.

Okay, enough analogies.

Finally, I begged my mom to take me to the doctor. They confirmed I didn’t have endometriosis, so the only option, besides birth control pills (and, hello, I’m Catholic and 13 years old at the time), was pain pills. They informed me to take them 45 minutes before I thought I would have cramps. Um, great advice, doc.

My periods were never regular and I never ever started on the same day. Sometimes I didn’t even start on the same week. So how was I supposed to know when I needed to consider pain pills in advance!? 

I remember two very specific times in high school where my cramps were so intense and I miserably suffered through them at school. Once I went down to the nurse and begged to drive home. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t bear to be around anyone. The nurse said my face was so pale, she couldn’t in good conscience allow me to drive home despite the fact I could probably walk home faster than I could drive because we lived about 10 houses down from the school.

The second time, I was in seventh period. The last period of the day. I felt the cramps coming on strong. I was in English Lit and the teacher really liked me. She had finished her lecture and we were working silently when I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I was starting to feel bad and wanted to be excused early to go home. 

I crawled – no exaggeration – to the publications room (I was on the newspaper staff and there was an office inside the pub). The way my school was shaped, I basically had to make a U around the school to get to the classroom. It felt like an eternity getting to the other side of the building. I got to the office and lay on the floor in the fetal position and cried. I lay there in the dark, crying, cradling my legs when the final bell rang.

About 45 minutes later, the newspaper advisor came into the office and screamed. She hadn’t expected to see me there and, given my state, she thought she needed to either call 911 or my parents. I informed her neither would be necessary. I just needed a little more time and I could get up and go home.

When I finally peeled myself off the floor, I went home and was perfectly fine. I took my pain pills every 8 hours after until we reached the 48 hour mark. It seemed once my hormones regulated, I would be fine and not have any more cramps for the rest of the cycle.

Before I went off to college, my mom agreed to let me be on birth control to help alleviate my problems. And it did. Until I wanted to have a baby.

Chapter Two: Trying to Get Pregnant

I’ll make this chapter quick: getting pregnant was not easy for me. I went on several rounds of clomid and other medications to jump start my cycle and ovulation. I was skipping periods, other months I was bleeding like I was dying, other months I would barely have two spots in my panty liner.

PCOS was never mentioned.

During my second attempt to get pregnant, a fertility specialist said I couldn’t get pregnant and again and, if I did, I would likely miscarry.  One of my greatest life fears was suffering a miscarriage. But, despite all odds, I carried Kate successfully.

Chapter Three: F*cking Hormones

After Kate was born, my hormones were all over the place. It had my OB/GYN concerned, but aside from birth control, he offered me no other options. The birth control did stop the bleeding irregularities, but I was still suffering.

Frustrated because I was working hard to lose baby weight and seeing no success whatsoever (and watching the weight steadily increase over the last 3 1/2 years) as well as suffering constant fatigue, I continued my quest to get to the bottom of what was happening to me.

A few months ago, I started seeing a new internal medicine doctor. She prescribed hormone testing. The diagnosis: PCOS. So I’m now on a hormone cream and some supplements. I’ve only been taking them for a few days, so it’s way too early to say how or if they are helping.

I’m grateful for a diagnosis so I can hopefully start seeing relief, but it’s so strange how long it has taken me to receive one. My history of horrible menses, infertility problems and 3 1/2 years of weight gain and fatigue and I’m just now starting a path to the other side.

I’ll keep you updated and let you know how my PCOS journey progresses. If you have any suggestions or things that have helped you (the internet is flooded with suggestions and it’s really overwhelming), I’d love to hear it!

P.S. If you did watch This Is Us last night, you saw what Toby did with his depression medication. Big mistake. HUGE. If you’d like to learn more about my struggles with mental health, you can click here to read my four-part series.