Yesterday I had an amazing experience at the doctor’s office. It was eye-opening.
Before I go into it some back story-
When I was 8 or 9 I gained a lot of weight within one year. I will put up the difference between my 3rd grade and my 4th grade photo later (I have to get them out of storage). It is a shocking difference. From that point on I was over 200 lbs my entire life. This despite the fact I was active in swim team and other activities and went through a barrage of diets. I also dealt with other odd symptoms such as irregular periods, acne and facial hair (sorry if that’s an over-share)
When I was 17 I developed a great pain in my abdomen. It was so bad I had to leave school and get a home tutor. After months of waiting finally the doctors thought I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and decided to do an endoscopic laparoscopy. I remember being nervous about the operation because despite the PCOS diagnosis they were not sure what they would find and what was causing such pain. So I went in to be operated on (3rd time in my life) and I woke up in a fog to see the doctor staring down at me. My first words were
“What did you do to me?” (Really quite terrifying to go into a surgery where you have no idea what they will take out!)
With a smile the doctor said “You’re appendix was looking a little weird, and we took it out. We also took out some endometriosis.”
After that I was not told much else about my condition and since we moved the next month to California there wasn’t much follow up with the doctor.
My assumption then and for the many years since, was that the diagnosis of PCOS was inaccurate, and I had endometriosis instead. Its my own fault for not digging into this diagnosis more, but I figured if the endometriosis was flaring up again I’d feel the same kind of pain I felt at 17. As I have never felt extreme pain, I assumed there wasn’t a problem.
In my recent attempts to loose weight I have taken the attitude of exploring all my options. There is no doubt that I have all of the symptoms of PCOS, so I felt I should pursue it. A few of the big symptoms are a difficulty to loose weight, facial hair, acne, and irregular periods. As I was talking to the doctor the thought occurred to me:
“Is it possible I could have PCOS and endometriosis?” I had always thought the two conditions were mutually exclusive- if I had one, I couldn’t have the other? Stupid Me!
“It is not only possible but highly probable.” said the Doctor.
I couldn’t believe it. All these years I wondered if I had PCOS but thought I had endometriosis instead! Unbelievable. I never once in 12 years considered the idea of having both conditions– this despite having the symptoms for both. I also assumed that if I wasn’t in great pain then the endometirosis was under control. After all, shouldn’t a cyst be painful? Well, in my reading evidently in this condition they are not normally painful.
It makes me crazy to think of all those years of dieting and working when my own body was pushing these efforts away. Now the doctor has me on several meds designed for PCOS (I’m like an old man taking 5 pills a day!), and I will see a new endocrinologist on January 10th. (After my last experience I’m a bit hesitant, but I’m not going to let one bad apple spoil the bushel). I am very hopeful these medicines and my meeting with the doctor will be an important piece in my ‘healthy body makeover’ puzzle. I know it will still be hard work and extremely difficult but perhaps I will not have to fight my body as much. Perhaps the hard work will pay off a little more. It feels excruciatingly slow right now.
Anyway, it was an ‘ah ha’ moment and one I can’t believe I haven’t thought of sooner. However, why did I have to come up with it? Isn’t that what the doctors are for? To ask those kinds of questions?
At least I’m moving forward and will hopefully have even greater weight loss as a result (and better general health as well).
1 in 10 women in America have PCOS. Perhaps this is part of the reason why we have an obesity epidemic among women? (Don’t freak out- I said PART). I know I have been working my butt off and the results have been faintly trickling in. I just knew there was something wrong and this time I am unearthing every possibility and asking every question. I urge all of you to do the same.