PCOS and sorting out the science from the BS

Back in college, my communications professor jokingly gave me a merit badge in stalking because I could find just about anyone or anything on the internet.

I was recently diagnosed with PCOS, a chronic hormone imbalance disease. Being a merit badge holder, my first stop was the internet.

I found:

  • Holier-than-thou missives from women who are refusing care because “this is part of me”
  • “Cures” for PCOS, an incurable condition
  • Advice on a whole host of unproven supplements
  • Ancient medicine treatments / alternative medicine
  • Very little actual science or research (or even stories from women who are pursuing traditional management strategies)

I am not about to pin hope on this bullshit. You know what they call alternative  medicine that works — medicine. Ancient people only lived to be 47 years old if they survived childhood, and I plan to be older than that so Imma need some modern medicine.

It’s only been a few days since my official diagnosis, but I’ve put together sort of a mission statement.

  • I require empirical scientific evidence before starting new treatments
  • I will never accept feeling sick as a “part of me”
  • I will employ conscious consumption as one part of a heathy lifestyle, but never expect food or supplements to solve a problem they didn’t cause

Anyone else in this boat with me?

 

 

How being a McFatty FatFat caused doctors to give me worse care – and how I found the problem

 

My goal for 2016 was to practice more self care. I’m in my 20s, I have a good job and a loving husband, and I don’t have kids. What am I doing with my life if not taking care of myself?

Part of that commitment was to find help for my chronic unnamed illness:

  • Unexplained rapid weight changes (losses and gains)
  • Extreme fatigue – sleeping 12+ hours per day
  • Irregular and highly painful menstrual cycles
  • Unexplained skin issues – dandruff, acne, dry face
  • 20+ pounds of bloating during PMS times
  • Hair loss on my head, and increased hair everywhere else
  • Being cold allllll the time, even in my 74 degree office

And did you know, doctors are required by federal law to give you your medical files if you request them? This often includes their notes. While my checkout papers always said “Diagnosis: Obesity,” requesting these documents told a different story.

  • “Patient reported painful irregular cycles. Possibly endometriosis or hormone issue. Recommended Sam’s Club protein shakes.”
  • “Symptoms of hormone imbalances, possibly thyroid. Considering recommending blood tests. … Instructed patient to exercise more.”
  • “Preliminary diagnosis of Menometrorrhagia. Need pelvic ultrasound to confirm. Told patient to take a daily multivitamin.”

Can you believe that? Doctor after doctor wrote down that they suspected I needed followup care for chronic issues, but they recommended diet and exercise programs instead. So I’m out here restricting my calories further and exercising more and taking probably-useless vitamins, when hidden in their notes were the real problems.

My new doctor, an endocrinologist, told me that he wishes he could have those doctors’ licenses revoked. Because of their prejudice towards fat people, the hormone disorder may have caused irreparable damage to my body.

In good news, two of my incompetent doctors have since closed their practices, so they will do no further harm to other patients.

So TL;DR: Fat babes, request your health records. You can find a whole wealth of information hidden inside. 

 

This isn’t the start of my fat babe journey

south carolina

On my honeymoon in South Carolina, wearing a fatini because I can. 🙂

My journey to being a fat babe started in college. It was my third year and I was gaining weight rapidly. I had no health insurance and no one besides my roommate seemed to notice that despite exercising to exhaustion, working a job that kept me on my feet all day, and eating only tofu and raw veggies, I was gaining every week.

It was rapid and I was poor. My clothes didn’t fit well, and even if they did, they were frumpy and weird. My self esteem was rock bottom. I had started college at 120 pounds, and would end college five years later at 240 pounds… literally double the woman as 18-year-old me.

Anyway, my roommate convinced me to save up some of my meager barista wages to go shopping. I managed to scrimp together $200 over the semester (less than my roommate would spend on one pair of jeans). But she was kind and took me to her favorite consignment stores, where we bargained and negotiated until I had a week’s wardrobe that actually fit.

I noticed the difference immediately. Professors called on me more often. I started getting asked out on campus without trying to catch attention. More people wanted to be my friend.

The only thing that had changed was embracing the idea that I was a babe, even if fat.

So this isn’t the start of my journey, but it’s an important turning point — at age 25, I am finally able to advocate and care for myself when no one has listened for years.

This blog is to document this story.