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Category Archives: pcos

Well Hello!

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Oh man you guys.

It’s been a hell of a six-ish months. Not all bad. Well, bad for a while, and then good stuff started to happen, and now things are feeling evened out.

Briefly, in life news… The divorce is final. Lior is doing great – she’s running and climbing and talking (sometimes gibberish, but she seems very passionate about whatever she is saying) and hamming it up. There’s been some pretty stressful family health-related stuff going on, but that’s going ok for now. I’m dating. I’ve been staying with my folks, but will be moving at the beginning of June. I got a new job.

My dad was like, “You know that list of the top stressful things in peoples’ lives? I think you probably hit most, if not all of them this year.”

Word.

My major takeaway from the past year is how incredibly, profoundly lucky I am. My friends and family are extraordinary.

Ok, now for the hair news…

I didn’t end up doing electrolysis, and I’m leaning toward no. One of the readers here sent me an email about some of the side effects and so on. I did some more looking into it, and like anything else, there are pros and cons. The cost-benefit ratio, for me, isn’t worth it right now. It seems like no matter what, you can expect redness/swelling, and likely blisters/bumps. This gives a decent, seemingly objective account of possible side effects.

It’s also been very much on my mind that I haven’t been treated for PCOS in a long time. Because of the other issues it can lead to, I want to go back to my doctor to discuss treatment options for real. The last time I went in, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to do things “naturally”. I was frustrated and angry about the treatment I had received. I spent hundreds of dollars at the naturopath’s office, because naturopaths aren’t covered by insurance, and I bought a million supplements. There is no way I can keep up with all of that.

There’s gotta be a balance.

From what I understand, it would likely be best for me to see an endocrinologist. But I’ll talk to my doctor about it and see what she says.

Along with treating the PCOS, I might like to try Vaniqa again. I didn’t give it a real college try the last time I tried it (which was YEARS AND YEARS ago). I think I got through about two weeks or so, and it fizzled out.

And of course, I’ll keep you all posted.

Good to be back, beardos. Thanks for being here with me.

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How I’m Doing

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Thinking about posting in an honest, authentic way has been difficult for me lately, and I think it’s best if I just dive right in and tell you what’s up.

I have Gestational Diabetes (GD).

Lame.

Here is a bit of information about GD. This part was particularly interesting to me:

“Your body digests the food you eat to produce sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas — a large gland behind your stomach — produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.

During pregnancy, the placenta that connects your growing baby to your blood supply produces high levels of various other hormones. Almost all of them impair the action of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. Modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.

As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-blocking hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to a level that can affect the growth and welfare of your baby.”

Before that, they say that researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes it, but I think it’s interesting that it may have something to do with the placenta.

So, backing up a bit, the pregnancy has been an intense, sometimes awful experience for me. I spent the first and most of the second trimesters vomiting and often unable to eat. I was put on Zofran, and it helped stop me from actually throwing up. I still felt nauseated most of the time, but I was able to keep some food down and drink water.

Then, I was tested a little earlier than usual for GD, because I have PCOS (which is associated with insulin resistance) and a strong family history of Diabetes.

About the test: They had me drink a super-sugary solution, then tested my blood sugar one hour later to see how I fared. My sugar level remained higher than they wanted (I have no idea what the values were – everything was kind of a whirlwind), so I had to come back a few days later to take a three-hour test. Again, a super-sugary drink – mine was orange and tasted kind of like Hi-C Orange, but less fun – and they checked my blood sugar after one hour, after two hours, and after three hours. My first level was within normal range, but the last two were elevated.

If you’re interested in more detail about what the testing is like, this gives a good personal account with lots of information.

At first, I found my blood sugar pretty easy to manage. They had me testing my levels four times a day – once fasting in the morning, and then two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not taking insulin or other medications, just managing with diet and exercise changes. I did have to attend the high-risk clinic for a while, and have been attending appointments every two weeks to monitor my sugar (usually, people only go about once a month until later on in the pregnancy). I no longer need to go to high-risk, because my levels are usually pretty good, and they let me check three times a day instead of four. At the health system I’m attending, it’s standard procedure for women with GD to have weekly non-stress tests starting at 28 weeks, so I’ve been doing that as well. I’m at 34 weeks and change now.

As the pregnancy has progressed, it’s become a little more difficult to keep my blood sugar under control. It’s never wildly high, but it’s definitely been higher in the third trimester than it had been. It seems to go in spurts… My theory is that it coincides with periods of more growth in the baby, but no one really knows. The days when it’s harder to control are tough for me. I try to stay calm about it, and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I cry.

I worry that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m hurting the baby, that I’m hurting myself somehow. Making it more likely that I’ll have problems later. Making it more likely that my child will have problems later. It’s terrifying.

Another, less important piece is that I’m pretty committed to having a birth attended by a midwife and without meds. I also want to add that I’ve never done this before and am flexible about using meds. I don’t know what will happen at the time! I’ve been seeing this wonderful group of midwives at the hospital where I’ll deliver. One of them told me that if I end up needing insulin or something else, then they would have to transfer my care to one of the OB/GYNs, and I would no longer be able to have one of the midwives at the birth. Makes sense – midwives usually attend “normal” pregnancies and births (though of course, anything can happen), and mine would be considered higher risk if I needed medication.

So, that’s always in the back of my mind too.

But mostly, guys?

I feel so sad that my body isn’t doing what it’s “supposed” to do. And it hasn’t for as far back as I can remember. I so badly want to be a person who can trust her body to just take care of things and do what it’s “meant” to do. What it “should” do. But my body and I have a long and complicated history, and it’s hard for me to let go and trust.

There are things I can do to heal. Things I can do to help prevent the likelihood of GD in the future, improve my PCOS symptoms, and help with insulin resistance. It’s just that I can’t do any of these things while pregnant, other than manage my blood sugar as best as I can.

I’ve been so hesitant to write about this because I fear that people will think I resent the baby or am upset with the baby or something. But the baby is the one awesome part of all of this. When I get to hear the baby’s heartbeat or feel him/her moving around, it’s incredible. Actually, as I type, the baby has the hiccups and is making my belly jump around all over the place. That’s the stuff that makes me smile. That’s the stuff I’m loving. And I’m very lucky to have a supportive, calm, understanding, and very caring husband in Craig. He has been there to comfort me when I’m freaking out, and always has something reassuring to say.

He also sings to the baby at night before bed, which is, like, the sweetest thing ever. (Baby kicks around in response!)

So that’s what’s been going on around here. Thanks for this space to write about this kind of stuff – if you weren’t as fantastic as you are, it wouldn’t be possible 🙂

A couple of pictures:

28.5 weeks:
picture001

34 weeks:
34 weeks

The Scared is Scared

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This whole pregnancy business?

Terrifying. Wonderful. Emotional. Nauseating.

A friend, who is much further along in her pregnancy than I am, and I had coffee the other day. We agreed that neither of us understand other women who say that being pregnant is the best thing in the world. “I wish I could be pregnant all the time! It’s amazing!” I mean, yes, it is amazing.

But, what about all the throwing up? What about the constant fear of harming your unborn child? What about the constant fear that something out of your control will happen to the baby? Or to you? Could happen at any time, really? What about the round ligament pain? The bizarre changes to your body that you didn’t even know to expect?

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m thrilled about the pregnancy. Heck, I’m thrilled I could get pregnant at all, and I’m absolutely ecstatic about the kid who’s on his/her way here. I can’t wait to meet him or her! We’re not finding out the sex, but I have a strong sense that it’s going to be a boy, and I’ve been having dreams about him like crazy.

Speaking of which…

One terrifying thing that happened was about a month ago. I woke up in the morning with bleeding, said a lot of swear words, did some crying, and called the nurse line. There was no pain, no clotting or tissue, but blood. The nurse said that it didn’t sound like I was having a miscarriage, but that the bleeding was concerning, and I would need to go to the ER.

A long wait and a few tests later, we found out that the baby was just fine and so was I.

Before I woke up that morning, I had a dream about the baby. He was probably about 6 or 7. We were in a big building or house with lots of hallways. We were together in the beginning, but then were separated. I knew he was safe – he was with family members – but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I walked all over, looking for him, calling his name.

When I was approaching the area where he was, I heard him say, “I know she’s looking for me. Tell mama I’m right here.”

And he was.

The video below was posted on Mommy Shorts yesterday, and it’s pretty great. The advice in it is universal, but I think those of you reading (and I!) have some extra fears/worries that others probably don’t have. Like, talking about facial hair. Revealing facial hair. Dealing with chronic health stuff. Things that add a little pressure to your daily life.

The filmmaker asked a 6-year-old what her movie should be about, and this was the result.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!

Also, a big congratulations to Deb, who did a photo project on bearded ladies that was PUBLISHED in the Lesbian Connection! She is awesome and so is her work. Yay Deb!!

This.

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I’ve fallen down a http://gokaleo.com hole tonight. I don’t want to admit to you all how much time I’ve spent perusing her site/blog. It’s a little embarrassing.

How is this woman not more well-known? It seems like she’s getting more so, though, which is well-deserved and fantastic.

I wanted to specifically share her post about her PCOS struggle with you: http://gokaleo.com/?p=800. It resonated with me in so many ways. As an aside, I can’t believe she wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her 30’s. WTF, doctors?

Her site is inspirational, pro-healthy body image, pro-woman, pro-eating real food (and enough of it!), backed up with actual science, and just overall refreshing. I highly recommend looking around over there a bit.

Insulin Resistance and Me

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**A friendly reminder that I’m most definitely not a doctor! 🙂 If you’re thinking about making changes health-wise, talk to your health professional first.**

Just got a new laptop. Can’t figure it out.

But at least I got the internet working! Unfortunately, I can’t yet work out how to get pictures off of my phone*, which is sad, because I actually had pictures to share with you guys today. Ah well. Another time I guess.

But I’m not here to talk about my technology woes (though, we could have that discussion for a good while).

I’m actually here to talk about how my PCOS is going.

Back in August, I saw my doctor for my yearly exam. She had some depressing news.

Remember back in July, when I thought things were getting back to normal? It turns out, they were not. I haven’t had a period in about two and a half months. My doctor said that, based on the amount of time between my periods, I am not ovulating. I was wrong about eggs trading off production every-other month – apparently that’s not the case. They do trade off, but not on a predictable, regular basis (according to my doctor).

She again suggested Metformin, which I tried for about a week and then stopped. The side effects were pretty gnarly for me. (When was the last time you hear someone use the word “gnarly”? :-)) And while I’m not opposed to medication and may try it again in the future, I had a lot of conflicting feelings about taking it.

Craig and I had a long, pretty intense conversation about it. Because he is himself and awesome, he essentially said, “I just want you to be healthy and happy. And I mean, healthy, and also happy about your decisions about how to be healthy.”

Let me back up here and admit my baby craziness right now. And actually, that doesn’t even really begin to cover how much (how very, very much) I want to have kids. And that means I need to be ovulating.

So, much like when starting the Sugar Challenge, I realize that big changes need to occur and be maintained if I’m currently going the non-medication route.

And while I can continue not eating as much sugar as before the challenge, cutting out refined sugar completely isn’t sustainable for me in the long run. As wonderful as it would be if it was.

So, I got this book.

Now, a few things right away. I do not plan to follow this as a “diet” (though that’s in the title). I’m of the mind that diets don’t work in general, and I know from experience that they certainly don’t work for me. So, that’s not what this is about. However, I do know that I’m insulin-resistant. So again, if I’m not taking medication, something else needs to change.

I’m flat-out ignoring some of what the authors say, based on what I know works for me and my love for my taste-buds. For example, they place a lot of emphasis on low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Some low-fat dairy stuff is fine, but I can’t do nonfat (not even skim milk – I don’t like it). And if I’m going to eat cheese, it’s going to be the good stuff. They also discuss using fake sweeteners, which I’m not going to do.

They talk about not counting calories, which is nice, but then immediately after, there’s a whole section on how to count calories.

What?

So, some of it is very much diet mentality stuff that I don’t want in my life. But the basic principles seem sound and sensible.

There are really only a few things to remember:

  • If you’re going to eat carbohydrates, great. Just make sure to eat protein with them. Every time you eat, eat protein. If there are carbs, link a protein with it. You eat as much protein as you need to feel full.
  • When you eat carbs, not only link protein with them, but balance them as well. The authors recommend limiting carbs to no more than 30 grams every two-ish hours. Protein should be balanced at a ratio of 2:1, for instance if you have 20 grams of carbs, you should have at least 10 grams of protein.
  • They recommend eating often. I’ve found that I feel better when I eat smaller amounts more often anyway, so this is fine for me. They say in the book to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism going. I say eat when you’re hungry.
  • Vegetables (aside from potatoes and corn, which are considered carbs) can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Apples, plums, peaches, pears, cherries, and grapefruits don’t have to be linked with protein (all other fruits do), but they recommend limiting amounts of these fruits to about 1/2 cup serving every 2-3 hours.

So, I’ll keep you posted. I’ve been doing this (for the most part) for a few days now, and I’m feeling really good.

I know there are some of you out there who have PCOS and have regulated your periods without medication. I’ve had the privilege of talking to some of you. If that describes you, let me know if you want to write about it for the blog. I’m sure others would be interested in how you did it, how long it took for you, etc.!

Now to make some food and get back to marathoning The West Wing…

*I know, right? Transferring pictures from a phone to a computer is, like, really easy. But I got a new PC after using a Mac for a LONG time, and all of my other gadgets (phone, music) are Apple products. So, what used to be a no-brainer is now much more complicated… at least to me. I’ll figure it out, but apparently not today!

I’m Alive! And Tom Selleck

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I’m still here! And alive!

My problem (well, one of them anyway) is that I tend to get impatient about things in my life. I want everything to happen RIGHT NOW, and I want to be working on everything at once to make that happen. Lately, I’ve been very focused on work stuff, thus neglecting blog stuff.

Bearded ladies gotta make a living too, you know?

Some cool news: I’ve been keeping track of my period since going off the pill, and the pattern has been about an every-other month cycle. Which makes sense, because ovaries trade off egg production monthly, and one of my ovaries has a lot more cysts (or, that was the case back in the day when I had my ultrasound). I figured one of my ovaries was producing eggs and one wasn’t.

BUT THEN.

I had my period toward the end of June/beginning of July, and figured that would be that for a couple of months. A few days ago, I started another cycle. It scared me a little at first, because it felt so early, but then I looked back at the calendar and counted from the first day of my last period to the first day of this most recent one. 28 days exactly.

Exciting!!

I think cutting down on sugar probably hasn’t hurt. I’ve also been taking 3 capsules of Ovablend every day. Who knows? Maybe this was a fluke. Or maybe it’s a signal that things are leveling out and operating as I want them to. Of course, I hope for the latter.

Switching topics…

There’s an episode of 30 Rock (a TV show here in the U.S. and maybe Canada…? Let me know) where Liz Lemon, the main character, reveals her mustache that she has named Tom Selleck. I tried my damnedest but couldn’t find a clip of that scene (seems like NBC has that locked up pretty tight). I did, however, find this clip from the episode, which is of Jack (Liz’s boss) naming reasons why he is in love with her (he’s really not, but that’s beside the point). If you’re interested in the full episode, it’s called “Black Light Attack”

Check it out here!

Liz Lemon is portrayed as a buffoon in this clip, which is part of her character, but I like that she owns it. She’s just being herself here. Mustache and all.

Hope you’re all well! 🙂

The Last Three Days, or The End of the Sugar Challenge!

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Today was the 30th day of the 30-day Sugar Challenge!

I learned…

that I don’t have to eat something just because everyone else is.

that sometimes, the smell of something sugary is enough for me. And then, sometimes it drives me insane!

that I don’t need dessert (this was a big one for me).

that there are some great resources, online and elsewhere, for things made either without sugar or with alternative types of unrefined sugar. I know there are a million more that I didn’t link to. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

that I can form new habits if I want to.

that even when it’s hard, it’s possible to sit with discomfort and know that it’ll be ok. And even if I get off track, I can get back on.

that so many things have added sugar.

that I like updating the blog more frequently!

that I really enjoy the 30-day challenge concept, and I’m going to continue doing it until the stuff I want to complete and add into my life is easier to do regularly. I know I’ve talked about this before – adding things in slowly and gaining some mastery before moving on to the next thing can’t be bad, right? I have a list of things I want to either add or subtract in my life, and I think this is a good way to do that without overwhelming myself.

that if you are upfront and clear about your preferences, other people will respect that. I was concerned about what my family would say about my newfound sugar-free habits, but everyone was supportive and respectful. And sometimes, I didn’t feel like getting into the details with people, so I would just politely decline sugary things if they were offered. I didn’t get ANY negative backlash about it.

that I like how I feel, and will continue to eliminate refined sugar as much as possible.

I may still post recipes now and then, if something is really good! For now, I’ll leave you with this. I made it into muffins, and I urge you to make it ASAP. It’s that good.

Thanks to all of you for your support and for being here. 🙂