Friday, January 5, 2018

Something's wrong

Today, I was officially diagnosed with PCOS. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a condition that affects a woman's hormone levels. I think this condition varies from person to person like most people have irregular periods, have struggle conceiving, hormonal acne, weight gain, and or hirsutism. Statistics says that PCOS affects one out of ten women.

For over a decade, I have been struggling with this hormone imbalance. I always had my period and it came more or less regularly but I still knew something was off. Every time I would get my period, the period pains would just get worse and worse. I kept gaining weight and no matter how much I try, I could never lose the weight. I grew up with clear skin but as I got older, I was plagued by adult acne. My mood swings got worse, too--to the point that I would have panic attacks.

I would check with doctors every now and then with symptoms that they would often dismiss as "stress-related" and "nothing." My periods also come every month, so it didn't seem like there was anything wrong reproductively. Sure, sometimes it would come a week earlier, sometimes a week later, but it always came. I had everything checked--ultrasound, thyroid, blood tests... everything came clear... or so it seemed. I've been told to eat less (which I do). 

After going back and forth, my OB-GYN has finally diagnosed me with PCOS. There's also a small benign tumour in my left ovaries.

Being diagnosed with PCOS is one of the worst things that could happen but to be honest, I was initially relieved. In a way, I felt that there is finally an answer to a decade-long question and struggle. There really is something wrong with me, yes, but now I know what it is and then maybe I could deal with it.

Mixed with relief was a wave of another set of emotions--I was sad, of course, because PCOS is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life--so are boatloads of medication and food restrictions. And because my particular PCOS related to insulin-resistance, and I am already overweight, I have a very high-risk of diabetes and also heart disease in the future. While I'm not thinking about children right now, I also wonder whether having this will prevent me from conceiving in the future. I didn't get to ask those questions because I was mostly shocked and it always takes me time to process things.

There are lots of other women sharing resources about PCOS but it still is a little hard to deal. It's always easy to say you need proper exercise and diet and that's how it'll help but guess what--I live in Singapore and I'm always on the go. Sure, I don't go to the gym but I walk all the time and my work as a preschool teacher keeps me fairly active. I'm always trying to eat healthy. Sure, I love bacon, it's my favourite food in the world and I am very open about professing my love for and I would eat it everyday if it won't kill me but I don't. I don't eat bacon everyday, I don't even buy bacon and only have it occasionally outside, more as an indulgent treat. I have managed to maintain a low-carb, low-sugar, almost gluten-free diet for about two years now. 

I was prescribed contraceptive pills and another medication to control my insulin-resistance. I'll probably have to do tests more regularly now that I have been diagnosed. I don't know how my life will change after knowing about PCOS. I have to try to live better and control it. I have to find a way to fight it and deal with it and not let it stop me.

If you're in the same boat as me, feel free to write to me and share with me your story, I would love to hear from you. Let's support each other.