Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Good Report

* This post will be raw and open about some of my health ups and downs. It may be graphic and deemed as an "over share". But I believe that sharing our experiences and testimonies, including the struggles and the triumphs, is the only way that we can truly be open and real with each other. And when we are open and real with each other, we can show the world that we as Christians are not perfect, but we are supporting each other along the way to becoming more like Jesus every day*

I spent my teenage years plagued by horrible PMS and other "girly" symptoms that no one really wanted to talk about. My menstrual cycle was horribly irregular and when I did start I became so sick that I would pass out, be sick to my stomach for hours, or be unable to function or even get off the floor. My emotions were all over the place, I felt aggressive and irritable most of the time.

In college things only got worse. I dreaded when my period would start because it would mean that I had to leave what I was doing immediately and go home because I had about one hour before I became horribly ill. I began to notice that none of my friends had the same problem.

When Matt and I were first married I went on birth control pills for a couple months. It was nice because for the first time in my life my periods were regular and manageable. I wasn't super sick and I could stay at work when I started. Then I started feeling super nauseated, my face got a weird rash and I cried all the time. We prayed about it and went off the pill, believing in God's timing for children. Everything went back to my "normal".

A year later, after three surgeries (gallbladder removal, appendectomy, and removal of my right Fallopian tube) I had put on 40 pounds that I couldn't lose no matter how much I exercised. I also hadn't had a period in 4 months so I decided to call my doctor. She did some blood work and an ultrasound. The diagnosis came in: PCOS with absolutely no healthy tissue on my ovaries which meant infertility 

I was devastated. I went home and cried for weeks. I woke up crying in the middle of the night and broke down constantly during the day. I researched PCOS and it only got worse. My rates for diabetes, insulin resistance, uterine cancer, etc. were suddenly skyrocketed and there was nothing I could do about it. PCOS seemed like a death sentence to me. The symptoms list included: weight gain, obesity, hair growth, ovarian cysts, acne, dandruff, oily skin, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. The long term concerns were uterine cancer, cancer of the endometrium, diabetes, high blood pressure, skin color changes, etc. My blood work had showed that my testosterone levels were well above the normal range, which explained why I always felt so competitive and aggressive. And my insulin level barely registered, showing that I was insulin resistant.

Matt and I made some moderate diet changes and got pregnant with Gabriella a year and a few month later. After she was born and my cycle started up it was finally in a pattern, but the pain and sickness that I got from it still was unbearable. My doctor prescribed a heavy duty anti-inflammatory to take during it and it started helping immensely.

By the time Gabriella turned one I was having terrible pains in my lower stomach a lot of the time. I went back to my doctor and she did another ultrasound. It showed that I had scar tissue adhered to my ascending colon. Plus all of my PCOS symptoms were in full swing since I was done breastfeeding and my hormones were all over the place. My doctor strongly encouraged us to try and get pregnant again since pregnancy seemed to help me feel so much better.

I did a TON of research and Matt and I made a HUGE dietary change. We went grain free, gluten free, dairy free and legume free. It was really hard at first but after two weeks we both felt so good physically that we couldn't believe it! I was sleeping better, feeling healthier, had twice as much energy as before, and feeling "stable" with my health. We conceived Xander 6 weeks later.

Here I am at my check-up

I just went to the doctor for my annual check-up last week. We did basic blood work (blood work to check hormone levels while you are breastfeeding are terribly inaccurate) and everything came back great. I am happy to report that my doctor repeatedly told me how great I was doing and how thin I was (I am 35 pounds down from when I started seeing her). All of my PCOS symptoms are being managed with our diet (I am currently gluten and dairy free, and we only eat legumes that are compatible with my blood type) and exercise. I am feeling really good and my hormones are finally feeling back on track.

The only bad news is that my scar tissue is so adhered to my ascending colon that she was able to feel it with her bare hands. She said it feels like a hard lump in my stomach. There isn't much to be done about that because surgery to remove adhesion and scar tissue usually causes more problems than it fixes. So we will just be praying that my colon never becomes completely blocked off by it (in which case they would have to go in and remove a section of my colon, yikes!). I also just have to eat small amounts very frequently and as soon as it starts hurting me get a heating pad, lie down with it on my stomach and start massaging it to try and get things to "move along". I still have to keep an eye on my blood sugar regularly and watch that I am exercising and eating enough, but I have taken great steps towards  increasing my life expectancy and decreasing my "medical statistical" chances of getting various types of cancer.

I am so thankful that my health has improved so much in the last couple years. I am also thankful that I finally know what in the world is wrong with my body, and through asking questions, having a great doctor, doing a ton of research and having a great support system of family & friends; I feel equipped with Jesus to take control of my situation and be proactive to be as healthy as I can and not just sitting around and moping about things.

My friend, Emily Agnew, has been a HUGE encouragement to me on taking back your health when the medical community just gives you labels. God designed us to be so much more than just a sick pile of bones on the couch. Her blog, is full of encouraging thoughts and stories.

It is my prayer that by reading this post, you may be encouraged to pursue the good in all things medical and in your health. Getting support systems around you that include friends, family and doctors is key. If you have any other questions about PCOS or why the diet changes that we made were so helpful with the symptoms of it, please let me know.

Disclaimer* I am not a medical professional and I have no formal medical training. If you think you may have PCOS or other medical problems, please consult your doctor before making any major life changes.


  1. Thank you for sharing, Emily :) Wonderful testimony! I'm so glad you've been able to find things that work for you.