Tag

PCOS

My PCOS Journey Continues

pcos boss journey

My PCOS Journey Continues….procrastination has been and continues to be a hurdle for me when it comes to consistently practicing extreme self-care for my PCOS and hypothyroid conditions.

This time last year I was moving out of the state of Arizona and to California.  There were so many things that needed to be done and not enough time in the day to do them.  We had less than twenty days to pack and relocate.   I managed to schedule an appointment with my endocrinologists’ office before moving to ensure I had my prescriptions up to date so that I could avoid having to deal with that during the moving process.

Once my family and I were finally settled I needed to connect with a new team of physicians that would support me in navigating both PCOS and hypothyroidism.   This included finding a new gynecologist, endocrinologist, and primary care physician.   I signed my family up for health insurance which due to the recent health care reform changes took almost a month to set up and my only option was HMO when previously I was under a PPO plan.  I had every intention of establishing my continued health care plan but unpacking, finding a job, and exploring our new home city slowly but surely pushed my finding a doctor priority back until I found myself out of my medication for three months.

I was not myself, I could feel the fog creeping over me and everything in my life was negatively affected.  I was disappointed in myself for putting what I needed on the back burner of life.  I finally made the call to set up an appointment with my primary doctor at the end of January.  She sent me off to get my blood work up completed and provided me referrals to a Gynecologist and Endocrinologist.   This meant having to schedule additional appointments and more time.  It took 3 months until my endocrinologist was available for a new patient consult.   My only option was to schedule the appointment and put myself on cancellation stand by notice if something came up sooner which did not.

This brings us to last week when I had my first appointment with my new endocrinologist doctor.  He completed my evaluation, wrote up my prescriptions, and gave me an order for new blood work.  Our focus will be on the endocrine and metabolic aspects of PCOS and Hypothyroidism.  I am glad that I am getting back on track again but hate that I allowed procrastination to set me back.  This experience has reminded me that I am a PCOS Boss and I will move forward with a renewed focus on practicing extreme self-care, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and making my well-being a priority.

 

Do What You Can – PCOS Exercise Goals

Do what you can | pcosboss.com

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt, this is a quote I live by. Sometimes I find myself thinking if I only had that fancy gym membership, Zumba class, or a personal trainer I would be in better shape. This way of thinking has prevented me from achieving my PCOS exercise goals in the past and it was time for a change.

By focusing on the items I had available to me at home I was able to stay on track with a fitness regimen. I jog on my treadmill (found on Craigslist at a bargain several years ago) every day after work while watching my new favorite television addition “Covert Affairs”. I find that watching TV distracts me long enough that I don’t want to jump off right away. Using this strategy and being consistent has been the key to my success. I also use YouTube to find Yoga videos that help me with stretching and stress management.

So the next time you find yourself making excuses or putting your exercise goals off until you have something else remember “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Save Your Tah Tahs! My Boobie Smashing Mammogram

I recently had my first mammogram and decided that I would blog about it.   Everyone and their mother had always described mammograms has this horrific experience so I conjured up the worst things imaginable, when in all reality a little boob smashing is nothing compared to the dreaded annual pap smear, but hey that’s just my opinion.

Anyway let’s get down to specifics, two years ago my Gynecologist recommended that I have a mammogram done to get a baseline reading for future breast exams.  I decided to hold off doing so because it was my understanding that women didn’t have to start getting mammograms until they reach there 40’s.  The following year I returned for my annual and this time she wasn’t recommending she demanded I get the mammogram done and wrote out the order to do so.  Still I procrastinated till six months after that appointment.  I finally got off my lazy butt and got around to doing it to avoid being  chastised during next year’s annual visit.

I scheduled my appointment with dreaded anticipation at the Scottsdale Medical Imaging facility located in Gilbert.    You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the facility.  It was bright and the staff cheery and very helpful.  I completed the necessary paper work and was called back for the procedure.  I was directed to a changing room nicely decorated in calming hues of purple and lilac, with lockers for my personal belongings, bottled water, and a comfy waiting area.  The mammography technician was courteous and informative during the procedure and explained everything to me in detail.  She used a mammogram machine to conduct the procedure.

The machine uses compression plates also known as boobie smashers, to compress the breast and take images.  The boobie smashing wasn’t that bad like I said before a pap smear is worse.  The technician asked if I would like to wait fifteen minutes or so for the results and I thought what the heck why not.  A few minutes later the technician informs me they will need to take additional images of my left breast because they needed to get a better reading.  So we made our way back to the boobie smashing machine once again.

I was returned to the waiting lounge somewhat concerned and of course my mind began to conjure up the worst case scenario.   The technician returned yet again to inform me that they needed to do an ultra sound because they could not get a sufficient enough reading.  I was taken back to the ultra sound lab and delivered to a new technician who I am sure could see the fear start to build up in my eyes.  She conducted the ultra-sound.  My mind started to wander, I thought the last time I had an ultrasound I was pregnant which was much more pleasant then the reason for the one today.  I was brought back to reality when  the technician finished up and said not to worry she didn’t see anything scary, but just to be sure she would have the doctor take a peak.  She was back in less than five minutes to let me know all was well and everything looked normal.  My first thought was THANK GOD, and then I wondered what the heck was going on with my breasts that it took so much work to get a good reading.

I found out that breast exam reports include a standard category reading and an assessment of breast density.  Like me you’re probably asking yourself what the heck is breast density, don’t worry you will soon find out.   The American College of Radiology (ACR) developed a standard way of describing mammogram findings.  The results are sorted into categories numbered 0 through 6. This system is called the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS).  Having a standard way of reporting mammogram results lets doctors use the same words and terms and ensures better follow up of suspicious findings. Here’s a brief review of what the categories mean:

X-ray assessment is incomplete

Category 0: Additional imaging evaluation and/or comparison to prior mammograms is needed.

This means a possible abnormality may not be clearly seen or defined and more tests are needed, such as the use of spot compression (applying compression to a smaller area when doing the mammogram), magnified views, special mammogram views, or ultrasound.

This also suggests that the mammogram should be compared with older ones to see if there have been changes in the area over time.

X-ray assessment is complete

Category 1: Negative

There’s no significant abnormality to report. The breasts look the same (they are symmetrical) with no masses (lumps), distorted structures, or suspicious calcifications. In this case, negative means nothing bad was found.

Category 2: Benign (non-cancerous) finding

This is also a negative mammogram result (there’s no sign of cancer), but the reporting doctor chooses to describe a finding known to be benign, such as benign calcifications, lymph nodes in the breast, or calcified fibroadenomas. This ensures that others who look at the mammogram will not misinterpret the benign finding as suspicious. This finding is recorded in the mammogram report to help when comparing to future mammograms.

Category 3: Probably benign finding – Follow-up in a short time frame is suggested

The findings in this category have a very good chance (greater than 98%) of being benign (not cancer). The findings are not expected to change over time. But since it’s not proven benign, it’s helpful to see if an area of concern does change over time.

Follow-up with repeat imaging is usually done in 6 months and regularly thereafter until the finding is known to be stable (usually at least 2 years). This approach helps avoid unnecessary biopsies, but if the area does change over time, it allows for early diagnosis.

Category 4: Suspicious abnormality – Biopsy should be considered

Findings do not definitely look like cancer but could be cancer. The radiologist is concerned enough to recommend a biopsy. The findings in this category can have a wide range of suspicion levels. For this reason, some doctors may divide this category further:

  • finding with a low suspicion of being cancer
  • finding with an intermediate suspicion of being cancer
  • finding of moderate concern of being cancer, but not as high as Category 5

Not all doctors use these subcategories.

Category 5: Highly suggestive of malignancy – Appropriate action should be taken

The findings look like cancer and have a high chance (at least 95%) of being cancer. Biopsy is very strongly recommended.

Category 6: Known biopsy-proven malignancy – Appropriate action should be taken

This category is only used for findings on a mammogram that have already been shown to be cancer by a previous biopsy. Mammograms may be used in this way to see how well the cancer is responding to treatment.

Now on to that thing I talked about earlier, Breast Density.  Basically, there is a classification of four groups that describe the level of how dense your breast tissue is.  The denser your breast is the harder it is for the doctor to see if there is anything going on that shouldn’t be. The four groups are as follows:

BI-RADS 1: The breast is almost entirely fat

This means that fibrous and glandular tissue makes up less than 25% of the breast

BI-RADS 2: There are scattered fibroglandular densities

Fibrous and glandular tissue makes up from 25 to 50% of the breast.

BI-RADS 3: The breast tissue is heterogeneously dense

The breast has more areas of fibrous and glandular tissue (from 51 to 75%) that are found throughout the breast. This can make it hard to see small masses (cysts or tumors).

BI-RADS 4: The breast tissue is extremely dense

The breast is made up of more than 75% fibrous and glandular tissue. This can lead to missing some cancers.

I have BI-RADS level 3 heterogeneously dense which is why they had to do multiple imaging and screening.  Based on a recent publication by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Women with breasts that appear dense on mammograms are at a higher risk of breast cancer and their tumors are more likely to have certain aggressive characteristics than women with less dense breasts.  Once I found out this tid bit of information I thought OH JOY!  First PCOS & Hypothyroidism and now I have heterogeneously dense breast to top it all off.  The normal reading did put my mind at ease and I now know why it’s so important to have a mammogram done regardless of age.  So ladies if you are reading this be sure to get your mammogram done and save your Tah Tahs!

 

References:

((n.d.)). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/understandingyourdiagnosis/examsandtestdescriptions/mammogramsandotherbreastimagingprocedures/mammograms-and-other-breast-imaging-procedures-mammo-report

The New Normal – Living with PCOS & Hypothyroidism

GREAT News! I had my first normal thyroid test result which comes after a year of consistent follow-up with my Endocrinologist. I was still experiencing fatigue issues and he recommended changing up my thyroid medication to Tirosint. Tirosint is the first and only T4 in liquid gel cap with a formulation that only consists of T4, glycerin, gelatin, and water. Unlike some tablet formulations, Tirosint is free of dyes, gluten, lactose, sugar, and alcohol. After two weeks I feel great, not nearly as tired, and I have a renewed sense of well-being. Please feel free to share your experience with thyroid / PCOS medications in the comment section below.

PCOS & Hypothyroidism – My Journey Continues…

PCOS & Hypothyroidism

 

Just had my three month check up with labs last week and sadly my results have not improved.  My hormonal and thyroid levels are not within normal range.  August marks the one year anniversary of me working with an Endocrinologist and from what I understand patience is a virtue and it can take a year or longer before my medications and hormone/thyroid levels are in sync.

My doctor increased my medications and scheduled a follow-up on labs and a return visit in six weeks.  I started my new dose on Monday and it’s been seven days.  The changes I have noticed in the first week was that I am not as tired and I lost four pounds.  I can only hope that in a few more weeks I continue to experience more positive changes in my symptoms.

I have been adapting to the Paleo diet plan and have continued my exercise regime of jogging thirty minutes a day with 10-15 minutes of strength building exercises.  I am certain that if I was not making these healthy lifestyle choices my symptoms would be exasperated.

Are you still having problems with “THAT” (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)?

PCOS Infographic

How many times have you had to explain your PCOS condition to your loved ones or friends?  I am always being asked if I am still having problems with “that”, that meaning my PCOS.  Since it’s an endocrine disorder without a cure of course I am going to have problems with it for the rest of my life.  I think more often than not the name Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome leads people to think it’s just an ovary problem, but it’s so much more.  PCOS is a complex condition that affects every aspect of your life and there is no magic pill to make it all go away.

I recently found a great online reference entitled The Hormone Center of New York by Dr. Geoffrey Redmond.   He provides additional insight into PCOS and explains that while it’s a complex condition it really is not that difficult to understand.  Women suffering from PCOS are acutely aware of their systems with skin & hair changes, irregular periods, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, the emotional up and down roller coaster of crazy mood swings, in addition to insulin resistance.  If you have some time read Dr. Redmond’s take on PCOS, if anything it will give you more information to take back to your doctor to chat about.

In the meantime, I understand that my body doesn’t process insulin right and as a result it causes a series of other symptoms, kind of like the domino effect.  So, I will continue to use exercise and cutting out unnecessary refined carbs to help control it.   I am committed to do everything I can to maintain a positive attitude and continue to make healthy life style choices so that I can enjoy my future with the ones I love the most.  I will not allow PCOS to be the boss of me.

PCOS Boss – PCOS Won’t Stop Me!

Hello World, I am a PCOS Boss.  What is that you ask?  It’s me deciding that I am the Boss over my condition “PCOS” and not the other way around.  I believe that having PCOS won’t stop me from living the life I love.  This is the first of many blog posts of me living with PCOS and Hypothyroidism.  Last year I made an appointment to see an Endocrinologist after some nudging from my mother.  I had confided in her about how despite my efforts with eating better and exercising, I still experienced issues with managing my weight, constant fatigue, migraines, horrible depression, mood swings, anxiety, cold intolerance, hair growth in all the “wrong” places and pelvic pain.  She said that both her and my grandmother were diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I really should just go and talk to my doctor about it.

pcos bodyI did and several test later my Endocrinologist said that I had PCOS in addition to hypothyroidism.  This explained so much about why I felt the way I did and shed light on the past 15 years of my life.  I have always struggled with having enough energy to get through my day.  I would sleep 10 – 12 hours a day just to get through work, school, and raising my family.  Some perceived this as laziness and they could not understand how I could sleep as much as I did and still be so exhausted.  There were other signs too, I would go for months, even years without menstruating and I gained fifty pounds that was a nightmare to work off.pcos boss me-after-weight-loss

Well here I am today and happy to say that I am a PCOS Boss!  Easy to say, but not so easy to accomplish.  I can say that I believe the hardest part is behind me as long as I continue to make healthy lifestyle choices.

This blog is important to me in the on-going process of healing.  I thought about everything I went through and realized I am not alone in this.  There has to be other women experiencing the same thing as me right?  My diagnoses has inspired me to share my personal experiences with the goal of helping others.  So, let’s talk about it and support each other.