Let me first thank you all for the love and support for this series. It means so much to me and makes it all worth it.
We are going back in time now. This is summer of 2015, and I am 50 pounds heavier than I am today.
I was diagnosed with PCOS in early 20s. Like most things at that time, I didn’t take it seriously. Mother India would drag me to a gynaecologist, who would then do X-rays and blood tests, and prescribe medicines. Mom would buy them, hand it over and I would trash them. I didn’t like medicines very much.
In case you didn’t know, PCOS can get worse if left untreated; it gets even worse if medication is not taken regularly. Fast forward couple of years (from 2008 to 2015), and things had gotten completely out of hand. I had gained oodles of weight (almost 20kgs in a year), had chin hair, and was an emotional wreck. I’d take meds when I felt like it. In retrospect, it was possibly the worst thing that I have done to myself to date. Or maybe the second worst.
Anyway. I was living the high life in Dubai when I decided, for the 244th time, to get serious about my health. I found an amazing doctor at iCare, Oasis Mall – Dr. Rashi Gupta, Specialist Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She was very easy to talk to, was genuinely interested and slightly nudged me to get healthy (instead of screaming down my throat that I need to lose weight).
I started going to her every three months, where she would do, ammm, womanly examinations, and send me for blood tests. She would prescribe hormonal meds, which double as contraceptives, and try to talk me into having kids. I’d take the meds and exit as soon as I could.
Couple of months down the road, Rashi was worried for the weigh scale wasn’t budging much. She convinced me to undergo the lengthy version of insulin test. I was to go in with 12 hours of fasting, give a blood sample, take a dose of insulin, give another sample two hours later, and then another after two hours. So three blood samples, at an interval of two hours each.
The results came in, and I was borderline pre-diabetic. My fasting insulin levels were off the charts. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. It helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
That came in as a serious shock. My dad has diabetes, and I have seen him inject himself for a long time. I still cry and bite my hand to suppress the scream when syringe makes contact with my skin. Living with injecting myself is just not something I’d be able to live with. And at 27, I could still control my insulin levels, if not reverse, consoled Rashi.
Once the results were in, and I have had time to digest what was going on, she sat me down and we had a chat. She told me that she is going to put me meds, monitor progress, adjust dose in three months, and take it from there. I had to cut down carbs and sugar, and incorporate exercise into my routine.
I heard it all, and was worried. I don’t do medicines well. I wasn’t ready to commit to those horrendous pills. I ate out, every single meal, on most days. I worked 12 to 14 hours per day, and lived with constant work-related stress.
I had to make changes, but I had no clue how to go about them. At least not back then.
This post is probably the most important in the series, for this is the beginning of a journey that led me to where I am now. I haven’t reached my goal and have a long way to go, but I am definitely not where I used to be.
Also, it was important to share the personal and gory details for I know that a lot of girls have PCOS – many studies suggest that every 1 in 3 women do. Maybe some can relate to my situation, and can use my journey to figure out what works for them.
A quick recap, and what I’d really like you to know and remember:
- Birth control pills are not to be played around with. No matter what your marital status, if you are sexually active and prefer to use them as contraceptives, please visit a gynae before you get started. They affect your hormones, menstrual cycle, physical and emotional well-being. Screw the taboo – you matter. Your health should be of prime concern.
- Don’t ignore abnormalities; they are a way for your body to tell you that something isn’t right. Hair on unusual places, weight gain or uncalled for depression or edginess are all signs. Listen to your body.
- A good gynae can make a world of difference. And if you are an adult, you can go to the doctor without a parent or guardian, if it helps you talk without restraint. You have a choice. Make one that helps you.
- If you have PCOS, get fasting insulin checked every now and then. It sneaks up on you quietly, and can turn into type 2 diabetes before you know it. And we all know diabetes is no walk in the park.
I feel the same unsettling feeling creeping up and chilling my spine that I felt back then. It was a horrible time, and I had nightmares of syringes and gigantic pills. I had to man up and face the situation. And fix it.
Anyway. I will take off now. See you next Friday – things get better in that post. My first weight loss in many years is coming up.
Cheers to a healthy, happy you!