PCOS story from @icey_rayne

I was the girl in high school who was drawn to track and field. Running is in my family history, so I had a natural love for the sport. I couldn’t wait to get on the track and sprint with the wind in my hair and my opponents left in the dust. But, I wasn’t the typical looking sprinter – I was heavier. I just had those powerful legs that I used to pound the pavement to get me to the finish line quicker than the “skinnier” girls. My menstrual cycles in high school were often irregular, but my doctor would tell me and my mother that it was due to being athletic and was common among female athletes. His recommendation was to start me on birth control, but my mother wasn’t on board with that idea.

Throughout my college years, I noticed my weight was slowly increasing, despite exercising. I also found myself increasingly shaving the hair growing underneath my chin and around the sides of my face. I felt as if I was growing a beard most teenage boys would be envious of. Other changes in my body I was noticing was the darkening of my neck and inner thighs, and my hair was slowly thinning and falling out. I was turning into an unrecognizable version of myself. I didn’t know what was going on, and most importantly, I didn’t know how to fix it. One year, my friend and I decided to join the gym to get our weight under control. It allowed us to hold each other accountable and to be each other’s motivation. But as the months went by, she was losing significant amount of weight and I was stagnant. She advised me to see a doctor because it was also puzzling to her to see me put in the hard work but not yielding the results.

The first doctor I saw was my family doctor who ordered lab tests. It was in his office where I first heard the term Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Based on the lab results and the symptoms I described to him, I was given this suspected diagnosis. He wanted to confirm with an ultrasound, and so I was referred to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. As I lay on the exam table, she opened up my paper gown exposing my naked body. She slowly poured the cold ultrasound gel on my abdomen and began to scan to find the image. And there they were on full display on the screen above – my ovaries and the small fluid-filled follicles covering them. Afterwards, with my nakedness still uncovered she took the time and showed me everything seen on my body that was the direct result of PCOS. I was fully educated that day as she answered every question and addressed every concern. It was as if blinded eyes were finally opened. I breathed a sigh of relief to know there was a name, a diagnosis, a condition, an answer to the changes I was experiencing. Before leaving her office, she told me when I was ready to start a family to contact her, but being 22-23 years old at the time I didn’t wrap my mind around what she meant. She gave me a referral to an Endocrinologist who specialized in treating PCOS and also wrote me a prescription to enroll in the hospital’s PCOS Wellness program. With the new Endocrinologist, he didn’t believe the birth control option was the best solution to help manage the symptoms of PCOS; instead Metformin was the answer. I soon began the regimen of Metformin 1000mg twice a day. It helped me lose weight and have a consistent menstrual cycle but unfortunately, I couldn’t stomach the nausea and diarrhea associated with this medication any longer to continue taking it long term. My weight began to creep back up and of course, the symptoms were raging, but I was happy I wasn’t taking Metformin anymore.

In 2016, a little over a decade since my diagnosis and continuing to suffer with the symptoms, I took my health into my own hands. I re-educated myself on PCOS and researched natural routes to get PCOS under submission and bring my hormones back into balance. I joined my local gym to fight against obesity and insulin resistance. I began taking natural supplements, such as inositol powder, spearmint tea, chromium picolinate, and Vitamin B12 that helped jump-start my menstrual cycle, energize me, and allowed me to display my natural tresses to reveal healthier hair. I’ve decreased my consumption of carbs and included more vegetables and good fats, such as avocados into my diet. The benefits are finally paying off. Though I’m often reminded that managing the symptoms of PCOS is an ongoing struggle, my battle is being fought with patience, consistency, persistence and prayer. As a nurse working in a postpartum unit, I get to experience the joy of those mothers who also suffer from PCOS as they welcome their newborns into the world. And as a PCOS sufferer, I look at it as God’s way to remind me nothing’s impossible.  I once felt PCOS was robbing me of my beauty, my confidence, my womanhood, and my self-worth. It took a long time for me to realize that the Warrior Queen within me could never allow a condition or a disease define who I am or break my spirit.