My experience with PCOS

In 2011 I stopped having my regular periods. It would take about three months for a new cycle, at one point I had even gone up to six months without a drop of blood. I had never been one of those women who expected their periods every 28-30 days, sometimes it came earlier but most of the time up to a week later. Still, it wasn’t until that year that my cycle has changed dramatically.

That time I thought it may not be so bad to miss my period from time to time. I eliminated the chance of pregnancy immediately (for obvious reasons), so I asked myself, what do I need my period for anyway? For one, it saved me money for not having to fill up my tampon stash for months at a time and, honestly? I don’t know of a single woman who enjoys being on her period.

But I also remember that year to be the start of the darkest and most painful time in my life and it went on for up to three more years. I was a mess.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I sought the opinion of a doctor – my first time ever to meet with a gynaecologist. I did not know what to expect. It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable talking about my female problems that I waited this long to go, but another symptom of depression is procrastination and for that reason I never really found the energy to go until that year.

My gynaecologist that time was a sympathetic woman who made sure I was comfortable. She ran some tests, including an ultrasound that gave me the chance to also see what the inside of my uterus and ovaries looked like. When we were done with the ultrasound, we were at her desk again and she grabbed a book to explain to me what was really going on. She showed me a photo of ovaries which resembled what I saw in the ultrasound. Then she showed me another one that suggested what they were supposed to look like. She explained to me that this was the reason for my irregular cycles and gave me a name for it: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

She asked me about all the other changes I’ve noticed in the past three years. I told her that it was the time when I started gaining weight (10kg in a matter of months!), and that I had been depressed – all of which, she explained, are symptoms of but may or may not be caused by PCOS (the weight issue, though, was likely caused by PCOS because of its drastic gain and the inability to lose weight despite of my humble attempts at dieting and exercise).

At this point I was worried about what this really means for me. Will I have to take pills? Change my lifestyle? Can this lead to other, scarier illnesses or diseases? No, yes, yes.

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Forgive me for not finding the real source of this image but I really do think it’s the best visual representation I’ve come across so far.

Because I said right on that my plans for the future do not include bearing a child, she said there was no need to try to correct this with the use of pills and regular monitoring. What I could do, was try to eat less carbohydrates just to help reduce the symptoms because my body can’t handle high levels of sugar. Exercising, she said, is of course always recommended but I should manage my expectations because it will be much harder for me to actually reach a physically fit status than it is for others. The risk of diabetes is very high, also considering the fact that both my parents have it.

She couldn’t give an explanation as to why I have PCOS. She said that about 20% of women have it and there is no actual cause, it just happens. It was frustrating, of course, it still is, because it’s not exactly satisfying to hear from a doctor that there is no cure for what I have. It felt like I had lost total control of my body and and it’s hard when you can’t blame it on anyone or anything, not even yourself.

It’s been years now since that first visit at the doctor’s. Since that time I have had some semi-regular periods for months at a time (about every 30-40 days) but every now and again I still have to wait up to 4 months for the next flow. Exercising, as I have been warned, has been extra exhausting given that I don’t get the results I am aiming for at an average pace but I try not to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to that. Dieting, on the other hand, has been the trickiest part. I was confused by how I was supposed to lessen my carbohydrate/sugar intake when I was pretty sure I was consuming much less than the average person. You will not find sugar in my coffee or tea and I drink soda only on rare occasions. I would only ever use sugar in baking but when do I ever have the time to bake? And unlike most Filipinos, I never felt the need to have rice with my food every time I eat and I can go months without a serving of rice. Same with potatoes, pasta, and other high-carb staples and I’ve always preferred dark bread over white which I believed at that time to be a better alternative. It was so confusing and I did not know what to eliminate from my daily intake when I know most people feel fine eating all this food and more. But I am not like most people. Not anymore after hearing the truth.

Right now I have finally come to a stage where I have accepted my fate and decided to take back control over my body. I understand the risks of PCOS for my health while I age and the best I can do now is to become aware of these and try my hardest to prevent them from happening. My primary goal right now is to get my period every month as a proof that I have been doing all the right things. I am fully focusing on my nutrition now more than ever and I am excited for the results!

I will be creating a separate post soon to elaborate more on my trials and errors in having PCOS focusing on diet and nutrition. As I am writing this, I have been on a low-carb high-fat diet for four weeks which I intend to keep up for a couple of months before reintroducing some good carbohydrates into my body.

Although PCOS is common, I don’t get to talk to a lot of people who also have it so I’d love for you to share your experiences with me and maybe we can get through this together! 🙂

My this Year’s Birthday Gifts from the Best People

Time went by way too fast again. I just realised during a phone call with my mum that my birthday had been two weeks ago and not just the other week – which made us both just slightly panicky because that means we’re getting closer to our trip to the Philippines later this month – but I’ll write about that soon. And speaking about Mum, it’s Mother’s Day today and aside from the fact that she gave birth to me, I am thankful to her for finally handing me down her 20+ year old Ray-Bans, after only asking her for it countless times for over two decades.

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And she gave them to me as a birthday present (but that’s because she bought herself a new pair), and I love them!

We went to Cologne for the Easter weekend where my sister had her house-warming party and she had to give me her present already because she was to leave for the Philippines a few days later. She put it in a paper bag with a note explicitly saying: “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL APRIL 30!”. My family of course knows me best and the evil sister knew just how to torture me. She even warned the wife to keep an eye on me just to make sure I don’t slip.

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She even took the time to harass me with these text messages. Big sisters are just the absolute worst.

So I took the paper bag all the way to Warsaw so I can open it as soon as the clock hits midnight.

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… and this was inside and I sincerely love it! I opened the bag about 20 minutes before midnight and sent her this selfie with a timestamp, because I’m a rebel like that.

Speaking of rebels, aside from the trip to Warsaw, I had been given this amazing book full of bedtime stories about badass women in history by my very badass wife:

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I actually recommend it to everyone. We got it off Amazon for 15,99 €. Please read this to your children and/or partners or just to yourselves! These stories are really empowering!

And what I also got from her a few months prior were tickets to The Addams Family musical here in Berlin which is due next week, finally!

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I am too stoked for this!

When we got back from Warsaw, a package from my dearest friend had been waiting for me. Inside were a pair of sunnies and a purple dress (because I had been bugging her with my search for the perfect purple dress for my grandma’s birthday for weeks, will write about that soon!).

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Thanks, M.!

Moreover, on the 1st of May we had lunch reservations at a Chinese restaurant with my aunt (who also happens to be our neighbour), so when they picked us up she handed me her gifts:

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This very adorable froggy doorstopper and matching necklace and bracelet from one of her many travels to far away places.

I finally went back to work the next day after 3 days off and I had to report straight to a morning shift. We each get assigned to a “birthday godparent” from our team so my godparent had been waiting for me with this:

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She even remembered my favourite flowers – carnations! Along with it a box of chocolates and a L’Occitane en Provence gift box with hand soap and cream that smell like magic.

Lastly, people who have known me for quite some time now know how much I love shopping at TKMaxx for just everything.

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My cat loves it, too!

Lady Wood – Tove Lo Live in Cologne 2017 and Feminism

A two week break from work means finally getting to work on my drafts. I have been meaning to do this for a while now, sure, but life gets in the way every so often. Believe me, I’m not complaining. I have actually come to a point in my life where I am mostly satisfied – career, social life, even my health is going in the right direction. So forgive me if I take a break every once in a while. 🙂

Two weeks ago I took ICE train to Cologne to meet with my sister. I got two of those 20,- € fares they offered some while back, and I’m SO GLAD I have made this choice. I would usually opt for a pair of RyanAir tickets whenever I go to Cologne/Bonn (which I so often do because of family) but for this event I chose Deutsche Bahn because, really, I haven’t been in an ICE in maybe ten years. But on that very day, Berlin was nearly falling apart because our only two operating airports are on a strike so just imagine how elated I am to not have chosen a flight to CGN. Close call though. 🙂

So the train ride was uneventful but a good five hours later I was welcomed by my sister in what I’d like to call “only the second coolest city in the world”.

The next day we went to Live Music Hall for Tove Lo’s show. I had been to one of her shows about two years ago and I told myself I’d go again if given a chance. I gotta give it to her though, her performance has improved dramatically since I last saw her. I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs from her latest album, Lady Wood, but I knew the ones from her first album by heart. It was entertaining to see so many young people in one place listening to the same music you listen to. While I didn’t see much of the artist herself because, well, I’m tiny, I was perfectly happy just being surrounded by all the energy coming from the crowd.

Another thing that has changed in the last two years is the price of her merchandise! I remember buying one of her t-shirts for maybe 25,- € or even less and now I get a sweater for the price of 55,- €! Lucky for her, though, I’m kind of obsessed with her brand logo so I got it anyway and I even believe it’s worth every penny but, geez. Good on her though for becoming really famous. 🙂

Had to add this pin to my haul simply because I’m obsessed with this logo and also girl power

 

So I don’t know when I will ever be back in Cologne but I do believe this blog needs a little touch of the Dome. 😉