Look to Change

My health is good right now. I have a couple of struggles still; keeping my blood sugars down, and my chronic sleepiness.  But most of all I need and want to lose weight!

I’m so huge right now.

I look in the mirror and feel nothing but disgust and shame.

My weight struggle started at puberty. I didn’t know it for many, many years but my doctor and I suspect I developed PCOS at the time I began my journey into womanhood. I was finally diagnosed in my mid thirties!

I’m pretty sure it was at puberty and the development of PCOS that my insulin resistance set in…it is a symptom of PCOS after all.

I also have hypothyroidism which slows down the metabolism and therefore causes easy weight gain and difficult weight-loss. I’m on meds, but they don’t help the weight issue.

I can go on and on finding health issues and other things to blame my obesity on. They aren’t lies, they really do make it too easy to gain and very difficult to lose. But it is also my own fault. I eat too many carbs and calories, and I don’t get enough exercise.

But things may change soon. You see, I have been unemployed for almost three years now. I have kept busy with projects and chores, etc. but living with no real schedule or responsibilities makes it very easy to be lazy, and to eat whenever and whatever, and however much you want.

I may be getting a job soon. If I do, this will be a full-time job. A career! I will have a set schedule which means I will be eating at set times, and active at set times. This, hopefully, will make it much easier for me to eat healthy and less, and loose some weight!

And my hubby is more than willing to do it with me. It always helps to have a partner.

Wish me luck at my interview! I really need and want this new career for so many reasons!

A Story About PCOS

I lay in bed wide awake last night. I was so tired but I could not turn off my brain. Memories flooded behind my eyes, not the good ones, the bad memories one would just love to forget. Then the memories turned to what ifs. What if my childhood had been different? What if this or that had run its course a little differently?

I’m a realistic person, I never allow myself the pain of wondering what life would have been like if I had never gotten type 1 diabetes. But I did wonder last night what life would have been like if my diabetes had been controlled all these years.

Would I still have retinopathy? Would I still have coronary artery disease? Would I still have these huge scars from the heart surgery? Would I still have neuropathy? Gastroparesis? Would I have children?…

But the big question I asked last night was, what would have happened to my diabetes control if I had been diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) at puberty instead of 24 years later?

Most women who have PCOS develop it at puberty, it may not be heavy in symptoms at that time, but it’s there, wreaking its terrible war upon the hormones and body of its unsuspecting and innocent victim.

For someone like me, a type 1 diabetic, the effects of PCOS were double in trouble. PCOS causes higher levels of testosterone in the female body, which in turn causes insulin resistance.

I had a ton of trouble controlling my blood sugar levels. At it’s highest my A1c hit 16! That’s an average blood sugar over 400! Can you imagine living like that?

I didn’t know I had PCOS, none of my doctors thought there was anything other than type 1 diabetes going on here, and the blood sugar troubles were simply the fact that I didn’t try to take care of myself.

This was partly true, I rebelled against my diabetes. I rebelled because I was afraid of it. I also rebelled because even when I tried to control it I still couldn’t bring down my numbers. So rather than work harder at a losing battle, I just gave up. I thought I was the worst failure at diabetes ever, and everyone around me agreed, so I just let myself fall into the depression of a constant failure.

We didn’t know I was insulin resistant. We didn’t know I had a hormone imbalance, PCOS. No one bothered to check into this.

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I even ever heard of a condition called PCOS. I was watching a documentary medical show about people who have mystery illnesses(in the end they always figure it out). This woman was describing a lot of the symptoms I had (but mine weren’t so bad that they worried me). She had a couple symptoms I didn’t have, but the fact that most of her symptoms matched mine I began to wonder.  I did research on this condition called PCOS and the more I learned about it (which wasn’t much at this time) the more I thought I just might have a case of this.

  • weird patches of dark skin here and there
  • very difficult to lose weight, but very easy to gain!
  • as a woman, too easy to build muscle mass
  • excessive hairiness on knuckles, arms, legs, face
  • irregular periods and flows (mine weren’t extreme, but notable)
  • Acne and oily skin
  • infertility (even though I didn’t use birth control, I never got pregnant)
  • depression (I wouldn’t admit it, but I have always had mild depression)

I didn’t learn about the link between insulin resistance and PCOS at this time (or maybe I did but it didn’t click with me) so I still was thinking my poor diabetes control was all my own fault.

I didn’t go to the doctor at this time because I had no insurance to do so, so I just went on living with the idea in the back of my mind. The thoughts faded after a few years.

It was in my mid thirties that I finally got the diagnosis. I saw a new doctor, a diabetes educator, and she was very receptive, knowledgeable, she listened to me and was willing to work with me to figure out all my problems.  One thing I asked her was if she thought I might have PCOS. I listed the symptoms I had that I thought were related to the condition. She agreed with me, that I might have PCOS, and she said something to the tune of, “this might also be what’s causing your insulin resistance”.

Let me tell you here, this was the very first time in my entire life that a doctor (or anyone) had ever mentioned me and insulin resistance in the same sentence.

My mind was blown. Suddenly all my past problems were becoming clear. Could I be insulin resistant? Could all my frustration and trouble over controlling my blood sugars be because I am insulin resistant?…or at least a lot of it?

Why had I never even considered this before? It seems so obvious now.

But, alas, nothing ever goes smoothly in the life of Tiki.  It would be a couple of weeks before the labs came back. And then two doctors would disagree on a diagnosis; one would say I am positive for PCOS, the other would say nay.  In the end they both agreed on a positive.

It would still take almost an entire year before I would get the correct medication dosage and start seeing results. This is yet another incurable condition, but it can be treated and symptoms controlled. The treatment for PCOS is Metformin and birth control pill.

For the first time in my life I’m actually having trouble keeping my blood sugar up!

WOOT!

This isn’t an answer to all my problems, but it is certainly a big step in the right direction.

Yet Another Diagnosis

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  I have suspected that I have it ever since I learned about it on a television show.  This was back in 2007 or so.  A woman was discussing her symptoms and how doctor’s couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.  Many of the symptoms she described I had.  I didn’t have insurance at the time and the syndrome wasn’t life threatening – just life frustrating- so I ignored it and went on with life as if I was just fine.

So, what is PCOS?

Basically it is when a woman’s hormone levels are out of balance. It is unknown what the root cause is, but one hormone becomes unbalanced and then that causes another imbalance and then you get a cascade of imbalances. This can lead to a whole host of health issues and embarrassing physical appearance issues.

So, what are the symptoms?

– Infertility (eighteen of the nineteen years I’ve been sexually active I have not used birth control and have not gotten pregnant)

– Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods.(My periods are not perfect, but I have never considered them to be abnormal).

– Hirsutism — increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes. (Yep, but not on my chest, stomach, or back).

– Cysts on the ovaries. (I’ve never been checked for this).

– Acne, oily skin, or dandruff. (Yup)

– Weight gain or obesity. (Ohhh, yes, I gain weight easily but can’t lose it).

– Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair. (I do not have this symptom).

– Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black. (I used to have this mildly, but it went away).

– Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area. (I have a few small ones here and there).

– Pelvic pain. (Me, Only with normal period cramps).

– Anxiety or depression. (I’ve always considered my mild depression to be related to my diabetes).

– Sleep apnea. (I’ve never been tested for this).

– Insulin resistance. (I am insulin resistant)

PCOS Awareness Infographic

Any woman can get PCOS. For me, I believe I developed it at puberty but it was never a problem until it started to get more severe.  I am a type 1 diabetic and I never controlled my diabetes.  The chronic high blood sugars, I believe, contributed to my development of PCOS.  When I developed more health issues like heart disease, neuropathy, retinopathy, etc.. and became very concerned with getting my diabetes and health under control…well, this is when the PCOS started to show just how bad it was.

I needed to lose weight.  I was trying to lose weight.  I WASN’T losing weight!  I was eating very healthy, I was getting as much exercise as I could, considering my painful health issues.  I was getting my blood sugars under control.  So, I should have been shrinking, but I wasn’t.

Frustration!

It was about this time that I remembered PCOS.  I researched it and discovered just how many of the symptoms I have. I also discovered that PCOS is common among female (duh) diabetics. Especially those with a history of chronic high blood sugar.

When I finally got to start seeing a diabetes specialist again, I told her all about my history and mentioned that I think I might have PCOS.  She agreed with me and ordered some lab tests.

I did the labs and a few weeks later I returned to the diabetes specialist. She confirmed that it looked positive for PCOS but I needed to do two more tests to rule out other possibilities.

I did those tests and called the doctor’s office a couple of weeks later to get the results.

She confirmed I do have PCOS and ordered two prescriptions to help me control it.

– Metformin to help with the insulin resistance, lowers testosterone, and slows the growth of abnormal hair, This will also help me to lose weight.

– Birth control pill. This is because birth control will help to lower male hormone levels. Also, Metformin has a tendency to cause extreme fertility and I have no desire to pop out any minions.

-Vitamin D supplement. This is because the lab also showed that I am vitamin D deficient.

Also, continuing to control my diabetes, eating healthy, and exercising will help to control the PCOS.

So, getting diagnosed with PCOS was both a good and bad thing.  Having yet another health issue to contend with is not appealing in the slightest.  But knowing what is wrong with me and being able to finally get treatment is a wonderful thing.

Please, Help Me!

One would think that taking in a pittance of calories a day would result in rapid and large amounts of weight loss, right?  Especially if one is active while not eating much..and what they eat is very healthy.  So why have I not been able to lose one pound?!

WTF, mate?!

Let me give you the rundown of my situation.  I am type 1 diabetic with a lot of complications of diabetes. I have been following Dr. Bernstein’s teachings since early November and during November I was able to regulate my blood sugar very well and lost almost 20 pounds.  December I fell off track and gained several pounds back and suffered many high blood sugars, so bleh to December.  January I was back on track, regulated my blood sugars very well, eating very little but very healthy, exercising a lot more (but still not as much as I need to), but have not been able to lose not even one frickin’ pound!

Here is a general rundown of an average nutrition in an average day for me:

Daily totals (spread out over the day of course):

Calories: 666  Maybe it’s the number that’s cursing me!

Protein: 27g

Carbohydrate: 36g

I have no energy issues, I never feel hungry and rarely have cravings anymore. I require an average of 20 units of N per day and an average of 7 units of R per day. I drink an average of 72 ounces of water a day, and 1 liter of diet soda. Occasionally, but not on a daily basis, I drink tea without anything added, and coffee (black).

For reference, I did some research on several websites, and reviewed Dr. Bernstein’s recommendations and as follows is what I determined is healthy for me, and only me, according to my lifestyle, biology, health issues, etc.

Calories: 1300-1500

Protein: 46g

Carbohydrate: No more than 30

I also use many herbs and spices in my cooking (no nutritional value, just lovely flavor).  I also take many nutritional supplements:

Cinnamon

Evening Primrose Oil

Fish Oil

Red Yeast Rice

Vitamin B12

Magnesium

So, please, can someone shine some light on why I can’t lose weight?!  My only suspicion here is that I might have PCOS.