Tilted

It’s wednesday, 12 October 2016 10:03 I’m at the hospital for my HSG appointment. I’m a bit nervous because I don’t know how the procedure is going to feel like.
 Last week on Monday I was complaining about not having my period, well after the doctor prescribing me some folic acid I later got my period in less than 2 days, so we were really excited that it came because then we would be able to book the HSG appointment. So I finished my period on Monday and booked my appointment on Tuesday.

I went in, changed into the hospital gown and went into the x-ray room and got on that really cold table. The doctor came in, we had a chat about how many kids I’d like to have and my health history regarding my reproductive organs. Then it was lift your legs, in went the speculum then they swab the mouth of the cervix with anaesthetic, then they inserted the tube into the cervical opening that inserts the dye into the uterus.

Dr doctor started inserting the fluid into my uterus I felt a bit of pressure, felt like I was having a period but that was going the wrong direction. We observed as the dye spilled into my uterus, but it didn’t look like the pictures I saw on the internet. He proceeded to tell me that the path leading to my ovaries is open and looks normal, so I shouldn’t be worried everything looks good so far. Then I was asked to lie on my left side then back to facing the ceilinng, he removed the instruments and we were done. 

I got off the table and was given a pad coz there was a bit of bleeding. I got dressed and went to the waiting room. Hubby was not allowed to come in because of the radiation in the room. I sat next to him while we waited for the results. Meanwhile I’m cramping like shit and feeling all weird. 

We got the results they stated that my uterine tubes filled normal and my pelvis appears normal with normal uterine cavity but…  my uterus lies in retroversion…  not only that it’s retroverted with retroflexion (pictured above, bottom drawing)

I always suspected this, hubby and I have spoken about it, I also have discussed it with a few of the doctors I have seen and now it’s confirmed. 

Now it’s back to the doctor to discuss the next step as the plot thickens.



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Irregularities

For the past few months things have been well I have to say the winter came and went I survived the cold. My feminine organs were behaving themselves, I wasn’t in the usual pain that I was so accustomed to. 

Spring arrived, I usually suffer allergies but this time around I’m telling you I had a clean bill of health not even the seasonal flu got me.

So I last had a period in the first week of  August. I have an app on my phone that helps me track my menstruals so according to the app I was supposed to had had my period around the 25th of September but that came and went. 

Me and H have actively started TTC for the past few months. There have been a lot of negative tests so far, heart breaking I have to say but nonetheless we keep hoping for a miracle. This Sunday we decided we should do the HSG test to check if there aren’t any blockages, so Monday morning we went to the hospital and tried to book the appointment well 1: medical aid does not cover it 2: we have to wait for the periods to come around and only after can we make the appointment 3: we can’t do the baby dance for 7 days, amazing right. 

Now we wait and pray for a period. I have started taking folic acid on its own on top of the prenatal supplements I’m on, just to help the environment down there give us a period. 

Fingers crossed.

finding solace 

I have been neglecting this blog for quite some time now, I’ve been preoccupied with my overall health. Emotionally, spiritually and physically I have been troubled with the events that took place earlier this year. I wasn’t coping with being told I would have  to have a medical procedure to fall pregnant so I needed to calm myself down and find solace in the life that I’m in and make it work for me and my family. I started taking supplements like omega 3, D-chiro inositol and prenatal vitamins, that has help me maintain having a period every month since April. 

Exercise has been a bit of a challenge, I’m still not very consistent with daily exercise. But I try take at least 5000 steps a day I also do some breathing exercises that help calm me. I drink a lot of water, I had to download an app to remind me to drink water and record how much water I have taken and if I have reached my daily requirement according to my body size. 

Prayer has also played a big role in my life, it’s a form of meditation and it’s very soothing and it is my solace.

I have not been having any pain or cramps, no more headaches, only have them before a period or afterwards. I no longer get bloated or constipated. I watch what I eat very closely although I have to say that after I started the d-chiro-inositol I had crazy cravings for sweet things and I never had a sweet tooth before. 

Everything else is just falling in place, my relationship is great, we communicate more and understand the situation we’re in and are able to prepare ourselves better. Day to day life is simpler and bearable. I’m happier and cheerful and looking forward to a brighter future.

Longing and waiting

So on the 22nd of February 2016 I got a referral letter to go to the Steve Biko Academic hospital in Pretoria for the 26 of April 2016. Been waiting for this day long enough finally it was here yesterday as I left the witbank hospital, I called the Middleburg hospital to find out what time the transport leaves for Pretoria and I was told it’s 5:30. I woke up early enough, bathe and got ready. I  was at the hospital at 05:15 outside OPD (out patient department). I waited there until 06:25 when they opened and asked where is the transport, I was told it left 25 minutes ago. I was suppose to be waiting at the casualty entrance. Well stupid me for not asking.  Frustration kicks in, I’m with my man and he starts the car and we head home. We get our heads together and prepare to travel. So off we go taking a 160 km drive. We get there and this hospital is huge. After registering we wait in line, after about 2 hours I get seen. It’s one doctor and 3 students. So I immediately feel like a specimen. Questions where asked nothing new the whole pcos update and i was told my blood work looks normal, just the excessive testosterone and my body type seems fine and I’m not struggling with the usual weight gain, acne or hirsutism (male pattern facial and bodily hair).

So a sonar was done to check if I really have pcos. So there they were those tiny cysts in my ovaries there’s more on the right ovary than the left.

After that I am told there is no cure for this condition and since I don’t suffer from anything else I should be fine unless I wanna get pregnant then I will have a problem.

Now where have I heard that before? Oh January 2008 when the doctor put me on contraceptive she told me conceiving could be difficult. Now I wonder why I was on contraception for all these year. I need a refund, what was I preventing all this time when my body has been preventing pregnancy all on its own.

I guess I was buying them just to have a regular period, oh well. So I was then written a referral letter to the reproductive and endocrine unit. By that time my body is numb, I can’t really pay attention to anything now. In the past month I had adopted a new lifestyle diet the ketosis diet, been exercising a bit and generally tried to improve my health. Well I did manage to get things working properly, I got my period in April after it being absent for 2 months my my heart and blood pressure was normal everything was just going according to plan and now this bomb!

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Fertility treatment can cost up to R25 000… and that’s if it works the first time how much more if it doesn’t go well at first try. I left there felling like I could just unsubscribe to life. The trip back home I was in a zombie state.

But I have a great partner he managed to pull me out of my pool of doom, I don’t know how he manages to stay positive through all of this, God bless his soul.

So here I am giving life another take, I am not done yet.

Holey arms

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18 April 2016 I went to the out patient clinic out of town and at my arrival we are told the doctors have resigned, only one head doctor and a few interns are on duty and they will be attending to 4 departments. So they will not be attending to any out patients, only those who are coming to be admitted for operations. Luckily I was only there for blood tests and I already got my referral letter to the big hospital in Pretoria. After waiting for some hours an intern calls me to take my blood, I ask what tests she will be doing, she says she will be testing for liver and kidney functions. I asked about hormone test she said it will be done in Pretoria. She also did a pap smear regardless of the fact that my appointment was in 7 days time, and it takes 6 weeks for pap smear results to return. I left and came back on the  22nd which was on the Friday. I arrived at 12:00 due to some transportation problems, I got to the gynecology clinic and its deserted. I wait around for about 20 minutes and the nurse returns and she knows I’m there for the results. She tries to get hold of a doctor at theater, she manages to get 1 when he comes with the results they are all wrong he orders that I have to take another test. He has to rush back to theater so he quickly does the blood test. So now I have done 2 blood draws in less than 5 days and on the 15th of. April I was donating blood so now I’m starting to feel like I’m supplying a vampire bank, even so I’m glad I’m helping to keep them at bay so they don’t come bite anyone. Any way I have to return to witbank on Monday for the results because Tuesday I have to go to Pretoria.

25 April 2016 ended up having to hitch hike to witbank due to more transport problems. I manage to get there just before 9 and they are busy with the rebooking. I was only attendend a few minutes before 12 noon. Doctor gets the results and checks if all is in order for tomorrow. Although there were unexplained delays I ended up leaving the clinic at one o’clock. Wondering if my arms will have to be pricked again tomorrow…

Meet my cysters…

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In winter of 2012 I went on vacation with a few friends to Margate, KZN. We had loads of fun. I remember doing my morning exercise on the beach and watching the sun come up, while listening to the raging waters of the Indian Ocean. It was a great trip.

When we got back from the trip I went to the pharmacy the following day to get some pain medication and cream for a rash I had developed due to a new shower gel I had started using. I also had a dull pain in my lower abdomen that was very persistent, also had a yeast infection I’m not sure whether the shower gel or the salt water caused it.

A few days later I went to the clinic and I was ordered to do a pap smear. I got the procedure done it was quick and painless. I asked the nurse what could be causing the pain I had been experiencing, she told me I had internal blisters. She gave me a pill that I had to insert into my vagina with an applicator before I went to bed. After that I was fine for a few days and not before long the yeast infections were back like they never left. I visited the clinic a lot because of the irregular periods and the persistent abdominal pain.

I have been put on so many different types of antibiotics, I think they were also responsible for the yeast infections, because they kill all bacteria in the body even the good bacteria that make things functions properly down there. So I started adding Greek yogurt to my diet because I read that it has good bacteria that helps the environment of the reproductive organs.

In autumn of 2013 the abdominal pain had gotten worse and I was suffering really bad lower back pain, at times I couldn’t stand for too long and doing laundry was a nightmare. Anything that required me to lift or bend was just a pain. When night fall came I would become so bloated, I always had to change to lose track pants in the evenings.

As autumn was coming to an end one weekend I was enjoying the last few sunny days before winter. I was enjoying my sleeveless clothes when in the middle of the day I started to get bloated. I had to unbutton my skinny jeans while I watched TV but the bloating continued and my legs started to feel swollen so I changed into my track pants. I felt my face getting hot so I went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face by the time I got to the bathroom which was a few steps away, my face was covered in sweat my whole body was trembling. I sat on top of the toilet, when I tried getting up I couldn’t move.

My stomach kept swelling up and I started vomiting uncontrollably, good thing I was in the bathroom, I just tilted my head over to the basin. My boyfriend was on his way over and found me in a state even he couldn’t comprehend. He tried touching me on the shoulder, I asked him not to touch me because my whole body was painful, I couldn’t move because everything was hurting so much.

After a few minutes I managed to clean myself up. He decided to take me to hospital, walking to the car was a mission, he wanted to pick me up but I refused. We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes then I was taken to the emergency room where my vitals were taken, I couldn’t even lie on the bed straight. At that time the bloating had gone down. Now I was in unbearable pain and was lying in a foetal position on the bed I couldn’t stretch my legs, it felt like the muscles on my pelvis where fused together. We waited for an hour to see the doctor. My boyfriend was panicking in the waiting room as he was not allowed to come see me in the room I was in.

When the doctor came she asked where it hurts the most I pointed to my lower abdomen, she felt around my stomach then stuck her finger inside my private part and told me I had an infection. I was given a shot and sent home with some antibiotics. I was drowsy, when I got home I went to bed.

I had an appointment in winter 2013 to do a sonar at the hospital gynaecologist. They did the abdominal ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound. There were two doctors and a student doctor and one nurse. The doctors found two cysts in my uterus close to my cervix. One was 24mm and the other was 26mm. they also discovered that my ovaries had a lot of tiny cysts, one doctor described it as a pearl necklace. I always thought pearls would make me feel fancy not give me endless pain. They told me I had PCOS (poly cystic ovaries) they took some blood and said they want to run some tests. I was sent home with pain killers, antibiotics and suppositories.

After that treatment I went back for a review, I was told my blood test show that everything is fine they asked about the pain I told them I wasn’t in pain anymore. A transvaginal ultrasound was done and the two cysts were no longer visible. They said the treatment worked as the cysts were not yet solid they were in gel state. And they explained that there is no cure for PCOS. Yes I was no longer in pain but it did not all end there…

OH, my heart…

PCOS can build the danger of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular illness.

One crisp and chilly morning in 2005 my matric year, I was walking to school during exam time. I was having a fairly good walk when out of the blue this sharp pain in my chest struck me. Next thing I know I’m kneeling on the pavement trying to catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe, I tried inhaling but it felt like there were razor blade cutting me up inside. Suddenly everything went back to normal I was breathing and some of my classmates saw me, ran towards me and helped me up. We walked to school and everything went back to normal.

I have had or have been experiencing such episodes in my life, they come and go I can’t time them and I don’t know what brings them about they have gotten worse in my twenties. I have been to the clinic and they have checked for asthma or any other respiratory illness and I always check out fine.

Androgen is also a male hormone responsible for testosterone and other male hormones. It is also secreted in the adrenalin gland and has a tendency to over excite the adrenalin gland, which is the reason why PCOS sufferers have a lot of anxiety.

I can testify to that, I have always been a bit over anxious, sometimes it gets so bad I vomit before exams or any stressful situation, at times I get half paralyzed. In 2011 I wanted a driver’s licence and after a year of driving with a learner’s licence I went ahead and booked for a test. On the day of the test I was good calm and collected.

I got behind the wheel and did the yard test, half way through I started to have what seemed as an anxiety attack. My breathing started being short and shallow, my heart pounding behind my ribs, my palms got very wet from all the sweat, my face felt like it was in an oven, my legs froze and I felt paralyzed from the neck down and I failed the test.

Anything that is worrisome or too exciting is really bad for me, just watching soapies on t.v gets my nerves in a twist. That is why I avoid drama at all cost my heart just can’t take it. I try by all means to live a tranquil lifestyle.

In 2015 when the nurses where taking my blood pressure I noticed they kept asking me to calm down, even when I felt as cool as a cucumber. I was there so many times before, there was nothing to be nervous about. On the 28th of July 2015 the nurse says to me “is it your first time here, you have nothing to be afraid of just relax, please relax” and I was like “I’m chilled, why do you and your colleagues keep telling me to calm down when you are taking my blood pressure?” she told me that my pulse rate is too high my heart should be beating at 50 – 70 beats per minute, mine was recorded at 164 beats per minute. And my blood pressure at 110/80 if it goes any higher I could suffer a heart attack.

I told her my heart always beats very fast I’m used to it I’ll be fine. In 2012 I had very bad chest pains and they came mostly at night, at times I would be afraid of going to bed because I feared not waking up in the morning. Sometimes I would sleep on the couch because I dreaded lying down and experiencing the terrible pain on the left side of my chest.

At that point in my life I was sick of doctors and with the money I was saving to go see a doctor I ended up using it to buy myself a pair of shoes, heels and sneakers they always made me feel much better and very happy.

30th June 2015 my BP 113/63 Pulse 123 and I weighed 54kg and the urine test showed blood 4+ and a ph. 6. I still don’t know what that means because looking at the urine there was never any blood. I was prescribed some antibiotics and pain medication because I was experiencing some serious cramps and pain on a daily basis.

At home I try getting some exercise, eat well and keep happy. I read that having a dog can relieve stress and taking it for walks is also good exercise. I and my partner decided to get a dog because I was looking for better ways of living, I was tired of taking pills the whole time.

And since Ace my dog has been with us I’m much calmer and I feel lighter. 8TH September 2015 BP 100/69 pulse 76 beats per minute, weight 52 kg there is no more blood in my urine. I make better choices in the foods I choose to eat, me and Ace can’t stop chasing each other around the yard. I remind myself to take deep breaths and enjoy every moment God gives to me, I still have a long way to go, I and my heart are here to stay.

I miss my period…

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I know you might think I am crazy for saying this because periods are like the dark cloud that forms over a woman’s life every month. I’ve heard how women hate their periods because o

f the cramps, bloating, food cravings, abdominal pains. Well I was 23 years old and had never experienced any of the drama that came with periods. For me it was just 3-4 days of the annoying sight of blood, sneezing and releasing then we done.

Missing a period rings a lot of alarms in one’s head, because the first thing you think of is “oh my gosh I’m pregnant” . Well not in my case. I started having amonorhoea ( no period/ missed period) as soon as I began having them. I was 11 years old and a virgin so I never had those red lights flashing in my head signaling that I could be pregnant. Unless if I was mother Mary from the bible, only then I’d be worried. For me it was a norm to go a month or 2 without having menstrual drainage. I used to go to the library in town to read about the female body, its parts and how they function.

I read that, late or missed periods can be due to pregnancy, compelling exercise, stress, being on some contraceptive pill or injection. Never did they write about PCOS. I stopped doing athletics in school because I felt it put too much strain on my body that’s why I’m not having my periods.

Stressing over any issue can wreak havoc with one’s hormones, creating a missed period and an irregular cycle. So I started doing meditation and a bit of yoga when I got back from school. I was depressed most of my years in high school. I had a lot happening around me and inside me, my head and my heart where in a bad space. But my life wasn’t the only contributing factor to my depression, it turns out depression and anxiety are also symptoms of PCOS.

Polycystic ovary disorder can cause minor blisters to the structure of the ovaries therefore meddling with general ovulation and menstruation.

January 2008 I decided to go see a doctor. It was part of my new years resolution to take better care of my health. I got there she asked me about my periods and I explained how irregular they were. I asked if that could be  fixed she told me I have a hormonal imbalance and that can’t be fixed, the only way to regulate my monthly bleeding is to put me on the pill. I was told I would have to take these pills my whole life if I wanted a regular 28 day cycle. At that time I didn’t know what “the pill” was.

I took the prescription letter along with the pain medication she gave me and went to the pharmacy. When I got home I started reading the leaflet inside the pill box I just bought, and I realised I have been put on contraceptives. I took them religiously on time everyday. I didn’t complain because my periods came like clockwork and I had just started being sexually active so that would eliminate the confusion of having to figure out if the missed period was due to a torn condom or my internal abnormalities.

I was on them for three years straight. I was in a relationship that whole time. In the first week of February 2011 there was a break in at my place, a lot of valuables where taken along with a packet of my contraceptive pills. Later that same month my then boyfriend of 3 years passed away in a car accident. So it happens as the doctor said, without the pill no regular period, a lot of stress no period.I was without a period from February 2011 – November 2011 and no I was not pregnant. In between those months I kept going to doctors, one told me I have infections and kept giving me antibiotics and the other one told me I was under a lot of stress because of the tragedies that happened earlier in the year and gave me anti-depressants.

My period returned in December 2011. I still don’t know what triggered it. All I know is when they started they REALLY started. They came back with a bang. It was cramps, bloating, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, headaches, itching, fatigue and you name it. Aunt flow was like “hi, you miss me? well here I am!”.

So, its testosterone…

25 January 2016 blood test done, 22 February 2016 results in and I have elevated testosterone levels. That’s one of the symptoms of PCOS. Every time I went to see doctors they told me I have a hormonal imbalance that’s why I have irregular periods but never thought I could have too much of the male hormone.

Thinking about it now I understand why I had so much aggression as a young girl. I remember when I was 9 I used to get into lots of fist fights with young boys, I remember a specific boy I beat up, we were playing soccer I was a striker and one of my team mates got irritated that I was scoring more goals than he was and I was being celebrated more than him, so he felt I should leave because soccer is not for girls and I wasn’t welcome anymore, so a fight broke out and I punched his lights out next thing I know I’m being summoned by his mom and on my arrival at her house being brought by the crowd of boys she got agitated and gave him a belt whooping. So what I’m trying to say is, growing up I was quite the tom boy and I was very stubborn. I felt I was one of the boys.

I did everything the neighborhood boys did and I excelled. I recently read about pcos and that with the elevated testosterone in women it makes it easier for a woman to build muscles. In my teen years I was very lean I even had a six pack at some point I was envied by my peers because we’d do the same exercises but I’d get results in a short period. And I still have really defined calves I loved athletics since primary school.

A high level of testosterone in women can lead to excessive acne and hirsutism (increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, toes and nipples). Well I was lucky enough not to grow any facial hair or have bad acne, in fact I never had any acne in my teens. The only thing that’s started bothering me in the past 2 years it’s the sudden growth of hair on my stomach around my navel. I guess it’s normal considering that I know now its caused by the PCOS.

Patiently impatient with pcos

26 February 2016, after being refered to an out of town gynecologist by my local hospital doctor I  finally got confirmation that I have pcos (poly cystic ovaries). I have been impatient for over 3 years wondering what was wrong with me. Now I know for sure and have been diagnosed with pcos. After repeated blood tests, hospital files going missing and countless ultrasound being done, I can safely say I have faith that the road to healing has begun.

It’s 23:13 pm Friday night and I just spoke to my bestfriend about the struggles I have been facing with my reproductive health. At 27 years I thought my life would be on top of it’s game, I had planned to go to tertiary at 18, get hired at 21, get married at 22 and have kids right after. Well none of that happened. I’m not even gonna start talking about my background right now, maybe later. But ya, I’m at 27 now and getting VERY impatient about starting my own family.

But let’s take it back a bit, I was 11 years old in standard 4 (grade 6) when all the girls in the senior phase at primary school were crammed into one classroom with a couple of nurses and they spoke to use about puberty, periods and personal hygiene. It was scary and very informative and came just in time because only a few weeks later I had my first period. It was on a Friday, the sun had just gone down, we were playing “umgusha” in the late afternoon, and I felt an annoying stickiness in my undies. I was on a winning streak so I kept delaying going to the loo to check what’s up down there. When I finally went, my panties had blood on them, I freaked out for like 2 minutes trying to figure out how I could have hurt myself there. I was wearing yellow undies and a pink sleeveless dress, I loved climbing trees and walls so I thought maybe I hurt myself while doing that and remembered I didn’t do any of those things on the day. Then I had a flash back of the nurses discussion at school and there were 2 pads in the booklet they gave us, I used one of them. I waited for my sister-in-law to come back from work and told her, then she gave me a pack of Always ultra  pads and we had a chat, but I  told her I got some info from school. I remember after my period ended a few days later and in 2 months it didn’t show up, I took the pads back and told her I won’t be needing them any more because “that thing” is not happening anymore . She told me to hold on to them because I will have a period every month for most of my adult life but I was sure it wasn’t going to happen with me because I had missed 2 months already.

I guess that was the beginning of my journey with pcos and I have been patiently impatient since then.