#pcos, Guest Blog

PCOS Interview with Jess from The Good In Everyday

Okay guys, I’m going to attempt to keep this introduction short and to the point but we all know how that normally goes. Does taking the time to say it, or write it in this case, work against this goal? I feel like it does? Here I am, unironically delaying the introduction, definitely not keeping it short and I have yet to get to the point. Oops.

I often mention when the subject comes up that PCOS is so widely complex. My PCOS symptoms and experience might look entirely different with a fellow cyster. You get insulin resistant PCOS, you get lean PCOS, you get constant cyst PCOS and the list goes on and on. PCOS truly is a gift that keeps on giving. The other day I found an actual black as night, a bit too long for my comfort, chest hair. Smack bang between my titties. It stood out like a sore thumb. I called my husband to show him, and he called it cute. I plucked it and studied the little hair with a chuckle. Thank you so much PCOS, I really didn’t need something else to feel self-conscious about. The acne and weight gain are more than enough, thank you very much.

PCOS is so incredibly confusing and trying to figure it out is a mind fuck. Where do you even start? Some of the ladies has seen great success on the Keto diet while others noted no change, heck some saw a negative change. What I’m trying to say is what works or helps me isn’t going to work and help another lady with PCOS. What I find so absolutely wonderful about the internet though is that we’re able to connect with others on the same metaphorical boat, read their story and learn a thing or two. We can then walk away feeling less alone and hopefully a tiny bit hopeful that one day we will find a way to combat those terrible symptoms.

I stumbled onto Jess when I was searching for a possible cyster to collab with. I get quite a few newly diagnosed and completely lost PCOS ladies on my website and I wanted you to have another lady to connect with. I know it’s so hard to find someone real. I don’t know about you but I appreciate real, here is the good, the bad and the really ugly type of content. I don’t want to read blogs where you have everything figured out. I want to read blogs where you share the in between part. You know nothing, but you’re on the journey to hopefully find some answers. I want to read your bad days. I want to feel less like an alien and a part of a community that just gets it. A community that understands that you’re not unhinged because you started to sob like the day you were born after the TV remote fell off the couch. Jess talks about her experience with PCOS on her blog The Good In Everyday. It doesn’t end there though. She has opened up her platform by having conversations with multiple women who struggle with a wide range of struggles. The conversation topics range from ADHD, Disability, Mental Health, Suicide, IBS, Transitioning, Body Positivity and so much more. It’s empowering to read these blogs. I hundred percent recommend you give it a glance.

It’s safe to say I fell in love with Jess’s blog and I jumped at the idea to possibly have her on my website. She responded and well, you can guess what happened. So…enough about me. I’m going to hand over the reins to Jess.

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I’m Jess, a twenty-five-year-old writer currently exploring my new home of Sydney with my fiancé, Jack. Originally from England, I left the UK in December 2018 to travel America and Australia. Back home, I used to be a primary school teacher and LOVED it, but to be a writer has always been my biggest ambition so I used my time travelling to pursue my dreams.

My PCOS diagnosis story:

I was officially diagnosed with PCOS in July 2018, but really, I could have been diagnosed a lot sooner. I had always had irregular periods and my body hair has always been dark, thick and excessive. I used to be incredibly self conscious of how hairy I was, going as far as using hair removal cream on my arms to hide it. When I was 16, I had two instances of ovarian cysts, both of which I went to the hospital for. At that point, I feel like more investigation could have been done, but instead I was just told to go on the contraceptive pill. I was on the pill happily until summer 2017. I had never had any side effects from the pill – my skin was clear and I stayed the exact same slim weight. All of a sudden, I began to get horrific headaches. When I went back to the doctor, I was taken off the pill immediately and decided to have a bit of time away from using a contraceptive. When I was off the pill, I noticed how I could ‘feel’ properly. I hadn’t realised at the time because I had been on it for so long, but I was suppressed by the pill, almost as if I was living within a very small emotional range. Realising how much the pill dimmed my emotions and flattened me out as a person made me not want to go back on it at all. However, after having two periods, I then had a stretch of over six months without a period. This worried me enough for me to go back to the doctors, who took my bloods and sent me for an ultrasound. I remember being terrified of the ultrasound because it was an internal one, but I it wasn’t as bad as I had told myself it would be. The woman performing the ultrasound told me there and then that it was a pretty clear diagnosis of PCOS and my bloods later confirmed it.

I was pretty numb at my diagnosis. I always suspected from my problems in my teens that there might be an issue, but I didn’t know much about PCOS other than you can’t have children if you have it (a myth, but one at the time I thought was true). I remember crying and thinking that my future wouldn’t be as I had hoped. I had only been with my now fiancé for a few months at that point in time, so telling him when we left the hospital together scared me. I worried he would want to break up, but he was the opposite and was so incredibly supportive. In a way, finding out such big news so early on cemented that we wanted to be together and made us stronger as a couple.

To be honest, when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t really do much. I spoke to a few people who had PCOS, all of whom had managed to have children, and that was enough to appease me. I was told that the only way to control PCOS was to use the contraceptive pill and so I tried three different ones – one gave me horrific headaches, one made me gain a over stone in a month and the other was the one I was previously on and once again caused headaches. In the end, I said I didn’t want to be on any medication and my doctor agreed, telling me to come back if I ever wanted children.

I left the UK in December 2018 to travel and continued to live as I always had – eating whatever I wanted, doing whatever I wanted. I’d never been told much about PCOS and I found that there wasn’t a huge amount of information out there, although I admit initially I did very little of research. My diagnosis was so ‘you have this and unless you’re on the pill there isn’t much you can do’ that I didn’t understand all of the alternatives and implications of just carrying on as I always had. Whilst in Australia, my periods stopped again so I went back to the doctor. It was at this point thanks to the advice of my GP here and the gynaecologist that I saw that I realised I could help myself and that everything I had been doing was not good for me. I had gained weight, something I put down to stopping my active job as a teacher to pursue a writing career, but the weight wouldn’t go even when I tried to limit my diet or exercise. Having always had clear skin, I now had spots around my chin and mouth, I always felt just a little bit tired and my periods were painful.

How I manage my PCOS now:

I manage my PCOS through the diet and exercise changes I have made. Whilst I still feel like I can improve on this, I know that continuing to make these steps forward is something I want to do. I’m only at the beginning of my ‘managing PCOS journey’, but if I am already seeing and feeling improvements then I know that it is one to continue.

My PCOS diet:

Changing my diet is something I have only started since September, but I have already noticed a HUGE difference in how I look and feel. I have limited gluten because I didn’t want to cut it out completely in case, I developed an intolerance, and I have limited my dairy intake to the point that I have pretty much cut it out. As a vegetarian, my diet was never particularly bad, but I did eat a lot of pizza, pastas and cheese… I also had a sweet tooth! Swapping to things like gluten free pasta and dairy free cheese as well as upping my fruit intake has made a big difference.  My skin is clearer, I feel less bloated and I am not as tired. Part of me wishes I had made these changes sooner because the difference has been so stark.

PCOS changed the way I look at and plan my future:

It has made me worry about having children more. Before, I think I was a little naive to the idea of fertility struggles. Pregnancy seemed to be one of those things that happened if and when people wanted it to. Of course, I knew about miscarriages, IVF and had heard of PCOS, but really, I was just naive to it all. I was 24 when I was diagnosed, so having children wasn’t even on my radar at that point, but PCOS has made me think of them more seriously.

I know that if and when I am ready to ‘try’ for a baby, I would go to a doctor sooner if nothing happened after a few months than if I did not know I had PCOS. Other than children, it’s just made me appreciate what I have – a brilliant, supportive fiancé, wonderful family and friends and a life I am proud of. You never know what is going to happen and nothing in life is definite, so I try to take a step back, worry less and just enjoy it.

How I’m ‘treating’ my PCOS (Supplements/Medication):

I don’t take any supplements or medication but, from following natural remedy PCOS accounts on Instagram, I am looking into taking zinc and other supplements.

One of the things PCOS has really disturbed for me is my sleep. Whereas before I could sleep in, sleep through the night and loved a duvet day, I now wake up throughout the night. This has been really hard for me as I wake up feeling shocking which only adds to the feeling of fatigue. I’ve used some natural remedies that I have found really help – Lush’s Sleepy cream which I rub on my chest and wrists before I sleep, and Wilde Blends Sleepy aromatherapy oil which I put on the sole of my foot and down my spine. I can honestly say that using these has made such a difference to my sleeping pattern and I cannot recommend the products highly enough.

I think whatever works for the person is how they should treat their PCOS. Birth control worked for me whilst I was on it, but I feel that really it just masked my symptoms. I prefer being off medication and working with my body to figure out what it needs and what I should do, but that might not be what works best for someone else.

My PCOS insecurities:

Having always been the same, thin size, the weight gain and struggle to lose it has been hard. I write about body confidence and I have got a lot better with mine over time, but initially seeing someone I didn’t recognise and having clothes that don’t fit was hard. Some people say to me ‘but you’re still thin’, but for me gaining 2 dress sizes in such a short space of time after pretty much 10 years of my life being one way was hard. I still struggle now, but it’s not as bad as it was.

Why it’s important to me to write about PCOS on my blog:

As with everything I write and share online, I try to be honest and reflect my reality. This is just a part of who I am, so on a very basic level it is just my online life mirroring my personal life.

On a deeper level, though, I like to think that by being open about my PCOS experience I might help someone else. When I was first diagnosed, I did little to research and genuinely believed I only needed to think of PCOS when it came to wanting/having children because that was the impression doctors had given me. It was only when I stumbled across pages online that I realised how much PCOS impacts and also how much I could do to help myself. I’d like to think that someone else who has just been diagnosed and who doesn’t fully understand what it means might stumble across my page and that my words might help them. Just reading other people’s experiences and thinking ‘oh yeah, me too’ has made the world of difference to me, so if I can do that for someone else then great!

My advice to my fellow cysters, especially those newly diagnosed:

My main bit of advice would be to read other people’s stories. Whilst no two PCOS journeys are identical, for me it helped me to realise that other people had headaches and I didn’t need to worry about them as much as I was or see that yes, other people had children even with PCOS. I am someone who Googles things and tends to lean to the worst health outcome, so I found that Instagram accounts from PCOS nutritionalists and people with the condition have helped me more than random Google searches that only convince me of the worst.

Two of the accounts I follow on Instagram who have really helped me are @pcos_to_wellness and @pcos.weightloss. Even if you don’t want to lose weight, @pcos.weightloss has great tips about feeling good and working with your body and @pcos_to_wellness is so open and honest about struggles with acne and different conditions that for some people are relate to their PCOS like bruxism and dermatitis.

Some of the PCOS myths I’ve heard:

One of the most damaging things I have heard is that you can’t have children if you have PCOS. Being told this at 24 was awful and I can’t express how much I cried over it, how much guilt I felt at my partner’s future perhaps not being what he imagined. Over time, I have realised how wrong this is. Yes, having children might be difficult. Yes, you might need IVF and yes, it might not happen for you at all – but PCOS does not mean you cannot have children. I follow so many people who are either undergoing IVF or who have made changes to their diet and health routine and have become pregnant naturally. PCOS might make it harder, but it’s not impossible. I find knowing that a comfort and I wish more people knew it too.

I also wish I had been told about insulin resistance. When I was diagnosed, PCOS seemed like a blanket term – you have it and everyone with it is the same – this is not true. PCOS differs from person to person, some people’s bodies are insulin resistant whereas others aren’t. Knowing which type you have will help you manage your diet and exercise. For example, I know that my exercise needs to be regular, low impact exercise like yoga, Pilates and walks. Even though I don’t have insulin resistant PCOS, I don’t do high intensity exercise like running or HIT sessions because I know that’s not what will work for my body and could cause me damage.

My two cents on the argument that PCOS patients are having to basically treat themselves because there is a lack of understanding and research in the medical community about PCOS and other conditions like endometriosis:

I have to say that my experiences have made me agree. My doctors were great at diagnosing me, but then that was it – I was offered a contraceptive pill or nothing. I didn’t know about insulin resistance, I was never given an information leaflet or even a website recommendation, so I walked away clueless but knowing that I didn’t want to be on a contraceptive pill.

Knowing what I know now about PCOS, I realise how wrong this was. There were things I could have done to help and there is damage I could have done to my body by not doing them. I wish I had been told the advice I have been given in the last few months straight away so that I was better informed, from knowing what foods to try, what to cut down on, what exercises to do. Women are teaching each other how to manage things and offering support which is great, but I sometimes worry about the validity of the advice when I am recommended things like supplements as I feel wary about putting things into my body without knowing if I need them.

Being a part of a community that freely shares their health journey, and talk about important topics is empowering:

I really enjoy participating in the discussions and reading advice and tips from other people. I worry – a lot – so reading other people talk about headaches or aches and pains or tiredness really puts me at ease. PCOS has so many symptoms and effects other than the basic things like excessive hair growth and irregular periods which I was never made aware of before, so having that reassurance and being able to reassure others is great.

I also think that it is important for women to talk about these conditions so that the medical profession listens and advances in treatment, understanding and diagnosis can be made. For too long, women have minimised their pain, suffered in silence or put up with partial diagnosis’s, but to see that changing feels really empowering. My hope is that in the future, no one has to have a half-hearted diagnosis or walks away feeling confused and unsure of what they can do to help them self. If I can be a part of helping that day come sooner, then great.

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I hope that my PCOS story helps someone out there feel like their diagnosis is not the end of the world, because it’s not. You might have to change how you look at things or how you do things in life, but it will be okay. PCOS is a part of you, but it’s not all of you.

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Okay, I’m back. Did you miss me? I hope you enjoyed this blog. I truly loved working with Jess. She is super awesome, but you already know that by now. I’m going to round this one off but before I go – You can find Jess on Instagram @thegoodineverydayblog and of course subscribe/follow her blog here on WordPress.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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#pcos, Body Love, Mental Health, Self Love

So, I’m Bigger Now. Does It Matter? | Weight Gain & PCOS

I’ve talked about my weight gain and my reaction to my now bigger body before, but just a few short minutes ago while I was talking to my husband, I had that oh so famously Ah-Ha moment, and I want to share this with you.

The conversation came up when I was telling my husband how I’m scared to see people from my life that was there to witness my “skinnier” and “fitter” days. I’m scared to hear what they’re going to say. I’m scared that one of the first words out of their mouths is going to be: “Boy, you really let yourself go.” or “You are so much bigger since the last time I saw you.”. All my life, I’ve never been skinny enough. I couldn’t wear this or that because I had a slight pooch. What are they going to say now when my slight pooch has turned into a lot of love in the trunk. I caught myself trying to explain that I have little control over my weight gain. It’s a health thing. It’s hormonal. I’m doing everything in my power to be healthy and 80% of the time I am, but my body is working against me. It doesn’t matter that I’m beyond active, that I don’t drink or smoke and barely consume junk food. Heck, I barely eat candy anymore. That doesn’t matter, because I’m a big girl now. I’m fat. As I was trying to explain or make excuses for my new body, anger started to boil deep inside my gut. Why the fuck am I connecting my worth as a person to my weight? Why the fuck does it matter? I’m sick of tired of feeling like I can’t wear skin-tight clothes or anything that shows my ‘fat’ because it doesn’t suit my body type anymore. I’m sick and tired of feeling that I need to hide my body. I’m sick and tired of beating myself up or hating what I see in the mirror. I have said all of this before. I’ve tried countless thing to accept my body and love my extra love in the trunk, but you know what, it was a lot easier to sing that tune when I was skinnier. Now, when I’m noticeably bigger (30kg heavier), it’s really fucking difficult, and it shouldn’t have to be. It’s really fucking sad because even when I had those abs when I flexed, I still didn’t like what I saw. I still didn’t wear those skin-tight clothes or showed off my body with confidence. I still felt ugly. It just doesn’t matter. I’m not going to be remembered for my body when I die. It’s not going to matter if I was short, tall, skinny or fat, heck let’s throw in yellow- or purple-skinned. My outer appearance is going to mean jack shit when I’m dead. It’s what is on the inside that matters. That’s what you should care about. And more importantly, that’s what I should care about.

It’s funny. I’ve never (Well, if we want to get technical I have for a few seconds but that was more a reflection of my own demons than about that girls’s actual body.) looked at anyone and judged them for their outer appearance, but why am I doing it to the person I’m supposed to love most in this world, me? I still have a long way to go, and I’m going to start challenging myself when it comes to accepting my body as is. I wasn’t put on this green and blue earth to constantly deprive myself of pleasantries, starve myself, and wish my body was different. I was put on this earth to be me. So, when anyone brings up my bigger body or my weight gain, I’m not going to go in attack mode or try to explain myself. Instead, I will ask: “Does it matter?” and if they say “yes” then that tells you more about them than anything else. You’re so much more than your outer shell.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Love, Cassy xxx

My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | The Dreaded One Year Mark | COLA Test (NL) | Part 5/5

And here we are, with the last part of what I’m willing to share about our infertility journey at the moment. It’s been an intense ride and there is a real possibility that it’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better.

December 2018

The part of the journey I struggled with the most if that one-year mark. When we started trying, I told myself that I would be pregnant by that one-year mark. If the baby wasn’t in my arms or growing in my belly, I will have that egg in my womb waiting for life. I clung to this throughout all the hard days. I clung to it when I felt like the worst piece of shit ever because I just couldn’t give my husband what we both so desperately wanted. I clung to it when I felt like falling apart. I clung to it when my period started and I hated my body for not working like it should. I clung to this but as we got closer and closer to this day, the harder it became. Throughout the entire year, I told myself: “You only need to get through this for a bit longer. Once you hit that one-year mark, somehow everything is going to work out.” I feared that day. Infertility will become my reality once we hit that one-year mark. I couldn’t hit that mark. I couldn’t handle it. Saying I was a mess leading up to that mark was an understatement. On most days I could only manage to get out bed and move downstairs to stare off into space on the couch. That’s the only thing I could force myself to do. Fate was cruel because my period started around the area of my precious one-year mark. At that moment I realized that it’s going to get so much harder moving forward. I cried my heart out and just mourned. I mourned that a year went by and I wasn’t able to meet my babies. New Year’s came and left a bitter taste in my mouth. When reality hit that 2018 came and went without a single hint of pregnancy it broke my heart. It…I don’t think I can truly explain in words how I felt. I don’t feel that the words ‘it broke my heart’ is enough. What I felt was so much more than it.

January 2019

I walked into 2019 fully knowing it was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to feel pain I have yet to feel before. I knew things were going to be harder, more painful than the year before BUT I also knew that I would somehow make it through it. I told myself if I could get through 2018, I could get through everything. January started with a bang. The agony and constant pain I felt throughout the year that is 2018 just seemed to happily continue in the new year, slowly growing into something so powerful it could knock me down and who knows if I could get up again. My father had a really terrifying health scare. It was one of those where I prepared to pack my bags and fly down to see him. It was a bad one. January just kept giving though. It wasn’t done with us. I didn’t ovulate. We lost the first month and fuck did that sting. Originally, we had planned to use the OvuSense and try naturally by ourselves for six months before we return to the doctors but the no ovulation encouraged us to reach out and start the process a bit earlier. As our first experience with the two fertility doctors was anything to be desired, we wanted to start all over again. We wanted a fresh start. We went to our normal home doctor and he referred us to a new hospital which is known to have a great fertility ward and arranged to have Onno’s swimmers tested. Yes, we got to the one-year mark without ever having Onno’s sperm tested. That’s how bad our experience was with the doctors. His swimmers are really great by the way which was a relief and a source of pain all together as one. On the one hand, I was so incredibly happy that on his side everything was great. We didn’t have to worry about that at all but…it brought up some ugly emotions. It’s me. I’m the problem. We’re not pregnant because of me. We’re in so much pain because there is something wrong with me. It’s my fault.

February 2019

Our appointment with the new doctor was in the middle of the month, just after Valentine’s day. I have just got confirmation that I had ovulated on Valentine’s day and I felt so giddy. Everything has fallen into place. You hear so often that so many women fell pregnant just before they undergo treatment and I couldn’t help but hope I was one of them. Can you just imagine the stories? My precious baby conceived on the day of love. The appointment went really well. We expressed that we wanted to be taken seriously and action to be taken. Not only do we want to know what’s next, but we also want to know what’s after that. We want a hands-on approach and fucking treatment. My current feelings might have leaked out a bit there but well…let’s first, get through February. So, after a really good discussion, we walked away incredibly hopeful. We’re finally going to get the treatment we need and really start the process. It made the hope of becoming a mother feel more achievable. It just felt really good. The plan was to wait for my period to start and once my cycle starts, we will go in for the COLA test. The COLA test is one of the most extensive tests when it comes to this in the Netherlands. If there is something wrong that hindering us getting pregnant, this test will tell us everything we need to know. Although similar to each month, a piece of me shattered when my period started, but we felt hopeful. At least we finally had the support of the doctors. There is hope.

March 2019

I took the COLA test relatively early in March and then it was just the waiting game. Six weeks to be exact. The theme of 2018 and now 2019 continued with bad news after bad news. We got the news about my grandmother and I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never see her in this lifetime again. I had to accept that she is dying and that I wouldn’t be able to go down for her funeral. I love my grandmother so much and I’m forever grateful that I got to know her but fuck it hurts. I was also convinced I was pregnant. Although this is nothing new. At the start of this journey, I would read into every single symptom and get my hopes up, something I had to stop doing as we neared that one-year mark. It just felt different. I didn’t have any crazy symptoms; it was just something I felt deep inside of me. AND then the universe slapped me in the face and my period started. It stung so much more because the timing of it…it was cruel. Not even minutes before my period started, Onno and I had talked about it. How great it would be considering the paint job in the baby room is finally finished (the baby room is a blog for another day). In less than 24 hours we could test and hopefully, for the first time ever, get those two lines. On cloud nine, I jumped in the shower and saw my period had literally just started. It…it hurt so much. Why couldn’t I have gotten those 24 hours? Why did it have to start after I just poured my heart out? The cruel timing was gut-wrenching and I sobbed in my husband’s arms that night. We cried together until I finally managed to fall asleep. It hurts so much. I wouldn’t wish the pain onto anyone. A part of me still wishes that this is all a cruel nightmare and I will wake up soon. It’s not. It’s my reality. Infertility is my reality and it is slowly destroying me.

April 2019

It took me a few days to get up and face the new month head on and I placed all of my hope on the next appointment where we will discuss the COLA results. I had too. It was the only way I could move forward and…the appointment…it didn’t go so well. The hope that was the only thing keeping me together was ripped away and I can barely breathe. My body and heart feel so heavy and…I’m in so much pain. I’m not okay. I can barely see my screen through my tears. This appointment happened on the 15th of April so two days ago and it might be too soon to be talking about this. To add salt to the wound on the very same day of this…hell…my dad heard that he is losing his leg. And today…I realized that there is a real possibility that I won’t ovulate this month. It’s a lot. My heart is in so many pieces and I…words can’t explain it. I’m not really ready to talk about it. I still need to wrap my head around everything but I will get there. I’m strong. I’m really tired of being strong but what other choice do I have?

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So much has happened since the last update in middle April. Life has been pretty insane lately. As some of you might know, my father lost his one foot and well there were complications. I’m not really in the place to talk about it yet but I will do so when I’m ready. It’s healthy to talk about but it’s not something you should rush. I just want to say a big old thank you for each and every one of you that have been here since part 1. It’s been a crazy, vulnerable ride and most of the time I’m happy I shared this. I’m happy that I’m no longer hiding something so big in my life anymore. Infertility isn’t an easy thing to share but it’s something that needs to be talked about more. It’s more common than what you would think. No women should feel ashamed about her infertility. Some days I still am, it claws away at me and I feel like a failure but I will get there. I will get to the other side. I have to believe this. I can’t for one moment think that the day where I won’t hold my baby will never arrive. It will happen for us. I just need to stay positive. I need to stay strong.

Regarding more blog posts about my infertility journey. I mentioned this in the very first part but I will mention it again, the time between sharing anything related to my infertility will probably be a good 9 months (oh, the irony). You’re seeing this part in May and I have yet to finish the April dairy (not ready to talk about it), you will most likely see the next update around December where you will see the rest of the April dairy and so onwards. I will, however, have separate blogs every now and again if there is something I feel inspired or ready to share. I plan to review OvuSense somewhere in the next few months and if I’m able to put everything in words, I will talk about the baby room.

Thank you so much for all the love and support! Thank you for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Experiment

I Fasted For 24 Hours Once A Week For A Month | Round 1 | Weightloss Experiment

I think the key to figuring out weight gain and weight loss when it comes to PCOS is to experiment a lot. You won’t know if technique A or technique B will work unless you try it. The idea of this experiment is to see how my body responds to fasting. Three years ago, I attempted intermittent fasting to help with binging at night. The experience was relatively good and worked on the most part and I guess if you really think about it my eating habits are still considered intermittent fasting but…I want to try day fasts. I remember considering it before I started intermittent fasting but decided to try the first one before what I felt would be a bigger commitment; the day fast. I’m going to explain everything in a bit but first I want to talk about the weight gain and my semi worrisome blog post about the subject.

I entered 2019 with no intention to follow a crazy diet or anything like that. It was the first year where one of my new years’ resolutions weren’t to lose weight. Instead, I want/wanted to build healthy habits and if this meant I lost a few pounds then great if not, so be it. This all changed when I saw the doctor and the number 91kg destroyed my day. It crushed me. I, however, refused to give in and become unhealthy obsessive with losing weight but I did commit to small things which I had hoped would be enough.

  • I started to walk the dog every day (Although this is on and off since it’s still a new habit that I’m trying to build.)
  • I ate more but before I would only eat one meal on most days and I know it’s better for girls with PCOS to spread their meals out. So, I started to eat less at dinner and instead ate more meals throughout the day.
  • I drank my green tea which I feel helps with my digestion. It gets the body going. I will write more about my experience with green tea in its own blog at a later date.
  • I started to drink more water.

It’s not a lot. I just made those few changes which are all I can handle at the moment. Life isn’t some race to the finish line. I’m taking things slow and focusing on four healthy habits no matter how small or big they are at a time. It’s been 8 weeks since I’ve made those changes after the ugly doctor scare and my weight has been going up and down. I weigh myself every Wednesday just so I could see what’s happening and the experience has been interesting, to say the least. It has gone down a bit but I’ve lost and gain the same 1kg for 6 weeks now.

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I figured that I have nothing to lose. Let’s try this out. It’s not a big thing and it won’t overwhelm me. I just need to do it four times. Let’s do this. I, however, wanted to look into it more just to ensure that fasting for 24 hours won’t do more harm than good. I turned my trust towards this article before I fully committed to the idea.

This is the plan. Every Thursday for the next four weeks, I will not eat a single droplet of food. The only product I will consume that day is water and my green tea. That’s it. On the other days, I will follow my normal diet. I will do everything the exact same that I’ve been doing for the last 8 weeks. This way when I finish this one-month experiment, I should be able to contribute any significant weight loss to the fasting and not any outside factors. The purpose of this experiment is to test if fasting in this way will help my PCOS symptoms mainly the weight gain. I plan to continue testing different things until I stumble on a system that works. I have nothing to lose. I refuse to just give in and allow this weight gain and the struggles with the PCOS to destroy me.

I will use my weight on the scale as a marker for protentional weight gain and weight loss as this is what I’ve been doing this last 8 weeks. The plan is to fast exactly 24 hours so in order to do this I will only start the fast after breakfast.

Week 1: Thursday 18th of April

I finished my usual muesli and yogurt breakfast just before 11am. I’m twenty minutes in and I’m not allowed anything other than water and my green tea until Friday (19th of April) at 11am. I will come back tomorrow to talk about today.

The day itself went pretty smooth. I pushed through the hunger and just went on with my usual day but…my husband shot me in the foot. Around 5pm so close to the dinner mark and my stomach was rumbling something fiercely, he asked if I could take out the chicken so he can make chili chicken. These last few months I’ve been obsessed with chili and his chili chicken is the best thing in this entire world. If I didn’t already push through 4 hours of hunger I would’ve surrendered and gave in. I kid you not, for the next few hours right up to the point where I could finally eat the next morning, my only waking thoughts was that chili chicken. It’s the only thing I wanted and my husband made it for lunch and dinner that Friday. It was amazing and now I want it again.

Week 2: Thursday 25th of April

I’m a weak person. Everything was looking good but after days of hard work, I couldn’t force myself to skip dinner. After fasting for only 5 hours, I inhaled my fries like I was about to die. I was so incredibly hungry, fasting until the next morning felt like actual torture. I did kind of fast the next day though…It wasn’t 24 hours but it was pretty damn close. Let me explain: I inhaled my fries at 6pm. It was my second and last meal for the day. The next morning, it was planting day. After weeks of working in the garden, it was finally time to buy and plant our plants. We were up and about at 8am and I didn’t stop until I made a good dent in the planting. I had my first meal at 3pm. So, in total, I fasted for 21 hours (give or take a few minutes). So, it wasn’t a complete failure.

I want to take this moment to talk about two things. These last few weeks I’ve gotten into the habit to weigh myself every Wednesday so I can track my weight. It has helped me in getting a baseline of what my bodies does and the idea is to see what my weight has done these last four weeks (at the end of this experiment) with four fasting days. This way I can tell if fasting for 24 hours benefits my PCOS weight loss or not. The day before, Wednesday the 24th of April, I weighed myself like always and…it was a little disappointing. I weighed the exact same as I did the week prior. My day of fasting had literally zero impact. Usually, my weights go up or down a little bit week by week but I don’t know, it was just super demotivating to see the fasting had zero impact. I suffered through the chili chicken temptation for nothing. It definitely helped the I don’t feel like fasting today mood I took on the next day.

The last thing I want to talk about is my amazing husband. He knows first hand how much I’ve been struggling to take back some control over my weight gain and how nothing seems to work. I literally would gain 10kg from just breathing. It’s frustrating because I literally changed nothing with my diet. I did the exact same thing I’ve been doing months prior and bang, 10kg higher. I feel like screaming. Hence, why I plan to experiment more until I can find a diet that works for me. Anyway, Onno wants to support me in this journey and suffer with me. His words. So, he has decided that I won’t be the only one absolutely miserable on a Thursday and he will wake up at 5am and go for a run. It a massive sacrifice and the sweetest thing ever. Thursdays is a crazy day for him. He needs to be at work bright and early so him offering up to wake up even earlier to run (he wants to run more often) means the world to me. I appreciate him so much. I will let you know how it turns out at the next check-in.

Week 3: Thursday 2nd of May   

This week didn’t exactly go according to plan. I got a really nasty tummy bug and most of the week I could barely keep anything down. I didn’t think it would be smart to fast (not like I ate much) as I was already quite weak. I’m still going to count this week because well I didn’t eat much. I know this isn’t perfect but sometimes you just have to run with what life hands you. Next week is my last week to fast and I will be honest I’m not sure if this experiment is a success. So much has happened to the point where I’m uncertain if the final results next week will truly be a true showcase what fasting once a week does for my body. I have another week to decide so I will let you know at a later date.

Week 4: Thursday 9th of May

I’m still sick…I’m almost on the two-week mark and I just want to feel better. I haven’t had much of an appetite these last few days. I ate two meals for the first time yesterday since I got sick. I don’t think it will be smart to fast or continue this experiment. I’m already weak and barely eating. I fully tend to go for round 2 in regards to this experiment. I want to know if fasting one day a week will help me lose weight or at least maintain it. I can’t with full confidence contribute any weight loss in this month towards the fasting as I’ve been sick for half of it. My last weight in is on the 15th so then we will discuss the results. I’m hoping I will be all healed by then and ready to start round two the next day but health comes first.

Results

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*I made the last four week 86kg so I can a straight line close to the last result. If I put in zero the drop was too crazy and the graph looked funky. Just focus on Week 1 to 4.

Okay now that those graphs make little sense. Let’s discuss the data.

Normal diet/baseline:

My starting weight was 91,35kg and the day prior to starting the one month experiment my weight was 90,45kg. As you can see, in those 2 months I barely lost 1kg.

One day of fasting.

My starting weight was 90,45kg. My first week was pretty disappointing as my weight made zero change. The next week, I saw some positive results with a drop to 88,90kg. In my baseline my biggest drop in weight was 1,3kg. This only happened once. The rest of the time it was only a few hundred grams, the closet to 1kg being 650g. I felt pretty damn good about the 1,45kg drop from the week prior. Unfortunately, a few days later, I started to feel unwell. From this point forward, the results in the experiment can’t exactly be taken into account. I was ill and I lost weight because for two weeks I could barely eat and if I did it was some crackers and one good meal which I attempted to hold in for hours later. Week 3 (at this point I’ve been really sick for 4 days) my weight dropped to 87,95kg. Week 4 (sick for 1 week and 3 days) my weight stayed the same with 87.95kg.

Conclusion

I’m unable to conclude that this experiment was successful as my sickness played a massive factor in my weight loss this month. If I look at just the first two weeks, I can say that the experiment looks promising. It might help me in losing all the weight I want to lose but if it helps in the maintaining department so that’s nice. I definitely want to redo this experiment so I can say with full certainty that this works for me, maybe in round 2 I will up the total time to 3 months. I want to incorporate regular 10 minutes workout five days a week. I will see what I decide on doing when my health has improved and I’m in a place to experiment again. In saying this, I plan to experiment with many different diet techniques in the upcoming future. I’m tired of allowing my PCOS to control my life and weight. I want to find that works for my body and stick to it.

Here is a rough list of techniques I want to experiment with in the upcoming month.

  • Fasting one day a week
  • Drinking only smoothies one day a week (In the summer, in the winter I will make it soup.)
  • 10-minute strengthening workout five days a week
  • No dairy products for a month
  • Low carbs for a month
  • The keto diet for a month
  • More fruit and vegetables (Will clarify more when it’s time.)
  • More cardio

I might add or remove some of these. I plan to take things slow, and carefully collect data so I can say at the end if x experiment worked or not. I don’t want any outside factors (sickness, lifestyle change) to throw off results. To further explains, let’s say I want to start the 10-minute strengthening workouts five days a week. I will do this for at least two months so I can get a clear idea what the regular exercise does to my weight before I start another round of fasting. I need a baseline so I know what to compare it too and if this one thing extra is making a difference or not. I’m sorry if I’m not explaining this correctly, I’m trying not to vomit all over my keyboard.

Before I round off this blog, I have a question for my PCOS ladies. What diet techniques worked for you? I would love to know so I can try it out and see if it works for me as well.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | A Rough Few Months Full Of Heartbreak And Disappointment | Part 4/5

Here we are with part 4. I’m fresh from part 2 and 3 and this is getting harder to write. A lot harder than what I thought it would be walking into it. It’s such a personal and vulnerable experience that it feels just…I don’t know how to describe it. I feel naked. I think I will take a moment and come back to write part 4 when I’m ready.

February was hard. Most of the month I just…you know what I just realized? I’m writing this on the 31st of January 2019, EXACTLY ONE YEAR AFTER I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PCOS! This just blew my mind. Here I am about to share what was going through my mind in February with the new diagnosis and it’s one year later. It feels like yesterday. These emotions are so fresh in my mind because I still feel them to this day. Oh boy, there is just so much I have to get off my chest…it’s difficult to get everything out. So much has happened that it’s pretty damn insane. There was something happening every single month and there wasn’t really a moment of oh let me catch my breath. Heck, I didn’t even scratch the service in the January update. Did I mention that we were looking for our house around this time? Oh, and that we found out my grandmother’s cancer is here to stay and there is nothing they can do for her? Yeah, that happened in January. I had a lot to chew on in February. A LOT. Honestly looking back, I’m like FUCK ME! That’s crazy! It was a theme ALL throughout 2018. It was intense things after intense things, EVERY SINGLE month. There wasn’t one month where nothing extreme happened. At least I know now with full confidence that if Onno and I can survive 2018 and still come out strong, we can get through ANYTHING. Our bond only got stronger through every punch to the gut. The really sad thing is, the theme that was 2018 is being carried through to 2019 and I’M FUCKING EXHAUSTED. I just need a break to catch my breath but life is just like NOPE. I’m getting off track and I still haven’t taken a break from writing this series. I’m overwhelmed just by thinking of all the crazy intense things that happened in 2018. But let’s get back to February. We will get back to the other months later.

February 2018

A few months have passed since I wrote the first few batches of the infertility journey and I’m fresh of some really bad news. I have a lot to chew on but I trust that talking about this will help so here I am. After the fresh diagnosis of PCOS, the news about my grandmother and the stress that came with house hunting, I entered February 2018 wounded and fragile. I realized that this journey wasn’t something we could do on our own and we need the support of doctors. Spoiler alert: My experience with the doctors here when it comes to my infertility is fucked up. We first had to make an appointment at our normal doctor so he could refer us to the fertility section in the hospital. Once we had our referral we could make our first appointment. It had a 6 weeks waiting period and I realized that there wouldn’t be much I could do in the month of February. I spend the entire month just learning about PCOS and the trying to conceive journey when it came with women with PCOS. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, I bought PCOS books and spend every day just learning as much as I could. I absorbed all the information I could get and it was…hard. The fear of what might become my reality cut into my very soul.

March – July 2018

March was the start of everything. I started my supplements and we had our first appointment with a fertility doctor. It seemed incredibly promising. Promises were made and hope blossomed in my chest. I felt so giddy that they could see I had ovulated recently and I don’t know. I guess I thought that it was a sign that everything would be hunky dory and I will be pregnant in six months. Just like the doctor promised. He immediately arranged some blood tests so we could see what my hormones are doing and send me off with the prescription to start Clomid in my next cycle (1 – 6 April 2018). The blood tests came back and everything was pretty normal. My period started and I drank my first Clomid (50mg) pill. How it normally works is: they ask to see you two weeks later near your ovulation time to see if you’re ovulating or not and then they will run some blood tests at the end of the cycle to confirm the ovulation. The ultrasound looked promising and I had a few good follicles. I took my blood test the same day which wasn’t the right timing. There was simply a miscommunication about it and by the time we realized it, my period had already started. We never confirmed that first month if Clomid worked for me or not. March just wasn’t our month. It stung. Each and every month hurts. It chips something inside of you away. Something deep inside of you gets destroyed when you see that negative test. Something that can only be mended with your baby’s giggles. At our next appointment, they decided to put me on Clomid for another six months. I got my three months’ worth and they send me on my way. This is where the experience with the doctors came less than ideal. Firstly, they never arranged to redo the tests correctly to see if I was ovulating on Clomid or not. So, until today, we have no idea if Clomid (at least the 50mg) works on me or not. Secondly, we never saw the same doctor or the first doctor. So, there wasn’t one person in charge of our treatment so we were kind of forgotten about. I took my Clomid every month, hoped that it worked and cried when it didn’t. The one month that stung the most was the June one. My period was a bit on the late side and I planned to test on Onno’s birthday. I desperately wanted it to be positive. I arrived in the Netherlands permanently on Onno’s birthday the year prior, wouldn’t it just be perfect if we find out we’re pregnant then too? The timing would be perfect as we just moved in our first home. I wanted it so badly. I went downstairs to test while Onno waited in bed and I found blood in my panties. I cried, put the test away and crawled back into bed and sobbed in Onno’s arms. It was a hard blow. The next month I drank my last batch of Clomid and we started to discuss what we should do next. We have started the process in the city but it wouldn’t be realistic to always travel there. Why don’t we restart the process in our new town and just start all over again? So, instead of arranging the next three months of Clomid from the first hospital, we arranged to be transferred. There was a waiting period and, in that time, I just worked on the house and prepared myself emotionally for what’s next. Our fourth and final round of Clomid was unsuccessful and all we could do is just wait and hope the next doctor will take us seriously and give us a more hands-on approach. We were hopeful that our treatment would be better in the smaller town and we were more than excited to hear that the doctor they have on staff is specialized in PCOS and women trying to conceive with the condition.

August 2018

What happened in that appointment broke my heart into so many tiny pieces. It was one of the hardest blows yet and it spun me into the darkest place I’ve ever been. We saw doctor 2 middle August and what seems to have become a common theme, I left her office in tears. She…what basically happened is they didn’t want to treat me until we hit the one-year mark. They will only help us in six months. It hit us hard. I couldn’t and I still can’t understand why they would send someone away when they were diagnosed with infertility at the very start of their journey. We both know my chances of conceiving naturally isn’t the best. I don’t have the normal number of chances in the year like normal couples. Why send me away for a year? Even though it hurt and destroyed something inside of me, I could accept the waiting period but…what angers me now is just how the appointment went. Firstly, I was under the impression that we made an appointment to see a specialist in PCOS and yet here is this woman basically telling me everything I’ve learned these last six months is wrong. According to her if you have your period, you ovulate every single month. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Women with PCOS can have what is considered a normal period and still not fucking ovulate. It was one of the first things I learned when I started looking into PCOS. Not only was this fact confirmed by all the books I’ve read, other ladies with PCOS, it was also confirmed by doctor 3. Doctor 2 had no fucking clue what she was talking about. Looking back now I was more upset about basically throwing all my hard work, all of my pain these last few months aside. It was irrelevant and wrong. Everything I know about PCOS is wrong according to the doctor. What I thought Clomid was doing was in fact not correct. The confusion and anger that all of the pain these last few months meant nothing added to the blow. It hurt more than hearing a doctor say that they won’t help you until you hit this mark in your journey. For the next two weeks after that appointment, my world just unraveled. Leading to that appointment my mental health wasn’t in the best place. The negative test month after month has started to chip away at me but that appointment, it changed everything. It had sent me to such a dark space that it terrified me. I needed help or I wouldn’t be the same at the end of this. I wouldn’t be able to survive.

September – November 2018

September was a turning point. I started the month by telling the world about my past and starting the process of coming to terms with everything that happened. To make peace and to heal. That as you all might know, send me through a crazy and intense journey. The first part of September I was just trying my best to piece all the pieces of me together so I could face my infertility journey head on with enough strength to get me through to the other side. We decided to wait out the one-year mark before we see a new doctor and hopefully finally get the treatment we deserve. We wanted to take it to another step and we did. We bought a medical device I heard so many PCOS ladies talk about, OvuSense.

*OvuSense is a true medical device which was developed by specialists for use in home and clinic. OvuSense is backed by over 50,000 cycles of use, 2 clinical trials, and 5 peer-reviewed publications, confirming the medical basis for core body temperature monitoring. OvuSense is used to track and predict the exact day of ovulation. Unlike any other monitor, OvuSense can alert you up to 24-hours before you ovulate based on your in-cycle data. Clinically proven to be correct 96% of the time, this gives you more time to try to get pregnant each cycle. As well as being the only monitor with live 24-hour advance prediction, OvuSense provides a 99% accurate full eight-day fertile window at the start of each cycle – helping you take back control of planning for pregnancy. OvuSense is fully certified, safe and effective. OvuSense is a class 2 medical device – with full regulatory approval in USA (510k), Europe (CE), Canada, and Australia. Why trust your tracking to anything else when you can use OvuSense, worry-free, knowing it has undergone rigorous testing? OvuSense measures what matters. Unlike BBT monitoring, OvuSense can monitor the true fluctuations of progesterone throughout the cycle. By measuring what matters with OvuSense you don’t need to use other devices at home for your fertility tracking. OvuSense can also help with diagnosis and monitoring medication. Only OvuSense helps with the diagnosis of your individual cycle characteristics and allows you to track how medication and/or supplements affect your cycle pattern, giving you and your doctor confidence that the treatment is working.*

OvuSense changed everything. It gave me back some of that control I desperately needed and it comforted me to know that all the data this medical device is gathering will help us conceive. The device gave us vital information. We saw that I ovulate incredibly late in my cycle, nearly a week after what we thought my fertility window was. Not only did the device show that I tend to ovulate very late in my cycle, but it also showed that my luteal phase might be too short. Something that’s not the best when it comes to supporting a pregnancy. It also showed that I DON’T ovulate every month. I will definitely write a review about OvuSense and go into full detail in a separate blog but the short story is: I would recommend it to my fellow trying to conceive cysters.

I’m going to round this blog off here just before the one-year mark in our infertility journey. What happened that month is big and this blog is already on the long side. I know that I didn’t really go into detail while I was just summarizing these last few months but I want to express how painful they were. It broke a piece of me inside and every month my heart broke a little more. It was the worst few months of my life and it made 2018 one of the most difficult times of my life. My worst nightmare has started to take shape and on most days I could barely breathe. It took everything in my power to fight every single day to get better and to heal. A fight that I still fight today. I wrote this poem in this time period. I hope it sums up everything.

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Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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OvuSense website — https://www.ovusense.com/us/ — Information in italics* is straight from the OvuSense website.

PS. I’m sorry this blog is one day late. I was too ill to edit it on Tuesday and things just went downhill yesterday. It’s not much better now. Also, I’m sorry if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes. I really can’t focus.