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"feels like a bad joke"

What I didn’t mention after my diabetes conference was that my blood glucose was doing some funky things — normal-high fasting sugars with REALLY high readings after exercise. Something wasn’t right…

I immediately thought, “I’m not a high-risk patient for type 2 diabetes…but what else could it be?” After talking with some of the NP’s and PA’s at the conference, they suggested I get tested for PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). I continued to check my blood sugars and continued to grow increasingly concerned. WHAT was going on?

I saw my primary care provider today and he said with 99% certainty, I have PCOS. Lab work and an ultrasound will confirm this diagnosis.

What is PCOS? Here, a detailed explanation can be found.

But in short, PCOS is the most common hormone disorder among women of reproductive age. I have all the classic symptoms other than hertuism (excessive hair growth). I believe many of my menstrual symptoms have been masked by birth control, which I was put on for acne and irregular menses (2 symptoms of PCOS) 12 years ago. I have recently gained weight and now have clear insulin resistance and/or carbohydrate intolerance (2 more symptoms of PCOS).

And of course this is ironic because 1) I work in diabetes and 2) always joke that I don’t know if I want kids. Which of course now that I understand the potential fertility problems associated with PCOS, want kids more than ever. If only the idea of having kids…I want it. But, I now have “closure” that because of PCOS, weight loss is difficult, but must not be given up on. With PCOS, women are at much increased risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. 🙁

Seriously, given what my past weeks worth of posts have been about, does this not seem like a bad, bad joke?

People at work were so supportive. And an email from Emily (a PCOS sufferer) had me in tears in the Denver airport. I’m struggling, and I’m distracted. It’s good timing that I am heading to Chicago this morning to be with my family this weekend. I have the strongest, most supportive family who has endured vicariously my struggles with my weight…since forever.

I am feeling rage, sadness, shock, and fear of the future and my health at this moment. I plan to throw my pity party and then do what I need to do: lose 30 pounds and eat a carbohydrate-controlled diet.

I may be around this weekend, we’ll see. But for now, I am just trying to process this news and do what I need to do mentally, physically, and emotionally to beat this condition’s odds.

Thank you for all of your continued support. It means so much 🙂

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  1. lessonstolearn
    April 23, 2010 / 4:48 am

    Oh Nicole! I am so sorry you are having to go through this. You have a great attitude: let yourself be upset and then do what you need to do. It seems we hear more and more about this now…there must be a lot of help and support out there. Losing weight may be harder and having children might be harder, but I know people have had success with both. As devastating as this is, I am so glad that you have a diagnosis and can not take some action accordingly. You and Emily are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. April 23, 2010 / 6:18 am

    Oh no! That’s awful. I’m so sorry!
    If anyone can get over this, though, I truly believe it’s you. *hugs*

  3. April 23, 2010 / 6:31 am

    diabetes runs in my family as does thyroid issues. So far so good with keeping the diabetes at bay but the thyroid issues as thrown my body for a loop. I am sorry you are dealing with this.

  4. April 23, 2010 / 7:49 am

    I am so sorry to hear this! My heart goes out to you as I know this has to be so devastating for you, the Mr. and your family.
    You are such an inspiration to others including myself so hang in there. Not to mention you have a heart of gold and are such a strong person! Take care of yourself as much as you need to. I will say a prayer for you that this may be resolved asap. Enjoy your time in Chi-town this weekend…no Cubs games okay….hahah just kidding!

  5. April 23, 2010 / 8:40 am

    You are loves. You are incredible for sharing this wealth of information with us and now for sharing about your own discoveries. Hugs while you figure out what this new diagnosis means for you.

  6. April 23, 2010 / 8:41 am

    Nicole, I am so sorry! What a hard and unfortunate diagnosis. You are right, it does sound like a bad joke, but what is fortunate is that you found out BECAUSE of your work in diabetes and the conference you went to. I truly hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family, and know that we are all here to support you. My thoughts are with you!

  7. April 23, 2010 / 8:41 am

    Nicole, I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I know you’ll get through it and meet your goals. You’re so smart and have such a good base that you’re probably light years from where most women are when they’re diagnosed. I understand the children thing. Ever since my knees started hurting so bad, I wanted kids—mainly I think because I can’t do that now and worry if I’ll ever be able to. Take it one step at a time and you’ll get through it. You’re in my prayers!

  8. April 23, 2010 / 8:45 am

    Oh girl…I’m so sorry to hear this!!! You’re so strong, and you will pull through this!!! Sending you lots of hugs and prayers through the blogsphere!!!

  9. April 23, 2010 / 9:06 am

    I am so sorry to hear this. Take time to spend with loved ones this weekend and know that you are a strong, educated woman who will get through this!

  10. April 23, 2010 / 9:18 am

    I’m so sorry to hear this, but you will pull through! You are tough. And I’m sending good thoughts your way

  11. April 23, 2010 / 9:22 am

    Nicole – so sorry about the news, but glad you were able to get it figured out quickly. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling now, but it will work out for the best. Love you!!

  12. April 23, 2010 / 9:50 am

    Sorry to hear girl. My sister has PCOS, and she has been able to have two wonderful little kids. So there’s still hope! Sending love and good thoughts your way.

  13. April 23, 2010 / 10:10 am

    Hang in there…

  14. April 23, 2010 / 10:18 am

    I am sorry to hear that. Keep your head up and hang in there. You’ll have lots of prayers coming your way from your blog readers.

  15. April 23, 2010 / 10:24 am

    I am so sorry to hear this, but with your positive attitude and all the support you have from your friends and family, I’m sure you’ll pull through! *Big hug*

  16. April 23, 2010 / 10:37 am

    Oh nicole am so sorry to hear abt this…dont be disheartened, i really pray everything will be fine…take care

  17. April 23, 2010 / 10:40 am

    Oh wow. I am so sorry to hear that but I am also glad you were able to get that caught and addressed. It is nice to work around medical people because sometimes they pick up on things that go would go unnoticed by you normally. I hope all works out well and that you get the symptoms under control.

  18. April 23, 2010 / 11:17 am

    Oh, Nicole….I am so sorry to hear that. I only know about PCOS from what Emily has said on her blog, and I know it can be challenging and frustrating (to say the least). It sounds like you have a great plan of attack, and maybe you will be able to give comfort to patients in the future who are also suffering from PCOS. I am so glad you are going to be with your family during this time – it sounds like a great support system. Hope you enjoy your weekend and I’ll be thinking about you. 🙂

  19. April 23, 2010 / 12:07 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about the disorder Nicole. I really really hope that the additional tests don’t confirm the suspicion, but if they do, you out of all people will know how to manage it. You’re so positive and forward thinking I am SURE you can get through this. Although I know PCOS is something that one lives with…forever, I also know that it won’t destroy your life. (My doctor at one point thought i had it too due to irregular periods, but my menstrual cycle came back on track. I did a TON of research on PCOS at the time.)

    One thing i highly recommend is alternative medication like herbal remedies and accupuncture. I saw an accupuncturist for my unusual cycle and after 2 visits, i’m back on track. Remember that it is a really really common disorder and you can fight through this!! Love you Nicole!! Be strong!!

  20. April 23, 2010 / 12:09 pm

    Oh, Nicole! I am so sorry to hear this. While I have never suffered from PCOS, I know people who have and the emotions that run with it. I will be saying some prayers for you to help hopefully bring you some peace on this issue. Enjoy your time this weekend being surrounded by the ones you love.

  21. April 23, 2010 / 12:16 pm

    I’m so sorry for your situation…wallow in your pity party as much as you need to, and then get up ready to go to the mattresses. Take care and major hugs!!

  22. April 23, 2010 / 12:51 pm

    Thinking of you, hope you have a good weekend with your family. Keep us updated on what you find out.

  23. April 23, 2010 / 1:08 pm

    Very sorry to hear the diagnosis. But, you have all the tools and knowledge (and strength) to take charge and not let it run your life! Take care.

  24. April 23, 2010 / 1:23 pm

    Sending lots of prayer and positive thoughts your way.

  25. April 23, 2010 / 3:12 pm

    Oh Nicole…I am thinking about you!!

  26. April 23, 2010 / 3:53 pm

    Hey, Nicole! I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you as you process this difficult news. Go ahead and let yourself feel all of that anger, sadness, and frustration that you have right now. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will then use those emotions to propel yourself forward!

  27. April 23, 2010 / 3:53 pm

    Thinking of you, Nicole. ((((HUGS)))) I’m glad you have such great family support!!

    If you are up for a blogger meeting this weekend, let me know! I’m free Saturday or Sunday evening and I can meet you wherever.

  28. April 23, 2010 / 4:05 pm

    Awww, Nicole. I am so sorry about this news. Please know that we are all here for you and thinking of you. You are such a strong, smart and grounded person. I know you’ll get through this. Please take all the time you need for yourself. We will be here waiting for you when you are good and ready. Take care of you…

  29. April 23, 2010 / 4:05 pm

    Oh, Nicole, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this… My heart goes out to you… Please know you’re in my thoughts and prayers… You are such an amazing person, I know you will triumph! Sending you huge hugs…

  30. April 23, 2010 / 4:07 pm

    P.S. I bragged about you and another one of your recipes in my blog post this morning… 🙂

  31. April 23, 2010 / 4:37 pm

    I’m sending you a HUGE virtual hug, Nicole! I’m so sorry about this…you’re dealing with it in the best way possible though, and that’s the best you can do. I hope you have a restful and rejuvinating weekend with your family!

  32. April 23, 2010 / 4:50 pm

    Sending you a BIG hug. Hang in there. Glad you’ll get to spend the weekend with family. I’m also glad your conversations at the conference alerted you to what could be wrong and that you got checked out right away! Again, I’m thinking of you!

  33. April 23, 2010 / 4:57 pm

    So sorry to hear that Nicole, but you can make it work, you know what you need to do. I’m dreading a similar diagnosis on Monday when I meet with the fertility clinic at 37 time is clearly running out 🙁 HUGS to you. Enjoy your weekend with your family.

  34. April 23, 2010 / 5:03 pm

    So sorry to hear you news! Definitely indulge in your pity party this weekend. You deserve one. Enjoy the time with your family!

  35. April 23, 2010 / 5:11 pm

    I have PCOS, or my dr. believes that I do. Taking birth control has helped my biggest problem — missed periods. My OBGYN said keeping my weight in check is the biggest focus. I too had a period of fast weight gain in high school.

    I know that I will likely have to take fertility drugs. As long as I get to have a baby I am fine with it. It isn’t the end of the world, just a stumbling block.

    I see PCOS as a blessing in that it FORCES ME to be healthier and take better care of my body. If I want it to give a child I need to treat it well.

  36. April 23, 2010 / 5:30 pm

    Nicole, I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. It is frustrating, it doesn’t feel fair, and it makes you feel out of control. But sweet girl, at least we both know now WHY we’ve struggled with those things. I figured I must just be doing something wrong when it came to working out/eating healthy because I just could not get burn any fat. I’m finally feeling some relief, as weird as that sounds. Relief that I’ve been doing all I can do, it’s not my fault. I’m also glad I know why my face has been breaking out. It made me feel weird to be 26 and still have to use concealer! I’m mad that I didn’t figure all of this out sooner, but I can’t push rewind. I just have to learn as much as I can about PCOS and how to deal with it. As far as having children goes, I know it’s scary. Very, very scary and absolutely devastating. But I’m just giving it up to God at this point. I’m doing all I can possibly do right now to be healthy and everything else is in his hands. He will take care of me AND you and we will be stronger having had to deal with these issues. Seriously, I’ve learned so much in a short time. I’ve learned patience, I have even more compassion for others having to struggle with health issues, I’ve seen Andrew’s true colors come out (he is my rock), I’ve connected with so many amazing women who either are going through similar things or are there just to support me, and I have learned that God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I can do this and so can you. I’m always here for you. Please, please never hesitate to email me anytime – even if it’s just to vent or get out your frustrations. I’m praying for you, Nicole. Hang in there sweet girl, we will both be just fine.

  37. Jennifer
    April 23, 2010 / 6:21 pm

    As a fellow PCOS sufferer, I just wanted to send you some virtual {{{hugs}}}.

    • Nicole
      April 23, 2010 / 7:21 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  38. April 23, 2010 / 7:52 pm

    I’m so glad you have finally found out what it is. I hope that helps you, and now you can work on controlling PCOS, which if anyone, you can do. You are a very strong person and I have no doubt you will come thru this and live your life better and stronger.

  39. Allison
    April 23, 2010 / 10:10 pm


  40. April 23, 2010 / 10:22 pm

    Nicole I am so sorry, stay strong and you WILL fight this! ::hugs::

  41. April 23, 2010 / 10:53 pm

    Nicole – What very hard news to hear, and its understandable to feel all the things you do. Nobody wants to or expects to deal with things like this, but sometimes, a major disappointment just smacks you in the face. Rest assured you will rise above it, smart and capable as you are, and it will make you stronger, wiser, and even better at helping others because of it. You never know how tough you are until a challenge is placed before you.

    Big hug from me.

  42. April 24, 2010 / 5:49 am

    Oh, Nicole … *BIG HUGS* You must be so frustrated and angry that this could have happened … And even though this is not in any way, shape, or form something that could have been prevented, it just seems so darn unfair. Go ahead and grieve, spend time with family, just feel angry at the world if you want to. If there’s one thing I know about Nicole, it is that she is smart, funny, sweet, and all-around wonderful, and that none of that will change. You know just what to do, and in your words, you are going to “do what I need to do”. That is the mark of someone who can conquer anything.


  43. April 24, 2010 / 2:20 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this! I know your fam will make you feel better this weekend.

  44. April 24, 2010 / 6:09 pm

    Aww I’m so sorry to hear about that girl! Hope your time with your family is comforting this weekend. If I can do anything to help from afar let me know.

  45. April 24, 2010 / 7:53 pm

    Nicole… I’m so sorry to hear this. I can only imagine what you’re going through. Please know that I’m here for you! Email, gchat, anything 🙂

  46. April 24, 2010 / 8:34 pm

    I am sooooo sorry!!!!! I have pcos and have struggled with it for so many years…I have a pretty bad case of it and wont go into the horrible details on your blog but trust me, I know what you are going through…please stay positive love!

    I am scared to see what is going to happen when I have to go off the birth control in about a month because I no longer have health insurance =/

  47. April 25, 2010 / 7:48 am

    I know alot of people who have PCOS–it seems like it is manageable, but I know how you must feel! My prayers are with you–your such an upbeat person, I hope you’ll push through this with a smile!

  48. April 25, 2010 / 8:02 pm

    I’m sorry that you are having to go through this.

  49. April 26, 2010 / 11:50 am

    I am behind on blog reading, but I just read this post. I am very sorry to hear of this and I want you to know that you are in my prayers at this very moment. I understand that the thought of not having children is scary. At 18 I had a cyst that ruptured and was told that I had more tiny ones. It concerned me because they said having cysts can scar your ovaries and keep you from having kids. From that last cyst, I have not had anymore to rupture and have felt no pain, except in recent months. I finally went to the dr. and they think I am fine but ordered a pelvic ultra sound to check it out. I don’t get the ultra sound until a couple of weeks, but I know that I am in God’s hands and I pray that you will be in his hands too.

  50. April 26, 2010 / 1:38 pm

    OMG, I am so far behind in my blog reading Nicole. So sorry to hear about the news!!

    It is sort of ironic – but I guess because you are so knowledgable, you’ll do what’s best for you.

    I can’t tell you how many diabetic friends I have who routinely have readings in the 300’s, but because they feel okay, don’t think there is a problem.

    I also know a couple women with PCOS, so I just have to give you virtual hugs now!!

    Sorry I wasn’t around for your trip home – next time though!

  51. April 26, 2010 / 8:22 pm

    Wow I didn’t expect to come back and read this! I guess in a way it’s good because you finally know what’s wrong. But yeah in another it totally blows that it may affect your ability to have kids.
    Hope things work out well for you!

  52. April 26, 2010 / 10:58 pm

    Nicole, I am so sorry to read this news. I can be your cheerleader to live the low carb lifestyle. I do it day in and day out. My body doesn’t like ’em too much, so I watch my intake. Just means more protein, veggies and healthy fats for us! You will do great! xo

  53. Jenny
    May 10, 2010 / 11:00 pm

    Aww, I’m sorry to hear. But you are actually in the best possible position to manage it! You already have a leg up on what to do to deal with the hormone & sugar swings. I have it also and the most challenging part was relearning how to eat – you pretty much have to eat like a diabetic and avoid overeating at meals as much as possible. As far as fertility, maintaining a healthy weight & fitness level goes a LONG way, and if it’s needed, Metformin has helped some women, as well as Clomid (I am a researcher by profession so I can get access to tons of articles). I lurk here often, so I know I’m not familiar, but feel free to email if you need support!

    • Nicole
      May 11, 2010 / 5:43 am

      Jenny, thank you! I really appreciate it 🙂

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