#StoryTime: “Whoa! You’ve Got so Many Cysts!” (Said the ER Doctor)
What I’m about to share with you is the beginning of my PCOS journey. I’m willing to share it because I know a lot of women out there may have had the same or a similar experience. I hope it’ll help someone.
It All Started with a Car Accident…
It was in the winter of 2016. I had a car accident: slipped on black ice and ended up in between an electrical pole and a house. My car was totaled, but I ended with only minor sequelae. God is good!
While in the ER of a small hospital that didn’t have the best reputation, and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity on a stretcher (in a cervical collar), the doc finally came to see me.
-Ok Oudlie, do you have some neck pain when I touch here?
Ok, great let’s take this collar off.
-Hmm, sure (?)
I didn’t tell that ER Resident I was a trauma-ER nurse, working in the #1 trauma center in Quebec at the time. I knew there were clear procedures and protocols for high-velocity motor vehicle accidents and I knew she had just skipped a couple of those by removing my collar just like that.
I genuinely thought I didn’t have any cervical spine issues, so I let her remove the collar. She made me walk a bit; had my blood pressure checked twice and since all looked well, she discharged me with a pain medication prescription.
The Incidental Finding
Two days later, I went back to the ER with an atrocious pain on my left knee. It was unrelieved by the pain meds, and worse, preventing me from walking properly.
The doc in service was another reasonably young woman, but apparently more advanced in her residency than the previous one. After looking at the x-ray, she said:
-Oh, it seems like you’ve got an effusion there, which is minor.”
-“I know what an effusion is Ma’am,” did I think but refrained from saying so.
-So you had the car accident two days ago right?
-And did they do an echo?
-No echo was done.
-Hmm, alright let’s do one now.
In traumatology, we call this a F.A.S.T: a focused assessment sonography in trauma, to see if there are any injury to any organs located in the abdominal cavity.
This doc was clearly more in tune with the trauma protocols. I didn’t ask for the echo two days ago, because I had no abdominal pain, I was seatbelted, and my airbag had deployed. Plus, I didn’t want to appear as the “nurse who wants it all done.”
But since this doc was proposing it, I thought why not!
Cysts on Cysts on Cysts
-Whoa! You’ve Got so Many Cysts! Said the ER doc.
-I’m sorry what?
-Oh sorry, they didn’t tell you?
-Who’s they? I didn’t have an ultrasound in years. Two years to be exact and no, no one mentioned I had cysts.
-Well, sorry to break the news but it looks like you’ve got at least a dozen cysts on each ovary. We’ll schedule you for a proper ultrasound as an outpatient, and your doc will follow up with this. Alright, I think that’s it!
So that was it.
She dropped a bomb like that when I actually came in for my knee pain and finishes with: I think that’s it?
I was now understanding why this small hospital had such a reputation.
I was nervous, yet relieved with the fact that she had decided to take it a step further by booking an official ultrasound for me.
The Official Diagnosis
See, the last time I had an ultrasound was in the context of abdominal pain. I had it two years ago which showed ”everything” was perfect at that time.
So I was shocked that, two years later, I ended up with “15 micro cysts” on my left ovary and a little less on the right one?
Talk about an incidental finding!
When my GP read the results, I was flabbergasted.
Now, in retrospect, I did have some signs of hormonal imbalances such as being on the hairy side, facial acne, oily skin and weak and thinning hair. But my periods weren’t too much affected..or so I thought.
So with all those symptoms, she diagnosed me with PCOS.
She told me this was an incurable yet minor condition, that perhaps will affect me later when I’d want to get pregnant. Since I had regular periods, that was it. No prescription, no dietary change advice. Nothing else.
The Binging on Research
I wasn’t going to sit and wait to see how this syndrome was going to determine whether I would have babies someday or not. So on that very same day, I started digging for all the info I could find on PCOS, what caused it, ways to treat it, natural options to cure it. I was breathing PCOS articles.
I was breathing articles on PCOS.
I was not enthusiastic with what I found on the forums, back then. Some ladies were put on metformin by their endocrinologists: a medication that treats insulin resistance observed in diabetes type 2. Others were put on other medication regimen and had mixed reviews to share.
I knew this wasn’t what I was looking for: to be on a potent medication for an extended period of life is not what I desired. Plus, being a nurse, I’d see every day some diabetic patients on metformin, coming in with renal failure.
The first doctor’s order when a patient like this comes in? STOP METFORMIN STAT.
A medication so potent that, after having a scan with a contrast dye, the radiologist strongly recommends diabetic patients not to take metformin for at least 24 hours.
As I continued to lurk around PCOS women blogs, I was reading that some of them were also prescribed a medication called spironolactone.
I cried “Oh Lord have mercy!” Literally.
Because I knew this medication was a powerful one too, usually given to patients with severe conditions such as congestive heart failure. That’s when the heart is no longer able to pump fluids efficiently throughout the body. As a result, there’s pooling of fluids in the legs, the lungs or anywhere else. Spironolactone is a medication that’s called a diuretic, which will assist in removing that excess fluid by guiding it towards the kidneys to be released into urine.
And women were saying it was helping them with their excess hair growth. I thought: I’d rather keep on shaving for the rest of my life than to be on such a strong medication (my honest personal opinion).
The side effect list of that medication is quite extensive and goes from irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias) to intestinal bleeding. Just google it yourself, you’ll find this info in a heartbeat.
I felt bad inside. I felt sorry for women who perhaps didn’t have the same scientific background as me, and who just wanted to get rid of some PCOS symptoms, and were willing to take strong medication for such. I also felt as if some of us were used as guinea pigs since there’s a lot of mystery behind PCOS and the pharmaceutical industry will do what it can to try to “fix it” by putting us on a pill regimen
I remember thinking: there’s got to be more to this. A natural way. Because I believe that the Lord always provides a more holistic route.
In the holistic world, I learned about hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and how to treat these with the foods we eat and the supplement we can take.
I started looking out for proper detox protocols to help my body recuperate. Because over those two years, it seemed like something acute had happened to me internally.
I needed something to reverse my PCOS, without the harsh chemical stuff.
Since then, I found a lot!
I’ve created this blog to share all this info with you so that you never think you HAVE to take this or that. That way you’ll choose what you want to do for your body will all the facts and evidence at hand. There is no right or wrong way to go at it. You just have to follow what your heart believes is best for you. Sometimes, it’s a matter of changing your lifestyle. Other times, it’s a bit more complexed, but still not impossible. It’s a matter of learning what works for your body and what doesn’t. And you’re in the right place to learn more…
Feel free to share your story or ask any questions here!
Peace, Love, and Health,