Medical Stuff, Part I

Today’s Happy Note: My run started out terribly and then miraculously turned wonderful!  Love when that happens.

I had 11 miles of speedwork on the schedule, which I was not looking forward to.  It consisted of:

2 miles warmup @ GP (goal pace=10:00/mile)

3×2 miles @ tempo pace (9:00 miles) with four minute easy jog between each

3 miles cooldown @ GP

My body felt so swollen (more about that later in the post) during the first two miles that I thought I was going to have to call it quits.  I was tight everywhere and could literally feel water weight all over my body.  It’s a strange feeling.  I am not sure if it has to do with my period/hormones, but I think it does.  I haven’t had a period in almost two months and I can tell that my body feels weird not having cleansed itself — something is up.

But the tempo repeats ended up feeling great.  I sometimes wish I had a garmin, only for speed workouts really, though.  I am guessing they were between 8:30-9:00 per mile pace.

Yesterday we just had an orientation for the yoga class, so I did not get to do any yoga, sadly.  I did lift weights for 40 minutes though, and my arms felt dead afterwards (in a good way!)

Medical Talk

A bit of background: I was diagnosed with PCOS 3.5 years ago.  Most women with PCOS are overweight and do not have periods.  This was not the case for me, so for a long time, no one could figure out what was wrong.  When I was diagnosed, by a very clever gynecologist who works with my mother, I was put on birth control.  Over the years I have been on yaz, yasmin, and, most recently, ocella.  My PCOS seemed to be under control with the BC.  I reached a roughly stable weight and maintained within a five pound range up until this summer.

In July, I was hospitalized with multiple massive pulmonary emboli in the main arteries of each of my lungs.  I was hospitalized for three days.  Here I am in my hospital room:

Part I of the hospital stay can be found here.

Part II here.

Hormonal birth control (or any other hormonal treatment) can serve as a risk factor for clotting (pulmonary embolism means clotting that occurs in the lungs, which is very dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing).  Once you have a blood clot of any sort, you can never take birth control or other hormones again, unless you’re on some sort of suicidal mission.  This has obvious implications for sex, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  The problem for me is that the birth control was controlling my PCOS.  Now that I have been off of it for two months, my body’s hormonal and endocrine systems (which are related) are going haywire.  Literally haywire.

I had a really long appointment with the women’s doctor yesterday.  She was extremely nice and helpful and seems like the first doctor who has ever really taken the time to figure out what might be at the root of my hormonal/endocrine problems.

For one thing, I am gaining weight uncontrollably.  I am eating only a little bit more than I was pre-hospitalization, only now I am training for a marathon.  I am running 40-50 miles a week, in addition to strength training twice a week and yoga twice a week.  I am an active, healthy young woman.  There is no logical reason for me to be gaining weight and not having a period, among other things.

Our bodies have many, many hormones, not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone.  Two of these other hormones are known as LSH and FH.  I don’t know precisely what my levels of these homrones are (or even should be), but I do know that their ratio is 1:1.  This is very bad.  A normal woman has a 1:3 ratio and someone with PCOS has an even higher ratio (e.g, 1:5 or 1:6).  A ratio of 1:1 is typically only seen in anorexic women or over-exercisers.  I suppose marathon training could count as overexercising, but I think she was referring to thin over-exercisers who have lost so much body fat that it screws up their hormones.


The only conclusion at this point is that I might not have PCOS, but may have an adrenal or endocrine disorder. I will have to see a specialist in hopes of figuring out what exactly might be going on.  I know my body quite well, and it has never been more clear to me that something is awry.  It was subtle at first, but has gotten worse over the last few weeks.  I am worried, but I feel comforted by this latest doctor, who was extraordinarily thorough and compassionate.  She saw me for over an hour.

I may need to try a medication called Metformin, which would help my insulin resistance.  As far as I can tell, the only other non-hormonal treatment for PCOS is a low-carb diet.  Have you ever tried eating low-carb while running 40 plus miles per week?  Not fun.

I am scared and confused.  I want this to be over with.  I have a million other things to deal with right now.  I wish my body just worked the way it was supposed to.

In addition to all of that, I just found out that my INR (measure of the effectiveness of the anti-clotting medication) is only 1.5.  This is bad.  Very bad.  This means that I will have to gt my blood drawn every three days until we figure out what the correct dosage of the Coumadin should be.

So basically my life is really fun right now!  Okay, so that was a little bit sarcastic.  I do have many things that bring me joy though, and I am going to list them for two reasons.  First, because this post has been a total downer and second, because I need to cheer myself up a little bit.  Happy Caronae=Healthy Caronae!

Things that bring me joy right now:

Fresh fall apples

Baking on the weekends

Studying (aka not studying) with friends on weeknights, chatting, playing

USB (he is amazingly soothing and gentle)

My crazy professor (today I spent 75 minutes learning about how minute differences in wheat/barley vs. millett/sorghum/rice/teff cultivation changed the course of history — it literally is both fascinating and hilarious)

Blended grain “soups” (just had some for dessert with nut butter and dark chocolate, of course)

Crossword puzzles in the newspaper


Fall breezes/temperature drops (it’s my favorite season!)

Cuddling with USB

Bubble Tea


Books of all sorts

See, I’m not all negativity right now.  Just mostly. 🙂  This post was actually originally intended to go in a completely different direction.  Therefore, I am deeming it Part I of a two part series.  The other part will happen tomorrow, and hopefully it will make a bit more sense where I’m coming from at that point.

Goodnight friends!


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 02:14:38

    Ive known other women who’ve taken metformin. It has helped them and i hope whatever treatment you do/find/use, that you find health.

    Something to think about…before rushing into adding/using new treatments, your body has been thru SO MUCH….maybe just hold off for a month or six and see where you’re at physically, unless of course by waiting you are jeopardizing your health in a true capacity, but maybe just taking a step back can help.

    I have issues I dont blog about and i wish I had done what about 10 yrs ago when I found out all kinds of crappy news.

    Hugs honey!!


    • caronae
      Sep 15, 2010 @ 09:04:07

      Awww, thanks for the hugs! I think that you are totally right about stepping back for a few months, possibly. It just feels frustrating NOW and I don’t want to wait, lol. But yes, part II will deal with some of that tomorrow…


  2. ~Jessica Zara~
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 03:26:00

    I can relate a lot to this: I have (or had) polycystic ovaries since puberty, and like you because I wasn’t hugely overweight or manifesting the usual symptoms (cystic acne and abnormal hair growth, for example) no-one picked it up until one of the cysts grew out of control (as in, it weighed 4lbs. I kid you not) and I was rushed in for emergency surgery. It had twisted round one of my fallopian tubes too, so I lost both the tube, one entire ovary and most of the other one. I now only have a tiny fragment of one ovary left and exactly the same hormone ratio as you do.

    I know how frustrating it can be to gain stupid amounts of weight: I went up 4lbs this week (it did include a bingeing episode about ten days ago but my intake has been a lot lower since then) despite running 60-90 mile weeks depending on the state of my injury. It’s really getting me down too but I just wanted to reassure you that you’re not alone.

    I have never taken birth control because of my migraines (apparently due to the blood pressure thing it could be fatal to do so) and my metabolism is ridiculously messed up. I really hope that something is resolved for you…you’re a star for still seeing the positives in life and I wish you a speedy recovery.

    *huge hugs*



  3. Rachel
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 07:43:13

    I have PCOS and my main symptoms are no period (maybe 1-2 times per year), insulin resistance, and unexplained weight gain (think like.. randomly gaining 10 pounds in a month when I was still exercising and eating a very healthy diet). I was put on Metformin about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been getting regular periods ever since – EVERY SINGLE MONTH! I’ve never been on birth control and I don’t really want to add another medication to my plan, which is a little inconvenient for a college student *cough* but you just have to be extra careful. I do stick to a low carb diet, which makes it a lot easier to maintain my weight and even lose some once in a while. I’m not training for a marathon but I do work out HARD 6 days/week. I guess my body has gotten used to running on lower carbs.

    Anyway, PCOS sucks and there’s no getting around it. It’s really not a very well understood syndrome in the medical field – there are still lots of questions about it and few answers. It also affects every person differently so finding the correct treatment is like trial and error, but it’s worth the time and effort to figure out what works for you. Good luck!


  4. Kate
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 07:49:13

    oy! this kind of stuff is so complicated and personal. i recently stopped taking the pill after years of being on it. my cycle is going crazy so i actually went to see an accupunturist about it yesterday. she had some interesting theories so i am going investigate that a bit and see how things go. thanks for writting about your issues. reading that you are not the only struggling with this stuff is very helpful. take care!


  5. lizlivingvegan
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 08:31:02

    I’m so sorry about that 😦 I hope it all gets worked out. It sounds like a frustrating situation, but you’re handling it so well! Hang in there and keep focusing on the positives!


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  7. enthusiasticrunner
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 11:51:29

    I am so sorry that you have to go through all of this, but this is also a really interesting post. It really goes to show you that you need to visit a doctor as soon as you are having a issue! Because you never know what it might be.


  8. Mari
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 20:40:16

    My dad has this thing called Factor V (develops blood clots) which I can get too and it sucks because I am on BC for PCOS too…I was thinking of going off of the BC but my pcos is horrible and I am scared to see what will happen if I go off…I totally feel your pain!


  9. Trackback: Medical Stuff, Part II, Or “A Slightly Happier Post” « Run. Write. Therapy. Life.
  10. Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 09:31:24

    I’m so sorry to hear about your health troubles! but it’s really great to see that you still find joy despite all that 🙂


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