On April 23, 2018, I went to the hospital. I had severe pain in my lower right abdomen, severe stomach pain and severe nausea. I didn’t know what to do. I was missing all my classes, calling out of work, not spending time with friends. I was miserable. So, after MCLA Health Services told me that they couldn’t do anything, my next best option was to go to the hospital. The closest one was in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, so getting there would be difficult. Luckily, my friend Hannah was there and drove me to the hospital. When we got there, we had to wait half an hour just for them to take my blood pressure and heart rate. Another half hour later, they took me in for evaluation and to take some blood to run some tests. Finally, after an hour and a half of waiting, they finally took me back for further evaluations. Hannah was nice enough to stay with me the whole time and even miss class with me, which I will always be grateful for.
After everything was done, I had a doctor tell me that the lymph nodes in my stomach were flared up from the previous flu I had just gotten over. Additionally, I had pre-appendicitis, meaning that my appendix was about to burst but they didn’t know when. After hearing all of this, I was scared shitless. I had to watch everything I did, everything I ate—everything.
By the time the semester ended, I finally went to my primary care physician and had her take a look and see what I could do in terms of medication. This is when I found out of something I had that would change my life. Turns out, the hospital I went to misdiagnosed me. And when they actually knew what it was, they didn’t even bother to tell me, but instead went and told my doctor (who for the record didn’t even notify me of this). On May 9, 2018, I found out I had PCOS, which is short for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
From the PCOS Awareness Association website, they describe PCOS as a health condition that affects about 10 million women in the world. There is no known cause, but it is considered a hormonal problem. Genetics and environmental factors are said to be involved in the development of PCOS as it is also the leading cause of female infertility and can affect the body physically and emotionally with a number of different symptoms.
These symptoms can show up shortly after puberty begins. In my case, however, I first saw these symptoms in my early adulthood. These symptoms can also attribute to other causes and can go unnoticed, which can caused it to be misdiagnosed like it did for me. Women with PCOS typically have irregular or missed periods as a result of not ovulating. Most women don’t typically develop cysts on their ovaries, but it can happen as in my case. Some symptoms include: weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth (also known as hirsutism), thinning hair on the head, infertility, acne, mood changes, pelvic pain, headaches and sleep problems. Not every woman will have every single symptom, but they will have a great amount of them. For me, I experience fatigue (lower energy than before), acne (increase in acne), mood changes (mood swings, depression and anxiety) pelvic pain (cramp like pain, along with a shooting pain), headaches (intensity more than normal) and sleep problems (insomnia, sleep apnea).
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS. However, there are ways to decrease or even eliminate the symptoms. There are different medications available. For example, I am on a birth control called Sprintec, which is a form of birth control that has two hormones in it to help prevent ovulation. A lot of women are started off with this form and eventually move on to something stronger, but every case is different. For me, it started to work for a while, until very recently. I think it is time for me to move on to something stronger.
If you or someone you know has PCOS, it will be okay. I know it may seem like the end of the world, but I promise you, things will get better. Push through it like I am trying to now.