Why you've always got to stand up for your own body
In less than a year, I’ll be 30 years old. Which is three years older than I was when I first knew something was not quite right with my body. Which means had I listened to my body back then, I’d have a solid head start on figuring out what the problem was, and if not fixing it, at least educating myself on how to help me feel like a better me. But instead, I listened to my doctor. While I certainly don’t want this to sound like a rant against medical professionals (who are only human, too), I really wish I hadn’t.
Recently, I was officially diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is a very common cause of infertility in women of childbearing age. I am not alone, I know this. A staggering percentage of women all over the world have it, and it doesn’t mean that having children is impossible for me. It just means where others may have a direct, non-stop flight to Baby Town, I’ve got a few layovers and will experience a few bouts of turbulence along the way. It’s stressful and I’m scared, but I’m also hopeful and encouraged by my supportive, loving husband and my new doctor. She is amazing. I never realized what a difference it makes when you have a warm, positive, patient doctor who actively listens to you. A big spoiler alert: I think I instantly fell in love with her. Within moments of meeting her I knew in my heart that this will be the woman who brings my babies into the world. It’s an amazing feeling, and I’m lucky to have her.
But that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, I walked into my old doctor’s office for my annual exam. I had a few other things to share with her during this appointment, but I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say I was experiencing pain during times/activities where I shouldn’t, a cyst had developed on my breast, I was breaking out like a hormone-crazed teenager surviving on a diet of chocolate and potato chips, and I also gained weight that wouldn’t come off no matter what I did. It was crazy. I felt crazy. And then, by dismissing my concerns with a wave of her hand and a “everything looks good to me”, my doctor made me feel even crazier.
This continued for over two years. It was disappointing, because I’d really always liked her. . .until there was an actual problem. I’ve also got a lot of personal, emotional baggage leftover from growing up around a family member with factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchausen syndrome), so it was very important to me to avoid coming off as a “crazy” person. I didn’t want to appear dramatic or exaggerative. So I believed my doctor when she said nothing was wrong, and ignored my body for over two years.
Fast forward to this year, when I got married, turned 29, and decided to explore the possibility of parenthood. My husband and I were never in a huge rush, because we figured we had all the time in the world. My parents had me when they were barely high school graduates, so I always knew I wanted to avoid that route and have my twenties all to myself. It’s not a choice for everyone, I know that. But boy, was it a great choice for me. I had a lot of living and learning (and shopping) to do before I could become fully ready to give myself entirely to another human being. I think my husband felt the same way.
Ah, but life can be funny. Now that we know having a baby is going to be hard work, it’s easy for us to feel a little panicky. And it also appears that all of our friends are Fertile Myrtles right now, and while we’re absolutely happy for them, we’re a little sad for ourselves. There will be no baby randomly conceived during a romantic, drunken night by the fire. There will be no spontaneity —only ovulation predictor kits and blood tests. I grieve a little for that, if I’m being honest. Mostly because I’m really not talented at peeing on sticks. But it happens. Things could always be worse.
Anyway, after playing the frustrating guessing game of “Where’s My Period?” for most of the last year, my husband finally gave me the nudge I needed to seek another medical opinion. “You know your body better than anyone,” he said. He was right.
Almost immediately, my new doctor put me on a medication plan that would balance out my insulin levels and hopefully my hormones. It’s still in the early stages, and we’ve got a lot of options to explore. But I’m looking and feeling better than I have in awhile, which means something must be working. I just wish I hadn’t let myself live in a state of brokenness for so long. In talking with other women my age who are experiencing similar situations, I know I’m not the only one who felt like they weren’t being heard.
The bottom line: you’ve got to be an advocate for your body, because no one else will. Your body deserves to be heard and so do you.