An Open Letter to the Doctor who Diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome || The PCOS Diaries
I can't remember your name, to be quite frank. It's not you, it's me. I have an innate ability to not be able to remember medical professionals names, and it's probably something I should talk to a therapist about. I digress.
The story begins many years ago, when I started my period. I was an early bloomer, and still in primary school, and held on to that magical phrase 'they'll get regular as you get older'. The hallowed land of the regular period, one that you can track on an actual app or calendar and not be constantly surprised by is one I've never visited. For years and years I was convinced that one day everything would settle down, and my proper adult life would begin.
Spoiler alert, reader. It never did.
Life never settled down either. From around the age of 15, I began to spiral downwards with awful mental health difficulties that made life in general very, very hard for a number of years, and so anything that wasn't connected to my brain got pushed to the wayside, including my ever irregular period. There just weren't enough hours in the day to get to everything, especially not when all those hours were devoted to staying alive.
But staying alive I did. Along with quitting dance, gaining weight, going to and leaving university, ploughing through several jobs, and eventually moving to London to start afresh. Life has been pretty swell for almost two years now, and so it's been a time of dealing with all the things I didn't have time for before. Including that pesky matter of the period that had never, in all my menstruating years, settled down.
And so off to the doctor I went, fairly certain I knew what it would be, but wanting to rule out anything else. A blood test and a vaginal ultrasound (highly, highly do not recommend), I sat in the doctors waiting room waiting for confirmation of what I already knew.
Here's the fun part. There is a definite way to break news to a patient, and a definite way to not break news to a patient. No, PCOS isn't life threatening, and in the grand scheme of things isn't really the biggest of deals. It is, however, one of the most common issues people with 'female' parts have to deal with, and there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding PCOS. Mainly, that it's all weight related, which is not entirely true and certainly should not be the one and only thing your doctor discusses with you.
See where this is going? Picture me, 22 and pretty strong now, reduced to tears in the doctors exam room because weight issues and disordered eating have been something I've struggled with for as long as I can remember, being told nothing but that I needed to lose weight and would received a referral to a dietician. For me, focusing on diet and losing weight sends me into a quick downwards spiral into self-destruction, but this doctor wasn't going to listen to that. Wasn't going to offer to put me on the pill to actually regulate the hormones that had never been regular, or give me any more information about what was available to help regulate my blood sugar levels etc. All I got was one simple instruction: 'lose weight'.
That's not even the worst part of the story. The worst part came weeks later when I was sat in a hospital exam room, being told it was an initial appointment for weight loss surgery.
WEIGHT. LOSS SURGERY.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Not only had I not been offered any actual support, but I had been referred for major surgery without asking, and without even being consulted. Cue crying in a second doctors office. You're probably as bemused as he was, honestly.
"That isn't how this usually works."
You're telling me matey. So I quickly ended that appointment and left, feeling pretty low and questioning everything I'd been trying so desperately hard to learn over the past few months from fabulous, body positive babes on Instagram. In fact, it's two of these babes - Jes from The Militant Baker, and Dani from I Am Dani Adriana - who's resources and online badassery I turned to in this moment, to perk myself up again and remind myself that this isn't how it needs to be.
And so it's time to advocate for myself. To get back in that doctors office and demand better treatment, one that isn't purely 'weight first'.
I'll see you on the other side for an update.