I decided to do a year long international mission trip, so I moved home to prepare. Included in the preparations were doctors visits. During one of my doctor visits, my doctor told me I had slightly elevated TSH levels in my blood, which meant hypothyroidism. It was so slight, though, that they prescribed the lowest dosage of synthroid to regulate it, but I was to cut the pill in half. So I did. I was also determined enough to be healthy that I asked for a year long supply of metformin and synthroid so I could take them on my trip. The most they could give me was an 8 month supply, so I packed them and took them as prescribed. For the most part. The first few months of the trip, I started to notice my pants getting loose. By the 7th month of the 11 month trip, they were really loose, and whenever we visited a local thrift store, I could fit into smaller pants. By the 8th month, I had about 1/3 of my medicine left, and I decided to believe God was bigger than medicine, and that He could do whatever He wanted in my life, including with my health. Standing in a campground in Uganda, next to the Nile River, without any hesitation, I threw away the medicine. (In a trashcan, not the Nile, people.) In the 9th month, I walked into a bathroom that had a scale, and weighed myself. I had lost 35 lbs in 9 months. Whether it was for the exercise (we had done a TON of walking), or the types of non-processed foods I had been eating, it didn’t matter, I was too excited to care about how. I had gained a few more pounds before returning home, but I was nowhere near where I was.
I returned home, and as soon as I was insured again, I visited the doctor for a yearly check up, hoping they’d notice and comment on my weight loss. I was also curious about the state of my thyroid, so I asked for blood work to be done. Three days later, I received a phone call that everything came back normal. The nurse said it so casually like it wasn’t a big deal, because she’s probably healthy and doesn’t have to think about these things, but I pushed further. “What do you mean, like, nothing wrong with my thyroid?” She said that there had been no signs of anything wrong with my thyroid, because she was looking at the chart and all numbers fell within normal range. I was happily confused, and needed proof before I got ahead of myself, so I asked her to print me a copy of my results and I’d be by in an hour to pick them up. Sure enough, after consulting my other doctors (Google, webMD, and MayoClinic.org), I did, in fact, have normal blood results. No sign of ever having anything wrong with my thyroid. Not that it was necessarily a bad case in the first place, but this was a miracle. It was Jesus and His sending me on a trip that had me walk all over the world and eat better food. No other explanation.
I was on cloud 9, my eyes had been opened to the world of possibility as far as my health was concerned, so I kept going. Why stop at the thyroid? Let’s kick PCOS’ ass! I started a strict diet and strict exercise schedule. By strict diet, I mean I didn’t eat gluten, dairy, grain, anything with high-fructose corn syrup or monosodium glutamate. And by strict exercise, I mean I had two almost full-time jobs, but got up at 4:45 am to do at least 30 minutes of exercise anyway. I exercised in my room, on my porch, with home equipment, and ran in my neighborhood with my dog. I shopped for myself and cooked my own food with ingredients from the Kroger down the street. I dealt with the nay-sayers and listened to people telling me I didn’t need to be so strict on myself, or I should do such and such. People could say whatever, but I was feeling the results. Though I had a schedule that looked exhausting, I had energy. I was disciplined and confident about my choices. I felt and looked healthy, and I had lost about 20 lbs in two months.
And that’s sadly about how long my will power lasted. I started loving sleep a little more than the adrenaline and endorphins, and eating out became a lot easier than cooking at home. So I fell back into old habits. Sure, my body may have been exhausted the whole time and it was catching up to me, and yeah, maybe the lack of community in what I was doing didn’t help, or I should have let myself splurge every now and then to not fall off the wagon, but no. I’m confident I found the result and the help my body needs to defy the effects of PCOS.
That was two years ago, and I’ve been off and on with my love/hate relationship with health. The good news is I’ve had consistent periods for about four years now, which makes me feel healthy, and makes my gynecologist proud. I had dated someone for a while since then—a wonderfully understanding man, and sure enough, I didn’t end up telling him about everything, even though I was receiving laser hair removal treatments during that time, referring to them as dermatologist appointments. The hair, though, had been dramatically reduced, to the point of not noticing but maybe once a week. But the journey continues, and laser hair removal lady was right. I’m not alone, and never have been, which is probably the only reason I feel the need to share this dreadfully long, unnecessarily detailed story of mine. Despite not necessarily being where I want to be with my health, I’m still proud of myself, my mom is still proud, and I’m definitely motivated, and otherwise completely healthy, thanks to God alone. We all have several stories to tell, and this is only one of mine. It’s certainly not a complaint, because I am ever grateful, nor is it a cry for help or encouragement, but for someone else to know that they’re not alone, and for you to be able to know how to keep me accountable. (Seriously, slap the bread out of my hands.) Just understand there is actually a reason for me being strict on myself. Plus, if something great ever does happen by way of a cure, I want you to know the backstory before I just start yelling out that I’m healed.
Mark my words, it’ll happen.
You not only have the right to share this story, but I encourage you to do so. Especially if you know someone struggling with anything like this, which, given that the syndrome is rapidly increasing, you have about a 90% chance of knowing someone with it. We all need to know we’re not struggling alone, no matter with what.