Blood work DONE: How to make blood work as smooth as possible

You know how sometimes you finish a major project at work or perhaps there was a big chore at home that had been put off for months and is finally done? Completion of such tasks surely deserve a reward or celebration, right? In my world, getting blood work done  and not having a panic attack is an achievement on the same level as a year end report or reorganizing every closet in your house. Seriously.

Now that it is over, I will wait…wait for Monday and the results that could change my whole life.

In the interim, at least there are fun things to fill the time. Between now and then I will be at E3 (gaming convention) for work, go to a concert I have been looking forward to, make it to the weekend, and celebrate Father’s Day. I am also hoping to spend more time with you…sharing things I have learned to make for a healthier, low carb lifestyle (especially to battle PCOS and Diabetes)

Since I know everyone has to have blood work done at some point, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips I found to help make the draw as smooth as possible. It would have made my Glucose Tolerance Test along with all the other blood work fun I have had much better if I read something like this…so I hope it helps you.

1f3db061265a30289ef6e73a1a2cd3d3.jpgWater is Vital: Drinking water is highly encouraged before a blood draw. Being well-hydrated means your veins are full and easier for thephlebotomist (the person who draws your blood) to find. In essence, being well-hydrated could mean a quicker, less painful draw for you! This will also help your blood pressure from dropping.

anigif_enhanced-875-1423067122-14Get your blood pumping. 
I’ve noticed that my veins seem to be easier to find and the blood flows betterwhen my blood is really moving. To help with this, I always park as far away as possible when I’m going in for a blood draw, and I jog or walk briskly into the office. (Yes, I just admitted how pathetically out of shape I am that that a short jog across the parking lot really gets my blood going.)

9535-Take-A-Deep-Breath-Girl

Take deep breaths. In through the nose, our through the mouth. Seems super intuitive, but it definitely is not for me. All I want to do is hold my breath as I stare longingly at the exit sigh. Deep breaths really did help me today. The lady taking my blood told me to think about being at yoga…a bit of a stretch, but I think her intent was obviously good. I found closing my eyes and breathing really did help quite a bit.

And now…we wait for Monday’s appointment.

Night before blood work: Time for results

It’s 9pm here is California and I am fasting. Isn’t it funny that whenever you can’t have something, you want it? Basically, this is how I feel right now:

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Since I have last posted, I have made major progress as I approach my Endocrinologist appointment on Monday. I am the lowest weight I have been in years and down 15 pounds from my last Endocrinologist appointment which gives me hope that I am winning the battle against PCOS and Pre-Diabetes. Monday is the day we will find if medication has been working.
3 months ago, my Endocrinologist was concerned that my levels were not where they should be and I needed to increase my medication. After tripling my dosage for Metformin, doubling the dosage for Spironolactone, and putting me on a weekly injection of Tanzeum…I have had a rough 3 months.

With all this medication, I have been vomiting 1-5 times a week for the last 3 months. It was bad. Just starting a new job, I was terrified my new coworkers would think I was pregnant or had an eating disorder. I was sick often at work, on planes, on the side of the road…everywhere. Nausea had taken over my week and I was exhausted. On top of that, I went from not ovulating at all to ovulating…EVERY 2 WEEKS.

Things seem to have evened out…last week was my first week I wasn’t sick! I only vomited once and I believe it was due to working a red carpet event and being in the very hot California sun for hours. Wednesdays are my injectable day and I will say I am less afraid going into the next few days with the hope the side effects really have improved.

While my fears for side effects have subsided, I find myself terrified for the blood work tomorrow for 2 reasons:

1.) I still hate needles. Injecting myself once a week hasn’t improved the fear…so starting the day with blood work is going to make it tough to sleep tonight.

2.) I am really worried about what will happen on Monday. While I see weight improvement which I know should indicate border change, I know my food intake has not been great. When you feel sick all the time, all you want is carbs. As a mostly pescetarian, I have been shocked to find that fish has disgusted me in the last few months. All my normal routines and the way I feel about myself have been off. While that has been tough, I am more afraid of what happens if I get bad news Monday.

So what does one do? One remembers…

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Even though I was scared how it would make me feel, I ate salmon today for lunch. And it was delicious.

Even though I hate mornings and don’t want blood work taken, I made an 8:15am appointment. And I will be there.

Even though I am terrified of the results I will have Monday, I will have faith.

And even though carbs and I are breaking up, I had a handful of miniature candy bars tonight. Because I gave myself a shot. Because it was before fasting time began for my blood work. Because I wanted to. Although I know I shouldn’t, I know rewards are important and no one is perfect. But then I remember this:

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I suppose we all have room for improvement.

More to come on how the blood work goes and what I learn on Monday.

Stay happy, stay healthy.

Thursday progress: Staying steady

While Thursday morning weigh-ins are typically most joyful when I am down from the last week, I must say I am almost equally pleased that I did not gain any weight from last week’s weigh-in. Valentine’s weekend was filled with a crazy about of carbs and cocktails which ended up snowballing into over carb indulgence for a majority of the week. Last night was also a very late work night, so I ended up not having dinner until almost 9pm. In the past late dinners typically mean a heavier weigh-in.

All that being said, the more I read and hear from many of your stories about PCOS and IR it is clear to me that I need to be patient with myself. The cravings, exhaustion, and pain are all very real things that I believe I (and many of you) are very strong to battle. While I really just want to stay in bed all day with my dogs while cradling a baguette topped with pasta and french fries, I know that I am strong enough to get up each day and fight. Will all battles be won? No. But I am I fighting? Heck yeah.

SUCCESSES THIS WEEK:

  • While I gave into carbs more than I should this week, I also was really strong and turning down incredibly accessible carbs. I don’t know about you, but my office has free carbs. Like all the time. Yesterday I went to get more tea and what did I find? Catering size platters of chow mein. And rice. I mean… Also, while my husband enjoyed a turkey club with waffle fries last night, although I was exhausted and wanted the same, I indulged in grape leaves (a little rice) and had a curry chicken salad for dinner. I call that a win.
  • As a person who struggles with mornings and is typically late if anything is earlier than noon, I was proud of myself that I was EARLY for an 8:30am meeting this morning. I got up with enough time to get myself together and rock my presentation. If I can do it for my company, I should be able to do it for myself with morning workouts. While I truly hate waking up, it does make me feel more prepared for the day when I get an early start. This morning definitely motivated me to get up tomorrow morning (especially since it is a later start) and get my 20 minutes of exercise in.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEXT WEEK:

  • Carbs and I are not going to be involved next week. We just aren’t. I really want to commit to the next week between my food, medicine, and exercise to really see the great results I get when I do those things. If my weight stays the same, I am going to need a moderate restraining mechanism to keep me from all the carbs I missed and want to eat out of frustration of no progress…but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
  • Since my weeks for progress start on Fridays, I will plan to wake up tomorrow morning and get those 20 minutes of exercise in. I CAN DO IT.

How did you do this week?

Insulin Resistance: Best foods for IR

It seems to me that there are a whole lot of articles out there about what you should NOT eat if you have PCOS or IR. Here are some great things to think about from LiveStrong of what you CAN eat if you are like me with PCOS/IR.

Fruits and Vegetables

The Best Foods for Insulin Resistance

Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants which help the body combat and prevent disease. They also contain fiber, which is recommended for healthy weight management and improved digestive health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can be a helpful means toward reducing one’s risk for insulin resistance. Choose a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular, ongoing basis for the best potential results. Frozen or dried fruits and vegetables are a valuable secondary option and can be kept on hand for long periods of time and contain few artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Monounsaturated Fats

The Best Foods for Insulin Resistance
Monounsaturated fats, or plant-based fats found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, avocados, peanut butter, many nuts and seeds, are healthy substitutes for saturated or trans fats–fats associated with increased risk for heart disease. According to research published in the journal of the American Diabetes Association in 2007, intake of monounsaturated fats is linked with decreased fat distribution in those who are insulin resistant. Replace saturated fats, such as butter, whole milk, cream and deep-fried foods with healthier fat alternatives. Olive and canola oil are positive alternatives to butter. Grilled, baked and steamed dishes are preferred over deep-fried foods for those with insulin resistance. Since fat is dense in calories, keep portions sizes modest for best benefits.

Whole Grains

The Best Foods for Insulin ResistanceWhole grains, such as spelt, oats, bulgur, whole wheat and barley, provide a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber. According to findings published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2007, consumption of whole grains is associated with reduced risk for insulin resistance. Replace enriched breads, cereals, pasta, rice and snack foods with whole grain equivalents. Whole grain breads, long-grain brown rice, oats and snack foods featuring whole grain ingredients support healthy blood sugar management and overall physical health. Consume a variety of whole grains regularly to attain most benefits.

Here is the full article that helped inform this post: http://www.livestrong.com/article/74703-foods-insulin-resistance/

PCOS & Insulin Resistance: Fighting Fatigue

Lately it has been harder and harder for me to wake up. Initially, I assumed it was because I was taking on new responsibilities at work and the learning curve was taking a toll on my energy. As it as seemed that fatigue has not improved, I thought I would do a little more research on PCOS and Insulin Resistance to determine if they are contributing to this not so fun fatigue my normal energetic self has been encountering.

As I develop questions on why things are happening to my body while fighting PCOS and IR, my hope is to share my findings with you and make my blog a one stop shop for being the healthiest and happiest you can be. Since I have been feeling so tired, I started to do some research and compiled the best info I found in this post. I hope it helps those of you with PCOS/IR…and people who have just been feeling extra tired lately, too! Many of these symptoms can be due to fluctuating hormone levels and increased anxiety.

As it turns out, PCOS and fatigue are both linked to an imbalance of the endocrine system and are characterized by an excess of male hormones. Fatigue, a symptom commonly associated with PCOS, is also closely linked to the thyroid and adrenal glands. At the heart of both of these issues, however, is a disorder known as Insulin Resistance. Lucky for me…I have both IR and PCOS.

To add insult to injury, fatigue frequently causes women with PCOS to treat their low energy with carbs and caffeine, which dumps more glucose into the blood in a never-ending spiral of weight gain and increasing insulin and glucose levels. As fatigue and insulin resistance worsen, excess fat cells produce too much of another hormone, estrogen.

Here are some additional causes of fatigue and how to combat them. Here’s to hoping this will lead to a more energetic week next week!

Lack of Sleep: Obviously, the first sign that you are zapped of energy could be that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. My Endocrinologist prescribed me with Trazodone to help me sleep…I have noticed a big difference in how rested I feel and my husband says he has noticed I am not tossing and turning as much.

Poor diet: One of the most common causes of low energy can be from eating the wrong foods. Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars will cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to skyrocket and then crash, leaving you ready for a nap. Start the day with a meal that contains at least 10 grams of protein (eggs or Greek yogurt are two good ones). Swap refined carbs for whole grain ones (try quinoa, faro, or oats) that won’t send your blood sugar into orbit. Over the last week, I have not been eating well due to the nausea, so perhaps this has been a big cause of my fatigue.

DehydrationStudies show that even mild dehydration can result in significant dips in energy levels. You need 6 to 8 cups of fluid each day for proper hydration (yes, this includes caffeinated coffee and tea) so drink up! I really have not been drinking all the water I should…I used to be really good at finishing at least one large water bottle a day at work, but lately not so much.

Exercise: Even if you are tired, exercising can give you more energy thanks to the secretion of feel good chemicals called endorphins. One study found that just 20 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity three times per week decreased subjects’ feelings of fatigue by 65 percent. This 20 minutes of exercise is right in line with the 20 minutes prescribed by my doctor…I just need to make it happen.

Iron deficiency: If you experience heavy monthly bleeding, don’t eat animal products, or are an intense exerciser, you may be deficient in iron. Since iron’s main role is to transport oxygen, not having enough will make you feel exhausted and out of breath, even with minor exertion. Discuss getting your levels checked with your doctor before supplementing your diet with extra iron. My doctor did prescribe iron for me and even Vitamin C to help improve the absorption of iron. I also do not eat red meat or pork, so I certainly have iron deficiency in diet.

Hypothyroid: When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones it can affect your energy levels. Ask your doctor for a full thyroid panel (TSH alone is not enough).

Gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease: A hallmark feature of someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is fatigue or “brain fog” after eating foods that contain gluten. It’s recommended to be checked for celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, before adopting a gluten-free diet, which can mask symptoms and prevent an accurate diagnosis.

Vitamin B12 deficiency: If you take birth control pills or metformin or eat a vegan diet, you may be deficient in Vitamin B12. A defiiency in B12 not only causes chronic fatigue, but permanent nerve damage. Ask your doctor to check your B12 levels. Since I am definitely on Metformin, it looks like I should be adding B12 to my daily vitamin regimen as well.

Depression: Depression and fatigue are a vicious cycle with each fueling each other. Being depressed can be like living in a constant fog. Lack of motivation and sleep disturbances can contribute to depression. Engaging in regular exercise can help boost mood. If you feel you are depressed, we recommend seeking treatment from a mental health expert.

Sleep apnea: Several studies have shown that women with PCOS suffer from a much higher rate of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes your airway to be narrowed or blocked. Even if you do get a sufficient amount of sleep, if you’re not oxygenating well, you won’t feel rested. This can account for the tossing and turning my husband has been tolerating for the last 9 years.

Now that I have a better understanding of these causes, it will make it that much easier to get back to my energetic, positive self again. I hope these tips helped you as well!

Here are some of the helpful articles that helped inform this post:

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Medication

I am not a doctor. Or even close. But I have been blessed with amazing doctors who are helping me get my PCOS and Insulin Resistance under control.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FEEDBACK IS NOT ADVERTISING…trust me, these drug companies have no idea about this blog. This post is just my pure, honest feedback on my medication.

That being said, I do want to say that the combination of medications I have been placed on (along with my 110g a day of carb diet) has turned my life around. I am currently down 11 pounds in 2 months and have regained a menstrual cycle…both of which seemed impossible 2 months ago.

Overall, I will say my side effects have been very minimal. It is hard to pinpoint what medication is causing these effects..but as you can see, the list is pretty short:

  • Nausea- this was probably the worst during the 1st month of medication. My doctor explained that PCOS was causing increased testosterone making my 30-year-old body think I was going through menopause. These medications helped balance my testosterone and estrogen levels, so body basically went from thinking I was in menopause to thinking I was pregnant. When I told my doctor of this side effect, he was happy to hear this because it meant the medication was working.
  • 2 periods per month – this one has been extra fun. My guess is that since PCOS stores up your eggs (since you are not regularly ovulating), I am thinking that now my estrogen levels are normalizing, my body wants to ovulate as much as it can. This is definitely something I plan to discuss with my doctor in my upcoming appointment. This side effect could be considered a benefit for anyone trying to get pregnant!
  • We are not trying to get pregnant, but if we were…my doctor mentioned all these medications are OK for pregnancy except for the diuretic (Spironolactone)

Here is a rundown on the medications I am prescribed based on info I compiled from Drugs.com. Please check out the links at the bottom of the article for risks and side effects…AND PLEASE DISCUSS THESE OPTIONS FOR YOU WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AS I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

My doctor said that while medications help, diet is the most important factor in managing Insulin Resistance and PCOS…so more info to come in later posts on healthy, low carb recipes I love!

Metformin (Primary use for me: Type 2 Diabetes treatment)

 Metformin is an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels. Metformin is for people with type 2 diabetes and sometimes used in combination with insulin or other medications, but it is not for treating type 1 diabetes.

Spironolactone (Primary use for me: diuretic)

Spironolactone is a potassium-sparing diuretic (water pill) that prevents your body from absorbing too much salt and keeps your potassium levels from getting too low.

Spironolactone is used to diagnose or treat a condition in which you have too much aldosterone in your body. Aldosterone is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands to help regulate the salt and water balance in your body.

Spironolactone also treats fluid retention (edema) in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or a kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome. This medication is also used to treat or prevent hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood).

Trazodone (Primary use for me: taken at bedtime to help me sleep)

Trazodone is an antidepressant medicine. It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression.Trazodone can be used to treat major depressive disorder.

Propanol (Primary use for me: beta blocker taken as needed when PCOS/IR causes rapid heartbeats from stress)

Propranolol is a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers affect the heart and circulation (blood flow through arteries and veins).

Propranolol is used to treat tremors, angina (chest pain), hypertension (high blood pressure), heart rhythm disorders, and other heart or circulatory conditions. It is also used to treat or prevent heart attack, and to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.

Here are the resources I used to help inform this article:

Blogging while working is TOUGH: 4 Survival tips for balance

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~Thomas Merton

So…what’s up, friends? It has been a while. I promise I didn’t want to breakup with you…this breakup is about carbs, not my followers!

It has become painfully clear that blogging and working makes for a very difficult life balance. I found that my time with my husband and pups was getting majorly impacted and if it wasn’t that, then my sleep hours took a hit.

Like most things you love…I felt like something has been missing these last couple weeks without the happiness that writing to help others was giving me. With the hope to keep my account of my carb breakup in tact, here are some helpful tips and tricks to keep the blog going. For all you writers out there…hope this is helpful for you too!

1.) Carry a notebook with you. Sometimes you can get an idea for an excellent post when you are at work, hanging out with your friends or when you just woke up. While you won’t always have the opportunity to write this post right away you can jot it down in an old-fashioned notebook or even on your smartphone. When it is time for your next blog posts you will have an excellent idea waiting for you. I have found keeping a running list of upcoming topics has also been helpful

2.) Develop a routine that is non-negotiable. So much of my life is focused on schedules and deadlines. While I hate to hinder my passion for writing, I need to realize that to have balance…a set schedule for blogging will be key. My hope is to make this time either Friday afternoons (I am lucky enough to work for a company with early release every Friday) or Sunday nights. Since life is a moving target, I will be flexible with when I will write…but will commit to 2 hours at least every week

3.) Schedule daily posts. Once the content is written over the weekend, schedule the posts throughout the week so they are up and running without distracting from my day job.

4.) Work on your dream every day, knowing there are no guarantees and that it may take a long time to make the kind of progress that allows you to devote your full-time energy to your passion.

Here are some awesome articles from other bloggers on how to balance writing and working:

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Glucose Tolerance Test

Once I was diagnosed with PCOS, the next step was a visit to my Endocrinologist. In that appointment, we discussed the confirmation of my PCOS test results  and all the symptoms I had been experiencing. Like most doctor appointments, it is imperative that you share everything you can to give the doctor as much information as possible. While it is never fun to admit all the things that are wrong with you, it is so important to get the best possible diagnosis. Seems easy enough, but I know many people who struggle with communicating this type of information.

After we chatted and he completed a brief physical exam (heart rate, blood pressure, joints) he wrote an order for some blood work. Now, I will tell you that I AM TERRIBLE WITH NEEDLES.  (Triple emphasis definitely needed for this point). Going into the test, I really didn’t know what to expect. In my case, that was probably better so that I didn’t chicken out when it came time for the appointment, but I do wish there had been a better resource on the whole procedure.

Here is a breakdown of what exactly a Glucose Tolerance Test is, how my experience went, and tips & tricks to make your experience as good as possible.

What is a Glucose Tolerance Test?

Though no longer routinely used for diagnosing diabetes. The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was the gold standard for making the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. It is still commonly used during pregnancy for diagnosing gestational diabetes.

With an oral glucose tolerance test, the person fasts overnight (at least 8 hours, but not more than 16 hours). The next morning, the fasting plasma glucose is tested. After this test, the person receives a dose of oral glucose (the dose depends upon the length of the test). Usually, the glucose is in a sweet-tasting liquid that the person drinks.

Blood samples are taken up to four times at different time points after consumption of the sugar to measure the blood glucose.

The classic oral glucose tolerance test measures blood glucose levels five times over a period of three hours. Some physicians simply take a baseline blood sample followed by a sample two hours after drinking the glucose solution. In a person without diabetes, the glucose levels rise and then fall quickly. In someone with diabetes, glucose levels rise higher than normal and fail to come back down as fast.

People with glucose levels between normal and diabetic levels have so-called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). People with impaired glucose tolerance do not have diabetes.

What about glucose tolerance testing and pregnancy?

While this was not the case for me, the glucose tolerance test is used for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy). It may be used if there are equivocal fasting or random blood glucose results, or to screen for gestational diabetes in pregnant women between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation who are not known to have diabetes.

You have an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes if you:

  • Have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
  • Have previously given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 lb (4.1 kg).
  • Are younger than age 25 and were overweight before getting pregnant.

The test may also be used in the postpartum period to detect diabetes in women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Women who had gestational diabetes do not always develop diabetes later in life, but they should undergo diabetes screening at least every three years throughout.

My experience with the Glucose Tolerance Test

Fasting is no fun. At all. I live in Los Angeles and drove down to Orange County where my Endocrinologist is located the night before and had dinner with my family. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect for the test…I just knew that not getting to enjoy my normal Friday night vodka sodas throughout the evening was a bummer.

We woke up very early the morning of the test and the hunger had to be ignored. No caffeine was also pretty rough.

Once we arrived at the Lab, some initial paperwork was filled out (signing away that you won’t sue the hospital in case something goes wrong is always super reassuring, especially when you hate needles.) We were then escorted into a room for testing. At this point, I am dead silent and look like I have seen a ghost. As a typically talkative person, this was a very different behavior for me. I was terrified.

Since it was early in the morning and my fear was empty with no upcoming appointments, they placed me in a room typically used for children. That’s right. I am that much of a baby. I will say they private room with comfortable chair was fantastic, all baby behavior aside.

The technician then described the procedure to me. I will tell you that either by my mother’s intelligence, an act of an angel, or likely both…I had no idea what I was in for. When the technician explained it was going to be 3 hours and I was going to get poked for a new blood draw every 30 minutes, I wanted to bolt. Every 30 minutes?! A new draw?! 3 hours?! Oh man.

At that point, there was no going back. An initial draw was done and I lost it. I started hyperventilating and crying. I know this is quite dramatic for many strong women who have gone through this, but I think that the reality that I had a health concern was really clear at that point. Days of eating nachos at 2 in the morning, drinking whatever I wanted, and just ignorantly cruising through life with carbs were certainly numbered.

After the initial draw and some time, the technician game in with the super sugary glucose drink. I chose the lemon lime flavor and it basically tasted like she dumped a pound of sugar into a Sprite. I was not into it. My stomach definitely hurt from the sweetness, but we had to keep going.

The remaining draws did not go well for me. In 2 of the draws, my difficult veins did not cooperate causing the need for a redraw after redraw. On the last draw, the nurse suggested we place a heating pad on the location of the draw to help the blood vessels to expand so the process would be easier. She was right, but it would have been nice she shared that info earlier on in the process. This is now a tip I will use any time that I need blood work.

Once the test was over, I was exhausted and pretty loopy. My mom ran to the hospital cafeteria and brought my some crackers which were the most delicious crackers I had ever tasted. I wish we had brought something with us from the get go.

After the test, I was exhausted. Initially, we were planning to go out to lunch and then have me go right back to LA. Instead, we went back to my parents’ house for lunch and I went back to bed. For 4 hours. After that, I was mostly back to my normal self, just tired.

What I wish I knew before the Glucose Tolerance Test

Ideal patient preparation and behavior before the test:

  • For the glucose tolerance test to give reliable results, you must be in good health (not have any other illnesses, not even a common cold).
  • You should be normally active (not lying down, for example, as an inpatient in a hospital)
  • You should not be taking medicines that could affect the blood glucose.
  • You should eat and drink as they normally would the day before.
  • The morning of the test, you should not smoke or consume caffeine.

What to plan during and right after the test:

  • The glucose tolerance diagnostic test may take up to 4 hours. Since activity can interfere with test results, you will be asked to sit quietly during the entire test. Do not eat during the test. You may drink only water during this time. Definitely bring something to entertain yourself like music, books, anything to help pass the time.
  • If you are like me and have difficulty with needles along with challenging veins, be prepared that multiple attempts for the multiple draws may be needed. I wish that we applied heat to the draw area from the start. If you can, let the technician know you struggle with needles and would like a heating pad. Or simply bring your own heating pad to help be sure that you will be set.
  • After all that fasting, you will be hungry. Be sure to pack a snack that you can eat right after the test. Cheese crackers were my saving grace.
  • You are going to be tired and perhaps light headed, so have someone come with you who can drive you home.

What to expect after the test:

Each year, 1% to 5% of people whose test results show impaired glucose tolerance actually develop diabetes. Weight loss and exercise may help people with impaired glucose tolerance return their glucose levels to normal. In addition, some physicians advocate the use of medications, such as Metformin (Glucophage), to help prevent/delay the onset of overt diabetes. Studies have shown that impaired glucose tolerance itself may be a risk factor for the development of heart disease, and whether impaired glucose tolerance turns out to be an entity that deserves treatment itself is something that physicians are currently debating.

  • Normal response: A person is said to have a normal response when the two hour glucose level is less than 140 mg/dl, and all values between 0 and 2 hours are less than 200 mg/dl.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT): A person is said to have impaired glucose tolerance when the fasting plasma glucose is less than 126 mg/dl and the two hour glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl. This is sometimes referred to as “prediabetes” because people with IGT have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Diabetes: A person has diabetes when two diagnostic tests done on different days show that the blood glucose level is high. This means either the two hour levels is greater than 200 mg/dl or the fasting glucose is noted as greater than 126 mg/dl. A glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level of 6.5% or more also supports a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
  • Diabetes during pregnancy: A pregnant woman has diabetes if she has a fasting plasma glucose of over 92 mg/dl, or a two hour glucose level greater than 153 mg/dl.

More to come on my follow up appointment and the medication I was prescribed!

Here are some of the great resources that helped inform my article:

PCOS 101: How I found out about Insulin Resistance and the start of a health transformation

As women, we spend the majority of our lives trying NOT to get pregnant. We have countless ways we do this and countless nights we lose sleep thinking that these ways aren’t enough as we anxiously await our “Aunt Flo” to come visit. The feeling of complete relief of getting that “visit” after her “flight was delayed” washes over us and all is good again.

Last summer, I waited for this feeling of relief for my period to come for days. Not just a few…for nearly 160 days I waited. Like many women with PCOS, I was on birth control for 10 years (Minastrin 24 Fe) which masked the symptoms of PCOS. From research I have found, many women with PCOS had delayed revelations they had PCOS due to a birth control pill.

Ironically, Minastrin was prescribed to me because it works well for women with migraines and for me, the migraines were caused by PCOS. There are all sorts of chicken before the egg metaphors I could make, but I will simplify by saying that getting off the pill was what let me know for sure I had PCOS. To be honest, going off the pill was a complete fluke due to an insurance blip, but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me.

Since I know this is not an option for most, here is a helpful article on how to diagnose PCOS while on a birth control pill: http://www.livestrong.com/article/213652-how-to-diagnose-pcos-while-on-the-birth-control-pill/

If you think you might have PCOS, here is a helpful guide I found on Pinterest for PCOS symptoms:

PCOS

If any of these symptoms describe you, you should go to your OBGYN as soon as possible. Here is an account of what I experienced that fateful day I found out I had PCOS. I have provided details and tips in the hope it will make your visit that much easier.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and each doctor is different…my hope is this will be a piece of a puzzle to help women get healthier and happier:

1. To pee in a cup. Because that’s how OBGYN’s roll.

2. A verbal exam with your doctor. Be sure to tell them in detail all of the symptoms you have been experiencing. For me, my highlights were the missed period.

3. An ultrasound – this part was probably the hardest for me. My husband was planning to go to the appointment with me, but since I assumed my period was delayed due to the amount of time I was on the pill, I didn’t think I would need him there for a standard visit. I was wrong.

There was no physical pain with this, but actually seeing an ultrasound of my ovaries, then seeing them filled with cysts was terrifying…especially because I was not sure what to expect. Here is a medical drawing of normal ovaries vs. ovaries impacted by PCOS:

Normal Ovary and Polycystic Ovary

Many of us have very negative connotations with the word cyst…I can tell you firsthand that when this fear washes over you, feel it. I am all about being true to yourself and your emotions…even if that means a good, old-fashioned ugly cry.

Once you have started to process the emotions, “keep your chin up” as my beautiful Grandmother used to always say. PCOS IS TREATABLE (for those of you who are new to my blog, I truly hate the triple emphasis in the workplace. It is very rare ALL font treatments are needed, so if I use it in this blog, it means I am REALLY  excited and passionate about the point.)

4. Once we saw the cysts, my doctor wanted to be certain that it is in fact PCOS. She said to diagnose, they typically like to confirm 3 signs: Missed period, ultrasound, and then blood work.

As you will learn from my journey, I am TERRIBLE with needles (triple emphasis was definitely need for this point. I mean, truly.) We went back to the blood work room and about 3 viles of blood were taken.

INSURANCE TIP: One important thing to note that I learned the hard way (after many painful calls back and forth with insurance) is that you need to ask your technician to file the test to the lab as testing for PCOS, NOT for infertility. I remember getting the bill from the lab that was hundreds of dollars. To pour some more salt in the wound, reading the words “INFERTILITY” really did not help at all. I later found out if the test had been filed under PCOS, I would have been saved all this pain and time.

Since I have difficult veins and overall fear of needles, this process was much harder for me than it probably is for most. I remember the technician tried to draw blood in the typical inside elbow joint location with no luck saying my veins weren’t cooperating. Enter: uncontrollable tears. I kept thinking to myself, “Great, not only are my cysts not working, but now my veins aren’t either. My body is just a screw up.”

Looking back, I can tell you that this was a knee jerk reaction, but I did tell you that having no experience what to expect, emotions were heightened for me. I wish there was someone there that would have shared that 1 in 10 women experience PCOS which equates to about 5 million women as young as 11 years old. I wish there was someone there to tell me that it is  CURABLE AND NORMAL

My hope is that my account of what I experienced will help you or someone you know start rocking down that path of good health and healing.

Now that you have heard my account, here is a quick 101 on PCOS:

Polycystic (pah-lee-SIS-tik) ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that can affect a woman’s:

  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ability to have children
  • Hormones
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Appearance

With PCOS, women typically have:

  • High levels of androgens (AN-druh-junz). These are sometimes called male hormones, though females also make them.
  • Missed or irregular periods (monthly bleeding)
  • Many small cysts (sists) (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Even though she wasn’t diagnosed, we are pretty sure my Mom had PCOS.

A main underlying problem with PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens than normal.  High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

Researchers also think insulin may be linked to PCOS. Insulin controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. High androgen levels can lead to:

  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation

You can check out my 101 on Insulin Resistance here: https://mycarbbreakup.wordpress.com/category/intro-to-insulin-resistance/

So how is PCOS treated?

Once I received my blood work results and received confirmation I had PCOS, I made an appointment with an Endocrinologist. Insulin Resistance is so commonly mis-diagnosed as depression, anxiety, and obesity that an Endocrinologist is really your best bet to get proper medication.

I can tell you that after just one month on the medication prescribed to me by the Endocrinologist, I received my period for the first time in 4 months and was down 10 pounds. More to come on medication and healing!

Here is a great chart on living with PCOS from @HarmonyWithPCOS

PCOS rules for healthy lifestyle #changinghabits #healthylifestyle #health Embrace a new, healthier lifestyle. www.kangabulletin...

Here are some of the great references I used to inform this article. Happy reading!