Past-Due Update

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Are you more of a planner or a doer? I can tell you that I generally really good at planning things, but not as good at executing them. Most of the time, I get caught up in the details, and if things don’t happen perfectly, then they don’t happen at all. I realize that this is not the best way to do things, because sometimes you have to take the leap and then handle the details as you reach them. This is something I’m working on.

I’ve been laid off since mid-March. Since then, I have gone through a journey of sorts. This journey apparently didn’t involve blogging, but I think I’m ready to start writing again, so here I am! I have done so much reflecting on who I am and what I want out of life. This is something that I’ve always tried to do, but it’s been so much easier with less distractions. Not having a job has been such a good opportunity for me to figure things out. Now that I’m emerging from the tunnel of self-discovery, I figured this would be a great time to update you all on my life and start regularly updating this blog.

As I have written here before, I have decided that I want to work in the tech industry as a web developer. Since being laid off, I have worked really hard to continue learning the skills I need to work in the industry. That work has brought me to be accepted to Prime Digital Academy, a local school that teaches software engineering. It’s a bootcamp-style school, which means that it has an accelerated pace. Starting next Monday, for a little over a month, I will be doing coursework at home for about 20 hours per week. Then, from mid-September until early December, I will be doing coursework for at least 40 hours a week in person. I will be graduating in December with the skills I need to get an entry-level job in the field. I am so excited about this news! They only let in 10% of applicants the first time they apply. So, being accepted has been a huge source of pride for me! I’m excited and anxious to get started!

Coding isn’t the only thing that I’ve been working on. My health has been a huge focus of my time being laid off. The one frustrating thing about having PCOS is that there is so much conflicting advice on how to get symptoms under control. Additionally, it can be hard to find support, so I’ve been doing research and trying to find the support I need to get healthy. After lots of trial and error, I think I’ve finally figured it out!

First, with the trials: Last spring, when I started researching how to get my PCOS symptoms under control, I found that lots of women swear by the Ketogenic diet. The Ketogenic diet is essentially a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. The theory is that the less carbohydrates that you eat, your body goes from burning carbs for the fuel that it needs to function to burning stored fat. So many people talked about having awesome lasting results. I did research, figured out how to eat on Keto, and dedicated to giving it a try. I lasted two and a half days. I had no energy. By the third day, I was laying on the couch unable to do anything. I felt gross from eating so much fat and not enough vegetables (people said I could eat veggies on Keto, but veggies have carbs, so it’s tough!). So, I made the decision that Keto was not for me. It basically seemed like a crash diet, which I’m not a fan of. I know that it works for some people, but I am apparently not that person.

Then, I read a book called WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. In her book, she claims to have cured her PCOS with a mixture of diet and exercise, and lays out how she does it. She started a business in New York City to help other women, so part of the book is really an advertisement for that, which I found really annoying. The information in the book about how to eat and how our bodies work was really useful. She also lays out a 4 day “reset”, which is essentially a cleanse to reset hormones and cleanse your liver. I made it almost 2 days. When I started to have no energy, I did some math to figure out if I was eating enough calories. Nope. 700 calories. It made me feel like a failure, but I couldn’t continue with that either. I still am going to use the information from that book to understand my body more and change how I eat a little. But I decided to keep looking for a different option.

Which leads me to now: a couple months ago, I got a Facebook friend request from a girl I had never met. I usually ignore these requests, but I decided to check her out. She also has PCOS and has grown a small community of women who are able to support each other. She also quit her job to work full time as a Beachbody coach, so she can coach others with PCOS and people who have trouble losing weight. By following the Beachbody system of meal planning, drinking superfood shakes, and working out every day, she has lost weight, gotten healthy, and recently announced that she is pregnant! I want to have kids, and I am dealing with needing to get healthy or else deal with infertility or going through fertility treatments. Her story and support has been refreshing, and so I joined a 30 day workout group led by her! There are tons of other women who also struggle with PCOS and we all want to get healthy! I’m excited to give it a try and hopefully see results. This time, I made sure it wasn’t a diet with too few calories, or with tons of restrictions. Since it’s not, I think it’s something I could be successful at. I will be writing an update when everything gets going, to let you all know how I’m progressing!

I’m pretty happy with the plans I’ve made for my life, I am hoping that everything works out. I would really like to see some progress and work hard for my health and happiness!

Let’s chat: What goals are you working on right now?

Week in Podcasts: Somethings Old, Somethings New

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I had a super full week of podcasts this week! Work this week was pretty quiet, so I was able to focus on some data entry tasks, and I could listen to podcasts while I was doing it! There was also a big snowstorm on Tuesday, so I listened to podcasts during my long commutes. I’m so glad that there are so many great podcasts out there! It’s the perfect thing to listen to while driving and while doing work and chores.

To start off, I have talked about Serial before, and this week was a big week for Serial. Not only was there a new episode for Season 2, there was an update to Season 1! The episode for Season 2 was good, but I am still having a tough time getting hooked to it the same way I did to Season 1. I can’t decide what it is about Bowe Bergdahl’s story that is not as interesting as Adnan Syed’s, but it is kind of cool having a podcast about a case that is currently being decided, rather than one that was decided over a decade ago. This week’s episode is about why Bowe decided to abandon his post. It covered what he was planning on telling higher ups in the military, especially about the conditions that he and his fellow soldiers were living with. It was interesting hearing him and other soldiers discussing not only what their expectations of war were and how those expectations aligned with the reality they dealt with daily. There were some issues with the conditions, and I agree that those conditions should have been better, but many people are not sure that Bowe handled the situation correctly by leaving. I am going to have to keep listening, and maybe eventually I will have an opinion about what I think happened.

The update to Serial Season 1 has been really interesting. Adnan was given a hearing to determine whether or not his case should go back to trial, so host Sarah Koenig went to report on it. She covered what they were talking about in the hearing. There was a girl who came forward to be an alibi and did not testify in the original trial. They also discussed phone records, which used cell phone tower information to determine where Adnan was the day his ex-girlfriend went missing. Apparently, the evidence based on the cell phone towers, specifically information from incoming calls, is inadmissible evidence, because it is inaccurate. That was a huge piece of evidence used to prove Adnan guilty. The hearing is still going on, so Sarah Koenig will be doing updates occasionally to discuss what happens in the trial. I am so excited for more updates!

I also listened to an episode from Stuff Mom Never Told You called “Infertility’s Global Stigma”. As the title suggests, this episode talks about infertility and how it affects women all over the world. There is definitely a stigma around infertility, and it is not something that most people are open about. Often, and especially historically, women were blamed for infertility. Even though it is something that women should be open about, since it can be a huge struggle, so often women keep the struggle to themselves. The thing I love about this podcast is that they discussed how difficult it can be for healthy couples to get pregnant. People are taught that it is extremely easy to get pregnant, generally as a deterrent for becoming sexually active before being ready. It actually isn’t always that easy. Sure, there are some couples that have a very easy time getting pregnant. There are so many couples that struggle to get pregnant, however. Sometimes, it is a short-term issue, and sometimes it becomes obvious that some people will never get pregnant. As someone who may struggle with fertility due to PCOS, this episode really hit home for me. It was good to hear about other people’s struggles, and to know that it is something that no one needs to be ashamed of. It also made me hope that I do not have problems with fertility, I would really love to be a parent someday. This episode made me sad and hopeful, I commend the hosts for discussing the topic.

Next, I listened to a podcast that I have never heard before called CodeNewbieย and I am so glad I found it. It’s mostly geared toward people who are new to code, it seems, but there is definitely something for everyone. The first episode includes an interview with Carlos Lazo, and talks about how he learned to code and got hired. One point made in the podcast that I am so glad they brought up is the fact that people who work in coding will always be learning, since the technology is always changing. I think that’s the thing I like about it so much. I love learning, and I love being in school, so working in an industry that is accepting of people who want to continue to learn and grow is very appealing to me. They also discussed how to interview for a job in the tech industry, which seem really scary. Not only do you have to do the standard interview where the prospective employer sees if they think you would fit in and have an idea of what you’ll be doing, but you also have to do a more technical part of the interview to show what you know. The advice that Carlos Lazo gave is to be honest in an interview about what you don’t know, but also make it clear that you’re willing to learn. This is a podcast I will definitely keep listening to, I love it!

Another new podcast I tried out this week is called The Station Wagon Podcast, which was actually recommended to me on Twitter by Marc, one of the hosts! This is a really interesting podcast, where a brother and sister duo give something up for two weeks, and talk about how it went! In the first episode, they give up sitting. That means that they stand at work, stand or squat at home, and only sit when commuting or when they had to (work meetings, etc). It was so interesting to hear how it went for them, and points where they wanted to give up. The funniest story of the podcast was a point where the other host, Julie, was at work. She had a meeting to attend, and was so excited for the rare opportunity to sit down. One of her coworkers told the person they were going to have the meeting with about Julie’s challenge. The person was super excited about her challenge, and told her she could absolutely stand through the meeting! How disappointing. I am so excited to listen to more of the episodes. I think that this podcast would be a good one for anyone to listen to. It’s not super technical, and is interesting, informative, but is also really fun!

Another podcast that was recommended to me was Developer Tea. By the title, you can see that this is also a podcast for people who work in web development. The cool thing about this podcast is that it’s a short-form podcast, which I am not very familiar with. I usually listen to podcasts that are around an hour long or more. The concept of this one is to have a podcast that someone could listen to while taking a tea or coffee break. I listened to the first two episodes. The first one was basically an introduction to the podcast and its host, Jonathan Cutrell. The second episode is about focus. This is something that I struggle with sometimes. It’s so easy to get distracted, especially at this point, when I am learning how to code. Focus is extremely important, in most of the things we do. A short discussion on focus, why it’s important, and how to increase focus was really helpful for me. I learned a little, and it made me think about my habits. This is a podcast that I am really excited to keep listening to.

I hope that you guys try out some of these podcasts, it’s awesome to support the people who make them, and learn things at the same time! Do you guys have any suggestions of podcasts I should try out? Let me know in the comments!

 

PCOS Update

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Hello dear readers! I have decided that it’s time to give another update on my PCOS. As a warning, this post is going to be pretty candid about things. So, if it’s something that doesn’t interest you, I would maybe skip this post… Come back tomorrow, I have an awesome post ready for you all!

So, as I have mentioned before, I was diagnosed with PCOS in November after going to a doctor to discuss the fact that my period had been absent for three months. She was basically able to diagnose me right then and there, but did some blood tests to make sure that she wasn’t missing anything. She also had me schedule an ultrasound to see if there were any cysts on my ovaries, which is a pretty common part of PCOS. After the blood work came back consistent with PCOS, I was put on Metformin to control the insulin resistance that so frequently results from the hormone imbalance of PCOS. I was also put on a short run of Progesterone to force my body to have a period, since it had been so long.

The interesting thing it that the ultrasound didn’t show any cysts. It is not uncommon for women with PCOS to not have cysts, and since I have most of the other symptoms, I am pretty confident that my doctor diagnosed me correctly. The Progesterone worked… finally. It was a 10-day prescription, and once that was done, it took about another week before it caused bleeding. That was actually nice, because it waited until after Thanksgiving and Black Friday were over! This is awesome because it was horrible… It was so heavy that it was essentially a week’s worth in less than a day. All of the physical symptoms were worse, to the point where I stayed home from work one day. It did end on its own, however, so I feel pretty good about that. I am interested to see if my body allows me to bleed without medication this month…

Metformin is interesting because it works great for some people, and terribly for others. There are some uncomfortable side effects that some people get. I am lucky that I don’t have those side effects. I can’t speak to whether or not it’s working yet or not, because I haven’t had more blood work done. I am working on my diet and exercise so that I can try to manage the PCOS. The doctor is hoping that I will be able to get in better shape and that may help make the PCOS symptoms better.

Now, I have to decide whether I want to manage my cycle with hormonal birth control, or if I want to keep taking Progesterone to make myself have a period. If I take hormonal birth control, it will obviously prevent me from getting pregnant at this point. Also, I have had issues with birth control pills in the past, and I am hesitant to start taking them again. But, if I just take the Progesterone, there is a better chance of getting pregnant. And, while that would not be a disaster by any means, I would like to be able to get my PCOS under control a little more before that happens. If it ever happens. Infertility is a risk, and something I won’t know about for a while. So, I have some thinking to do. I am getting more used to the diagnosis, and the steps that I will need to take to get it under control. I am also getting used to the idea of having a disease that will never go away. There are still times that it makes me stressed out and sad, but that is to be expected.

I will update you all as things happen. I really hope that my posts help someone out there. It’s hard to feel lost, and reading about other peoples’ experiences have helped me.

Deep Thoughts Thursday: A Diagnosis

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This week has been overwhelming, to say the least. On Monday, I went in for my very first ultrasound, to help diagnose the PCOS that my doctor is certain I have. Ultrasounds are not that scary, but it’s weird. I read up about it before my appointment (of course), and found out that they are not painful. And, for the most part, it wasn’t. There was a short amount of time where it was a little painful, when the tech was getting images of my left ovary, which is the one that is uncomfortable. I was told that I would have to wait a few days for my results, which caused me some anxiety. Which made me realize that being an anxious person and having a disease that causes anxiety is going to be one of the top goals for me to fix.

I got my results today, my ultrasound came back normal. Like, no cysts. My doctor is still convinced that her diagnosis is correct, since I fit pretty much all of the other symptoms, and my tests all came back consistent with PCOS. I think that not having visible cysts maybe means that I caught it early. I really hope that I am able to heal this, and the symptoms will go away. I am still coming to terms with what this means, and trying to learn what steps I need to take from here. Having some direction will maybe make me feel less anxious, sad and empowered. And, maybe then I will be able to go back to my normal blogging schedule, and write about other things! ๐Ÿ™‚

Long Overdue Update

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Hello readers!

Sorry that I haven’t written anything in a while! There has been so much going on, and even though there have been things I have wanted to write about, it’s been a little hard for me to find the time. There has been some changes in my life, however, that I think are important for me to write about, so here I am! Hopefully I will keep writing more often!

So, this week was a little rough for me. Earlier this week, I had a doctor appointment, and this appointment caused me quite a bit of anxiety. Male readers: if you’re uncomfortable reading about women’s health issues, probably stop reading now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Over the last few months, my period has been absent. I have had pretty much always had inconsistent cycles. I even went on birth control to try to regulate it, which actually didn’t work well for me. After I decided to stop taking birth control pills, it took a long time before my cycle had any sort of regularity. It still never came like clockwork, and it would sometimes be longer, shorter, or more painful. I thought it was normal. I thought it was something that I would always have to deal with. Then, a few months ago, I didn’t have a period at all. The another two months went by without a trace of one. At first, I didn’t think it was anything to worry about. But, 3 missed periods is a bit much for me. I have taken so many pregnancy tests, and they have all been negative. I’m almost a pro at it!

Then, about a week ago, I started spotting. I wondered if my cycle was finally going to start regulating itself again. I had some cramping, and some of the normal symptoms. But, I also had soreness and tightness in my abdomen that was new for me. This made me concerned, so I made an appointment to go to the doctor.

The leadup to the appointment was a little stressful and tearful for me. I can’t describe why I have been so apprehensive, or sad, or anxious, but it’s how I feel. These feelings have been clouding my daily life, so figuring out what’s going on has been really important to me. After telling the doctor what I have been experiencing, it didn’t take her long at all to say that she thought it sounded like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I had done some research and knew a little bit about it, so I was glad that she could rather quickly identify what she thought was wrong. After talking to me about it, she ordered blood tests, and told me to make an appointment for an ultrasound and yearly checkup. The ultrasound is this coming Monday, and the exam is 2 weeks later.

Since the appointment, I have been anxiously awaiting my blood test results, in hopes that they would give us some indication of what is going on with me. Being anxious means that I generally convince myself that I have cancer, which is just not healthy to worry about all the time. Yesterday, I got the results of my results, and my blood test results are consistent with the symptoms of PCOS. I still have an ultrasound to see what the cysts on my ovaries looks like, and an exam, which I am overdue for.

Getting a pretty clear PCOS diagnosis has not only been liberating and relieving, but also terrifying and sad. Having PCOS basically means that I have a hormone imbalance that does not allow me to ovulate. This affects everything from my monthly cycle, to my levels of acne and body hair, to my weight, to my insulin levels, to how I feel emotionally: self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and fertility. It affects about 10% of women, and is not always easy to diagnose, because some doctors are not aware of what PCOS is, and do not know that the symptoms are different for everyone. I have experienced anxiety, slight depression, anxiety, absent periods, cramping, and soreness. More often than not, I have soreness where my ovary is. My emotions have been completely messed up, sometimes I feel great, sometimes I break down in tears. Not only do I feel that, as a woman, I am broken, I also hate how I look, have definitely struggled with anxiety.

Having PCOS is not a death sentence. It just means that there are steps I need to take in order to be healthy. It’s terrifying because I have to take some pretty strong medicine in order to manage the symptoms. It’s also terrifying to think that there is a chance that I will remain infertile, and never will be able to conceive. I really hope that the doctor was able to diagnose me early.enough where treating it will not be such a struggle.

One of the main things I have noticed in reading about other women who have had PCOS is that it is normal to feel alone or isolated, but no one should. There are so many women out there that are willing to share in the experience, and now I am one of them. This is all very new and overwhelming for me. I hope that soon I will get in a routine to manage my symptoms. I do not want to spend most of my days with discomfort or anxiety. I hope that I am able to find a community of women who are supportive and can help with tips and tricks on dealing with PCOS.

I apologize if this is too much information, or something that you don;t want to read about, but I think that I will continue to have posts about this, so I thought it would be good to start from the beginning.

Let me know! Does anyone reading this have PCOS or know someone who has it? Let’s talk about it in the comments!