Wednesday, June 21, 2017

PCOS & Our Family

So...there really is no catchy title for this sort of post. Before I start, I debated about this post.  Sometimes the choice to post details about ones life comes with consequences, and I wasn't sure I wanted to deal with anything else. However, after getting Emma's permission, realizing there's really no part of our lives PCOS isn't touching, and in hopes of gaining understanding from others....here we go -

Emma's been going through some tests for a while now.  She was having some "lady issues" and one thing led to another testing wise.  Here we are on the other side of a few diagnosis.  The first was the diagnosis after ultrasound of a bicornuate uterus. Never heard of it...me either.

From www.fertilitysmarts.com -



Bicornate uterus is a congenital (from birth) disorder of the uterus, resulting in a misshapen uterine cavity. The disorder is characterized by a major indentation at the uterine fundus, or the top, center portion of the organ. The result is a heart-shaped uterus, with a partially or fully divided center cavity.
A bicornate uterus is considered a Mullerian duct anomaly, and may complicate or endanger pregnancy. Because the irregular shape of the uterus, fetal growth may be prohibited or restricted, causing miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, or pre-term labor.
A bicornate uterus may also be known as a heart-shaped uterus.



At this stage in her life, it presents no issues other than anxiety about her future. Things like how to tell your potential spouse that your beautiful heart shaped uterus also comes with a 63% miscarriage rate in the second trimester, so kids are iffy at best and will probably involve a long painful process just for a chance at carrying to term.  Again, not a problem now, but for a kid who is already dealing with anxiety, this wasn't great news.

A few weeks after that, and more blood work, I got a call from her doctor letting me know a few hormonal things, and that she has PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  What is that, you ask?
 (source - www.womenshealth.gov)



Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries. The ovaries make the egg that is released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.

PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods. Irregular periods can lead to:

  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant). In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
  • Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries
 
Without getting into the details of what her own reproductive system is/isn't doing, this diagnosis was/is scary for a variety of reasons.  First, again, infertility issues for a kid who wants kids. Painful for her, but also not something a mom can't fix. Not that it's impossible, but highly unlikely.  Combined that with her uterus issue and adoption is really what we are promoting for her.  Her family picture can look the same in the end, but the road to that end goal will just be a different path.  Something that will take us all time to get used to.

Besides the fertility issues, PCOS can do a number on the rest of your body.  There are a lot of symptoms no teenage girl should have to deal with. Nobody should have to deal with. I won't list them all here, nor will I share which ones she has had to deal with, but feel free to educate yourselves through google or ask me privately if you have questions.  From a health perspective, it can be  a doozy.  For a kid with diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, stroke, and high blood pressure in her family on both sides, this is perhaps the scariest part of all of this.  Here's some info on  PCOS and the associated illnesses -


  • Diabetes. More than half of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance) before the age of 40.4 Learn more about diabetes on our Diabetes page.
  • High blood pressure. Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure compared with women of the same age without PCOS. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Learn more about heart disease and stroke.
  • Unhealthy cholesterol. Women with PCOS often have higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. High cholesterol raises your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Sleep apnea. This is when momentary and repeated stops in breathing interrupt sleep. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese, which can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea raises your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
  • Depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are common among women with PCOS.
  • Endometrial cancer. Problems with ovulation, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes (all common in women with PCOS) increase the risk of developing cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb)
  • Source - www.womenshealth.gov 
 
Again, feel free to google for hours on this for more info, but the condensed version is weight control/loss is a big issue.  If that fluctuates, even as much as 5-10 lbs, hormones she doesn't want or need kick in which makes the insulin kick in and one thing leads to another but everything results in not good things.

Why did we (it was collective) decide to share all this with you? Well, first....know that Emma has a lot going on right now.  She has a lot on her plate.  Any support and/or distraction is appreciated. We are doing all we can for her anxiety with meds and therapies, and she's doing great! Second, this means a lot of changes for our family.

Our last go round with eating super healthy and exercising, I'm not going to lie, we got some kick back.  Some said we were self centered. Some said we had lost our focus and balance in life.  Some said we were obsessed. Some just thought we weren't fun anymore because we wouldn't eat pizza and junk food. We just ask that everyone is understanding this time of the reasons why we are making drastic changes.  Emma really has no choice.  We are a tight family, and we are all on board with her. There is no cure for PCOS, and even eating an extremely clean diet and exercising may not get rid of the symptoms completely, but gaining weight and not being on top of her diet will without a doubt increase her symptoms and associated health risks.  We are trying to be upbeat and positive about all the new recipes and groceries we get to buy.  She would also like a cross fit gym in the back yard, which sounds like a blast to me, so anyone who wants to help with that, feel free!

We've already had that awkward experience of her going over to someones house who was unaware of all this and made a wonderful meal for Emma....but it wasn't a meal she could eat.  We've also recently been to a gathering where Emma asked me to go through the food line with her to help her identify what she could/could not eat. I'm sure it seemed odd me stating out loud she couldn't have the breaded chicken but the grilled was ok, and no potato salad but regular salad was fine, no bananas but the blueberries are ok, and yes it's 100 degrees out, but no, you can't have the frozen treats.

So there you have it.  A little "big" something that's been going on in our lives.  We are still learning all the ins and outs of this new thing in our lives.  I've spent years figuring out ADHD, OCD, tics, and anxiety with Myles.  We will figure this out too, and in no time it will be just a normal part of our lives, like all of Myles issues are.  Just know we love you all, and we love all your wonderful food....we just might not be able to eat it : )  And seriously, if anyone has cross fit gym supplies, bring them over.  I need a monster tire!

( I hate to have to add this bit, but we are educating ourselves and working with multiple doctors, therapists, and medications that work for our family. Unless we specifically ask you, we are not looking for medical advise. : )

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

School's Out!


 So school is out! Emma had a week off before her bro and sis got out of school.  On her last day we went out to lunch to celebrate!

 I've been pretty diligent about getting my floating time in : )
 This is my view from the pool looking up.  On this night I was just relaxing after the sun was on it's way down. During the day though, I have a 2 hour window of sun as it travels across the sky between those 2 trees.
 Sam is never sure if he should believe what Papa's saying or not. Smart dog.
 This kid with his fresh hair cut looking handsome.
 He has waited so long for his own dog to be his buddy.  This is Mama.  She lasted 3 days at our house.  She was not a fan of how rough Sam and Kona play.  As soon as they would start rough housing she would attack. So we are back to looking again.
 So I tend to think the messier or wetter a game, the funner it is.  I brought a water relay game, a balloon popping game, a whipped cream pie eating contest game, and a Minute To Win It dance game to Myles end of year party.  We topped it off with creaming Emma in the face with the left over whipped cream.

 It's been pretty cool still, especially in the evenings, so nights by the fire have been perfect.
 We did a family scavenger hunt on Diablo this past weekend for fun.

 There's been lots of relaxation going on.
 In an amazing sweep, Sophie brought home the department awards for Science, Art, and Social Studies.  Not to mention her 4.0 award.  So far, straight A's in Middle School.

 Myles had a great day at the 4th grade Gold Rush Day.
 Our family got back out to the race scene at Brazen's Nitro trail run!

 We lost a sizable limb from our Mulberry tree that required Brian to break out the chain saw. Scary. All swings and lights somehow managed to stay intact.

 Myles did great during his Gold Dust or Bust play.
And that about catches you up to our end of year and beginning of summer shenanigans!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Senior Night/Freshman Year Thoughts

I just wanted to take a moment while I'm awake this morning to jot down a few thoughts, probably randomly.



Yesterday was CVCHS's graduation.  It was at the Concord Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater here in town.  In 3 years, I will need to remember how bad traffic was last night.  Get there at 3:30, not 5. Remember that all you need is that one "toot" of the air horn when Emma's name is announced.  If it gets confiscated after, well...it really doesn't matter cuz you already used it.  If she wants to sneak in a beach ball, let her.  Part of the fun of the ceremony is watching security chase down the balls.  Also, pay the $50 for the fresh floral leis. And make lots of candy leis. And let her wear heels and decorate her cap.  Invest in waterproof lash glue and mascara.

Our friends and sweet boys, Noah, Kyle, and Marlon.


Last night/today is also Grad Night.  Brian and I volunteered to work it from 10pm till about 1 a.m. Initially, we thought it would be a kind of fun, late night out, just the 2 of us doing something new. It was pretty eye opening. The first questions we were asked as a group of volunteers were "who wants to do pat downs?", and "Any volunteers for Breathalyzers?" Security was super tight.  Our local police were present in full force.  The seniors came in single file and were checked in w/their photo id's, patted down and breathalyzer tested. Pockets emptied, shoes removed...the whole thing.  If they made it past that, they were funneled into a smaller gym to wait for their buses. All the doors were blocked by parents, so once they passed security they were in our sight the entire time.  There were 6 or 7, can't remember, of the huge, fancy, tour buses. 350 seniors and 20 chaperones then hit the road at a little after 1 a.m. for Disneyland. Once they arrive (should be about right now, 8 a.m.), they go through a separate back entrance of CA Adventure, where they go through another security search complete with drug sniffing dogs, metal detectors, and also there's a list of only 5 things they are allowed to have on them...it's cell phone, charger, student ID....2 more I can't remember, but it's bare bones.  They are there till 12 a.m. tonight, and then head home.  I should mention that the school pays for hotel rooms for the bus drivers, both here in town yesterday, and all day today, so that they can sleep and be ready to drive at night.

We are undecided at this point if Em will be making that trip, but at least we know security is tight! Oh, if you are wondering, Brian and I were security for the bathrooms. He had boys, I had girls. Seemed like good kids, and by the time they got to us, they couldn't have possibly had any contraband on them. Or at least I didn't see or smell anything.


Again, I say, I love this phase of mom-hood.  High school is a blast. Complicated, stressful, all consuming....but also just fun.  I'm so happy Emma has enjoyed this first year.  She really put herself out there and got involved. Her HOSA trip to Sacramento, CERT training at the hospital, she ran for, gave a speech for, and now is the HOSA historian next year, she's opted in for all the optional events, had a ton of fun on her group projects, including filming act 3, scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet as a cowboy and Indian version, she embraced the themed spirit days, she gained a love of photography and most importantly...she allowed her parents to attend every home football game with her : )  I can't believe her freshman year is over! It's already going by TOO fast!  Hearing the grad speeches last night was a good reminder to her, and us as parents, to enjoy these years! Real life is just around the corner, now. She's got 3 more years to squeeze as many experiences and as much growth as she can out of her high school years. : )


With that, today ends her Freshman year!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wildcat Volunteering

 Again I have to say I almost feel bad with how much we are compensated for spending a beautiful morning outside in the middle of nowhere helping runners get through a tough half marathon.  Brazen is the best, still.  For 6 hours of "work" we get shirts, medals, lunch, and 5 comped race entries.  What does that equal out to? Well the race we used our entries on would have been $54 x 5.  But, and I hate to sound cliche or sappy, but when we got to the finish area after we had our last runner come through, we got so many thank you's from the runners who had come through our station earlier in the day.  That's really the highlight of the experience.

Anyway, we got to where everything had been dropped the day before. It was in a big pile under a tarp.  We all went to work getting everything set up, slicing fruit, filling cups, mixing sports drink, setting up signs, and sending Brian a mile out to be a course marshal at a turn.  It was a beautiful morning! Just stunning.  It was a bit windy and we quickly took down the tent we had up initially, but other than that, it was an amazingly pretty morning.  There were cows off in the distance, and turkeys that would get pretty close from time to time.





 Above, that's sports drink and ginger ale.

 Above, that's Mt. Diablo off in the distance.
 We got set up pretty fast and then had to wait what we estimated would be about 40 minutes if the fastest runner was running somewhere in the 7's per mile.  We were at almost exactly the half way point.


 Above, runner coming down the hill.  Below, a lady turkey about to cross the trail.


 Once the runners started coming, things just go by in a blur.  Lot's of activity and refilling things.  Filling up the runners water bottles, making sure the ones who don't look great are ok, not talking to the ones who you can tell don't want to talk, and making conversation with the runners who want to hang out for a bit to recoup. A funny thing that I haven't had happen before was we had a little run on wipes. Yes, for that.  There were few (if any??) potties along this course.  Runners were needing to go, so I'd send one off in one direction to a bush, and try to not send the next one in that same direction. I thought we only had baby wipes, but after so many people were asking for tissue I dug through a bin again and found a roll of TP that I could have sold for a pretty penny at that point.
 This was the view on the walk out and back from where we parked to where the aid station was. Not Bad.

 Above....it may look like nothing, but picture a screaming mouse inside a snakes mouth being carried away to be eaten.  It was kind of awesome. Sad, but that's nature.
 Once the sweeper came through and said that's it, no more runners, we packed it all back up. I texted Jasmin to tell her we were packed up, and she let the park ranger know. He came out in a truck and we loaded it all in his truck and hiked back to the car. Then drove to the finish area for It's It's and goody bags and visiting.

Check out the size of that medal! It's huge!! A fun side bit is Emma took pictures of the runners that came through the aid station.  She was able to upload them to the race site, and Jasmin gave her a shout out in the post race email, and one of her pictures was also used in the email.  She was so excited!
So that's about it.  It was a blast.  I was tired at the end of the day, it's fun, but it is tiring once it's over and you home and trying to figure out why your back and feet hurt. Not that it compares at all to actually running....I'm just saying I'm so totally out of shape that I was feeling it that night : )

It was fun to see some old friends, and to see Sam and Jasmin again.  Felt kind of like putting back on a favorite sweatshirt you forgot you had but found again in the back of your closet. We quickly got signed up for Brazen's Nitro 5k which is right around the corner.  Can't wait!