I have always been teased for being a “bigger” child. Whenever I would visit my doctor’s office, my weight chart would always be under the label “overweight”. I ate healthy enough, but my mother blamed it on passing her sluggish metabolism. Over the years I knew it was my hatred of exercise of any form. To combat my weight, I did many extracurricular activities and I hated them all with a passion.
Each time I committed the grueling act of physical activity, I would be ridden with calves that would burn like the desert sun. My heart would thump at an astronomical rate. My chest was two boulders squeezing together my lungs. Sweat would flow out of my pores like a river. To put it bluntly, I was winded. After I complained enough, my parents unwillingly took me out of one activity and registered to another. This cycle went on for ages until in the seventh grade I was pulled from soccer. That was the last straw.
Two years have passed and now I am wrapping up my freshman year. I am at my heaviest weight yet, 172 pounds on a 5’1 frame. Hair and acne riddle my body. There’s an old adage- “your body is a temple”. I completely disagree with that statement. My body is a war zone. My insecurities and anxiety are winning the battle against my soul. My depression is stroking my neck, waiting for the right moment to aim for my jugular. My friends take advantage of my self hatred and would promise false claims of mutual support and care. I am in the bottom of a rut and I needed a ladder to escape.
The first rung was to drop my friends. The only way I do business is bluntly. After they crossed the line for not only lacking to support me but believing false rumors about my family, I dropped them like a sack of potatoes. I may have been lonely, but I lifted a weight off my chest. My fake smile was a little more real. I climbed the first rung.
The next rung was to see my pediatrician. I was determined to lose my extraneous weight. My doctor gave me a strict plan of frozen meals and *gasp* at least one hour of exercise daily.
As much as I despised exercise, it was a requirement for my health. My father surprised my family with admissions to the Color Run. My dread was mixed with excitement of powdered colors of the rainbow being cascaded onto my clean canvas of white clothing.
I may not have been that fast, but I ran. For the first time, I achieved an exhilaration in physical activity. Even though I was running with my family, I was running alone. No, I wasn’t running, I was flying through the course in my mind. Just me and the path to the finish line. I found physical activity that I enjoyed. I climbed several rungs that day.
That summer I lost over 20 pounds. I either went to the gym or ran on pavement. Each ounce I lost was truly rewarding. I not only lost weight, but I gained muscle and confidence. My acne left my body and my hair decreased its area slightly. My mental health was finally stable. Everything was great. I climbed all the rungs. I saw the light, but...
I thought I was the next Virgin Mary. I didn’t get my period for six months. My doctors blamed my weight loss, but my intuition told me something was very wrong with my body.
Once it was time for me to stay stable with my weight, I waited for my cycle to become normalized. It simply never happened. Body hair became weeds on my body. My acne came back. My mental health started to go sour. I fell into another rut. It was time to see the doctor again.
At first, my pediatrician recommended a dermatologist, a hormone specialist, and a psychiatrist, but fortunately, he thought of “a very improbable disease for my age”. This disease was named Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS). Only five percent of women have this disease, but it is almost inconceivable to have someone as young as 17 to be diagnosed. Women who were in their late 20’s to mid 30’s were tattooed with this wretched disease. My pediatrician then went on to describe the disease.
PCOS is ugly. You are born with it and there is no cure. Most cases PCOS greatly affects your fertility negatively. Simply put, the female has no natural control over her testosterone production. Symptoms include unmanageable body hair(check), acne(check), irregular periods(check), and difficulty losing weight. I have three out of four symptoms; however, all of these symptoms can be attributed to other causes. Maybe the hair came from my middle eastern DNA. Maybe my irregular periods and my acne are caused by scholarly stress.
It’s always good to double check. One to take the blood test and have the slight odds of actually having this disease. The first results were inconclusive. The second results confirmed that I actually have the disease. My PCOS specialist said my case was the strangest he’s ever seen. I had the lowest count of immunoglobulin he has ever seen. In a normal sample, 40-50 globulins are expected. I had eight.
My doctors aren’t sure why my weight loss triggered all my symptoms to an extreme; However, I’m glad that I discovered my love for exercise saved me years of sour mental health. PCOS is manageable. I now take birth control to medically relieve all my symptoms. Exercise truly changed my life. Without it I wouldn’t know about my disease until years later. The physical activity that I despised for ages changed my life for better in an expected and unexpected way. I am continuing to climb my ladder, but now I know the climb doesn’t end. I think that’s okay because the ladder is life.