All for your entertainment

Welcome to all  new and returning commentators, and thank you so much for Commentathoning.

I have mentioned, I think, that my mother has been quite keen on recommending me to the tender mercies of an alternative health practitioner who is allegedly obsessed with the Power of Vitamins. Or possibly Greyskull, but I was tuning out a little at that point, and I don’t think my mother knows who He-Man is, so Vitamins is a better bet.

Anyway. I caved in and agreed to be sent to this Alternative person, on the strict understanding that mother was paying whatever extortionate bills were forth-coming. Especially as said Alternative resided in the environs of Regents Park, and I can’t even afford to breathe in that part of the world.

And why did I cave in? Well, many reasons.

  1. Mainly so as to have something to blog about. I am absolutely serious. Life Chez May is quite clearly quite quite tedious these days, and any kind of relief, even in the form of unscientific malarkey.
  2. And what if it helped? My step-father, a man so far removed form my mother’s hippy world of aroma-herba-homeo-positivity that he was possibly welded together in a ship-yard, has also visited this person and is feeling considerably more chipper. Whether this is to do with The Power of Whateverthehellitis, or simply because Alternative made him eat fruit, one wonders, but, note, Alternative did get him to eat fruit, a feat every GP in Southern Britain had utterly failed at.
  3. Mother assured me Alternative was actually a properly trained doctor, affiliated with Universities, and taking part in proper controlled trials of acupuncture and everything. Oh, OK.
  4. And, err, did I mention mother was paying?

So on Tuesday, I betook myself to Expensive Town. The clinic was indeed smart, and Expensive, and the waiting room was full of absurdly buffed and well-groomed young men of extreme prettiness, and also women much like my mother, often as not towing near-adult daughters with rebellious scowls. Very Fitzrovia. And we all read back issues of Harper’s Bazaar.

By now, I was no longer expecting Dr Alternative to waft over in a billow of patchouli and kaftan. I think I was probably expecting the suit, though not a tweed one (in June? Good God) and a faint smell of Imperial Leather. Dr Alternative himself was a sensible-looking middle-aged gentleman, brisk, even slightly brusque. I personally don’t find this a bad thing, as kindly, sympathetic people who try to pat my hand while I recount my many woes invariably make me cry. He declared that I looked a) anaemic, and b) polycystic in the ovary department before even looking at my carefully completed medical history form, which unnerved me, as mother promised not to tell him my medical history when booking my appointment (because I don’t trust her to get it right, and because I wanted to test Dr A – more fun that way). I will of course quiz my mother again on this point. But really, I am clearly four stone overweight and my mustache and side-burns are beginning to reconquer the lower face and need attending to, so PCOS is not an un-obvious assumption, I myself play ‘I bet she’s PCOS’ in queues. Also, I am pale despite flushed cheeks, and quite black under the eyes these days, which apparantly looks typically anaemic. So now you know.

We had a talk about all my symptoms, and he displayed a quite startling and, I must say, rather charming sense of inappropriate humour – “You can hardly expect to cope when the bottom falls out of your world once a month, or, rather, the world falls out of your bottom.” And I snerked like a loon for what seemed to be minutes on end. He also did not instantly sell me a bazillion bottles of pills and tinctures. He did however ask me to remove my shoe and sock, and then took my foot on his lap, handed me a metal bar attached to a machine covered in dials, and prodded my toes repeatedly with a sort of pen-shaped thing also attatched to the machine. There were assorted tiny bottles to put into holes along the front of it, which seemed to alter the swing of the dials and the wail it gave out at each prod. He did not explain what was in the bottles – I assume, as I have been exposed to this sort of thing before, that they were homeopathic remedies and/or known allergens, and to tell me might create a misleading placebo result. It was somewhat bewildering, none the less, and made me come over all privately sceptical.

We then discussed treatment options. He was, to my relief, not particularly sanguine about my chances of getting pregnant. My relief? Well, yes. I hate, hate hate hate, loathe with the ferocity of a thousand suns, doctors who say dumb-ass chirpy things like ‘Just pop back when you want to get pregnant, and we’ll sort you out!’ and ‘You should be absolutely fine!’ and ‘Oh, I see mono-ovaried women with PCOS get pregnant all the time!’ and ‘Oh, the rest of you is completely fine!’. Because it’s a lie. And giving false hope is cruel. Dr Alternative told me my chances of getting pregnant weren’t high, to be honest. He also told me that the preservation of my own health was important, and that trying to get pregnant while I was so run down myself was unwise. I should indeed have the surgery, and I should very much so stay on the pill continuously until I got said surgery. Being too ill to work, and getting anaemic, is far worse for me than the possible effects of continuous artificial hormones, which, as it was, were less harmful than the natural hormones I was clearly producing in completely whacked out quantities.

He was also firmly of the opinion that I do have endometriosis, just from my history and without the confirmation of the laparoscopy (!) (and !!, even) and even wondered if my sub-mucous fibroid was adenomyosis. Which is an appalling thought.

And on to the blood tests. He definitely wanted to test my glucose and insulin levels. It is for this reason that I feel somewhat reconciled to the toe thing. I have been worried about my insulin and glucose levels for years now. No NHS doctor has wanted to test them. They don’t seem to think Insulin Resistance is anything they can do anything about, so why bother testing? Anyway, lose some weight. And there’s me nodding like a dork and muttering ‘but what if I’m developing diabetes?’ under my breath. Dr Alternative is, I find, refreshingly concerned about diabetes in PCOS women. Oh. Well, good. By all means, test my insulin and glucose. Please. Thank you. Quite.

And I meekly went off to get stabbed by the nurse. Being a total veteran at blood loss, in all forms and from all parts, I was quite happily pointing out the ‘good’ vein in my left elbow-crook and helping re-arrange the furniture so she could get at the left arm. She, in her turn, on hearing I work in a library, was worried whether I could afford the fees. Dear God. Time to worry about my mother, in crashing waves of filial guilt and irritation – it was her idea! I’m following orders! I’m expensive! Argh! And then I went to reception to make another appointment to discuss results (which will be sent to me as well. Blimey), and to be prescribed herbs and such based on those results. So nothing to play with yet.

And it was expensive. Ah well.

And then I went for a long, and I mean L-O-O-O-O-N-G walk in Regent’s Park. After all, you can only get good and appalled when surrounded by ducks and rose-beds and 100-year-old trees. Oh, and other people’s children, fortunately being less than adorable. I knew endometriosis was suspected, but probable? I convince doctors I must have it? Endometriosis?


I mean really, fuck.

Not nearly as funny an anecdote as I hoped, really.


8 responses to “All for your entertainment

  • Jackie

    Hey a very interesting post! I was very glad to read that someone is finally paying attention to the combination of your PCOS and potential for insulin resistance. These 2 things often go hand in hand and simply telling people to go try to lose some weight is IMHO a lazy approach. I have found that my naturopath or acupuncturist or whatever you want to call him has been much more interested in me as an individual rather than a potential statistic when compared to my RE (although I adore my RE, er, ex-RE). Anyway, I love to go to my acupuncturist and discuss each and every symptom, the quality of my menses, etc ad nauseum. On the other hand, I have been recommended to take several supplements, mainly things to thin my blood a bit and improve the metabolism of my hormones. We’ll see what happens. Since your mum is paying for the treatment, I’d keep going until that gravy train stops. I’d love for someone else to pay my acu bill but ah well, can’t have it all now, can we…

  • Lindsay/LJ

    “the world falls out of your bottom.” That’s actually pretty funny in my bizarre brain.

    I chalk alternative medicine up in the “it can’t hurt, so long as I’m not ingesting weird eye of newt or other things witches put in brews” category. And hey, if the guy ends up being more thorough than NHS AND mom is paying, not a bad deal…

  • Katie

    I’m not surprised the only solution they give is “lose weight” but I am really, really surprised that no-one has yet checked your blood glucose. They check mine every time I move – I found out mine was 7.5 (normal range 4-7) three years ago because I had persistent cysts (turn out not to be related). Of course they said “go away and stop eating sugar and lose weight”. Fortunately, since I don’t have PCOS, I managed it.

    Spouse on the other hand went in with a sore jaw (he had strained it) and they did a random blood test and they found out he was pre-diabetic – a year later he was on insulin. A sore jaw!

    I’m actually thinking about some alternative medicine, but local people don’t seem to necessarily have the fertility experience, could you send me the details of this guy (looks like you have my email from the comments)? ta.

  • Matthew M. F. Miller

    I think exploring alternative options is really wise. And, as a fitness buff, I think losing weight is a really great addition to other courses of action you need to take, but I don’t think losing weight itself is a solution.

    But by all means, do whatever it takes to make your body happy!

  • fatty

    I went the natural route for a while too. I would much rather have a dr that is honest than one that sits there and blows sunshine up my butt. Stopping by for the commentathon : )

  • Pamela Jeanne

    Coming to you from Mel’s commentathon…I found this post fascinating. I live in California — the cradle of hippies and alternative medicines — and even I found this exchange weirdly avant garde. Like you I appreciated his pragmatic approach. Wishing you well.

  • megan

    oh may! your body is giving you quite the run around. i’m glad you went to this doctor. he sounds like a good mix of western and alternative medicine…AND he sounds like he’s acting on some of the concerns you’ve had for a while but couldn’t get other docs to listen to. this is good. glad too that you liked his demeanour. i personally tend to like the kindly, sympathetic types who make me cry. i dont’ know why. . .

  • karenO

    I just want to cry now. Countless docters told me, come back when you lost enough weight. Their “enough” differed, but 10 years ago I don’t think they had enough knowledge about the effects of PCOS to know exactly how hard it is to loose weight. I’m so glad this docter tried different options with you. And even though endometriosis is a very scary possibility for you, don’t give up hope.

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