What a difference a change makes!
Reading that you are justified in thinking “Duh, it’s hardly a change if it doesn’t make a difference.” You’d be right!
What I’m meaning, though, is what a change.
A pretty much 360 degree turnaround.
What I am talking about is a visit to the hospital this morning. You may remember the absolutely awful, and very upsetting appointment with an incredibly insensitive consultant back in January. In brief summary, there was no acknowledgement of Hugo, and I was berated for my weight. My weight was cited as the sole reason for my inability to conceive, and no consideration was given towards my emotional issues. I was denied the fertility drug I took to conceive Hugo on the grounds it ’causes ovarian cancer’ (it may increase the risk, but nothing is without risk of something).
I submitted a formal complaint, and the response added insult to injury with the strong implication the appointment was a disaster because I am a nutcase.
Recovering from that sorry episode took some time.
Moving forward some four months, the difference in my appointment today was incredible. Not wanting any further contact with the original hospital, I’d transferred my care to another provider. It meant starting the process all over again, but it appears to have been worth it.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t the easiest patient this morning. I have post-traumatic stress disorder, meaning being in a clinical environment presents several challenges. Added to that having to repeat my history, including everything that happened with Hugo, I was a stressed-out tightly-coiled spring.
As if that wasn’t enough, after January’s disastrous appointment I was prepared to be on the defensive.
PTSD means the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that deals with your fight/flight emergency response, never turns off. This morning’s stresses ramped up the stress levels to DEFCON 1.
I felt like a particularly pissed off tiger, sitting on its haunches ready to pounce and strike with sharp claws and teeth at the slightest provocation.
Happily, the doctor, (a registrar – trainee consultant) I saw today is a human being – and a caring, empathetic, kind one at that.
We had a conversation about my weight. While I’ve dropped 6kg since the January appointment, it’s still outside the ‘healthy’ range. We discussed that weight can be an issue with conception, but it is not the only one.
Stress is a huge issue that can scupper a woman’s chances of conceiving. To explain a bit more about the amygdala: the fight/flight response is very useful to us when we are in a position of danger. A hormone called cortisol (the stress hormone) floods our body, helping us manage the stress and survive whatever the danger is. The trouble comes when those hormones don’t switch off, and they keep flooding the body.
Cortisol also regulates metabolism, meaning if your cortisol levels are off, your metabolism is too. This not only means your weight is all over the place, potentially impeding conceiving (and therefore making you more stressed, a huge vicious circle), a common result is increased abdominal fat, which you may know is linked to a myriad of health problems of the type that can kill you, like heart attacks.
Cortisol and its compatriot adrenaline are released by the adrenal glands. If our bodies are constantly pumping out cortisol and adrenaline our adrenal glands become fatigued, giving our bodies the message that it’s not a good time to try to conceive. Adrenaline also inhibits our body’s ability to use progesterone, which is vital for fertility.
For many women, even without psychological problems month after month of no little blue line leads to extra stress and possibly emotional eating – and another huge vicious circle.
I wept tears of relief when the doctor said they were perfectly happy to prescribe the fertility drug. Before I get the drug I have to have the regulation investigations to make sure my plumbing is still clear (the drug won’t work if they are not).
As I wrote in Why I Workout, in many ways I am grateful to the insensitive consultant, because that appointment spurred me into action with a huge “f*ck you”. I joined a gym, recruited a personal trainer, and changed my eating habits.
For me the PT has been the biggest contribution to the changes of the past few months: I’ve pushed myself physically, found it to be a huge stress release, and discovered that I actually enjoy working out. As an emotional eater, feeling less stressed is having a positive impact on what I eat, too.
There is still a way to go, physically and psychologically.
But what a huge difference and change to four months ago….not that long, but a lot has happened in between.
The journey is still scary and uncertain, but I am hopeful for more positive times to come.
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