Monday, March 14, 2011

PCOS and Pre-Diabetes

After more than one blood test result came back with high cortisol levels months after I'd stopped taking steroids (to treat my allergic reaction to an epilepsy medication), I decided to see an endocrinologist. I still had some Cushing's syndrome-like symptoms -- particularly excessive weight gain in my stomach area -- so I wanted to find out if I had some sort of underlying endocrine problem.

I saw an endocrinologist in January. She took my meidcal history and ordered a full blood work-up and 24 hour urine collection. I was surprised by the results.

My cortisol levels were completely normal. However, based on my Hemoglobin A1C result of 6.4 (standard range is 4.0 - 5.6; higher than 6.5 means diabetes), the endocrinologist diagnosed me with prediabetes. She said is was a result of my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Additionally, my maternal grandmother developed Type 2 diabetes, so there is also a genetic component at play.

The reason this particular diagnosis took me by surprise is because I've had my glucose levels tested before, but the levels have always been normal (in the 80's).

It is well documented that prednisone raises blood sugar levels. I believe that the high levels of steroids I took for so long triggered my insulin resistence. The doctor put me on metformin, a diabetes medication which is also commonly prescribed for people with PCOS.

About a month after I started taking metformin, I had not lost any weight (something I was hoping for). I decided I needed to take more "drastic" actions, so I cut out sugar from my diet. I stopped eating sweetened food and drinks -- that is, desserts, sweetened snacks, sodas, and other drinks with sugar added (like sport drinks).

I really wanted to lose the extra weight I had gained over the past year. The first couple of weeks were hard, but I'm pretty much used to it now. I think what made the diet easier to stick with was that I did not cut out any other foods.

What's amazing is that just by cutting out all sugar products, I lost 4 pounds in the first week.

Since then, I've lost another 6 pounds (that makes a total of 10 pounds so far!). However, I've made a more serious diet change. I'll talk about my new extreme diet in a future post.

Note added at 3:15pm on March 14: It's interesting how many women with ME/CFS have PCOS or other female issues. I wonder what the connection is...


Jo said...

I too, suffer from insulin resistance and am failing to address this through my diet at the moment. I have done in the past and it's been very good for me. The glucose will stay the same, it's the insulin that rises as your pancreas shoves out more and more of it to get the same effect. Your cells become resistant or 'deaf' to insulin and so you have to make even more. It's a vicious cycle.

OK, you've inspired me. If you can do it, so can I. Back on the old sensible food wagon again!

upnorth said...

That's really interesting about the prediabeties. They recently tested my sugars - they were fine. As for diet changes I suffer from weight loss and loss of appetite as well as maybe IBS??? since the m.e. I've found cutting out wheat has helped a lot. I've been off it for at least 5 years now.

I'm sorry for everything you went through with the mis-diagnosis. Did you ever hear back after writing that letter?

alyson said...

Good for you, Jo! Cutting sugar has not been fun, but it hasn't been horrible either. Whenever I feel a sugar craving, I'll eat a piece of fruit or (if I'm really desperate) something sweetened with artificial sweetener. In general, I don't like to eat things that have been artificially sweetened, but if it keeps me from eating a bunch of sugar, I'll do it. I've slipped up a few times, but I make myself get right back on track. You can do it!

Hi upnorth! I've got IBS, too. It's funny you mentioned cutting out wheat because I've done that, too. I'll be talking about it in my next post. Unfortunately, I never heard back from the neurologist that misdiagnosed me. I'm sure he's worried about my trying to sue him. I decided a while ago that I was not planning to sue because of all the time, money, and energy it would take. All I really wanted was an apology. There has been a new development in this issue, however, that I will be discussing in a future post.