Monday, January 26, 2009

Is it Swelling as a Reaction?

Like most women in the world, I've had weight problems. Like a majority of these same women, I also have a mistaken perception of my physical features. When I feel thin and in shape and people take pictures I see the pudgy chipmunk cheeks and wonder why I couldn't see those before the images existed. When I feel as if my legs are so swollen I can't fit into clothes that aren't labeled Barnum & Bailey, pictures show me as lean. Weird. But true.

For many of us, weight is just a minor inconvenience, with just simple reasons for it to change. We may be on birth control, (average weight gain 5-15 lbs), we may be on medications, (antidepressants, for example, can slow metabolism down so we get about 1 to 5% of our body weight added), or we may have a reaction to foods, such as sodium causing water to turn us into balloons. It's an average of 10 lbs of fluctuation a month even if you don't take medications or have a limited salt intake. It's just life. You weigh less after bowel movements, you weigh more after working out due to water and muscle weight, and you weigh less if you haven't had any liquids. It's not a weight issue, it's a healthy body you and I need to focus our attentions, towards, and this will help keep our body image in check.

As a child, I was not exactly a skinny kid, except in third grade, when, for some unexplained reason, I suddenly looked like a rail. I went through my prescription history and learned when I was on asthma medications that seemed to work as amphetamines do, my weight was remarkably increased. Inhalers didn't have steroids then, and the primary use of caffeine for children was in opening up airways. Doctors prescribed benadryl and coffee. After much testing a full cocktail of allergy meds became a monthly ritual. The years I had my bicycle also proved to be my lean years. But, I was given allergy shots, and the asthma dissipated over time.

When my parents went through a rather dramatic and drawn out custody battle, my weight suddenly shot up. It was puberty that was at hand. My hormones were a little nutty, and even back then, I spent at least one week a month on my knees, on the new prescription drug, "motrin", and even had muscle relaxants prescribed. At eleven, I was passing into the new world of menstruation, and all I had read and had been told led me to believe that women just have to deal with cramps, pain, and other distress that came along with womanhood. I was expecting to grow by massive leaps, and didn't seem too surprised when I was pudgy again.

Over the next three years, I was given Librax, Motrin, Robaxin, and phazyme. You could track the dosages in my history, look at my photographs, and tell exactly when my dosages were going up, and when they were pulled back. My body was not happy with the medications. Suddenly, I went off all medications, except for those required for the managing of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the day I went to bootcamp in Orlando, Florida. The decision was more a matter of keeping my body as healthy as possible, despite occasional asthma and feminine destruction. I wanted to have a clean slate for my new life.

A friend of mine had Crohn's disease, and I visited her in the hospital not long before my flight. She was a tiny woman, with freckles, red hair, and although African-American, she looked like a little Tinkerbelle. The show we did together even had her cast as the fairy creature. I was always in awe of her courage in handling her illness. She was so used to it, and yet she was there, at 17 years old, with IV's in her. She was the first person to tell me, "You look swollen", and talked to me about the medications I was on. We had worked together in a Boston Youth Theater, and her brother played leads in the shows. He walked in just as we were finishing our chat. I never saw her again, but I always remember that conversation.

Suddenly, bootcamp was over. The winter in Florida was transformed into a spring in Chicago. During that summer, I took no medications at all, except Tylenol during cramps. My mental stability was all over the place, as I was unknowingly in withdrawal for the Librax. But, the oddest change was that my weight suddenly leveled off at 119 pounds. I stayed that way for twelve years. Occasionally, as I was placed on other medications for different reasons, I would notice my face and hands a little puffier, but I never tracked the meds on a time line with my weight.

When I was in my early thirties, a doctor placed me on antidepressant medication. It was at this time that I really started to notice that no matter how much I did, no matter how long I was at the gym, no matter how many times I went dancing with friends, waited tables, worked nights in shows- I couldn't lose the sudden increase of twenty pounds. I asked my doctor if I was experiencing side effects from the medication. He said, "Not likely. You just seem to retain water. You're getting older, you know." Really? I hadn't noticed. There's a photograph if me riding horses on my 30th Birthday and I am a size five. Three years later, I'm on the same horse, and I'm now an eight. Something wasn't right.

For most of my thirties, I worked out heavily. I was sword fighting in ren-faires, wearing costumes that were 20-30 lbs each. I was at the gym. I was eating one meal or less a day. But, there was always medications in my system. I started showing signs that the Ehlers-Danlos had progressed, and there was a three year period before I started with the Veterans, and Medicare, that I had no medications in my system at all. Suddenly, I was back down to 119 pounds. Nothing had changed, except the drugs. In fact, I was doing less than ever, so I should have been gaining weight. The loss was rather rapid, nearly 50 pounds in four months time. And it stayed off. But, then I was given new health care, and the doctors were concerned that the pain the dislocations caused was not managed.

When I was 40, I was given narcotics and opioids to handle the pain. Over a short period of time, my weight started to creep back up again. I was given antidepressants. Again the weight would rise. Nothing else had changed, just the drugs. I went to have my septum repaired and one of the interns noted that I had prednisone, and was showing signs of edema in my hands and feet. He even marked in my chart that my face and eyes appeared puffy. I started a diary of weight changes, swelling changes and even when my hands were puffy. The results startled me. The doctors barely shrugged it off.

During the times I take my pain medications I swell up between 3-5 inches around my ankles, hands, belly, and even my head. When I take meds, I have swelling that gives the appearance of being drastically overweight. It took three years for any doctor to remark about this. I only wear clogs, as I can't buckle, tie, or zip, and she said to take my shoes off. I told her I couldn't. My feet were swelled up into the shoes. She did a test to see how big of an indent she could make,and how long it lasted. Now I was given a new drug- a diuretic. I am supposed to take this diuretic in the morning.

The diuretic doesn't seem to work at all until the times of the day when I am taking pain medication. Suddenly, the swelling starts up, and the trips to the bathroom are frequent. I brought this up to the Veteran Health doctor, and she told me, "Yeah, that's too bad". I gain up to twenty-three pounds in a week during times when I have many dislocations, and drop down to about six pounds within "normal" when I am relatively joint stable. The doctor is not convinced that my metabolism has been affected by pain meds, and keeps trying to tell me that "Morphine makes you skinny!" as if I had no idea that the correlation of the opiate and my weight chart are simply coincidence.

However, the FDA seems to disagree. In fact, it's an antidiuretic. Swelling will occur. Even Merck, the medical students manual for education, and one of the largest producers of drugs in the country posts directly on their site morphine decreases sleep, libido, increases swelling, and weight gain is expected for long term users.

Today's questions- Are you noting in a diary or a time line any physical or mental changes that occur when you take medications? Have you been told by a doctor to disregard side effects? What has been the biggest surprise discovered by reading the medication inserts for your prescriptions or over-the-counter meds and supplements?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Health for the Few, Health for the Masses

The term "getting healthy" is a great way to provide a sense of purpose. The term "getting into recovery" is misleading. It leads the person to believe that s/he had a sense of health at one point, and many people in recovery only are familiar with their illness, their weight, their injury, their addictions. There isn't a sense of control of health. Yet, there IS a sense of loss, and that leads people in "recovery" to discover that they are only recovering feelings that lead them back to the pain they are supposed to be healing from in the first place.

Many of my friends are in different class struggles at the moment, and looking to find a place of "getting healthy". In the last five years, doctors in the area we live are leaving the world of HMO's and PPO's and opting for Concierge Health Care. When I was a child, we used to have a family doctor. He used to live in a house, worked out of the bottom floor, and we would visit him once every month for my allergy shots.

The same procedure under an HMO entails a wait of 40-45 days for an appointment, and an RN giving injections. Health isn't discussed. Back then, we'd pay in advance, for ten appointments, at $10 an appointment, which covered the cost of the shot. The doctor also noted changes in my skin, hair, eyes, and would take my temperature, and blood pressure. It was often far too low, in both, and he would schedule a regular appointment to ensure my asthma hadn't progressed.

The Concierge Service Doctors are similar in that they are supposed to treat you with dignity, as a preferred patient, as someone who deserves to be seen. The difference is that as a child, my parents paid a fee to a man who cared about my welfare, as the doctor who served to help my mother give birth, and who saw me from an infant to a pre-teen. The Concierge Service allows a doctor to put you on a preferred list, for a very high fee, and it only matters to him for a year. After that, you either need to give another enormous fee, (which doesn't include the cost of the medications, appointment, or incidental hospital care), or you are shuffled back into the system as a standard patient. You simply aren't a concern. The bottom line is the purpose of the profession, just as it it is for the HMO.

People have been rumbling for years that if we had a Universal Health Care System we would have and end to "have-have not's" method of care. Several of my friends were treated to the health systems in South America, Canada, and Europe. I've heard good and bad on both sides, and the bad stems from greed which still exists regardless of who is paying. A doctor, specialist, or hospital will gladly take cash over government vouchers, and will gladly put that cash paying patient ahead of the one who is assisted by the state. However, many countries have a check and balances system which prevents this, allowing Hospital Patient Advocates, or Ombudsmen serve as a legal proxy to the patient. The hospital answers to the advocate, and therefore the state, before answering to the patient.

For those who had bad health their whole lives, the idea that a Universal Health System will end that nightmare is just not realistic. It's a system that puts patients into Recovery, but not in promoting the future good health. It allows patients to feel trapped by their illnesses. This system is supposed to do much to help preventative care, and to help handle emergency care, but for long-term illnesses, there isn't a lot to be done except lead a patient to being "stable". Cancer patients, chronic pain patients, genetic disorder patients learn to maintain themselves, but it's rare that this system will cure or treat someone who would just take up more financial liability than someone who simply needs a flu shot.

Again, my years in the Veterans Health care system has been a constant struggle to get doctors to pay attention to symptoms rather than tests. These doctors are people who have no financial or educational gain to provide me with anything differently. If the system were run through a medical testing facility, I may have a fighting chance to know what it's like not being in a constant state of "recovery". Instead, I would be on the road to TRUE health, and I would learn what it would mean to have a normal, or at least as close to normal, state of being.

My husband has private insurance. I have a Medicare Program in addition to my Veterans because of disability. He and I receive similar care. My deductible is set by the agreement made between the insurer and Medicare. His policy is determined by the previous people on the plan, and the likelihood of future health based on past documented care. My disability payment is garnished to pay for my program. His employer set up an agreed amount he would pay for his. The wait times I experience are greater, and I do have to meet "criteria set by Medicare" before I am prescribed medication or procedures. That is the key difference. But, he is as likely to have the same surgeons, the same prescriptions, the same specialists as I do because they are approved by Medicare. In fact, he finds that he needs approval for prescriptions that aren't used often by people in his program, and that creates more issues for him.

If there were a Universal Health Care system set into place that allowed patients to elect a governmental program, or private program, it is likely that due the impact on the finances of small business owners, and larger corporate retirement programs, many people will end up in the government program. The cost of care privately has become prohibitive, and even substantially effects hiring policies of companies that are understaffed.

So what happens to the Concierge doctors? What happens to the finances of the hospitals, surgeons and specialists who rely on private paying citizens for their check? Some have said that doctors would receive better and free education to be part of the program, cutting millions of dollars every year from the Student Loans. Others suggest that the scientific sector would benefit because these doctors would have more reason to seek out private jobs within medical research. I don't know if either scenario is true, but it is certainly a step forward. Some doctors are working to keep the Concierge method in place, and to make a cultural difference between those who "have" government care and those who have Concierge care. The rich are expected to support the rich.

Today's Questions- If you are currently a patient in a governmental health care program, do you feel you are getting less care than someone in the private sector? If you are a patient with Concierge care are you concerned about the possible move towards Universal Health Care? If you are somewhere in between, do you find it hard to get basic or specialist care?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sometimes Natural Just Ain't So

I have spent the last few days on the FDA sites, learning about my medications, and supplements given to augment them. First, I want to warn you- you may be frightened by my findings. You may find yourself running to the bathroom, taking all your prescription bottles, and "extras" like Vitamins and over the counter meds, and comparing them to the notes you will find. I warn you, this is exactly what I did, and I'm happier for it.

The FDA was started to help regulate medications sold to patients during the mid-twentieth century. It was designed to be a watchdog over the pharmaceuticals, and more so, over the medications given to patients as prescription. By the 1950's, you needed a specific prescription to get medications, rather than having the apothecary mix them for you. Dosages, chemical levels, and the efficacy of medications are all under scrutiny by the FDA before a drug is sold to the public. However, efficacy isn't always tested properly, and fully before these drugs are released, and supplements or food items aren't considered by the FDA.

Before you wonder, is she completely against ALL medications? No, I'm not. At all. I have grown to admire Jonas Salk far more from the studies. He was someone who wouldn't patent his polio vaccine, as he saw that it belonged to all the people who needed it. He wasn't trying to maneuver a medication into the market so it would provide profitability for a corporation. He really was a great medical professional. I have learned about the work done at the Cleveland Clinic and the doctors who are working to find cures rather than line wallets. But, there are medications that are in your homes, NOW that are still being tested for their actual uses, the contraindications of using them, and the harm caused, including deaths, and you are the test subject.

Several doctors have told me to take vitamins and increase my use of mineral supplements. Some of them said this to me back when I was still in grade school, noting the tearing fingernails, and bad skin that kids get as they enter puberty. I thought taking a multivitamin was the smart way to go. For a few months, I ended up finding myself in the bathroom a lot longer than I needed to be because of cramping and pain associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The reality was that I had been exposed to a lot of milk by-products. For years, I was lactose intolerant, and I had only created a bigger issue within my body by trying to help out.

Friends have offered their supplements to me as miracle wonder cures for the joint disorder I have, or for the usual day-to-day issues we all have. Headaches can be cured with tea tree oil. Eucalyptus is a cure for asthma. Coconut Oil relieves dandruff. The list could go on for hours. Some of the biggest offers I have had were in tea form. Green tea will stop me from eating. Ginseng will make me smarter. My vision will increase if I have carrot juice tea. And of course, St. John's Wort cures everyone from depression.

There are still tests going on for the use of supplements and most of the medications you have in your home. Some of these tests are done through REAL patients having REAL symptoms, and are noted in a database called MedWatch by physicians and other medical professionals. The information is voluntary, and is gathered for evidence in favor of or for failure of the chemicals we place in our bodies. From nail polishes to chemotherapy medications, there are those who do keep track of the issues we have faced, and do place that information in to this database.

But, there is still a huge area of concern over any medications which don't show signs of their effectiveness. Since programs like MedWatch are voluntary, the only way to find out if a specific medication causes problems is to read the labeling. Read all of it, including the section that says "inactive ingredients".

Sign onto sites that allow you to test your meds against their side effects of using OTHER medications. Such as, if you use Codeine, could you still take Motrin? If you are on birth control pills, do you have a problem if you take migraine medication? How about taking Calcium and hormone medications? Do you know what happens if you take a green tea, with caffeine, and a blood pressure medication, too? How about this- when you visit your doctor, do you bring in all bottles- prescription, over the counter, AND supplements which you are taking?

By going through my medications, and viewing the reports on the FDA sites, as well as the Drug Interaction Checker websites, I discovered three of my meds are on a "watch" list. Two medications taken together can cause heart problems. And, six of my meds are list "although rare, death or internal bleeding may occur." Six of these are likely to kill someone. This was discovered through actual reported deaths by doctors who used MedWatch. Hospitals aren't required to autopsy, or report if someone dies due to a medication. The number of deaths may be greatly under reported.

No one is saying "stop buying meds". I am saying be educated about what it is you are taking. If you don't ask your doctors about the side effects, don't become a statistic who is facing unnecessary trauma, or even death by assuming s/he would tell you. When you get a prescription it comes with a form that tells you the chemical compound, the details required by law, and certainly and most importantly, the side effects. If you are thinking about trying a medication, first visit the FDA sites and see what they've got on them. You may save your own life.
Here are a couple more drug interaction checking sites:
PDR Health This site is done by Physician Desk Reference, the predominant tool for pharmacy and drug prescribing information for most US Doctors.

Today's questions: What would you do if you discovered the symptoms you were dealing with are actually the resulting side effects of another medication? How can you better educate yourself while still in a doctor's office? Are many of your medications new as of 2001, or are they older formulas?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Melody Petersen is YOUR Champion

In hunting for websites and education resources for patients, I get emails from people trying to sell me their medications. I get emails from people who are trying to convince me that things like Goat urine and Emu oils are the cure I am seeking. And, I get emails from people who are also fighting their insurance companies, their doctors, and even their own families for an opportunity to simply be heard. And, every so often I get emails from book companies that offer ideas for different resources. It was through this email that I discovered a writer who understands the American medical system so well she wrote a book about it. No other book can compare and I need to recommend "Our Daily Meds" by Melody Petersen to anyone who is capable of reading, and an audio version to anyone is not.

When I was a child, I remember news stories about Miracle Drugs, and then talk shows interviewing well-dressed, sage-looking people who would sputter on about what we needed as a civilization to survive. Mike Douglas, Phil Donohue, and 60 Minutes each focused our attention on pills and super-drugs designed to eradicate our depression, ensure our vitality, and certainly end all need for diets. In truth, the marketing of these medications has not changed much from the days when Snake Oil salesmen would come to towns and offer a song and dance regarding the magic of their potions. The only difference is the numbers in millions of people who are now sold these oils, disguised as real cure-alls.

Aspirin, antibiotics, and anesthesia did change the landscape of medicine so that people would be assisted- enhancing the quality of life. The packaging of drug after drug, that never gets tested on the demographic for which it is alleged to help, is just a new way of selling snake oil. Melody Petersen wants YOU to be aware of these tactics and the abuse of pharmaceutical companies to the detriment of our health.

Within the first two chapters, you are given examples of pills that have, in fact, killed people when tested against placebos. The medications were approved through the FDA, not through extensive tests comparing efficacy against similar medications, but against their efficacy in comparison to sugar pills. Asprin isn't tested against another form of pain medication. Meridia isn't tested against another form of appetite control. All responses are based on that formula's failures against simple sugar. We are, in fact, sold medications through marketing, and NOT through actual patient histories. The general public isn't tested, in broad studies, encompassing children, seniors, men and women, of different nationalities, or different diets. The testing of medications is done on volunteers, generally between the ages of 18-24, generally male, and predominantly through the idea that the people trying these will be compensated for their responses. A man will be tested for a birth control pill before a woman will.

Ms. Petersen exposes dozens of medical failures. She also exposes the increasing number of medical professionals who are swayed by gifts, financial gains, and by vacations, all funded by pharmaceutical companies to promote and increase the number of prescriptions of their current hot medication. Many of the stories posted in the press are written by authors who are subsidized directly by the marketing departments of drug companies. More money is spent on marketing medications in one year, than is spent on educating our children in school systems, over a ten year period. There are more medical researchers who spend their midnight oil on the discovery of wrinkle cures than there are on cancer cures because there are far more dollars to be made through a general population seeking youth.

Vitamin deficiencies in our diet, now peppered with processed food, drive-through dinners, and lack of vegetables and fruits cause myriad problems. But, pharmaceutical companies help to promote the idea that new illnesses have come to fruition over the last twenty years- including restless leg syndrome, bladder incontinence, attention deficit, and the always controversial fibromyalgia. In fact, these issues have been in our population for thousands of years, but the marketing of medications to 'manage' these issues has only been a billion dollar industry since the increase of mass communication. Melody Petersen points out the ways industries have not only tried to get the general public to beg for these cures, but the ways these companies have re-worded, and re-tooled natural issues in our lives into a financial windfall by inventing illnesses and catch phrases to describe them.

Insurance companies are in constant conflict with these corporations. If you look through the Medicare Approved Prescription list for 2009, you will find that much of the formulas listed are older than fifteen years. The general public has gone through at least some long-term history with the drugs approved. Remeron, for instance, is an older medication for both depression, mild psychotic episodes, and attention issues. It costs pennies to make this drug, and the generics are available, as mirtazapine. Ritalin, Paxil, AND Ambien are prescribed to patients for the same issues that one medication has proven in aid to these patients. Meridia, unavailable as an antidepressant, is not marketed as any thing other than a "weight control medication", yet reading the description of the chemistry put into this drug, it is has affects on seratonin- the chemical believed to have an affect on depressive disorders. It isn't available in generic form, so the insurance companies have less interest in approving the drug for depression.

Melody Petersen also points out that our doctors are often educated directly by the pharmaceutical companies, both in their medical studies, and beyond. Wings of universities are named for drug corporations. Events are sponsored by the fad drug of the month- something muttered by Oprah ends up on the news, whereas a researcher in Italy who uncovers the connection with fiber rich diets and breast tissue density isn't given a mention.

The fact is IF there were magic pills to prevent aging, stop us from getting heavier, or increase our sexuality and attractiveness to the opposite sex, the plastic surgery industry wouldn't do so well in places like Hollywood, where beauty is the primary concern of many of those seeing medical help. If pills could stop us from being socially awkward, force us to pay attention, and stop sadness, there would be no psychotherapy. There are improvements in treatments of epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and breast cancers, among other illnesses and syndromes. However, the advances in our health are always secondary to those methods that increase stock holdings, cash value, and the price of a medication.

Petersen is your champion, and she's mine, for pointing out that our doctors are sitting in offices decorated in the logos of drug companies. We spend less time with our doctors talking about the side effects of a pill than we do watching a commercial for the medication we're given. She also wants us to understand that covering up side effects of one pill with another isn't a way to improve our health- and could cause long-term issues.

Today's questions- Who has pointed out different medications you could take for your conditions? Have you ever felt pressured by a doctor to "try" something you didn't feel was right for you? Do you find yourself talking about medications because of television, internet, or magazine ads?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"You're on the Net too much"

When I first started learning about what was going on with this body of mine, I started out by reading the medical texts books put out by Merck. The Merck Manuals are the most looked-to sources for medical professionals, and the Physicians Desk Reference is the one guidebook found not only on the desks of medical practices, but in the Pharmacists tool kit. It's even used by those who determine the outcome of disability applications. I figured, these two sources would be the primary information location, and I would easily discover all that I needed to know about Ehlers-Danlos, IBS, and depression. I was in for a rude awakening.

The internet became part of my daily life back in 1986, when I was a student at Massachusetts College of Art. I signed onto a BBS, with a 300 baud modem, on an Apple Lisa, that probably cost more than my current car. I was studying computer graphics on an IBM Targa and an Apple IIGs, and video on an Amiga 500. (I can now do all of the work I had with three computers, on one laptop in a fraction of the time, and most grade school kids learn what I did when they're still in kindergarten.) But I have nearly 23 years of experience on line, and I know there is as much false information available as there is truth. Wikipedia is not part of my studies, except for hobby based activities. Rumors make for bad medicine.

Nothing is more dangerous to our health than doctors who are intimidated by our willingness to learn. Today we can read any complaints against our doctors no matter where they've practiced. We can read others experiences with medications, and we can meet entire communities of people who are experiencing our symptoms. It was via the net that I met others who served as 'test dummies' to rheumatology students, and found out about the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation. I discovered that there are even better organizations overseas, with Italian doctors who are in current trails with EDS patients. And, I learned that medications that were handed to me in almost a cavalier fashion were going to leave long-term effects that would create life-long struggles with autoimmunity.

The first time I said to a doctor, "I don't think I've been battling depression since I was a teenager, I think it's hormonal, and I think it's useless to hand me yet one more antidepressant", you could just about hear the doctor smirk. I had a dent on the top of my head where I was pat, and heard, "No dear, you're on the internet too much, and you've been doing reading, hmm?" We have to remind the doctors, a majority of them spend less than one hour of learning time about our particular illnesses back in med school, yet, we spend several hours a DAY researching medications, alternative therapies, and certainly updated research. I have a subscription to Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine AND Merck's website. I don't just visit checking a symptom checker. I had understood that my symptoms were directly related to my cycle and I had a long term record to prove it.

Each cycle, whether heavy, light, or in between, I noticed when I would bloat. I would mark out on a chart when I would have mood swings. Each week, I would note that there were days when my edema was extreme, and other days when I would have to urinate at least once every 35 minutes. The VA gave me a new GYN after my regular doctor there was fired. The new person in charge of my health is Dr. Mary Schram, and she was the first one who looked at the records I kept and said to me, "I think you have Polycystic Ovaries, and I want to get you in for a sonogram."

Sure enough, the tests showed I had built up years of scar tissue and years of cysts on my ovaries and fallopian tubes. I am extremely intolerant of estrogens. I had already known for many years that I was unable to carry a child, and with a genetic disorder, that wasn't a priority. But, I had struggled with many years of depression, and the idea that my hormones were directly related to this made far more sense than anything else I had discovered. And, I never could stay on any one birth control pill for longer than a few months. Every time I had soy, I would become ill. My body was screaming at me "PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR HORMONES!" and I was trying to get a doctor to hear it, too. Finally, Dr. Schram said to me, "Your ovarian cysts are causing havoc on your body."

For years I was given so many antidepressants, antipsychotics, and other mind related medications I was destroying the thyroid, my own hormone regulation, and certainly had caused issues with my liver and pancreas. My gallbladder reacted with stones and pain. My thyroid reacted by turning off, and growing nodules. My pituitary reacted by sending adrenaline and my body had an irregular melatonin level. Nothing can work the way it was intended as all the regulators in my system were altered by misinformed medical professionals who dismissed symptoms. My immune system now has begun to fight against every joint in my body. The swelling and pain proves to be incapacitating, with edema being the one symptom that no doctor ignores.

I learned about Polycystic ovarian disorder and studied it for years. I had always suspected that my body was responding to the nodes. I can tell you the exact days of the month that I will be in deep depression, the exact days I will have manic mood swings, and the days I will be running back and forth to the lavatory. Yet, because I researched my own condition, I was dismissed by many people who claimed to know better what my body was doing.

Today's questions- What have you discovered about your body online that you would like a doctor to explore? Have you been to European and Asian websites to learn about your condition? Do you find there are people on line who are more inclined to know about your situation than your local doctors?