I know, I know. I’m supposed to be talking about polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) this week. I had my follow-up with the neurologist last week, though, and wanted to tell you about that first.
The first thing the neurologist said to me was, “How’s the fibromyalgia?”
“I don’t have fibromyalgia,” I said, “I have PCOS.” We stared at each other for a beat, each believing the other was looking at the wrong file. Though I don’t know how I could have been doing that because mine’s not a file, it’s a body.
Doc decided to try a different tack. “Do you have aching in your joints?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure I’m starting to get arthritis in the top joint of this finger, but other than that…”
“Okay, so your chronic fatigue has not progressed to fibromyalgia yet.”
“I have chronic fatigue?”
“Yes. Your constant fatigue. We talked about it last time you were here. It played a major role in the packet I gave you at your last visit,” At this point, he’s beginning to suspect dementia as well.
“Oh. I thought that was a mistake.”
“No. No, it wasn’t a mistake.” I could feel the sigh he was holding back. “The spironolactone I prescribed was supposed to help with that.”
“I thought it was for the PCOS.”
He nodded, “Which is a possible cause of your fatigue.”
I’m a little embarrassed to say it never occurred to me to look at it that way. I tend to think of myself as fairly medically savvy, but I sure missed a lot at my first meeting with this doctor.
Then he asked if the medicine had helped at all with my tremors. I hadn’t realized it was supposed to. I didn’t feel too bad about that, though, because none of the other doctors I visited in-between had any idea spironolactone would help with hand tremors.
The neurologist explained that benign essential tremor is linked to blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. PCOS can cause insulin resistance, so it makes sense that getting PCOS under control would help level out your blood sugar, which would decrease tremors.
The link between blood sugar and tremors immediately rang true for me because whenever I forget to eat and get hypoglycemic, I start to shake.
I haven’t really noticed a difference in the tremors yet, so I don’t know if the medicine is working for that or not. Yet.
To figure that out, he had me do what’s called a spiral test. You draw a spiral with each hand and write a particular sentence with your dominant hand. You do that every time you come in and then compare them to see if the tremor is progressing or not. The one I did at the previous visit had not been uploaded yet, so we couldn’t compare it to the new one.
Here’s my spiral test from last week’s visit:
One of the best things the doctor told me that day was that he doesn’t expect my tremors to get significantly worse. He also said the odds of it migrating to my neck area, which would mean a vocal tremor like Katherine Hepburn’s, are very low. Imagining that it did migrate makes me wish I could show my high school choir mentor, Suzanne, that I learned to do a vocal shake without using my index finger.
We spent the rest of the visit discussing diet. He wrote out a list of things I should and should not eat, calling it the tremor diet. And the diabetes diet because it aids in managing blood sugar levels. And the eye diet because blood sugar levels that are high, but not yet in the diabetes range have been linked to myopia.
The yes list includes:
- Olives & olive oil
- Cinnamon verum (true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon) – Doctor suggested drinking Ceylon cinnamon tea every day.
The cinnamon listed up there is the kind that’s good for you. The kind under the no list is apparently toxic to humans. Which explains why it is outlawed in Europe and the most common kind sold in the US.
The no list includes:
- White rice
- White bread
- Cassia cinnamon
The last thing the doctor told me was that testosterone levels have been linked to the comparative size of the middle* and ring fingers. Since that ratio doesn’t change, they think it has something to do with the mother’s testosterone levels during pregnancy.
The doctor, Sparky, and I all looked at our hands. My middle finger towers over my ring finger, while both men have relatively even fingers. I had the highest testosterone level in the room. Sparky pointed out that I also had the highest estrogen level in the room. I totally won the doctor visit.
A few days after that appointment, I noticed that my hands were shaking up a storm. Bad enough that I couldn’t write legibly. That never happens when I consult a doctor – my hands are always rock steady when I don’t need them to be. So I did another spiral test and mailed it to my doctor for my file. Here’s that test:
It’s kind of like trying to draw circles with an Etch A Sketch.
*Info I found online that night indicated it was the index finger rather than the middle. I thought maybe I’d just heard the doctor wrong, but Sparky remembers him saying middle, too. I win either way.
I had no idea that there was a good cinnamon and a bad one. No doubt I’m using the wrong one…
And I’ve never heard a doctor say that chronic fatigue syndrome “progresses” to become fibromyalgia. In fact, since they still don’t know what causes either, and some people have just one and some people have both, that’s a pretty absurd statement. (I had both for about 16 years, to a fairly hideous degree. Still have fibro, and am more tired than the average person, but don’t consider myself to have CFS anymore.)
I’m glad your tremors aren’t going to get worse. Hope the meds help!
It’s quite possible that I heard “progresses” when he really said something more like “often also develop.” On the other hand, I have recently had several experiences where the doctor says one thing during one visit and then reverses it on the next. I’m guessing that’s because they’re human and it’s like Dan in Sports Night where he is recapping his conversation about his opposition to secular schools getting government funding and then Casey says, “You mean non-secular,” and Dan’s excitement crumbles because the person he was talking to (Hillary Clinton, I think) now thinks he doesn’t know the difference. I love that bit.
I’m also worried about cinnamon now. And I’m fascinated by my finger heights. My ring finger is way taller than my index one and just barely shorter than my middle finger…that MUST mean something. /stares at hands/
Anything I can do to contribute to your anxiety, babe. 🙂
I literally just turned on the flashlight on my phone so I could check out my hands and my husband’s (both relatively even)! I hope the meds help with the tremors and so sorry to even hear that you’re havjng to deal with tremors!