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:

Reasonably steady spirals drawn on a page along with a legibly written sentence.

Reasonably steady spirals drawn on a page along with a legibly written sentence.

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:

  • Almonds
  • Cucumbers
  • Olives & olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • 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:

  • Peanuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • 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.

Michelle fingersThe 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:

Spirals with spiked lines drawn on a page along with a completely illegibly written sentence.

Spirals with spiked lines drawn on a page along with a completely illegibly written sentence.

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.