LIFESTYLE | Health Update, The Big 24, Career Thoughts

Hello my lovelies, it has been a while since I last posted and updated you on a lot of things in my life. The last time we spoke I mentioned to you all about something that was and still is going on with my health that not many people knew about because of my own mental blockages. However since that post, you’ll be pleased to know I finally found my voice and told my parents and went to the doctors and the mystery, even though it turned out to be along the lines of what I thought it was, is solved.

[ @katiej0hnson on Instagram ]

Please note this post was written back in May and a lot has changed since then. But I didn’t want to get rid of this post.

So time for a back track, last year in April time, the skin on my back and around where bra straps usually sit started to get really uncomfortable and irritated. At first I thought it was because I was just at home every day and not doing much movement because of starting lockdown season 1 (the best of all the seasons if you ask me) and my bras were quite old and had become a bit unappealing let’s say. So I decided to just not really wear one with being at home every day. But then my nipples rubbing against certain clothing irritated them sometimes. But not enough to be annoyed about it or anything, Fast forward to July/ August time I began to notice my nipples occasionally leaked. It started out randomly with both of them and I’d never had that before. I consulted doctor Google and turns out is a common thing in your reproductive years so I thought nothing of it. Then it started happening more regularly and only my left nipple was leaking at this point. It would happen randomly at any time, any place. There was no pattern to it. So I started thinking this could be a bit abnormal but it still didn’t completely concern me at this point. I told my best friends about it and they said when you’re ready you should tell your parents or a doctor about it. I began tracking the leaks to see if there was any kind of pattern to when and where and if anything triggered it, it ranged from 0 leaks for 5 days to x2 leaks every day for 10 days for example. It was very sporadic.

Also in July I gained a new symptom; I got acne going up my cheeks along my cheek bone area, which I’d never ever had before. Get the odd spot or two, but even as a teenager I’d never had acne. So I switched up my skincare thinking at first that might be the problem as at first I thought my skin was purging. Which is when your skin reacts to a product but eventually gets better after the purging process. I tried a few different products over 3-6 weeks as that is usually when skin purging calms down. But it’s almost August and my skin is getting worse and my nipple continues to leak. So we get to August, and I gain a third symptom which confirmed to me something hormonal was going on. I didn’t have a period. Now growing up my periods have always been quite irregular – they vary in the time I’m on the period, I occasionally miss a month because I’m pretty sure whatever cycle I’m on is not your monthly clock work one, they also vary in flow. Some months are heavy and some are light and some are a whole mix in between. So at first, I thought nothing of it. When it didn’t come I was like, okay, it’ll come eventually. We get to September, my acne is still bad, my nipple is still leaking, and I still have no period. But even at this point, I’m not worried. I know something is wrong/ a bit abnormal but I wasn’t worried about it.

Then in October something changed in my perception of what was going on with me. For those of you who don’t know, October is breast cancer awareness month and I saw all these posts from people I follow who were promoting checking your breasts and staying in tune with yourself. And I was doing the same, sharing things on my story about looking for the early signs and one of those was leaking nipples, especially if just one is leaking. Also during this month, I found a tiny pea sized lump in my left breast. So my level of concern had raised slightly higher than what it was before. Again at this point, only myself, Jake, and Chloe and Heather knew. So as well as tracking my nipple leakages and my period, I started tracking/ keeping an eye on this lump in my nipple. And I’ll be honest I felt quite isolated as I didn’t know how to tell people. I’ve never been good at telling people when I have a problem or when something is wrong with me so to have all of this was a lot for me to process. But the scariest thing about the whole health issue was the fact that someone else in my life could be doing such a normal activity, such as making a cup of tea, and asking how I am and I’m here saying, ‘Yeah I’m okay are you?’ When in reality I wasn’t! And that person at that moment in time had no idea about anything going on with me. And that started to scare me how easy it is to bury things away even when someone asks if you’re okay.

So here’s some symptoms that started to worsen in October through to December: my nipples started leaking twice a day most days, I also noticed that when I pressed this lump that it would manipulate it and cause my nipple to leak – so there was some kind of blockage, my acne got progressively worse and I was so self conscious about my skin. I only felt okay if I had some form of makeup on, that lump in my boob hurt when it was pressed, some days it felt like a hard ball and other days felt soft, we hit 90 days with no period which is generally when they say you should consult someone if it has been 90 days, I couldn’t wear bras anymore. My skin felt too irritated and uncomfortable so I opted for cami cropped tops (and I still wear those now), I began to notice my nipple usually started leaking at night time, my nipples started to become unbearably itchy and the itching felt like it was on the insides of my nipples as well as the outside which eventually progressed to both of my boobs, I had awful mood swings, really bad back ache, I noticed the discharge was clear but occasionally had a yellow tone to it, I started to get pains in my arm pits that were constantly there and that pain sometimes travelled from the back of my left arm to under my left boob to my armpit and under my armpit – felt more like an ache, the middle of my armpits hurt when my arms were down by my sides or when I squeezed them in. I started needing to sit with pillows under my arms for it to take the sensation away. My left boob’s side was itchy around where the lump was, developed a slight pain in the back of my left shoulder blade, armpit skin became sensitive when it had contact with my other skin, nipple pain, my nipples and areoles became flaky and dry and sore…

So as you can see, it was getting a lot worse. It’s also worth noting during this time period from September all the way through to December, work was a massive stress. I’m not going to go into it all but just know shit was going down and we were all drowning in it and it felt unbearable at times. But you’ll find out why this point is important later. So Christmas passed, it’s the new year and we’re in lockdown again and the overthinking starts again. This is when it got really bad as I knew this wasn’t going away, whatever it was, and that I was gonna have to say something. So it was building up in my head and I could say it out loud when it was just me but then the minute my parents were in the room and I wanted to say it I just couldn’t get the words out. Literally I’d open my mouth and my throat would close up and nothing would come out. But this is a mental thing I have as I’ve noticed this before. All through my life people have spoken over me, with anything, even my parents at times whether they’ve meant to or not. And honestly, I don’t think until this point I realised how much that has messed up my mental health because it meant I lacked the capacity to talk to certain people because I felt like it would get overshadowed. It still does happen, occasionally people talk over me now whether it is purposeful or not. But I’m also well aware it’s my own mind that has made me think like that. That when people don’t listen they don’t care about me or my feelings. Which in some situations I still do feel that way but I just try to focus on me and remind myself that no one thinks 100% like me and no one does things 100% like me. Which is why we have to be mindful of other people and other people in situations. I’m a sensitive yet considerate of everybody else soul which is a good and bad thing to be. But at the same time I love who I am and how I am and what I do for other people and how I treat other people. But I need to stop letting other people’s ways of thinking and doing affect my way of thinking and doing because we’re not the same. We’re all different in every situation, the way we act in said situations, the way we perceive situations and peoples action, and the way we respond to those things as well. And I’m well aware that my family and friends love me and care about me guys, it’s just my brain playing tricks on me into thinking people don’t because of this and that and the other. I’m very aware and in tune with my brain, so don’t you worry. The human mind is a complicated mechanism.

So anyway, the moment came like I knew it eventually would and I found my voice and I told my mum. And my parents did that thing where they say, ‘you should know you can tell us anything’ and deep down I did know that, but my own brain and way of dealing with it was warping that for me. So I told my parents and then eventually told my other friends and I felt so so so proud of myself. Telling people my problems has always been an issue for me. So to have finally been able to push through that was a big achievement for me. Opening up to people in the future will now be made slightly easier thanks to this time. The next steps happened so quick, after I told my mum and dad, we rang the doctor together and I made a phone appointment for the following week. I described my symptoms and what it concerned and the advisor on the desk suggested a particular female doctor to me so I went with her. I felt more comfortable talking to a female doctor considering it was a female issue. After talking with her she was pretty sure it was PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome. But to be on the safe side, she advised for me to have a blood test done and have an ultrasound.

For my blood test I had to fast for 12 hours before and I could only have water during those 12 hours. Honestly I found it absolutely fine, I’d never had a blood test before this moment and honestly I felt fine. If it’s possible I may even consider becoming a blood donor. So I had the blood test within the first week of contacting the doctor and then a couple weeks later I had my ultrasound. Which is such a strange experience when you’re not pregnant btw. As it’s so associated with pregnancy it’s weird when you experience it for anything but. Even though I haven’t experienced pregnancy anyway, haha. But if you’ve never had an ultrasound, my god it is such an uncomfortable experience. I had to drink 2 litres of water before my appointment within the hour before and you’re not allowed to go to the toilet because it helps for the scanner to see your insides more clearly when you have a full bladder. Honestly when she was pressing on my ovaries I really thought I was about to wet myself on her table. But luckily they were very efficient and within 5 minutes of going in the room for the scan it was all done and my bladder was relieved. But honestly I don’t know how pregnant women do it. As I know from experience this year that pregnant women need a wee A LOT. My friend Chloe is pregnant currently and she is very nearly in the third trimester already, crazy how quick a lockdown pregnancy goes as well, but I’m not pregnant and I very nearly wet myself in that ultrasound. So god knows how pregnant women drink that much and don’t automatically just release their bladder. Hats off to all my pregnant huns right now.

After my blood test and ultrasound I finally got to have a face to face appointment with my doctor and it was confirmed I have PCOS. From researching turns out 1 in 10 women have it which is shocking that it’s that common and I’d never heard about it until this year. And something that made me feel better was hearing my friends and family say, ‘oh yeah my friend has that’ or ‘my sister was diagnosed with that’ and it was just lovely to hear it wasn’t just me. So for those of you actually wondering what PCOS is and what it does to your body, I can confidently tell you. I was positive it was a hormonal issue which it is, PCOS is a hormone condition. There are actually 4 different types but the type I have is a problem with my insulin handling the sugar in my blood. So similar to diabetes but that isn’t what I actually have. So the sugar in my blood was very high which has been causing my pancreas to produce more insulin but it wasn’t being effective. When your body produces more insulin it causes your ovaries to produce more testosterone which can cause an imbalance of hormones in your body. Causing the main side affects of: acne, irregular or no periods (mine became the latter), excessive hair growth, weight gain, and trouble with getting pregnant. So the testosterone caused my periods to stop because the level of testosterone compared to estrogen was out of balance. My doctor said to me they knew it was PCOS from my blood test but the main thing they wanted to check was my uterus lining. As of course not having periods, where is all the blood going and what’s happening to the eggs? In PCOS you end up having more follicles in your ovaries. A normal amount is about 6 follicles in your ovaries waiting to be developed into eggs. But if you have PCOS you can have up to 20 follicles in there but they never develop enough to become an egg to be released with a period because of course at this point, I’m not having one. So the undeveloped follicles eventually bio-degrade I suppose you could say and then the whole process starts again. But you’ll be pleased to know that my uterus lining is fine. It is nice and thin as it should be and there is no concern in there.

So I meet my doctor for the first time and we discuss what we do next as once you have PCOS you can’t get rid of it. You can just manage your symptoms better. Doctors still don’t know what 100% causes you to get it as it’s a common misconception that overweight people develop PCOS, but it can affect any woman of any size and shape. The only thing weight can do is make your symptoms worse or harder to manage at times. My doctor was very open, honest, whilst still being mindful of the situation at the same time which I’m grateful for. Negative vibes from people who are supposedly suppose to be helping you is just damaging. As Heather and Chloe have had negative experiences with doctors and I’m grateful my experience was positive. So to shorten the treatment, I was prescribed a tablet called metaformin which is what is used for people who have type 1 diabetes to help manage their symptoms. At the start this was an anxious area for me as I never really take tablets, I’ve always struggled to swallow them so when I’ve had headaches and stuff I just deal with it in my own way. So my doctor asked me to just give it a go, which of course I did, and here we are now 80 tablets done and dusted and finished. I did it, I did it and again I’m so proud of myself. Got over another hurdle that I didn’t think I’d get over. But the doctor also recommended I loose a bit of weight to see if that also helped my symptoms improve. There is a chance loosing weight and the tablets alone may not help, hormone injections is an option but at this point she said to me she didn’t wanna give me injections when my hormones were so out of whack.

But I figured there was no point me trying to lose weight on my current diet as I’ll be honest it wasn’t the best, which I think is partly what caused this to happen in the first place. So my diet before consisted of a lot of saturated fat due to eating ready meals, high sugar content from eating too much chocolate, snacking all night long just because I’m bored, not even going out just for a walk because of lockdown. So first thing I did was cut out the saturated fats by making a list of my favourite meals and swapping out the ready meals for things to make my own dinners. And a lot of the other extras I had with my dinners were already low in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, so that was fine. I honestly feel a lot better for it knowing I’m making better choices for my body. I also decided to eat more whole meal things: pasta, crisps, breads etc because whole meal is really good for keeping your blood sugar low. And I love whole meal stuff anyway so that was again an easy switch. I now (most days) only eat fibre one sweet treats such as brownies, cake squares, red velvet bars etc because they’re low in sugar and low calories too but they taste delicious at the same time. I now only have other sweet treats as literally a treat or a special occasion such as my birthday.

Another thing I was suggested to do was intermittent fasting. My doctor said it is something she suggests to a lot of people with PCOS when they’re trying to lose weight because it’s not about denying yourself of having something you want, it’s about delaying when you have it. My doctor says she does this as a lifestyle choice and has done it for 3+ years now so she’s very knowledgable about it’s workings. But one thing I loved about my doctor is she said everyone is different so just do what works for you. So the first thing I actually did was not look at this as losing weight because even she said, telling yourself you can’t have this and that and calorie counting isn’t fun. Which it isn’t, there is nothing more disheartening than telling yourself you can’t have this and that because all you do is want it after that, because we always want what we can’t have. So when I started this journey I never thought of it as I’m trying to lose weight. I always said to myself it’s me making better life choices for myself, drinking more water, eating more fruit and veg, doing more exercise, and eating less due to my eating period being less. So when I started fasting it was before I went back to work but I fast for 14 hours every night from 10pm and I don’t eat until 12pm the next day. That still does work for me even now since I’ve gone back to work, but when I have days where I’m working 10-2 or 11-4 etc where I’m not getting a break I just eat something for breakfast and then I don’t eat lunch. So I now only have 2 meals a day instead of 3 and I do still eat snacks and treats but much less than I did before. Before I knew about the sugar issues I would eat a whole slab of chocolate no problem and now knowing what that is doing to my body makes me a feel a bit sick. I don’t think I could ever eat a whole bar in one go anymore. So yeah a lot has changed in the last month.

So you’re probably all wondering, where am I at now? I’ve finished the tablets as I said above and did my period come back? …

YES! SHE CAME BACK! Which is amazing as I hadn’t had a period since August last year, so I changed up my lifestyle for a month and it brought my period back and I personally don’t think I lost much if any weight but when I went back to work a lot of people did ask me if I’d lost weight. And I personally don’t weigh myself, I’m not about that vibe. And as I said above, this was never about “losing weight” it was about being more fit and healthy. Plus, weight fluctuates ALL THE TIME everyone. Also, my acne has improved so much! Honestly I’m finally at a point where I don’t hate my skin again which is so nice. But it is interesting as I’ve noticed from not sticking to my whole meal high food diet that my skin does act up when I’ve had more sugary things and more treats than I normally would. Which I have done that past two weekends due to it being mine and Jake’s birthdays. So although that is annoying, it’s not the end of the world. Just like weight, your skin changes all the time too. So it is what it is but I finally have confidence to go out in little or no makeup again. I’m yet to go back to my doctor for a follow up appointment after everything to see what’s going on in my body now after the tablets. From reading online, if they think you can manage your sugars without the tablets then they wont give them to you anymore. So I’m intrigued to see if I get a period this month now I’ve not been taking the tablets for almost 3 weeks. This time last month I had my period from 17th to 29th of April and I haven’t had anything come yet for May. So we shall soon see. I’ll keep you guys updated again once I’ve gone back to my doctor. But if you take anything from this experience, don’t do what I did. Always tell someone if you know something is wrong with you because only you know your own body. Only you know when something feels off or different. So find your voice and be open and just get checked. As luckily for me, this is something I can manage and although I was right about it being a hormone imbalance, you know it might not have been. It could have been an early sign of breast cancer for all I knew. So always, always keep an eye on yourself and get checked out if you feel something isn’t right.

[ @katiej0hnson on Instagram ]

Speaking of birthdays, I recently turned 24! Yes the big 24, I’ve officially hit the beginning of my mid-twenties and honestly, how did we get here? Jake has also recently tuned 26 (a week after me) and it’s mad to me that I’ve known him and been dating him for 2 years nearly. Life has gone so fast, especially in the last year. I feel like I wasn’t even 23 because the last year went so quick, I felt as if I was 24 in January and that was 4 months before I was actually gonna be 24. I had such a wonderful birthday, finally celebrating with the close people in my life this year! It felt so nice for us 6 to get together and to have a meal and a fe drinks. I’m excited to do that more in the coming months. Especially with indoor dining resuming. Ya’ll know I’m already ready for me Nandos. A lot has changed already this year, as in 2021, a lot of people at my work have left and moved on to other things, a lot of people in my life are now engaged, my best friend is pregnant!! So excited to be an auntie. A lot more “grown up” things have happened if you will. Even though I really feel your twenties is such a different experience for everyone. But I suppose the only thing that is the same for everyone during this time, you do a lot of growing and learning and discovering things about yourself and that you want that you didn’t know of before. During the second half of the third lockdown I really got to thinking about my job again and what I wanna do with my career. I know my job isn’t where I wanna be forever, it’s just a filler, but it’s been a filler for nearly 3 years! So I’m starting to think about what i wanna do and actually pursue something else. It’s been on my mind for a while but the uncertainty of lockdowns and COVID made me push myself back and say “now isn’t the right time to be leaving a job” which this time last year it wasn’t. But I can’t put my whole life on hold because of the uncertainty of not knowing. As that would be the same with and without COVID here. Also in November when I was really considering it because of stress and everything else we got thrown into another lockdown before Christmas. You know me, I’m a big believer in the universe, so I do think that was the universes way of telling me ‘no, stay put right now’ – it was very odd timing. So I listened and I did. But I can’t do that forever. I need to stop making excuses for myself and just start going for it like I tell so many other people to.

In terms of my actual degree I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I’m always going to love performing and being a performer on stage will forever be a dream but right now I just don’t think that’s the road for me. Which is crazy as all through college and even uni it was the main thing I wanted to do. Who doesn’t when you study a drama/ performance degree. Crazy how your preferences change as you grow up a little bit and go into the working world for a while. So I’m currently brainstorming what I actually like to do and how I can apply that to what I already have. As I find I have a lot of passions and ideas and skills of different areas but not enough to know where to go with it or what I need to do to be qualified for whatever thing. Especially because some of the things I’d like to do a kind of more specific and there isn’t anything around my area at least for that thing. For example, I’m really passionate about young people. Probably age 13- to my age I guess. I know that so many young people have a lot of doubts, worries, troubles, and don’t always know how to deal with them or feel like they have no one to turn to. I’m really great at talking to people, I’m that person that is always there for everyone and I’m a great advise giver and listener. Everyone deserves to feel enough and like you matter and that they’re important and the suicide rates for young people who have barely even had a chance to experience life are on the rise. Which makes me so sad. I think because at one time in my teens I was at such a low point where I lost who I was completely, and felt like I had no one to turn to. I’ve always said I never want anyone else to feel as low as I did. So when I see another young person commit suicide it just breaks my heart. This year some people I knew personally and worked with at one time or another with drama have also awfully committed suicide. But the worse thing about those ones is it could’ve been prevented with a bit more care and consideration from the people who were involved. So I feel like we all need to do more and that’s something I think I’d be good at. So I’ve been taking a look into potentially becoming a drama therapist as it says online if you have either a drama or psychology degree then you can become a drama therapist. But I’m not sure where it extends beyond that. So I’ve got to do proper research and everything. As a lot of things around where I live are caring for older people or for children but I know that’s just not for me. As my small town doesn’t really have anything for young people in terms of their mental health as far as I know. Apart from going to proper therapy etc. So that’s something I’m gonna get to looking into.

[CREDIT: PINTEREST]

My other career step is starting own nail business. I’ve looked to see if any salon around me does training on the job but I’ll be honest I already know quite a lot from doing my nails and watching YouTube videos. Being honest, doing peoples nails is best learnt actually doing it and it’s not like I don’t know how to do nails. I just don’t have an official certificate to say I can legally do it in a salon. Even though I know I have all the skills and all the potential to be amazing. Everyone has said it to me forever so it’s time I start listening. In lockdown I came up with the idea of starting a business of press on nails on Etsy. This idea isn’t new, loads of people are already doing it on Etsy, but every nail tech is different. Same as every artist is different. But I figured this will be a great starting point for me in term of pursuing a nail technician career. During lockdown I had lots of time and got working on my skill and new designs etc, I bought all my supplies I’d need and then I rounded up some testers to test them out for me once I’ve shaped and painted them. Which is where were at now. Going back to work has pushed it back for a bit but now that my hours are going down I figured it’s the perfect time to finally get back on top and get working on it. If you want a business to do well you have to put the effort in, especially a small business.

That’s where we’re at everyone. That’s what’s been going on in my life and my thoughts. But I do want you all to know I’m absolutely fine. I’m all good and life is good. How are you all doing? Are you back at work yet or are you currently switching up your career? How are you feeling with more restrictions easing? Have you managed to reunite with friends and family and other loved ones yet? Do let me know, I’d love to chat in the comments.

Speak soon! More updates coming your way.

Published by katieloudoeslife

Hello lovelies, my name is Katie. I'm twenty two and currently trying to figure out my life. Some of you might know me from blogger, but it's a new year, new blog! I'm a university graduate with a degree in drama and theatre studies with a love and passion for all things performing as well as a keen interest in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, nails, home interiors, body positivity, and mindfulness. A lover of coffee, cats, space, mugs, planners, inspirational quotes, astrology, tarot readings, spirituality, reading, and using too many notebooks at once. I hope you find something here to make you feel inspired. Choose joy, be kind. With love & light, Katie ♡

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