I have a dilemma, and I’d like your help with it. I don’t have the answers–just the problems.
Here’s the scenario: You are acquainted with someone (through work, school, church, a community group, etc.) who you think has PCOS. You know her name and a few things about her, you exchange “hellos” when you see each other, and one time you sat at the same table for a dinner party; but, you really don’t know her well. Her appearance highly suggests that she has PCOS. You have PCOS too. What do you do? Do you say something?
I’ve been in this exact scenario more times than I can count, and I never know what to do. What do you do? I want to talk about PCOS. I want people to know that they aren’t alone. But I also don’t want to offend them.
Here’s where the problem originated for me: When I was attending Brigham Young University, I found a new dermatologist. He wrote “[RA] HAS PCOS” in large, bold handwritting all the way across the front of my chart. Every time I saw him, those words were clearly visible–even to me.
One summer, miracle dermatologist went on an extended international vacation and a young newly-minted physician filled in. New physician came in and we said hello. Then he seemed a bit flummoxed, stood up, and with a confused expression on his face said, “Excuse me, I must have grabbed the wrong chart. I’ll be right back.” I could see the chart, so I told him that it had my name on it. He looked at me with a questioning eye. Then he said “Are you sure this is yours? It says that the patient has PCOS, and you don’t look like someone with PCOS.”
That sentence was probably one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. In my anxious mind, someone saying “You don’t look like you have PCOS” is equivalent to someone saying “You look beautiful today.” The goal of a woman with PCOS is to not look like you have PCOS.
So, now you can see my dilemma. If an acquaintance came up to me and said, “…you look like you have PCOS,” I would be very embarassed. On the other hand, I’d be glad to have a real-life friend to talk with about PCOS.
What do I do? What do you do? How do we build a community if we are are so afraid of offending one another that we never mention PCOS?