REVIEW: Scrambled: A Journey through Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome By Randi Cecchine
"I thought I'd feel less alone with a camera," documentary filmmaker Randi Cecchine reveals as she sets out on her PCOS journey in "Scrambled," her newly-released film. And thankfully, she takes us with
her as she experiences her blood being drawn, up close electrolysis and laser therapy for her facial hair, a bizarre diagnostic rationale by a medical intuitive, acupuncture and, most intimately, as she shaves her face.
Too Much Information? "No," says Randi. "This is who I am and I want people to accept me as I am."
We do. Randi is immensely likeable and fearless in conveying her PCOS story, from describing a moustache in second grade, to being told repeatedly to lose weight, from being reassured, early on by a physician, that PCOS is "not dangerous" to ultimately, finding the answers and a community through PCOSA.
Disc 1 of "Scrambled" expresses artistically what Randi calls the "internal PCOS explanation" as she searches for answers to her disorder through a series of visits to health care providers whom she identifies only as Doctor #1, Doctor #2, etc. Additionally, a number of women and a few couples eagerly share their stories. The women - Chicago PCOSA Conference attendees Randi filmed some years back – are so forthcoming and life-affirming that I wanted to invite them all to my house for coffee and conversation.
These personal vignettes are intercut with the occasional medical explanation of PCOS, black and white footage of symbolic train journeys and a wistful view of the former New York City skyline complete with the twin towers.
"Women were really ready to share their personal stories and truly wanted to help others," explains Randi of her female cadre in Disc 1 which was originally sold on its own and shown at PCOSA conferences.
As more clear information on PCOS became available, Randi decided to expand "Scrambled" to include more hard data on the condition. "The Healers," whose interviews make up Disc 2 of "Scrambled," form the "external PCOS explanation," according to Randi, or "a conceptual framework for how the medical establishment sees it." Filmed at the most recent national PCOSA conference, this disc should become required viewing for existing health care providers as well as those in training. Perhaps then, we wouldn't ever again hear of a professional provider say "there's nothing wrong with you."
The eight health experts that contribute to "The Healers" are nothing short of a PCOS dream team starting with Endocrinologist Geoffrey Redmond's comprehensive medical overview of PCOS. Author of
"It's Your Hormones," he stresses that doctors should view PCOS as an individual condition with lots of variations and take their patients' emotions into consideration when discussing the subject.
Your approach to nutrition, explains Registered Dietician Martha McKittrick, should include how your food makes you feel both physically and emotionally. And "Listen, Empathize and Validate" are the keyword instructions for doctors dealing with PCOS patients, suggested by Licensed Social Worker Deborah Ward and her husband, Dr. Spencer Ward who discuss the importance of clear communication
when talking about PCOS.
Gail Lemaire PhD, who educates psychiatric nurses at the University of Maryland and has PCOS herself, gives a thorough overview of "PCOS and Depression." Of particular note is her reminder to physicians that anti-depressants all have certain effects on insulin and glucose which should be taken into consideration when being prescribed for women with PCOS.
For those of us who could never get on with science, biochemist Travis Johnson provides easily understandable explanations of insulin signaling, theca cells and D-Chiro Inositol, the latter an "attractive therapeutic candidate "for PCOS. Sadly, he confirms that there is neither enough money nor interest within the scientific community for further studies.
Drs. Milt Hammerly and Robert J. Woodbine present their thoughtful perspectives on treating PCOS with integrative medicine – combining conventional medicine with "alternative" modalities and naturopathic medicine, respectively.
Just over two hours long, "The Healers" is one of the most comprehensive and compact explanations of PCOS and its various treatments – in accessible language – available today. The only missing element
to be covered is exercise.
Nonetheless, partnered with the moving personal impressions on Disc 1, "Scrambled" is a overdue gift to the PCOS community.