Ootastic: PCOS in pictures

July 25, 2016

30 Film Females: Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Filed under: PCOS — ootastic @ 9:52 pm

Summer is upon us and I’m not beach body ready.  My ample derriere and I are more likely to be digging sandcastles or exploring rock pools rather than lounging around in the sun.  So I approve of Bridget Jones’s penchant for “absolutely enormous panties”, as played with gusto by a game Renee Zellweger.  Knickers ahoy!


Honourable mentions for 2001: Emily Watson stands out in the engaging ensemble of murder mystery Gosford Park.  Also, Audrey Tatou as the whimsical Amelie.

June 28, 2016

PCOS in pictures: I’m not an artist but…

Filed under: comics, PCOS — ootastic @ 9:48 pm

This is a version of the lightning talk I might have given at next week’s Graphic Medicine 2016 Conference if I’d managed to submit my abstract in time!

Around this time last year I went to my first LaydeezDoComics meeting in London.  Whilst chatting to the other ladies there it struck me that I kept hearing the same phrase:

“I’m not an artist but…I draw this webcomic.”

“I’m not an artist but…my friends and I put together this magazine.”

“I’m not an artist but…I made this cake.”

This led me to think about the roles I play in life relating to comics and medicine.  First of all, I’m not an artist but I am a patient. Around 2010 when I was struggling to get pregnant I was diagnosed with the hormonal condition polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS.  This is estimated to affect one in five women and has a number of annoying symptoms which I started doodling about – as you can see below, these include acne, excess hair, weight gain and fertility problems.

Femme fatale

Out, damned spot

Next, I’m not an artist but I am a science fiction fan.  I started incorporating some film and TV references (mainly bad puns) into my drawings.  Below left you can see the replicant Pris from Blade Runner whose famous blonde hair seems to have spread and become more of a blade ruiner. Below right is the USS Uterus whose anatomical features always remind me of a certain fictional starship.

Pris USS Uterus

This leads me on to say I’m not an artist but I am a scientist.  I originally studied human anatomy and now work as a bioinformatician for a scientific software/services company. I spend my day playing around with data and graphs and trying to avoid the biscuit tin in the office kitchen.

Facts and figures

I’m not an artist but – perhaps most importantly – I’m a mother.  After a few years and two miscarriages I finally gave birth to my son, who is now three years old.  My pregnancy was difficult for other health reasons as I have a congenital heart condition, which I’ve drawn about in a couple of entirely separate longer comics.  Being a mum means having to balance my son’s needs (football, baking, CBeebies, etc.) with my own (work, chores, sleep) which leaves precious little spare time for exercise and drawing comics!

Tipping the balanceFinally, I’m not an artist but I am a comics fan.  I was introduced to Watchmen at my friend’s monthly book club, complete with themed Rorschach biscuits.  This may have inspired the drawing – titled ComiConfectionary – below in which I’ve tempted various superhero identities to the dark (chocolate) side.


Somewhere along the way I picked up Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies, which really resonated as my mum died of a brain tumour in 2000 (the topic of yet another comic).  I honestly can’t remember how and when I discovered the Graphic Medicine website, but I’m glad I did!

I’ve spent the past few months (since well before the conference submission deadline) thinking about what I wanted to say here but have actually found it surprisingly straightforward to write, even if it does contain more food references than I’d hoped for.  Overall, I think I could say that – as well as being as a PCOS patient, science fiction fan, scientist, mother and comics fan – maybe I am an artist after all!  How about you?

For more information and support about PCOS see the Verity website.






May 14, 2016

30 Film Females: Monster (2003)

Filed under: 30 Film Females, PCOS — ootastic @ 5:00 pm

Charlize Theron’s famously unglamorous turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster won her numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.  I was reminded me of this strange creature I drew based on my experiences of the hormonal disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which has often been called the “thief of womanhood”, with symptoms such as acne, hirsutism and obesity plus infertility and other longer term health issues.

Honourable mentions for 2003: Scarlett Johansson as a lonely wife in Lost in Translation and Uma Thurman as the vengeful bride in Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

PCOS monster

October 25, 2015

Blade Ruiner

Filed under: films, hair, PCOS — ootastic @ 6:04 pm

Inspired by watching Blade Runner on yet another bad hair day…


October 15, 2015

The Great Hair Migration

Filed under: hair, PCOS — ootastic @ 4:27 pm

Inspired by watching a nature documentary whilst having a bad hair day…


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