Thursday, January 30, 2014

scars...

I come here every day.  Mainly to check in on all the blogs I follow, but often I find myself writing, rewriting, deleting, writing, deleting, and then giving up all together.  In some ways you could say that so much has happened, in others it's as if nothing really has.  For awhile time seemed to be standing still.  A boring schedule of a boring life that was moving nowhere.  Over the past few months some things have happened and I have found myself here trying to get the right words out.  Today, I'm just giving it a go and am determined to hit publish.

Breast Cancer.  I know I've written of it here before.  My mom is a survivor.  She underwent a bilateral mastectomy three months before my wedding five and a half years ago.  Several of my mom's cousins have also been diagnosed and fought this ugly disease.  It was detected early and they were all very lucky.  Are very lucky.  You see, over twenty years ago, my mom's sister, my Aunt Maureen, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32.  We lost her just four years later.

Over the summer, I went for my "annual" and the Dr. found a lump.  This wasn't my first time to this rodeo so, off I went for another ultrasound.  All was well.  We'd follow up in six months.

As I approached that six month mark, I found several more lumps.  In both breasts.  So what was supposed to be a six month ultrasound check-up for one lump, turned into a several hour ordeal.  A mammogram was ordered... I was approaching the year mark anyway, so what better time than now.  Then the ultrasound tech took a total of 132 images.  There just seemed to be masses everywhere.  Seeing them on the screen as she guided the wand over me was frightening.  I knew that most were nothing.  Just cysts, or other benign lumps, but seeing so many was a bit haunting.  When she was finally finished, she left me to review the images with the radiologist.  He returned with her.  My heart dropped.  He had her go back over a few areas and then spoke with me.  There were two areas that he was suspicious of and given my family history, he highly recommended we schedule an MRI for more images.

I returned a week later for the very uncomfortable breast MRI.  Ever have one?  Super fun.  You lie face down as your boobs drop into holes where they are then compressed for the duration of the testing.  Naturally I got to have the test done with and without contrast so I got to lounge oh so comfortably for just that little bit extra.

On the anniversary of my aunt's passing, I received the call that an MRI guided biopsy was recommended for those two areas.  I've had that procedure before.  That in itself did not bother me, so much as the date of the call.  So on January 8th, I went for my biopsy (did I mention my mom was diagnosed in January of 08?... ugh... anywho).  The procedure itself went well.  Afterwards, not so much.  The bleeding wouldn't stop.  It took close to 45 minutes for them to be able to place steri-strips.  Which had to come off because the bleeding started again.  Once that was all under control, and I was all cleaned and sealed up lucky me got to have another mammogram.  They wanted to check the placement of the clips that were inserted to mark the biopsy locations.  This also showed a 26mm hematoma caused from the procedure and the subsequent bleeding.

On January 10th, I got the call that the biopsies came back benign.  Thank God.  I should have been jumping for joy, instead I cried.  And it wasn't tears of gratitude, they were tears of fear.  Fear that this cycle will just continue to repeat itself every six months.  More biopsies more scars.  I know how lucky I am.  I know how completely grateful I should be, and believe me I am, but that fear still exists.  I guess mainly because of my aunt.  She was my age.  My age, with her whole life ahead of her.  A life stolen.

Of course I was given the ultrasound follow-up spiel by my Dr. which I expected, however the radiologist that performed the biopsy called me a few days later and requested a 3 month follow-up.  Yes the results were benign, but the shadowing is still suspicious to her.

Now, almost a month later, the hematoma is still there.  Still large and in charge.  A hard mass of bloody bruise inside my chest.  Again, I really have nothing to complain about... I do have a clean bill of health... but come on already.  Next week I have an appointment with the breast surgeon.  Just my annual check-up but also to figure out what the deal is with the Ping-Pong ball in my boob.

It is so weird to sit here and compare all the posts I have written around here.  Most begging for something that I want to badly, this one praying that something never comes.  It's funny how life works that way.  It's sad that is so easy to focus on all the negativity.  Between infertility, breast cancer, anxiety, etc... I haven't really been living.  And there is so much around me to be happy about.  So many wonderful things that happen each day that I (and probably even you) ignore as insignificant.  Having all these things happen has certainly changed my view on life.  I was bitter for so long.  I took things out on people who had nothing to do with my situation.  I cried for sometimes days at a time.  There were days when getting out of bed was a chore.  But now, now I realize that I cannot live my life in six month intervals waiting for the next hit to come.  I need to live.  I need to breathe.  I need to let go.  I need to be happy.  I need to remember my aunt and the life she did not get to live.  It's a work in progress but at least I'm trying.

"What a tragic mistake, a catastrophic flaw, that there are not scars for joy.  The pain, my love, the pain leaves its marks; the days it was too much or we too little, the times we fell too far and rose too slow. I am littered with reminders of harder days gone by, but scars of joy, I find not on this flesh, aging as it is.  Inside maybe, perhaps they live there, hidden and buried and burning bright.  Bright beneath the remnants of sorrow on the surface..." Tyler Knott Gregson

Thursday, September 5, 2013

the unknown...

Hard to believe that I haven't posted since we got home from Ireland.  So much has happened since then and yet so little at the same time.  I logged on here today and noticed that for some odd reason, people are still checking in on me around here, so I figured I would put a little update out there.

After our trip, we attempted the FET I think a total of four times.  Each time, my body didn't cooperate.  I remember so clearly the day we got the final call.  I was on the phone with the nurse and she was actually scheduling me and giving me my prep instructions when suddenly she asked to put me on hold.  The doc got on the phone and said that after reviewing everything again he just wasn't comfortable with my numbers and didn't want to essentially waste a thaw and our embryos on something that wasn't looking good already.

If I am being honest... in that moment I was kind of relieved.  We have been fighting for this for so hard and for so long and I was just so emotionally and physically spent.  After the O.HSS, the month of blood thinners to prevent DV.T, the stopping and starting and stopping and starting... it was just becoming too much.

I also realized in that moment how much this was all effecting my marriage.  Infertility had taken over and we had so much to work on.

So, eight months later we still haven't moved on with any treatments.  We really haven't even really talked about it.  There are much bigger issues at hand and as much as I hope to one day be a mother, now is just not the time.  As much as that hurts, I am ok with it.  My anxiety was getting out of control and was becoming consuming.  I had gained weight and hated looking in the mirror.  Simply, I was just so sad.

I've taken this time to make some changes in my self.  I've lost over 40lbs and am finally starting to feel good about myself.  I'm taking time to do things for me.  I'm getting help for my anxiety and have accepted that it's ok to need help and to accept it.

The unknown can be scary and I'm not sure what the future holds at this point but has hard as things may be right now, I know in the end, as cliché as it sounds, what is meant to be will be.

"When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen... There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly..." Patrick Overton

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

update and a new passport stamp...

Still no transfer.  We started our FET cycle in December only to stop when my bw still had doc concerned about my risk of D.VT.  I stopped using Lo.venox in mid December and was instructed to come in with the start of my next cycle in hopes that giving my body a month off would do me some good. 

As of the 22nd, CD 42, still no AF.  I went for labs and was instructed to take Es.trace for 25 days and begin 12 days of Pr.overa on the 16th day of that process.  This all will hopefully build my lining so that whenever AF does show, my lining sheds enough to give me a clean slate.

With the start of this next cycle, whenever that may be, I will go for labs yet again and try to schedule an HSG.  It's been over two years since my last one and before moving onto transfer, doc feels we should have a little look-see just to make sure it's still all clear. 

As much as I want to be frustrated that we are pushed back yet again, I am happy that they are being proactive and are paying attention our case.

All of the waiting has been put to good use.  We added a new passport stamp by spending a week in Ireland this month and it was absolutely amazing.  We've visited a lot of beautiful places but this was by far my favorite trip yet.  Here are some pics (all from camera on phone)...

View while driving...
 

View while driving...


Ki.lkenny Ca.stle


Ki.lkenny Ca.stle


T.rim Ca.stle


View from top of T.rim Ca.stle


Cl.iffs of Mo.her


Sun over Cl.iffs of Mo.her


Bu.nratty Ca.stle


R.oss Ca.stle


Kissing the Bl.arney St.one


Bl.arney Ca.stle


St. Mar.y's Cathedral, Kil.larney


Me at To.rc Wat.erfall


Joel at Old Jam.eson Dis.tillery


I loved every minute of our vacation and can't wait to plan another trip there.  There is just so much to see and as cheesy as it may sound, I really just felt happy there. 

We are also hoping that between our visit, kissing the Bl.arney Stone, and investing in some of the fabled Bun.ratty M.ead that we have brought some of the luck of the Irish home :)

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day
~Irish Blessing~

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

quick breakdown...

As we approached ER I was warned that due to my E2 and the number of follies they were counting, there was a good chance I would be looking at a freeze all scenario.  Knowing how serious OH.SS can be I was more than ok with that plan.  Doc decided to use the Lu.pron trigger to help prevent h.yper stim.  After three shots over a 36 hour period, we checked in for ER on Saturday the 1st.

The quick breakdown...
40 retreived
30 mature
23 fertilized with ICS.I
23 frozen at 2pn stage

Freezing at such an early stage is different than what most dr's do, but I'm willing to give it a try... especially seeing the difference his changes in protocol made this cycle.  Freezing at that stage will allow a thaw and then growth period similar to doing a fresh transfer.

I am thrilled with the outcome thus far and am thankful that we did freeze all.  Last week was tough.  I was very uncomfortable, crampy, bloated, in pain, etc, etc.  This week I am feeling much better even with the remaining bloatage.

Once AF shows (hopefully sometime this week), we will move forward with our FET.  There has been so much change this time around and a lot of doc's ideas are different than what I was expecting.  I'm learning to roll with it and trust that his outside thinking is just what we need.  It's difficult not to be excited and hopeful.  I know I should be those things, but the fear of more heartbreak is just as powerful.

"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future.  You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown..."  Denis Waitley

Monday, November 26, 2012

jumping right in...

I guess I'm overdue for some updating around here...  I'm not feeling very witty today, so I'll just give the basics.

After two months on Cl.omid, Joel's numbers got better in some areas and unchanged or worse in others.  Of course we would have liked to see a big improvement, but I'm glad that we gave it a try.

After considering those numbers and taking into account my uncooperative levels, we decided that IVF #2 was the way to go.  We are going away in January and I knew that we would be cutting it close.  After a round of Pr.overa, AF still took her sweet time showing up and it was looking like ET would be days before we left. 

IVF #1, my E2 was all over the place.  Rocketing up early then crashing.  IMO, this effected the quality and quantity we retrieved.  FET #1 my E2 wouldn't rise.  I was up to four patches a day as well as Est.race before we finally got it to a good enough place for transfer.  And if you remember from our most recent attempt at a cycle, my E2 was being a bitch yet again. 

A bunch of different ideas were tossed around for this round but nothing would be 100% decided protocol wise until baseline.  When I got my callback after b/w and u/s that day, I was notified that we were jumping right it. No bcp's, this show was starting.  Antag.onist is the name of the game this time around. 

Today will be night eight of 150 Bra.velle.  Saturday I started 75 Me.nopur with .25 Cet.rotide in the am.  This morning's u/s looked good.  Lining is at a 9 and I have measurable follies on each side (and a ton more that looking to catch up).  Waiting on today's callback with the latest instructions.

So, here's hoping that this Christmas we get the greatest gift of all.

As I wish and dream and pray every day, and look for some kind of sign that this will all work out, I came across this quote which seems very fitting:

“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth...”  Francesca Lia Block

Monday, August 13, 2012

outside the box...

On Friday, my E2 decided it would start to rise... on Saturday it had given up again.  Enter a new prescription for my old friend Prov.era and this cycle is down for the count.

Honestly, I'm not really upset.  I look at this cycle as a nice groundwork for this Dr to see how my body repsonds. We are back in the game after what I thought was the end so anything that happens from this point is ok in my book.

I'm really looking forward to working with this doc.  I've described him as a bit of a mad scientist.  He is willing to look at things from an outside the box perspective.  Where so many doctors seem to look at a diagnosis and automatically slip patients into a designated protocol, he is looking at us and how we respond and what our testing looks like... looking at the actual numbers and not lumping us into a particular pile just because we should fall into a certain category.

Putting Joel on Cl.omid is big in my book.  Everyone else said, "nah it's not worth it."  He says, "why not... it's not going to hurt to try."

As for me... my body has never seemed to cooperate.  I never seem to respond like I should to meds and he is trying to find the why.  What else can we try in conjunction with the standard meds to get me to respond in a way that can help us reach our goal.  I love that he isn't slapping a label on me and is looking outside the textbook answers.

Why aren't more doctors looking at the whys?  From fellow IFers and from all the offices we have visited it seems like a lot of places offer up the Cl.omid, Fe.mara, Injects, IVF assembly line.  If one doesn't work after a couple of cycles you move to the next.  It's like here's your b/w and u/s, you didn't repsond like we wanted you to... proceed to the next stop on the IF train.  You have PCOS?... Proceed to Gate 4... DOR?... Gate 7 please...   

I'm not by any means saying all doctors are like this, but enough of them are out there that I feel like it makes IF even harder for us as patients.  We truly need to advocate for ourselves to get real answers.  "Bad luck", is not answer.  Self advocation though, is a post for another day.

"The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them..."  William Bragg

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

whirlwind...

In June, we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary.  It also marked a turning point for our family plans.  Here's the condensed version of the past two months...

While out celebrating, Joel asked what I thought about giving it a go one more time.  I'm sure the look on my face was priceless.  Just when I was letting go, he was taking the reigns from me.  We talked about everything like we hadn't in a long time and decided that it couldn't hurt to weigh our options with the docs.  Even if we didn't end up cycling, at least we would have that final peace of mind.

Less than two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test on a whim.  It was positive.  Less than a week after that, it was over.  The details of it all are pointless, we'll call it what it was... another chemical.

Moving on... I knew that the doctor I wanted to meet with usually has a pretty good wait list so I was shocked when the receptionist told me I had impeccable timing.  She had just got off the phone with a cancellation... could we come in the next afternoon?  I jumped on it.

The 3+ hour appointment that was a result of that phone call was awesome.  It was the first time it really felt right.  The dr's attitude, his ideas, his thoughts on our past cycles... everything seemed to fit.  Even Joel, who doesn't usually say much, was very involved in the discussions.  We had came for just a consult, but when doc said let's get started, Joel and I looked at each other - agreed - and went off to begin testing.

After fourteen vials of blood drawn between us, an ultrasound for me, and a SA for him... we were back to talk about a plan.  At last count, Joel's SA had shown only about 80K motile.  This latest test showed 1mill.  We have no idea how the hell that happened but we'll take it.  There are no guarantees, but doc wanted to try Cl.omid for Joel to see if there would be any continued improvement.

Given the increase on this test, we were given the option to try an IUI now.  While the count is still low, doc felt it was enough of an improvement  to give us that choice.  If not, we wait a couple of months for the meds to have a chance on Joel and then reevaluate after the repeat SA.  No improvement - back to IVF... Improvement - IUI.

After a discussion of procudure options and costs, we decided to give the IUI a shot.  It certainly can't hurt to try.  I began 2.5mg of Letro.zole the next day.  My body, of course, didn't respond.  Dosage was upped to 5mg and I finally have some action.  I'm waiting for today's bloodwork to see what's next.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I'm feeling good.  Trying to take it all moment by moment and embrace that even if this doesn't work, at least we tried...

"When we are sure that we are on the right road there is no need to plan our journey too far ahead.  No need to burden ourselves with doubts and fears as to the obstacles that may bar our progress.  We cannot take more than one step at a time..."  Orison Swett Marden