March 29, 2006

To Hell and Back – Again

I didn’t have a chance to finish blogging about the week when things spiraled out of control Sunday afternoon.

I was going to tell you about a phone call we got from an adoption attorney toward the end of last week. She had called a month ago to see if we wanted to be considered for a situation. In a moment of weakness, I said why not. I knew that this would be a baby that would meet most couples’ criteria, which meant the attorney would be showing several couples’ profiles. I didn’t get my hopes up. I didn’t even tell R about it.

A month went by. I figured we weren’t chosen. Then we got a phone call from the attorney last week. I was going to tell you that we were chosen, that we spoke with the birth mom on Friday and the conversation went really well. That there were still some details that needed to be investigated further, but that it sounded promising. That she was due in the first half of May, in a town a few hours away.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, we got a phone call from the attorney. The baby was born that day. R and I stood there staring at each other for a few minutes in shock. Then we rushed around like crazy people, opening the door to the nursery that we shut back in September, dragging out the diaper bag and suitcase that we had left packed from that disastrous adoption farce.

I was going to tell you about how we threw clothes into a suitcase, packed up the car with our suitcase and baby gear, got the pets and their stuff loaded into the car to take to my mom’s. I was going to tell you about our drive to the hospital, how we were frantically debating names because the baby was a girl and we only have a boy’s name because we haven’t been able to settle on a girl’s name.

In my head, I was already composing the post, trying to be gentle and restrained because I knew it would be painful for some to read, that finally this nightmare had ended for us and we were parents.

We had gotten about five miles down the road when the next call came. The birthmom’s urine test came back positive for cocaine and I think some other drugs, although after hearing the word “cocaine,” the world kind of slowly grounded to a halt and the rest of the sentence just faded beyond my hearing. It also turned out that the baby was actually not premature, but was in fact full term and tiny, which pointed to other significant health issues.

We turned around, came home, unpacked the car and shut the door to the nursery. Again.

And the next day I e-mailed the adoption attorney, told her to pull our profile from consideration and asked her to let the other attorneys in our area know to pull our profile too. This was the third strike in six months. We need to stop putting ourselves through this.

March 26, 2006

Catching Up

I’m still here, although clearly a ways behind on posting. Thank you for the Bible verses and thoughts of concern – they are of great comfort.

I wound up in the emergency department on Tuesday. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. that day feeling even worse, and my doctor told me to go to the ED rather than go in to his office. I think he’s tired of dealing with me at this point, and I can’t totally blame him for that.

X-rays, the CT scan and more bloodwork still turned up nothing. The nurse practitioner popped back into my room after reviewing everything and told me, “You’re fine, there’s nothing wrong with you. We’re going to release you now.”

I’m relieved the tests didn’t turn up anything horrible, but on the other hand I know something is not totally fine. Whatever it is, is probably minor and will resolve itself, but right now it’s not totally fine.

I know this for two reasons: One, even when I am good about sticking to a diet and exercising, losing half a pound in two weeks is a huge accomplishment for me. However, now I’ve lost 10 pounds in two weeks because I haven’t been feeling well. Also, for me, ice cream is a food group. Heck, most of the time, ice cream is my favorite food group. And I haven’t even wanted ice cream in the past three weeks.

So clearly I’m a little bit off kilter. But there is good news on a variety of fronts: I do seem to be getting a little better day by day, I managed to find a gastroenterologist who can see me on Wednesday, and I finally got the pelvic ultrasound results too.

It turns out that I have a uterus that is “on the small side of normal.” It would figure – one of the few parts of my body that I would prefer be normal in size is one of the only things about me that can be called “small.” Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh at the irony…

March 20, 2006

The Saga Continues, and I Feel Like I’m Sinking in Quicksand

This is not going to be a happy post. I should have been taking Provera by now to induce CD 1 to begin the birth control pills. But I’m still feeling yucky, and my PCP didn’t want me to start the Provera until we figure out what is causing me to not feel well, so I had to contact the clinic today and tell them I need to cancel the April cycle.

I’m devastated. I was really thinking this would be our chance to finally cycle after so long.

On top of all that, I unexpectedly ran into a former co-worker a couple days ago who is pregnant. A friend who is pregnant after infertility e-mailed me yesterday to ask if I wanted an invitation to her baby shower. She was being very sensitive and thoughtful about it, but it still hurt. Another e-mail yesterday was from someone who told me she and her husband have two possible adoption situations in the works. And, a close friend just got news of a positive beta today from her IVF cycle while I was on the phone with her. She’s definitely had her ups and downs with this process, and I am truly thrilled for her, but it hurts nonetheless.

It feels like all of my IF friends are moving on with successes, and here I am not even sure when I’ll be able to cycle.

Emotionally, I’m sinking fast. I recognize that I’m in a state of flat-out depression. I’d like to pretend it isn’t true, but there I am. Thank you all for being here for me and offering support. I’m sorry I’m not able to even muster up the emotional strength to do the same for you right now, but please know I continue to lurk on your blogs and think of you.

Things are not going well on the PCP front, either. I forgot to request copies of the blood work and ultrasound reports when I was at the doctor Friday, so I called them today and had them faxed over. As I mentioned in a previous post, the PCP’s office had told me all the results came back normal.

Well, when I got the results today, there was only an ultrasound report for my upper abdomen. I called back to request that they also fax over the pelvic ultrasound report. (I assumed they’d put both the full bladder and trans vag results on the same report, since they both look at the same general area.)

The person I spoke with in the medical records office said, “Pelvic ultrasound? What do you mean? We don’t show that you had a pelvic ultrasound, and we don’t have any report for one.”

Excuse me??? How can you tell me that all of my test results have come back “fine” if you don’t even have all of them? Or even realize that some of them are missing, for that matter.

The CT scan thing has hit a couple of bumps, too. I told the nurse where I wanted to have it done, and they requested the authorization for someplace else that will take much longer to get into. And, the authorization itself is taking longer than expected, so I don’t know yet when I’ll actually get to do the scan.

There were also a couple of questionable things on the bloodwork (including one test that came back outside the normal level – again, so much for “fine”) that I need to ask them to explain to me.

I’m sorry to be such a downer. I’m going to go read my Bible and some things I’ve highlighted in a couple of books about anxiety. Hopefully they will help me to feel better. If you have any Bible verses or other words or inspiration to share, please add them to the comments section – I’d love to read them.

March 17, 2006

More Tests

I called the doctor’s office again on Wednesday. The nurse called in another prescription for me, then told me to talk to the scheduling desk and tell them I had to have an appointment Thursday or Friday.

The only appointment they had available with my doctor was at 4 p.m. today. I was his last patient of day, and I’m sure that he is now at home enjoying a big glass of wine. Heck, he’s probably drinking straight from the bottle at this point, trying to recover from spending the last hour of his work week with completely-freaked-out me.

I had gone in the first time and talked only about the stomach pains. I didn’t go into any of the rest of my concerns, for fear that he would really think I was a hypochondriac. That, and he seemed busy and in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t want to keep him.

This time, I went in there with a long list of things I wanted to tell him and have him check, and I didn’t care how long it took. I have worked myself up into such a state of worry that as soon as I started to talk, I began to have dry heaves and he had to go get me a glass of water.

I brought up my concerns, literally from head to toe. He managed to convince me that the little extra padding in one of my armpits is simply fat and not a deadly enlarged lymph node; that the red and white streaks I have on my hips are stretch marks from my yo-yoing weight these past couple of years and not an innocent-looking-but-fatal form of skin cancer; that ultrasound really truly is a good way to check for ovarian cancer and that I don’t appear to have that; that muscles can ache or be tender without it being a sign of anything awful; and that my suddenly-sore ankle does not mean something ominous has spread from my stomach to my foot.

I did request additional blood tests for H pylori bacteria, which can cause serious stomach diseases, and CA 125, even though I know it is not necessarily a good early predictor of ovarian or peritoneal cancer. However, given all the infertility drugs I’ve taken and will be taking, I’d feel better monitoring that number on a regular basis. And my doctor apparently figured it would be easier just to write out the bloodwork order than to argue the merits of those tests with a dry-heaving, half-hysterical woman, so he did.

He also told me to stop poking at myself, because I’ve been poking often enough and hard enough at the places that hurt to create small, finger-tip size bruises. He thinks my symptoms, though real, are probably likely caused by stress. But he’s ordering a CT scan just to make sure there isn’t something else funky going on, so I will hopefully do that on Monday. The office was dark and pretty much closed up by the time I left, so they have to wait until Monday morning to call the imaging center and schedule it. Oh, and I have to put poop samples from three different times on a special card they gave me to test for blood in my stool. How could I forget that – what fun it will be.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to stop frantically googling every search term combination I can think of, continue taking generous amounts of anti-anxiety drugs and hopefully enjoy the weekend a little bit.

March 15, 2006

Maybe (Please God, Let it Be) Getting a Little Better

Well, the fiber tablets helped some, although not as much as I would have liked. Of course, them helping “as much as I would have liked” would have equated to making me feel 100 percent normal and back to myself instantenously, which was perhaps a slightly less than realistic expectation.

So in my impatientness, I called the doctor’s office again on Monday. The nurse called in a prescription for a powder that I’m supposed to mix into water or juice and drink. It, too, seems to be helping, although again not as quickly as I would prefer.

The abdominal pain is still there when I poke at it, and the pain I was feeling in my ribs seems to have migrated to my calf muscles now, even though I haven’t done anything unusual to exercise them lately.

But on the bright side, these past couple of mornings I haven’t seemed to be quite as nauseous when I woke up, and the really loud bowel sounds seem to be happening less loudly and less frequently. So hopefully those are good signs.

I can’t believe that I’m actually posting in detail about my gastrointestinal functions. I realize I sound a bit insane.

Regardless of the timing of all this, I’d probably still be at least a bit freaked out. But given that I’m supposed to start Lupron shots for our first IVF cycle in less than three weeks, I’m even more freaked out. I was feeling good, I was looking forward to a nice calm relaxing March after the stress of the past two months. And then this hit.

I e-mailed my RE last night to see what he thinks. I really don’t want to cancel the cycle, but I’m not sure if going forward with it is the best idea if I’m not feeling better. I’m going to see what the RE says, and then perhaps call my PCP to request some additional tests. I tend to be a bit of a meek mouse when it comes to stuff like that, but I really want to get this resolved.

Retail Therapy

When most women engage in a little bit of retail therapy, they buy shoes, or purses, or some other form of fashionable attire. Me, I buy baking pans.

Being annoyed the other day that I had to stop at the pharmacy and buy fiber tablets, I decided to cheer myself up by buying this. Isn’t it adorable? And Valentine’s Day is only 340 days away, so it should come in handy very, very soon. But I don’t care, I bought it anyway. My mom will probably get heart-shaped mini-cakes for her birthday next week.

My collection also includes this, this and this, the latter of which I used to try to make a romantic cake for R for Valentine’s Day 2005 using strawberry and red velvet cake.

A word to the wise: use white and strawberry instead if you ever get the inclination to make something similar. For some reason, red velvet cake tends to contract more than other cakes during the baking process, so the red velvet rings separated from the strawberry rings and it turned out to be a bit of, well, a disaster that had to be held together by enough toothpicks to build a miniature log cabin. But at least it was still a sweet-tasting disaster.

I won’t even get into the list of cheesecake pans, mini-loaf pans, bundt pans, angel food cake pans and traditional round and rectangular pans that fill our kitchen cabinets. Perhaps I missed my calling as a pastry chef.

Oh, and for you shoe fans out there who want to have your cake too, check this out.

Okay, enough of the food stuff for now. I have a cake (or two or three) to go bake…

March 11, 2006

Venturing Out onto an Unpopular Limb

If you’ve read my last few posts from this week, you probably think I’ve lost my mind to be so upset about what hopefully is just a little bit of tummy trouble. So I planned to blog an explanation this morning of why it is that I seem to be making a clich├ęd mountain out of a molehill.

But before I could get going on that subject, I was reading Fisher Queen and found the firestorm about Newsweek’s recent Q & A sesssion with Resolve President Joe Isaacs.

This will probably qualify as at least a finalist for The World’s Longest Post Award, but I hope you will stick it out and read it all the way through.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will state up front that I am a Resolve member and am active on the board of a local chapter. I attended last year's national convention, and having met most of the people in Resolve's national office (including Joe Isaacs), I honestly believe they are hard-working people who are doing their best to support and advocate for those of us struggling with infertility.

I agree wholeheartedly that the article did not do a good job of explaining all of infertility’s medical causes, most of which are beyond a woman’s (or man’s) control. However, it’s clear from the tone of the questions, and from Resolve’s response to all the feedback they have received, that Newsweek’s intention for the story was never to discuss infertility’s medical causes, but to discuss lifestyle habits that young people should be aware of that could possibly impact their fertility.

It is obvious that the article did not turn out the way Resolve – and the infertility community as a whole – would have liked it to. Certainly it is everyone’s right to express how they feel about this, to Joe Isaacs and Resolve, to Newsweek, to their best friend’s sister’s cousin, to the world.

But I’m going to go out on what I am sure will be a very unpopular limb here and say that I don’t think castigating Joe Isaacs (or withholding support from Resolve) is the best response to this situation. Resolve IS trying to help the infertile community. This one article didn’t turn out well, but it’s one article in the overall scheme of the work that the national offices and local chapters across the country do every day. There is no other similar organization out there that I am aware of that is offering support and advocacy on a national level (although by all means please correct me if I’m wrong on that, because there certainly may be, and I’m just not aware of it.)

Instead, I think it would be an incredible, amazing thing if the energy that is being used to express outrage at Resolve would instead be used to get involved and help make Resolve a stronger, better, louder and more effective voice for the infertility community. Please, please consider joining your local chapter, get involved in the board, get involved in Resolve’s advocacy efforts to promote mandatory insurance coverage for infertility and to extend the adoption tax credit (which is set to expire in a few years).

And I know that this is already a ridiculously long post, but I hope you’ll stick with me for a few more minutes. I’ve read a lot of posts and comments about the article, and there are a few things that stood out to me that I’d like to comment on.

There have been several comments about “how could Resolve ‘let’ this happen?”, Resolve should have “managed” the reporter better and that Resolve is “responsible” for ensuring that what they say is presented accurately in the media.

I’ve worked professionally on both sides of the media coin, as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers for five years and then in media spokesperson/public relations roles for the past 6 1/2 years. The idea that anyone, ANYONE – even the most well-seasoned, professional media handler – can ultimately control the media or how it presents information is a rolling-on-the-ground, holding-my-sides, laughing-so-hard-that-tears-have-been-streaming-down-my-face-for-10-minutes joke.

There are many honest, ethical reporters out there who do their best and do their jobs well. Sometimes even those reporters unintentionally slant stories or make mistakes. There are many, many more overworked, burned out, getting through the daily grind until they can find a new job or retire reporters who don’t necessarily intend to slant stories or get them wrong but are too tired or disillusioned to really care. Then there are others who write the story in the way they think it should be written, facts be damned, simply because they think it will position them for a better story assignment next time, will curry favor with their editor, will win them award or some other such reason.

Other times, it is the editor (who the interviewee will never meet, speak with or even know the name of) who has an idea in their head of what angle the article should take. And even if the reporter writes it from an unbiased, accurate viewpoint, the editor can change it. When I was a reporter, there was more than one occasion where I woke up the next morning to find a story with my byline on it and thought "who the heck wrote that??" because the story had taken on an entirely different tone and slant as it passed through many other people's hands during the editing process. You can imagine what fun it was explaining that to the sources who felt that I had screwed them over.

I agree that it would have been ideal to have a medical professional handle the interview. However, that’s not always realistic. When reporters call to ask for an interview, you’re at the mercy of their timetable, and 9 times out of 10, they want to do the interview within an hour. I’m not exaggerating this – I work in the healthcare industry now, and this very scenario happens to us at least once a week.

You can be as prepared as possible by having a list of media-trained physicians who are willing to speak publicly, but it’s not realistic to expect them to always be available on a moment’s notice. (Can you imagine: “Um, excuse me Dr. RE, I know you’re in the middle of an egg retrieval and have an embryo transfer waiting in the next room, but can you please step out for half an hour or so to do a news interview? I’m sure the patient won’t mind hanging out under anesthesia a little bit longer…”)

Sadly, the way the media works is if you can’t produce someone for them to interview right at the moment they want it, they’ll find another organization that can. And the next time they want to do a story on a related subject, they won’t call you.

Another comment I saw several people make was in regard to wanting to see transcripts or hear a tape of the full interview. Reporters don’t write up transcripts of their interviews to give to their sources (nor do they give the source a copy of the article before it is published), and they will usually fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to not be required to turn their notes or tapes over to anyone.

Most reporters also balk at the idea of an interviewee recording the interview and will find another source to interview if the interviewee makes it a condition of the interview. It gets back to a freedom of the press issue, in that the law may protect reporters from having to turn over their notes/tapes, but it doesn’t protect interviewees from the same thing. So an interviewee taping the interview could be forced to turn the tape over, thereby putting out there the information that was protected under freedom of the press and therefore negating that very freedom. The Newsweek article with Joe Isaacs certainly doesn’t seem like it would have freedom of the press implications, but if you allow one interviewee to tape the interview, you’ve set a precedent and opened yourself up to having to allow all the others to do it, even on politically or legally sensitive subjects. So most reporters won’t go there at all, with anyone.

For those of you who are wondering about covert taping, slipping a tape recorder into your jacket pocket (or attaching a recording device to your phone) and turning it on unbeknownst to all others in the room/on the phone is sometimes legal or sometimes not, depending on what state(s) you and the others are in.

The sad reality of journalism is that very very often, reporters and editors are not all that interested in the truth, because to them the truth is usually ordinary and boring. We as an infertility community care deeply about things like high FSH, endometriosis, structural uterine abnormalities, unexplained infertility, etc. But to the reporter, those subjects aren't exciting. A headline that reads "Smoking Increases Your Risk of Infertility" will grab readers' attention. “There’s No Good Explanation for the Bad Luck of Having Endometriosis” does not.

Please don't let Newsweek's article discourage you from supporting Resolve or becoming involved with it. In fact, Resolve always needs more people who are passionate about this cause and about helping others make their way through. My husband and I have not had success yet, but I've gained strength, support and friendships through my involvement with Resolve. I hope that you will too.

Ok, let the castigating of me begin. But please, remember, I have a very tender tummy at the moment, so please aim for other body parts instead. Thank you.

March 09, 2006

Fiber is My Friend

. . . Or so the doctor says.

The blood work came back fine, the ultrasounds all looked good. So I’ve been given instructions to use a fiber supplement, drink lots of water and give him an update on Monday.

You’d think that news would be a relief, but it’s not, because I’m not convinced that a lack of fiber is my problem. I feel like a science experiment again, but this time instead of being an infertility lab rat, I’m just an ordinary lab rat.

My complaint when I went to the doctor’s appointment on Monday was not about a lack of bowel movements. My body had been behaving just fine in that respect. The problem was that a week before the appointment, I noticed a tender spot on my abdomen, about an inch to the right of my belly button. Over the course of a few days, it moved a little to the right and down about three inches.

It’s not abdominal “pain,” per se. I think of “pain” as a feeling that is there whether or not you are doing anything to the area at the time, i.e. menstrual aches and pains you can get even while laying in bed and not moving. This is more like a minor- to medium-pain bruise on your arm. You walk down the street, your arm doesn’t hurt. You poke on the specific area of the bruise, it hurts. You poke an inch or two away from the bruise, no pain. Same thing with my abdomen, except there is no visible bruise.

Then nausea set in on Sunday, which was exactly a week after the pain began and the day before the doctor’s appointment. By Monday, I was having embarrassingly loud bowel sounds. But I’m not having cramps, gas pains or bloating. Since I’ve been feeling sick to my stomach, I haven’t been eating much. When little goes in, little comes out. That makes sense to me. But I’m not so sure that means I need more fiber.

The embarrasingly loud sounds have continued. And I’ve started to have tender spots elsewhere too – on my ribs, on the right side of my bottom, on the sides of my legs. It’s not that I go looking for places of pain on my body – I discovered the left side of the rib pain when I bent over to pick something up and it hurt. The leg pain appeared when I leaned against the plastic frame of a chair in my boss’ office.

On top of all of that, it seems that cycle day 1 may be here again. I figured the light spotting I had yesterday was from the wand date the day before that, but now I’ve got aches, cramps and heavier bleeding. Today is cycle day 17.

This is just not typical for my body. But I’ve decided to give the obsessing a rest, and just do the water and fiber routine until Monday. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised and all the rest of this will go away. Maybe fiber is the cure for rib pain...

Thank you again for all of your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement!

March 08, 2006

No News

First of all, thank you for your supportive comments. I really appreciate it tremendously.

Secondly, given my obsession these past several days with Google, I apologize for not being very good about commenting on others' blogs during this time, but please know that I am keeping tabs on all of you as well. I've been reading; I just haven't been up to commenting much.

And thirdly, there’s no word on bloodwork or ultrasound results from the doctor’s office yet.

The ultrasound process was a little bit stressful, but it was ok. Not only was it a belly ultrasound – although in truth the tech didn’t actually scan the fat tire that is my belly but rather scanned above and below it – but I also had the dubious pleasure of getting to go through a wand exam too.

The appointment didn’t get off to a good start when I arrived with an empty bladder. The nurse from my doctor’s office had left a message that I would do an upper abdominal ultrasound (think above the belly button to the lower part of the ribs) and then would drink 40 ounces of water to do the pelvic ultrasound. But when I got there, the tech had expected me to have a full bladder and to start with the pelvic ultrasound.

She almost made me reschedule, but I promised to gulp the water really fast, so she did the upper ab ultrasound and then sent me out to the waiting room while she scanned other patients. I chugged and chugged, then finally let the office staff know I was ready for the next scan.

I sat there waiting for about 45 minutes, which, let me tell you, passes eexxxtreeeemmmeeelllly slllooooooowwwlllly when you really have to peeeeee. The point finally came where I thought I was going to have to tell the staff to reschedule me because I just couldn’t hold it any more. Just then, the tech opened the door and asked if I was ready yet. Apparently the office staff had forgotten to pass along the message. Ugh!

As many of you probably already know, there’s nothing like having an ultrasound transmitter pressed over your ready-to-burst bladder. Fortunately I survived that without embarrassing myself, and then dashed off to the bathroom for about five minutes before capping off the appointment by cozying up with the wand.

I’m used to a nurse or doctor inserting it (sometimes fine, sometimes rather painfully), so I was a bit surprised when she asked me to reach down and guide it in. That approach was much more comfortable, which I’ll have to remember for future wand dates.

I’m still spending waaay too much time googling my symptoms, but the edge has been taken off my hysteria - thanks in large part to the copious amounts of anti-anxiety drugs I resumed taking after Monday’s doctor appointment.

March 07, 2006

Tummy Troubles

I’m having my first belly ultrasound today. You know, the kind you naively envision having when you first start trying to get pregnant.

Only I’m not pregnant. And I’m scared.

I started having abdominal tenderness about 10 days ago. I noticed it as I was poking around my rather broad abdomen to figure out where I’m going to begin doing all the shots for our IVF cycle that’s coming up soon.

There was an area that was tender when I poked. So of course I kept poking throughout the week, and kept noticing it was getting slightly worse. It’s in about the same place as you’d expect appendicitis pain, only that usually progresses within about 12 hours, not 12 days.

Then a couple days ago, I leaned against the high countertop in our kitchen and noticed a tender spot right under my rib cage on the right side. I’ve also been nauseous and not very hungry, which is definitely unlike me.

I have a tendency to zero in on the worst possible scenario and obsess about it, so I’ve been spending a lot of time googling to try to figure out what this could be. I’m freaking myself out.

I went to my primary care doctor yesterday, hoping that he could give me a definitive diagnosis of some minor ailment. No such luck. He seemed a bit puzzled and ordered the ultrasound.

Please pray that all of this is just something minor.