May 27, 2009

In Need of a Miracle

Once again, I'm reminded of what an incredible group of women the infertility blogosphere is comprised of. Thank you all for your support and words of encouragement.

Unfortunately, I don't think modern medicine is going to be enough for my dad; I think he's going to need some divine intervention to beat the leukemia.

In response to Ashley's question about the medical center where he was taken, he's in California, and his local doctor arranged for him to be taken to Stanford. That doctor told him he would likely be there for two to three months, but he got there late on Saturday night, and they were planning to release him today without any significant treatment at this point. (Not a good thing.)

He wasn't in great health before his diagnosis. He's had a couple of heart attacks and a stroke in the past five years, and he also has diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, and because of all that stuff, he's already in partial kidney failure. The Stanford docs told him that aggressive treatment (i.e. high-dose chemotherapy) would likely kill him in 4 to 6 weeks.

The doctors presented him with six different options, and he chose to go home, wait for the bone marrow biopsy results and take pills of some sort.

I know, I know - I should have more information than "pills of some sort." But when he tries to talk, he has hacking coughing fits, and his wife is not the type of person who enjoys spending much time on the phone. I will probably call his doctor at some point, but I want to ask their permission first. Hopefully I will talk with them again tomorrow.

Ironically enough, I had an appointment with my therapist about two hours after I found out about the diagnosis on Friday. She asked how I would feel if my dad doesn't get to meet our children. I told her that wouldn't bother me as much as if my mom doesn't get that opportunity, because I'm my mom's only child, i.e., only chance for grandkids.

My dad has three other children from a previous marriage, and all three of them have kids; he's been a granddad since I was in high school. He lives near two of my three siblings, although I don't think he really spends much time at all with them or their children; out of all his relationships with his children, he and I are by far the closest, in large part because they grew up living with their mom in a different state than him.

I also figured that because we're in different states, even though he would love our kids, he probably wouldn't see them more than once every couple of years anyway. So I rationalized that it wouldn't bother me as much, and in some ways I do very much believe that. But listening to him tell me that Stanford is sending him home and that he's not a candidate for aggressive treatment, the tears finally came, and they were around this issue as much as anything else. Damn infertility if it has stolen the opportunity for my dad to meet my kids on top of everything else it's taken from us.

I was on the phone with R, relaying everything I'd found out, when I started to choke up. He was very sweet and quick to reassure me by saying, "Honey, he may not get to meet our kids here on Earth, but he will definitely get to meet them one day."

If anyone's medical issue was to be reversed by a miracle, it wouldn't surprise me at all if it was my dad's. He has a tremendous amount of faith and believes very strongly in "laying hands on people." But as we all know, God doesn't necessarily grant miracles in the way that we hope for them.

I'm heading out to visit him on Saturday morning. On top of that and work, my next semester of classes started yesterday. This time I'm taking two classes, and they're kicking my butt already - they involve much more reading and many more weekly assignments than last semster's class, so I may wind up having to drop one in light of everything else that is going on. I want to catch up with each of you individually, but please forgive me if it takes me a while to do so.

May 25, 2009

Turns Out Infertility Is Good For Something After All...

The first time I received an infertility diagnosis (PCOS), it was a painful thing to hear. A few months later, when my OB called to tell me about R's practically non-existent sperm count, it felt like the world was crashing in around me.

Almost exactly a year later, when we experienced miscarriage #1, it was absolutely impossible to even fathom how it would be possible to wake up one day and not have my first thought be of the baby we lost, impossible to think that we would ever be able to even laugh again.

But the thing about infertility - when cycle after cycle fails, diagnosis after diagnosis hits, baby after baby dies - is that eventually you deal with so much devastating news that handling it actually starts to come automatically.

My dad was diagnosed with leukemia on Thursday.

When I heard the news, of course it was like a punch in the gut. His symptoms came on quickly; I talked with him a week or so ago, and he was fine at that point. (Or at least if anything was bothering him, he didn't mention it and he sounded totally normal.)

Six years ago, this news would have leveled me. Instead, I haven't even cried, haven't even teared up. It's not that I don't care or that I'm not concerned, because I absolutely am. It's just that this is how far infertility has brought me - instead of falling apart, I automatically went to "What type of leukemia is it? What are the doctors doing for him immediately? What is the longer-term treatment plan?" etc.

I don't know the answers to most of those questions yet, other than that it's AML, which is the kind that has a less favorable survival rate. It's tough, because I'm used to being in the center of all the medical stuff and pushing to get answers, but this time I have to take a step back and respect that as his wife's role. She's not as pushy as I am. :-)

My dad lives in a very small town, and he started out in that town's hospital. However, he was supposed to be taken by ambulance last night to one of the best medical complexes in the country, which is three hours away from where he lives. I'm thankful he's going there, because that's one of the very best places he could be. But it's probably also a sign that the situation is pretty grave.

I expect we won't have much more information until toward the end of the week, because I'm sure it will take at least a few days to do the initial tests that his new hospital is going to want. I'm trying to figure out when to go see him.

May 20, 2009

What to Say?

I've decided it's time to kick the last post's title off everyone's blogroll, but I haven't been able to figure out exactly what to say. I've started several posts and saved them as drafts, but they all feel very convoluted and scattered to me.

I know I've been relatively quiet since the great micro array results from a couple of months ago. The reason is, a few weeks after the results came in, I had a follow up consult with RE that kind of threw me for a loop.

I figured given that we have 19 embryos to work with, we'd give me a shot with at least 6 to 8 of them before contemplating surrogacy. However, RE says if I have one more miscarriage, he'll recommend surrogacy at that point. That was a bit of a shock - I just wasn't expecting to be facing a "one more strike and you're out" kind of scenario with so many embryos on deck.

So, I decided to take the ostrich approach while I processed that. I didn't do anything infertility (or thyroid) related in April. I just chose to ignore the whole darn thing.

Of course, ignoring it can only last for so long, so last week I finally did get around to making an appointment with a new endocrinologist. That will be in the first week of June. A co-worker who also has thyroid issues recommended her. She's a young doctor (finished residency in 2007) and had a baby a few months ago. Co-worker said, "Maybe that will make her more sympathetic to your situation." I hope so.

Generally I prefer doctors who have had at least 10 years of private practice experience, but at this point I figured, why not give her a try? She can't be any worse than the endo who told me he wouldn't do anything to treat me until I start to show signs of congestive heart failure. Yes, that's right - he wants me to develop an irreversable heart condition before he'll take action to treat my thyroid condition. Infertility or not, he's out of his mind if he thinks I'm going to wait until that point before getting my thyroid addressed.

On a happier front, now that I understand what's going on with my thyroid, I think I've gotten the hang of managing my eating in a way that is helping me lose weight. I'm significantly upping my food intake when I feel the hyper signs, then as soon as I feel myself swinging to the hypo side, I start popping Synthroid for a few days and switch to eating salads for the last two meals of the day.

So far, I've lost 16 pounds in the last three months. There's still a looong way (weigh? - sorry, couldn't resist) to go, but at least I'm moving in the right direction.

Other than that, R and I are thankful we're both still employed, which is definitely never a sure thing in this economy, and we've embarked on a new (hopefully tear-free and heartbreak-free) adventure: we're buying our first investment property. It's amazingly nice to have a goal that doesn't involve needles and wand dates.

Once I manage to edit my other ramblings into semi-coherent thoughts, I'll post those too. But I'm starting the next semester of school next week (two classes this time - what was I thinking??), so I probably still won't be a super frequent poster. Looking at the syllabuses (syllabi?) for each class, I think I have about 200-250 pages of reading each week. Yikes!

May 04, 2009

Dead Baby Week

This is the week of the year that I dread the most, by far.

Tomorrow is the 5-year anniversary of Miscarriage #1. It's incredible to think that half a decade has passed, that I've made it through to such a different place than I was 5 years ago. Heck, some days, the fact that I've made it through at all feels like a miracle.

It's sad to think that we should have a child who is almost 4 1/2 at this point. And even though it's Cinco de Mayo and I live in a place where that's celebrated with almost as much fervor as New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras, it's just not possible for it to be a day of celebration for us anymore.

Friday is the 3-year anniversary of Miscarriage #2. That pregnancy came and went so quickly - the day we found out for sure that I was pregnant is also the day we found out I wasn't going to stay that way - that it didn't feel quite as devastating as the first one. But it still counts, and I still hate that it had to happen this week, of all weeks. Some years, it falls on Mother's Day itself. Double ouch.

The other pregnancies didn't end during Mother's Day week, but for two of the three, that weekend still marked some sort of significance. For the twin pregnancy (pg #3, m/c's #3 and 4), I would have been entering my third trimester during Mother's Day weekend. Instead, we didn't even make it out of the first trimester. And last year, Mother's Day marked the 1-month anniversary of m/c #6, which was also D&C #2.

I just want to go to bed tonight and sleep through until next Monday morning. Hopefully at some point in the future, there will come a time when I don't hate this week so much.