Canceled

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Well, this is a post I definitely didn’t foresee myself writing. I was all set to have my surgery this week, and—at the last minute—it fell apart. Actually, more like it was never going to happen anyway, although I would have been the last person to know.

Here’s the condensed version.

During my last office visit with Dr. Lee, we scheduled my surgery. While I sat on the exam table, I watched her add my surgery into her computerized calendar. Just as I prepared to leave, Dr. Lee ran back into the exam room to have me sign a surgical consent form, which she had nearly forgotten to do. I signed it, she gave me a folder with pre-op instructions, and I went on my way.

A few days before surgery, I called Dr. Lee’s office for a copy of my bowel prep instructions (in my experience, every doctor does bowel prep a bit differently).  Imagine my surprise when Dr. Lee’s office manager told me that I wasn’t scheduled for surgery on March 12 at all!  The office manager (I’ll call her Sandra) said that my surgery didn’t appear on Dr. Lee’s calendar and accusingly informed me that I had failed to sign a consent form. As kindly possible, I explained that she was entirely wrong on both counts. Besides, even if I had neglected to sign a consent form, well whose fault is that? It’s the office’s responsibility to obtain consents, not the patient’s to remind them to do their job.

An hour later, Sandra called back saying she could squeeze me in for surgery after all on March 12!  Although still annoyed, I was relieved, and figured the problem had been fixed.

An hour after that, Sandra called again saying Dr. Lee could not perform my surgery on March 12 because all her other surgeries that day were complex cases like mine, and there wasn’t time for me.

To say I was livid would be an massive understatement. I was even more livid that Dr. Lee’s office tried blaming ME for their glaring error!  Also, it was beyond unprofessional that Dr. Lee personally didn’t call me. What happened in my case is a massive error for a doctor’s office to make, but the fact that she sent Sandra to do her bidding rather than taking a moment to personally call me was the icing on the cake.

I declined Sandra’s offer to reschedule my surgery.  If Dr. Lee can’t be trusted to, I don’t know, run a medical practice efficiently, how could I trust her to operate on me?! I especially was insulted by her office twice trying to blame me for their ineptitude. I had arranged time off from work, Jake had taken a personal day to accompany me to surgery, and I had hired a friend who is a former nurse to stay with me the day after surgery. Expecting to be temporarily bed-ridden, I had made other preparations, such as pre-preparing food and scrubbing my home clean, which I could have avoided. It was also embarrassing to have to explain to several people that my surgery was off.

What my next step is remains to be seen. There is a definite God Factor that is part of this story, but I don’t want this post to get too long because no one likes to read really long blog posts.

So stay tuned; part two is coming up.

 

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Pre-op Festivities

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In keeping with my tradition of being a Bad Blogger, I never did blog my promised update for surgery #6.  Oops.  I’ve been meaning to update here for awhile, but: life.  You know how it is.

My next surgery is set for March 12.  Four-plus weeks sounds like a long time, but I’m sure it’ll whiz by.  My pain level and symptoms from endo have amped up during the last few months, so I’m really hoping that after this surgery will provide much-needed relief.

Surgery will be laparoscopy accompanied by D&C, hysteroscopy, and chromtubation.  Dr. Lee is also going to cauterize my cervix (again) in an attempt to stop my intermenstrual bleeding. I do not have high hopes that cauterization will work this time, because it did nothing to stop or even slow my bleeding last time. Time will tell though, and I’d be relieved to be wrong. A colo-rectal surgeon will assist Dr. Lee, if needed. I really hope s/he is not needed. Recovering from partial bowel resection is no joke, and not something I wish to repeat, like, EVER.

Pre-op this time around is pretty breezy: I’ll have some blood work done—including an updated AMH, just for kicks—and the day before surgery I’ll do a bowel prep. Bowel preps are some nasty business. This will be my third bowel prep, and I don’t expect it to be any funner than the other two were (which were so unfun I can’t even say …). Even so, I don’t have much in the way of pre-op testing, which I’m pleased about.

Dr. Lee suspects that I have endo either on my urethra or attached to one of the nerves that runs near it in my groin area. Lately I’ve been suffering from weird pubic/groin/whatever pain that shoots through my body and causes abdominal spasms. And I mean spasms, like spasm spasms, where my whole body jerks uncontrollably for minutes on end. It has had Jake and I completely freaked out, but according to Dr. Lee, patients with severe endo often have it on their urethra or nearby nerves, so that was (sort of?) reassuring.

In addition, I’ve been having ongoing stabbing uterine pain throughout my whole cycle that jars me and doubles me over. Clearly, something bad is going on in my uterus. My pelvic MRI didn’t show much, but in my opinion it was kind of a waste, because what can MRI really show when it comes to endometriosis?  I’m still not clear why Dr. Lee orderd my MRI in the first place, but, hey, I’m not the doctor here.

Otherwise, I’m prepared for my next surgery.  I fully know what to expect, how to prepare, and what recovery is like, so I feel little-to-no nerves in that department. I’m just glad it’s scheduled and am looking forward to maybe having relief this time around.

Peace.

 

 

 

Upcoming Surgery #6

Hello, all—if anyone’s still out there! My blogging has been slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y crawling toward the point of nonexistence, and I’m so sorry for being such a terrible blogger! But, life happens.

Alas, here I am. Still sometimes blogging and always still walking among the infertility trenches. But I’m beginning to climb out: I see a definite end in sight—even if that end involves bidding adieu my unproductive reproductive parts.

Blogging

In big news, part of my blogging absence is because Jake and I bought a house! Long story short, we bought  a townhouse, moved to the burbs, and are currently adjusting to the massive shock of our lives being completely uprooted.

The other reason for my blogging absence is because fertility/infertility hasn’t been much on my radar. For awhile I believe infertility became an idol in my life. It was all-consuming. As time passes, it slips further and further down my Top Ten list. Lately, at best I’m halfway interested in infertility’s role in my life. Mostly, I’m trying to move away from it, rather than digging in deeper. I want to move on.

Endometriosis Surgery

Back in October while scouring the internet for an endo specialist, I found a contender, right in my own backyard! Jake and I had a surgery consult with the doc, Dr. Lee, last week. Dr. Lee is an endometriosis wizard (wizardess?) and I think I’ll be in good hands with her for an excision surgery. She’s head of gynecology at a hospital in the city and know a lot about endo. Despite that her beside manner struck me as clinical and slightly cold, I still liked her because she plans to do a thorough endo cleanup on me.

Dr. Lee’s surgical plan is more involved than my last cleanup. Because I had a partial bowel resection during one of my prior endo surgeries, I have to meet with a colo-rectal surgeon. A pre-op bowel prep will also be involved (yech). Next week I’m having a pre-op pelvic MRI, which Dr. Lee also ordered. Then some other x-ray or specialist or… something… is involved. I basically forgot at this point what she was saying. I got hung up on the whole, “It’ll be a big surgery” part, and the rest was kind of a haze. There’s also a good chance I’ll spend a night or two in the hospital if my colon is involved again.

Surgery will be excision of endometriosis, removal of adhesions and any cysts, and cauterizing my cervix (again…) to try stopping its endless bleeding. Unlike my last two surgeries, this won’t be a daVinci robotic surgery.

Hysterectomy

Like every doctor before her, Dr. Lee reviewed my previous surgical reports and was all gloom-and-doom about my prospects for fertility and for long-term endo relief. She kept emphasizing my need to have a hysterectomy, and for the first time in many years I actually heard her out about it. Normally I tune out the docs when they start yammering on about the virtues of hysterectomy (although never the downsides… hmm), but I’m starting to wonder if maybe—just maybe—the docs are right.

It mostly comes down to quality of life: Do I want to keep a modicum of fertility, but live with ceaseless pain and bleeding? Or do I want to say goodbye to that sliver of hope/fertility, but finally have pain relief (and, dare I say, closure)?

I’ve reached a point where I can’t 100% confidently say that I want a baby badly enough to continue suffering physically and emotionally with pain from endo, pain and bleeding from a super-friable and inflamed cervix, pain from fibroids, endless ovary pain, pain from breast cysts (yeah, that’s a new thing…), painful intercourse, mega monster incapacitating cramps, and the icing on the cake: infertility. I just want it all gone… even if that means I can never be a mama. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’re praying for God’s leading on this. For now, I wait quietly.

 

How to Accept Childlessness

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If I ever wished for a how-to book to exist, it’d be called How To Accept Childlessness.  And the byline would read something like ‘…Without Being a Failure Who Gave Up.’   It’d be pretty awesome to have a guidebook to know if I’m doing the whole ‘I surrender’ thing the right way.

Acceptance of our childlessness state has majorly been on my mind these days.  Not that I’ve fully accepted childlessness (yet).  But I am getting there, little by little.  This… Thing… in me that I never before knew existed is starting to pop up—a Thing that’s okay (*gulp*) with not having a child.  The fact that The Thing even exists causes me unease.  The Thing has evolved slowly, in myriad little ways that are impossible to describe.  Regardless, The Thing is here.  And it grows stronger with each failing cycle.

We’ve been fighting for more than seven years to have a baby.  It’s been degrees of fighting though—from the trying-not-trying phase to full-out maniacal trying.  We’ve had months when we were lackluster in timing intercourse, and we’ve had months when we’d frantically take pregnancy tests the moment my period was late.  Either way, we’d always fight and try and keep going—the idea of giving up just didn’t exist.

But those lackluster months are becoming more frequent lately.  Somewhere along the way, I’ve quit taking my daily basal body temperature.  Two out my last three cycles I’ve left my fertility monitor and ovulation tests forgotten, to gather dust on the bathroom shelf.  Anymore, the prospect of monitoring my cycle seems both tedious and monumental.

I think to myself, “So this must be how it begins—acceptance.”  And I feel a mixture of peace (mixed with melancholy relief) and apprehension (as I watch the sand dwindle down in the hourglass of my fertility window) when the thought comes.

I don’t know how someone knows when it’s time to accept childlessness.  I guess there’s no magic formula—like most things, it seems to be a slow fade.  And, like all journeys, the road there is traveled one step at a time.  I’m at a crossroads, where my options are to either: (1) accept childlessness, or (2) dig my heels in and really, REALLY try for a child with all my might.  But option two means another IVF and that’s not something we can afford now (and possibly ever again).  I mean, how else can someone “really try?”   There’s obviously only one way to “really try” for a baby naturally, and we’ve had nearly 90 of them.

I guess the real question is: How badly do I want this?

And the answer seems to be, not badly enough to throw down and continue to fight.

 

“There’s Nothing Wrong”

I hope you all had a wonderful summer.  Although I took a blog break, I’ve still been stalking everyone else’s blogs this summer and commenting here and there. I guess this post means that I’m back… for now! 

Although I can point to a reason [endometriosis] for my thus-far lack of babies, my unexplained non-period bleeding persists. I’ve been blogging consistently about intermenstrual bleeding for two years now.  I know you’re all bored stiff by it.  So am I. I’ve visited umpteen docs in that time, none any better than the other, who’ve performed procedures (cauterization), run tests (biopsy), and cut me open (laparoscopy) to try fixing the issue.

No-go.  Still, I bleed.  Like clockwork, each doc unhelpfully informs me that, “It’s just your hormones,” “Nothing can be done,”  or, my personal favorite, “You’ll have to find a way to learn to live with it” (like, what do you think I’ve been doing these past two years?!).  None of these docs actually test my hormones, mind you.  They just give me the same old canned answers out of, I don’t know what…  noncommital laziness, perhaps?

This summer I visited my GP because my pelvic pain has been worsening and the bleeding is taking over my life.  My GP (Dr. Cooper for today’s pseudonym) is a totally awesome chick, and visiting her is like chatting with a girlfriend who also just happens to be a super smart doctor.  I had high hopes she could help.

After patiently listening to my side of things and asking well-thought questions, Dr. Cooper developed an attack plan: I’d have a much-needed updated pelvic ultrasound and my hormones thoroughly tested. After reviewing my results and some careful cogitation, she’d refer me to another doc worth their salt.  I liked her plan: simple, yet effective.  The prospect of answers and relief was very enticing.

Other than showing that I have a uterine fibroid, my ultrasound was unremarkable. Same with my  blood work. All was in order, save that my Sex Hormone Binding Globulin Serum (or “Sex Goblin” as Jake and I like to call it) was off the charts because of my still-uncontrolled thyroid.  Much as I’d like to blame him, my misbehaving Sex Goblin isn’t responsible for all this bleeding and pain.

To my dismay, Dr. Cooper referred me to Dr. B.  Yes, the very same Dr. B. whom I long-ago fired because he had the personality of a potato.  Aaaand the same Dr. B who also no longer practices medicine; I guess Dr. Cooper missed that part of the story.  Another dead end.

Still, I bleed.  Unresolved.  It’s slowly driving me crazy.  And isn’t that the worst way to go?

White. flag. waved.

 

Summer Blog Break

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Hello, blog friends!  Today I realized that it’s been a whole month since I last posted on here.  Aaaaand, let’s be real: it’s summer. the weather’s great. the sunshine is currently slaughtering months’ worth of Seasonal Affective Disorder’s influence on my brain. I’m outside doing things every day.  Bemoaning Blogging about fertility stuff just isn’t on my radar.  I’ve completely dropped off posting (although not stalking… never stop stalking) my other social media feeds.  So it’s fitting that I take a break from the blogosphere as well.

Besides, I really have nothing new going on in Fertility Land.  Jake and I just had our 7-year TTC anniversary—or whatever you want to term it—last month.   We’re currently in negotiations about doing another stim cycle.  “Negotiations” essentially involve me convincing Jake to agree to another IVF.  Buuuut, we’re also in the process of preparing to buy a new house, so I kind of have to decide if I want a house or a baby more at the moment.  It’s a tough call because both would be stellar, but neither are free.  Well, baby making should be free…

Anyway, unless something radically awesome (or awful) related to fertility/infertility happens in the next eight-ish weeks, I’ve decided to step away from this space til after Labor Day.

Cheers to sunshine, flip-flops, and (vegetarian) BBQs!

 

 

Clearblue Fertility Monitor Review

As promised, here’s the skinny after wrapping up my first cycle of using my new (well, new-to-me) Clearblue Fertility Monitor.


Background

A fertility monitor is more advanced than ovulation prediction kits.  A FM measures and compares both luteinizing hormone and estrogen, as opposed to strictly an LH surge. The FM is also more sensitive and accurate.  And, a bonus for me—there’s no test/control lines to squint and analyze. Huzzah!

Using a fertility monitor is easy enough (although I still recommend reading the entire instruction booklet. Considering the financial investment of the monitor, you’d better believe I read that booklet cover to cover!).  You simply power the monitor on first thing every morning of your cycle to determine two things: 1. Whether the FM wants to be fed a test stick; and 2. Whether your personal fertility chances that day are low, medium, or high.  You POAS (must be FMU), insert the cleanly capped stick into the FM, and wait five minutes.  The display then shows one of the following:

  • 1 bar = low fertility.
  • 2 bars = medium fertility.
  • 3 bars = high (“peak”) fertility, replete with a pic of a tiny egg.

If your cycle ends in a BFN, pressing the monitor’s only button (aside from the power button), tells it that a new menstrual cycle has begun, and the whole process repeats.


First Use

A FM learns your individual cycle over time. I hope this means that it requires less test sticks over time too, because I went through ten of those suckers this cycle alone ($)!

After receiving my monitor in the mail and giving it a thorough cleaning, I reset its internal computer, which you should do when buying a used one.  A reset means it knew nothing about my cycles, and we started out our very intimate relationship as strangers.  The FM asked for its first test stick on CD6 and required daily testing until it was finally satisfied on CD16.

The FM provides not one but two days of high or “peak” fertility. Unlike OPKs, the positive window for the first peak day lasts 24 – 36 hours (as opposed to 12 – 48 hours for OPKs).  I liked this narrower window because it really helped me to pinpoint the exact day I was the most fertile.


Convenience

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The actual fertility monitor. 

Clearblue’s fertility monitor is palm-sized and discreet.  There’s no wording or other markings on the monitor itself that could give away its function to someone who stumbles upon it.  This makes me feel comfortable traveling with it or leaving it in the cabinet when guests use my home restroom.  However, I have an older model; the newer monitor pics I found online look very different than my monitor, pictured above.  The monitor could also easily slip into my pants pocket or purse, if needed.

And, as mentioned above, the most convenient part is not having to interpret test lines!


Fertility Monitor vs. Ovulation Prediction Kit

Eventually, I may reach to the place where I replace my OPKs with the FM.  That said, I took no chances and still used Wondfo OPKs my first cycle.

I began OPK testing on CD10 and received a positive on CD11.  Conversely, the monitor begin testing on CD6 and gave me the first of two positives on CD12. Clearly, one was wrong.  But which?  I wonder—absent blood tests and a few dates with an RE—how to know.  I wish I’d bought this monitor during my days of visiting infertility docs, as it would’ve been handy to know which test was right!  One day’s difference might not sound like a big deal to an outsider, but, since the ovulated egg is only solidly good for twelve hours, that one day can make or break a cycle.

To be safe—and much to Jake’s delight—-we took no chances and TTC’ed on CD9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15.


Consensus

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Clearblue advises that you not interpret your results based on the test lines.  But I still do anyway, because I’m fanatic like that. 

Being that I’m gearing up for cycle number two, the monitor failed in that I didn’t get pregnant.  It’s not entirely the monitor’s fault though: all it can do is advise me the best day to have sex.  It’s no miracle worker.

I completely forgot to reset my monitor on CD1 this month, mostly because I stowed the thing away weeks ago and am not yet in the habit of resetting it monthly.  However, if you’re forgetful like me, there’s a way to override the FM’s computer and catch it up to your current cycle day.  Good work, Clearblue, for making an option ‘B’ for women like me who space out on these kinds of things!

VERDICT:  I think I’ll keep using the monitor for the next few months.  When/if I: (a) stop TTC, (b) get tired of buying test sticks, or (c) get pregnant, I’ll either resell it online or give it away.

Overall rating: A.