Archive for the ‘Cancer And Fertility Journey’ Category

I’m PUPO!

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise 🙂

I like that this little acronym sounds a lot like “pupae”…. it keeps with the gestational theme & I dig it.

I had the embryo transfer yesterday, and it went totally fine.  They transferred the best three, which were really very good ones, but said the other 5 were not super awesome.  If they were perfect, they’d have frozen them for us right away, but since they were not “great”, they’re going to keep growing them for a few more days in the lab and see if they shape up or fizzle out.  I’m to call in on Monday and check their status, and if any of them look promising, they’ll be frozen for us.

So….. we just wait now.  And remember to take the progesterone.  And remember to take my vitamins.  And remember to not drink coffee or booze.  Sheesh.  And whether it really works or not, I get to experience early pregnancy symptoms for a while.  Currently, I have an epic headache, amazing sore (and giant!) boobs, and I’m still kinda sore & crampy in the belly.

And apparently they don’t leave it to the fallibility of pee-sticks… I’ll be heading in for a blood test on December 9th to confirm it one way or another.

Fingers & toes crossed!

Pain… I has it

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Owie owie owie.

It’s all good news though.

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went very well.  TEN eggs were collected, and the phone call from the lab this morning said that EIGHT of the ten fertilized.  So yeah, success!  I’m to call back tomorrow to be told when to come in for the embryo transfer.

If you want all the details of yesterday’s adventure, here they are.

It was all pretty much as I expected, except for the Atavan not kicking in very quickly.  In fact, I’d have thought it didn’t kick in at all were it not for the lamp on the ceiling above the procedure table doing a bit of a weird dance every now & then.  They gave me generous helpings of pain killers, and even though I was technically awake, I was really rather stoned and not super connected to the part of my body that was being invaded.  They turned the monitor around for us so that Frank and I could see the eggs being removed… it was quite cool.  We could see the big black circles that were the follicles, and then a little white line would pierce into it, and it would all just suck up into it and be gone.  One after the other went like this until each ovary was empty.

Then off to the recovery room to, well, recover.  This was mostly uneventful except for the vasovagal episode (essentially, it’s like fainting).  Apparently it’s common for people to have this happen during the procedure, or just after, but mine was a bit unusual in that it was rather delayed.  They tell me my heart rate dropped to 50, my breathing was super shallow, they couldn’t get my blood pressure to read, and my face went grey… so they gave me a shot of atropine to counter it, and I was fine.  On my end of things, it just felt very uncomfortable, and frustrating.  Like I was trying to fight off a dissociative state, and like I wanted to kick and thrash but was completely unable to.

Eventually, I started to wake up properly, and was given lots to drink, and a bit of cookie to nibble on, so they let me go home.  Leaving the hospital is super foggy… I remember being very cold, and walking VERY slow, and I remember falling asleep in the car.  I have a vague memory of getting into my pajamas and getting tucked in under the electric blankey on the sofa, and my next coherent memory was Frank waking me up to give me grilled cheese sammiches and tomato soup.  Frank’s the best.

I slept on the sofa all day and evening, occasionally waking up to eat, drink, or look at something on the television, and take more pain killers.  I eventually went up to bed & slept some more, and woke up this morning, still in quite a lot of pain.  It’s annoying pain… not enough to keep me home from work, but enough to make it hard to stand up straight.  It’s all “icepick pains” as my grandmother used to describe…sharp little pokey pains, sort of like nerve-pain, all over my pelvic region, but especially in the ovary/uterine area.  I walk very slowly, and am very careful on transitions between sitting & standing.  Even rolling over in bed had to be done gingerly.

So I’ll be working today & tomorrow, and then sometime Thursday, they’ll be putting 3 embryos back in, and freezing the other 5.

Fingers crossed!

OK To Go! I’m OK to go!

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Holy cow!  Big freakin’ day!

Today was my LAST blood/ultrasound appointment… and also my LAST Suprefact sniff, and my LAST FSH injection, and this evening, I just took the trigger shot that will tell my ovaries that it’s time to start winding up to crack the eggs.  Which, I must say was the most nerve-wracking injection I’ve given myself over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to it being a larger gauge, and not being as easy to poke.

Anyway, enough of the poke-talk for those that are poke-averse.  Lemme throw some numbers at you to distract you from the ookie-ness.

First, let’s talk E2 (estriadol) levels.  When I started this thang, I was clocking in at 105… whatever that means.  We watched it creep up slowly at first, and then suddenly, whammo – my ovaries started responding to the FSH injections, and follicles got big, and that E2 number started to climb.  It took 4 days to get from 105 to 219, then only 2 days to get to 611.  Two days later, 1711.  Two days after that, 3654! Holy crap, no wonder I feel like a wingnut.  Today? 5812.  Every time I think of that number, I imagine that dude from Dragonball Z shouting: “It’s over 5000!”

Now here’s the really crazy numbers.  For this, I really suggest you look at a ruler… because when you picture how big this really is, your jaw’s gonna drop.

So, I’ve been feeling a little… tender.  Bending over is pretty difficult, gotta be careful about how I sit… pretty much anything that puts pressure on my belly has been really unpleasant.  Oh yeah, and about every half hour, I feel like I might need to pee.  Annoying.  Here’s why.

I’m sporting at least 6 follicles in each ovary… more actually, but those are the only ones they’re measuring.  This morning, the biggest follicle was 24 mm.  Now look at that on your ruler. That’s a freakin’ GRAPE.  Now imagine 6 of those on each side.  I’m hauling around bunches of GRAPES in my belly!  No wonder I’m tender!

Here’s a visual aid.. this is about right.  This weird little plastic toy has 6 x 20mm spheres:

Yeah, so that’s about the size of ONE of my ovaries.  Imagine carrying two of those around, right next to yer bladder?  It’s only when I imagine it that I start to think about how totally unnatural it is to be doing what I’m doing.  I’m tricking my body into making as MANY ripe eggs as possible… as opposed to the one (or two) that normally fluff up in a regular cycle.

Anyway, she said the “medium sized ones” will probably get bigger before retrieval, so there’ll be a really nice crop to collect.  As of this morning, the right side had the following 7 follicles (in mm): 24,19, 18, 18, 15, 14, 14.  The left had only four worth mentioning: 22, 17, 16, 11, and a couple of smaller ones that probably won’t get big enough.

So, as of today’s clinic results, I was to stop taking all medications, with the exception of my final injection, the hCG shot that would trigger ovulation.  Apparently it takes 36 hours for the follicles to reach their final stage of maturation and be released by the ovaries, and since Science knows this, I’m scheduled to go in for the egg retrieval right BEFORE the ovaries let go of their clutch, so that that the good doctors can liberate them artificially.

Here’s how the next couple of days are gonna go:

I’m gonna sleep tonight, and tomorrow, I’m gonna move around very gingerly, and enjoy one whole day of not putting any hormones in my body.  I’m gonna have an awesome dinner with friends, and I’m gonna go to bed real early.  I’ll get up at the crack of dark on Monday morning, take the Atavan they were so kind as to pre-supply me with, and be in waiting room 2 by 8:15am.  Frank will toddle off to the (ahem), special room, where he’ll supply them with his portion of the genetic material.  He gets to hang out with me while I’m in my semi-conscious/semi-sedated stupor while the doctor does her thing… which I won’t describe because it will really ook  you out.  Frank will take me home and I’ll loll about on the couch all day and recover.  Meanwhile, the docs will be putting everything in the petri dishes to see what happens.

I’ll work Tuesday & Wednesday, and at some point I’ll talk to a nurse who will tell me how many eggs fertilized and what time to be at the hospital on Thursday. When I go in on Thursday, they’ll be placing 2 or 3, three-day old embryos back into my belly.  Those embryos will be responsible for implanting themselves into my uterine lining, but they’re supposed to know how to do that already, even at only 3 days old.  Apparently some folks get nervous that they might “fall out” but the nurse described it as more like “putting a piece of lint into a peanut butter sandwich”, and not to worry too much.

After the transfer, I get my first dose of progesterone, (which I will take daily for 2 weeks) and go home to keep my feet up for another 24 hours.  Then it’s business as usual while I wait two weeks to pee on a stick.  And that’s it! That’s what I’m doin’ for the next few weeks of my life.  Fingers crossed for the best Christmas present ever.

….And, congratulations to those of you that caught the Contact reference 😉

oh yeah!

Friday, November 19th, 2010

SIX BIG FAT FOLLICLES!

When the doc looked at my ultrasound this morning, she exclaimed “oh! you’re having a BEAUTIFUL cycle!”  and we marveled a the size and quantity of follicles that my right ovary had developed in just two days.  But then looked at the left one & said, “well, not so much this one”, and indeed, the left side had barely changed since Wednesday, and certainly none of its follicles looked particularly excited to be there.  But SIX on the right is fantastic and is certainly enough to do a retrieval.

The ones on the right are doing so well, in fact, that the doc said she expects they’ll do my retrieval early… probably Monday (instead of Wednesday).  So back to the hospital for another ultrasound tomorrow, and more instructions/detail for the next step soon to come.

Geez, it’s getting exciting now!

Fingers Crossed

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Ultrasound this morning showed a buncha follicles waking up.  Five or so on each side, looking bigger, but still not super awesome.  However, there’s one on each side that are looking nice & fat.
He said I should expect to see a spike in my E2 over the next couple of days, and hopefully the other follicles will catch up to the big ones.  He also said there’s a chance that the 2 bigs ones might dominate the cycle and be the only good ones we get.  He didn’t say anything else today, but I know two isn’t enough to do the egg retrieval for IVF, but I also know that might be enough for IUI.
Anyway… they just called me back with my blood results and my E2 is up to 1711 (from Monday’s 611) – quite a jump, and “good” according to the nurse that called.  So YAY.  They’re keeping me at 375 today & tomorrow, next blood/ultrasound on Friday, and we’re all crossing our fingers that the other follicles catch up & we get a nice big batch of eggs.

Think Stimulating Thoughts!

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I’m about a week into the FSH jabbing. Last Tuesday, they set my initial dose at 150 iu of Gonal-F , and told me to come back on Saturday for an 8am blood test.

First, I have to say that getting up at 7am on a Saturday, after having performed in the Taboo Revue the night before (and still another performance to go) was not at all fun.  Frank was awesome and booked a CAN car to take us there, and as soon as we got back, we went straight back to bed.

When I called for results at lunchtime, they said I was responding a bit slow, so they doubled my dose.  Up to 300 iu for the next 2 days, to see if that would get my hormone levels up where they wanted them.  Having already done 4 days at 150 iu, that meant I only had 300 iu left in my $900 injection pen.  So, back to the pharmacy to drop another $900.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I inject about $300 into my belly every evening at 8pm, but at least I get Airmiles on it.

Back to the clinic this morning for a blood test and an ultrasound to see how the dose-doubling was working.  We took the bus this time, and seriously… it sucked.  Morning transit traffic sucks in general, but we were also relying on the #17, which apparently is having a chronic lateness problem due to an unrealistic schedule.  We figured out later that a smarter way to go (rather than the 9 to the 17)  is the 84 to the Canada Line, as the hospital is quite walkable from King Ed station.

Anwyay, we were really late.  The fabulous morning nurse took me anyway, even though I was technically later than her closing time, and then upstairs to ultrasound.  Those dozen follicles they saw last time are still there, and are a bit bigger, but not AS big as they want them.  The doc said it’s possible that even if my body is producing enough FSH of it’s own (which is a blood test I’ve had before that had normal results), if my ovaries are not responding well enough to the FSH, that might start to explain why there’s been no babies.  She said she expected my E2 (estriadol) levels to be up quite a bit today, and to call for the results & my new dosage.

She was right about the E2 levels… up to 611 which is pretty good, but they want to really make sure things wake up, so they’re upping my dosage again.  Up to 375 iu today & tomorrow, and then back in for blood & ultrasound on Wednesday.

So think stimulating thoughts for me!  Hello wee follicles, wake up!

A Big Day

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

It’s “start-jabbing-myself-with-FSH” day!

Before I go into detail about today, I’d like to mention that the Buserelin DID get easier. I’ve been on it for nearly two weeks now, and not only have I gotten much better at aiming it straight up into my head, but I’ve also been finding the side effects easier to cope with too.  Still get headaches, fatigue and stupidity, but it’s not as difficult to push through as it was a week ago.

So, despite not having to go to work today, I was up at 6:30am to get Frank & I to the lab for 8am so I could get my first of many blood tests.  This test is to check my hormone levels to make sure that the buserelin has been doing it’s job, and I’m where I need to be to proceed to phase 2.  Then upstairs for an ultrasound, which I didn’t think was going to be very exciting, but it was actually pretty cool.  About half way through, I felt bad that I’d left Frank in the waiting room (honestly, I didn’t think it was worth coming in for)…. but the doc was cool, and after he’d made all the notes he needed, he turned the monitor to me to show me mah ovaries.  He pointed out about a dozen dark spots, saying “these the follicles we’ll be tracking over the next few weeks”, and I realized that one of those very spots could be a baby soon.  I shoulda made Frank come in, however, there will be plenty more of that business before we’re through… so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to oogle my ovaries.

Next was a long sit with a very nice nurse, signing & witnessing consent forms, being taught how to prep & jab myself, asking all the dumb questions.  Then, back to reception to pay the piper a whopping $5,000, which is just the fees for the procedures, and not counting the amazingly expensive FSH that I would be purchasing later in the day.  I was all cool and focused in the office, but as soon as I stepped out of the building I felt like my head was going to explode.  Sooooo overwhelming.  Huge amount of money, consent forms to let them do stuff to my body & plumbing, tons of crap to remember, plus, don’t forget… jab myself with a needle every day for two weeks! Eeeeeeee!  But you know, I got over it.  A painkiller for the headache, a glass of water, a few deep breaths, & I was ready to get on with the day.

We had a nice brunch & called the clinic to get my blood results and be told what my first FSH dosage would be.  We dropped off the prescription, and then I took Frank to the Museum of Anthropology to see the Man Ray exhibit.  Our busy, overwhelming day at least had a little window of quiet museum snooping, and it was totally worth seeing. I enjoyed the calm while we had it, & then we were rushing back to pick up the prescription & get ourselves picked up to get to our rehearsal (which rocked) on time.  Frank needed to stay for another rehearsal and had really wanted to be with me for my first injection, so we did it right there at the studio…. a little nerve wracking for me, as I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to flip out over jabbing myself in the BELLY with a needle…. but it wasn’t that bad.  It was pokey going in, but once it was in, I didn’t really feel it.

And now I’m home, with a belly full of FSH, poised for the hormonal roller coaster that is sure to come.  I get a couple of clinic-free days, but starting Saturday I’ll have a daily pattern of going in for my 8am blood test, calling in at 12:30pm to get the results & my new dosage amount, and jab myself with the evening.  That’ll continue until it’s time to harvest my crop of eggs (determined by hormone levels & whatnot), which we expect to be around the 24th.

Exciting times. 🙂

Blegh

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Buserelin and I are not friends.

First, sniffing that crap doesn’t get easier, although it is a great reminder to breathe more deeply more often.  All the (near) hyperventilation required to take this stuff gets me all lightheaded.  Half the time, my aim isn’t perfect and instead of going straight up into my sinus, it hits a surface, liquefies and tries to run back out my nose, so I tilt my head back and sniff frantically to catch it.  Lather rinse repeat twice more.  By the time I’m done, I go sit down, sniff and blink a lot until the fireworks behind my eyes let up.

About an hour after I take my dose I get a headache.  That nasty, sinus-style headache that’s all in the front of your face, plus a burning/irritated feeling high up in my nose.  You know when you’ve been out in the snow too long, and you’ve frozen and dried out your sinuses from breathing cold air too long?  Yeah… like that.

Oh, and along with the headache? Fatigue, (sometimes) nausea, and a sudden onset of acute stupidity.  Can’t focus, can’t think, can’t do the thing with the thing that wanna just go-do-think – ugh, GOD! Somebody do this thing for me because I’m fucking RETARDED and have to go to bed now BLAAAAAARGH.

But about an hour after that, it seems to all pass and I’m pretty normal again.  Except for the emotional hair-trigger.  And apparently this one (Buserelin) isn’t even as crazy-making as the FSH.  Frank, I apologize in advance!

Here we go!

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Oct 28, 2010.  Check.

Reminders set up on every calendar in my life.  Check.

Prescription for Suprefact (buserelin acetate).  Check.

Three squirts of it (feels like snorting rubbing alcohol) up my nose, three times a day.  Cough, sniff, gag.  Check!

Day 1

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Some of this post might be a bit emo and/or oversharing, but it’s significant to me, and I felt it deserved voicing.  So yeah, stop reading if you don’t want to hear about periods & emotions, or the nitty gritty on scheduling.

As a woman, once you start trying to get pregnant, every period you get is a little heartbreak.  You spend all month taking your temperature, writing stuff down, screwing your brains out, and always, always looking at the calendar.  At the end of the cycle, it’s always the same….Did it work? Did it work? Nope. Didn’t work.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Then you get tired of all the crap…. all the advice, the waiting, and everybody else’s baby showers, and you (or at least I) just try to stop thinking about it.  But at that first trace of red, you’re reminded of yet another month’s biological failure.

But, I started my cycle today, and it’s the first time in all seven years that I felt happy about it, because this time, it’s the signal to call the clinic to and start counting days.

The first bit of good news is that once again, the clinic has demonstrated how amazingly ON IT they are.  I called in as I was supposed to, and they took my number, saying they’d get my chart & call me back.  They called back WITHIN 20 minutes to ask me where I had my colposcopy done last month… which means they remembered that I’d had cancer, and wanted to see the results of my checkup before giving me the green light.  Half an hour later, they called me again… with the green light!

So getting the green light means counting to Day 21, which will be Day 1 of fertility treatments.  To follow our progress on our exciting schedule, check out the brand new Fertility Cycle Schedule page.

Hooray!