Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unfamiliar Territory

I expected to have fertility problems. I have crappy cystic ovaries, I'm overweight, and I haven't taken the best care of myself over the years. I expected it, prepared the best I could for it. While you might never truly make yourself "ok" with an infertility diagnosis, you deal with it the best you can and remain hopeful that you'll be blessed despite your body's faults. That your overwhelming drive and desire to be a parent will triumph over the hurdles you face.

Today I received a call with news that all of my pondering, all of my worry and concern over my own fertility wasn't prepared to handle. My husband is the one who is being referred to a fertility specialist. Not me... Him. How did that happen?

When you spend so much energy and focus on your own issues and you have to refocus on a new hurdle, it's overwhelming. Not to mention the emotional baggage which comes along with it. No man wants to be told they are less than perfect. It is a blow to the ego of even the least self-conscious guy.

So while my own fertility is still in question, we need to refocus. Spend some time and energy on him. I guess perhaps I'm a bit thankful in this instance for my own struggles, if it at all helps me provide emotional support to him.

So, onward we go. Uncharted territory for both of us.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Doctors Are Supposed To Make Patients Feel Better, Right?

To say I've had my fair share of doctor problems over the years is an understatement.  I have had everything from doctors who had terrible schedules, to a doctor who actually used to ask me what I thought was wrong with know, because I am really a doctor in hiding, of course! I've had doctors who blamed everything on my weight and treated me poorly. Doctors who were uncaring and ones with terrible bedside manner.

I don't believe I'm particularly more needy or demanding than any other patient, in fact, I don't enjoy being a "bother" and certainly don't want to become one of those patients who the doctor rolls their eyes at whenever they hear they called again about something.  So even when I'm ready to rip their hair out, I don't show it.  It's an area that I suffer silently (er, well...silent to them, anyway).

After having really high hopes for a great doctor, I thought I got so lucky with this guy. He had been amazing at my first appointment. It was productive, I had done everything he wanted me to all of my paperwork released from my previous docs, I went in for my ultrasound, hubby went in for his semen analysis...all was well. I just had to wait for results.  We've discussed the impatient-factor I have before, but I WAS patient. Very patient. 11 days patient.  I waited out those results, praying every day something would be posted in my online portal. Wishing for a phone call. Making sure my phone was charged and right next to me at every moment, just in case.  During that time, I was also in the 2ww and obsessing about what I was hoping was going to be my BFP, so that I didn't have to wait and worry anymore anyway. 

I had high hopes this cycle, we had taken the route my new doctor prescribed...less frequency, better timing. Turns out we had perfect timing according to his schedule for us. I had an amazing looking chart. My temp kept going up, up, up! Best looking chart in over a YEAR! I started testing at 9 dpo, looking for any hint of a line so I could call and they could get me in for a level check.  Nothing. 10 dpo: Nothing. 11 dpo: HUGE temperature drop, and since I'm a glutton for punishment, I tested anyway and got another big fat NOTHING.  And, "Aunt Flo" (I really need another nickname for her...Aunt Flo sounds much too friendly) made her appearance that very day. 

My doctor had instructed me to make sure I called right away on the first day of my next cycle to get my HSG (AKA hysterosalpingogram, a test where they place a dye which runs through the uterus and fallopian tubes to ensure everything is clear and there are no abnormalities or blockages) scheduled. So, being the very obedient patient I am, I call.  And that's when everything starts to fall apart. 

The next several days consist of me being angry and impatient. First, I am told there is no order in the system and that they have to have an order before they can schedule the HSG. Ok, fine. But why is there no order? He specifically told me to call on CD1. The receptionist tells me she will have to talk to the nurse first. At the same time, I ask her if I can get the test results I've been waiting on for 11 days.  Oh sure! The nurse will call me back to talk to me about that. The rest of the day goes call back. The weekend call. I pushed everything to the back of my mind and we tried to enjoy ourselves.  It's nagging in the back of my head still though, so I call again this morning and again am told I'll be called back by the nurse.  

After finally hearing back from the nurse late this morning, I'm even more frustrated than I was to begin with. Apparently she has to coordinate my schedule (which I told her was 100% open...certainly I am not the issue) with the radiologist's schedule with my OB's schedule. She tells me she will call me back with some options because Dr.'s schedule was "a little fuller than I'd like to see".  When she calls me back, she tells me that she has me tentatively scheduled for Jan 30th, at 1:00 (ha, so much for "options"), but that she needed to confirm my doctor would be able to do it that day. Otherwise I would have to wait for yet another cycle.  Uh, so I'm not really scheduled, now am I?

She asks if there is anything else she can do for me, so I ask again about the test results. "Oh yeah!" she says.  "Ok, it looks like you have a 1.5 x 1.7 cm cyst on your right ovary. We expected that but we want to monitor it with another ultrasound next month. It could be nothing." My response was "Ok, just one cyst?" I mentioned that my last U/S showed tons of cysts, so if I'm down to one, that's pretty good.  She says "Oh, well, I'm not sure because it looks like they couldn't get the left ovary at all".  Say WHA?!?!?!?  That U/S tech took a bazillion pics as she was clicking away at her computer but she didn't get ONE shot of my left ovary?? NOT ONE???????  What complete and utter nonsense. Obviously it's in there SOMEWHERE, keep looking!!!

At my original appointment, I had spoken to this nurse and she was very sweet and kind.  I really liked her a lot. She told me that she wouldn't be able to release hubby's results to me because of HIPAA. Ok, totally understandable. So, when we got to that point, I assumed she was going to tell me that she would have to talk to him about the results like she told me earlier. I was expecting it.  But, no. She just starts rattling it all off.  Not that I care (in fact, it was the only thing that got me a bit off the ledge), but so much for HIPAA standards, I guess.

Out of the 5 things she rattles off, hubby is normal in 4 out of the 5.  His morphology (normal shaped sperm) is a bit low, but she tossed out an odd number that I had never seen in my research. Typically you see a small percentage number, but she told me his was 24 and they want it higher than 29.  She tells me that might still be totally ok with the rest of his results, but that the doctor would review it in the morning. Ha.  Not holding my breath for that one. 

So, my frustrations continue. It's great that I LIKE the doctor, however if there is this much dysfunction involved with everything, I'm not sure liking a doctor is enough.  Not that I have much choice. *sigh*

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Two Week Wait (2WW)

It is amazing that we can live as women for so many years not having a single clue what is really going on in our bodies during our cycles.  Health class may teach you the basics, but at that age you have no desire to really pay attention to what is going're far too busy being embarrassed by being an early developer ("Oh no! Is that a hair...THERE?!") as I was at age 9, or you're embarrassed by being a late developer (*pout* "All my other friends already started!") at age 16, or you're grossed out in general by this obnoxious thing that happens/is going to happen to you every month for the foreseeable future until you are OLD. You know, it's not often you see anyone excited for this monthly visitor.  We dread it, the cramps, the bloating. The uncontrollable emotions...oh yes, those uncontrollable emotions!!

Since I was a very early developer, I was quite lost at the beginning of my journey to womanhood. Mom wasn't much of a talker about these personal subjects. We just never had that kind of relationship. She was young, had me when she was 20, and if I look at where I was at 5 years ago at age of 29 I'm not 100% sure I would have been the most comfortable talking to my 9 year old about such things either. And I definitely wasn't going to ask my friends...I certainly would have died from humiliation. So, I went about life. I figured this thing was going to come and go every month and I'd live my merry little life.  And, it did for about 11 years. 

When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, I researched it to death. Everything I could get my hands on, but eventually I stopped. There was only so much happening medically, and I knew what was working to manage mine. When my cycles started to get regular again, I just let it happen and went on with life. I only knew by the approximate time of the month when things might happen, but there were never any clear-cut signs.

Fast forward to the beginning of our journey trying to conceive. When I think about things now, I am amazed at how in-tune you can become with your body. How fascinating the actual ovulation process is. How all of these little things that you never even realized, are happening. 

After enough tracking, you start to overanalyze every little thing...every twinge, every headache, each different type of cervical fluid, every cramp...we walk around feeling our boobs looking for soreness, even at work. We are SURE this is it this time! I'm breaking out...this is GOT to be it! Ooh, I have a metallic taste in my mouth...I HAVE to be pregnant! Backache...pregnant. Bloated...pregnant. Constipated? Pregnant! Diarreah! Pregnant! Heartburn!! Pregnant! Irritable! Pregnant! Nausea!!!! PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!

Many women have spent time tracking just like I have, putting their cha-ching into the symptom jar each month for every twitch and ache. Filling our charts with symptoms until it looks like a rainbow threw up.  Yet, again and again, we are faced with disappointment.  Dang, that chart looked SO good! Look at all those symptoms!  Ok, so if they weren't real symptoms, what exactly were they?  Backache? Maybe I just slept wrong. Bloated? Too much salt. Constipated? Too much cheese. Diarreah? Too little cheese?  Heartburn? Oh yeah, I get that plenty the other two weeks of the month too.  Nausea?  The female brain is one powerful bitch...we can manufacture the craziest of things.

But rest assured ladies, that chart may not need to be so full and colorful afterall. In the recent days, weeks and months, I've had quite a few friends both online and in real life who have found out they are pregnant.  A large percentage of them had or have very few symptoms at all. One would think this would calm my need to go symptom searching. But that doesn't mean I didn't check to see if my boobs were sore 3 different times while typing this post.  I've gotten quite good at not making it obvious.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

It's been a while since I last posted.  Life has continued to be a crazy roller coaster over the last few months.  In October, we faced our third loss of 2011.  This one hit me very hard. 10/11 was supposed to be MINE.  I did a lot of pretending I was ok in order to get through. I stopped tracking, stopped caring, and just stopped everything.

Normally the holidays would have snapped me out of it, or at least allow me to focus on everything which needed to get done.  Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle badly which threw a wrench into those plans. I spent all of my time in bed or on the couch trying to be positive, excited for the holidays, happy that my awful 2011 was finally coming to an end. But it was forced and I was as far from happy as I could get. 

With news that my husband's insurance would be changing Jan 1, I knew I needed to do something. But, being near that edge of giving up while pretending to everyone that I was ok, I faced a big decision.  Do I go in and see what a new doctor can do? Do I give up or keep trying? I spent some time wondering, wishing for the right answer.  

First, I knew if I was going to continue trying, I needed to find a doctor who was going to do more than throw unmonitored meds at me, one who was going to be available when I need them.  Someone who was going to HELP me, LISTEN to me, and hold my hand through this process. Someone who was going to actually LOOK at everything in front of him/her and do something for me. I had just 3 choices. After watching their video introductions, I already knew one of the doctors and didn't love her. The other two were men.  The first was already in his 60's (strike one) and a “jokester” (strike two). Really, I don't want someone playing/joking around with me and I want someone who is going to take me and my situation seriously.  That obviously narrowed my options down.  I made the only choice I had left and called for an appointment. After being told his first available appointment wasn't until early January, I thought "oh great, here we go...another doctor with crappy availability". 

While waiting for the appointment, Christmas came and went. Time flew on the good days and dragged ass on the bad days. But I still wasn't committed to doing this just yet. Would I feel more in control of my life if I just said "screw it"? Or, would I regret not trying? I got a couple unexpected kicks in the gut from family over the holidays which finally made my decision easier.  I HAD to do this thing! I recommitted to my weight loss, bought my digital ovulation predictors, got myself ready for a nice sticky baby in 2012. 

My appointment was last week. Meeting a new doctor, especially one who is going to know you so intimately, is bad enough.  Add in my previous awful experiences with crappy doctors and I am a bundle of nerves. All the deep breathing in the world didn't normally regular BP was 150-something over 109.  The nurse asked if I had hypertension or if I was just nervous. Uh yeah, nerves were definitely playing a part in those numbers.  

When he walks in the room, he's a big guy, in his 40s. After introducing himself, he sits down and pulls out his pad of paper and starts asking questions (you know, the ones I've already answered on the new patient paperwork AND to the nurse who was just in a few minutes ago).  But, much to my surprise, he's actually writing my responses down. Taking notes! Detailed notes! That's already an improvement over my last 3 doctors...they may occasionally scratch a note down, but nothing like this. We both start to get a little more comfortable with each other. He's looking me in the eye (also something I've struggled to find) and talking to me directly.  I am amazed he hasn't mentioned my weight. With the exception of my very last doctor, this was always one of the first things mentioned. He talks to me about my PCOS, asking me my symptoms. And, he knows what they are! Bonus!  My last doctor came straight out and said she didn't know much about polycystic ovaries, but because they had a fertility specialist on staff, she wasn't worried. :/

I had printed my last years’ worth of charts out for him to look at. It was a big stack which my last doctor barely glanced at one month of, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he did the same thing. But no! He went through everything, every month, sheet by sheet. Asked questions about timing, or things he saw were off.  After telling me he felt the months we had our timing right were the only months we actually got short-lived positive tests, I was ecstatic! He said we were trying too hard and that we needed to adjust our timing and schedule.  After he said those words, I figured that was going to be it. He'd tell me to give that a shot and come back in a few months. But no! Instead, he wants to rule out that there's nothing wrong with hubby and nothing physically wrong with me.  Really?!?! You mean, you're actually going to DO something?? 

He answered every question I had and was very direct.  He didn't bring up my weight until the very end, and he did it with care and compassion. He didn't talk down to me or make me feel bad. He told me he understands PCOS is the reason for my weight struggle.  When I told him I was already down 12 lbs or so from my previous appointment in June, he got a huge grin, stuck out his hand to shake mine and CONGRATULATED me on what I considered 12 measly pounds. 

So, hubby has his analysis and I had an ultrasound this week. At my appointment, I was hoping for some sort of clue from the tech, but got nothing. She said I'd be called with the results, so now I wait.

But, a bit of light is shining down at the end of my tunnel...finally.  I don't know where this road will take us just yet, pending our test results, but I am happy to have found someone who might just help us.