Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Miracles Do Happen

After my last appointment with Dr. G., he said at my next positive test to give them a call and get in for bloodwork and a start on my Lovenox injections. I fully expected I'd be waiting quite some time for that to happen, but apparently my body had a different idea in mind.  Apparently my change in diet along with my Metformin gave me an early kick start. I had done zero tracking or planning of any kind, and really had no idea where I was in my cycle.

On October 15th, I felt that now too-familiar naggy little headache. I took a cheap Dollar Tree test and thought I saw a line. It was what I call a "squinter" because it's barely there. The next morning I stopped and picked up a Walmart cheap $0.88 test and a pack of First Response tests. When I tested on the First Response test, there was a shadow of a line there. I have analyzed the hell out of tests over the years and I know a positive from a negative and I got excited but I just wasn't 100% sure I wasn't seeing things or trying to convince myself of a line.  My husband was no help. "I think maybe" was about the best I got out of him.  The doctor had told me that starting my injections wasn't an immediate need as long as I was on my baby aspirin, but that worried me because I knew things went from good to very bad VERY quickly in the past. 

My October 17th test was convincing enough for me. I called the doctor.  They immediately called in bloodwork for me. It was 6:30pm by the time the lab got me in, so I'd have to wait overnight for my results.  When the call came in, I was so happy. My HCG levels were a 10!  Under normal circumstances a 10 is very low, at the very end of what the even consider positive and viable, but hey! I was a 10!!

So, they called in my prescription for Lovenox. After momentary panic over the cost of those injections ($900/month) I decided I was more thankful than ever for our insurance, which covered all but $5.00 of those outrageously expensive blood thinners.  They wanted to show me how to inject myself, so after picking up my boxes from the pharmacy, I headed in for injection training.

My nurse was great. She said she thought I'd do just fine, that I certainly seemed motivated enough. When she showed me what to do, I stuck the needle in my belly and felt nothing. I also felt nothing as I injected the syringe. Wow, that was easy!  Much easier than the panic I had started to feel after hearing that it caused some pain. They made a follow up blood test for Friday to do a re-check of my levels.

When Friday rolls around and I go back in, I anxiously await the results. When it gets to be 4:45, I still haven't gotten a phone call. My mind instantly goes to bad news. Last time they made me wait through the weekend it was because my level had dropped to a 2. I started to panic.  At 4:55, the results are in. The nurse on the other side says "Well, hmm...let's see. Looks like you doubled, you are at a 20." If I could have sang from the rooftop in that moment, I would have. I had a double!  She tried to be rational with me right away and say "It just means it's very early" I said "That's ok! I have never had an actual double before!" she laughed and said "Well then I guess congratulations is in order!".  She said the doctor was gone for the day but she'd put the note in his mailbox and they'd let me know my next step on Monday. 

I fully expected he'd want more lab work on Monday, but no. He was confident with my level rise, and instead we're just going to schedule an ultrasound for November 8th.  At the time, it was a long 17 days away. Now, we're down to 15 days. It's flying by already. :) 

I still worry. I still have moments of panic. I have alarms set on my phone for my injections, vitamins and meds because I'm so freaked out I'll miss a dose of something.  But so far, things are good. My symptoms are good. And yes, I'm still testing and those tests just keep getting darker.  I hope at some point (maybe after the ultrasound) I can relax. But people, it looks like we're having a baby!!!!!!!!  After all this time, it's still very surreal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Answer

When I met last time with my brand new OB (Dr G), he was great. He listened patiently, and was proactive. He had some actual theories for what was going on with me.  When I was there, he pulled out a piece of paper and started two columns. I instantly had flashbacks to Dr Asshat and his "list", but tried not to panic.

Instead, I found him to be intelligent and knowledgeable. He was not concerned a bit about our fertility. Fertility is not the issue. He was willing to explore what was really going on with me.  One of the things on his list was a clotting disorder. He said it doesn't happen often, but can be a cause for early losses. He said I could go down to the lab after the appointment and get checked. I did. 7 vials later, I waited with anticipation because he said it could take up to a week for results to come back. 

My followup phone call with the results of that test brought instant tears. But not tears of sadness, at all. Tears of joy and relief. One test, one week, and we had an answer. An answer, people!! A real honest-to-goodness answer.
He found that I have something fairly rare called Antiphospholipid Syndrome, or APS.  The bottom line is that I have sludge for blood. It is prone to clotting and could cause some serious health issues down the line like a heart attack or stroke, along with miscarriages.  I have known for quite some time that getting blood from me is not easy. In all of the vials of blood I've had taken over the years, it's a struggle for them and frequently the flow will just stop. Then they poke me again. Sometimes they've just given up completely.  They have always blamed it on crappy veins or that I didn't drink enough water. I lived with that and always warned whoever was taking my blood that they might have a difficult time.

So while absorbing that news and making a follow up appointment for our plan, I was trying very hard not to be bitter...thinking about the things that could have been. Instead, I decided to move forward focusing on the fact that we had someone helping us and knowing we have a diagnosis.

My next appointment was scheduled a few days later. I was nervous and excited. He told me I'd need to start blood thinners as soon as I got another positive test, and to stay on my daily baby aspirin (which I had been less than consistent with taking over the months). The blood thinners would be an injection I'd have to give myself every day called Lovenox. Combined with my Metformin, Progesterone 2/day, Baby Aspirin, and prenatals, I had quite a cocktail of things I needed to remember every day.

Then, the name of the game became "Waiting".  But for once, it was a happy wait. An "I have an answer" wait.  And little did I know, I sure wouldn't have to wait very long. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Learning to Live with Loss

It has been a long, long time since I've written. We took a break. We tried to stay busy. I put the thermometer away. I stopped tracking. We tried to just "live" for a while. I kept trying to pick up the phone to call a new OB but kept putting it back down. I wasn't ready. I still cry frequently when I think of Dr. Asshat and the things he said to me. I'm still traumatized by him, and the way Aurora Medical Center and Aurora Fertility Services handled things. On my really bad days, I filled out my hospital surveys for Dr. Asshat and sent them in. I left online reviews for him. Limited impact, but it made me feel better. My testing obsession subsided. I was tired of getting my hopes up to just have them crushed. Mostly, I just tried to get back to living.

My grandmother (my last living grandparent) also passed away. Little did I know that while I was going through the emotional turmoil of losing her and dealing with my crazy family, I was pregnant again.

I was determined I was just going to let things be that cycle. I didn't do any early testing. I made sure I didn't even have them in the house. I just kept trying to move forward until one day I felt a little naggy headache.  I know what those headaches mean. 

The next day, I went and bought a pack of First Response. I took one that night before bed and thought I saw a little second line. I had quite a bit of water that evening and thought it could just be a evap line, since I sometimes got those gray evap lines on FR tests. When I held it up to the light it looked like maybe it had some color but I wasn't sure if it was just wishful thinking, so I went to bed.  When I tested the next morning, there was a definite pink line. I picked up a pack of Answers, another FR and ClearBlue digital tests, and my obsession came back like it had never left. Test after test, double lines. I showed Tom and he was seeing them. Understandably, his reaction was not one of excitement or joy. Instead, his reaction was solely "Are you going to call a new doctor? Promise me you'll call in the morning?".
That night, I bit the bullet and took a digital test.  One word popped up. Pregnant. The one word I had been waiting for such a long time to see on one of those stupid digital tests. This was REAL to me. Not that it made any of our other positive tests less meaningful, but it meant it was stronger. It meant I was already beyond any point I'd been before. When you've been waiting to see one of those tests show only one word for so long, finally seeing it does something magical. It transports you to this euphoric place. I floated to the living room on cloud nine with that test in my hand. I was shaking. I was grinning like a fool. Tom was standing there sharing a piece of string cheese with the dogs when he gave me a funny look. I handed him the test. I couldn't even get the words out. Neither could he. We stood there hugging and bawling for so long. THIS was the moment we'd been waiting for. I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to let myself feel the joy of that little word. I didn't want to think of the what-ifs or the negatives. I wanted to be able to be happy. I have seen my husband emotional over the years, but he's still a "tough guy". Our hug and cry session was therapeutic. We had both needed to do that for a very long time.  Again, he asks if I'm going to call the doctor. I promised him I'd do it in the morning. I was cautiously optimistic. He was holding his cards pretty tight to his chest.

When I called the new doctor, his receptionist told me they had a protocol on seeing patients, and that he didn't see anyone before the 9-10 week mark. She made an appointment for a 45 minute "orientation" meeting with a nurse, and another for October 18th for my actual first appointment. When I expressed some concern over waiting that long because of my history, she was nice enough to transfer me to a nurse. When I explained my story to the nurse, she was immediately concerned and said she would check with the doctor and call me back. An agonizing 2 hours later, she said they wanted me in for blood work, and that they had already called in a prescription for Progesterone and that he wanted me on baby aspirin immediately. I was so encouraged by that step. A step I had yet to be able to get a doctor to take for me. This was exactly what I thought I needed. 

I had to put my realist hat back on. I had stopped on my way to work to pick up more tests. I even grabbed a First Response gold digital Yes or No test. When I took it, it said NO. I blinked and looked at it again. Still No. I looked at the non digital I had taken with the same urine and it was clearly still positive. I tried to search for the sensitivity of FR digitals online and found encouraging news that they sucked. I chalked it up to just detecting really high levels, and it was maybe still early for me. But any remaining joy I had crashed after seeing that No.

I found myself getting incredibly stressed. I screamed at Tom on the way to the hospital because he was late picking me up. I was out of control. I was a walking combination of fear and hormones. Blood test was at noon. I waited impatiently for the results. When the call came in a couple hours later that afternoon, the nurse was gentle and quiet. She asked if I knew when I had ovulated and I said I couldn't be sure. She said "Ok, your hcg came back at a 7. That's pretty low, but it could still be early."

After I hung up, my heart sunk. In my heart, I just knew 7 was not good. How would a digital test pick up a 7? Heck, how would my regular FR pick up 7, when they never had before?  I tried deluding myself into thinking that it was maybe just really early or that on some off-chance, the blood work was wrong and that things would be ok. I kept up on my progesterone and my aspirin and rode the hormonal storm. I continued to pee on sticks. I continued to try to convince myself those lines weren't getting lighter.

When I went for my recheck, I already knew. I still had no spotting or bleeding, but had some cramping the night before. I knew better. I went in again at noon for blood and waited for that phone call. And waited. And waited.  I hoped that a no news was good news type situation. But I knew better.

The next morning, my lines were lighter. But I was sure working hard to convince myself otherwise. Now, when I look back at the photos of those tests initially, there is a HUGE difference. Granted, all of those damn tests are finicky and inconsistent from one pack to another. (See me justifying it even now?)

The call came in around 9 or 9:30. The rest of that day is a blur right now. All I heard was "2" and I shut down. Broke down. Fell down. She said he wanted to see me though. Whenever I wanted. I picked Thursday Sept 27th, thinking at the very least I'd be over things by then and in a better place.

For the next few days, I waited. Impatiently. No spotting, no cramping, nothing. I had stopped my progesterone the night before that phone call because I already knew, so I didn't bother to take my morning dose. I just wanted it over with. I couldn't face it, couldn't make it real until I saw it was over. I was a mess.

I feel like I have suffered an incredible amount of loss, more than a person ever should. I feel like I've been in some stage of grief or mourning for such a long time that I'm not sure what "normal" is anymore. Maybe this IS my normal. That I can function at all after what I've been through...dang, in my eyes it deserves a gold medal.

I am encouraged by the steps my new doctor is taking, however. He has put me back on my Metformin after being flabbergasted about Dr Asshat taking me off of it. He seemed encouraged himself that we've managed to achieve these pregnancies without intervention so far. For now, we are hoping the combination of Met, progesterone and baby aspirin just might be the magic we need. I sure hope so.