SORRY, NOT SORRY FOR “OVARY”-ACTING

July 27 – 31, 2015

Disclaimer: This is a super long post and is the first “big event” of our “in pursuit of baby” journey.

It’s Monday, 27 July. The big day I’ve been waiting for. The day JM and I have been preparing for. We’ve been so busy. Too busy. Busy enough where I didn’t have time to think about being angry about my recent endometriosis diagnosis. A serious blessing and a curse all in one.

Since 4th of July weekend, JM and I have been busy taking care of my Dad and getting him to numerous doctor appointments. I can’t make this up, but between the time my father arrived to my house, we’ve taken my him to eight different doctor appointments. Besides taking care of him and while suffering through daily chronic pain, I’ve attended a farewell party for a close friend moving across the giant pond called the Atlantic Ocean, attended a farewell party for a friend moving to Florida, and attended a bachelorette party weekend which was a 7-hour drive away, all while in the middle of trying to get our rental property prepared for tenant turnover for the 1st of August.

Needless to say, July 2015 has seriously been one of the most challenging months of my life. If there is anything I learned this month, it’s that my husband is seriously a Saint and the most patient creature I’ve ever met. Boy am I blessed to have JM. *sigh*! Moving on.

I’m not one to often admit or ask for help when I need it. I knew my recovery after surgery would be roughly 5 days, and I knew I couldn’t ask JM to take care of me AND my Dad at the same time. I decided to call my brother Tyler and asked him to come stay at our house and help us out with our Dad. I’m forever grateful Tyler’s job allowed him to work from my house and be away from the office for over a week. I manage to set up six doctor appointments for Tyler to take our Dad while he’s here. Aggressive? Probably. JM and I were feeling the insane stress from this month and needed a break from life for just a minute.

Who am I kidding?  We needed a break from life for a couple days! Minimum.

My mother decided to also come stay with us, too, during my surgery week to help JM take care of me and to see Tyler. (My parents are divorced.) So, needless to say, it’s a full house, but this is why JM and I have 3 guest bedrooms. (Finally, I can “humble” brag about something positive!)

So about my surgery. It’s the 27th. The big day. I decided to go to work for 3.5 hours in the morning since I didn’t have to be at the hospital until 1130AM. I needed to close out some things at work before being off for the entire week, plus I needed a distraction primarily from food since I wasn’t allowed to eat anything since midnight. You, know, the usual surgery preparation. Here’s a first for me. I went into work with no make-up and yoga pants. Somehow I managed to dodge everyone from seeing my scary naked face. My face was so pale from the chronic pain this morning. I didn’t care what I looked like at this point; I just wanted the pain gone.

Once I got to the hospital, I see my mom and JM. They arrive together so that one of them can drive my car back afterwards. A nurse calls me in to get me prepped for the procedure and says I can bring one person back with me. I find myself starting to get a bit nervous about the procedure and choose to have my Mom come back with me. My mother has a 30-something year career as a registered nurse and I know she has the eye to be able to determine if something is done right or not. (No offense, JM!)

The nurse starts getting me prepared for surgery with the IV and begins asking a ton of questions and goes over everything discussed from the pre-op interview. The anesthesiologist comes in and asks me even more questions and explains what will happen in the next few minutes. Then my OBGYN comes in and goes over everything with my mom. My little 8’x6’ tiny room is like a circus with all these hospital staff members coming in and out of my room. Can we say “overwhelming”?

My mom gives me a hug and kiss and leaves to get JM so he can see me before they wheel me back into the operating room. Next thing I know immediately after JM gives me a kiss, the anesthesiologist and nurse begin to wheel me out of my tiny room towards what I think is the operating room. Last thing I remember is how fuzzy things begin to look. The anesthesiologist must have put the good meds in my IV drip. “FINALLY,” I’m thinking. FINALLY I CAN GET GOOD SLEEP WITHOUT PAIN WAKING ME UP! Then, I’m out. Cold.

Fast forward to about 2 hours later. My surgery lasted roughly an hour. My OBGYN met with JM and my mom to deliver the not-so-good, but good news. Good news? I did great in surgery. Bad news? Just thinking about this makes me so angry. Get ready, it’s a butt-load of crap. Not literally.

After my OBGYN delivers the bad news to JM, he asks my doctor if he can be with me when she tells me the news. From JM’s point of view, she said he can, but this didn’t quite happen. Once I was finally awake from the anesthesia, my OBGYN came to talk to me. I quickly realize how groggy and tired I am from the anesthesia and do my best to make out what my doctor is telling me. She goes on to first tell me the good news. Both of my ovaries are still in tact. (Thanks, lady!)

I know, I know. I’m stalling on the bad news. Augh. Basically my OBGYN started off the conversation with, “it’s a mess in there.” “There” being my pelvis, ovaries, bladder, colon. Yup. All of it. She then continues to go on with the bad news. She couldn’t do anything except drain the cysts because it’s such a mess. She then continues to tell me I definitely have stage 4 endo and it has spread and developed adhesions everywhere. Everything in my pelvis was connected to one another and my bladder and colon have endo everywhere. Awesome. Well isn’t that just fabulous.

So now what?

My OBGYN said she didn’t want to mess with the adhesions close to my colon because she believes I should see a urologist first about it and it was too close for her comfort. She explains to me that the cysts will likely come back, but hopefully this will be temporary relief from the pain I been having. Next she shows me the photos she took of my insides. Talk about a wild sight!

My doctor continues to explain that if I don’t get pregnant soon or begin with fertility treatments, she recommends I go on Lupron for about 6 months. EXCUSE ME? Lupron? As in, the “menopause” drug? No. Absolutely not. I absolutely did not like the sound of that and absolutely terrified of hearing the three-syllabol word “memo-o-pause.” I’m not going there.  Besides, isn’t that the exact opposite of what I want to be doing? I basically ignore her as she goes into the Lupron discussion.

Finally she delivers the worst of the worst news. She said, as soon as JM and I are done having kids, she recommends I get a hysterectomy because my endo is so aggressive and she is afraid it would spread beyond my pelvic region and cause even worse damages.

\Lovely. Just lovely.

I’m still feeling a big groggy and all I want to do is vomit at this point. I’m not sure if I feel nauseous because of the news I just heard or because of the anesthesia in me. JM is allowed to come back into the recovery room and immediately he can tell I got the news from my OBGYN without me even saying a word. He just looks at me and holds my hand and says, “I asked her to let me be with you when she delivers the outcome.” I said it was okay. But really, it was not okay.

This was all just too much for me to handle at this point, and all I want to do at this point is to throw up, but also get a fruit smoothie. I’m not sure where or how the vomit bag got into my hands, but next thing I know, I’m throwing up some sort of fluid that is in me. I’m guessing it’s the IV fluids. I realize this is only the 2nd time JM has been around me when I’ve gotten sick. For better or for worst, huh? At least the first time I threw-up in front of JM it was more entertaining and after eating red velvet cupcakes at an open-bar wedding. I’ll save that story for another time when I need to lighten the mood.

My mother, JM and I get back to the house roughly around 5PM. The best part about leaving that hospital, is that I got to walk out of there with no boot on my foot for the first time in over 2 months. Damn, it felt good.

After we got home, JM went to get me the acai smoothie I’ve been wanting all day. My mom must have asked me 20 times what I want to eat. Food is the last thing on my mind after anesthesia and not to mention after throwing up 3 more times after the initial time in the hospital. Lesson learned. Jane and anesthesia do not get along. Not at all. My mom (being a mom), insists I eat. I told her whatever she makes, I want it to be bland, simple… and GLUTEN FREE. Why suddenly gluten free (GF), you ask? I’ll get to that in a minute. My mother decides to make my Sito’s (grandmother’s) chicken and rice recipe. No matter how old you are, you will always still need your Mom.

For the rest of the evening I laid in bed. The only time I got up was when JM or my mom had to help me get up to use the bathroom. My ab muscles are non-existant after the surgery. It felt as though I did a high intensity interval training ab workout for 72 hours straight and then got punched in the stomach until it bruised. I have no other way to describe how weak I felt after surgery. On the plus side, I had no ovary pain. And, no boot.

Fast forward…

For the next 4 days, I pretty much stayed in bed or laid on the couch and remained on the pain killers my OBGYN prescribed me. Honestly, I couldn’t do anything that required me to walk or move around even if I tried. I still couldn’t use much of my ab muscles and required the help of someone to assist me so I could get up every time I wanted to use the bathroom. I felt pretty helpless and super antsy because I couldn’t do anything productive. It was a nice distraction whenever friends and family members called or texted to see how I was doing. Also, having my mother around was a huge help. She stayed to help so JM could go back to work. She cooked every meal and even stocked up the freezer with homemade meals. She did some grocery shopping for staple gluten free items, and helped clean my house.

So about the gluten free thing. Remember I said in a previous post I have a degree in “Google”? In the weeks leading up to my surgery, I did nothing but Google, Google, Google. I Googled everything possible about endometriosis and fertility. To make a very long Google search history very short, I came across a lot of blogs, studies, and articles about certain foods causing endometriosis to flare up which results in pain and inflammation. I even read the book, It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Lets put it this way, the pain I was experiencing from my endometriosis was so bad, I was desperate and willing to do anything to get rid of it – even if it meant giving up pizza. GASP! A New Yorker give up pizza? And bagels? Yup, I was about to commit a sin.

ItStartsWithFood

I went cold turkey. I decided days leading up to my surgery that I would officially give up gluten for at least a couple of months and see if I notice a difference. Looking back, I probably should have given up dairy as well, but I didn’t want to make myself go too crazy. I already do eat a limited amount of dairy, so I decided to just start with gluten and go from there. I’ll be sure to update you in later posts on my gluten-free situation.

Finally on Friday, 31 July I was beginning to feel “good” and didn’t need the prescription pain meds anymore. My mother went back to her house, and I was able to finally move around pretty well to the point where I was able to drive to my rental property to let the cleaners into the unit. That was the most exciting thing about my day.

Actually I lied.

Fast forward to the late evening. My period was right on schedule and started Friday night. Yes, you read right. Getting my period on the Friday after my surgery was a really positive thing. It meant I could move forward with additional fertility testing and possibly an IUI next month with our reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I make a mental note to immediately call my RE Saturday morning to schedule an appointment for blood work and ultrasound for day 3 of my cycle.

I couldn’t have been happier to check the box and put my laparoscopic surgery behind me. Moving on. Let’s go. I have no more endometriosis pain. Let’s make a baby!

BACHELORETTE, BEACH, BOOZE, BOOT…and BLOATED

July 17-19, 2015

Ever have one of those friends in your life who you’d do anything for and adore with all your heart? I’m sure many of you are nodding your head in agreement and can instantly say “yes” without hesitation. I certainly do, and so blessed to say I have several friends in my life who have earned that credibility. Well, this weekend was a weekend to honor one of those said friends – my former college roommate and beautiful kind friend of 11-years.

I committed months ago to a bachelorette party weekend 7.5 hours away in Ocracoke, NC for one of my favorite people in the world. There was no way I was backing out … even if it meant driving 7.5 hours in a freakin’ boot, hobbling on sand in a clunky boot and vomiting every night in pain (and not because of “bachelorette party bad decision” shots of tequila). I made sure to pack enough Advil to get me through three full days, and tripled checked that I had packed my heating pad and wine. The only thing that kept me going is knowing I’m going to celebrate the engagement and future marriage of someone who I adore. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

My outfit decisions were on point for this trip. I made sure every outfit coordinated appropriately with my one-of-a-kind accessory – Mr. Boot. Who am I kidding? No one can possibly look cute in a clunky boot when bar hobbling around town with a bunch of beautiful women.

IMG_5190

This entire trip I fought my own internal “negative Nancy” battle and refused to let it show and refused to verbally vomit up negative complaints. There was no way was I letting this bachelorette be concerned about me when this weekend was all about her. I was in a ridiculous amount of constant pain that words really can’t describe and my stomach was so poofy and bloated this entire weekend. I hate that I’m saying this, but it didn’t help that there were two adorable prego woman at the bachelorette party weekend – clearly reminding me of the belly I wish to have one day. It was the final countdown. I was literally counting down the minutes until my surgery … 10 days, 2 hours and 24 minutes to be exact from the time I got into the car for the drive to the beach.

In my own internal thoughts, I unfortunately remind myself that I’m going through one of those lovely life events that, you know, pretty much take you out over several days, weeks, but now merging into months. Sure, I’m knocked down, but not out! I managed to laugh at the thought for just a second and remind myself of the light at the end of the tunnel that will help get rid of my pain. On a separate note, my boot comes off the same day as my upcoming surgery. Onward, Jane…. to a couple of late nights with neon colored penis straws and tequila!

Eventually during the weekend I had to break it to my beautiful bachelorette friend the immense pain I was experiencing and gave her literally the 5-second long cliff notes version of what’s going on with me. I didn’t want her to worry about me by any means, but there was a point during both party nights I had to leave the bars early to go back to the hotel to have a date with the heating pad and Motrin PM. I was disappointed in that I told her, but I didn’t want to come across that I wasn’t happy to be there to celebrate her.

So what’s the point of this post? Just know this… whether you’re going through personal struggles or health hurdles, a tube of bright pink lipstick and a cute little black dress can be two of life’s greatest accessories. (grin!)

WELCOME TO THE BABY BUSINESS

July 8, 2015

After my appointment with my OBGYN from a couple weeks ago, I decided to make a consultation appointment with the dreaded place I call “the baby business”, aka “fertility clinic”, aka “fertility specialist”, aka Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Even though my doctor said to give it 6 months after surgery before seeing one, I decided to make this appointment sooner for three reasons: (1) simply because I’m type-A and not waiting freggin’ 6 months, (2) to get a second opinion whether or not surgery is the right next step and (3) to see if there are any other tests JM and I need to do before turning to fertility treatments and procedures.

The morning of my appointment I gathered copies of all of our fertility testing paperwork. I put them in chronological order because I’m OCD like that. JM and I took two separate cars so that we could go to work after our appointment. The RE’s office is literally only 5 minutes away which can’t get better than that. I have a sense of angst running through me, but also excitement knowing we are continuously moving forward in pursuit of baby. I start my car, turn on the old-school radio (who needs to turn on an iPod when it’s only a 5 minute drive?) and a Jordin Sparks song I haven’t heard in years comes on. Remember “One Step At A Time”? Perhaps the timing was some weird coincidence, but I made a note to myself this is going to be my theme song for a while.

“Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you’ve always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can’t touch…..

When you can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It’s your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time.”

If any of you know someone currently going through infertility or fertility treatments, send them that song and I guarantee it will make them feel better even if it’s only for a moment. Remember, there are no words you can ever say to a “baby challenged” couple that will make them feel better. Sorry for the side note. Moving on.

JM and I walk into the double doors of the “baby business” and begin to fill out paperwork answering all kinds of questions that remind us of how hard this time in our life truly is. There are a his and hers separate stack of papers to fill out. “How long have you been trying?”, “Do family members have history of infertility?”, “Usual cycle length?”, “Do you have symptoms at time of ovulation?” “Is cramping none, minimal, moderate, or severe?”, “Is intercourse painful?”, “Have you ever fathered a pregnancy?”, “Is there difficulty maintaining an erection?”, “Any history of X, Y, Z?”

TALK ABOUT PERSONAL QUESTIONS!

We’re called into the RE’s office once we’re done with the paperwork and assume our positions in the typical dark brown leather chairs every doctors’ office seems to have. I swear one day I’m going to have a strong hatred for dark brown leather chairs as often as I’ve been sitting in them these days. Anyways, I present all of our medical records related to our fertility tests to the RE. He goes through them one-by-one:

hormone blood work = check
thyroid blood word = check
ovarian reserve blood work = check
HSG = check
semen analysis = check
Ultrasound results = pump the brakes!

At this point of the consultation we began discussing my recent endometriosis diagnosis. The RE asked if I was experiencing any pelvic pain. I literally laughed out loud when he asked this question. I turn and look at my husband and begin to describe my pain. I begin saying, “Well, lets just say I have to take Advil every 4 hours, carry around a heating pad everywhere I go and I vomit at least once a day along with waking up in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out in fetal position because it has been longer than 4 hours since my last pill.”

Honestly, folks, I’m putting JM through hell these last couple of weeks. I’m literally waking up in the middle of the night vomiting and crying because the pain is so unbearable. It has gotten to the point now where JM began setting an alarm to go off in the middle of the night so I can take pain meds before waking up on my own in pain. The pain is now everyday, all day and I’m using my heating pad like it’s another ligament to my body.

The RE begins to go over results explaining the meaning behind the size of my cysts. He said, “I can tell you right now by the size of your cysts. You have stage 4 endo.” I explain to him I have surgery at the end of the month and ask if I should go through with it. The RE said because of the sheer amount of pain I’m experiencing right now, I absolutely should move forward with the surgery. He says, “You are going to have surgery to help with your pain, not fertility. This surgery won’t do anything for you for fertility benefits, only pain.” I’m glad he told me this because here I was thinking that the surgery will remove some of the endo which will help with fertility. I was freggin’ wrong! We conclude the surgery conversation with the RE saying he is going to call my OBGYN and tell her to definitely not remove either of my ovaries. (Um… yea, like I said earlier, I need those things.)

Then we shift the conversation to fertility treatment options and possible plan for after surgery. Long story short, the RE immediately says to me that because I have stage 4, nothing will work for me except IVF. (See? Baby business!)

This is where I start taking control of our consultation. I explain that absolutely under no circumstances do I want to just jump right into IVF without trying less invasive options first. First of all, IVF is like at least $10k out of pocket. My insurance only gives me $5k maximum for the lifetime of the insurance. Plus, my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of fertility medications. However, my insurance will cover 80% of an intrauterine insemination (IUI). For the obvious financial reasons, JM and I want to at least give a couple IUIs a try before jumping into IVF.

The RE understands my logic and said we can certainly begin with IUIs, but is convinced IVF is my only option. The Dr. had the nerve to say afterwards, “miracles do happen.” Perhaps I was too shocked that he said that, but looking back at it now, I should have walked out of his office right then and there. If it weren’t for this RE’s reputation and success rates, I probably would have.

After the hour-long consultation, we concluded that we will agree to meet again after my surgery – specifically three days after my first period after surgery for hormone blood work. Then, we’d circle back and settle on a fertility treatment plan and move forward. Surgery, here I come!

PLANS? WHAT PLANS?

July 2-5, 2015

It’s July 4th weekend and JM and I couldn’t be more excited to have my brother Tyler and his girlfriend fly into town. My brother lives very far away and we only get to see him a couple times a year. We have a bunch of plans lined up for the holiday weekend and can’t wait to spend this weekend with family and just relax before my upcoming surgery scheduled for the end of the month. More importantly, I can drink without worrying whether or not I’m pregnant. We needed this weekend for more reasons than I can possibly list.

Since I can enjoy a drink or two, I may or may not have influenced my mom and my brother’s girlfriend to go venture out to some vineyards. Ok, so it wasn’t hard to twist their arms to go to the vineyards at all. So while we went wine tasting, the guys decided to do a little golfing. After the guys finished golfing, they joined us at the vineyard! And, by some bizarre coincidence, my sister-in-law and her mom just so happened to be at the same vineyard at the same time when the guys showed up! ALRIGHT! PARTY TIME! Now we’re talking! BRING ON THE BOTTLES!

IMG_5093

Remember in my diagnosis post I left off asking what could possibly go wrong next? Get ready for the detour I’m about to tell you.

Fast forward to a few hours after a lovely time at the vineyard. Tyler and I got a phone call from our Father who lives 7 hours away from me. He’s in the hospital. Now, my father has been having some health issues the last couple of weeks, but not to the point where he had to go to the hospital. Tyler immediately goes into panic mode and decides he needs to be with our Dad. Tyler and I have a quick, but very serious sibling talk (yes, after having quite a bit of wine) and decide it’s time to bring our Dad up to stay with JM and I so we can take care of him. With his health issues lately and no family close by to help him, he needed us and there was no way we could put him on a plane to stay with Tyler in his current state.

The next 36 hours turn into complete chaos for Tyler and his girlfriend. They decided to rent a SUV, drive 7 hours to stay with our Dad at the hospital, pack up as much stuff as possible from his house, and bring him up to our house. This whole situation happened way too fast.

Let me break down for you all the things going on at once at a level everyone and their three-year old can understand. JM and I are dealing with our fertility challenges, I’m about to have surgery in 3 weeks, I still have a freakin’ boot on my foot, and now my Dad is living with us so we can take care of his health. ALL ABOARD THE PITY BOAT!

The day my dad arrives, I start running a mental list of 200 things I need to do in the upcoming days for him besides the obvious of finding him doctors in my area. At this moment, anything from my past I may have considered stressful was now viewed as a complete joke and so not stressful at all. This. This is the definition of stress.

I find myself pausing from my “to do” thoughts and remind myself of my high school yearbook quote – “Everything happens for a reason. The hard part is finding that reason.” Well, I think I found another reason why the big man upstairs hasn’t sent a Stork our way yet… he had it in his plans for JM and I to take care of my father and get him back to good health first.