Monthly Archives: September 2012

Going under the knife…with God

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It was just 4 days ago that I flew out of the Docs rooms, adamantly saying NO WAYS to a laparoscopic operation.  Now I am booked to go under the knife tomorrow morning.

What happened?!  God happened.

Let me tell you firstly, that I have had NO / nada / zilch support from friends and family to my line of thinking of quitting.  Just yesterday my boss gave me a stern talking about the importance of carrying-on, I hadn’t even got into my office when I broke down about the cysts and possibly needing the operation, she told me to just do it!   Then my Mum gave me an earful (typical mums)  in the afternoon insisting that I had to keep going, not just for myself but for Gary too (it’s MY body I wanted to selfishly point out).  So I caved and hesitantly phoned the Doc’s rooms to enquire about the cost and possibility of doing it soon – it’s school holidays next week and as I work at a school the timing would be perfect.  From October through to June next year things are way way way to frenetic at work to even consider going on sick leave for an op.   They would get back to me on cost and dates.  In the interim, this morning I woke up to a barrage of sms-es from family and friends who, unaware of my call to the Docs rooms, sms-ed me encouragement to go for it.  Along with the encouragements were scripture verses (Job 23: 1-12 and Isaiah 40: 12-31) that spoke volumes to us.  And then, to really seal the deal, I opened an email at work from a dear friend-in-infertility who, also unaware of our intent, encouraged me to keep going.  All this gave me enough courage to call the Docs rooms to hurry their decision.  Tomorrow it is! 

Oh, and we had to pay upfront and it was not a pretty figure.  I broke down, phoned my dear couple who offered to help pay and apologised profusely for having to call on them to help for this op.  They were overjoyed to help and so the Doc is paid up and good for go.  Gary sadly pointed out that by paying so much for this op, we will then REALLY not be able to afford any further IVF treatments, I bravely told him that we have to take one day at a time and if God wills it, he will provide.  Even though I broke down,  I prayed fervently for God’s guidance.  Within minutes (literally no more than 10 minutes later) we had an email from our Church minister informing us that a couple at our church are sending some money our way for our treatments – AGAIN we had not told him or anyone about our intention to go for the surgery!  The timing was God-incidence not coincidence. 

For the first time in WEEKS we are hearing word from our Lord and it feels heavenly!  To know that we are doing the Lord’s will…wow!  It tears me up.  Who would have thought.  I really did not think that this surgery was the right move for me and was adamant that I would NOT do it.  As I often say – “You wanna make God laugh? Tell him YOUR plans!” 🙂

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More P’s and Q’s

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Following our appointment on Saturday we were instructed to go the nearby labs for some blood test.  MORE blood tests!  Another P4 (progesterone), an HCG (pregnancy) and a CA125 (I was told to check my endometriosis levels).  The results came back yesterday. 

The preggers one came as no surprise, negative – they only did this test to be sure before we considered laparoscopic surgery or any other treatments.  The Progesterone test showed my levels as waaaaay low reading a piddly 1.6 (remember it was at a 10 the other day).  And the CA125 test revealed a score of a normal rating of 17.  

Of course being the type A personality who investigates EVERYTHING I immediately Googled the heck out of that CA125 thing as I was rather familiar with the other tests but wanted to know more about how this test revealed info about endometriosis.  To my shock I discovered that this was actually a cancer marker test for ovarian cancer – whaaat?!  To be honest, I was not totally surprised that they didn’t tell me it was a test for this, as they obviously did not want to scare me (especially considering that we would have to wait 3 days for the results – over a weekend and a public holiday) but I was way shocked that I had even gone in for a cancer test.  The Doc was obviously just being thorough and cautious with my cysts and checking to see how much of concern they could be even if it was unlikely that they were cancerous.  BIG relief I must tell you.  Still, it shocked me to think I had even gone into the labs for a cancer screening test. 

This is not the first time that I have been taken by surprise like this.  I guess the Docs don’t like to tell us too much.  For instance, most of the drugs I get given I am told are for the lining of my uterus – seriously most of the drugs I have taken have been for this “apparently”.  Only when I read the leaflet or Google do I discover exactly how it functions – type A investigative nature always at play.  I like to know what I am taking and what it is for.  I guess it could be information-overload for some and I can appreciate why the Doc and his nurses exercise discretion when we ask what these are for. 

We’ll keep minding our P’s and Q’s and knowing me, there will always be more Q’s than P’s – thank goodness for Google!

A Nasty Surprise

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After spotting for a couple of days, I telephoned the Doc’s office to advise that it appeared that my cycle had started and to ask what we do next.  The Doc called me in for an appointment on Saturday morning.

Apparently I was not supposed to be bleeding as yet and after examining me with an internal ultrasound he was concerned.  It appears I have a couple of cysts.  Both are on my ovaries.  One of the two is a straight forward cyst that didn’t seem to worry him too much and the other he suspects is a hemorrhagic cyst (a congealed lump of blood).  Immediately he was looking at the diary to book me for a Laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) but I interjected with “What if we do nothing?”  You see, I have had laparoscopies, a few times, and it is not a pleasant experience.  Besides, I am running out of space on my tummy for more scars, I have loads from the previous surgeries.  He told me we couldn’t leave it, I can’t remember his exact words but I do remember one word he used – tumour!  This is where I started to get a bit emotional.  He then relented enough to say that we could wait a little to see if the hemorrhagic cyst breaks down naturally.  I am not entirely sure how long we wait (I will need to phone the Doc’s rooms to check).  If it then hasn’t broken down, he will book me in for surgery.  Either way, we cannot proceed with any fertility treatment at present.

I am deeply disappointed.  Hurt.  Frustrated.  And to be frank – I am at that place right now where I do not want ANY further treatment at all.  I told Gary that if it does boil down to another Laparoscopy then that will be that!  I will proceed with the surgery but then I will not go any further.  In church on Sunday, the minister read the Gospel reading where Jesus tells his disciples that to be great you have to be the least of all and that the least will be the greatest, embracing a child he said that anyone who welcomes a child welcomes him and welcomes his Father (God).  Immediately it hit home that we should really still be considering the adoption option.  Throughout the sermon, the minister mentioned orphans and widows and our duty to them.  He also discussed wisdom (the 1st reading in the service was from the book of Job, highlighting where wisdom comes from) and I came to thinking that perhaps another round of IVF is not the wisest move.  Our next course of IVF will cost us R39,000.00 most of which will be paid by a lovely older couple we are very close to.  We cannot afford this ourselves.  My concern is also that this couple are headed for retirement and I am not sure where these funds come from but nevertheless savings are crucial for retirement.  I am worried.

Of course everyone around me is encouraging me to keep going, to do what the doctor prescribes and get back on that IVF horse – “Don’t give up”.  I don’t know.  Right now I am in pain, physically and emotionally so perhaps it is not the best time to decide on the way forward.  I am praying about it all though and will wait and see what God says.

Minding our P’s and Q’s

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Yesterday we did our P’s (P4 / Progesterone) blood test and had loads of Q’s (questions) thereafter! 

The test is a simple blood test to detect whether or not I have ovulated.  We had decided to do the test here in the Midlands at our local hospital’s testing labs instead of travelling the 100km’s to the Doc’s rooms for it.  The Doc’s nurses had okayed us going this route as we did not need to see them or the Doc nor would we need any further meds at this stage, it is simply a test for a progesterone level they want for my file.   The first drama erupted when I casually asked the vampires how long the test results would take.  This should only take a couple of hours.  The vampire responded that it would take 48 hours!  I thought I must have misheard her and assumed she meant 4 to 8 hours which I stated was a rather long time to wait.  She corrected me very quickly, insisting that it takes 48 hours.  Whaaat?!  Yes my friends, we live in the country, where the pace of things is only as fast as your slowest cow.  The vampires said they would push for 24 hours but could not guarantee this.  The Doc’s nurses were shocked but said they could wait.  So we waited.

The test results are in and they came in in just over 24 hours which means we had a kick-ass cow racing the results to the Doc – yeehah!  One of the nurses at the Doc’s rooms told me that my Progesterone level was at 10 – which is apparently not great, it’s borderline something, but considering my condition it is not too bad.  Clear as mud right?  So I Googled the heck out of it; it took a while to find the figures I was looking for but here is what we are to expect (my test was taken 8 days after ovulation) – Possible interpretation of results assuming the test is properly timed are:

1. Progesterone  > 30nmol/l – ovulation has occurred and the corpus luteum is producing sufficient progesterone to induce adequate secretory changes in the endometrium to assist implantation.

2. Progesterone 3-30 nmol/l – ovulation has occurred > 10 days ago or < 5 days ago, or if ovulation did occur 5-10 days ago, the level is probably not adequate to sustain endometrial growth for satisfactory implantation. 

3. Progesterone >120 nmol/l – two or more follicles have been recruited

4. Progesterone < 3nmol/l – no ovulation in previous 14 days.

Sourced here: http://www.fertilityassociates.co.nz/Information-for-GPs/FSH,-Estradiol—Progesterone.aspx

So I fall into point 2 which is not great but hey ho (“and a bottle of rum” as the saying goes – and no I am not drinking while drugging).  So where to now? 

Now I carry on with my drugs till they run out, only 3 little white pills left, and then wait and see where my body takes me.  If all goes well and my periods don’t start (ha ha ha – cynical laugh) then that is a great sign and we see the Doc next Thursday to see if I am pregnant.  However, in all likelihood, my periods will kick in any day now at which point I will need to phone the Doc’s rooms and advise the Programme Coordinator of my period start date and she will chat to the Doc to put my new IVF Programme together for a harvest and implant later this month.

It always boils down to the waiting game.  I had a panic day-before-yesterday (Tuesday) when all my usual premenstrual symptoms kicked in (they were spot on – mild tummy cramps, going to the loo more, etc.).  I phoned the nurses to ask if the P4 test was still necessary if my cycle started – they advised me to do the test regardless.  Thankfully by yesterday morning (the morning of the test) the symptoms had eased up and I felt fine.  Not sure what that means but I am just grateful for any extra days on my notoriously short cycles.  I still get the odd little tummy cramps but I’m hoping that they are nothing to worry about.  Time will tell and so will I.

It’s a breeze …

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I got this quote yesterday on a pack of sugar (you know those Huletts one-teaspoon sugar packets you get at restaurants or takeaways, the ones that have famous but most often corny quotes printed on the backs?  We have them at work) and I just LOVE this one:

A gentle breeze blowing in the right direction is better than a pair of strong oars.” Canary Island proverb.

I also love how it echoes the approach our Doc has taken this time around – a more natural approach, less invasive, less drugs, less stimulation of my ovaries.  Am loving this proverb so much that I might even print it out big and frame it to hang somewhere in the house 🙂 

So here’s hoping for a gorgeous, gentle, summer breeze on this latest IVF journey!

A honeymoon weekend

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Friday we saw the Doc and it went all too surprisingly well; so well in fact that I nearly landed up under anaesthetic for a harvesting of my eggs! 

Okay, let me back up a bit and break it down for you.  

The Doc was very surprised on Friday to see that I had 4 follicles growing (a follicle is basically a sack that houses and releases an egg).  Apparently the drugs I’ve been on should have been slowing my ovaries down?!   Anyhoo, he was so excited he even contemplated booking me for a harvest – which we were very excited to do.  We have 3 follicles on one side and 1 on the other.  Two of these follicles were a great size, which he said was very unusual (God be praised!), so he decided instead for a more natural procedure and advised us to try the natural route.  “The whaaat?” I said.  Oh dear, clearly I’ve been doing infertility measures for too long as I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and figured this must be some other sort of procedure 🙂

We were given strict instructions to have a “honeymoon weekend” and were even given the timings for our romantic interludes.  The Doc feels confident that this is worth a shot and should it not work it won’t delay our initial plans of harvesting and implanting next month.  So it’s a win-win situation which had us smiling like naughty school kids.  We’ve got so used to being told NOT to have romantic dates that we felt rather mischievous this weekend resuming our marital rights.  Now this wasn’t simply an instruction to go home and be romantic, being romantic in the past has not got us any closer to being pregnant, nope, there is still some intervention as the Doc gave me extra drugs to take to ensure we give this a fighting chance.  He sent us home with an injection drug which I took last night and he prescribed some of his “cocktail” drugs which I started with on Saturday.  Also, instead of moving onto the orange and red pills of the drugs I am currently on, he’s prescribed me to stay on the white pills.  Every day at 1pm, I pop 4 pills, which may seem a lot but compared to the number of injections I was taking daily on our previous IVF attempt this is a breeze.

We will need to pop back to the Doc next Wednesday, 19 September, for a Progesterone blood test.  My guess is he will see where my levels are at and add to or adjust his “cocktail” to help me keep going.  All going well, we will then see the Doc again on 28 September for a pregnancy test. 

To be honest, I think I am in a bit of shock with this approach.  I cannot quite believe that the Doc has prescribed this route.  It’s wonderful and such a refreshing change.  We almost come to expect that fertility docs will push for an expensive and invasive route; I am so happy my Doc is not like this. 

We have nothing to lose with this.  We had a lovely weekend and are so enjoying being close again, as God intended us to be.  Time will tell if it works but if it doesn’t – at least we’ve had fun!

Our first appointment…again

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Tomorrow is our appointment with the doc.  It is our 1st appointment of this 2nd round of IVF treatment.  

I had planned to work half-day and get away in time for our 2pm appointment.  However the doc now has an emergency-theatre-thing (isn’t that always the case with an ob-gyn?) so our appointment has been moved to midday.  As we live over an hour away from the doc’s rooms, I will only be able to spend two hours at work tomorrow before I would have to rush off – crazy stuff, I therefore can’t apply for half-day leave as I won’t even be in the office for half a day.  So I am having to take the whole day off – bummer right?!  Ha ha ha.

I’m planning on spending a nice, relaxing morning tomorrow, flopping around the house in PJ’s before we head off to the doc.  We’re both really excited to find out what all this programme entails (we’re still not at all sure what the doc has planned for me this time around) and we’re also keen to know what he can see in my body tomorrow after only being on the drugs for 10 days.

I’ll fill you in on all the doc says on Monday when I’m back at my computer.  So for now, have a great weekend 🙂