Month: February 2013
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Acupuncture

What does it feel like to have twenty needles sticking out of your wrists, ankles, knees, belly, and ears?

Well, yesterday I found out.

I wish I had taken a picture, but maybe another time…

For those of you unfamiliar with acupuncture, here’s a Wiki definition:

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians.

Here’s a play-by-play of how my first appointment went:

I arrived a little late because the weather outside was frightful.  In truth, it was straight-up Apocalypsing out there, and the acupuncturist, Tamara, understood.  Typically you don’t want to be late for this sort of thing and show up all stressed out.

When I first met my acupuncturist (is she a doctor?  I’m not sure!), she immediately made me feel welcome and comfortable.  She has a really down-to-earth personality, and doesn’t take the Eastern medicine thing too seriously.  I mean, she’s serious about what she does, but she knows when to insert an appropriately placed eye-roll to help you realize that she isn’t trying to be the lone white girl raised by Chinese herbalists.

She offered me some spicy chai tea (so I loved her immediately, of course), and we went to her office to chat about my medical history.  We talked for probably 45 minutes about everything I’ve ever been through physically and emotionally.  When it came to the fertility portion, we talked about it all.  She even asked me to see my BBT charts!  I wasn’t expecting that, and had not printed them off, but I am to bring them along next week so she can review them.

I was swept up in the newness of it all, and forgot to ask a lot of questions… oh, but I will!

After the interrogation portion of the appointment, Tamara asked me to hop up on the table and lie down.  She looked at my tongue and made some notes in my file (again, I would have liked to ask questions about that!).  She took my pulse in several spots on my body and then started sterilizing the spots where she was planning to put needles.

She talked to me about my diet and what I had eaten and drank that day, and started inserting needles into my feet and ankles.  I didn’t feel anything but a slight ‘tap’ most times, but there were a few needles that felt really twinge-y, some of which Tamara adjusted to be more comfortable.

She put a few needles in my wrists, and then she put one over top of each ovary, and one in the middle of my belly.  One more in the middle of my chest, one in each ear (!), and I thought she was done, but no… She put one last needle in my shin-area, and that sucker HURT.  She said it was because I had a blockage, but I didn’t ask what that meant because at that time, something else had started to happen.

My ovaries were on fire.  It seriously felt like there were electrodes hooked up to my egg-baskets.  Tamara said that was a good sign, and asked if it was too uncomfortable for me to relax for a bit, but I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.  She left the room to let me “relax”, and said she would be back in a bit and that it was okay if I fell asleep.

Ha!  Sleep?  Yeah right, lady!  I have needles stuck all over me!!

She was gone for maybe fifteen minutes, and I did start to feel myself relaxing.  She had also put a warming light right over top of my abdomen, and the heat was making me feel fuzzy.  I didn’t doze off, but I did close my eyes and rest a bit until Tamara returned.

After she checked my pulse some more and removed the needles, we talked a bit about Chinese herbs.  I agreed to give the formula she suggested a chance, and after taking care of the financial aspects of the appointment, I headed back out into the cold to drive home.

I was informed before I left that I would be very tired and probably sleep really hard, which turned out to be completely true.  I was also very tired and sort of foggy-feeling most of today.  Even as I type this now, I am feeling very fatigued behind my eyes… I was told that this is normal and should last a day or two.

I am planning on seeing the acupuncturist once a week for the foreseeable future, and I’ve started taking herbs twice a day.

The herbs are interesting… there’s a specific formula for each week of your cycle.  I mix a couple of tiny spoonfuls with warm water, plug my nose, and drink it down.

They taste like dirt and feet and ass.  Not pleasant AT ALL, but I’ve done crazier things in the name of conception, so why not dirty-foot-ass tea?

So that’s that.  I know some people think I’m crazy for doing all of this, and some people think I’m crazy for waiting this long to try!  I honestly don’t care what people think… I just want to do whatever I can to get my body in order and as ready as I am for a take-home baby.

Parenting is all about sacrifice, right?

Might as well start now.

Status

Giving Up

No, no, no…

I’m not giving up on having a baby.

No.  Not that.

I’m talking about giving up dietary choices that may be holding me back…

For one, I am completely caffeine-free.  You may not think that’s a big deal, but it’s been rough.  The last time I “gave up” caffeine, I basically allowed myself one caffeinated beverage first thing in the morning, and then none for the rest of the day.  When I was at my highest caffeine consumption, I was drinking probably six to eight caffeinated beverages per day.

And this is the worst part:  I don’t drink coffee, so almost all of my caffeine came from pop.

Which is why it’s also a big deal that I’ve almost entirely eliminated sugar from my diet.  I still drink a small glass of organic, no sugar added, fruit-and-vegetable juice blend in the morning, and I sometimes add a tiny bit of honey to my green tea.  I also eat fruit, sometimes with yogurt sweetened with honey.

Other than that, I’m not consuming any processed sugar or sugar from anything but natural sources.

These choices are a big deal to me, and it can sometimes be challenging to find things that I want to eat, because so many foods have processed components.  I have slip-ups from time to time, but I know that doing these things can help me get my body healthier, and maybe give me a better chance at conceiving.

Another choice I’ve been debating is whether to eliminate dairy from my diet.  I’ve read some pretty terrible things about the process involved in pasteurizing milk products, and also about the over-consumption of cow’s milk products in the US compared to the rest of the world.

Americans have weak bones not because they drink too little milk but because they drink too much, Campbell says. Animal protein, such as the protein in milk, makes blood and tissues more acidic, and to neutralize this acid, the body pulls calcium, which is a very effective base, from the bones. Because dairy products contain substantial amounts of animal protein, drinking milk actually robs the bones of calcium, he says.

– LA Times on The China Study

I’m not one of those people who diets.  Hell, I don’t even work out.  I’ve always been thin, to the point of having people take me aside to talk to me about anorexia (which is hilarious if you have seen me eat).

I do not have any urge to be a vegetarian.  I don’t even want to think about a vegan lifestyle.  Gluten is my BFF.  I want to eat bacon ALL THE TIME.

I don’t always make the healthiest choices when it comes to my diet, but I think I do pretty well in maintaining a balanced lifestyle.  I add spinach to everything.  I substitute quinoa for rice in as many recipes as I can.  I rarely eat bread.

I’m starting to wonder, though, if some of the foods that we grow up assuming are healthy for us, are actually a detriment to our health – or our fertility.  I’ve read some horror stories about antibiotics and steroids in milk products, and the effects those can have on our hormones.

I definitely have some kind of hormonal imbalance going on… Is my diet partly to blame?

I don’t know, honestly.

What I do know is that I love to eat, and I’m finding myself thinking more and more about what I put into my body.

I love to eat, and I can make careful choices that feed my body nutrients instead of empty calories.

I love to eat, and I can choose delicious meal options that are natural and healthy.

I love to eat, and I crave chocolate and cheese and fresh baked bread, but I love the thought of having a baby more than I love those things.

I don’t know if sacrificing my dietary fixes will get me pregnant, but it can’t hurt to try.

If the worst side-effects of giving up cheese are occasional crankiness and a longer life, well then it seems like a worthwhile venture to me.

Adios, dairy.  It’s been real.

Slow down, Ryan. I’m not there quite yet.

Status

Turn the Page

Monday, February 25th, 2013.  CD12.

A few things have happened over the course of the last week…

First, I received a packet of my medical records from when I participated in the AMIGOS study through Wayne State University.  I absolutely love having my records in my hands, because I like reading the notes and the lab results and consulting Dr. Google about any abnormalities!

Sadly, the few tiny abnormalities I did find were pretty much inconclusive to Dr. Google and myself.  Guess one of us needs a real medical degree to determine what’s going on there… Either that, or nothing is actually wrong.  Which I doubt.

Second, since all of my latest test results came back within normal ranges, I was waiting for Dr. K to call and let me know where I should go from here.  I had asked about genetic testing for the husband and myself, DNA karyotyping, and a laparoscopy.  When he had his (nice) nurse call me back, she said that the doc wasn’t too keen on genetics or karyotyping since we’ve only had one miscarriage.

ONLY ONE?  That’s not ENOUGH??

Anyway, he also said that there was no reason to do a laparoscopy without a prior diagnosis of endometriosis.  When I mentioned that I thought diagnosing endometriosis required a laparoscopy, the nurse said that they hadn’t seen anything via ultrasound to make them think that endo was a possibility, and that most insurance wouldn’t cover the lap anyway.

Uhh… what was that now?  Talk about going in circles… Yeesh.

Nice Nurse also said that the doc still recommends going through with a full injects and IUI cycle next, and to contact them when I have meds in hand for the full details.

Third, I made a decision to seek out the help of another doctor.  Specifically, I am going to see the head of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Michigan.  Dr. F seems more open-minded about “outside of the box” diagnoses and treatments, and she came to me highly recommended by one of the doctors I used to see at Wayne State.

This was on her “About Me” page:

Sometimes the solution doesn’t require extraordinary measures.  Dr. F also helps women who have medical conditions such as thyroid or pituitary abnormalities that make them infertile. She says, “A woman’s treatment may be having her health optimized.” Treating the underlying medical condition may mean that a couple doesn’t need assisted reproductive technologies to overcome infertility.

YES.  MOTHER OF GOD, YES!

So now I am going about the monumental task of accumulating my medical records and getting a second referral from my snooty PCP.  This woman likes to second guess everything I do, and it sounds like although I saw her for my annual physical just two weeks ago, she is going to make me come in to consult with her again to ask for a referral to another specialist.

Oy.

But whatever… I’ll do what I have to do.  I just have to make sure I do it quick, as the appointment is surprisingly soon –  March 12th!

I’m excited about having another set of ears to listen to my woes, and I hope this doctor will let me lay it all out for her.  My goal is to educate myself on everything I’ve been through up until this point, and and to be knowledgeable about any and all potential diagnoses that may be in my future.  I also want to be prepared for the possibility of surgery, expensive and more invasive treatments, and worst of all – the possibility of remaining “unexplained”.

I’m still not any closer to a diagnosis, a solution, or a baby, but I feel like making this decision is an important step in that direction.

And at my age, every step matters…

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SON OF A NUTCRACKER!!

Well, I just got off the phone with the (nice) nurse at Dr. K’s office, and she had my delayed lab results from CD3.

Guess what??!

There’s nothing freaking wrong with me.

Nothing.

All results were normal within lab ranges.

I do not seem to have skewed levels pointing toward Nonclassical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, and my hormone levels, body type, and ultrasounds are not consistent with PCOS.

I asked lots of questions, including whether the doc would consider DNA karyotyping or immune testing, but I’m feeling rather deflated.

It’s not that I want something to be wrong with me, but I do want there to be a reason for my infertility.

I’m so sick of going ’round and ’round… I just want to have a clear direction in which to move.

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Le sigh.

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Back to the drawing board, I guess…

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Oh… test results are all posted here, if you’re interested in stalking/diagnosing, or if you know a real-life Dr. House.  😉

 

 

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What Kind of Infertile Are You?

I was inspired by a blog post I read the other day.  This blog is written by a non-Infertile who probably has no idea who I am or what I’m going through, but it got me thinking nonetheless.

In this post, the blogger asked “What kind of mom are you?”

Now, I’m not currently parenting any little people, but that line of questioning put me down the path to some revelations.

  *

What kind of Infertile am I?

*

I’m the Infertile who doesn’t give up hope, even when things feel completely hopeless.

I’m the one who shares her embarrassing stories of being dildo-cammed in the back office of an optometrist’s office in the hopes that it makes someone else smile.

I’m the girl who still dreams of having a family, even though historically, I have reason to give up that dream.

I’m the Infertile who asks the annoying questions.

I’m the one who always wants to know how and why.

I’m the girl who keeps pressing for information.

I’m the Infertile who won’t take “unexplained” for an answer.

I’m the one calling the doctor two, three times per week, asking for more testing and digging for results.

I’m the girl who does her research.

I’m the Infertile who hopes that her doctor sees that she is trying to help shed light on anything that might be a systemic red flag.

I’m the girl who keeps a binder of her medical records, test results, ultrasound photos, and particularly interesting research the same way that some people keep a scrapbook of their vacations.

I’m the girl who will keep searching for a diagnosis.

I’m the girl who can’t “just relax”.

I’m the girl who will help my doctor fix whatever is wrong with me.

I’m the girl with the lady-balls enough to move on if I’m not being heard.

I’m the girl who will be heard.

I’m the girl who will get better.

I’m the girl who will one day be a “former-Infertile”.

I’m the Infertile who won’t give up.

*

What kind of Infertile are you?

Status

Poetry For the Aunt You Love to Hate

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Haiku For My Shedding Uterus

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Holiday of love

Emotions flowing freely

Also flowing: blood

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Punctuate with care;

This, and grammar, are crucial.

F*cking period.

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***

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Ode to the Medicated Cycle

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There was a determined young lady,

Who very much wanted a baby.

But there were only ten days

In her luteal phase,

And the meds made her go batshit crazy.

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***

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A Sonnet: In Appreciation of My Heating Pad

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My heating pad is what I love the most.

It soothes my muscles when I’m feeling tense,

And heats me up like I’m a damn rib roast.

Clearly it’s worth the very small expense.

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I bought it one day because I hurt my back,

I liked that I could use it dry or damp.

At times, my muscles still get out of whack,

But mostly it alleviates my cramps.

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Its warm embrace helps keep my pain in check,

Without it, I’d perhaps be homicidal.

Today though, I’m a menstruating wreck;

I guess I’ll just stay home and take some Midol.

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***

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So, yeah.

Suck on THAT, Shakespeare.

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Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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I hope Cupid has more up his sleeve for you and yours than he did for me and mine.

I mean, I know I can’t be the only one who prefers chocolate, roses, and a night in with their lover to tampons, pain killers, and the company of cats and crap TV.

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Can you feel the love tonight?  😉

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Survey Says…

I was nervous and excited to get today’s blood work results.

As you may recall, I had my Vitamin D, thyroid panel, and DHEA (whatever that is) tested yesterday.  When the nurse called with the results today, I was fully expecting that since I live in a not-so-sunshiney climate that my Vitamin D was going to be super-low, and that increasing it would be the magical answer to all of my infertility woes.

Wrong.

My D3 is just a smidge below normal at 29.5.  The low end of the normal range is 30.  An over the counter vitamin D supplement in addition to my prenatal should do the trick.

Ugh.

My thyroid results were also normal.  Anticlimactic.

Then the nurse (the nice one!) told me that my DHEA levels seemed high.  I scored a 399 where the high end of normal is 266.

Uhh… what?

I don’t even know what DHEA is!  I just asked for it because it was on a list of tests to have when you’re unexplained!

What does high DHEA mean??

Apparently, high DHEA means that my doctor doesn’t really deal with adrenal issues, in his words.  He would be happy to refer me to another doctor if I want to follow this particular rabbit hole, but his recommendations to pursue another injectables cycle still stands.

Well, I consulted my go-to doctor, Dr. Google.

And now I’ve opened Pandora’s box of link chasing.

I know that having a test result come back abnormal isn’t a joke, and honestly after being unexplained for all this time, it’s kind of refreshing, but I did learn one funny thing in my Googlizing:  DHEA is considered to be the stress hormone.  Too much of it means you’re too stressed out.

Wouldn’t that just be a swift kick to the lady-balls if all those people who told me I need to relax were right??

Hahahahahahahahaha…

Okay, so it’s not really funny ha-ha, more like funny waaaaaaaaah.

So anyway, I really am just starting at the tip of the iceberg in my research of high DHEA.  Apparently it can be common with PCOS, which three doctors have assured me that I do not have.

It can also be linked to Addison’s disease, which affects adrenal function.

I’ve also read that high DHEA is found many times with high testosterone.  I don’t think my T is high, but I do recall one test at my first RE appointment coming back a teensy bit high, and the doc was going to keep an eye on it.  She never mentioned it again, though, so I assumed it was a non-issue.  No other doc since then has mentioned high T to me, but who knows if I kept track…

Which brings me to another point.  I have not been great at keeping track of all of these test results I’ve received over the years.  Sometimes the information I get in a phone call gets filed into my brain and lost forever.  So that this does not keep happening, and so I can keep my stats straight for dealing with doctors, I created a separate page here at the old blog to record my info.

Feel free to check it out if you’re into diagnosing strangers on the internet.  🙂

Anyway, I’m planning to call Dr. K tomorrow and ask what I should do.  If he wants me to see an endocrinology specialist, I will.  If he wants me to have an MRI to rule out an adrenal tumor, I will freak out a little.  I guess only time will tell.

Is this the something that might lead me down the path to a diagnosis and subsequent miraculous cure for my infertile tendencies?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Either way, though… it’s something.

And I’m tenacious about chasing down a lead.  😉

Audio

Halfway ‘Round the Sun…

Six months ago today, I finally saw that second line I’d been chasing for three years.

Six months ago today, I was scared and excited and had no idea how hard and far I could possibly fall.

I fell, though.

Into love.

Into hopefulness.

Into joy.

And then, nine weeks later, I fell into a hellish reality that included a life without my Gummy Bear.

A life of grief.

I fell again.

Into sadness.

Into hopelessness.

Into despair.

I’ve picked myself up since then, dusted myself off a bit and attempted to move on, but every day is still a struggle to remember, and a struggle to forget.

Six months ago I found my world, but it would be lost.

Six months ago I was a different person than I am today.

Where will I be in another six months?

Who will I be?

There’s no way to know for sure.

All I can do is crawl from one day to the next, trying to make my way to the other side of the sun.

Stars :: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

I lit a fire with the love you left behind
And it burned wild and crept up the mountain side
I followed your ashes into outer space
I can’t look out the window, I can’t look at this place.

I can’t look at the stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far

So I, I can’t look at the stars.
All those times we looked up at the sky
Looking out so far, it felt like we could fly.

And now I’m all alone in the dark of night
And the moon is shining, but I can’t see the light.

And I can’t look at the stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far
So I, I can’t look at the stars.

Stars, they make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far
So I can’t look at the stars.

Status

Let’s Play a Game!

Do you have unexplained infertility?

Have you had some kind of blood test/treatment/procedure or taken some kind of supplement/vitamin/shady internet herbal tea that helped you diagnose or improve your issues?

If this sounds like you, then please leave a comment below!  My insurance is currently being super accepting of all of this testing I keep asking for, so I am willing to have just about any and everything done to explain my unexplained infertility.

I mean hey – why not, right?

Here’s a brief rundown of what we’ve tried so far:

2009:

  • Natural cycles… hahaha…

2010:

  • Thyroid blood work – normal
  • Thyroid u/s – normalHSG – tubes open and clear
  • Semen analysis – normal on all counts
  • Clomid (TI, no u/s monitoring) – ovulation confirmed w/blood work
  • EPO + baby aspirin – umm… yeah.  I was an uninformed victim of Dr. Google.

2011:

  • CD3 E2, LH, FSH – all normal
  • CD21 Progesterone – good
  • Antral Follicle Count – good
  • Femara + Ovidrel (TI, u/s monitoring) – respond well

2012:

  • Semen analysis – low morphology (2%)
  • Clomid + Novarel (IUI x4) – respond well
  • Femara + Menopur + Ovidrel – respond well
    • (BFP, MMC at 9wks)
  • Chiropractic & massage

2013:

  • Repeat semen analysis – all great, morphology up from 2% to 12%
  • AMH tested – low-normal (2.5)
  • Thyriod – low-normal (.80)

Scheduled tests for next week:

  • Vitamin D3
  • DHEA
  • Planning to ask for a full thyroid panel at PCP visit on Tuesday…

 

I swear I’m not a whack-job.

I just love this community, and trust that many of you have tried things I haven’t.  I’m willing to consider and research many options, so please feel free to suggest away.  If I have to be reduced to a reproductive science experiment, I might as well be an online public guinea pig, too.  😉

Thanks, friends!

Status

Not Great, But Not Bad.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013.  CD24.

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything in a week!

…Not that you’re missing much.  Absolutely nothing has been happening over here.

Cycle day 24, and still no sign of ovulation.  I’ve depleted my entire stock of OPKs, and my temps are all over the place.  I have been sick with whatever bug has been going around – fever included, which has probably contributed to my crazy temps, and now I’m taking an antibiotic that makes me feel like poo.

So yeah.  I have no idea what is going on with my reproductive system.  Good times.

In other news, the husband repeated his semen analysis earlier in the week.  I got a call with the test results, and was quite pleased.

Our last SA, which was in February of 2012, showed quite a low morphology number:  2.  Dr. K wasn’t happy with this number, but assured me that it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

Our SA results from this week showed that morphology number to have risen.  To 12!

 

Not bad!

 

I know that these numbers can vary from test to test, and that the last time might have been a fluke, but it was nice to hear that the swimmers looked healthy and plentiful.  VERY plentiful, according to the andrologist who called me.  She didn’t have one negative thing to say, which was a relief.

Then, of course, there’s me.

I got my AMH results back today, and the nurse said they were normal, but low at 2.5.  She said it was nothing to be concerned about at this point, but still…

Obviously, I am the problem.  We’re still no closer to really knowing what that problem is, but I’m getting more and more tired of dicking around.

I just want a baby.  I don’t want to TRY any more.

Well, that’s not completely true… I just don’t want to FAIL any more.

I think we’ve come to the decision that we are going to attempt one injects-only IUI cycle, and then move on to bigger bills and better odds.  It’s scary, but it’s nice to have something of a plan in place.

Now if only I could figure out how long this current cycle is going to last…

Blerg.

 

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A safe space where I discuss the racing thoughts in my head, personal struggles, and day-to-day activities while struggling with mental health and mood disorder issues. My personal goal is to reduce the stigma that comes with mental health and mood disorders, by talking more about it.