Special Torture (or how to grin and bear it)

The Dream of Constant Okayness

September 25, 2012 | infertility, life | Permalink

“It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.”

– From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron

HOO BOY. Like manna, those words came across my FaceBook Feed… I know this sentiment could speak to anyone, at anytime, suffering from any manner of trial or travails, but they seems especially poignant for the person dealing with infertility. I have read a little Pema Chodron and she seems to talk a lot about groundlessness. I get that. I have not felt ground under my feet in 15 months. And all of the time, living in this terrible half life, stuck between the life you had and the one you are trying to achieve. It’s overwhelming, frustrating, and so fucking sad.

Ok, Pema, I’ll try to let go a little. Release a tiny bit and fall into the -oh I love this phrase- ‘the fundamental ambiguity of being human.’ Ok. Yeah so, in the words of my dear sister’s tattoo, ‘Si je puis’.

If I can.

UT-OUCH

September 8, 2012 | health, life, pain | Permalink

I guess we should count our lucky stars that the stupid amount of sex we need to have in order to try to get me knocked up does not result in urinary track infection every month… Yes, we should be thankful, but that’s hard to remember when I am peeing white lightening. Stupid e-coli. Stupid urethra. Stupid UTIs.

Birds and Bees, you say?

September 7, 2012 | infertility, life | Permalink

 

After I got over my “why is that bee a dude?” knee jerk reaction, I found these pretty dear. And a little sad. Mostly, I am glad they are being made.

Check ’em all out : Birds and Bees – The Real Story

 
And ok, this is awful in a lot of ways, but also, so sweetly funny :

Cervical mucus thick as peanut butter? Yeah, they went there.

Lydia Deetz!

September 6, 2012 | life | Permalink

I KNOW IT’S A GIRL BECAUSE I YELLED SUSAN B. ANTHONY AT THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION

-Tracy Jordan (30 Rock Season 4 Episode 09 – Klaus and Greta)

For a long time my Beau and I playfully honored this 30Rock oddity after our attempts. Mostly cause it’s funny and absurd, but partially because we secretly hoped it came from the bizarro mind of Tiny Fey. And who does want to think about Tina Fey (or perhaps more appropriately – Liz Lemon) immediately after sex? Hot stuff.  Then, a few months ago, after a late night screening of Bettlejuice, we decided that our true hopes for conceiving a daughter might be better realized by invoking the name of a more contemporary heroine. LYDIA DEETZ, we implore you, please grant us a little girl!

Success!

August 30, 2012 | health, infertility | Permalink

It worked. The recanalization was a success. Dr R even shared 4 super cool xray images from the procedure. Look :

1) HSG #1 or an attempt to push fluid through my tubes. Only the right tube fills and spills.
HSG pre recanalization

HSG pre recanalization : Right tube open. Left tube blocked

2) Dr R inserting a tiny wire into my left fallopian tube to clear blockages.
passage of wire

Passage of wire through left tube!

3) Dr R sending fluid through the now recanalized left tube.
selective injection into tube post recanalization

Selective injection into tube post recanalization

4) The repeat of the first process. A complete HSG with both tubes functional!
HSG post recanalization

HSG post recanalization. Both Tubes fill!

Also  – Look at my funny little uterus! How bizarre.

So there is no guarantee that my tube will remain open, but at least for a few months I have a greater chance of getting pregnant. Word.

Migraine Mondays

August 27, 2012 | health, life, pain | Permalink

I wake up with migraines on Monday mornings more often then on any other day of the week. What the hell? Talk about adding insult to injury.

I have had 5 migraines this past week, which I hope is only related to that fact that this was the first 7 days of my menstrual cycle. Hormones be damned. Before that, I had gone almost two weeks without a headache, which is amazing and I assumed a benefit of the botox treament I had on August 1st.  Now that I am looking to the second half of my cycle, I dont know if I can expect any continued positive affects or if everything is just back to normal. My first botox treatment, the one in April, only resulted in about a fortnight of relief, so perhaps that’s all I’ll get out of round two as well. I suppose the next few days will tell.

Tomorrow – day one of vacation. So far, the only things on the agenda are to sleep in, clean the fish tank, make a pie, have dinner with friends, and go to bed early. Sounds busy already!

 

 

One Week!

August 23, 2012 | infertility, life | Permalink

7 days until the recanalization!

Also next week I decided to take 3 days off (Tues/Wed/Thurs). Grant it, one of these days will be spent at the hospital and groggy from sedation, but three full days off is a treasure! Now, I just have to find ways to 1) not spend any money and 2) avoid all work that is done on a computer. Guess I should find a good book and pray the weather is nice, cause otherwise I do not know what the hell I am going to do with myself.

It’s been a really long time since I have taken any time off. I mean not doctor/hospital/occasional-holiday-related-long-weekend time off. I think my last proper vacation was October when I went to the midwest for 10 days. After that trip, I began a policy of accruing vacation time in case I got pregnant. I’d need as much paid time off as I could muster, so it made sense. Then at some point this year I realized that if I did get knocked up, I would be giving birth during the next calendar year, so it probably did not matter any more, but that never really sunk in. I just still continued to avoid vacation. I think it was/is some weird wishful thinking. Like if I steer clear of vacation time, I will mange to find myself gifted with some reasonable paid maternity leave. Ha. Unlikely.  But mostly I was pretending I had a plan. I don’t.

The fact is I honestly do not know how much time is available to me. The lack of official vacation time policy with my company is a double edged sword. My boss has never insisted that we count or really keep any track of the time we take off. We just take it and don’t abuse it. That’s been very nice.  But what does that mean? After 15 years, how much vacation time do I really have? Does it expires with the calendar year or does it carry over? I really have no idea. I am not sure my boss does either. I guess I should go about figuring that stuff out, but asking seems partially pointless. Why force a policy into place if I have no hope of ever getting pregnant? Why force a policy into pace when I really, really don’t want to know how bad that policy might be.

In any event, I guess what I am getting at here is that I should be taking more time off. I should plan for a nice big chuck of time off in October or November. It bums me out that I can’t afford to go anywhere, but that’s not that point. I don’t win anything for not taking the time off and I only lose if I don’t, so fuck it. I got some nice vaca ahead of me. Starting with next week. I think I am just gonna lay around and pretend that I am not broke, infertile, and in pain. It’s gonna be great. Deluded, but great.

Holy fuck, Premenstrual syndrome.

August 17, 2012 | life | Permalink

Day 25 of my cycle and it’s a doozie. I am glad I don’t have raw, emotional PMS every month, but somehow that irregularity makes it even harder to figure out what the fuck is going wrong with me every time I spend half a day bursting into tears every 15 minutes. It’s a really good thing I do not work in an office. I do not know how you ladies do it.

My frustration this week has largely been focused how I need a break. I am really tired. Of my job. Of trying to get pregnant. Of being in pain. Of being flat broke. And of just about everything else I can think of. I am tired of being tired. It all boils down to 4 simple words – I need a vacation. But in classic I-will-never-be-satisfied fashion, simply taking time off work (a stay-cation if you will)  just does not seem like enough. I want to get AWAY. Away-away. I want to sit on a beach for a week. And not just any beach. I need some god damn space. I want it to be me, the people I am with (if any), the place I sleep and eat (house? tent? whatever) and nature.  I want to escape!

I’ve been watching people’s FaceBook posts of their summer vacations and it’s been getting harder and harder to keep my cool. I’ve moved from genuine excitement for folks good fortune to uncomfortable jealousy to heartsick self pity. Today with my PMS induced depression has been the worst of it. I’ve actually found myself feeling persecuted, which is just stupid. Nobody is keeping me from taking time off and going on my dream vacation. No. No one is, but it still does feel pretty unattainable.

Of course, it’a all about money. I don’t have any. I’d have to put any trip I take on a credit card and I really don’t want to do that. I can’t do that. I still owe the hospital money. I owe my therapist money. I already have (albeit small, thank god) credit card debit. There really is no get-away in my future. And I guess that’s why I am all bent out of shape today. I want/need something I really have no way of responsibly providing myself. I hate that, but it’s the story of my life these days.

And I hate being so whiny, but I guess that’s mostly what this blog is about – complaining about how hard everything is. I guess I need to think about if this is really something that helps or hurts or just makes me seem foolish and weak.

OK now. THIS is the PMS talking.  Signing off now. I think I am just gonna drink myself silly.

 

A Singular Bike Ride

August 16, 2012 | exercise, infertility, life | Permalink

I’ve read about this strange ritual before, but today was a first for me.  I peddled 40 odd blocks across town with a small container of my partner’s seminal fluid tucked betwixt my boobs.  Why would I do this, you may ask. For science of course! Where where you going, might be your next question. The new doctor is at 8th and Pine, you see.  And as for the sensitive stowing of this precious parcel? The ambient outdoor temperate was too cool at 7:30am and one needs to keep the specimen as close to body temperature as possible. Obviously.

 

 

Home Practice

August 14, 2012 | exercise, health, life, pain | Permalink

I hate doing yoga or any other exercise at home. Just deplore it. I have tired all manner of activity – yoga, free weights, PT, aerobics, boot camp style workouts, stuff with that stupid exercise ball, DVDs, streaming video, worksheets, check lists, free flow workouts from my own imagination. Doesn’t matter what it is, I would rather eat glass than do it.

I have a litany of half hearted procrastinations  – I don’t have enough time. I don’t want to get cat hair on my yoga mat. I don’t want to change into the appropriate clothes (and I sure as shit ain’t gonna do a workout naked or in my pjs). My beau is home (I can’t stand being walked in on). You name it and I will make it an insurmountable excuse.  The good news is I normally convince myself there is housework to be done before I can begin, so most of the time, at least I am doing chores instead of exercising…

But OK, so lets say I have gotten passed all those hurdles and actually have willed myself to start – after 5 minutes I am feeling impatient, bored, frustrated, and discouraged. Not being a Buddhist nun, my natural state in life is to assiduously avoid these general feelings, so after 30 minutes (more often like 20 or 15 minutes) I stop. I have not enjoyed a single second of it and I never find a shred of inspiration to continue or try again. I really, truly hate it.

Why is that? What am I so upset about? Why on earth is this so threatening?

So far, the only thing I have come up with is that I eat, sleep, do my 40 hour a week job, and everthing else from my home. I mean, I really rarely leave. So maybe the last thing I want to do is a workout there too?  Could cabin fever account for all my protestations? Maybe, but that all seems too simplistic.  I brought it up in therapy the other day and found myself feeling a lot of the same unpleasant emotions. Just thinking about exercising at home made me feel impatient, frustrated, and discouraged. And I there too I met the same limited success. I did it – I talked about it – but I did not enjoy it and I certainly did not learn anything new.

There is some urgency here though. If I am ever going to heal my sciatica and move through this chronic pain, I am fairly certain that I need a home practice. I can’t go to most group classes and I can’t affords one-on-one instruction, so I really need to work this shit out on my own. It’s funny, as I sit here typing these words, I wonder to myself – will I practice the poses recently given to me to help me heal? Will I do it tonight? Nope. Seems 100% unlikely. Why? Seriously, why? I ask myself to answer truthfully and all I get is that I just don’t want to.

sigh.

 

Recanalization!

August 13, 2012 | health, infertility, life | Permalink

I had put off posting, because I was concerned for more bad news, but so far, things continue to look good. Dr K, who I like much more then Dr D, agrees that the tubal recanalization is a good idea and that I am a perfect candidat. Dr T and Dr R (and their offices) followed through and it seems like everything is a GO. On August 29th, I will have my left fallopian tube recanalized! My insurance will even cover it!

Why Dr D just could not offer this as an option, I will never understand.  Ok, what I do understand is this – it might not work. They may not be able to remove the obstruction(s) in my tube. I also get that there is more then one factor effecting my fertility – even if they open up the tube, I may not get pregnant. I undertand that IVF is my best option. I also understand that it’s not a financial possibility. I can’t put us that far in debt. I just can’t.  It still just baffles me that Dr D refused to endorse my next best chance at some measure of increased fertility.

Oh well, no more crying over split milk and bad doctors. The good news is that my tubal obstruction is being addressed and it’s a simple in-and-out procedure covered by my insurance.  YES!

12 things you should never ask

August 13, 2012 | infertility, life | Permalink

Resolve linked to this.  Having dealt with half of these, I can honestly say these well meaning questions and comments do more harm than good.  I’d add a 13th item – don’t mention adoption. We know it’s a option. We haven’t forgotten.  But in a lot of cases it’s too soon to consider or it simply is not the right choice OR most pragmatically, it’s as cost prohibitive as IVF. To imply that something we dont want to do or can’t afford to do will solve all our problems is a bit hard to take.

It all started with yoga…

August 11, 2012 | exercise, health, life, pain | Permalink

For most of my life I have been lazy and out of shape. It’s just my thing. Also, I have a genetic condition that affects my lungs’ ability to oxygenate my blood. Again, just sort of my thing. I can only assume that the whole lack of oxygen situation probably played a pretty big roll in the not wanting to run around business, but for most of my life this cause and effect didn’t really bother me.  Exercise? Bah, who needs it? But then in my early thirties something happened. A shift of some sort from some unknown origin. Maybe I was bored with inaction. Maybe I was a little jealous of all the folks I knew that did stay in shape. Maybe it just finally dawned on me that actually everyone needs it. And everyone included me.

It all started with yoga. I had several friends who proselytized the benefits of yoga. It would help with my forever aching back, my never ending stress, my migraines, even my depression and anxiety. Maybe so, I would reply, but for a long time it was that anxiety that kept me from even trying. Hell, it kept me from trying most of everything. My anxiety kept me from learning how to drive, dropped me out of college, prevented me from having meaningful romantic relationships, and generally made me avoid a lot of stuff I actually wanted to do. It certainly wasn’t going to help me to put on sweat pants, go to a new place, and do something I had never done before in from of a room of strangers. And exercise at that. No, that was not really going to happen. Though somehow, someway the seed was planted. When I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and join the Y, the first thing I tired was the yoga class. My rational for joining the Y in the first place, was that it would not just be me and a bunch of jocks and janes who where younger, thinner and faster. It would be real people. Every age. Every weight. Every skin color. Every everything. And I was right – the Y is a magical, diverse place and the yoga class they offered twice a week was by no means an exception. I took one class and was hooked. That surprises me even now honestly. In those early days I was not sure what I was getting into, how far reaching the affects of my yoga practice would be come – that I would ever have a “yoga practice”. I just knew it was taught by Nikki.  She was kind, hilarious, down to earth, and she made me feel welcome from day one. For three years I went to her class religiously and I am still amazed by her ability to make newcomers welcome and to tailor her classes to the needs of her various students. Nikki was my first and will always be my favorite yoga instructor. That is of course how it should be and I am enormously grateful for it.

When a new yoga studio opened 3 blocks from my home, I was thrilled, but it was there that I learned how much I did not know about yoga. I had my first class taught by a different teacher. It was a vinyasa class and man, had I been sheltered. Nikki’s gentle, variable hatha class worked wonders on my self esteem and my ability to reach past my toes, but it maybe did not do as much to prepare me for the larger world outside of the charming, for-beginners yoga the Y offered.  Suddenly yoga class was an hour and a half,  hot and sweaty and HARD. It was not just about flexibility any more, but about strength. Serious strength and holy crap, that was an eye opener.  But strangely I was undaunted.  It took a lot of squirming and a shit ton of bravery, but I settled in. There were things I would never get good at and things I surely hated (mostly back bends on both fronts), but I gained confidence and found 100 other things that I did love to do with my body.  I got stronger, my breath got deeper and my heart opened. I got good. Which is weird, because I had never considered myself good at much of anything. I mean in terms or physical activity. I explored different teachers, different styles and studios, did yoga in the park, with friends, even at (gasp) at parties. Ha.

And yoga was my gateway exercise for sure.  Using my body stopped beng scary and started feeling really, really good. The Y was still here. I stared swimming, and using weight machines. I took my first pilates class. I started going to bootcamp for fuck’s sake.  Biking became something I did more then just to get from point A to point B. I stared taking, long glorious rides. Oh and then there were the walks. I got a pedometer and started going for 5 miles a day. I’ve even been known to jog. Another gasp.

Not that I want to give the impression that this all happened over night. I have been engaged in various combinations of all of these activities with varying amounts of enthusiasm for over 5 years.  In my mind’s eye, I can imagine a world where that progression simply continues and I get better at ALL of these things.    I become a person that can do wheel and handstands, a person that can jog a 5k, a person that can exercise every day and just revel in how great it feels to move my body and stay heathy while I am doing it. But I fucked it up. I pushed too hard and broke.

In November of 2010 I decided to do yoga every day for the month of December. It was going to be a holiday present to myself and the best way I could think of beginning the new year. It all started out well enough, but midway through the month I started noticing this weird pain in the back of my right leg. I have always been super flexible in my hamstrings so I was surprised, but by the same token, not that worried. I was probably just over stretching. I started to go easier on my forward folds. By Christmas (the only day I took off), I was beginning to get worried. It did not seem to matter how kind I was on my hamstrings, the pain was becoming constant and something awful was happening in my lower back. Something that got so bad, that by the 31th I was laid up in bed wondering how I was going to manage to get out of the house for New Years eve. And that pain has never really gone away.

Turns out I am (probably) one of the lucky members of the population that has piriformis syndrom. My sciatic nerve (most likely) runs through my piriformis muscle rather then behind it. Too much yoga shortened and tightened this muscle and now it compresses my sciatic nerve causing pain in my back, my buttocks,  and all through my right leg. Hilariously, on most days, I have a literal pain in my ass. Yup.  From that month to this day, almost all exercise I engage in causes flare ups in this pain. Even every day activity, like house cleaning or the mile walk to the grocery store can cause hours worth of pain. Walking five miles or going to a yoga class can result in 3 to 4 days worth of pain. If I ignore the warning signs and exercise everyday, I am in near constant pain. Mind you, I am no stranger to chronic discomfort. 33 years of migraines has gotten me pretty used to that. Though, a year and a half of migraines and sciatic pain has been a bit much. I take pain medication almost daily.

I am still working on what this all means. I feel like I should be able to fix this, but it’s been hard to figure out how. I don’t have any money to throw at the problem, so a lot of helpful stuff is out of reach. Mainly, I can’t afford the $50 copay to see a physical therapist.  I did see one for a few months last year, but I swear it was making it worse, so I have been reluctant to try again. Acupuncture helps a lot to relieve the pain as it is happening, but months of treatment did not help stop the trouble. Maybe I just can’t afford to go as often as I need. I recently had a one on one session with a highly skilled yoga instructor. She showed me a lot, I mean really revolutionary stuff. She even gave me the first real insight into how 30 days of yoga injured me so deeply in the first place. She sent me home with some brillant knowledge and what amounts to daily PT. That was 3 weeks ago and everything was going well until I had a 4 day flare up followed by crap load of infertility stress. My initial enthusiasm for her ideas and instruction was lost in less than a week. And now, like so many times before, I am floundering.  On most days I am just so tired and demoralized that I don’t even want to try. Doing the slow, constant, unrelenting work I suspect I need to do to correct this problem, holds almost no appeal. Imagine that. Mostly, I just wish I could have it like I did in the old days – when I could go to a yoga class or walk five miles without having days worth of pain as my only reward. God, I miss yoga SO much. I miss not being in pain too, but that’s a more remote memory.

I know I just need to start where I am, but where is that?  My biggest issue is going to be when and more importantly where this process of healing begins. More on that soon I hope.

 

A reversal of fortune?

August 3, 2012 | health, infertility, life | Permalink

Dare I dream? I’d better not, but I can at least pat myself on the back for self advocacy.

In addition to deciding that I needed a second opinion, I also emailed my Interventional Radiologist, Dr T, requesting that he put me in touch with his colleague who does fallopian tube recanalization. Recanalization is any procedure that literally reopens blocked or obstructed pathways. Dr T mentioned this concept to me the last time we met. He wanted to know how things were going with my baby making schemes. When I explained my many hindrances,  he enthusiastically endorsed this “newish” procedure.

As I was hitting send on the email to him, I thought to myself that the chances of this doc even responding to my email were pretty slim. But low and behold, within an hour he had replied. He was going to speak to this second doctor, Dr R, on my behalf, but it would probably require my fertility doctor’s blessing. When I responded that that would not be forthcoming, I thought the matter would be quickly closed. This did not dishearten me completely. I am after all seeking a second opinion. Perhaps this new doc would have a positive take on recanalization. You see, fertility doctor #1 (from this point on known at Dr D) told me in our meeting last month that she did not think tubal recanalization was an option for me. It just did not work,  she informed,  and furthermore I was not even a candidate. It would be best for me to forget about it. I started to cry (yup. cry) and explained that it seemed wrong to me to give up on something that might increase my chances of conceiving without drugs and IUI or IVF. I mean seriously, what was the worst that could happen? The tube is already obstructed. She relented only in so much as she said that I could pursue it on my own, but that she would not recommend it.

So imagine my surprise today when I get a phone call from Dr R herself. She was a little dismayed at how negative Dr D’s thoughts on recanalization were. Dr R (and Dr T before her) extolled the virtues or this procedure,  quoting very high success rates for the procedure itself and generally increased chances of conception afterwards and what’s more, she has taken a look at my HSG results and thinks I am a perfect candidate. What that fuck, Dr D?  Yeah, yeah, I get that doctors don’t always agree, but I have too diametrically apposed points of view here. I am extremely interested in what fertility doctor #2, AKA Dr K, has to say. More on this tomorrow I am sure.

Oh but in the meantime, Dr R’s office has called me twice and I have even gone so far as to set the date for the recanalization. August 29th. 7 am. Of course, I need to see if my insurance will cover all this. Dr R’s office suggested that insurance companies that do not cover IUI or IVF often do cover this procedure. It’s in and out – a same day affair after all, but I will have to wait a few days to see how this all pans out.

Worst case, BCBS does not cover it and that’s it. I am right where I started from. Best case, I get to give it a try. Of course even then there are no guarantees, but man, doesn’t it seem exciting? Forward momentum! Action! Recanalization!

 

In Other News

August 2, 2012 | health, life, pain | Permalink

I got my second Botox treatment yesterday. For migraine management, not anything cosmetic. It still seems strange to me that anyone would use the root ‘tox’ in a drug name. I think we can assume that was not accidental.  Happily, I don’t mind be reminded of the fact that I have Botulism toxin under the skin of my face, neck, and shoulders. I think it’s kind of amazing. Better living through chemicals and all that. Actually in this case, better living though bacteria!  I just can’t imagine the men and women that get this for cosmetic reasons are so keen on that idea and I would not think Allergan would not want to remind them of that. Though come to think of it, who names their pharmaceutical company Allergan? That name just screams ALLERGEN. Weird stuff.

Any any rate, if the second treatment is anything like the first, I am looking forward to a few weeks of decreased pain. It’s well known that the drug’s efficacy can increase with a second set of injections. So it’s reasonable to expect a decreases in the frequency of my migraines as well. Reasonable, but perhaps unlikely. Like with so many things, I think it’s best not to get my hopes up and perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also pleased to note that my forehead feels less paralyzed this time around. So far anyway. I think I am still within the window of symptoms setting in. Which is good news, because as I type these words, I am getting a migrane aura. bleh.