Could this get crazier?

It’s been more than a week since I posted. Let me tell you why.

On the 13th, I had an appointment with a fertility doctor and a new oncologist. They agreed that I could get fertility treatment and that I should if that’s what I wanted to do. I had terrible stomach issues the next three days, then called the fertility clinic on Monday to tell them we needed specific financial info about doing treatments – and soon. At 4 p.m. (with only some of the info we needed in hand), the fertility doc’s office called and said, “Can you be here in 10 minutes so we can show you how to administer these shots?”

SHOTS?

I had no idea fertility treatment involved shots. From that point forward, we were on the fertility treatment fast track! I still am not sure what the procedure is called that I had. This morning, lying in a hospital bed, I was still asking questions that most people probably would have asked before the first shot. It took us two or three days AFTER the shots started to figure out if we actually had the money to do fertility treatments!

Briefly, what we did was an IVF course, but with freezing the embryos instead of implanting them. For me, it went like this: April 17 Troy administered my first shot of drugs that would cause multiple eggs to mature (I tried to do it myself and I could NOT make that needle go into my skin). Daily shots of these drugs continued through April 24. On April 20 I had a sonogram to gauge the growth of the follicles (where the eggs live). Had a second sonogram on Saturday, April 22. (Don’t forget, we also celebrated Easter, my birthday and Colleen’s birthday in this time period). On that day, I also started getting a second shot of a drug to prevent me from ovulating. I had a third sonogram on April 24. On the evening of April 24, I had the last of two shots, including one to “stop everything,” as they explained. (That day was also the day of my dad’s double heart bypass.)

On April 24, I woke up that morning and put on my “skinny pants,” which were too large last week. I headed to the doctor’s office for the last sonogram. Then, left there and headed straight to Terre Haute to be at the hospital for my dad’s heart surgery. On the drive, I began to think, “these pants were a mistake.” By the time I arrived, I was actually in great discomfort. So, my sister and I went to the store to buy me some stretchy pants. About eight hours later, I was driving home and the stretchy jeans started getting tight!

When they measured my eggs that morning, they said I had 15-20 (about 10 per side) each at two centimeters, plus several others at smaller stages. (Actually, the follicles measured two centimeters. The eggs are tiny.) Two centimeters is nearly an inch (.78). Doing the math, 20 follicles at that size is nearly 16 inches. So, imagine an extra mass of 8 inches on each side of my abdomen. Of course, they continued to grow throughout the day and the next day (when I switched to giant sweatpants).

Today was egg collection and fertilization day. I was miserable when I woke up this morning. Things just felt very crowded. Not quite like being pregnant. First of all, when you are pregnant, you don’t suddenly feel it all in two or three days. Second, for me, the weight was centered in my body. This weight was to the outside of my body and heavier on one side than the other. I couldn’t bend over to put my socks on. I couldn’t get comfortable in a seated position. Every type of movement was uncomfortable.

I forgot to mention that during the drug series, I had lots of crazy symptoms. Some like PMS. Some like those a few women get when they are ovulating. Some like menopause. It was nutso.

So, they collected 20 eggs today; one broke on retrieval, so they have 19 to work with. They will call us tomorrow to let us know how many fertilized.

If we go through with the procedure later, two or three embryos at a time will be thawed and inserted in a really simple procedure. (I believe also your body is prepped with certain drugs before that procedure, too.) About 65-70 percent of the embryos survive the thaw (as opposed to frozen eggs, where only about 10 percent survive). Then, during the procedure, on average, 60 percent implant, giving you about a 10 percent chance of twins and about a 40 percent chance of the pregnancy not working. Hopefully, I’ll have lots of embryos in the freezer for multiple tries.

After the procedure (which was under IV sedation), I felt somewhat relieved of the extra mass, but not feeling like playing tennis or anything. I feel even better this evening, though still really groggy. I was told not to operate heavy machinery or make important decisions today. I hope that doesn’t rule out using a keyboard and blogging.

I was sleeping off the anesthesia at 3:30 p.m. when the phone rang and it was another doctor calling to tell me they could schedule me tomorrow for a port surgery and I would be starting chemo Friday. … HELLO! This is news to me. In my groggy and crabby state, I spent two hours calling doctors (and friends for rides) and trying to find out what I was supposed to be doing.

Yesterday, I was told I would get chemo next week, then a port after that, because of scheduling issues. Well, turns out they can work me in tomorrow and Dr. Sledge is eager for me to get started on chemo. They said, “Now, this is a lot for one week. Are you sure you want to do this?” And I said, “heck yeah!” Now that the fertility stuff is out of the way, I just want to get it all over with.

So, port surgery is at 8 a.m. at St. Vincent’s tomorrow. Chemo is Friday (no time yet) at IU Cancer Center.

Needless to say, I’ve barely had time to think in the last two weeks. (As of tomorrow, it will be two weeks since my first appointment with the fertility doctor. And I already have eggs in a freezer – well, actually in a petri dish. A normal fertility treatment takes two MONTHS.) In addition, I haven’t written because I had a lot of feelings to work out about the fertility treatment. At first, I was overwhelmed with the thought because I hadn’t given it serious consideration, mainly because of financial reasons and because there didn’t seem to be enough time to make it happen. Once we straightened out the money (several days into the treatment!), I started feeling more peaceful with it. But by then, I was having loads of appointments and feeling crabby from the shots. I was very excited about the procedure today. On the way home, I was practically ecstatic. I feel great now to have the option of having more kids, no matter whether the chemo permanently damages the old ovaries or not! I’m much more at peace with everything now. Getting this done today is the complete reason I jumped to say “yes” to the port surgery tomorrow. I am ready to go. Let’s get this cancer out of me!

A SPECIAL NOTE
I want to tell everyone THANK YOU for all of the cards, care packages, e-mails, phone calls and blog comments I’ve been getting — both for my birthday and of the “get well” variety. Even though I haven’t had much time to get back to people in the last two weeks, I have been faithfully checking and reading e-mail and blog posts. I’ll try to get caught up one of these days, but just understand I do appreciate what you are doing for me very much!

We’ve also had great friends step up to do “a little extra” for us, too. Mark A. and Neil D. spent several hours each cutting up trees. They made a nice dent in that awful project. Marcia D. is taking me to my doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Raph & Deb kept Colleen for us last night and today. Mary & Dan are keeping her tomorrow night and Friday. Judy E. is taking me to chemo on Friday. This is all tremendously helpful and it was so nice to be able to call Amy H. today and say, “I need a ride tomorrow. Please help!” An hour later, I got a call from Marcia volunteering to be that ride!

Troy will leave for his annual “guy’s weekend” tomorrow night and I am absolutely insisting that he goes. We thought the timing would be perfect — ending fertility today and starting chemo next week. So, he felt he could leave in good conscious. But when I was offered the chance to start the chemo process tomorrow, I jumped at it, knowing I would have to kick his butt out the door. The process is more complicated because my dad is still in the hospital and my father-in-law is still in a nursing home, so having my mom or sisters come to help me is out of the question (because they are helping Dad), as is sending Colleen to TH to be with any family member at all! Having good friends available to be with me and take care of Colleen in the next few days has made the difference for Troy. He knows he is leaving me in good hands. And I want him to go have fun while there is fun to be had!

Author: rosie

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