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Friday, October 26, 2012

I Ruined My Body

My guilt factor is sky high lately.  What if I hadn't had that surgery, what if I'd had another doctor do the such-and-such surgery, what if I'd had no surgeries at all?  What if I'd factored in my health first?

It's just overwhelming to live in constant pain, pain that's a direct result of (in)fertility treatments.  (Side note:  I feel like an imposter saying "fertility" treatments because I really only went through one medicated treatment cycle). 

When we were TTC, any guilty feelings were centered around what I wasn't doing:  not eating/drinking the correct things, exercising too much or too little.  I shouldn't have eaten that goat cheese! I probably killed my embryo!  Etc.  Or feeling wishing I had started treatments earlier.

I can't stop thinking lately about all the infertility-related choices I've made in the past few years.  I chose the crappy RE to do my initial IF workup.  Since the crappy doc suggested a laparoscopy to see how "messed up" I was inside (his words) and I didn't trust him to do it, I chose an outside endometriosis-specialized physician to do the surgery.  During the lap, the endo guy also did a hysteroscopy and said my septum wasn't large enough to be a fertility issue, and he didn't see any other problems.

Enter the good RE, who eventually found scar tissue in my ute and thought my septum was an issue after all.  Two surgeries later, my life was turned completely upside down by chronic pain.  I don't blame her surgical skills—I blame the damn balloon—but my life changed dramatically on 3/9/12.

I'm trying to forgive myself for everything.  For not seeing the good RE first, for not doing more research before I started having surgeries.  For trusting that any type of hysteroscopic surgery was minor.  After all, I'd had laparoscopic surgery already.  Why would I flinch at something less major than that?  It's like doing injectable IUIs after Clomid ones; eh, not that big a leap.

Now that my TTC chapter is closed, I can look at it as a whole and see the flaws and horror more clearly.  I'm not wrapped up in next steps and cycle days, which is AWESOME, don't get me wrong.  But reflecting on that period of time is rough, and I guess the TTC chapter is being drawn out in a way because I'm still physically feeling the effects of my treatments.

I feel like I've ruined my body.  I mentioned on my last post that I used to run half marathons.  Running was a huge part of my life throughout my 20's.  I ran 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons.  Before that, in high school and earlier, I was as dancer.  In my 30's, I took up yoga and practice almost daily.

That's where I was, physically speaking, on 3/9/12:  lean and mean from many hours of yoga.  I felt great when I practiced and was strong enough to do some pretty tough poses.  I was flexible for the first time in my life.

I can't even take a walk now.  I risked my body's wrath today by walking for about 20 min at lunchtime and I'll probably suffer the consequences this weekend.  I feel completely defective and it's embarassing to talk about; how do you tell your coworkers that you can't walk because your pelvic floor muscles are fucked up?  Who wants to say "pelvic" anywhere in the vicinity of work?

My body is mushy now and 5 pounds heavier.  My pants are getting tighter and tighter.  Surprising fact:  if you don't move around at all and keep eating as if you do, you gain weight.  I want to move.  I crave exercise.  I want to stretch and be flexible again and not feel my hamstring clamp up when I put up my leg while shaving.  I've tried stretching; I really have.  It turns out that your pelvic floor muscles are connected to EVERYTHING and hence EVERYTHING hurts to stretch.  Want to stretch out my pinkie finger?  Can't.  Connected to the pelvic floor.  My PT tells me to do what I comfortably can but not to do anything painful at this point, so I'm left with nothing to do except a couple of measly exercises she gave me.

So, to summarize:  my lady parts are fucked up because we tried too hard to get pregnant (see what I mean?  Impossible to talk about without getting into areas all sexual-like).  I hate my body and hate that I ignored the warning signs.  I already had pelvic pain before all the IF shenanigans started.  Why did I screw things up more down there?  Blah.

*****
Hmm, that was all over the place and not at all what I set out to write.  Funny how that works.

I'm tired of the headaches.  TENS helps with them so we're going steady again.  The headaches almost make me feel cross-eyed at moments, like I can't focus for a second because of the intensity.  It's really weird, but I can tell that the headaches are part of the neuropathic pain, and my doc concurred.  It's like the pain comes up from my pelvis (hate that word and must find a new one), through my core and spreads out in my head.  Caffeine and painkillers don't touch it.  Lyrica is pretty much the only thing that works, that and TENS.  I'm going through 9V batteries like a fiend.  It turns out that rechargeable 9Vs aren't as readily available or as high a quality as you might think.

In the interest of ending on a high note, I had a major victory today.  <drumroll> ...I did not cry at a coworker's pregnancy announcement.  I cried at her last one but shrugged off this one like a champ.  It helped that my pregdar went off big-time when I saw her this morning...it wasn't her body, it was her smug pregginess.  And I'm sure I will love the upcoming meetings when she will turn work-related conversations into something about her baby. 

But anyway.  No tears!  Victory! :)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Never Want to Be Pregnant

Under no circumstances do I want to be pregnant.  I do not want to have an oopsie baby after I adopt. I do not want to have a surprise pregnancy at age 43.  I do not want to do another letrozole cycle.

This does not mean I don't wish things were different with my body.  That I don't wish I had another body without a pain syndrome and uterine issues.  I still long to grow a round belly, feel kicks and punches from a little one inside me.  The desire, the longing, is still there.  But it's like wishing you hadn't broken your arm; it's broken and you have to deal with it.  Maybe you have to stop playing tennis forever.  Maybe the break is so bad it will affect you the rest of your life.  You can spend your time wishing you weren't limited physically or you can adjust your expectations. 

My decision to forever stop TTC didn't happen overnight.  A few weeks after my surgery in March, even though I was still in extreme pain, I was scheduling a 3D sonogram appointment to prepare for my next letrozole cycle.  I was optimistic.  I didn't know this kind of pain syndrome even existed.  Who has heard about pelvic floor muscles unless you've given birth or are 80 years old?  I hadn't been aware of mine.

Needless to say, I had to cancel the 3D sono appointment, which was just one of the many things that has given me pause since March.  If I couldn't schedule it at that point, then when?  The next month?  Three months from now?  (Correct answer is none of the above.)

My thinking shifted gradually.  I'd felt unsure about trying for pregnancy #3, anyway.  Pregnancy #2 ended around 7 weeks last fall.  The chromosomal testing came back normal, and my doctor thought the miscarriage was related to a structural problem with my uterus.  Supposedly the structural issue was fixed by my last (catastrophic) surgery, but who really knows?  Why tempt fate?  Why put myself in the position to lose another baby when my heart has been shattered twice already?

As the months ticked by after the surgery, I stopped planning for my next RE appointment.  I had a brand new, all-consuming shitstorm with that wasn't TTC-related:  chronic pain.  But in spite of that, I started living again.  I ate what I wanted:  suddenly, soy is ok again!  Dairy is not evil!  No need to go gluten/nut/coffee/sugar-free for fostering the ideal environment for baby to stick around!  I didn't know what cycle day I was on.  I didn't cry in the bathroom when my period arrived and then fill my grief with baked goods.  Not TTCing has been one of the most freeing things in the world.

Before The Surgery to End All Surgeries, I'd had difficulty conceiving and two miscarriages, and I hated TTCing.  The IF blogosphere is filled with people like me who keep trying, understandably, for their take-home baby.  Chronic pain is what did me in.

I'm kind of an old pro with intermittent pelvic pain.  I've had horribly painful periods since I was a teenager, which turned out to be endometriosis that was probably contributing to my infertility (huge surprise—not).  But the painful periods were only for a few days a month.

The pain I have now is all the time.

I've never experienced any kind of chronic, day-to-day pain other than run-of-the mill tendinitis or other exercise-related aches.  This is completely new.  If I hadn't gone through infertility and loss, I'd say this is the hardest thing I've ever gone through.  So it's a close third.  The pain tries to shatter me.  Not one aspect of my life is untouched:  my relationships, my job, my sleep.  My sanity.

I've used about 130 hours of sick leave for the pain since March.  I missed my nephew's first birthday party and my niece's summer ballet recital.  My demeanor has been irritable and prickly for the most part, even if at first I appear pleasant.  A smile or pleasant conversation does not mean I'm not in pain or will not suddenly lash out at something.  Or just lose track of what you're saying as I plot my next attempt at pain relief.  My pain level is usually pretty high but I'm trying, trying ever so hard to pretend it doesn't exist.  The irritability is usually unleashed on my husband, and when I immediately apologize and explain that my pain level is really high, he is understanding.  But he doesn't deserve this.

I go to PT weekly and usually have one other doctor's appointment during the week; it's a big time-suck.  At these appointments, I've asked about my prognosis, of course.  My healthcare providers don't like this question because they don't know the answer.  They hem and haw a bit, and say we'll have to wait and see, "ask me again in a few weeks."  The two physicians I've asked are both pelvic pain specialists, and both have predicted that I would "probably" be fine with a pregnancy.  That pregnancy hormones tend to have a calming influence on my syndrome. 

Fine.  But what about the ENTIRE REST OF MY LIFE AFTER THE PREGNANCY?  Will the changes wrought by pregnancy and childbirth wreak havoc on my already fucked-up body?

The physicians haven't given me a real answer for that.  My PT has given it to me straight, though.  She says she's seen it both ways:  some people with my issues have a pregnancy that goes ok and they feel fine afterwards, and some do not.  I didn't ask her to elaborate much because I don't even want to hear about patients who have it worse afterwards; I cannot imagine their pain.

I'm not a risk-taker.  Not that anyone knows statistics for outcomes of women with uterine abnormalities who have undergone surgeries and go on to develop chronic pelvic pain and then go on to have pregnancies, but I've thought a little about what kind of odds I would bet on:  at what odds of worsened pain in the future would I consider getting pregnant again?  What if 50% of women like me felt ok during the pregnancy and then, postpartum and beyond, felt even better than before the pregnancy?  50/50 odds.  No way in hell I'd do it.  What if 90% felt great afterward?  Nope, still wouldn't do it. 

I cannot conceive (pun intended) of a future filled with this kind of pain.  It's been going on for 7 months already and I don't know how I've done it.  People comment on how strong I am to have dealt with this for so long, but I don't feel strong.  I just feel like myself....in severe pain.  It's day-to-day living now.  I try not to plan too far in advance.

If I can't find a way to decrease my pain level before I have a child, I cannot be the kind of mom I want to be.  I physically could not handle the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn; less sleep = more pain.  I would be glued to the couch, not on the floor playing with my baby or walking around to soothe her at night.  I couldn't take her for walks in the stroller or teach her to ride a bike.  I would have trouble attending her soccer games; sitting up for a couple of hours hurts too much.  Worst of all, I could not be the emotionally supportive, stable, fun type of mom I want to be.  It would not be possible.

The decision not to TTC is easier knowing that adoption is a possibility.  But even if adoption wasn't on the table and our remaining option was childfree living, I would have to choose childfree living over TTC.  Why in the world would I choose *possibly* having severe pain the rest of my life?  My (hopefully) future children would be worse off for it, my family and husband would struggle with me, and I would constantly fight the pain demon.

When I started this post, I'd intended to write even more, tell you about how in my previous incarnation, I ran a half marathon at an 8:10 min/mile pace.  Now I can hardly walk a mile once a week.  I'd wanted to tell you that I do still grieve for the loss of my husband's and my biological child, the little blonde boy who looks like his dad.  Also, I could write for days about how you don't know until you've been there what kind of decisions you'd make when you've had pain that reaches an 8 every day, sometimes staying there for hours at a time.  And it goes on for months and months, possibly years.  But I've written enough for now. 

For all of these reasons, I will never pursue pregnancy again.  I love myself too much and won't knowingly put myself in harm's way.  I want more out of life than appointments, pills, and this seemingly endless gnawing, burning pain that is trying to eat me alive.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Singing, Cooking, and...Adopting?

Yesterday I heard something weird:  my voice, singing in the car with the radio.  It happened again today.

It's little things like this, realizing that I haven't sung in the car for months, that make me appreciate how shitty the past few months have been.  But this week has been different.  I think I've turned a corner, guys.

Last week was the worst one, emotionally speaking, in quite a while.  Cried to my pelvic pain doc for 20 minutes on the phone.  Sent tearful emails to my psychiatrist.  Insomnia.

I was still in a really bad place this past Monday, but everything shifted slightly on Monday evening.  I made myself cook dinner and realized the pain had decreased.  Tuesday was even better and I cooked dinner again—shocking.  The relief has continued, which is the longest stretch I've felt better in many months.

For the record, it still sucks.  My TENS unit is keeping me sane; we're going steady again since I overcame some trust issues.  I'm still not doing any physical activity to speak of, but I've at least rejoined my coworkers' lunchtime walking group for a few minutes before I have to turn around.

Not surprisingly, my mood has improved significantly.  Fewer problems sleeping, etc. 

Oh, and I almost forgot to explain what I think is responsible for my improvement:  my physical therapist.  After our initial sessions, I was afraid she was killing me because I felt worse.  Then we figured out it was probably because our initial sessions coincided with my Pill trial (epic fail), so PT was probably not to blame.  I stuck with it, seeing my therapist weekly, and her treatment last week (internal pressure points, if that's not TMI) was a revelation.  My pain was worse for a couple of days, which is to be expected, but then it was better than it'd been in months.

Please cross your fingers with me that this improvement lasts.  I feel like I'm starting to get my life back again and am desperately clinging to it.

*****
In the midst of last week's depression, my husband and I met again with our local adoption resource.  I can't say much more about the resource without divulging my location, but if you want more info, feel free to email me (see my "Contact" tab).

The meeting restored my hope that we can do this, that this can really happen for us.  The couple, who are adoptive parents themselves, gave us tons of information about the adoption process, from first steps to the legal paperwork after the baby is born.  The information on initial steps was key because I've been flailing, not researching anything at all because I've felt too overwhelmed (and, well, consumed by pain).

So, first up is getting fingerprinted.  The couple told us where to go to have it done...we can do this.  I have to keep repeating that to myself.

The hubster is not 100% on the adoption train yet but is game to start the process.  If (or, as I'm telling myself, "once") we commit to adopting, it will help if some of the initial time-consuming steps are out of the way.

I've been telling more people what we've been going through, from infertility to chronic pain to possibly adoption.  Nothing like a TENS unit stuck to my hip to shred any last bit of secrecy.  I've been happy to share more, though.

I am getting a lot of people telling me that adoption is wonderful and, well, you know what's coming: "Who knows, you might get pregnant in the meantime!"  Or that adopting doesn't mean that we can't pursue a bio baby later, since I'm "only" 35 (in my head, it's "35 is so close to death, and maybe I'll grow old and die before I can raise a child!" and that type of hysteria).  I tell people that I'm pretty convinced that a bio baby is out of the question, though, and that we'll be actively preventing pregnancy.  This usually leads to looks of confusion.

I need to write a whole post about why I don't want to pursue getting pregnant ever again, starting with seven months (217 days) of severe pain.  Post will include 2 miscarriages and my desire never to go through that again.  I'm not saying I'm incapable of changing my mind, but with each passing day of pain, and time off from TTC and all the BS that accompanies it, I'm more and more certain.

Monday, October 1, 2012

TENS Love Gone Bad

Let's complain about treatments, shall we?  I'm so tired of them—the endless medications, PT appointments that take a large chunk out of my working day, and my new less-than-awesome TENS unit.

TENS is weird.  At first I raved about it, profusely thanking my dad for sending me his unit and believing it would be life-changing.  Now I'm not so sure.  I think it does have some effect, but I think the initial high from it was actually a result of a good myofascial releasing PT session.  Not that my dad still doesn't deserve thanks.

There are four sticky pads with electrodes that I put on my lower abdomen.  Wires connect these to the unit.  Long wires; part of what makes it unwieldy.  The unit itself can clip to your belt and looks kinda like a pager circa 1995, if pagers then were huge and tan-colored.  It's quite a bit larger than a cell phone. 

I can use the unit at work or when I'm out and about at other places, but people definitely see it.  At first I wore long cardigans that kinda covered it, but made me look like my right hip had a box-shaped tumor.  Now I'm saying "screw it" and not bothering to cover it up, but it feels awkward.  I'm not really sure yet how I'll answer questions about it.

TENS feels like an almost pleasant buzzy sensation.  There are various settings, and my sweet spot is between an amplitude of 2 or 3 (out of 8).  If I accidentally hit 3, I feel like my pelvis is being electrocuted and I think I've seen the muscles actually jump.  Not keen on repeating this for fun.  If it's at 2, I seem to get no therapeutic benefit.  Has to be riiiiight at 3.78 or whatever and my OCDness makes me constantly adjust it.  Doesn't help that the muscles get used to a setting and then require a higher one.

In addition to looking like I'm a 90's era drug dealer who's checking pages constantly, I sometimes flash people my electrodes.  I'm pretty sure the cashier at the grocery store today saw a sticky pad in the process of falling off.  The damn things will not stay on unless I tape them with medical tape.  The adhesive on the medical tape makes me welt up and itch; as of 5 years ago, I'm allergic to anything resembling a Band-Aid.

Moving on to meds.  I sooo wish I could stop taking all of them, just taper off and not look back.  Go to acupuncture and massage and hot stone treatments once a day (each) and meditate the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, that's not my life.  I have a desk job and sitting compresses some key nerves, make my nerve issues worse.  I'm finding ways to work around it, but avoiding sitting entirely hasn't cured me, either.  If I could find SOMETHING, some magic fix that did not involve 4 hours of PT/day, I would do it.

In the meantime, I take meds.  I've decided I'm really tired of Lyrica.  We increased my dose recently because I think it does help the pain, but I'm so sleepy now.  All. the. time.  With my doctor's blessing, I tried going back down to my previous dose over the weekend, but my pain flared and I decided I'd have to cope with sleepiness on the higher dose.

I've been having horrible headaches lately.  I've never been a headachey kind of person; never had a migraine (knock on wood—I know I'm very lucky), really only have headaches when I'm coming off caffeine.  My theory about the recent headaches is that the neuropathic pain has made its way to my brain and is eating it from the inside out.  Or possibly something less dramatic.  I've been having less neuropathic pelvic pain, but the neuropathic stuff has been making its way up my torso for some time now, giving me an aching burning sensation in the middle of my body.  And after the core pain started, my headaches started.  So the pelvic disease is spreading.

It is indeed really weird how pelvic pain can leech out and invade YOUR ENTIRE BODY.  I'm capping because it is really freaking dramatic how horrible it can make your life.  And when I treat the pelvic pain by putting TENS electrodes on my abdomen, I can often make my headache go away.  So freaky. 

I've written a lot of posts in my head lately that haven't made it here, and one is about body image.  Of course, mine took a big hit with having the low-functioning ovaries of someone 5 years older than I, a ute with multiple issues, and endo that invaded my abdomen.  Now I also have to hate my pelvic floor muscles, which were body parts I'd never thought about before this.  Yay.

*****
As I read back over this post, written earlier in the afternoon, I'm amazed I was able to have any kind of sense of humor in it.  It's been a rough day.  I'm gonna have my husband drive me to work for a couple of days because driving is hard.  It's hard to concentrate when you're in pain, when Lyrica is making you tired, and sitting up is an issue.  At least I tilt my seat back if my husband drives me.

I think what's scaring me so much right now is the prospect of another flare.  It's reminiscent of my fear in the years following my first episode of severe depression.  Every sad mood, every PMS moment, every break-up, was cause for alarm that another severe depressive episode was starting.  These days, a few bad pain days in a row freaks me out.  I can't do the flare thing anymore.  What if it starts, how will I cope with more missed work, how long will it last, how much will it put everything else in my life on hold, like adoption...

I've started meditating daily again.  I'm proud that I found room for it in my schedule; it's nice to be back to it.  Also, the guilt from not doing it was intense.  I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to meditate the pain away, or do enough of some alternative treatment that will make everything ok.  I feel addicted to TENS (which in itself isn't a huge problem, as long as you take breaks periodically), I feel slightly panicked that I don't see my PT again until Friday...everything is worse now, too, because I haven't been sleeping well.  Working with my psychiatrist to get that worked out.

Another thing to feel guilty about:  we still haven't finished the DVD from the adoption agency we're interested in.  I just haven't had the energy, or I've had too much energy; when I've felt good since my last flare, I just wanted to be doing fun or immediately productive things.  Adoption is daunting.  I think my goal for this week, knowing that we're meeting with our adoption resource couple this Sat, is to let myself off the hook for watching this DVD.  I just need to make it through the week and it will be fine if we don't watch the DVD.

In less depressing news, Homeland is amazing and highly addictive.  Will temporarily take the place of Breaking Bad until the new BB season comes out on DVD.  Saw The Hunger Games for the third time on Friday, which was maybe two viewings more than I needed to see this year.  Love it but not three times/year love it.  Our DVR hates us and has not been recording Project Runway recently.  Dislike.

Ok, signing off!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good-bye, Pregnancy Clothes!

I got rid of them.  You know, the clothes that aren't maternity per se, but have been a little too big for you for the past 5 years?  The ones you know will be great for the first tri?  They're gone. 

Feels great to be free of them.  I've been in a weird space lately:  inspired by our adoption research to start nesting, which sometimes means buying stuff, and also wanting to give a ton of away.  Make room for the stuff we're really gonna use.

For the record, the friend I gave my clothes to is only a size larger than I.  I think being on the Pill brings me to that size, but seeing as me and Pill do not mix (HATE), I felt good about freeing those clothes to a better home.  It reminds me of how Tom & Lorenzo (fashion blog) frequently say "Girl, that's not your dress.  Let it be free for some other girl to buy."  The 9 pairs of pants I gave away looked so awesome on my friend.

To go with the nesting and hence spending money trend, we're getting a housecleaning service.  This is huge.  I'd been fantasizing about having one after we had a kid or two.  We'll both be working outside the home then, and it seemed like a good place to put some money for the sake of my sanity.  But then this illness started ("illness" sounds more interesting than "pain episode"...and I'm just sick of writing "pain") and the house has gotten grungier and grungier.  I physically can't do the cleaning, and the hubster has very different standards (read:  no standards), and I don't want to get into a nagging, resentful cycle with him when I ask him to do something.

The initial cleaning is next week, just in time for a house guest who's coming in for one night, and also in time for our second meeting with our local adoption resource.  They adoptive couple is coming over and giving us more info about how to get started.  I have to admit, I'm having a really hard time doing anything about adoption lately and I'm hoping this meeting jump-starts me.  My husband and I are halfway through a video we received from an adoption broker, but the last time we watched any of it was weeks ago.  I blame the illness (pain, whatev).

I'm going to PT every week now and I think it's helping.  Learned how to use a TENS unit today; it's a little device with electrodes that stick on you and stimulate your muscles.  So that by stimulating them, they somehow relearn how to relax.  I don't get it but it does seem to be helping.  Luckily, my dad had a TENS he sent to me, so I don't have to worry about insurance covering a personal unit or not.

I started taking unsanctioned turmeric.  Usually, I'm wary of supplements unless my doctor and I are both very comfortable with them, but I just up and started taking this.  Turmeric is a spice often used in curried dishes, and it's thought to have anti-inflammatory (and maybe antioxidant?) properties.  The amount I'm taking daily could easily be equivalent to how much I ingested daily if I ate as much Indian food as I wish I was eating, so I'm just not worried.  My internet research yielded nothing alarming.  My mom swears by turmeric for her arthritis, which was a huge burden before she started taking it.

I'm in a pretty good place emotionally.  It's CD1, which is a blessing in my current circumstances, as weird as it is to say as a long-time TTCer.  It now means that all the PMSy, crampy horribleness will be over in a few days and I *should* have a couple of weeks of relief after that, even if relief these days means only slightly less pain. 

I'm optimistic, though.  PT will help; it has to.  And my need to hold my adopted baby is getting stronger and stronger as my pain gets more manageable, so I see us making some progress there.  Hold me accountable! :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Manly Monday: Studly and Smart

I'm participating in Stupid Stork's Manly Monday, so today I'll introduce you to my husband, a gregarious hottie who is the best husband in the world.  Not that I'm biased.  Here are a few things about him.
  • He is a brainiac.  Valedictorian in high school, PhD at a leading university in a highly challenging field, and overall genius.  You'd think that being so good at the PhD subject would limit his brain's capacity for other areas, but no.  He has a wide variety of interests and is well-versed in everything from music ("I believe this is Schubert's 8th piano concerto") to carpentry ("I'll put in a cross-beam there so the force on the supporting I-beam will not be too great").  He ends up teaching me a lot.
  • A twist to his personality is that in contrast to his massive cerebral content, he has a horrible memory.  He says it's only horrible for minutiae, but I wonder why remembering key points about me from our first date qualifies as minutiae.  He will never live this one down.  On the first date, he asked me the basics, or at least the basics if you are straightforward and not playing games:  what do you want to do after grad school, do you plan to stay in the area, do you want kids (yes, he asked that!).  Then, on the second date, he asked me the exact same questions.  As the date went on, I became more and more deflated.  I thought he had forgotten everything because I was just one of many match.com dates and he couldn't be bothered to remember my specifics.  By the end of the night, we were making out, so I had renewed faith that he must like me.
  • He has an incredibly goofy side and constantly makes me giggle.  We often make crack each other up by making up words or nicknames for things.  TV shows become Breakie Baddie, 'Resty (Arrested Development), Dancey (So You Think You Can Dance).  If you were a fly on our wall, you'd be gagging with the cuteness so we have to tone it down around other people.
  • He's disarmingly cute and has the sexiest voice ever.  He can charm and talk to anyone; he's the life of the party yang to my, um, good listener(?) yin.
  • He's so good-looking and charismatic that even my 84-year-old grandmother flirts with him.  She constantly reminds me how lucky I am, as in "how did you manage to snag him?"  I laugh off the, uh, slight insult, and she's kinda right.  He really is that special.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fertility-free Friday: The $70 Wedding Dress

This is a story of true love for my now-husband and what happened when it collided with a trip to my shopping kryptonite, TJ Maxx.

My "oopsie" dress

I'll set the scene.  My now-husband and I had been dating for 7 months.  He'd recently seen me at my worst, through a relatively quick bout of severe depression, but most of our dating life was contented cuddling by the fire and romantic dinners.  (And long walks on the beach.  We did meet on match.com, and you have to like long walks on the beach to put your profile up.)  I'll admit that our cuddling by the fire was actually sitting on a couch backed up to a faux fireplace in his apartment, where we watched 24 for hours.  And the romantic dinners were usually pasta cooked at home.  But we were madly in love.

We'd just flown out to spend some quality time with his parents, which was the first time I'd really spent any time with them.  They apparently approved, and I believe they nudged him to seal the deal.  Go, in-laws! :)

I *think* Now-Husband had brought up the topic of engagement rings before I made the fateful shopping trip.  He had casually broached the topic, being intentionally vague and noncommittal (ie, "If you were someday going to get an engagement ring, what would you hypothetically like?").  I had immediately started freaking out inside, in a good way, but outwardly I kept my cool and rationally talked about what I might like in a ring.  I'm a cool customer.

Soon after that, I saw an amazing wine-colored Vera Wang evening gown (not the wedding dress) at TJ Maxx.  I thought I was in the market for evening gowns for some reason, although for the record, it still has the price tag on it 6 years later.  It was, like the wedding-dress-to-be, $70, and I didn't buy it at first, but obsessed and even dreamed about it, so decided to go back for it.  The Vera Wang was still there and it was mine.  Score! 

The gateway dress.  It's not photogenic without a wearer, apparently.  Trust me, it's gorgeous.

The boobs don't actually look weird like they do here.

I'm not exactly a label hound, but...Vera Wang!  $70!

But wait.  There were now several wedding dresses on the fancy dress rack.  My TJ Maxx is quite the store, for sure, and probably better than yours.  You can really find some great items.  But I had never heard of or seen wedding dresses there, and have not seen or heard of them since.  My mind started reeling with the possibilities.

These dresses were gorgeous.  There were three in my size, some still in plastic wrapping and had probably never been tried on.  They weren't brands I'd heard of, but I wouldn't have known what a good wedding dress brand was, anyway.  They appeared to be really high quality.  I tried them on.

Nothing quite prepares you for trying on wedding dresses in TJ Maxx before you're even engaged.  You picture going to some bridal store with your sister and friends oohing and aahing over you.  Or getting your mother's dress out of storage and trying it on for her (for the record, I'd tried my mother's dress and was too busty for it).  I don't feel like I missed out on a necessary life experience, though...I've just got a different kind of story.  As I tried on the dresses, I was on an adrenaline high and two of the dresses looked quite stunning, if I do say so myself.  The one I was leaning toward was pretty low-cut, and I asked some random strangers in the fitting room if I was showing too much boob for a bride.  "No way, girl!  You gotta flaunt what you got!" 

And that was how strangers provided that final nudge for me to buy my $70 wedding dress.  I looked it up online afterward, and it was from an Australian designer who was no longer in business.  From a few gowns I found for sale online, I estimated my dress to have a retail price of at least $1000-$1500.  Yay me!


I got quite a few stares as I lugged the dress around TJ Maxx and rang it up.  Even the cashier thought I was a bit crazy; apparently she hadn't seen their wedding collection yet.  Or was just of the opinion that one should not purchase a wedding dress at TJ Maxx.  We stuffed the dress awkwardly into two large TJ Maxx bags, one on each end of the dress.  Of course, I bought the $70 wine Vera Wang, too.

When I got home, my roommate assured me I was out of my mind and told me I'd better not tell Now-Husband.  It would freak him out and make him feel pressured.  I thought about it for approximately one minute and because I can't keep a secret, called him and told him.

And what did he do?  He laughed.  He told me what a great deal it was and he couldn't wait to see it, but of course he couldn't yet because it'd be bad luck.  We still weren't saying things like "when we get married" or even "when we get engaged," but I felt pretty safe after his reaction.  He told me recently that the dress purchase scored major points for me; I wasn't high maintenance and didn't have expensive tastes, I'd stuffed the dress in the back of my old Honda Civic, which itself always had scored points for being such a practical car.  (Side note:  I'm ready for a fancier car and I'm high maintenance in entirely different ways. :)  )

There are several morals to this story.
  1. My TJ Maxx is life-altering.  If you come visit me, I will take you there and you'll come out with something wonderful.  It just might not be exactly what you'd been looking for.
  2. If you don't have a significant other and want one, I have two words for you:  internet dating.
  3. Dating rules are meant to be broken.  Live a little.  Sometimes you might think you have it all figured out and find the perfect sundress to be proposed to in, only to have the guy not propose (a story for another time; that guy is not my husband).  And then one day everything will click and the rules won't matter anymore.
My husband proposed a month after the dress purchase.  He jokes that the wedding dress was actually $140 because I've never worn the wine Vera Wang.  Someday, somewhere I will wear it.  Maybe for our sixth anniversary.

(This post was orginally planned for Manly Monday but ended up more of a Feminine Friday.  Also, in the interest of editorial disclosure, I edited the first sentence of this after I posted it because it was bugging me.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"OB Is If You're Pregnant"

Funny but true story:  In the midst of my latest pain flare, angry about not receiving enough attention, I called the hospital operator to get in touch with the on-call doc.  This was our conversation.

Me:  Hi, I need to get in touch with the doctor on call for OB/GYN, I think.  But the department I actually go to is—
Operator:  Your name?
Me:  Detour from Detour to Motherhood. (ok, I gave him my real name).  But I'm not actually sure I need OB/GYN because—
Operator:  Do you need OB or GYN?  OB is if you're pregnant and GYN is if you're not.
Me:  Really?  I had no idea of the difference!  I guess that would make me...GYN!  Thanks!

I didn't actually say that last line but wanted to.  The operator didn't want to know that the doctors I actually see are  in the Department of Women with Screwed-up Uteri and General Pelvic Dysfunction (ok, not the real name...want to protect my location), and wasn't sure if OB/GYN was what I really needed.  But thanks for the tip about OB being relevant if you're pregnant.  I had no idea!

I spoke to GYN and she was indeed the correct doc for me to call.  But I'm still irritated that my personal doctor wasn't more responsive during that time.  And that the operator didn't let me get a word in edgewise.

*****
Had another torture PT session yesterday.  My physical therapist is so amazing.  I really hope she isn't causing flares because she's just so friendly, intelligent, and knowledgeable.  And bubbly.  I would totally want to be friends with her outside of PT if she didn't mind hanging out with an old fogey.  She's younger, maybe late 20's.

Anyway, she tried to be gentle yesterday and so far the aftermath has been mixed.  Last night was rough; in general, I've been having more problems sleeping because of the pain, and I was up a lot.  Today isn't too bad...yet.  Fingers crossed.

Last night I bought a cute wide-brimmed straw hat to wear on walks.  I hope I get a chance to wear it before it turns into wool cap weather.  Several months ago, a bunch of my coworkers started taking walks during lunchtime, and I can sometimes join them for the first 200 yards. <eye roll>  I miss the time with them and am jealous they get to exercise, gossip about work, and just...bond.  My job is pretty solitary and I can spend all day barely speaking to anyone.  It drives me a little cray-cray...too much alone time.

In my blogging news, I'm going to take part in Stupid Stork's Manly Mondays.  I love reading everyone's and am ready to spill the beans about how my husband, before we were even engaged, reacted when I told him I'd just bought a wedding dress.  For $70 from TJ Maxx, incidentally.  Yes, I have a trashy thrifty, bargain-hunting side and couldn't resist it, even though he and I had hardly talked at all about engagement and had only been dating for 7 months.  Whee!

Almost Friday...c'mon, weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wherein Dr. Fourth Opinion Tells Me to Spaz Down

Had my long-awaited appointment today with Dr. Fourth Opinion today, the appointment I probably pinned way too many hopes and dreams to.  I just want him to fix me; that's not too much to ask, right?

He redeemed himself from his status on my shit list and I once again think he's a good doctor.  We talked a lot, a lot about long-range goals, short-range goals, what to do when I'm having a flare.  His answer to that last one surprised me.  He doesn't want to call him if I'm flaring.  Wha??  He says these flares are normal and that I need to learn how to cope with them on my own, throwing in another reminder about anxiety management.

I wonder if he talks as much to his other patients about anxiety reduction or if he's decided I'm a stressball.  I totally have a chip on my shoulder; I feel like as soon as physicians see that I'm taking Prozac and Ambien, they decide to give me The Talk, the one where they tell me (as if I've never heard of these things) that I need to be using other alternative modalities, ie, meditation.  And I do practice meditation and I think I'm doing a bunch of other things to reduce my stress level, although there's room for improvement.

During my appointment today, we got into a circular discussion where he'd tell me to make sure I keep my psychiatrist in the loop and keep up those alternate therapies, and I'd somewhat miss the point and throw in a "but, how do I not freak out during a flare?"  "By keeping up with these other therapies."  "But what about when the flare is really bad?"  Etc.  And I felt a little ridiculous, but this has been my life lately.  I've missed a ton of work, can barely function, and am just getting back to the point where I can reliably drive myself to and from work.  I guess the point is that my case isn't that unusual.  Dr. FO has seen tons of us, some of us for really long periods of time, it seems.  I'm not going to die from this, even though I swear, I thought I would at some points during the last few weeks.

Oh, and as predicted, Dr. FO held his position that the Pill did not cause my flare.  Interesting that he's so convinced and I'm so convinced the other way.  Oh, well.  It does suck that I'll have to deal with painful periods every month, instead of once every 10 weeks, but I'll take a few days of cramps over the incapacitating flares. 

I wish we did still have the Pill as our means of birth control, though.  Apparently I'm not a candidate for anything—my RE says that absolutely, under no circumstances should I ever get an IUD.  (I concur).  I don't want to do any other pills with estrogen, and Dr. FO doesn't recommend the progestin options.  I guess there's always vasectomy (I'm sure as hell not going to have more surgery), but that seems so...final.  A little too final for now.

So, the pain plan for now is focused on PT.  My PT wants to try TENS this week, which is some kind of electrical stimulation.  If it reduces my pain, I might get a unit for home use.  Dr. FO also increased my Lyrica dose, so we'll see if that does anything.  He tweaked some of my other meds and I'm happy with how we left things.

So.  Lots more appointments in my future.  PT, biweekly sessions or possibly weekly if my body can handle it.  Psychiatrist for spazzing down lessons (which I had plenty of in my Alice Domar-modeled IF group therapy last year...I am schooled already).  Follow-up with Dr. FO in 6 weeks.  Fun-ish appointments with adoptive couples to help us make some progress in that direction.

I just remembered that I think I wrote a post a while back about a doc telling me to spaz down.  I feel the need to add the disclaimer that the docs aren't using those words; Dr. FO is genuinely trying to help and exploring lots of options with me.  I'm just touchy about them saying meditation etc will heal all ills.  It's in the "just relax" category for me, even though I know there's truth to it in the case of my pain.  I've come SO FAR in reducing my anxiety in the past year and I need lots of credit for that.  Shout out to Prozac, meditating, and friends.

Whew.  So that was that.  Onwards with kicking pain's butt!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rejoining the Land of the Living

I think the pain flare is ending, thank God.  Two weeks of barely hanging on, constantly wondering if the ER would be at least more comfortable, trying to shower regularly and maintain a full-time job...it was exhausting. 

Unable to get in touch with my Dr. Fourth Opinion on Tues, I made the executive decision to stop taking the Pill.  He didn't think it was causing the flare and Dr. Third Opinion hadn't thought my last Pill adventure was the cause for the last bad flare, but the flares happened with uncannily similar timing from the day I started the Pill.  I'm officially done with it for now and done with their professional opinions about that matter.  Hmph.

I started feeling better within a day or two of stopping the Pill, and now I feel almost back to my regular, pre-flare level of yuckiness.  It feels AMAZING.  I ran errands for 3 full hours yesterday and swept my front porch today and have felt the foreign sensation of actually feeling happy.  Who knew my fairly high baseline pain level could feel like such a relief.

I have an appointment with Dr. Fourth Opinion tomorrow and I don't even know where to start with him.  I'm disappointed in how long it takes him to get back to me, and sometimes he gets his nurse to do the call-backs, meaning I can't ask him questions.  I need to know what to do when the pain is so bad I'm considering going to the ER....every day for 2 weeks straight.  I need somebody on my side.

My PT was great this week, though.  I couldn't make it to our session because I was laid up at home, but she facilitated communications with my doctor about how to proceed with treatment.  I don't think her sessions are really to blame for the flares, after all; lots of data point to the Pill instead.

*****
After weeks of not uttering a word about adoption to my husband, I broached the topic again today.  It was so nice to feel like I could talk about it again, like I have the tiny bit of leftover emotional energy to invest in the discussion.  I wasn't able to think about it for weeks—just no emotion to spare.

Right before we left for the beach last month, we met with a local couple who is an excellent adoption resource.  Had a terrific conversation with them and plan to talk with them some more soon.  They told us they'll provide guidance on what to do next, how to proceed with research, which is exactly what we need. 

*****
Worried about getting through this work week since I'm still not completely functional, but at least I have a very understanding boss and a flexible work-from-home policy.  I tell my boss I'm having health issues and he doesn't ask questions...I don't really want to get into the whole dysfunctional woman parts convo with him.

Hope you guys have had a nice weekend!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Survival Mode

So, the last few days happened.  It's been a horrible week.  I made it into work a few hours here and there but made a big dent in my remaining sick hours.

I'm scared.  The pain has been intense, baseline around 7 or 8.  Climbs up to 9 frequently.  Makes me want to go to the hospital to get morphine, but I know that would only be temporary and then they'd send me home again to deal with this for who knows how much longer.

My PT appointment on Wednesday aggravated everything.  She assured me she wouldn't be rough, that everything she did would be gentle and non-inflammatory.  But it wasn't.  She is awesome—super sharp, knowledgeable, and decisive.  And just fun to be around, as fun as someone who mildly tortures you can be.  But she is killing me, inflaming my pain to the point where I miss days of work, and I don't know what to do.  Not going to her leaves me in pain.  Going to her makes the pain worse with the hope that it will speed up the healing process.

It's been hard for me to function normally, so my husband is picking up the slack.  He's been putting meals together, walking the dog, etc.  But it's not enough, and I feel like a brat for saying that.  He picked up some extra work this morning and I was livid when he told me last night.  I need him badly, need him to cook even more, buy more groceries, and start to do some cleaning.  I need him here.  So, we had that discussion.  I hadn't realized how much I wasn't telling him what I needed.

Today I'm trying the "lying perfectly still" technique, moving as minimally as possible to not aggravate my body further.  I've had mixed results with this in the past, so we'll see how it goes.  (ETA:  I suck at lying perfectly still.  I'm doing some PT and other stretches although I'm not convinced they're always good for me.)   In addition to pain both burning and dull, I'm having nausea and headaches, I think as a result of tapering off the amitriptyline.  It is a great combination.

I hate being in survival mode.  There is so much I want to do, even boring stuff like laundry.  I don't know how to make myself better and have no idea when this will end.  When I'm being unrealistic, I can fool myself into thinking I'll be drastically better tomorrow, but then I give myself a reality check.  Big improvements haven't happened in ages.  If I'm being honest with myself, my pain level is the same as it was the week after my surgery in March.  The type of pain is a little different but who knows if one type signals healing more than another.

I'm exhausted.  I had a few minutes this morning when I felt like I could write decent comments to some blogs, but that ability left me quickly. 

Adding insult to injury is side effects from the Pill:  acne, sore boobs, and weight gain.  Or maybe the weight gain is from Lyrica.  Whatever it's from, I'm not a fan.  Weight is not usually an issue for me; lack of appetite is.  Suddenly, I have a great appetite but no ability to exercise it off.  My husband brought home 8 cupcakes last night that someone at work had given him, which does not help my situation.

I don't want to alarm you with how bad the pain is.  It probably sounds like I should call my doctor or get to the ER.  However, I've been going through this for a while and tried that.  I've had CT scans and ultrasounds and nothing life-threatening is going on.  It's just utterly miserable and they're doing all they can to fix me.  The pain shouldn't be as bad as it is, but apparently I'm the freakish outlier who has to deal with it.

Send me good vibes that I at least get a shower today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Make It Stop

Consuming.

That's the word that keeps coming to mind in the past couple of days.  The pain consumes me, eats me up.  Not much is left behind.

Last Wednesday was the best day, pain-wise, that I've had in months.  I went to PT that day and she did "skin rolling," which she said might leave me sore.  I've been in agony since Friday.  I'm not sure if it was the PT or some other thing that did me in.  It's followed the same general 24-hour cycle it's done in the past—mornings are tolerable and afternoons I contemplate going to the ER.  It's reduced me to a monosyllabic, glazed-over zombie the past few days.  Worse than usual.

Sometimes it feels like a horrible stomachache and I try to pacify it with food.  It's become a rather bad habit, feeding an ache that doesn't really need food.  I don't know what it needs.

Right now it feels like my entire pelvis is burning, pain level about an 8.  If I zone out and kinda become one with the pain, I can feel it take over my entire abdomen, burning a line through my core, out my arms, and leaving my head foggy and achy.  My legs have been spared for now.

I'm forcing myself to blog because I need to get out some of my angst.  The thought of composing an email to a friend or talking to a family member is overwhelming...no ability to concentrate on conversation or care about anyone else's problems.

It feels very indulgent, this hyperfocusing on myself.  I know that might sound ridiculous, yeah, I can't control much about the pain.  But when it goes on for 6 solid months, it feels horribly egocentric and my world feels very small. 

I want to make a quick list of things I want to do when I get better, things I'm afraid I won't appreciate or take the opportunity to do once I'm able.  I want to hold myself accountable.  Here goes:  I want to run again.  I want to go to a yoga class.  I want to have my little nieces and nephews over for a slumber party.  I want to walk around the neighborhood.  I want the pharmacist's cashiers to forget my name (ok, not a goal but a wish nonetheless).

I'm doing everything right.  I'm doing my what my PT says, taking soothing baths, meditating, doing diaphragmatic breathing.  It is still hard to keep the panic at bay, and I don't see how anyone could stay calm through this.  It just creeps in, little voices telling me it might not get better, maybe this is the new normal.  Maybe I will always be too sick to raise a child.

I haven't responded to comments from my last post—sorry.  My infertility therapist is actually required by her workplace to have a certain percentage of her patients be IF patients.  I don't feel betrayed or anything; she doesn't really have a choice.  I'm fine with it mostly, just a little sad.

I'm taking the amitriptyline at night.  The nurse recommended experimenting with taking it at dinnertime to see if that helped with drowsiness the next day, and it hasn't.  I think I'm officially done with this med.  I don't think it's helping and the sleepiness is horrible.  I doubt multiple cups of coffee a day is helping the pain.

When I take a pain medication, I get some relief for about an hour.  Tonight I took it around dinnertime and actually talked to my husband.  He's been getting a lot of "don't talk to me but find something for us to eat" the past few days.

I'm scared.  When I feel the pain in new places, when the pain in my core seems to reach up through my chest and into my jaw and teeth, it's hard not to worry. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Somnolence, A Break-up, and Books

Y'all, I'm sleepy.

Side note:  I consciously made myself write "y'all" instead of "you guys" or some other y'all alternative.  My non-Southern college friends cultivated the "y'all" out of me (I'm Southern) but I'm trying to get it back.  I just like the way it sounds.

Back to being sleepy.  The amitriptyline (trycyclic antidepressant) is kicking my butt.  I am SO, so drowsy all the time, but not actually tired.  I don't yawn and can't fall asleep before my normal bedtime.  But when my alarm goes off in the morning, the struggle to stay alert begins.  And it is a fight. 

I'm trying to get in touch with my doctor to see if there's a different med I can try.  I don't know if the amitriptyline is even helping, so maybe he'll just wean me off of it.

*****
My therapist is dumping me.  She tried to soften the blow by saying we'd slowly see each other less over time, that she wasn't making a clean break.  And all the usual "it's not you, it's me" stuff.  Since she specializes in patients seeking infertility treatment, I'm no longer in her wheelhouse.  I think she's required to primarily see infertility patients.  It makes me a little sadder than I expected.  She's really helped me through all of this.

However, my psychiatrist will not be dumping me.  She specializes in pregnancy and women who are nursing, but she has room in her practice for a two-time pregnancy FAIL survivor.  I've been seeing her for medication management, and maybe I'll transition to seeing her for talk therapy, too.

*****
In the past year, I've read several books that are memoirs of infertiles or novels with strong infertility/loss/adoption currents throughout, and some stand out as my favorites.  I'm not too coherent now and am never literary enough to write a proper review, so I'll just list 'em.
  1. Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford.  Ok, this is not a book about infertility, but Melissa Ford is the web hostess of the largest network of infertiles around:  Stirrup Queens.  Her novel is excellent and many passages are simply beautiful, ones I would have highlighted if I'd known how to on my Kindle.
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.  I strongly recommend this to women feeling like no one can relate to their loss.  Edwards explores loss so thoughtfully and she really, truly gets it.
  3. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  Patchett is one of my faves.  She wrote Bel Canto, and while I couldn't decide what I thought about that one, her others have knocked my socks off.  Like Bel Canto, State of Wonder has slowly building suspense.  The settings are so vivid that I felt them, saw them, and smelled them.  The infertility theme in this is subtle at first, but keep reading and you won't regret it.
  4. Run by Ann Patchett.  Two brothers in this novel are adopted, which is an important aspect of the book.  I love Ann Patchett for passages like this:  The ache in his ankle was like an angry conversation coming from another room, something persistent, irritated, abstracted, something you should get up and take care of but for whatever reason you don't.  I connected strongly with that.
  5. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.  I'm on an Ann Patchett kick, can you tell?  This novel is about a woman who goes to a home for unwed mothers in the 1960's.
  6. Good Eggs:  A Memoir by Phoebe Potts.  I picked this up for a couple of bucks at Border's when they were going out of business (sad).   When I got home with it and opened it for the first time, I realized it wasn't a book in the conventional sense.  Instead of text, Potts uses cartoons to tell her infertility story.  She drew me in right away and her personality, wit, and ability to convey emotions.  Loved it.
  7. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.  Another infertility memoir and her story is beautifully told.  Loved it, too.
*****
It turns out that you need to be awake to do almost anything.  Work, drive, blog.  I'm up to three or four cups of coffee a day and it barely touches my sleepiness.  Ugh.  I am reading your blogs and would comment if I could formulate thoughts.  I promise to be a better bloggie friend.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hey...I've Been Here Before

At my infertility support group last year, the therapist had us write down some of our negative thoughts (eg, "Everyone around me is pregnant") and use cognitive restructuring on them (eg, not everyone around you is pregnant—your 60-year-old coworker isn't pregnant).  I'm realizing that I'm in exactly the same place I was a year ago, except instead of infertility dominating my thoughts, it's pain.   Both have a lot of unknowns, an almost complete lack of control, and a loss of faith in your body.   And lots of negative thoughts.

Overgeneralization
Then (whilst TTC): "Everyone around me is pregnant."
Now (with pain): "Everyone around me can work out."

Wishful thinking (I think I made this one up)
Then:  "If I try doing a handstand afterward I'll get pregnant!"
Now:  "If I lie perfectly still for a week the pain will go away!"

Personalization
Then:  "I didn't get pregnant last month because I ate a conventionally grown strawberry/struck the wrong yoga pose/drank a sip of coffee." 
Now:  "I screwed up my recovery by getting the mail/walking the dog/pulling a weed."

Fortune telling:
Then:  "This cycle will be a bust because I only have one follicle."
Now:  "The new physical therapist won't tell me anything new or helpful."

Catastrophizing
Then: "This will never end."
Now: "This will never end."

So, in terms of personal growth, at least I realize I'm having the exact same kinds of thoughts?  Heh.

*****
One of the downsides of not being TTC is not knowing with laserlike precision when my period will come.  I mean, I know on my Outlook calendar where I marked CD1 for my last period, but I don't know when I ovulated.  I do know I'm well into PMS territory.  I think my pain is picking up in preparation for Aunt Flo, making me even grumpier than usual.

I'm trying a monophasic Pill after this period arrives.  When I took a triphasic one a few months ago, I got really weepy with all the pain, so I'm not too hopeful that this hormonal experiment will work. 

The super fun experiment with my moods will most likely occur when I'm at the beach next week with my family.  Lucky them! 

*****
I wrote the above post last week—I'm at the beach now, which explains why I haven't been blogging and commenting.  I'm also trying to get ready for a trip for work the day after I get back. 

I won't start the Pill until we're back from the beach so my family is being spared the mood swings.  Or at least they are being spared the Pill-related mood swings...they're all my own right now.  And Pain's.  Everyone is at the beach this morning except me.  I'm hanging out at the beach house on CD2, with AF cramps added to my regularly-scheduled abdominal pain.  Good times.  Being here in pain beats being at work in pain, at least.

When I get back and work slows down a bit, I'll tell you about the adoption information session we attended.  And about my great new physical therapist. 

I just realized that my post title also reflects how yet again, my period has come in all its painful glory while I'm on vacation.  Thanks for screwing up another vacation, period! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prediction: I Will Have Pain Tomorrow

After my surgery on 3/9, which I just realized was the ninth time my uterus had undergone an invasive procedure, I was optimistic.  In severe pain, yes, but certain that my pain would get better tomorrow.  Or after the balloon was removed.  Or by my next period. 

I've been at this long enough to realize that tomorrow is not the day that everything will suddenly improve.  I will be in pain tomorrow.  It might be less than today's, or more, but it will be there.

The ever-optimistic part of me gets faked out every morning, though, because I always feel best then.  Following is a typical weekend day.  I experimented a bit with Paint so you'll have to endure my attempts at artwork.  I realize it looks like a 5-year-old drew it.

7 a.m.:  Wake up feeling pretty good.  All I need is some coffee and I'll be raring to go!  I will do productive things like cleaning the floor and washing the dog!!  (had not figured out how to draw thought bubbles yet)

10 a.m.:  I will not be cleaning the floor. 

noon:  ...or washing the dog.  The afternoon is looking bleak, at least for me.  The dog is happy.  And on the upside, I suddenly grew hair.

3 p.m.:  My pain meds are completely inadequate.  Lie around listlessly and complain to my husband.  You can imagine what the stick figure would look like.
6 p.m.:  Dinner and meds revive me somewhat.
10 p.m.: Severe pain.  Must go to sleep to escape for a few hours.

That's pretty much every day.  Well, at least weekend days—a stick person sitting at a desk was too difficult to draw.

The pain has changed locations a lot; it's tricksy like that.  At first the worst area was burning below my ribcage.  Then it became a dull pain lower in my abdomen, and now my entire lower abdomen is on fire.  Lately the burning pain has been so severe that I feel it in the center of my body, where it radiates to weird places, like my lips.  They'll feel like they're pulsating.

This probably sounds very depressing, and it is sometimes.  But I'm ok.  I've found ways to block out the pain and get on with my life.  I'm not always successful, and when it's bad, I step back a bit and take a breather.

I don't want to end on a sad note....how about those Olympics?  So excited that track and field starts today.  I love watching swimming but I love running even more.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let's Get Physical

I've been remiss to have blogged about everything in baby-obtaining news but not to have described exactly, in excruciating detail, what the pain since my last uterine surgery feels like.  You're just dying to know, right?  So here we go, medication side effects and all.

I think this new medicine, amitriptyline, is helping my pain.  Hold your congratulations until it stands the test of time; I might have jinxed it.  The downside of this med is that it's also making me super drowsy.  I almost didn't make it through a meeting this morning without nodding off.  Not good.

Although I think the medicine is helping some, I still have my moments.  Like right now.  The pain is burning on the surface of my skin on my entire abdomen, from under my ribs downward.  I hadn't experienced burning pain (other than heartburn) before the surgery in March; if you haven't, count yourself lucky.  It's pretty awful.  Sometimes the burning pain radiates up through my chest and pulsates down my arms.  Awesome.

The pain is also unique in that it sometimes feels like hunger.  I'm very well fed these days, thanks to Lyrica making me eat everything in sight, so I don't think I'm actually hungry.  But whenever the burning under my ribs mimics bad hunger, I'll do anything to make it go away.  So I tend to eat, which is not really helping the whole expanding waistline issue.

I'm not a fan of the whole "abdomen on fire" feeling, but I'm afraid to take anything else this afternoon.  Something is making me nauseated and possibly something else is making me drowsy, and I don't want to throw another pill into the mix.  This sucks.  I have another post half-written about gloomy thoughts that come to me when the pain is bad, but that will be a post for another day.

My therapist mentioned at our last appointment that I need to find things to focus on other than the pain.  I quickly let her know that I do this all the time.  Sometimes I get so distracted that I forget why I'm suddenly irate at my husband for forgetting to take out the trash.  Then I check in with the pain and it's bad.  Oh...right.  That's why Mean Wife came out.

I do have some positive news, though.  I have been working out.  For real.  I mean, not any crazy long workouts or anything, but I'm sitting on my bike trainer for 10 minutes per day and actually doing a little pedalling.  I even did a tiny bit of yoga yesterday and my legs are sore today.  Loving the sore muscles.  Have not felt that in a long, long time.

I have bits of other posts written up but can't seem to finish them.  I'm too sleepy.  All I can write about this afternoon is the sensation of pain, meds for pain, and med side effects.  Fascinating, I know.  Are you wondering why you read this far?  :)

And to continue with the litany of medical problems, I'm having a lot of trouble believing that the PT is working.  Yeah, the pain is a bit better now, but it never seems to correlate with how much or how little PT I'm doing.  I took a week or two off and couldn't tell any difference.  I want to think it's the reason I'm improving and that my nerves are learning how to be normal again, but I just can't.  One week until I see the new PT.

Seriously, the burning throughout my entire pelvic region can go away.  Please.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why It's Better Not to Count

I've always loved counting.  This was particularly annoying to my family on vacations to Florida, when counting mosquito bites and lizards was a favorite pastime.  I was so cute...hee.

In the vein of counting things for no good reason, I came up with some figures for my recent medical drama, starting with surgery on 3/9:
  • 1 surgery
  • 4 specialists' opinions about my craptastic recovery
Hmm, the number of specialists is really subjective.  I didn't count two RE fellows or the urgent care physician.  Now, let's add up appointments:
  • 10 doctors' appointments
  • 1 ER visit
  • 1 urgent care visit
  • 5 PT sessions
  • 3 acupuncture sessions
  • 3 abdominal massages
  • >10 phone calls with doctors
I am so sick of talking to people about my health or lack thereof.

I am intentionally not tabulating the number of therapist or psychiatrist appointments because I'm afraid to count them up.  I don't feel like I'm going all the time, but there are a lot of appointments when I look back at my calendar.

I've had a few diagnostic procedures:
  • 1 CT scan
  • 4 ultrasounds
  • 5 urinalyses
These numbers are only since March.  If I go back farther, say between November and March, I had 2 saline infusion sonograms (3D sonos) and 3 hysteroscopies.  How about some drugs:
  • 10 pain-related medications
  • dozens of trips to the pharmacy
They've memorized my name and birth date at the pharmacy.  And now for the really depressing ones.
  • 71 sick hours used at work; total >10 days
  • >$7000 spent for medical care so far this year
So.  Depressing.  Maybe counting is for the birds.

*****

Mr. Detour is out of town for 9 days visiting his parents and I panicked before he left, worried that I would spend every night feeling lonely in a quiet house with no one but the dog to talk to.  So I did the reasonable thing and made plans with every friend in a 30-mile radius, leaving me zero time alone to do critical things like recharge and do laundry.  And sleep. 

But it's been pretty fun.  This week, my social calendar includes:
  • watching a kid's triathlon that my niece and nephew raced in
  • eating two brunches with friends (breakfast food is THE BEST, am I right?)
  • visiting a friend's house who recently adopted a baby
  • watching a movie (Magic Mike, which was pretty dumb but had good eye candy)
  • receiving a massage (social because a good friend is my massage therapist)
Phew.  No plans tonight, though, so I will be crashing.

*****
My blog is having an identity crisis.  I'm going to update my header but haven't figured out how I want it yet.  Hence the uber boring one I currently have.  Blogger doesn't provide a lot of creative options.

I also changed my blog name from "Detour" to "Detour to Motherhood."  Not a huge change because "to motherhood" was already in the url.

Hope you guys have a good week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dr. Fourth Opinion Throws a Curve

Hi there, those of you who are ICLWers new to my blog!  I'm a 35-year-old infertile, TTC #1 with two miscarriages and an inhospitable uterus.  My focus lately is severe pelvic pain that's been around since a surgery 4 months ago.  My husband and I are starting to think seriously about adoption.

Today was the big day.  My appointment with Dr. Fourth Opinion, the man who has all my hopes and dreams riding on his shoulders.  Poor guy. 

He was really great.  Spent a ton of time with me, really listened, had an excellent bedside manner, and seemed very competent.  Also young.  No offense to any young'uns around here, but this guy was probably born in the '80's and it makes me feel old to be at the age where my doctors are younger than I am.

He agreed with everything my previous doctors have said about the causes of this pain.  I don't know if I'm really describing it accurately, but it has to do with pelvic floor muscle spasms.  The spasms cause trigger points in my upper abdomen, giving me horrible burning pain below my ribs.  The pain migrates around and is now worst in my lower pelvis, where the pain is both dull and burning. Burning is symptommatic of neuropathic pain, which I admit I don't entirely understand.  Isn't all pain related to nerves firing?

Anyway, I asked Dr. Fourth Opinion The Big Question, namely what is his prognosis, particularly around a possible pregnancy.  Am I foolish for considering pregnancy after all of my body's freak-outs?  His answer terrified me.  He said my prognosis was great, that he expects a full recovery, and a pregnancy would probably not make anything worse.  Shit.

Just when I think I've got it all figured out, Dr. F.O. throws a curveball.  Part of me really wants to be done with this chapter, as you all know.  But on the two days a month that I'm feeling reasonably good, I think about pregnancy.  I want it.  I wasn't expecting the desire to grow a baby to switch off entirely, at least during my childbearing years, but when a physician tells me that it might be possible....I pretty much ovulate on the spot.

So, that's about it.  Dealing with lots of mixed feelings.  My big family-building decisions need to be put on hold for now until I really start getting better.  I'll continue to research adoption as much as possible, also keeping in mind that the biological route is not out of the question.  Grr.  Back to in-betweenness where the main thing I have to do is wait.  Wait and heal.

Dr. F.O. added a tricyclic antidepressant to my medication cocktail.  He said his clinic likes to use tricylics and Cymbalta to treat the types of pain I'm having.  I can stay on Prozac, which is very good because withdrawing from it would give me a 3-month hangover.

I will also be seeing a new physical therapist whom Dr. F.O. highly recommends.  I was feeling wishy-washy about mine, anyway, so I'll look forward to seeing someone else.  I mean, as much as you can look forward to the eleventieth medical appointment you've had since the beginning of the year.

I imagine some people reading this are like, "Just freakin adopt and be done with it."  I'm even telling myself to just adopt.  I KNOW.  I know and also don't know from lack of experience how difficult the adoption process can be, but there is something very attractive about starting a different difficult process.  One that doesn't involve my body.  And yet, it is so expensive.  Depressingly expensive.  And difficult.  I can't even begin to express all my thoughts about adoption vs TTC right here, right now.

Phew.  This felt really good to write.  Your comments about my last few posts have been so helpful.  Some of you have said that choosing to adopt is not necessarily closing the door on a biological child, and I appreciate that reminder.  Starting to research adoption is bringing me so much hope, so many daydreams about nurseries, and I'm so lucky to have your support along the way.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NURSERY, Newborns, and Annoyances

You can't talk about domestic adoption for long without someone bringing up The Photobook.  This is what an adoption agency shows a birthmom when she's choosing an adoptive family, so it needs to be exceptional.  I'm totally overwhelmed by it, but a friend in the know emailed me some great tips.    Lots of happiness, love, and uniqueness need to be projected or you won't get chosen for many years.  No pressure or anything.  (Those weren't her exact words...I might be exaggerating.)

Somewhere along the way, amidst tips about showing how awesome you are as a couple, my friend mentioned that it wouldn't hurt to show a photo of the nursery if we have one.  The NURSERY.  OMG.  The email was chock full of serious, helpful advice, and NURSERY is what I can't get out of my head.  Must. Decorate. Nursery.

Of course, we haven't even decided for sure that we're doing adoption.  We have NO idea what agency we'd use, or how to start a home study.  But now is a good time to be thinking about nursery paint colors, right?  Because I can decorate.   I can paint a wall, hang a picture, and make a bed.  Finding the right agency to connect me with my child is a whole other ballgame and slightly terrifying.

In the vein of avoiding huge decisions like choosing an agency, I took a first step in decorating the nursery.  I dug a couple of huge teddy bears out of the closet and set them on a rocking chair with a cute baby-appropriate quilt.  They're sitting where I can see them as I walk by and I've been noticing my feelings about them.  They aren't freaking me out too much in a "wow, you're overconfident that you're going to have a baby" way, so they're staying there for now.

Will we be part of a nursery?

*****

My new baby niece is so precious.  We were over at my brother-in-law's house for a total of 5 hours visiting on Sunday, and I held the baby for approximately 4 of those hours.  I generously let the mom hold her some, and even let my husband hold her for a tiny bit.  I was hoping that my husband's holding her would speed up his manological clock.  It's about time he felt some urgency, right? 

After I'd gotten my fill of 2-week-old baby adorableness (NOT—give me more babies to hold, STAT), we returned home to news that our neighbors had adopted a newborn baby girl.  It was a surprise to us, although not entirely unexpected; we'd speculated for years that they were fellow infertiles. 

On Monday night, we inflicted ourselves on the new parents to see the baby and share infertility war stories.  Baby was gorgeous and they filled us in on their adoption journey.  WOW.  I do not know how they persevered because they really went through hell trying to adopt, and that was after several years of infertility. 

We've been neighbors with these people for 4 years, had them over for beers numerous times, and didn't realize they going through infertility (beyond our private speculations).  It makes me sad.  Someone really needs to come up with an infertile handshake that we'd use to identify one another.

So, yeah.  Two newborns in 2 days and I've got baby fever BAD.

*****
I am totally seeking validation in my decision to stop TTC.  People (not you guys) keep reacting as if I'm making a rash decision based on inadequate data.  I get what they're saying to a point, but People, have you not been around the past 4.5 months when I had severe pain every single day?  Have you not heard about the five different pain medications I'm taking because none are effective enough on their own?  Have you not seen my body morph from fairly athletic to soft and rounded?  Have you somehow missed seeing me shuffle around painfully?

I'm irritated because this morning, my PT refused to offer an opinion about my prognosis in terms of pregnancy.  She said we wouldn't know anything until I got better from this, just wait and see how it goes, ask your physician, blah blah blah. 

Ok, totally not helpful.  You are the person probably most intimately aware about my condition, so give me an opinion!  Yes or no!  Don't tell me I'm a crazy person for thinking that biological kids are out of the question at this point.

Obviously, I'm struggling with being in limbo.  I want decisions to be made, action to be taken, and a baby to land in our laps.  I'm sick of this waiting crap.

Update (I wrote the PT stuff yesterday):  my sister reminded me that my PT doesn't know (or has forgotten) about all the TTC hardships we've experienced, which partly explains her not understanding why we'd stop now.  She seems to see my case as being based around my last hysteroscopy, which is only part of the picture.

Most of my stress can probably be attributed to dread about my upcoming doctor's appointment with Dr. Fourth Opinion.  If you count the urgent care doctor who tried to troubleshoot with me, this next appointment is the fifth doctor's opinion, but who's counting.  Anyway, totally dreading this next appointment.  Dreading the unknown; will he give me new information about my condition or just reiterate everything I've already heard, making this a waste of a $40 copay and my morning?  Will he agree to take on the pain management aspect of my case?  And, most importantly, what does he think carrying a child in my irritable abdomen would do to me?

Maybe I'm most afraid of not getting any answers.  I hate limbo.  Appointment is Monday.

****

And now, a baby birdie photo.  These are house finches who grew up on my front porch.  They're huge and I expect most of them to fledge (leave the nest) today.  I am not kidding, our yard is an aviary.  This year, on our 0.5-acre lot, we've had visible nests of house finches, bluebirds, cardinals, wrens, and mockingbirds.  So cool.
They tend to sit with their beaks open when it's really hot.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where I'm Supposed to Be

"You are exactly where you're supposed to be." 

My Dove chocolate wrapper just told me that.  Whoa.  After announcing to you guys, some family and friends, and myself that I'm done with trying, I appreciated the reassurance from Dove. :)

So, yeah.  Last week was a little crazy.  I can't remember what tipped me from "maybe I'll try again" to "no way in hell," and it felt weird putting it all out there.  But it also felt like a great release.  I've found that all kinds of good stuff happens when you open up.  Like finding people to talk about adoption with.  After telling my sister, she met an adoptive parent this week who is super pumped about adoption and would love to talk with me about it.  Yay!

The person who was probably most surprised about my decision is my husband.  Maybe before this week, I hadn't communicated clearly enough that this was coming.  That the pain has made me realize I'm really not cut out to grow a child.  He's reluctant to accept defeat and wants a doctor's opinion about adding a gestation to my pelvic woes.  He also thinks I'm just saying this because I'm miserable right now, and I'll change my mind once my body calms down.  It's possible but I doubt it.  I'm pretty close with my body, and it's told me in no uncertain terms that it doesn't want a uterine occupant.

Like I said before, it's not all about the 4 months of hellish abdominal pain, either.  I kinda wanted to stop trying after my second miscarriage last fall.  I don't want to ever go through that hell again.  I'm not convinced that my uterus is any more inhabitable than it was when it kicked that baby out.  Also, although one miscarriage doesn't increase your odds of another, two miscarriages start making you more likely than the average woman to miscarry.  Avoiding pregnancy started sounding very appealing at last fall.

I had some bad moments last week after my announcement, though.  Moments where I doubted that we'd ever have a child, that we'd never agree on an agency/birthmother/child.  But I think we'll get there.

In general, I feel happier than I've felt in a long time.  I keep thinking my body will reward me for the happy hormones I'm allowing it to produce, all the "I'M RELAXED SO YOU'D BETTER RELAX, DAMN IT" vibes coming its way.  But the pain is still bad.  I played hooky from PT for a while because I felt like it was making the pain worse, but I've started back up again.  I'm going into it a little tougher than before, more Jillian Michaels than Rodney Yee (yoga guru).  I'm due to call my pain doctor again this week and can't wait to interact with the oh-so-helpful triage nurse again. Fun times.

I feel like I've taken back my body and it feels amazing.

It's also nice to have a goal again.  I'm happiest when I have something to work toward, and there's much work to be done on the adoption front.  We know that if we chose to adopt, we'd do domestic, but we don't know a lot beyond that.  I went to a couple of adoption seminars last year so I'm hip to the lingo, but know we wouldn't use either of those agencies.

Hope you guys had a nice weekend!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

I've started and deleted this post three or four times because I'm not sure how to say this, but I think I've reached the end of the road with trying to conceive.

Instead of feeling bereaved, I feel light.  My husband and I are talking about adoption and I'm excited to see what it holds for us. 

Oddly enough, I'm not grieving.  I think it's because I've already grieved this loss for a very long time.  Most recently, miscarriage #2 felt like our last chance slipping away.  After that, my heart really wasn't in TTC, but I thought I'd try for at least one more pregnancy.  If I miscarried again, that would be it. 

Then the chronic pain started and changed everything.  I kept thinking the pain would be gone tomorrow, or after my period ended, or at least by the time of my 3D sonogram.  But 4 months later, I don't feel much closer to getting better. 

Several month ago, sometime around miscarriage #2, a post by a childfree blogger (forgive me for forgetting whom) resonated with me.  She said that at one point, she would have given her right arm for a baby.  I found myself nodding my head because that was me.  Up until around the time of my second miscarriage, I would have given my right arm for a child.  And like that blogger, I wouldn't anymore.

I never imagined myself saying this, but in some ways, the pain has been a gift.  It's reminded me to value my health, to cherish my ability to do yoga and take walks.  Not knowing when I will get better is terrifying, but once I do, I'll do everything in my power to stay that way.

I never would have predicted that this is what the end of this phase looks like.  I always thought it would involve several IUIs, a couple of IVFs, or more miscarriages.  But my pain, the little minx, brought an entirely different way to find the end.

I reserve the right to change my mind about all of this, but I'm pretty sure this is it.  I can see my husband and me being happy together in a number of situations, and I really see how lucky we are to have each other.

I feel like a different person lately—one who doesn't scowl at pregnant women.  Yesterday, we went to the hospital to see my new niece and I was fine.  I can't wait to see her again, actually.  Who am I?  Last year at this time when the niece's older brother was born, I wanted nothing to do with him.  I would ask my therapist how to avoid holding him.

I'm sure we have a tough road ahead of us, but I refuse to make it any tougher on my body.  I feel empowered knowing that my body will not be my RE's experiment anymore.  No more drugs, surgeries, or miscarriages.  No more months of mourning my period's arrival.  I will be healthy for my child(ren).