No magic

Had a very candid conversation with the new OBGyn yesterday and there’s just no magic “thing” that will ensure a pregnancy. Logic has been barking this fact at me for years but my heart won’t listen. So to finally hear it very matter-of-factly was a bittersweet blessing, I guess.

So all my stessing over whether I would like this new doctor was really pointless. The fact was, I liked her. She’s blunt, but caring. But as one of my neighbors who sees her says, “don’t expect any hugs.” I was fine with that. In fact, maybe this is what I need to move on. A reality check.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom though. I’m still having somewhat normal cycles and even if the length wavers here and there, she’s not concerned. She seems to be in agreement that if I’m still ovulating, there’s always a chance. There just isn’t anything special I can do in the meantime. It is what it is. When I asked her opinion on my tests, AMH, etc, she said some people’s bodies just age quicker than others.

We did discuss the endometriosis issue and she broke the “tie” as to whether having another laparoscopy would be helpful. She agreed with the RE that if I’m in unbearable pain, we can take care of it. If it’s for the hope of improving fertility, it’s unproven to help at all. We also talked about the large fibroid and she agreed that leaving it be is best for now. Again, if we were to have surgery, it would compromise my uterus too much. It’s the lesser of two evils leaving it be. But if my periods are getting worse, it could be to blame. Just like the endo, when I get to the point where I can’t deal anymore, we’ll do something about it, but that something would likely be the end of ttc, so for now I’ll deal.

In some ways I felt a relief like this is my signal to move on, live my life, do other things without worry of interferring with ttc. But in other ways, it still stings. The finality is creeping in. In a strange turn of events, while I was at this appointment, I got a call from my physical therapist’s office that they had two cancellations this week and that I could take one of the sessions.

Guess marathon wins. I’ll focus on that for now. When I cross that finish line, I’ll be 40. We’ll see what happens then.

Tug-o-war

I’ve had two goals that have both increased in urgency lately. Or at least it seems that way. It couldn’t be because I turn 40 in two months (and one day), could it?

My marathon training has been a little sub-par. I ran a half at the end of May and have since been struggling a little with getting my mileage where it needs to be. It was super disheartening to have a ten-mile training run just two weeks after my half, nearly tear me apart. I wanted to lop off my leg, it was so bad. So I figured it was still early enough in the schedule to tone down training a little, to make sure I could heal before getting to the weeks of big mileage. I started with physical therapy to check the IT band issue that always seems to plague me. Unfortunately, his schedule has been jam-packed with no sign of getting in right away, so I resumed the class that he teaches. At least it’s something.

Then I went back to my sports med doctor to follow-up after my third back injection. It’s really frustrating knowing that it will be almost a year of disc/sciatica pain at the end of this month, with a sporadic IT band issue thrown in for shits and giggles, just when I’m starting to get back into a running groove. We discussed the option of a booster injection, even though they usually like to keep it to three shots. But since the first two were sort of a waste, not being injected in the right spot, he feels like one more from the new doc might help. So I need to decide if I’m still doing this marathon, and then when to strategically time this shot. If I play my cards right, it could get me through training and race day. But as my doctor pointed out, this is just masking the problem, not fixing it. My body should have healed this injury by now, and it hasn’t. Another big fail from my uncooperative body. No surprise there.

Then we discussed surgery. I do not want surgery but then I start to wonder about all the implications of this disc problem. What if it really is interfering with some miracle conception/pregnancy? What if I actually did get pregnant with a nagging bulging disc pressing on my nerve? Then what happens? It’s hard to really think about this because the reality of it happening is still pretty slim. But what if? I’m certainly not going for surgery before attempting a marathon, so do I consider it afterward? Right before winter so I can have plenty of time to recover before wanting to run in the spring? Does this mean I go back on the pill for a while? I’ll be 40 years old, what will that even do to me and my wacko hormones? It’s sad that I can’t even do the one thing that tries to keep my mind off ttc nonsense.

And then there’s my other “goal.” The one I’ve been trying to achieve for the past 4.5 years. To be honest, I don’t even know if I’m ovulating anymore and with more and more issues going on, I don’t know if I even want it anymore. I think I do, but I’ve grown numb. Or maybe that’s my sciatica talking. Today, after waiting months for an appointment, I’m finally seeing my new OB/GYN. I was so sad to move on from my OB but insurance dictated the change. I remember when I made the call for the appointment. I was desperate. I was in the middle of trying to decide if it’s worth another laparoscopy as my former OB felt it would help and my RE was dead-against it. My cycles and periods were horrific and I just wanted it for the pain relief and if there was any sliver of truth it could help fertility, then bonus. Now that my cycles magically seem more manageable (probably as I creep toward menopause), I wonder if I even need the new OB to be the tie-breaker. I will certainly bring it up though.

I don’t even know where to begin. How do I explain my history quickly in one visit, while the main reason I’m there is for my annual? I hope she looks at my history and I’ve heard she’s a really good doctor who specializes in fertility issues, so that’s good. So why am I not as excited about this? I’ve waited months. I just feel so defeated. Physically, mentally, reproductively. I really hope she can help. I hope she lets me run my marathon, too. This should be interesting.

My two goals couldn’t be any more mismatched, along with two potential surgeries to consider, one for each goal. Should be interesting.

Disaster from the waist down

I’ve always told myself that if my bum ovaries don’t want to cooperate, then I’ll just keep up with running and training for races. With my first race of the season under my belt, I was planning to continue on with my training in the hopes I’ll do a full marathon this fall. That was until this past Saturday. The training group was slated to run 10 miles, a distance I actually enjoy when I’m feeling strong. But I was stupid. I decided to try and run without my knee brace. I thought how will I ever know whether or not I still need the darn thing if I keep relying on it like some security blanket. I’d prefer to run without it. One less thing to chafe my body on long runs!

Big mistake. And it didn’t help that the course we ran was a big loop so if you get about halfway out and decide you can’t make it back, you can turn around and head back the five miles you just ran, or keep pushing forward through the five miles ahead of you. Either way you end up back at your car with the mission of running 10 miles completed. My knee started feeling a little bit tweaky just before mile 3, but nothing that seemed alarming. At the three-mile marker, I stopped at chatted with one of the coaches and debated jumping on the half-marathon course to play it safe. But I really wanted this, so I kept going. Then starting at mile 5 and every mile after, I had to stop and walk and stretch my leg. The other runners in the group were so nice, stopping to ask if I was ok. I felt bad that I just couldn’t stick around long enough with any of them to carry on a conversation while we ran, hoping it would be a nice distraction. It was a beautiful, scenic course to run, too, but I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

Then around mile 8, I found myself on a trail hill. I walked. No, I hobbled. I grunted. I tried not to cry. I could feel angry tears welling up and I wanted to scream. Not from the pain but from the fact that the only thing that keeps me from dwelling about my infertility was being stripped away from me with every step. When those thoughts came racing back as I stood in the woods, I was so angry with God. So angry with myself for not using the knee brace. So angry that I took on way too much physically at work, without having any time for my stretching exercises, or my yoga class. So angry that my back injections probably didn’t work as well as they should. I was angry that the one thing I was setting out to do with my goal of running a marathon would likely be over. Just like making a baby.

I finally got down the hill and very gingerly ran a slow, steady pace and completed my 10 miles. The rest of the day, I could barely walk. I finally caved and took one of my NSAIDs that I used to use for my sciatica/leg inflamation and it took the edge off. I took one the next night as well and will plan to see my physical therapist tonight. Figures I have a 5K on Friday night that I signed up for months ago.

***

In other news, we made it through another Father’s Day. Actually, it was quite nice, considering we have it a little rough in the “dad department.” We visited my dad at the VA home and spent some time outside there with family on what was a really beautiful day. Afterward, we went to the cemetery for my husband’s father. It was the first time I’ve gone because it was also the first time he’s been back since the burial almost twenty years ago. I’m very proud that he decided to go and was honored to be at his side when he did.

***

And in other news, we learned about yet another 35+ miracle. Truly. They were “one and done,” on the pill no less, and completely shocked. It makes you think about what it must be like to be surprised and completely caught off guard. The way it should be with this sort of thing. Well, maybe not so much if you’re on the pill. But anyway, another story from my “people” to give another glimmer of false hope that this could someday happen for others my age who continue to wait.

And just when I thought about all the great things we experienced this weekend, thinking maybe some great miracle could still come along telling us it’s our time, I realized those stupid NSAIDs I took were the ones that came with the warning that they WILL mess up ovulation. Fantastic.

I really am a disaster from the waist down.

35-39

There’s been many tough age brackets in my life. Teen years come to mind, or the 20s where where people often split their time between partying and finding a job, or the early 30s where people should start to settle down, have a family and/or a rewarding career. But I think the toughest age bracket of all for me has been ages 35-39, the one I’ve spent the last five years documenting on this blog.

Coincidentally, still being a relatively new runner, this also has been the same age group I’ve checked off every time I signed up for a race. Which is fitting in some ways, as my life has been feeling more and more like a marathon with each passing day. One with a finish line that’s so far out of reach that I’m getting tired of “running.”

I started trying to conceive at the ripe old age of 35. And two months before my 36th birthday, I started running. It started off as something to try for exercise and losing weight when nothing else worked, and to my surprise, it turned into something that was so much more. It cleared the mind. It helped me cope. But in recent times, it’s started to make me feel old. Injuries, back issues, leg issues that may or may not be caused by running and a mind that has been filled with “can’t” have emerged.

I’ve run three half-marathons with the third and most recent being my worst. I had to walk. A lot. My sister, who is in the same age bracket as me, came in 15th out of 127. I was 85th. I made a joke to her that I needed to find a new age bracket and the reality is, I’ll soon have my wish. It really got me thinking.

In some ways it’s interesting that I started both of these potentially life-changing things at the same time, at the same age, and while both are failing me at the moment, I thought one would eventually prevail. I had started to make peace with the several rounds of Clomid, 2 IUIs, surgeries and procedures for both of us, 4 IVFs and every single thing we’ve tried, like vitamins, supplements, chiropractor, acupuncture, yoga, diet changes, cleanses, etc. because someone else swore that’s what worked for them. We finally started to feel like we could move on after working to recover financially from the thousands of dollars that all of the above set us back, keeping us from living life.

I was starting to learn that sometimes time does heal wounds and I felt like we were there. Right. There.

But as more and more couples we know our age continue to successfully get pregnant, I don’t think the sting will ever completely go away. I always found myself cheering for the 35-39 age group when it came to fleeting fertility. Always. Those folks gave us hope. But as I stare 40 in the face, it’s this very age group that now hurts me the most. It’s like a false hope. Anyone under the age of 35, I’ve just come to expect the announcements, even though infertility can affect any age. But it’s when someone my age becomes pregnant, it really surprises people, like defying the laws of nature or something. Like there’s something even extra joyous about it, squeezing in right before time runs out. It seems I can no longer relate to anyone, when my age puts me into the it-will-take-a-miracle category that so many others our age seem to somehow overcome. It’s a strange place to be. It’s like I should have my very own category or something. The I’m doing my own thing category.

The reality is, I’ll be rolling out of this age bracket soon and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. I can’t fix my ovaries. I can’t stop the aging process. All I can do is take care of myself and be healthy and strong, inside and out. As for running, moving into a new age bracket won’t make me any faster or the competition any weaker. It just is what it is. Another year older. Another bracket. Perhaps there is a finish line for part of my life. Perhaps it’s time to let running “win.” Perhaps it’s onto the marathon. For real. One of my many bucket list items for my new age bracket.

Back injection #3

Went for my third back injection today and in a moment where ttc wasn’t even on my radar, there were two lovely blunders. All I want is to be pain free and as the nurse walked me back to prep me for the procedure, her very first question was, “do you still get periods?”

I’m sorry, what? How old does she think I am? I’m not even fricking forty yet!

I told her I did and she went to get me a cup to pee in. Ahh yes the obligatory pregnancy test. After handing her my pee I went to get changed into my gown to await the IV prep. She comes back and says, “You’ll be happy to know you’re not pregnant.”

You’ll be happy to know you’re not pregnant?

Is it because I’m old? She already mistook me for being in menopause. Who is she to assume we’ve had kids already and are done having kids in our old age? Do I give off the “no kids” vibe which makes her assume we don’t want any? The thing is, I didn’t even have the energy to tell her otherwise. I have no fight left in me. We don’t have kids and we won’t. I’ll be in menopause soon according to my apparent appearance. I just mumbled “ummm” and left it at that.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to be wheeled back to a room where a giant needle would get shoved into my back. Anything would have been better than what I just encountered. Within a few minutes they gave me something to relax, which put me in a much better place. No cares in the world, the way I wish things could be from here on out.

More on that thought later.

NIAW 2014

NIAW 2014 edited

It’s that weird week where Administrative Professionals Day falls within National Infertility Awareness Week and for a brief moment I am sad that I am still a “childless secretary” and then it passes. It’s actually getting better with time. Each year is proving to be less bitter than the last so that’s good. I decided to be a little more brave with the NIAW awareness and quickly made up a banner/cover for my facebook page. (I blurred my name out for this blog because I really didn’t want to put my last name on here.)

I was a little nervous about the photo for a few reasons. It puts US out there. Like really out there. For those who wondered why we don’t have kids, well, there it is. For those who knew we’ve been trying but didn’t know to what lengths we pushed, there it is. For those who thought we tried IVF but not knowing we actually tried four times, there it is. Out there. And while I didn’t do it for response or pity, it was interesting to see how it was received. It was liked by 3 neighbors, one of which went thru IVF and succeeded, another who had a surprise pregnancy at age 40; 2 former coworkers, one of which went thru IVF successfully and the other whose daughter experienced loss but later was successful; a currently very pregnant friend who I went to school with during the height of my infertility testing, and her employer who I interned with, who is very spiritual person, and lastly, the hubs liked it, which was sweet.

I had a few friends who chose to speak to me via private message, including a cousin who wants to get together for a drink and chat and told me she prays for us daily. I had a neighbor who told me it was one of those “is it weird to like this since you are suffering through this or should I like it because of the awareness?” things. I said I know, it’s a weird gray area type thing to post. And then there were those who I’ve known for a really long time who remain silent, which always baffles me. But just knowing people are now aware has been a good thing. It shows our strength. It may have been one slightly difficult post for someone to stumble on, but for those who are currently dealing or have dealt with infertility, it’s a whole lot easier than sifting through all the child-oriented posts and photos every single day. One photo, one week, more awareness. I think folks can handle it.

Little surprises along the way

My blog posts have been lagging again so I’ll do another update on a variety of things going on.  There’s been a bunch of little surprises, both good and not so good lately. 

First, last weekend I really struggled with going to a design event that I was supposed to help plan.  I say “supposed to” because things have gotten so hectic with other things in my life that I feel like I really dropped the ball and left the rest of the committee of one, do the heavy lifting.  She’s an amazing student and had so many great ideas that my old self felt like I’d be getting in the way of her momentum.  I helped day of, but not a whole leading up. So I really worried about showing up that day, wondering if people would be like there’s the lady who was a bum, even though I alluded to what’s been going on with my dad. 

I was so glad I went.  First, it was at a firm that my former boss always tells me if I want in, she might be able to help as she knows the owner well.  It’s an exciting but scary, scary thought when I allow myself to go there.  I’ve been out of school for two years now and other than helping family pick out a few paint colors, I haven’t been doing much with design at all.  There’s no way I have a portfolio even worthy of looking at right now.  But, I will file this connection in my back pocket until I’m ready to take the leap.  The visit did get the gears turning though. 

But the biggest thing about last Saturday’s event that literally gave me chills was when a lady attending the event overheard someone ask me how my dad was doing.  I started to explain about his FTD diagnosis and she chimed in that her dad has a similar type of dementia, Lewy Bodies.  I could not believe it!  We ended up sitting and trading stories for the next half hour.  Turns out she lives in the same county as me so we exchanged contact info for whenever we want to grab coffee and chat or vent or support one another.  So that, in a way, was good.

Monday, was a little more difficult.  My sister and I met with a realtor to list dad’s house.  It’s such a weird feeling to do this.  Almost feels like we are doing it behind his back, but we’ve carefully brought it up to him before as a way to ease him into what we have to do.  And we really have to do this.  All the debt he has racked up from losing the part of his brain that can handle finances is somewhere in the neighborhood of $70K.  This does include realtor fees and prepaying funeral costs, but the bulk of it is the mess that he found himself in.  So we are trying to fix it and clear mom’s name since the creditors are hounding her, even though my parents are divorced. 

While we were in the midst of this, we learned that my dad’s twin brother and entire family was going to visit him.  My cousins, their spouses, etc.  They sent us photos of the visit and it just made us feel great.  We know that dad was a miserable monster years ago, pushing away family and friends while the disease ate away at his brain, but it’s so nice to know that everyone is so understanding and helpful.  It really means a lot.

This week I finally had two doctor appointments that I’ve been waiting for what seemed like quite some time to have.  The first was the new pain management/back doctor since my guy left the hospital.  As soon as I met him, I kinda wished I had him all along – little older, been in the field longer.  We looked at my xrays and he studied where his former colleague decided to give the first two injections – a little above the area that’s bulging. He said he probably did that because getting it exactly where it needs to go is a little tricky.  It’s a small space with a big margain of error.  By going just above, the idea is that the medicine will trickle down.  Well, that makes sense as to why I felt like the first one helped a good deal but the second one didn’t change things much at all.  There just wasn’t the cummulative effect that I was hoping for.  So I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get it quite right but we talked about managing this and he said to keep doing what I’m doing – stretching, decompression/traction, yoga, moving around, running.  These things heal but they just take time.  If I’m finding that I just can’t deal, we can do the third injection and I hope he hits the bullseye this time.  In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for another type of NSAID, he called it a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory and it can be taken as needed and not every day.  So that part was good because I’m tired of taking meds that just mess with my body more than doing what it needs to do.  But, then as I read up about this particular drug, it states that women having difficulty trying to conceive should reconsider as it can interfere with ovulation and reduce fertility.  So for someone like me, that’s taking it from next to nil to absolute zero?  Awesome.  So do I try this med for a little bit and see how this goes?  Or do I keep dealing with the pain? 

Speaking of dealing with the pain, I’m still trying to train for my half marathon coming up in May.  It was going pretty good but the past two weeks have really taken a dive.  Either I haven’t been able to train as much, or I’ve just been too wiped and tired to get in a good run.  Lot of half-assing going on.  I keep trying to motivate myself by thinking about dad.  I keep thinking that if I make it through this half marathon and feel better than I did with my first two, I’d love to keep right on training for a full.  I’d love to tie it into a fundraiser for research for my dad’s disease.  So that kinda keeps me going when my legs won’t. 

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my newly selected primary care physician.  I haven’t been to a regular doctor in years and it’s getting to the point where insurance does not want me to list my OB/Gyn for my primary.  I had been looking forward to this appointment as I heard she was very thorough and both my sister and mom have gone to her and liked her.  We went over everything and she ordered a battery of blood tests.  I thought for sure we’d find something that might help me understand why my body feels like it’s failing me in so many ways. Nope.  All tests came back within normal range, including thyroid.  So my issues are either in my head or it’s just how it’s going to be for me.  Infertile without any underlying cause except for the endometriosis that may or may not be causing problems.  Just depends who you ask. 

So that’s about it.  That’s the latest during my lapse in blogging.  Busy with all kinds of stuff and hoping to keep moving along with things, hoping that maybe I’ll even ovulate once in a while. 

Coded

I received my latest medical bill which has a few things still pending on it from my back procedures. I’m not too worried about those. What concerned and absolutely irritated me was to see that my office visit to my RE was not covered at all. I started to make some calls about this which of course was met with your typical hospital billing runaround and eventually some phone tag.

According to my doctor’s notes, the appointment was coded as “fertility” and endometriosis was only mentioned. Are you kidding me? I explained to the billing lady that I reached out to my doctor in absolute agony when my cycles seemed to be getting worse and worse. Yes, unfortunately, this was also in the midst of figuring out the cause of my back pain, but that in no way explains my cycles behaving the way they’ve been. A herniated disc is not the cause of my abdominal and uterine pain, causing me to lay down on a cot in our lunchroom at work while I waited for the Motrin to kick in. A herniated disc is not causing my clots and heavy bleeding and weird cycle lengths. I seriously doubt the herniated disc was the reason I bled for 17 out of 24 days last cycle.

I went there on a gut feeling that I should have a laparoscopy for my endometriosis. I know she isn’t keen on having surgery for that and has told me time and time again that it has no impact, especially with IVF. But here’s the thing. I’m not doing IVF anymore. We’ve decided it’s not worth the all that money for something that isn’t giving us a greater chance than trying on our own. In the back of my mind, I hope that having the surgery improves our chances naturally, but nothing more.

But somehow our discussion turned into hubby having another SA and me having another HSG and the next thing I know we’re talking about IUI and donor eggs. Wait a minute! I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for donor eggs, so why are talking about this? So now my visit is being coded as “fertility.” Almost $400 just to sit down and have a conversation that evolved from the real reason I set the appointment to wondering what hair color our donors would have. I told the billing lady that I need to know if every time I set foot in that office is going to be coded as such. If that’s the case, I’m done. I can’t have procedures and surgeries through them when my insurance will never cover it.

So I guess that answers that. I will probably have to wait for my appointment with my new OB/GYN to see if she thinks I should have the surgery. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s in July. I’m so done with this. All of it.

Blogoversary

Apparently I started this blog five years ago today. It seems I’ve totally forgotten that, and the fact that it’s the same day as my twin niece and nephew’s birthday, too. I guess I did start this on their big day. It was a different time then. We were celebrating their second birthday and I was halfway through my 35th year. I had hope then. I had dreams. I didn’t worry about 40 even though it was the next milestone for birthdays. I had plans to flow gracefully into 40 with goals and plans having been met, crushing the notion of any of those silly birthday cards about being over the hill. Now, I can barely walk and I fear my brain will degenerate like my father’s has.

What a way to wrap up five years.

I started this blog five years ago on this day, and exactly a year later, we started trying to conceive. I kinda wish I chose a different time of year for these things so I wouldn’t be reminded of them on my niece and nephew’s birthday. I wish I had some grand post to write up, but I don’t. If it weren’t for logging on here and seeing the little trophy reminder, I wouldn’t have even realized the blog milestone today.

I’m still sort of taking things day by day at this point. Good days and bad for everything. A good run, breaking my previous records one day, followed by feeling tired and crippled the next time out. Having a good day at work where I really feel on top of things, then having a day where I feel like a zombie pushing papers around, getting nothing accomplished. Months and months of nursing injuries, not just physical but also mental. Things still on hold, after five years. First putting them on hold because we were ttc, and now many of those same things are still on hold as we recover from ttc – financially, mentally, and physically. Mostly financially.

I’ve now got less than six months to go until I’m 40 and the way I’m feeling right now, I don’t think I can be a good sport about it and laugh at those over the hill jokes and cards. If I’m still shuffling around in pain by then, it will be awfully hard to convince people otherwise. Over. The. Hill. That’s about all I’ve got for today.