Thursday, April 23, 2015

The WTF, Part Two

I had my WTF appointment with Dr. B. today, and came with my usual little list of questions, though these were perhaps a bit more hard-hitting than the last bunch. I warned Dr. B. though.

Me: So I have a number of highly scientific, hard-hitting questions this time.
Dr. B.: Okay, I can take it.
Me: So the main question is, why does the universe keep fucking with me?
Dr. B.: I think…..maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, that it’s time to try BFU.
Me: But I don’t like that answer. The universe can bite me.
Dr. B.: I agree, but I think that’s what’s going on.
Me: Should I go on welfare and start smoking crack? Because that seems to work for a lot of people.
Dr. B.: Yes.
Me: How about all this stuff where people say if you stim longer or use more drugs etc., that can affect the quality of the eggs? I thought our eggs are what they are, especially at the point of doing stims, and nothing will affect them?
Dr. B.: (Scientific-sounding explanation)
Me: How about this mitochondrial stuff, i.e. maybe my eggs just didn’t have enough oomph to get them to blast stage, but they were chromosomally normal?
Dr. B.: They’ve done studies that have shown that of embryos that go on to be a pregnancy, those were the ones with higher mitochondrial scores, and the ones with lower scores that went to blast anyway, didn’t turn into pregnancies.
Me: Well shit. So basically my embies were just lazy little shitheads. It’s like they went to mile 26.1999999 of a marathon and said “ech, fuck it, I’m going to get a beer.”
Dr. B.: Essentially, yes.

After listening to Dr. B.’s well-thought-out scientific and fact-based explanations, and comparing them to my ideas as Pulled From the Internet, I make the only decision that can be made.

Me: Okay, so, ignoring everything you just said, if I do another cycle can we add more doping? I have a scientifically sound reason as to why we should.
Dr. B.: Okay, let’s hear it.
Me: Let me look at my notes here…..oh, here it is. Okay, scientifically sound reason: “Why the fuck not.”
Dr. B.: ……
Me: I mean really, let’s just all admit at this point that it’s a huge fucking experiment, a total crapshoot, with no rhyme or reason. Sure, we can try different things, but it doesn’t seem to make a hell of a lot of difference, for me or for my IVF friends. I see the same with them –it’s not like things improve with each cycle. No. One cycle there’s nothing, then there are more eggs but no normals, then fewer eggs and normal, then no blasts, and so on. CRAP. SHOOT.
Dr. B.: Basically, yes. There’s just so much we can do. But you have BFU, and everyone at ORM is rooting for you and him. Dr. Hesla was disappointed he didn’t get to do your latest egg retrieval, and Dr. Matteri was excited to meet you, and everyone else knows you and is hoping this works.

So there’s that.
In the end, Dr. B. helped me see that my scrappy little BFU has been waiting for his time to come into being. So has it been spoken, so it shall be done. We’re going into battle perhaps not with the little army of unicorns we would have liked to have…..but rather with the BFU that we do. And BFU has his own little army of believers, so if good thoughts and hopes and wishes can make things happen, we’re better than good.

I’m okay with that. Or perhaps not okay, but accepting that this is what we have to work with.

In August, after my summer of cycling glory, I get back to town and we’ll do the transfer, come what may.

And on that front, I had one last request for Dr. B.

Me: So yeah, since I’ll be doing all this cycling before August, can I get some more HGH so that I can make everyone eat my dust?

Boy, Dr. B. very often seems to have an emergency come up when we’re talking – that would be the only explanation as to why she bolts out of the room so quickly. Yeah, that’s it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hey Universe: Bite Me

So I headed over to Most Excellent Neighbor Laura’s house today with the usual accompaniments, namely carrying a bowl of Boozy Cherry Jubilee mix to make ice cream, and waving a piece of paper in my hand.
Me: Laura! Guess what this is?
Laura: I don’t know, your committal papers?
Me: Haha, not yet! No, this is – wait for it – a RECEIPT! Look, see how I’m inhaling its BPA goodness and rubbing it on my face! Yum, BPAs!
Laura: Okay, you’ve officially lost your mind.
Me: No really! I’m embracing ALL the badness! All the shit that they tell you to avoid, in that stupid It Starts With the Egg book. Ha, start with THIS!

I then proceeded to take the receipt and stuff it into my bra, so that it would be as close to me as possible. I figure, the months of supplements, the high-protein diet, the paranoid receipt avoidance, the shunning of canned goods, it all didn’t make a fuck all bit of difference, so now I’m going to do the exact opposite. I might bathe in Round-Up tonight. Because, fuck it (new motto).

Yes, that’s definitely the new game in town: fuck it. Yesterday Laura and I headed to the Willamette Fruit Company place to get some ice cream containers and of course partake in Pie Happy Hour (yes this is a thing here, and it’s as awesome as it sounds), and she was noting that some idiot would probably make a rude comment about the fact that baby Allen (aka “Porkie”) was barefoot because he had pulled off his socks.

Me: Oh, if they try that shit, you just send them to me, and I’d be happy to tell them to fuck right off. Post-haste.

This might be a slippery slope here, but, fuck it.

I do have to say, I have the most awesome friends in the world. And I love you all for reaching out, calling (even though I was incapable of speaking on the phone), taking me out for drinks. Yes, Sarah and I went to the Creekside Grill yesterday for Tiki Tuesday, or as I suggested they call it, Tiki Fucking Tuesday – because it’s that awesome. I’m sure they’re considering it.

The only person I spoke to was my mom, because I knew if I didn’t pick up the phone when she called, she’d be calling the neighbors to check up on me, etc. The conversation went about as well as one would expect. My mom started in with the mom stuff, i.e. “you have so many things going for you” etc. and blah. Which of course prompted the predicted response from me:


So that went well I think.

And then of course there were Most Excellent Friends Bridget and Colleen, who cajoled me into smiling by dangling in front of me the possibility that they too would do Ragbrai or at least the Dairyland Dare (new motto: “Now with fewer brain injuries!”). If that isn’t true friendship, I don’t know what is. (Psst, Bridget, thanks also for offering to send Fat Cat Bella here for Kone to play with! Oddly, he seems to be taking this all in stride.) Considering I’ve already roped Best Person Ever Nettie into doing the DD with me, this is going to be one hell of a party.

As one other friend put it, someone who’s had to deal with the same shit, there’s a mourning process one has to go through, in adapting to a life that isn’t at all like the one you envisioned. That’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen quickly. And it saddens me beyond belief when I hear of friends who’ve gone through the same thing, with the same heart-breaking results. It’s just….hard. I bounce back quickly from stuff, but damn, this is a tough one. I can’t get my hopes up for BFU, because getting my hopes up this time has almost killed my soul. I just can’t do that again. I need to protect what’s left of my wee little shattered and shredded heart.

That means when the endless pics of people’s kids and babies come up on FB, I’ll hide them.

That means I might take the shitload of miles I’ve collected because of charging IVF expenses and head to some random weird country to do a crazy bike ride.

That means I might get weepy for no apparent reason.

That means I’ll stop baring my soul and posting about all this depressing stuff, because it depresses me to be so boring on my blog.

I do have my WTF appointment already set with Dr. B. next week, and I’m tempted to cancel it. I don’t think she’ll have an answer to my main and only question: why does the universe keep fucking with me?

Next up: Something other than depressing shit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Life, crashing down

There are some pets that can tell when their people are upset, and snuggle and cuddle and try to comfort them.

HRH The Kone is not one of those pets.

There I was bawling, and he was still poking his nose at me – “rezzy rezzy rezzy rezzy rezzy?” So we went to the reservoir, and no, it didn’t “clear my head” or any such bullshit that people blather on about, but in getting that out of the way for today it meant that I could start drinking, since I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.

Today is honestly reminiscent of the day I was diagnosed with cancer, because it’s that same feeling of watching your dreams die a slow painful death right in front of you.

This time is worse than the second cycle, because at least then I knew I’d be doing cycle #3, so I had hope still. But now? I’m done. Oh sure, maybe if I did enough cycles I’d eventually get more unicorns, but at $20-$25K a pop, that’s not going to happen. So this is it, fini.

I should have known I wouldn’t get the happy ending miracle, because I never do. That’s not how my life works, and it never has. And just when I think things might be turning around, poof, there it all goes into the gutter again. I need to remember this, because it’s so much worse when you have hope that things might change.

I will keep as busy as possible, and in between, try to avoid contemplating why my life turned out as such a failure. I say that not to prompt all the “oh no it’s not” bullshit, but because it’s true; I am the living embodiment of Adaptation.  Fat, 40+, single, broke, scarred, barren. Or something just like that.  Broke now that I’ve spent my income and savings on this shit, and will soon be completely jobless. Job #1 ended in January, as I was on a temp contract to sub for someone from Canada with her YEAR of maternity leave. Must be nice. Of course they said they’d find a role for me as a contractor, and shockingly that has yet to happen. For job #2, that’s coming to an end in spite of all the clients loving me and my insight development work, because the company I contract with thinks that this insight stuff is complicated and tough to implement and just plain ol’ hard. So they’re “going back to (their) roots.” Okay then.

Bitterness abounds.

So, to keep some sense of sanity, I’ll accept that my dreams have come to a crashing halt. I’ll keep busy cleaning and organizing and canning and riding my bike and looking for work. I have Most Excellent Tomatoette Friend Mickey visiting at the end of the month, and since it looks like I won’t be working, we can do all sorts of ridiculous fun things. I’ll do RAGBRAI and the Dairyland Dare (slogan: “Now with fewer crashes!”) this summer, and then I’ll do a transfer of BFU in August, though that has only about a 4% chance of working, so of course it won’t work because that’s not how my life works, all la la la roses, like it seems to be for so many other people, without any effort at all. I will move on with my stupid life. I may try to get knocked up in Vegas (Random Internet Stranger, call me).  I will dwell on what could have been, but isn’t. I might very well get pygmy goatsies.

I may hold out hope for the new Ovaprime technology which is supposed to boost old eggs with new mitochondria, but since that’s supposed to cost at least $50K, probably not.

I have removed all my IVF FB groups from my favorites.

If anyone dares to even fucking mention the “a” word in my presence, you will be throat punched so fast your head might literally go spinning off as in a bad kung fu movie.

And tonight I will be burning the unicorn socks.

Because fuck that shit.


ORM just called.

They stopped growing.

I got nothing.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Narwhal update

So I finally decided to take Kone to the rezzy, and to hell with ORM. We’re talking priorities here. Of course, I used the time while walking through the woods to write in my mind a vitriolic blog post about ORM, in which I pointed out that not calling when they say they will is NOT ACCEPTABLE because we are a bunch of crazy hormonal bitches out here who have our life’s savings riding on this (for me, $60K at last count) and we COUNT DOWN THE FUCKING HOURS until we get these phone calls.
I worked myself into quite a state, I tell you. Weepy and enraged, which is not a good combination. I decided that I would call ORM first thing in the morning, and oh yes, they would feel my wrath.
As we were driving home, it occurred to me that it would be best if we just went home and didn’t go anywhere else for the day, because if anyone messed with me, I would snap their fucking head off like a twig. A. TWIG. There were some punk-ass kids skateboarding in the road (the road!) and lucky for them they moved out of my way, because I would have MOWED THEM DOWN. No hesitation either.
Of course, as soon as I got within cell phone distance, I checked to see if I had messages, and lo and behold, a message. From the embryologist at ORM, telling me that I had three embies that were still growing, and were in the “early blastocyst” stage. Dafuq? What does THAT mean? I mean they’re not blasts, which is where we want them to be, but they’re not down for the count, but what does that really mean? I was still seething, because while I appreciated the message, I was upset that I couldn’t grill Anya, Embryologist, on the fatness and happiness of my embies. How did they look? Did they look better than the 4 embies I had last time at day 5 that got my hopes up only to crush them like so much flotsam on the dumptruck of fate?
(As a random aside, why the HELL does Apple make such shitty power cords for their laptops? I thought the last one was bad – this one for my new laptop, just purchased on Friday because I was tired of sinking money into the old one, is WORSE. I kid you not. Fucking worse.)
Anyway. As I continued to rage, Anya called. So I got to ask my questions, and she couldn’t really say if they were better than last time, but that early blasts were better than morulas, and they have about a 50/50 chance at this point. And she said they’d call tomorrow, “and don’t stress if we don’t call until the afternoon, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Me: Oh, except you know like everyone else I’ll assume that’s bad news and you guys just don’t want to call me and it’ll be miserable and horrible.
Anya: I know, I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t think that.
Oh but I will.
Narwhal Watch 2015 continues.

A descent into madness

The waiting is the worst part. Really. The surgery is a breeze in comparison – they put you under as you’re waxing eloquent about Young Frankenstein, and then you wake up after Konicorn dreams to hear that you have 16 eggs.
Then you go home and deal with excruciating pain made all the worse because those nurses DIDN’T GIVE YOU any dilaudid, dammit, and the pain, the pain! Why it’s enough to make a perso…..okay, so that part is a bunch of happy horseshit, quite frankly. Sure, some people wind up with OHSS, aka hyperstimulation, which is very very serious and can land you in the hospital for days.
For most of us though, or at least me with my hearty peasant stock, ER is a breeze. Sure, you feel a bit bloated and the ovaries are tender and there’s a lot of peeing, but otherwise? I didn’t even hit my stash of mega-strength ibuprofen.
So the real hard part is the psychological torture of waiting for Day 2 results. My clinic doesn’t give daily updates, so I just get them on day 2 with maturity and fertilization rates, and then on day 5 for blast update. Which is fine with me, because waiting for a call every day letting me know what’s what would drive me even insaner than I already am. Plus, some people find out what grade their embies are along the way, and ORM doesn’t do that either – which, again, I’m fine with, as often it’s the shittiest looking embryos that do the best. Really.
If I knew the actual grade, that might lead to a scenario some 15 years in the future when I’m dealing with a sullen horrible teenager, with me yelling “I KNEW you’d turn out this way given that you were the crappy feral-looking embryo!!”
Anyway. Tuesday night after ER was a bit tense, to say the least. OKAY SO I MIGHT HAVE TAKEN A SLEEP AID THAT NIGHT, DON’T JUDGE.
I then got the exciting call on Wednesday morning informing me that of my 16 eggs, 11 were mature, and 8(!) fertilized! WHEE! Day 2 worries me the most always, because what if none of them fertilize? I’ve seen this happen to people, where they have a lot of eggs and exactly zero fertilize. And so then instead of hanging onto one’s hopes and dreams for another 5 days, everything goes all to hell right at the beginning. And I’m not ready for that at that stage. I want to fantasize about a whole boatload of narwhals for at least a few more days.
And so, here we are now, Sunday morning, day 5, and ORM still hasn’t called me, and I’m waiting to take Kone to the rezzy because there’s no cell phone reception there. I am losing my ever-loving mind. It’s obviously bad news, unless it’s not. As Dear Friend Yael pointed out (because of course I have to email everyone to tell them I’m losing my mind), perhaps they’re needing to biopsy my EIGHT beautiful blasts?
Or maybe they just don’t want to call me with bad news on Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Luck be a BFU

It’s said that sports players are some of the most superstitious people out there, and I am here to tell you this: they have absolutely NOTHING on women going through IVF. I mean, I don’t want to say bitches be cray-cray, but…..bitches be cray-cray.
I count myself among them, of course.
I call all of the things we seek out and rely on Pregnifying Talismans, or PTs. Because nothing makes science work as well as do random superstitious trinkets and attire that has magical qualities. So first let’s start with the socks. We have entire FB pages set up to find Sock Buddies, who are fellow IVF-ers with whom we exchange gifts, including the aforementioned socks. Generally we add other fun stuff as well, like journals, chocolate, baby dust, chocolate, brazil nuts, and of course, chocolate. So far I’ve had the BEST most amazing Sock Buddies in the world – Lisa L., Heidi, Tracy, and Lisa B., I’m looking at all of you. Muah. I’ve of course sent out similar fun packages too, which to me is the best part of this, putting that shit together. It works out well, except, umm, when say one sends a package to Heidi in Australia and it bounces around for FOUR MONTHS before it makes its way back to Silverton because of a smudged address. Oops. Attempt 2 for that one, which will hopefully arrive before Heidi actually has her baby.
Then there are people who get PTs from their friends, i.e. receiving pendants and bracelets and the like, all of it falling under the “fertility-r-us” category. I tell you, Etsy is making bank on this stuff, no doubt.
Me, I personally like to wait until something speaks to me. Like what happened when I was with Awesome Friend Tina in Astoria last October, at a really cute boutique there.
Me: Tina, look! LOOK!
Tina: Umm….
Me: You see it, don’t you? I mean, that dragonfly necklace just SCREAMS good luck in a very distinctive fertility kind of way. It’s saying, pick me, choose me, love ME! But not in a creepy Grey’s Anatomy fashion of course.
Tina: Umm…..
Me: I must have it. I’m so glad we’re in agreement!

That was how I wound up with good luck necklace #1, which got me BFU in IVF cycle 1, but couldn’t go the distance in cycle 2. But I blame not the little dragonfly, nay. It really was asking a lot to put so much additional work on one Pregnifying Talisman, which no longer had enough special powers, and so I needed to add another to make the magic more powerful. The science behind this is sound. Which was why I set out on a quest for another PT and subsequently found the most awesome dragonfly necklace on, yes, Etsy, which I added to the Kokopelli necklace PT I got from Lisa B.. There were also unicorn necklaces on Etsy, but that may have to wait until actual egg transfer in August. At some point I fear I may look like a refugee from Mardi Gras, with a yoke of necklaces around my neck, but so be it.
I may also have found unicorn socks at the sock store.
We do what we must.
* * * * * * * * * *
Speaking of egg retrieval, that was today, yes it was. Everything has been going so perfectly according to plan with this cycle that it of course made me paranoid, that things would in some way go FUBAR, as they tend to do with me. I mean, this time at my last ultrasound even Dr. Magoo saw 12-14 follicles, and when does THAT happen? So in stressing about this, I got basically no sleep last night. What if I ovulated early and there were no eggs to find? What if my alarm clock didn’t go off? What if all the highways heading into Portland were shut down? WHAT ABOUT THAT DAMN ALARM CLOCK???
I of course managed to wake up this morning and got dropped off at ORM for the festivities to begin. With brownies in hand – as well as boozy cherries, boozy cherry jam, and tomato chutney. Hey, never let it be said I’m not the ideal patient.
Once I got in back, poor Judy got stuck with m….I mean, Judy was today’s lucky person to be in my exalted presence. Yeah, that’s it. But first I saw Dr. B., and she was excited to note that The Man would be doing my egg retrieval. Yes, THE Man, Dr. Matteri, who was one of the ORM pioneers in IVF. A true Jedi Master! (And looking at his bio he is even WAY cooler than I already thought!)
Dr. B.: The Man will be doing your egg retrieval!
Me: Oh, that’s awesome! (To Dr. M.) Umm, you do know that I’m going to be bringing fame and fortune to ORM, right? Basically the future face of ORM, right here, me with my ancient self and embryos.
Dr. Matteri.: Umm…..
Me to Dr. B.: He kind of looks like a deer caught in headlights. Did no one tell him about me?
Dr. M.: That’s right, you have an embryo on ice, right?
Me: Yes! He has a name too: BFU.
Dr. M.: BFU?
Me: Badass Fucking Unicorn.
Dr. M.: Umm…..
Me to Dr. B.: See, there it goes again…….

Anyway, I go with Judy to get set up, and we proceed to have the usual conversation one has in such circumstances:
Me: So I understand you use quite a bit of GE equipment? Do you lease or pay cash?
Judy: A bit of both.
Me: Aha! How about for those new hand-held ultrasounds? Are you guys looking at those?
Judy: Oh yeah, those are great! Really amazing equipment, so much better than the big bulky machines.
Me: And those you might lease…?
Judy: Well, it depends…
Me: You know, with medical equipment advancing so quickly, you don’t want to be stuck for years with obsolete equipment. Leasing can be a great option.
Judy: That’s very true – plus I think with the leased stuff they’re more on top of service.
Me: Exactly!

While having this conversation, the words of Brilliant Badass Sales Transformation Guru Mike Kunkle, now at GE Capital, are going through my head: “Don’t think of it as surgery where you’re being sliced open, think of it as a selling opportunity.”
(Okay, so he might not have actually ever said that or even anything close to it, but I stand by my MSU [Making Shit Up] 100%.)
(Psst, GE, yes I’m this good. Call me, we’ll talk.)
I also see my Most Awesome Nurse from last time, Gina, and of course ask her for dilaudid. I like to do this to see if they can keep a straight face while I come up with this ridiculousness. We then laugh together, and I get told to take ibuprofen, which I guess is the next best thing?
Then as usual, Dr. M. the Most Awesome Anesthesiologist comes in to chat about my hatred of Versed. We talk about this, the fact that most people want to be doped up to the gills, whereas the astute ones such as myself want to be annoying as long as possible.
Me: So this time I won’t whine and complain when the propofol starts painfully coursing through my veins. I was pretty annoying last time.
Dr. MAA.: Right.

Wait, what? He’s not supposed to agree with me. Hmm. Still, he’s no Dr. CrankyPants, so I’ll take it.
Before my egg retrieval surgery they try to tell me I should take off my PTs, but I’m too clever for that (by “clever” I mean “clutching at them like a banshee and refusing to let anyone take them off.”)
Of course, when I get into the surgery room and am hailed as the returning rock$tar that I am, I manage to not complain about the propofol, but I also wind up on a tangent about Young Frankenstein.
Me: Right, so Marty Feldman, he goes to get a brain, and he gets the Abby something brain. The….the ABBY NORMAL brain, yeah, that’s it! And of course that’s not really a good thing bec…
I then fall asleep, and it may just be my suspicion that Dr. MAA. jacks up the amount of drugs going through my veins, to knock me out as quickly as possible. Maybe.
I dream of Kone as a unicorn. No really. It’s The Kone looking majestic as always, but even more so because he’s sporting a beautiful long unicorn horn. It’s quite something.
My dreams of Konicorns are interrupted when I’m woken up, but to good news: Dr. Matteri has achieved and overachieved the plan, as they say in the old country. 16 eggs! I tell him that studies show that 15 is ideal, but that I’m okay with the spare. I can sense his relief.
So as I’m waking up, I’m noticing that the fine folks at ORM seem very intent on making sure I have a ride out of the joint. As in, making me wait in back, making sure my ride, the Most Awesome Tyler, actually comes up to the waiting room area rather than just letting me meet him downstairs, etc. It’s a bit…..bizarre. Like they think I’m going to make a run for it or something, then stand out in front powering up heavy machinery. It makes me wonder if some fool tried to leave on her own, with things subsequently all going to hell in a handbasket or something.
But then a more plausible reason occurs to me: I *am* their rock$tar patient after all, and they want to be extra sure that nothing happens to me. I’m surprised they haven’t made me sign a contract that I’ll only leave the house if wrapped in bubble wrap.
Anyway, now we wait. 16 eggs, I’ll get the call tomorrow on mature eggs and fert rate, and then we wait until Sunday for blasts. I predict 14 mature, 10 fertilized, 8 blasts, 8 normal and perfect narwhals. So it has been spoken, so it shall be done. Go big, Universe, go big. They say older women just don’t get those kinds of numbers, to which I say, don’t expect me to come along on that joyride of lies.
Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have some chainsaws to crank up.