Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Absolute fucker

I don't know where to start.

I got a call from my Doc this afternoon with the results from the hysteroscopy. I was surprised, I'd been expecting these at my appointment in October.

It wasn't good.

She said that there was some abnormality with the cells "not cancerous" but I had to take provera for the next three months to thicken my womb lining and then I'd have another hysteroscopy to take it out and then, and only then, could I start trying to conceive.

When could I come in to get the prescription? I said I'd come in that afternoon, luckily I have the type of job (and boss) that if I say I have to take the rest of the afternoon off I can.

Then it went tits up.

I've just deleted a couple of thousand words about me waiting and going backwards and forwards trying to find the prescription and work out what it meant, you don't need all that shit and I'm not in the mood to make it funny. But it culminated in me sitting in the doctors office.

I told her how upset I'd been when I discovered through a letter that I was due for Intrauterine Insemination. She was stunned "but we always do IUI with super-ovulation! You got the leaflet" No, I didn't.

I burst into tears (this is becoming a habit).

She asked me if I had anyone I could talk to. I didn't think the blogging sista-(and one brotha) hood counted. She asked if I talked to my mother.

My mother died when I was fifteen.

I took a while choking out those words to the doctor.

I left with her booking me in to see a councillor and a specialist in familial cancers.

I don't want to go to the specialist. From what she was saying the specialist will ascertain what my genetic predisposition to breast cancer is. I really don't want to know.

For my friends 'in the real world' who are reading this: Sorry I couldn't tell you in person but I've just been on the phone to my womb-mate and I can't really talk at the moment, I'm still pretty weepy and struggling with full sentences.

For fellow bloggers one question remains: With three months enforced not trying to conceive what the hell am I going to write about between now and Christmas?


Sunday, 28 September 2008

Honestly!


So Nicole Kidman.

41 year old, Nicole Kidman.

Mother of two adopted children, Nicole Kidman.

Yeah, that one. Would have us believe that she got pregnant by swimming in a watering hole. Her and six other women whilst making a film.

Just how much is the Australian Tourist Board paying her?

That's all.



Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Hysteroscopy


Well, that put a whole new slant on the phrase "Make love to the camera".

The hysteroscopy today was pretty confusing.

I'd warned the doctor I had a long cervix but even still he insisted on using the same type of cold, metal speculum used during my HSG before, once again, conceding defeat and shoving a plastic one up there.

It was fascinating as I watched the tiny camera work its way up in to my womb and have a look round.

As my womb was filled with liquid I started to get cramps and my legs shook. The nurse told me I was brave.

The doc confidently pointed out my polyps, then another, then another. There were loads, he was concerned. My womb walls should be smooth, but mine looked like a coral reef of floaty jagged bits. The doc thought I might need to rebook and have a general anaesthetic to take them all out.

A consultant was bought in. He barely glanced at the screen. "They aren't polyps, that's the womb lining. Do a biopsy. And don't use that camera again its got frosting on the lens". He was off.

My womb was scraped and a test tube filled.

I was released. I asked the doctor what had happened to the polyps and whether there was one. He said not. And that the results of the biopsy would be given to me at my appointment in October.

Now? I'm at home, I feel nauseous and dizzy. A bit of cramping, but mainly want to puke. Still don't feel like I have any answers.



Monday, 22 September 2008

How to find out if you are ovulating


Xbox asked me in the last set of comments how I predicted ovulation with such long and haphazard cycles.

I thought it was worth a whole post. (I'm filling time until the hysteroscopy on Wednesday)

It is a complex mix of research, testing and chance, all the while being thrifty, canny and optimistic.

So at the start of each cycle I assume that is it going to be a regular 28 - 30 day cycle. Foolish? Maybe. Optimistic? Definitely. Likely? Not very.

I therefore start to pee on ovulation predictor kits from day 11. However, as I may well get through a fair few of these I use the cheap ones. The bulk-bought pack of fifty, low-tech strips of card that, in theory, show a positive when the second stripe is darker than the first.

I rarely get a second stripe and it is never darker than the first. However, this is where all my guile and cunning come into play. If I get even an inkling of a second strip I switch onto the mega expensive digital tests with the smiling face that tells you if you really have ovulated. This way I can eek out their use over a few weeks.

Now after about 20 days of testing between day 11 and 31 I'm pretty sure that I haven't ovulated but I am then technically late. So this is where the pregnancy tests come in. Again I use the cheapo ones (there is a shop near where I live that does two for a pound). Now I certainly don't expect to be pregnant, but this is where my natural optimism creeps in again and I get a little excited (no, not in that way) about maybe, possibly, being preggers. But I've blogged about that before.

So by this time I'm fucked off. I haven't ovulated, I'm not pregnant and clearly my cycles are screwed.

This is where self-awareness comes in.

I have read that when a woman ovulates they undergo a subtle change. We release a smell more attractive to the opposite sex. Unconsciously we start to wear lower cut tops or body hugging clothes, we are far more likely to start an affair at this point. And it makes sense, for these few days a month you are fertile so you do more to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex and hope to procreate. So I watch myself.

If I get chatted up, or even a bit of mild flirtation with a gentleman who is other than my life-partner. I test for ovulation.

If I feel like wearing my wonder bra. I test for ovulation.

I have a pair of trousers that are a bit too tight, but make my butt look a little perter and more obvious. I reach for them, I reach for the pee-sticks.

If I have a vaguely sexual dream about the dork from computing. I test for ovulation.

If the husband gets frisky I don't turn him down, maybes he can smell some pheromones that I can't, (and guess what? I test for ovulation).

And then there is the cervical mucus. Oh yes, you didn't think I'd gloss over that one did you? (Xbox, are you regretting the question now?)

Before you ovulate there isn't much going on in the whole discharge front. If you are ever going to reuse yesterday's knickers, now is the time.

A few days before ovulation it starts to appear. But it fails one crucial test. The finger test. Namely you pinch a finger and thumb full and as you bring them apart it will stretch between your fingers but break when they are over about a centimeter apart.

Now ovulation, and we have the ever mentioned egg-whites. Its a snail trail in your pants. The technical terms is, I believe, a mucus peak. (A phrase that also puts me in mind of egg whites but more in the meringue making context). As this point the finger test will allow you to bring them pretty far apart. And this isn't coincidence the moist, glutenous stuff will keep his sperm warm happy and alive for a good few days. It all matches up nicely.

Post ovulation your cervix will return to the barren dry desert that we all know and love as my womb. Nay, mucus in this flange.

The other methods beloved of many is the basal body temperature (BBT).

I've never got on with this. For a start when I tried my temperature never once reached the normal living temperature of a healthy human, which threw me into panic. Then when I wrote down the temperatures that I had to take at EXACTLY the same time every morning there didn't seem to be a pattern. I know I should have drawn a chart and shown something significant over the weeks, but I just couldn't be arsed. And at some point I decided I need to hang on to the remnants of a life not obsessed with trying to have a baby. So the BBT I didn't do.

Now a word of warning for those taking down notes and nodding keenly.

I'M NOT PREGNANT, I HAVE NEVER BEEN PREGNANT, I'M STARTING TO DOUBT THAT I WILL GET PREGNANT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

So take all my advice with a Dead Sea's worth of salt and happy ovulating.



Saturday, 20 September 2008

Well whaddya know?


The counter has been reset and on Thursday I welcomed my next cycle, my [insert favourite euphemism for period here] started.

For most people trying to conceive getting a period is a depressing, miserable sign that it hasn't worked once more and its time to start over. For me, I'm delighted. OK, so I'm not pregnant but at least it shows something is happening in there, no early menopause in this here womb.

I'm also pleased that it happened on Thursday because that was the day of my sixth acupuncture appointment. I haven't mentioned acupuncture for a few weeks because I was getting pretty disillusioned with the whole TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) thing.

Every week I went in and handed over forty sheets - or as I 'like' to think of it the price of a haircut, pair of jeans, a meal out, those cool silver shoes that I've got my eye on.

"Any change" he'd ask, eyebrows raised in hope and encouraging smile playing on his lips. "Nope" and I'd recite what cycle day I was on 68, 75, 82 ... His shoulders would slump and he'd try different things:

Pins in my wrists with strict instructions not to move or clench my hands. I lay there until the pins and needles in my finger tips were too much to bear.

He made me lie on my front and did quick jabs in my lower back. No. Not lower back. My arse. I was mortified because he had to roll my g-string over the top of my jeans to get it out of the way. My pink g-string. Yes, I was a bit tense.

He stuck an enormous plaster infused with strong smelling herbs over my belly button and told me to leave it on for two days. I had to take it off after a day and a half because it itched and stung a bit. The swelling took a few days to go away. My confidence decreased.

The last time he really went for it. He told me it might hurt. He described what he was doing as "thrilling" my chi. I always associated the word thrill with something positive, no more. I felt scratched internally, raw, fragile.

He talked me through why he thought my periods might have stopped. Had I had a shock, was I particularly stressed, a sudden change in my energy levels? I wracked my brain, really, really tried to think of something, anything that had changed. He assured me that my body's energy had to be realigned, reinvigorated but once my periods started again they would be easier, regular and fertile-er (that word coming to a dictionary near you soon).

On Wednesday I made the decision to go for one last time.

On Thursday my period started.

I don't get ill. I'm generally incredibly healthy. In the last year I have had two half days off work. Both of those were when I came in to work and my period pains got so bad I couldn't function and had to go home. Just before Christmas I couldn't walk down the stairs, my work colleague found me sitting on the stairs clinging onto the banister, white faced, in a cold sweat. I got a taxi the ten minute walk home. So its fair to say, I get pretty bad period pains.

Thursday then, as soon as I realised what was happening, I necked my super strong pain killers. And waited. Yes, I wasn't comfortable. But I didn't have to take any more drugs that day. Friday, only one pill. This is unheard of.

I'm not 'cured'. I'm not about to name and proclaim TCM as the answer to infertility woes. But once more cautious optimism is creeping in. I'm going to see what happens to my cycle, see if it starts to get regular. I'm not even thinking as far as getting pregnant yet (although womb, if you're listening don't let that stop you) but maybe, just maybe, things are starting to get sorted.



Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Did you have a good Easter?


You know. Easter.

Let me help you out here. I'm guessing there were chocolate eggs. You probably saw quite a lot of fluffy chicks around. I know what'll jog your memory, your aunt sent you a cross stitch card featuring a bouncing lamb and daffodils. Oh! And you had The Friday and Monday off work (probably).

Yes, that Easter.

To be fair it was a little while ago.

Now what about the 18 of March, the Tuesday before Easter? It was my mate E's birthday I sent her a card.

I remember it pretty well, not cause of the birthday, but I had a doctors appointment that day. my first specialist appointment to talk about why the hell I wasn't pregnant. I came along clutching my list of my cycle dates.

I had been regular for 5 months. I know five months!!! (Believe me the exclamation marks are entirely necessary). For the first time in my life, notwithstanding when I was on the pill which was the majority of my adult life, I was regular.

The doctor told me not to worry come back in a few months if nothing had happened and the husband and I trotted off happy, if not a little shamefaced, that we'd got into such a flap about everything when clearly there was nothing wrong. We just needed a little more time.

And on that very day I had one of those smiley faces on the mega expensive digital ovulation predictor kits. I had ovulated. We, you know, did the deed.

That was six months ago tomorrow.

That was a couple of months before I started this blog.

That was the last time I got a positive ovulation test.

That was a few days before I found out my sister was pregnant. I went round tonight, she is enormous (in the right places). She's due in 2 months.

That was a week (or so) before I found out one of my best mates was pregnant, she is booked in for a cesarean at the end of next month.

I have done nothing since, two periods, one after that ovulation, one brought on by drugs (medical, not fun ones).

Waiting, waiting, waiting.



Sunday, 14 September 2008

One step forward, two steps back

I was wrong. I was arrogant and patronising at the same time. Arrogant to think I could hood-wink the National Health Service, patronising to assume that the 60 year old NHS wouldn't be organised enough to figure out that I was scheduled for back to back appointments.

To be fair there has been some history. I've turned up for a scan where the doctor knows I'm booked in, and the notes are on her sheet, and she still can't figure out why I am there ... even when I tell her.

And,
I've worked for the NHS in the past. For two summers whilst at University I was on a project to computerised children's health records. It sounds like an urban myth but the office I worked in really did have this poster:

I've hated comic sans ever since.

And unnecessary exclamation marks.

The job dispelled any confidence I had in the health service. Amongst the health records we had to sift through I found:

  • Kids records filed in two places despite having the same name, parents name, address and date of birth as each other
  • Records that had been combined because kids had the same surname, nothing else in common with each other, but the same surname
  • A chocolate wrapper
  • Mouse droppings.
But on Friday I got a letter telling me my ovulation appointment has been postponed from 25 September to 23 October. No explanation, nothing.

So I called and it turns out they had figured out that there was no point in the appointment until I had the hysteroscopy booked. And it makes sense, I had a chat with the nurse and she said until they had the results of the hysteroscopy they couldn't prescribe anything anyway. Which is fair enough. And hey what's a month between friends?

I also brought up the concern about the never-ending cycle:
Me: Also, the first day of my cycle was 81 days ago
Her: Right
Me: Will that be OK for when I have the hysteroscopy? Only I was put on provera before
Her (slowly): I can see you notes here. You were put on provera because you needed to bleed before the HSG. This. is. a. different. procedure
Me: I know but is it going to be a problem if my womb lining is exceptionally thick or something?
Her: No, I don't think so
Me: And what if I suddenly get my period just when I am going to have the hysteroscopy?
Her: That's not a problem ... as long as its not too heavy.
Me: It often is quite heavy.
Her: Don't worry about it.
Me: OK. So I should just carry on? Should I let you know if I still haven't started after say 100 days? I mean is that likely to be a problem?
Her: I'm not a doctor I'm not sure.
(A pregnant pause)
Me (sweetly): Do you think you could ask a doctor?
Her: One moment ... No its not a problem

So that has filled me with bucket loads of confidence.



Thursday, 11 September 2008

Its not you, its me

This year has been a testing. Literally.

I've had blood tests, normal scans, 3D scans, a HSG and soon a hysteroscopy.

And the husband has had to take himself off to a small, recently-vacated, clinical room. He has leafed through a couple of well-thumbed 'specialist' magazines and jizzed in a cup. (He was pleased that because of the purpose of the room, none of the pages were stuck together - you don't waste that juice when you are being tested on it).

My results have been inconsistent. Sometimes getting the all clear, other times I go back for a follow up and the original area of concern has disappeared but a new one pops up. (Or 'polyps up' ... no don't go, sorry, it won't happen again)

The husband's one result has come back as 'fine'. Quite frankly his 26% morphology seems paltry to me. I mean if I got 26% on a test I'd be pretty damn disappointed, and quite sure I'd failed. But hey, with so many million swimmers tearing round his testicles that's still an awful lot of them to wriggle its way up to the sweet spot. And as my mate said today, it just takes one.

Our relationship is built on a healthy disrespect, an unrelenting amount of taking the piss and a mutual adoration. We laugh a lot, even about difficult things. Even about the barren wasteland that is my womb. Smug, is how I would describe the husband knowing that he has the all clear.

Of course I have the last laugh 'cause it doesn't matter how good his swimmers are, without me they are nothing. Because if he wants a kid, it is still me he has to fertilize so he can stop swaggering and clicking his tongue whilst glancing manfully at his groin. We are going to have to do this together.

This year has been testing. But our relationship hasn't been properly tested. Not yet. Fuck you infertility you won't beat us!

And that, dear reader, is about as slushy as I get. But (and don't tell him I told you this) he is bloody brilliant, the husband.




Thursday, 4 September 2008

I'm back!


If I could get away with it I'd blame PMT for the miserable post the other day. But we all know that's the one thing I haven't got.

The last time I cried in the street I was 16. Me and two mates necked a bottle of gin mixed with lemonade to provide dutch courage prior to a disco. We were young and we didn't realise that a) gin is a major depressant and b) beer-goggles only work if the guy you fancy is wearing them, not you. The three of us ended up clinging to each other on a bench on the high street bawling our eyes out. We never made the disco and I think it was another two years before I found a boyfriend.

But I digress.

Good news! The Doc has got back to me with a date for the hysteroscopy. It is the 24th of September. The day before my scheduled appointment with the clinical nurses. Which means, dear readers, which means, I can still go to the clinical nurses for some super-ovulating action.

Now technically I'm not sure that the day after removing a polyp is really the time to be prescribed ovulation drugs. But do you know what? The good thing about the disorganised, unjoined-up, flakey NHS, is that ... shhh ... they need never know. Now OBVIOUSLY at the appointment I'll mention I had the hysteroscopy the day before, but I sure as hell ain't gonna pre-warn them in case they decide off their own back to postpone my appointment with the clinical nurse.

So all good. Happy days are here again.



Tuesday, 2 September 2008

More Waiting


For the first time in ages I cried today. I walked down the street and burst into tears.

Today I went for the long promised 3D scan.

I could make this funny, regale you with tales about the NHS being so crap that even though I had the first appointment of the day at 9am because the Doctor was late it was still delayed by half an hour.

And how we laughed when the doctor checked my notes and told me that I have been booked in for a hysteroscopy but hadn't even told me, (and of course he didn't have the date, so who knows when it is).

Turns out when the doctor pulled up my notes he saw I had already had one back at the start of May. I have to say this I didn’t know, I have had a few scans and to be honest from my point of view they all seem pretty much the same. Shove up the vagi-cam, wiggle it about, send me packing. Last time it was because I had a possible subseptate womb / uterus. I got the all clear, everything looked normal, things carried on.

Then after the HSG because my tubes looked ragged I was booked in for another scan. I explained that this time he was looking for something different and so he took a look.

The good news is my tubes are fine and dandy, not ragged, nothing.

But I do have a polyps. Which is apparently a small piece of extra skin growing inside my womb “a bit like a grape on a stalk.” Nice.

This needs to be removed before I can start to get treatment for the irregular periods and super ovulation.

Now why, you may ask, was this not discovered during my previous scans in May, or April, or January? Why was this discovered when I have the holy grail of super-ovulation dangled before my eyes with an appointment just three weeks away?

So it is more delays. I now have to get the polyps removed this'll probably be done at the same time as hysteroscopy, whenever that is. Apparently the waiting list isn’t ‘that long’ - but not that long to a doctor is a long, long time when you've been waiting for nearly two years.

So my super-ovulation appointment is going to have to be pushed back, last time it was 2 months from booking it until the appointment date. Now I have to wait until I get the hysteroscopy appointment, then rebook for ovulation.

I’m incredibly frustrated. I have been on hold, waiting for so long, we can’t even go about the business of trying ourselves whilst we wait because as far as I can tell I haven't ovulated since March. And according to the Doctor today - “I don’t think you are due a period anytime soon. There isn’t much follicle activity”.

So I walked out the hospital and wept.