28 February 2011

IVF 1: Beginnings

I paid the clinic and started BCP tonight.  We're on our way.

urgent care

On Sunday morning Jakobe woke up with this terrible rash on his arm.  It didn't hurt, but it was swollen, and I hadn't really ever seen anything like it...  It looked kind of like rug-burn, or something, but we couldn't tell what had caused it.  Anyway, since we didn't like the look of it, we decided that our best course of action was to make our way down to the urgent care center to have it looked at.  

There are some things about urgent care on Sunday morning you should be aware of:

  • it's really busy
  • for some reason, Jakobe's insurance thinks that they need a $75 co-pay
  • almost everyone waiting to be seen is a small child, under the age of 4
  • you have to wait forever to be seen
  • there are babies everywhere, or cute toddlers with gorgeous ringlets
  • so, not really the place for an infertile couple...
But anyway, we get there about 9 am, and then we wait for a long time to be seen, and because I'm just getting over the plague (fever, coughing, sore throat, utter yuckiness) and I'm still coughing, and slightly contagious, I get to wear the oh, so sexy, yellow face mask. (did I mention that I have this little claustrophobia problem, that I absolutely hate having anything over my nose and mouth, and that I have to move the blankets on our bed or when we cuddling so that there is absolutely nothing covering my nose and mouth?  Well, I do.)  In any case, when we finally get back to see a doctor I have come up with a laundry list of things that Jakobe should have checked out, or at least discuss, since we're already there.  Like his arm, his cough, his sore throat, his stuffy ears, and oh yeah - his frequent vomiting.

So - His arm turns out to be petechiae (broken blood vessels in the skin) and he somehow scraped himself or did something else like that to his arm while he was sleeping.  Unless it shows up somewhere else on his body, the verdict is that he somehow did it to himself in his sleep, and that it's nothing to worry about.

His cough - well his lungs sounded fine, so they didn't worry about it at all. His sore throat - got a strep culture - negative.  His stuffy ears - he's got fluid behind his eardrums, and one of them looks a little pink.  Normally, they wouldn't do much of anything for something that mild, but at one point, Jakobe had the both of his inner ears completely rebuilt surgically, and since there aren't bones in there anymore (just shaped pieces of cartilage) he has to be really careful to not get a bad ear infection, or he could maybe go deaf again.  So he gets to go on kick-ass antibiotics.

The vomiting - I finally got some backup on the fact that he really really needs to go to the doctor on this one. It wasn't until I had bugged him about going several times that he explained that he was vomiting up black stuff when he get's these attacks, stuff that maybe looks like coffee grounds.  The Urgent Care doc didn't do anything about it today, but really stressed that Jakobe needs to have it checked out and make sure that something serious isn't going on - because he could be vomiting blood.  Now maybe he'll actually make an appointment.

27 February 2011

The pool is closed for Maintenance

That's Jakobe and my code for AF, usually shortened to "maintenance". I'm not sure how to express what I'm feeling today.  It is with great fanfare that I wish to announce - today is CD1  - and I'm not sad, upset, disappointed, or any of the normal emotional baggage that goes along with this day in my usual routine...

I suppose that there is a small part of me that refuses to accept the obvious, some part of me that continues to hope, month after month, that we were wrong.  That continues to hope that this month - we'll get our surprise pregnancy.  But this month - my little hopeful voice has been completely drowned out by my BIG HOPEFUL VOICE.  

My Uterus on BCPs
The big voice is telling me that my period is a good thing, that it means that I'm one step closer to our IVF cycle.  It tells me that I get to start taking the birth control pill (I think that might be defined as ironic, taking the pill so that I can get pregnant).  The big voice is so loud, that all the little voice got in edgewise was a little comment about how I wasn't pregnant again this month - and it got stomped down with the whole "of course not, we know that doesn't work - but it doesn't matter, we get to try something that might work - so shut the f*ck up!"

It's a joy to get my period without the sadness that has accompanied it for the last two years, to get it with only a feeling of anticipation (and endo pain, but hell - it could be worse, I've still got Vicodin rolling around here, and so it's bearable - except for the dry mouth... that sucks!).

I called and left a message for Debbie - our nurse coordinator.  She's not my favorite so far (it doesn't feel like we've been that high on her priority list, so I don't feel like phone calls have been returned that promptly) but hey, so far we've just been a couple that had some plans to participate at a later date...  now we've actually got something going on.  I hope to hear back from her tomorrow, and I'm wondering if we can get my insurance to pay for the BCPs...  that might be nice.  In any case, this should get the ball rolling.  I know that we need to attend one of the IVF classes (gods I hope that they're not during the day - how much time do I really have to take off of work??  Really?) get our calendar, find out what kind of protocol we'll be on, find out if they want a frozen sample from Jakobe as a backup, find out which drugs we need to order, and so on and so forth.  

BTW:  thank you all for your comments and advice about our medications, it's been very helpful, and I am very grateful.  You all rock, each and every one of you!

25 February 2011

Comparison Shopping

When it came to which RE I was going to see, I wasn’t able to do much in the way of comparison shopping.  There is exactly one in the city where I live, and traveling 300 miles to see, or even try to see a different one wasn’t really in the cards for us.  That’s a lot of time off of work that we couldn’t afford in addition to the costs of IVF itself. 

Now though, I’m wondering if I should do some comparison shopping when it comes to a pharmacy.  How do you pick which pharmacy to order your IVF drugs from?  Does the RE just tell you which one to use, or do you decide yourself?  Most of them don’t seem to have a price list that allows you to see how they stack up against the rest, and they all claim to have the best prices.  Obviously that can’t be 100% true.

What have you done?  How did you choose a pharmacy?  Any recommendations, or words of warning.  I'm a fertility drug newbie since we didn't end up doing any IUIs or stimulated cycles of any kind, just jumped right into the big guns.

24 February 2011

Almost there

Today we got the loan check from my mom, which means that we have the money to pay for our IVF, as soon as he check completely clears.  Like Monday.  We made it!  I've never written a check that big  in my life (and still won't, we're using a cashier's check) so it's going to be awfully strange.  Scary too.  We're so close.

Anyway, I'll be posting again next week when I actually pay Dr. R's office.  and then we'll really be on our way.  BCP should start next week, if I ovulated when I think I did (and I've gotten awfully good at knowing, strange, huh?) Since I'm expecting AF around this weekend.  I've spent the last few days not working because I was very very sick - fever over 100.5, coughing, sore throat, headache, fatigue, the whole works.  I thought that it might make it a good time for me to do a lot of commenting for ICLW, and I've certainly done way more than usual, but not as much as I hoped.


My final bit of news is that the god-damned motherfucking douche-bag asshole pled "not guilty" today and his trial is currently set for May.  They expect it to take a week.  Time to ask for some vacation.  The prosecutor's office assures us that it will get continued, but I guess I have to be prepared anyway.

Time to scan in more receipts, I'm tracking all medical expenses this year for an income deduction...

23 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday: buttons

These are the buttons I made for our costumes.  Yeah, I know, more pictures, but it is Wednesday.

22 February 2011

Radcon - or how I get my geek on

I mentioned in passing that we attended a convention last weekend.  It was a science fiction and fantasy convention where I got to attend a couple of really interesting panels, one on the Kensington Runestone, and another on Victorian Medicine (we wrote down the time for the Neuroscience panel wrong, so I missed that one.)

More than a opportunity to attend panels, was the opportunity to come out of my mundane shell and get my geek on for a little while.  The theme was steam-punk, and I got to make a costume, mostly out of things I had around the house, but also some things I fabricated from scratch.  Radcon was our last hurrah, our time to be crazy before our IVF cycle, a mini-vacation that we sorely needed.  I drank too much, didn't get enough sleep, attempted to semi-supervise 5 teenagers, and had a blast.

I also got to take some pictures (it's more of an addiction) so, now I'm going to share them with you.

Jakobe and I in our costumes
Jakobe looking handsome
My baby sister in her costume
My friend made a Jetpack!

And Fire Dancers!  The name of the troupe is IGNITION.  I *sooo* want to do this...

Yay - dancing with flaming swords.

21 February 2011

Gratitude & Secrets

Right now I am overwhelmed with gratitude, so much that it was impossible to find the words to properly express it.  It starts with me accidentally outing myself in facebook (not this blog, but our infertility)  and the responses were overwhelmingly positive.  Everyone said the right things.

After I outed myself on Tuesday one of my very good friends who doesn't live nearby anymore called me.  She wanted to cover our shortfall becasue of the change in price, as a gift.  But, she also wanted to be sure that the gift was welcome and it wouldn't make either of us uncomfortable.  I was floored/ flabbergasted/ completely astonished.  It never occurred to me that someone would do something like that for us, it certainly wasn't why I post on facebook.  I was just being emotional, and frustrated, and venting.  Wow.

I went home and discussed it with Jakobe, but he wasn't comfortable with it.  It wasn't someone that he knew as well, and he just wouldn't feel right about it.  As part of that conversation he told me it would be different if it had been one of my best friends that he knows well and that we spend a lot of time with. 

Which leads into the next thing.  While we were out at the convention this weekend, one of our close friends pulled me aside and handed me an envelope with $1000 in it, because they wanted to help.  Again, floored/flabbergasted/astonished/ in tears.  None of our close friends here at home have enough money to make a gift like that something easy for them to do.  I know how hard a decision like that would have been, and I couldn't push it back and say, no thank you, we don't really need it, because we do, and because they know it.  Their one stipulation was that I not tell Jakobe.  They felt that he would feel obligated, and that he wouldn't be able to accept it.  Since this was almost exactly what Jakobe told me, I knew they were right, but Yikes!  I am not good with secrets (at least keeping them from Jakobe), and I'm guaranteed to do something to sabotage my secret keeping.

It ate me alive all weekend.  I couldn't figure out how to explain the extra money, and I couldn't figure out how to tell him about it.  At one point I came up with a hare-brained scheme to be able to hide it from him, but I was also aware that it would mean that I would have to keep the secret forever.  That sounded really hard, so after I had lunch with my sisters, I spent my whole drive home in the car trying to think of how I could keep my promise not to tell him, and how I could tell him about the money and not have to hide it from him.  In the end I decided I would ask him to not try and figure out who it was from. 

Turns out, I had already sabotaged myself.  I left the envelope of money on the table in the front room, and he was supposed to be picking up around the house while I was at lunch.  He found the money.  Unfortunately, I think that part of him believes that I was never going to tell him.  He's wrong,  it was so hard to keep that secret for a few days, I don't know how I could have done it for any length of time.  The only secrets I successfully keep are what his birthday and Christmas presents are going to be, and those are surprises (and good ones) and not really secrets..

I want to say thank you, and thank you isn't enough, I want to say that the giving of this gift has changed my life, not because I couldn't have found a way without it, but because it makes me look at the world in a different way, because it makes me realize that people are even better than I gave them credit for.  Thank you for making me feel like I am one of the luckiest people in the world, and one of the richest, with a wealth beyond words or explanation.  Thank you.

08 February 2011

Straight up Potholes

For those of you who live in places where there is a regular freeze/thaw cycle all winter, you will be familiar with the bane of winter driving otherwise known as the pothole.  The city I live in is notorious for its absolutely horrendous pothole problem, and right now it’s at its worst.  To help you understand exactly how bad our pothole problem can be, several years ago on my way to work, I hit a pothole.  It bent the suspension and frame of my car (I can’t say that the car was all that rugged either…)   Why am I telling you all about potholes?  Because my unexpected bumps in the road from the other day weren’t just bumps… they were the cracked pavement right before a giant pothole appears in the street.  On Saturday, we had our pothole.
Turns out, my car overheated because the cylinder gasket was failing.  Apparently the clue was that it looked like someone had vacuumed out the air/water in the upper radiator hose.  I took a picture of it, because I thought it could help them diagnose it.  I was right.   This is not a good thing; in fact, I think you can find it in:  The Book Of Bad: Car Edition on page 1 or 2.  Without the gasket, your car doesn’t work.  It overheats, and dumps exhaust into your cooling system.  Plus – the gasket is in the middle of your engine, so you have to take the engine half apart to fix it.  And, if that wasn’t enough, there’s the possibility that you’ve warped your cylinder heads and that they have to be machined.

Needless to say, fixing this problem isn’t cheap.  We had $12,500 in our IVF fund, and were expecting about $3,000 more this week, bringing us very close to the $16,300 that we needed to be able to pay up front for IVF.  But – fixing the car will be about $2,000, which is a lot more than we had hoped.  I have been trying all this time to be able to pay for the majority of our treatment with cash and reimbursements, and now that’s a little bit out of reach.  Especially since the amount I’ve quoted above doesn’t include any of the medications, or the anesthesia… it’s just IVF and ICSI.  We have enough available credit to forge ahead anyway (mostly because the total balance on our credit cards is less than $300), but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.  It sucks.

I had a really hard time Saturday afternoon; because after the mechanic called Jakobe said that we needed to talk and that we shouldn’t make any decisions right away.  I thought he was talking about postponing IVF, and I had a mini freak-out in my head.  Turns out that what he meant was that we had to decide how we were going to pay for it: with cash or with credit…  I think we should pay with my new rewards card, and then we should pay off the rewards card with our cash.  Keeps us out of the hole, and gets us frequent flyer miles.

One of the things I said to Jakobe while we were talking is that now that we’ve started the ball rolling, I don’t think I can stop.  Postponing things again would be extremely hard for me.  In response he said that even while we were on hold, I couldn’t let go. So we aren’t changing our plan to go ahead with the April IVF cycle, just having to re-think how we’re paying for it.

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

07 February 2011

Ripple Effect

This post may be a little disturbing, and will certainly not be a happy one, because it’s about rape.  If you want to skip it, please do.  I won’t be bothered.

I mentioned last month, that someone close to us had been violently raped.  I still don’t intend to tell her story; it’s hers, and not mine to tell.  At the same time, I feel like I have to tell our part of the story because her assault has had a ripple effect on my (and our) life.  In order to help you understand this effect, I’m going to share a few details.  Her attacker was not a stranger, to her, or to us.  He was someone that we had shared meals with – sometimes on holidays, someone who was friends with several other people we know.  Someone that none of us would have ever expected to do something like that.  He was someone who had apparently been watching this woman with inappropriate thoughts for years, since her early teens, and he is in his mid-forties.  While he wasn't a friend of ours, I have been in his home, and have dropped children off there so that his sister could watch them.  How could I have been so blind?

After it happened, she came to stay with us for a few days, and one of the things that she needed to do was to talk about what happened, in detail.  It hurt to hear it.  It hurt to know that it was something that I couldn't undo, or fix.

Since then, I have been having nightmares.  Dreams where people I know and trust do terrible things, and I have to smile and put on a nice face and just go about my day.  I have dreamed that he invaded my home, and that no one would let me force him out, that I just had to put up with it.  In one dream, I wanted nothing more than to kill him, but I knew that I had already sent all of my guns away.  He was in my home, and eventually I broke my way through all of the people who were in my way, knocked him down and tried to strangle him… only to discover that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Part of me feels like I shouldn’t be feeling this way.  This wasn’t something that happened to me.  But it did happen to someone I care about, and feel some level of protectiveness toward.  And, right now, it’s got me a little screwed up.

Then there’s another ripple effect.  It comes in two parts.  Jakobe and I have always struggled with a difference in our libidos.   And this has had an effect on both of us.  For weeks, the idea of having sex was something I couldn’t wrap my head around.  In addition, Jakobe has always been a little bit paranoid about rape.  Even after we were married, he wouldn’t have sex with me if I had been drinking, because I might change my mind.  We were slowly working through that (because a little bit of alcohol makes me frisky!) but this situation has brought a lot of that back to the forefront.  So, once I was ready again, he really wasn’t.  As a result – we have had very little sex, and that’s not good for us either.

I find myself wondering if this man has any idea the amount of damage that he has caused.  Not only to the woman that he raped, but also to her friends and family; the damage that he caused to the couple that were his first friends in our social circle, who introduced him to the rest of us.  Every one of these people trusted him to some extent, even if it was just the trust that someone you know could never do anything like that.  Every one of us has been betrayed.

There are things about this that aren’t quite as bad.  The criminal justice system seems to be working.  He was arrested less than two weeks after it happened, and has been in jail ever since.  He can’t make bond, and the courts won’t reduce it.  He has confessed to two of the three ways that he can be found guilty of rape, he just claims that he didn’t use violence, so I expect that there will be either a plea deal that will have him serving prison time, or that it could go to trial – at which point he would most likely be convicted.  She seems to be holding up well – she’s strong, and she’s dealing.

01 February 2011

Getting started: Baby steps

Today was the first day where I could feel how close we are getting to actually doing this.  I've been diligently working toward it for months, and making money choices didn't really make it real.  Today though...  I started of my day at the RE, where it was morning monitoring.  I was about the 4th woman there.  And I feel so bad for everyone who arrived after I did, because it was a really bad day to follow me.  It took 5 different needle sticks to be able to draw blood for my CD3 labs - we were going to try and do the rest of my labs at the same time, but no such luck... And it too easily 20 minutes to do the one blood draw...  Meaning that by the time I got out of the phlebotomist's area....  there was standing room only in the waiting room.  Everyone was waiting for me to finish.  I'm So Sorry.

Before the start of a triathlon - Kind of how I feel today.
Then at work today, I had a meeting with HR to explain what was going on and to find out what my options were.  Unfortunately, they really wanted me to work things out with my boss' supervisor.  She Really, really doesn't like me.  I've yet to figure out why, but she feels like she has to watch my every move, and she has to pay extra special attention to me, and it's all negative.  No one but her has a problem with how I do my job, but she seems to have it out for me.  Plus - she's given my boss a very hard time for having been very ill this fall.  I didn't want to talk to her about it.  I couldn't see how it was going to end well.

I was VERY pleasantly surprised.

She seemed very supportive, and even came up with the idea of changing my scheduled shift while I'm doing IVF so that morning monitoring will hopefully not interfere.  No decisions were made today, but I feel much better about it now.  Maybe this will all work out.

Here's the current plan:

  •  Jakobe and I still have some blood tests to do.  We'll just go to the lab and have them done - Maybe Saturday morning.  
  • We have to pay them for the cycle and ICSI by February 28th.  I didn't quite make my goal of being able to pay for everything with cash, but we're not to far off.  We've got just shy of $12,500 in savings, and just over $3000 coming in a couple of weeks with our tax return.  That's all but $800 of the up-front cash for the clinic, and  then it's mostly Meds and incidentals...  and some of it will be reimbursed.    We'll be picking up a bit of debt, but not more than we can handle.    
  • I start BCPs with my next cycle.
  • IVF in April!
Finally - to finish off today's post, here are the lab results from today, not to shabby, I don't think.
  • FSH: 3.3
  • LH: 8.2
  • Estradiol: 36.3

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