Tomorrow I will start shots with a medication called Gonal F. This is made of a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). These drugs act directly on my ovaries, putting them into overdrive and making them pump out (hopefully) more than a dozen eggs. If you think about it, the process is pretty cruel...suppression of your hormones to make your body think you are in menopause and then turning right around from one day to the next and telling your ovaries to make a dozen eggs. Again, I'm sure I will be an absolute joy to be around once these hormones start working (insert sarcasm here.) I will be on these injections around 12 days, give or take a few days. I will go to my local doctor on Tuesday and Friday of next week to check my levels and monitor the size of the growing egg follicles. By the end of next week, we should know with a little more certainty when the date of our retrieval will be.
I mentioned that our Christmas was eventful. Harrison's parents did not come into town for Christmas Day because Harrison's cousin Wil was getting married the Saturday after Christmas in Memphis, and it would be too much travel to drive from Nashville to Knoxville, back to Nashville, to Memphis, then back to Nashville again all within a few days. Christmas Day was going to be spent with my family so Christmas Eve Harrison and I, along with his sister Frances and her husband Jeremy, and Harrison's grandmother went out to dinner. I had been feeling weak and dizzy most of the day Tuesday so I spent most of the day resting/napping in bed. I have been pushing myself pretty hard the past few weeks trying to make holiday parties, family obligations, Christmas shopping, doctor's appointments, etc., so I thought I was just worn out and needed some extra rest. I was getting into the passenger side of my car as we were leaving to go out to dinner Christmas Eve. I had a couple seconds where everything blacked out while I literally had one leg already in the car and one foot still on the ground. Because of my position, I fell pretty hard on my garage floor and the base of my spine hit the concrete. I didn't fully pass out but it was enough to scare me and Harrison both. I thought I was okay and so we headed on to dinner. I made it through dinner and again pushed myself to make it over to my parents house. My aunt Julie had just arrived from North Carolina, and my sister, her husband, and my new niece Ingrid were at my parents. We went over there for a few hours, then headed home.
I slept in Christmas morning but woke up in a lot of pain. We spent Christmas Day at my parents house, but I did not feel well at all. I was in a lot of pain so my parents insisted that after dinner, we head on home so I could get some rest. I was planning on flying with Harrison's grandmother to Memphis on Friday so that I wouldn't have to endure the long car trip, which would inevitably put me in bed for a day or so. Harrison's grandmother was gracious enough to pay for my plane ticket and I was looking forward to spending time with her. Thursday morning I again woke up with a lot more pain than normal and knowing I had the flight booked the next day, I knew my body was telling me to rest, so I did. Thursday night at about 11 pm, I started experiencing incredibly sharp, severe, stabbing pains running from my neck down into my shoulder blade. I couldn't even turn my head. Sobbing in pain, I woke up Harrison. We immediately got in the car and headed to the emergency room. This was a pain that was not normal for me, nor one that I had really felt before. It occurred to me on the ride to the ER that maybe I had done something when I had fallen 48 hrs earlier. I told the doctor what happened and he wanted to do X-rays just to make sure everything like my plate and screws were still where they should be. Everything looked fine, so the doctor thought that when I fell, I just sent a jolt up my spine causing some inflammation or maybe a pinched nerve. He told me I needed to be on strict bed rest and wear a soft neck brace for several days. So after my ER visit and my doctors instructions, I knew my trip to Memphis was off. Harrison was planning on driving to Nashville and meeting up with his parents and riding with them to Memphis but that all changed as well. Harrison was able to get on a late afternoon flight to Memphis on Friday. I unpacked the bag I had for the wedding weekend, and repacked for a weekend at my parents house. My mom and dad took care of me and our dog Reese while Harrison was away. I spent the weekend and the first part of this week in bed and wearing a very fashionable neck brace. The ER doctor put me on steroids for 5 days to help with inflammation so once that really started to kick in, I started to feel relief from the pain, but it definitely took a while.
Last year for New Years Eve, we had tickets to the Dirty Guv'nahs (a great southern rock band from Knoxville) Concert at Tennessee Theater. Well because of my gallbladder and hospitalizations last year, we missed the concert. Back in the fall, the band announced they would again do a New Year's Eve show, so we were determined to go this year. I couldn't believe that I was spending time in the hospital around Christmas once again! ( I was also in the hospital on Christmas Eve in 2006. Hard to believe that I had my first cervical spinal fusion 7 years ago.)
- Side note...I have a good friend who suffers with some health issues who is a lover of Broadway plays. She and her husband go to several every year and she always posts these beautiful pictures all glammed up on the nights they go out. A couple weeks ago she posted a picture, but explained the TRUTH behind what it takes to prepare her body for such an outing. Reading her account was so similar to how I have to prepare myself. What i don't think a lot of people understand about my pain is how well I've learned to hide it or cover it up the past few years. Make up and a cute nice outfit can go a long way to make me look presentable, even when I feel awful. Like a lot of people with chronic health problems, my pain is not something you can visibly see when looking at me, and getting ready for a big outing, such as a company holiday party, can literally be my whole "to-do list" on the day of. I have to pace myself and listen to my body. Most of the time now, if I have a few days notice of an event, I can plan and organize myself enough to where I can rest my body efficiently and make important events, but there are still some times when my pain is totally unpredictable and uncontrollable, and I unfortunately have to cancel or reschedule things. When I do miss important things, like weddings, I deal with a lot of guilt. I hate that my pain still wins some battles. It is still just as frustrating and disappointing for me as it was years ago. I hate feeling like I am letting people down.
So anyway, back to the concert...I was dead set on not letting Harrison down and missing the concert for a second year in a row. We were planning on going out to a nice dinner beforehand, but this was one of those times I knew I had to listen to my body, so we skipped dinner out and opted just to make it to the concert. I looked very chic all dressed up with my neck brace on and I inevitably got some stares, but I didn't care...I was there, with my husband, and that's all that mattered to me.
After a week in bed and in a brace, I finally feel that I have turned the corner as far as healing and the amount of pain I have been feeling, but as usual, any extra prayers would be greatly appreciated. This part of the IVF process is very important. Every part is important but this phase is especially so because If I have a good response to the stimulation medications, and we get good number of eggs that fertilize, we should have eggs to freeze. This could be the only stimulation cycle we have to do, but there is always the possibility that we would have to go through this part again. If we have eggs to freeze and this round does not work after the transfer (meaning the egg did not implant and I don't get a positive pregnancy test,) then our next cycle would be a frozen embryo transfer (FET). With an FET, I would not have to do the ovary stimulation phase. I would use drugs to stimulate the growth of my endometrial lining and then we would "thaw" an egg or two to transfer when the time is right. All that being said, I obviously want to feel my best physically, emotionally, and spiritually the next few weeks so that I can have the best possible outcome. I will be updating the blog every few days from this point on, not only to keep people informed, but for my own therapeutic reasons and so that if we do have a family via IVF, I will have a written account to go back to someday and show our child. I also know how reading other people's blogs about their personal infertility journeys helped me feel like I was not completely alone. I found a lot of comfort reading about other people's experiences because it gave me a more of a feeling of knowing what to expect and while there are a lot of people who struggle with infertility, the amount of people who end up doing IVF is relatively small. I can only hope that one day someone stumbles across this blog and can find some comfort in our story. Feel free to keep reading our updates, but if you aren't interested in the specific details of the IVF process, I understand that too. Thanks for reading and for all the support.