Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trauma for the Greater Good

Remember how I said I was going to do the test for the Beta-3 Integrin protein? That whole thingamajig on the protein that if it's not in your lining, implantation cannot occur? Well, to have the test, you need to have an endometrial biopsy. Which I found out today, if you are doing it to send tissue off to a lab, is NOT THE SAME as a scratch biopsy. (And I have heard that those can be painful.)

This test is not for the faint of heart.

When I asked about it, my doctor said, "Well, you won't like me for about 5 seconds or so. 30 seconds at most." That sounded manageable, like it would be horrible but quick.

Going into the room today, the nurse prefaced it with, "So, you know what he's going to be doing to you today, right?" Oh my god, that is the scariest introduction to a procedure I have ever had, I thought. The truth is, I didn't really know. I thought he was going in, scraping a bit of tissue into a slide or something, and sealing it up to mail off to the e-tegrity lab. I did not realize that it was going to be more like using a vegetable peeler to julienne a nice ribbon of endometrial tissue from around my poor, traumatized uterus.

I got all set up in the stirrups, and I got a play-by-play on what was happening.

"I'm inserting the speculum." Ok, this is usually a bit uncomfortable but not horrible.
"I'm putting the grasper on your cervix to help with the ease of passing the pipette through." Grasper? WHO NAMES THESE THINGS? A little more uncomfortable, but I'm doing great! No biggie! 
"Now I'm passing the pipette through, and you may start to feel some cramping." Ouch, but not terrible.
"Ok, here we go." At first, not terrible, like a bad HSG. But then...
"I'm ok! I'm ok! I'm super!" 
And then the crying started. Because honestly, it was SO not okay. The cramping was intense, like maybe there should be a baby coming out of me at any moment. I am not an expert on childbirth, but I can imagine that that was like a killer contraction. That lasted more than a minute.

At the worst part, I was crying that awful whimpering animal-sound cry and yelling, "I am so unhappy right now!" in a voice that probably belonged to my inner three-year-old. I am proud of my relative ladylike-ness, as usually I swear like nobody's business in these situations. I did start to say "SHHHHIIIII" and I didn't finish, but the nurse was like, "Go ahead, honey, finish it! Swear, we don't mind!" Which made me feel way better, as this is a new clinic and they don't yet know what I am capable of when I come out of anesthesia, which will be happening when I do my next egg retrieval. My doctor knows, because he's seen it before, and while it can be somewhat entertaining, I do worry at offending new people who don't know me yet.

The cramping lasted for a good 10-15 minutes at a less intense rate than when something sharp was stealing a piece of me, but still pretty freaking intense. I've had cramping ever since, but not quite so painful as before.

The tissue sample was curled into a jar as Bryce watched, horrified at how much of me was going in to be tested.

But, it's over. And I never have to do it again. Because as the tears were still dripping into my ears, I said, "But don't I have to have the scratch biopsy before the next cycle?" And he replied, "Yes, but that won't be nearly as bad as this." Whew.

After we got home (it's an hour and fifteen minutes away), I fell asleep for two hours. My body was really, really pissed at me. It still isn't too happy, but it's better. I think it speaks to how traumatizing that was that my body just really, really wanted to just shut down after that.

Bryce was awesome. I held his hand, but it actually hurt so badly that I couldn't even squeeze it. He actually teared up because of how much pain I was in. He is such an amazing support. We had a nice lunch together at an organic cafe just down the road, and I felt so lucky as we sat there in the middle of the day, having a nice meal together. I mean, not so lucky that my uterus was making it clear that it was NOT pleased with the events of the day, but lucky in that even after that awful test we could sit and enjoy a quiet moment together, a strange sort of date in the middle of the day.

Now, we wait. The results come in 24-36 hours from when the lab in California receives the sample, and it was sent out today. Once we have our results we can move forward. If I have the integrin present, then we just figure out when the stim cycle begins. If I do not have the integrin present, then we figure out when to do the Lupron Depot treatment that apparently magically makes it appear again. The interesting thing is that apparently centers that are doing this typically do the stimulation and egg retrieval part of the cycle first, then freeze whatever makes it to Day 5, then you do the Lupron treatment and transfer is delayed. Which sounds good to me, because then the Lupron won't interfere with my fabulous egg harvest. I have had the best success when I am on a protocol where I take Ganarelix instead of Lupron for suppression, because the lupron suppresses me just a bit too much. So I like this idea. Also, increasingly apparently centers are "uncoupling" retrieval and transfer, so that you have time in between to create a healthy lining and for your body to recover from the stimulation and even hyperstimulation (which I have fallen prey to before and that sucks, too). A healthy, non-stressed body is apparently a better receiver of embryos. Go figure. I love this plan. I love that it is nearly upon us. I love that my doctor researched this test extensively to make sure that it was a good idea for me in particular, because it is A HORRIBLY PAINFUL test. He didn't want me to have to do it if didn't seem like it would would apply to me. And I so respect that -- I'd far rather the things I bring to the table be researched AS THEY APPLY TO ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL rather than just done because I want it and it seems like a good idea.

I feel good about where we're going. I feel pretty peaceful, now that my lining is knitting itself back together. I feel grateful for my incredibly supportive husband and for my new medical team. I feel grateful for my friends and family who checked in on me today. I seriously hope that the worst is behind us. Nothing but blue skies ahead. A girl can dream, right? All of this for the greater good, for the privilege of parenting whatever amazing soul is meant to come to us in this crazy, convoluted way.

10 comments:

  1. First, I never told you how awesome I think your egg bootcamp sounds. And so very, very impressive! I only go to egg spa day--but I am being proactive about eating healthier and exercising more. But you are amazing! Second, this procedure sounds horrifying. I'm so sorry that you had to go through it, but it sounds like some good will come out of it. It's so strange, since I've never done an embryo transfer I just assume that everything will be fine with my uterus (I don't assume that about egg quality, in fact, I have zero faith in my egg quality). Ignorance has been bliss for all these months. But I'm so glad that your doctor has been so proactive about your treatment and has looked at you like an individual--doctor's like that seem few and far between. I'm so excited for you to get started!

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    1. Well, thank you! I am trying to give Egg Boot Camp a good go, but I find that if I aim for tough egg love and I fall a little short, then I am still doing well by those egglets! I cannot say enough good things about my doctor. I am just amazed at the level of care and compassion, even though he murdered my lining the other day. I can forgive him that! :) From what I know and have exhaustively and obsessively researched, most of the time the uterus is ok, so I wouldn't worry too terribly much. It seems there is an answer to just about anything now (not that that means success necessarily, but there's a test and options out there for things I didn't even know existed, of course it all takes moolah). Good luck!

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  2. Ohhhh no fun...glad you made it through and the next one won't be as bad. My scratch biopsy was some sort of scrape and suction and nothing like it sounds like this was so have peace that next one should go so much smoother. Wishing you the best as you get the results and move forward in your plans.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, definitely no fun. I think I could have nightmares about that procedure! Good to know the scratch is less creepy. I look forward to a less torturous trip to the stirrups!

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  3. That sounds like it was horrible...so glad it's behind you! Wishing you the best as you move forward.

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    1. Thank you! Here's hoping all this will result in pain like that that produces an actual baby. :)

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  4. Oh, dear, how painful!! I was cringing through this post. One tough lady, you are. I'm glad it is over and hope you get the results you need soon, soon. ~theunexpectedtrip

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    1. Thanks lady, so are you! I read your Valium and Vicodin post and was SO JEALOUS... I actually sent my doctor a text suggesting maybe Valium would be a better pre-test dosing than ibuprofen... :) That would have made it at least a little better for sure. Here's hoping you are baking a blast as we speak!

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  5. That sounds absolutely wretched! So glad you could find a bright spot in the day with Bryce. I love that he is there for you. Hooray for kindhearted men who walk with us!

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    1. Thanks, lady! Thanks for stopping by so soon after Arlo--I feel so special! :) And yes, hip hip hooray for the hombres!

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