Monday, January 20, 2014

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Today can only be defined as a no-good, terrible, rotten, very-bad day.

Where do I begin?

"Complex atypical hyperplasia", that's where. The thing you always want to stay away from on a pathology report.  

Remember that trip to Moab, Utah my doctor took during my Hysteroscopy on December 20th?  Well it appears that the "arches" in my uterus that were scraped out with the D&C and Hysteroscopy procedure weren't what they've been in the past. Matter of fact, statistics said about 40% of what they scraped would progress to endometrial cancer.  

What is really interesting is what has aggressively grown in it's place over the last month.  And when I say growth, I mean growth.  My uterine lining is already measuring 12mm.  Normal is 5 mm.  What should be there four weeks after a procedure like mine and a body pumped full of progesterone, is much-much less.  So... while I was working my tail off in D.C., my cells were busy and they were bad.

Hence, the bleeding.

Suggested treatment for is usually hysterectomy.  Yah, you heard me right.  

A hysterectomy.

The more severe the atypical, the less chance it will reverse itself with hormone therapy.  Mine is what they classify as "moderate to severe", so today I was released from Dr. H and the reproductive clinic I have been going to for 7+ years... to Dr. Z who is one of the best gynecological oncologist in my state. Yah, you heard me right.

An oncologist.

To say that this is a really hard hand-off for me at this point in the game, is a huge understatement. Going into my appointment I knew we wouldn't be transferring embryos in a few short weeks because of the unexpected bleeding...but I didn't expect this. Never this.

Worst case scenario: ... The cancer isn't what has me worried because even when hyperplasia does lead to cancer, endometrial cancer is usually slow to grow and spread.  If women are alert to the non-menstrual bleeding which is the chief symptom, most endometrial cancer and pre-cancer can be eliminated before it becomes life-threatening.  For me, the worst-case scenario is definitely the recommended hysterectomy. That is where my dream of having a baby (my baby) dies and that isn't something I'm ready for yet.

Best-case scenario:  all goes well with the oncologist and we get to do Frozen Embryo Transfer in eight months to a year.  Most likely, a year.  If (and they mean a big, fat "if") all goes well.

There is a lot to be discussed with that oncologist.

After Dr. H and the nurse hugged me and closed the exam room door...Mr. Thompson wrapped me in his arms and I bawled like a baby. I've taken a lot of blows through the years but this wasn't one I expected.  

Like I said, it was a no-good, terrible, rotten, very-bad day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cost vs. Benefit

I'm home.

I can't even tell you how nice it feels to be back.  3+ weeks away from home is a long time and I find that the older I get, the more I don't like it (unless it's vacation).

Mr. Thompson really, really missed me.  When I walked through the TSA gate at the airport he was standing there waiting for me and I'll confess that when I hugged him I got a little emotional.  He really is my other half.  Although imperfect, we fit perfectly. It is the reason why love songs and poetry were written. I missed him.

I was able to take two days off this week before returning to work which was very needed.  When I finally returned however, I could definitely feel the fact that I've been out of the office for four weeks.  Re-entry was hard and I don't think that I'll ever catch up.  I'll do my best but I'm fiercely determined to set limits and focus on some other priorities in my life.  My job is just one of them and is most certainly not at the top of my list.  (You have no idea what a huge statement that is for me.) God, spouse, family - in that order.  Work isn't even one of my top 5.

Health-wise, I'm still struggling.  Today I'm going in for an ultrasound.  In an effort to stop the post-op bleeding (that shouldn't be happening), Dr. H changed my medication to Norethindrone, which is used to treat endometriosis and uterine bleeding (among other things). It is basically like "the pill" but it's all progesterone and doesn't contain any estrogen like the other does.  Somehow, someway - it's supposed to stop what can only be described as a 4-week menstral cycle but how that all works is beyond me.  At first it appeared to be doing the trick, which is why I didn't immediately return for an ultrasound on Monday as requested. The goal was to get it to taper off and I thought it was doing what it should have been doing...

Until Thursday when I returned to work.

That's when I got that sharp right-side pain again, which can only be likened to a side stitch you feel after running.  With that came the heavier flow (again). It's exactly what happened at 2:00am on Christmas morning when the bleeding really started 4-days post-op.  Things were relatively normal after sugery until that point.

Oy vey.

Here I go again.

Today I get the much-needed ultrasound and the thought of the probe just hurts.

Have I also mentioned that I am really ready to stop pumping hormones into my body?! For over seven years this quest has really taken its toll on me physically and I'm ready for it to be over.  The Norethindrone has given me such bad headaches I can barely stand it (not to mention acne, bloating, etc).  When the pharmacist told me to expect weight gain I wanted to fall to the floor and start crying.

Please tell me that a baby is worth it...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Do You Want To Build a Snowman?

I'm ready to go home. Don't get me wrong - my time in D.C. has been really nice but I've worked 12 hour shifts since I got here and have only had one day off (including worked holiday and weekends).  In total, I've worked over 150 hours in two weeks and I'm feeling it.  I haven't slept in my own bed for over 3 weeks and I'm ready to lay down and curl up into a ball for a few days.

With Mr. Thompson.

Add a three-week menstrual cycle into the mix and I feel like ... well ... you know.  Crap.  Double crap, actually.

Yeah, you heard me right. The cramping and bleeding continues 3 weeks post-surgery. Painfully so. So I called Dr. H again and got a bit more persistent. This is the first time I've actually spoken to him and not the nurses/doctors on call (he's been out of town). We chatted and he is concerned with my symptoms. He called in a higher dose of the birth control in case it's a progesterone suppression issue, but he wants me to watch it very closely. If it doesn't taper off quickly then yours truly earns a flight home for an immediate ultrasound.

Great.

And if you think this is all part of my own stupidity with work hours like that, you're probably right. I honestly didn't know it was that many hours until I just calculated it.

"Hello. My name is Me and I'm a work-aholic." 


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In other Daily Dose news, I've been working at the National Disaster Operations Center for my annual rotation.  

Time flies when you're having fun and I've certainly hit my groove.  I am surrounded by very dedicated people who are incredibly smart, professional and motivated by goodness.  It's upped my game.  Washington D.C. often gets a bad rap because of the politics, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of public servants who work tirelessly around the clock to ensure that we are safe and cared for as a nation.  It makes me want to move back (a little).  For just a minute more, I've been amongst the best in the field and it has given me a lot to think about professionally.  2014 is going to be a really big year for me. No matter how you look at it, good things will happen - the possibilities are endless. But first priority is still my family.

Before the holidays I turned down a relocation offer to Boston which was really hard for me to do. Eventually, we want to relocate and settle our family in that area but when it came down to it, the timing just felt off. 

For now.

So we will stay in the west, continue infertility treatments and blossom where we are planted...in the shadow of the everlasting mountains... where there is a lot of snow and happiness.

Last night I asked Mr. Thompson if he would do three things with me when I get home:
  1. Snuggle.
  2. Go skiing.
  3. Build a snowman.
He said, "yes" to all three which gives me a lot to look forward to.  Oh boy-howdy, I'm going to build the biggest, baddest snowman that you ever did see!  It's going to be awesome.

Like you. 

I can't tell you what the heartfelt comments have meant on the last few posts.  Same thing goes for the FB personal messages and emails.  I have a tremendous support system around me and it feels really good to know that I'm not alone on this IF island. Everyone has had something valuable to add to the dialog and it's been really good.

Thank you for that.

oxox.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Let It Go


Confession #1: I love the comments on the previous post. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Like I'm not alone. You people are good!

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Confession #2: I may or may not have cried in my hotel room this morning. A lot. As in...big, silent, alligator tears.

Over a song.



It seems silly but in some way, shape, or form I think that we all have a lot of letting go to do. And I'm not just talking about infertility and infant loss. We all have something we hold close. Maybe too close.

At least, I know that I do.

This is my quiet corner of the universe and I've very open here...but in real life, trust me when I say that almost nobody knows anything about our infant loss and infertility journey. I don't speak openly about it. Actually, I don't speak about it at all. What people "know" - they think they "know" based off of assumptions. Goodness, my own step-daughters don't even know about their little brother (another topic - another day). I've always guarded my privacy to a fault and what I usually project is a calm, cool, professional woman by choice.

In other words: A. Big. Fat. Freakin'. Lie.

A few trusted friends have found my blog along the way but they are few and they are trusted. And we almost never talk about it in casual conversation.

So when I heard this song this morning it touched me. It made me just want to throw it all to the wind and...

Let. It. Go.



Do you ever feel like that? If so, what do you want to let go of the most?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Say Hello To My Little Friend


This week, January 5th - 12th, is International Blog Delurking Week. Who would have thought?! (Did you even know it exists? I didn't...)

Mel over at The Stirrup Queens schooled me into awareness and then forced me out of the reading closet with guilt. Not long after, a personal friend hit it a little closer to home on why we should all be a little more free with our kind comments.

This friend is a good friend. I've silently watched through the years as she's gone through being single, having dreams, getting married, crashing dreams, yucky divorce and now the challenging role of single motherhood. I don't even think that she knows I've been watching...but I have, and I know that it hasn't been easy. Yet, she has handled it all with a level of dignity and grace that I can only aspire to. Yesterday I saw an amazing picture of her and thought to myself, "self - she is looking beautiful!". So I broke out of my silent shell and commented as such. What resulted was a really, really heartfelt private message back to me in gratitude because my simple comment came at a moment when she really needed it. It was a low moment for a woman who always appears to be so strong.

Lesson learned.

We need to be here for each other. I read a lot of blogs/posts but rarely comment unless I feel something compelling or smart to say. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen often, which means that I don't comment like I should.

But with this reminder from my friend, my awareness of "International Delurking Week", and Mel's encouragement to comment on every post that I read this week... I humbly accept the challenge to be a bit better. I'll be freer with my comments, even if it is to just let you know that I'm here and that I've always got your back.

Hopefully you'll accept that challenge too. Start today. Start with me.

I honestly have no idea who is reading this silly thing.  My feeds get well over 100 views but there are no comments so who really knows.  Help me get a pulse by leaving a comment in the comment section below admitting that you’re here. You can simply raise your hand and meekly admit that you’re here with a simple, one-word “here” comment; or you can proudly raise your hand and tell us all a bit about yourself (my preferred method); or… you can tell me your best comfort food.

Then pass that gift forward for the rest of this week. Who knows - you might be that friend who can lift someone's burden with a simple little validation.

I'll start:

Hello. I'm "Me" of Mr. Thompson and Me. I have a weakness for Lindt Chocolate. (Especially the kind they name after a pleasant greeting like "Hello".  That's just an invitation into my mouth!).  
 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Slow and Steady Wins The Race


I'm going to do something different this year. I am not going to do what I have for the last eight years and go into 2014 thinking that THIS is going to be THE year.

Quite frankly, it may not.

It may not be the year of successfully adding to our family of two.  It may not be the year that we finally get a positive result.  And sustain it.

But then again, it might.

So although I'm becoming more of a realist, I trying to keep hope alive.  I trying to persevere with all my heart, mind and might to change our outcome, as much as I can.  What I can't change, I gladly turn over to my faith in God.

And there is a whole lot to turn over right now.

The hysteroscopy/D&C procedure that I had before Christmas is proving harder to recover from than previously experienced. But here I am, working in Washington DC, trying to take it easy and make the most of it. I don't have a fever which is good but the cramping hasn't tapered off and my iron level is shot to hell (if you know what I mean). I'm doing my part and giving the rest over in faith.

In this moment, I'm focused on a healthy recovery. Our plan was FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) in six weeks but we'll see what happens. I don't want to rush it like I did with our last (4th, unsuccessful) IVF.  Truthfully, I pushed really hard for quick recovery and my body probably wasn't ready.  This year, I'm going to do my part and be patient. For as long as it takes.

As with all good runners (my 2014 resolution), I am learning to go the distance.  Slow and steady wins the race because infertility isn't a sprint.

It's turning out to be more like a marathon.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To Run

I love new beginnings.  I think it stems from my childhood (to adulthood) love of all things Anne of Green Gables related...

ANNE: Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.
MISS STACEY: Well, there's no mistakes in it yet.

That is how I think about the New Year.  It's always fresh with no mistakes in it.  Yet.

I try to keep my resolutions simple.  By nature, I'm a very goal oriented person so I really make an effort to stick with it.  I used to make big long lists until a few years ago when I simplified to one or two words.  In 2012 it was "Hope" and I accomplished that.  Last year it was "Peace", and although not perfect, I accomplished that too.  This year it's...

To Run.

I'm going to run. Simple as that.  This was inspired by a few things.

First, it was made in my quest to get healthy.  In October I ran my first race and I loved it.  It was hard but oh, so worth it.  It was then that I vowed to run 40 (race) miles... to lose 40 pounds... by the time I turn 40.   One dear friend set a goal a year ago to start running 5K races and she's lost almost 100 pounds in the last 15 months.  Pretty amazing!  I also have a dearest chum who knows a thing or two about living as a family of two.  A few years ago, after over 12 years of no ninos... he and his wife set a goal and started running 5K races together.  Less than a year later they lost weight and found out that they were pregnant.  Last spring they welcomed their first (cutest ever!) baby boy.  His wife is my secret inspiration.

Literally speaking, I'm going to run for the health benefits.  

But perhaps the greater meaning is figurative.  Last January my neighbor went through something significant that has struck me many times over the last year.  It was during a cold January night, as I was up monitoring an apartment fire around 2am...when I learned that down the street my neighbor's young son quietly passed away.  When I read the news via FB, I remember looking out the window, as the snow silently fell, with the thought that I should get down on my knees to pray for this family I didn't even know.  I wanted them to feel strength and love, even that from a stranger, in their darkest hour.  I've been there.   

Perhaps you are acquainted with Mitchell's Journey on FB. If not, look it up because you should be.  It is a page that was started by a loving father in an effort to help his son fight Muscular Dystrophy.  As Mitch passed away, it has turned into an inspiring outlet with lessons on grief, love and living life to it's fullest.  It's turned into something amazing and inspiring for a whole lot of people from around the world - including me.

Mitch's dad wrote a post this week that really struck me.  It was titled "To Run".  Here is an exert:

"Just after my father passed away I remember speaking with my Stake President (a leader in my church) about the loss of my father and the next phase of my life. I was hurting, alone and I was scared. I was about to turn 19 and had recently moved to Edmonton, Alberta to live with my father – who was very much alone. This discerning leader lovingly looked me in the eye and cautioned me to not run “from” my hardship, but run “to” what was next.

I always appreciated his deep wisdom and have never forgotten his timeless council. So, on that day, with tears in my eyes by the loss of my dad, I made a personal commitment to always face hard things and never run from them. What’s more, I promised myself I would run with purpose to the future.

Run to, not from. There is a difference in how we run … and that difference is profound.

As many of you know the original purpose of this Facebook page was to keep family and friends aware of Mitch and his condition. It was supposed to be a quiet place of sharing – and I assumed it would be invisible from the world, just like my family was. My hope was that Mitch would find a little comfort that a handful of people loved and followed him and occasionally cheered him on. But as he grew weaker and sicker more and more people came running to love him; so many of you were so good to him, and my family. Thank you. I was brought to my knees with gratitude every single day. I still am.

Over the last 10 months people from all across the world have done things in honor of Mitch and other boys they know and love who also have Muscular Dystrophy. They did what they could to raise money for PPMD, for research and raise awareness of my son’s killer. Here are a handful of people who ran because my son couldn't. They ran with dignity and purpose and I love each of them as though they were family.

These compassionate men and women ran with purpose - and so shall I.

And on that day I see my son in that place beyond the hills, I will run to him. I will run as fast as my legs will take me." (
https://www.facebook.com/mitchellsjourney)


So yes, in 2014 I am going to run.  Oh boy howdy - am I going to run!

I'm going to not run "from" my hardship, but "to" what's next.  On this journey I don't know where that will take me...but just like Mitch's dad, I have every hope that at journey's end, in the place beyond the hills there will be something beautiful.   

Happy New Year.
The Daily Dose
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