Music I’ve heard at the fertility center while preparing for ultrasounds so far:
- We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off by Jermaine Stewart
- If You Want My Body by Rod Stewart
- Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (Which played as the nurse warned me about Ovarian Hyperstimulation)
So what’s going on?
I find that I’m walking (pardon the pun) on eggshells as I move through the stims phase of our IVF cycle. Everything began to move so very fast, and my feelings are so very, very terse. Although most of us know that our infertility and our treatment successes and/or failures have very little to do with anything we do or don’t do, it’s hard to not still feel like you need to talk softly so as not to make the cake fall.
My normally buoyant social media profile is languishing in the water. My IM’s and emails are taking much longer to reply to, and even if you are literally sitting a foot from me, I may not reply to you immediately, as my mind is perpetually elsewhere. I don’t mean any harm,…I’m just…quiet.
Basically, my nerves is bad. (yes, IS bad.)
We are well into our stims at this point. Today marking day 10 of Follistim and Day 3 of Ganirelix. If this is your first intro to those two words, allow me to explain them, and also point out that you could be getting your information from a much better source than me, I’m positive.
Anywho, Follistim is basically what it says in its name, a Follicle Stimulating drug. Follicles, are basically where eggs grow. Eggs are far too tiny to be seen on ultrasound, so it’s by measuring and counting the follicles, that doctors can see how many eggs you might be able to retrieve. For some people, Follistim is a quick shot in the tummy every night. For me, it’s a quick shot, but instead of the tummy, it’s in the spot behind my hip and just above my bum with a really large needle that I try not to look at much.
I was really nervous about that shot when the meds arrived and I saw the needle length. Now, I’m glad to say that while it is unpleasant, it is not as unbearable and terrifying as it once was. If you have to take intramuscular shots for your cycle, here’s my tips on that:
- I recommend you take a look at this video of the amazing Nurse Linda from Sher Fertility, as she explains how to find the sweet spot.
- Get a distraction and don’t look down. These shots, I’ve decided, are not my business. My job is to be as oblivious as possible, so as not to do a whole lot of jumping around as I know I would. Look, a few years back, I asked my husband to check my sugar with his PAIN FREE glucose meter, and acted such a clown, for a tiny finger prick, that we eventually gave up. When I was a kid, I acted so completely ridiculous at the dentist that the office PUT ME OUT and told my mother never to bring me back. When I was like 4, I was known to walk into the doctor’s office and TELL the nurse or doctor from the jump, that they were NOT to administer any shots to me that day, and that if they had a problem they could jump in the lake. Basically, I know my limits as a patient where the possibility of pain is concerned. For that reason, every night as we prepare for this shot, I grab my Ipad, turn to something funny (First it was Parks & Rec, and now it’s Bob’s Burgers), and I zone out. When he moves in with the alcohol swab, I hum really loudly, but that’s about as far as I go. We don’t do any count downs, and he doesn’t ask me if I’m ready, because then I’ll just over-think about when the hammer is coming down. We have a silent agreement that once the Netflix starts, I’m not conscious.
- Walk it off. Follistim stings in the few seconds after it’s been administered. A slow and steady afterburn that is kind of just to piss you off. It also causes a bit of bloating as the follicles begin to grow, and I have to admit that it isn’t the most comfortable of feelings. To combat this, we’ve begun going for a short walk every night. Nothing dramatic or overly strenuous, but enough of a fresh air distraction, that I can focus on being outside and in the air, before I begin feeling annoyed or sad, or frustrated, or any other emotional side effect of the meds. If you don’t feel like actually walking, find something that will make you feel better. A nice bathtime, or a good book, or if you’re anything like me, a few rounds on the video game.
Ganirelix, is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist. In human language, that means it tells my body not to drop those eggs until it’s told to. It says, “hey, I see you’re holding a few dozen cartons there, can you do me a favor and not drop them until I’ve had a chance to finish preparing everything?”.
It happens to be a subcutaneous shot, the tummy one, and I do this one myself. I know, I know, “how is it that you can do that one yourself, but you freak out about the other one?”. I wish I had an answer for that. Basically, the truth of the matter is that it’s a huge difference in needle size. Also, I believe that the thing most of us have about shots, is mental and visual. Ganirelix comes already put together. When you open the box, the medicine is already in the needle and you basically just open it and push it. Not having to see a huge needle draw up a huge amount of medicine from a vial, and watch it all be put together elaborately, does wonders for not giving you enough time to freak out.
So, is it working or not?
Welp, on the first follow-up after starting the stims, there was only one measurable follicle. Nothing much seemed to be happening, and I could tell that my nurse was curious as to why that was. With PCOS, there’s such a chance of hyperstimulation (too many follicles, too fast), that I think we were all expecting some massive turnover. But she assured me that it was a good thing, and told us to come back in a couple days.
Two days later, on the next visit, this past Saturday, we had jumped to 10. 5 measurable follicles on the left, and 5 on the right. She lowered my dosage because my body had apparently said, “Challenge, accepted”.
As of this morning…I don’t have a count. Because there were that many.
So, guess who’s making another hour drive tomorrow morning before work? And then again on Wednesday? You guessed it, ME.
And guess who doesn’t care?
I will drive those 60 minutes for a 15 minute appointment. I will refill that gasoline tank. I will call into work apologetically if I cut it too close. I will do whatever I am asked to do. Because I worked too hard to get here.
Regina Townsend is the primary author and founder of TheBrokenBrownEgg. A librarian and writer, Regina’s mission is to make people aware and active about the unique concerns of reproductive health in the minority community.