Posts Tagged ‘Treatments’

The King and I

I’m frustrated today.

But somehow at some form of peace.

Maybe it’s one of those levels of grief people are always talking about.

Maybe not.

My follow-up appointment for the hysteroscopy was yesterday morning.  I waited it out!  I behaved like a good girl and didn’t flip out and call the nurses anymore.  I just waited out those five days and bought that next two boxes of Always.

I knew that if had been something serious they’d found, they would had to have called me sooner, but somehow my mind just kept saying that they’d return with something god-awful, and that I should be terrified.   Around Tuesday, I was kind of freaked out, but for the most part, I kept it to myself.  By the time Thursday came around, I was financially, emotionally, and mentally broken, but I got up and went anyway.  There would be answers!  There would be direction!  There would be something drastic!

There was none of these things. LOL

In my gyne office, I am a medical anomaly.  This rebellious uterus of mine was cause for great head scratches and squinted “you’ve gotta be kidding me”, facial expressions.  From the results of my tests, there is once again “nothing gynecologically wrong” with me to be causing this newset bout of menorrhagia.  No cancer, no fibroids, no polyps, no infections, no nothing.  That being said, she did speak in great grotesque detail about the amount of lining she’d had to remove, and the size of the pieces removed (think small kiwi fruit.  right, I know, tmi).  But aside from learning that my body basically stockpiles lining like its waiting on Y2K, I left with the same information I’d had going in.

I’m just numb at this point.  And cold (can someone say “Anemia”).  I was flustered, but not really angry.  I just got in my car and went around the corner to work.

And that’s pretty much still where I am today.

Sigh.

Many times I’ve gotten private messages from those who wonder if I personally have a spiritual take on my own situation.   They ask me if I have a relationship with God.  I do.

I don’t post much spiritual word on this blog, or on the Facebook page for a few reasons.  First, I don’t want to ostracize anyone who believes differently than I do, who may still need the support this place provides.   Secondly, I would like to refrain from being anyone’s spiritual or religious spokesperson, because sometimes, when I’m really struggling, I may not say what a church girl should, and that freedom to feel, is a huge part of what this site is built on.

BUT, just to quell the curiosity, He(God) and I have wrestled with this things for a while.  Close to eight years with the irregular bleeding, and close to six with the infertility.  I’ve had seasons of silently trying to hear and follow His will, and others of being quite angry with Him.  Today, I’m just listening.

But because the question has been posed so often, I wonder if that conversation is one we should be having, Eggshells. How has your faith been tested? How have you overcome? HAVE you overcome?

Good Mornin, Metformin

So, it has been a while since I’ve taken the time to actually POST some tidbits here on the site.  And it is all your fault.  See, most of you follow The Egg on Facebook and we have such great conversations there, that by the time I get over here, I have nothing else to say because we’ve talked it to death over the course of a day!

But, getting back to what this site was created for, and beyond the “business” sides, I have to get my thoughts out once more.  And, even in the year 2012…some people don’t use Facebook.  I know, I know, perish the thought.  But it dawned on me that for those who don’t use Big Blue, there is little to no way of knowing what is going on right now with me if I don’t post it here.  So here I am.  Have a seat, let’s chat. (more…)

BrokenBrownBelle: “The other side of my infertility” Part 2

I thought the entire time, I would get pregnant and that this would all be over. No one warned me that this is not a fight for the weak and that it lasts a lifetime. I was never this tough.

If I knew then, what I know now, I might have never started this fight.  My story is just what I described in previous posts, and to be honest I’d spent too much money to quit. After breaking my flexible spending account in February of 2011, like a bad gambling habit I was too far gone. The former me could never inject herself in the stomach with anything, and would never have paid that much for an injection of anything.

Looking at my bank account and knowing I was down to my last $500 for this cause basically made me turn everything over to my faith. (more…)

Reproductive Health…in a Recession

If I’ve learned anything about politics, its that you can’t please everyone all the time.  No matter how you slice the bread, someone is always going to complain that they got the bad piece.  And in the case of decisions that include health or finance, there will always be one side staring at the other going, “I don’t get what you’re so worked up about”.  When the Affordable Care Act ,was instituted, allowing young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health coverage until age 26, I had quite the over-dramatic moment.  For the thousands of people who were boldly unimpressed with the President thus far, I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug his neck.  I guess, they’d never been where I’d been.

For me,  reading over the details in the fact sheet, it was hard not to remember how I felt myself, when I aged-out of my mom’s health insurance.  I was almost done with college, but silly me, I was not yet done with getting sick and having medical concerns.  No longer covered by my mom’s Blue Cross, I was the only person in my house subjected to making the emergency room, my primary care physician. When I finally got a job that included benefits, some two years later, I learned that health insurance was the fatted calf of all great jobs.  The fear of losing that security is what got me out of bed in the mornings, and for many of us, what kept us working at places we hated.

After finally grasping what it was like again to have a doctor to call, one who knew my name and symptoms, I never wanted to go back to the uncertainty of emergency medicine and unconcerned, overworked board of health doctors.  Well, for many of us facing unemployment and layoffs now, myself included, as well as those of us on a budget who pay for our own health insurance, we are once again looking down that barrel, and I am determined to not go at it with the same depressed attitude.  Health coverage or not, our bodies are worthy of adequate care, and we are the ones to make sure we get it.

For those of us whom our fertility is only a symptom of more pressing matters, not visiting the doctor regularly can be climactic.  For me, the irregular and massive menstrual cycles were just not going to allow me to stay away from the stirrups for too many long breaks.  Just when I would think everything was under control, She and I would spend a lovely 2 months together and I would finally have to go weeping into someone’s triage for relief.  Yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even urinary tract infections can also become reproductive health problems for which many women need recurring treatments and maintenance. Finding a comfortable place that can help us monitor our bodies until we can return to more regular care, is vital to creating a healthy reproductive tract.

In beginning my search for a health center, I started with Google.  I did a basic search for women’s health clinics in my area.  When I found a few that looked interesting, I also took my search over to Yelp.com, to check out the reviews.  Hearing what other patients are saying about their quality of care and bedside manner is an excellent tool in making your decision.

Private facilities with sliding scales are a great choice for those of us with little cash to spare, but a desire to remain on top of our health.  Many women’s clinics around the country provide specialized services and empowerment to those in need.  Here in Chicago, for instance, there is the Chicago Women’s Health Center.  This organization provides treatment on a sliding scale, with the lowest appointment fee being just $20, which is the cost of the lab work! The clinic focuses on educating women (including LGBT women) on how to  holistically take care of their bodies.  The health education aspect, along with the self-empowerment focus is what keeps many people who even HAVE insurance coming back to CWHC for years.  Check out the clinics in your area, and be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.  Find out what the fees are for the uninsured or if there are special programs to help you.

Fertility Note: Fertility awareness is taught on-site, which really stood out to me because most people seem to think that if you can’t afford to have a baby right now, you shouldn’t be planning for one, which I find to be a load of crap.

Speaking of special programs, investigate your state!  I found that here in Illinois, there is a Healthy Women card, that I was COMPLETELY unaware of back in the day when I was first uninsured (someone needs to step their publicity game up).  The “Pink Card”, as its called, provides every eligible woman in the state with coverage for reproductive health needs.  This includes yearly pap exams, testing, and basically any other issue that can be narrowed down to general gynecology, even tubal ligations for women over 21. The card is accepted at some doctors offices here, so it could be that some women are able to continue with the doctors they know!   There are different programs for Moms and Babies, and women with larger families or incomes, but this card is valid for the reproductive needs of women like me.  Investigate the programs that your state may have, because just like finding this out proved to me, some government agencies you’ll never know about until you look. (I found similar programs in Texas, Oregon, and Maryland to name a few)

Fertility Note: My favorite line from their website is this:

  • Patient education and counseling about women’s health, family planning and how to plan for a healthy pregnancy if and when you want to have a baby.

Illinois Healthy Women Card

Planned Parenthood remains a crowd favorite for many contraceptive choices, but it is important to note that they do provide gynecological exams and checkups as well.  The cost of many of these services depends on the location, so don’t hesitate to call them and inquire.  Planned Parenthood is a clean and trusted environment where women(and men), have gone for years.  Though I still cringe at the amount of reproductive health clinics that cleave solely to preventative medicine, I have to say that PP is greatly instrumental in keeping thousands of bodies safe and healthy for decades.

Fertility Note: While as I said, Planned Parenthood does seem to lean more towards contraception and abortion, according to their website, they are able to provide information on fertility services in your area if you ask during your appointment.  SO ASK.

Lastly, check out your County hospitals, community health centers and health departments.  These fall to the bottom of my list primarily because of the over-crowding and the enormous wait times,(or maybe that’s just here in Chicago), but I have to say that sometimes these hospitals have some of the best doctors.  They may take all day to get to you, because of the amount of other more serious cases, but when they do, they are going to leave no stone unturned. Do NOT let them intimidate you.  I experienced a colposcopy in one of the most unattractive and un-updated exam rooms, but I was also sure when I left that everything had been investigated.  The comfort of knowing I was healthy, far surpassed the discomfort of that dim, small room.  The health centers in your area may be much different than the ones I have experienced, but either way you owe it to yourself to at least visit and see what its about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  To find the community health centers near you, visit the websites of your county, city or village.  The fastest way though, is to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website and enter your zip code into the Clinic Locator.

With any place that you decide you’re most comfortable, do not leave out your fertility plans!  Even when I was down on my very worst luck, without two pennies to rub together, and in need of someone to please prescribe ANYTHING to slow or stop my periods, I did not leave out the fact that childbearing was something I was planning for.  The usual treatment option for PCOS related symptoms and irregular periods, is birth control pills.   I made sure to note my future plans because I did not want any prescriptions or treatments that would stall my process when I was able to move forward.  Whatever your situation, I hope you (and I) find health service alternatives that meet our goals and expectations, while allowing us to become healthy carriers for the lives we seek.  Not being able to afford building your family is NOT the same as not being able to afford PLANNING your family.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

First and foremost, a well-deserved soft hug and congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Cannon.  The pregnancy rumors were confirmed last week when Mariah revealed to Access Hollywood that she and Nick are due in the spring. If you didn’t see it…check it out below.

There are so many directions to go with this story, that I guess I’ll have to cover them all, or at least brush over them.

First and foremost, I’m pondering who decides what is and isn’t a “fertility struggle”?   Does the customary yearlong attempt stand as the primary gauge?  Does the couple or individual who is ttc have the final say on whether or not theirs was in fact a fertility battle?  As I was reading the news reports that accompanied the Access Hollywood footage, I was kicked in the stomach when at the end of the stories, the journalists all noted how the couple made reference of their having conceived naturally.  Seemed simple enough on a first-read, but after the third article, I felt myself get that old familiar advocacy hat out of the bag.

Why was it necessary for them to stress the fact that the Cannon’s conceived without the use of fertility aids?  What the hell did that mean?  Was mentioning that, their way of saying, “Oh, and don’t worry, they aren’t the weird infertile people who use their money and medicine to tilt God’s hand in their favor?”  I know, I’m being a bit extreme, but these are the things we as advocates have to pay attention to.  Stressing the fact that this pregnancy came “naturally” could be used to have an adverse effect on the couples who do need infertility treatments.

Also, contrary to belief, Mariah’s diligent use of acupuncture, which she plainly discusses in the interview, IS being considered a fertility aid by many these days, so what does that say about the “no fertility aid” stance?  Along with the acupuncture therapy, Mariah also divulges her having been prescribed Progesterone for the cycles leading up to this pregnancy as a result of complications that arose after her miscarriage.   If you are unfamiliar with what Progesterone is used for, it is a natural female reproductive hormone.  It is administered as a fertility aid when the body is not producing enough of it naturally to develop a thick uterine lining for a fertilized egg to implant.  So…that being said,…YES, the Cannon’s conceived “naturally”, but only for the most part.  Which leads me back to my original issue; who decides whether or not their two-year situation is considered infertility?

I believe it is a hard road to pave.  There are many potholes and bumps to neatly pack the entire thing away under one label.

BUT, I am adding the Cannons to our picture reel over there —->

Why?

Because she and Nick are a beautiful example of the support a couple needs from each other when dealing with the medical, physical and emotional strains of (albeit very, very mild) fertility issues.  The support that he has shown via his Twitter posts and media in defense of his wife as they walked this quiet journey should be applauded.

I recently spoke at a symposium here in Chicago.  After the panel was over, two African Americans from the audience came to speak to me.  One, a mother who was desperately trying to find a way to connect and help her daughter, who was dealing with infertility.  Another, a young man who’s first question to me was, “Do men ever speak out to you?”  His question was both sad and motivating for me.  Sad, because what he was inferring was true.  Not many men are willing to speak out about infertility in the minority community, unless they are a physician themselves.  Motivational because it reminded me of the group I desperately wish to reach.  Seeing men like Nick Cannon not only absorb the blow for his wife, but support her decisions openly and without apology was a breath of fresh air and a step of advocacy for the unheard men who are doing the very same.  So many partners take on the heartache of reproduction issues.  They stand in the gap, provide the crying shoulders and are PRESENT.  Their banner should be raised and Nick Cannon has done an excellent job of lifting it up.

“If & when my wife is ready to make ANY announcements about private matters she will do it personally.” – @NickCannon – via Twitter – Jun 2, 2010

“My heart goes out to any woman who has to deal with public scrutiny and speculation pertaining to their private life REAL TALK!” – @NickCannon via Twitter – June 2, 2010

Finally, my last impression is one that I’ve shared with The Egg before.  This idea of what is and isn’t public domain knowledge is detrimental to where we go as advocates in infertility.  There is a very, very thin line between my being grateful for Mariah and Nick finally sharing their news, so that it can reach those who need it, and my believing it was somehow our “business” or “right to know”. The push for advocacy has to walk the narrow tightrope of convincing our silent community that there is no embarrassing or stigmatic reason for their silence, while also respecting their right privacy.  “You don’t have to tell us all your business, but thanks if you do”, is the thought process I’ve been trying to navigate for a while now.

I am grateful for Mariah speaking out, ecstatic that she was forthcoming about the miscarriage and medication, but adamant that media STOP DIGGING THROUGH THE UTERI OF PUBLIC FIGURES.  Perhaps if they do, we can get more celebrities who will be willing to share and support.  Stalking celebs for the inner-workings of their fallopian tubes, and hiding in fertility clinic dumpsters for the chance to break the news to the world, is not only tacky, but it takes the fertility community far too long to bounce back from.  Give THAT a rest.  When there are constant speculations on the uses of fertility drugs or doctors, the image portrayed to the world is that using these resources should be attached to a taboo.  When we establish that, we set the stage for all types of ignorance and misunderstanding about what new millennium fertility really is.

Overall, as a site that supports and believes in the creation of strong, healthy families, I am proud to see that the Cannon’s have finally gotten their chance to have one.

Recovery

I’m recovering.

I had surgery 4 days ago and it is coming along nicely. Well, what I think is nicely anyways. I decided that I would blog during my recovery because I have a ton of free time, and well now I actually have something to share. On the regular, I’m not just going to be typing away, boring you guys to tears with my regular…life. Nothing major goes on here, I’m just a regular infertile girl.  I am still at the same fertility clinic along with the same fertility doctor. But really, no major news. However, I did want to share with you guys about what I call my “maintenance drugs”, Metformin and Synthroid.

I call them maintenance drugs because they maintain my systems. I guess in a way they do make me more fertile, because they increase the functionality of my systems, but they don’t necessarily work on my reproductive system.  As I’ve been studying them, I have to say that I find it neat how blood sugar affects reproduction.

I haven’t had much to say lately, because I figured I would spare ya’ll most of  the boring details on the side effects and such.  Now that I have been taking these meds for a couple months, I think I have finally gotten used to them. In fact, I almost enjoy them. In my non-medical opinion I think increased functionality is great. The Synthroid is for a low thyroid which I never noticed that I had.  Below is a description from the US National Libary of Medicine:

Why is this medication prescribed?

Levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone, is used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Without this hormone, the body cannot function properly, resulting in: poor growth; slow speech; lack of energy; weight gain; hair loss; dry, thick skin; and increased sensitivity to cold. When taken correctly, levothyroxine reverses these symptoms. Levothyroxine is also used to treat congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism) and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).

If you had asked me three months ago had I have ever experienced any of these symptoms, I would have told you no… never noticed them. I thought those feelings were normal, and simply part of life in 2010. This is not the case. I definatly had those symptoms and more. I could have bitten your head off, but I’d been making attempts to exercise extreme control.  I chalked it up to genetics mostly, and anything else was just the throws of life.

I used to experience a world-wind of emotions daily, during which I would again, excerise extreme control. I guess you could say,I’m something of a ‘zen master’, (just kiddin LOL).  Being in the cypher with these drugs now, makes me a little sad that people go through feelings like this and never know that they don’t have to.  Never thinking to blame their thyroid.  Truly, knowledge is power.

A short time after I started on the Synthroid I started to feel more clear and even tempered and began to lose weight right away. Not only was I losing weight, but I was feeling less like I needed to depend on food period. I felt less hungry overall and amazingly like I could enjoy food more. (Ever had that “I’m tired of eating” feeling?)  Which kinda troubles me even more, now as I wonder if we shove food in our mouths to deal with poor bodily functions subconciously? Are people suffering an overweight existence, filled with inactivity due to an over/underactive thyroid?   Have I been inactive for most of my life because of said low thyroid? Obviously the weight loss is a plus, but overall my mood was in fact lifted, I even begin to thrive in my karate class.  Think about it, surely if you could enhance your ablilty to look over the “rim” of whatever “you ‘think’ may be holding you back”, and be physically  lighter while doing so… well, wouldn’t you then just go on ahead and climb over the top, of  ‘that thing’  holding you back? Possibly, defeating said ‘depressing feelings’ you never knew you had, never needing the help of anti-depressants, illegal drugs, and other mood stimulations and alterers?  Deep, but that is exactly how taking Synthroid (levothyroxine) makes me feel.

My previous experiences of speaking up to my health care providers about my infertility had landed me in the ring with Estrogen and anti-depressants. Which to me, is a bit much, not to mention the fact that in my case, the drugs won. I couldn’t tell whether I was coming or going and I didn’t really feel like I was getting better. I just felt medicated and trapped. I was curious to know if I would be on these mood simulators for the rest of my life, attempting to get pregnant for what I hoped would only be a short time.  Personally, I don’t think anti-depressants are appropriate for me.  I don’t consider myself a depressed person.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in some cases that they are necessary, but I also believe they are over-prescribed.  So present day,  I reluctantly began the fertility process again, because  I just couldn’t wrap my mind around needing Zoloft because of an hormone deficency.  For that to make sense, at least the way this doctor was making me feel, it would mean that even if I possessed all the estrogen of a normal woman my age… I would be ‘depressed’ and in need of anti-depressants.  To me, that didn’t make much sense.

The difference between then and now is not only does this Synthroid sound like it makes sense , but it feels like it too. I feel like I have had a little boost.  Like I imagine it feels like this to drink supplements everyday. The Metformin is completely different. Let’s be honest, the restroom related side-effects totally suck. But, again…it’s all about the functionality. My initial readings about PCOS appear, in this case, to be correct. I was insulin resistant. So, before I even started at this fertility clinic I altered my diet to mostly vegetraian.  Bottom line from what I can tell, the veggies are much easier for your body to digest and handle. The veggies don’t produce as much glucose and in turn are much easier on the kidney’s.  As I have said before, I am not a doctor. I most likely cannot explain what I read, they way my brain broke it down to help all my readers understand. First of all I gained all my knowledge on the subject from two books: Skinny Bitch by Rory Fieldman and Kim Barnouin and also” The Complete Idiots Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss“.  From what I can tell tell, glucose +insulin resistance =fat. Later we will research and explore more options and perhaps collect a bit more information about the subject. But when my doctor prescribed me Metformin, it began to regulate said glucose and I immediately noticed the changes. Besides the obvious weight loss, I also feel less sluggish and bloated.

Because I don’t know all the ins and outs of these drugs, I figured I would leave that talk to the experts, give ya’ll a break from my mouth, and catch ya’ll up while I lay here and recover. This is not my first battle with the knife. I have had two bikini-cut cystectomies and a laproscopic apendextomy. Now there’s something that will depress you; The thought that the only bikini you’ll wear through your 20’s is the cut from surgery. Your young body ruined, in this culture?!? Let me be the first one to tell you how well that goes along with these shallow people this day in age. Fortunately, I have a firm foundation in Jesus Christ and a healthy body image as well.  In addition to that, I have had relationships with nurturing indivsuals who understood the huge seperation in my abdomen and the flap of skin that goes with it, but had I had low self esteem or aspirations of modeling I would need that Zoloft.  My point is that I am glad to be on these ‘maintenance drugs’ that have made me feel better than Lexapro ever could.

But back to present day, I had the surgery, and to be honest with you, I have no idea what he even did. I know he removed a polyp but he said if there was any other issues to address he would handle them while he was in there. Of course my momma told me what he said but I was super druggy so… I have no idea what he said. I know there was some ‘clean-up’ involved and some removing of scar tissue  from previous surgeries but I guess that could be classified as ‘clean-up’. It may be too early to tell but, I think this surgery went pretty good. This isn’t the worst pain I’ve ever felt. At least I didn’t get cut in half  again, right?

Books and Articles Referenced in this post:

Beale, Lucy, and Joan Clark-Warner. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss. New York, NY: Alpha, 2010. Print.

Freedman, Rory, and Kim Barnouin. Skinny Bitch: a No-nonsense, Tough-love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! Philadelphia: Running, 2005. Print.

“PubMed Health – Levothyroxine.” Web. 16 Oct. 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000684&gt;.

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