Thursday, March 27, 2008

And...we're clear

Had my HSG (radioactive dye up the hoo-hoo and they take pictures) this morning and everything looks great. No pain, just some minor cramping during the procedure. No problems with the lady bits. Told 'em. :P

Issue: salmon pink patient gowns. Are you kidding me here? Very unflattering color. You're already in an extremely vulnerable position, why don't they pick a better color? It's these little things that go a long way. Was going to suggest black, as very slimming, but maybe too many negative associations. How 'bout navy? Everyone looks good in navy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ordinary Day

Summary: In which nothing earth shattering happens and aren't we all glad for that?

No big news here. John Dear is constantly sniffling due to a bad cold and The Boy is currently resting on his new orthopedic, made-for-senior-dogs bed. I'm tooling around online and watching a Tivo'd episode of It Takes a Thief (greatest TV show ev-ah).

I made us homemade egg mcmuffins this morning with our wedding toaster, now finally out of the box. Lunch was leftover Chinese food and dinner will be with JD's parents.

I spent a couple hours this morning in cleaning our bedroom. I worked on two areas: the closet floor and the top of our bureau. Both are now cleaned off. We have a huge box of things to bring to Goodwill, and a lot of cardboard boxes to go into recycling. The only thing left from this morning's session is to put away the bedroom keep pile and the other room keep pile.

I remain hopeful that I will be able to think in this house. (Currently, there's too much clutter to think straight).

After putting away the two to-keep piles, I will put away the clean, folded laundry we have. That may be all I get done today, and that's a ton. The clean house will eventually happen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Decision*

Spurred by my last post and all of your wonderful thoughts and advice, a friend and I had a conversation about my thoughts/struggles during the past week. Thought of asking the friend permission to take my thoughts from that conversation to put down here, but didn't, then realized that I have a better handle on copyright and libel law than my friend and that it didn't matter anyway because I wasn't going to take anything that the friend had written for my post and that it was all my own material (slightly edited to protect the innocent) anyway. Still, I'm hoping my friend doesn't have a problem with this.

In essence, this week I'm really coming to the decision that, if possible, I'd want to move forward with having John Dear's biological child. I have been afraid that we would be dealing with all of JD's issues with Asperger's in addition to maybe a child with Asperger's who would have those same problems (in addition to the depression, the orthopedic issues, the asthma, the allergies and his complete inability to spell). But that's really not true. Our child won't (biologically-speaking) be a miniature JD. S/he will be a miniature combination of myself and JD (so, they're definitely screwed). Anyway, since we'd know what to look for, our child would benefit from having intervention (and more aggressive than JD's) at a much earlier age. Plus, our child wouldn't have some of the "interesting" family dynamics that JD still deals with, instead, our child will be screwed up by our dynamics. :)

Another factor that has helped me in my decision is looking at a sperm bank's web site this week. Just looking around, trying to educate myself. I put in the search criteria that I thought that we'd want (essentially, John Dear) and got one match. The clinic has the donors write essays and the staff gives their impressions. Well, the guy we got? He sounds a lot like JD, though a better writer and he's definitely taller, but he's JD. SO, why go with someone else when I've got the real version here? I'll be the one who teaches writing, my overuse of parentheses and run-on sentences and please, dear G-D, spelling. Hopefully, my family's genes will kick in for the height.

Asperger's may be the "trendy" disability right now (John Dear said as much in our counseling session), but just because it's trendy, doesn't mean that JD doesn't have it. As I pointed out to him, JD and I were both diagnosed with depression at a time when it seemed that every teen in America was. That doesn't make either of our struggles any less real.

In any event, this has nothing to do with John Dear's intelligence, which is very high; it has to do with his ability to move in the world and with people, socially. Should he be diagnosed with Asperger's, I believe that he would get help from people who know how to explain and practice social skills and not just leave it at well, you have no social skills (something that I blame his prior therapists for).

In addition, JD's drug cocktail needs serious evaluation. Even if he does not have Asperger's, his drugs aren't doing the trick for him right now. I'm not looking for the drugs to turn him into someone different, but I do think the drugs should have a greater affect on him and allow him to get to neutral. As I told him in counseling, "on your best days, and that's your very best days, you range between -5 and -10," I've never seen him at zero.

So, that's where I am. Moving forward with the thought that we will use JD's sperm, provided that that is a viable option. JD will call next week to schedule a time for an SA, and we'll see what happens from there.

*Any aforementioned decision(s) or quasi-decision(s) is subject to change with or without prior notice, written or otherwise, by the Deciding Party up to a point in time hereafter referred to as "The Point of No Return ("TPNR") which is currently at some unverifiable point in the future ("ASUPIF"). On or about TPNR, which is ASUPIF, all decisions or quasi-decisions will be assumed to be final and without redress, unless redress is possible, in which case TPNR was not actually TPNR, but instead "A Completely Arbitrary Point in Time" (ACAPT). TPNR will then move forward enduring a second stage of ASUPIF until TPNR can be established.

**Anna, please forgive me for my use of acronyms, we needed it for the funny.**

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Trying to Get Down to the Heart of the Matter

First, thank you to everyone who reached out to me recently with a kind word or description of your own experience. I felt (and still feel) so much love and support from all of you and feel blessed that I have you in my life.

The major issue that I have been struggling with is that I believe that John Dear has Asperger's Syndrome, a neurological disorder on the autism spectrum. Commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), those with Asperger's "show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see."

This definition doesn't even tell the half of it. John Dear has very few social skills, has trouble remembering to look people in the eye while speaking or being spoken to, has great difficulty in interpreting facial cues, and has many problems in making/keeping friends. He is quite literal and can be very rigid in his thinking. They say that marriage takes work, but being a wife to John Dear is much more than a full-time job.

As a kid, JD was diagnosed as having ADHD, but I've always felt that his issues were more than just ADHD. After much talking and planning, I was able to discuss this openly with JD in a joint therapy session with his therapist and mine. I framed my talking around the issue that JD has been misdiagnosed and that his prescribing doctor (not his therapist) has not treated him therapeutically, medically or medicinally according to the protocols for his actual issues. Side note: I think that she's barely treated him at all beyond seeing him as a cash cow that she never has to deal with besides writing 2 prescriptions every quarter. I believe that her "treatment" borders on malpractice.

JD has agreed to undergo diagnostic testing and a psychopharmacological review of his current medications.

But, so what? So, he was misdiagnosed with something, where's the issue? Here's the crux of the issue (not yet discussed with John Dear): supposing we can obtain JD's sperm for use in an IUI, should we use it? Should we run the risk that our child/children will also have Asperger's and its attendant difficulties for the child and the family? Asperger's can be carried genetically, but is not always done so. Additionally, Asperger's can be passed from mothers to their children, but also from fathers to children, so it is not strictly an X-chromosome-linked disease. Currently, there are no genetic/blood tests available to determine whether or not a person has Asperger's; it is all based on diagnostic testing.

Perhaps we should look into donor insemination, a method that would reduce the risk of a child developing Asperger's or any of the medical issues (yeah, he's got more) that John Dear has. I love my husband. No matter what, I want him to be the father of our family. I think he would be a wonderful father and it's one of the reasons that we married. I don't want to hurt John Dear, but as my therapist and I discussed previously, having a healthy baby is more important than potentially hurting JD's feelings.

I can't really come up with a good concluding paragraph to this post, so I'll just stop here. I'm open to and would welcome hearing your thoughts on the matter, whether you've only just stopped by, read this blog regularly or know me in the real world.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Struggling with a Few Things

I'm struggling with a couple issues right now and I don't feel at liberty to discuss them. I'm hoping that I can open up at the DC Stirrup Queens lunch this afternoon to at least get some of this off my chest.

I'm so scared and so worried...about everything. Please send me strength.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Take-Out SA?

Since the meeting with Urologist #2, John Dear and I are trying to figure out ways to get an SA done. Given the unpredictability of his "donations," scheduling an appointment for JD to try and donate at the clinic is probably a lost cause; did you/your partner donate at home and then run it into the clinic? If so, could you tell me how that process worked?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ach, His Achin' Back

So, after a final diagnosis by Pet PT Dude and SIL that The Boy was suffering from a torn ligament (the equivalent of a torn ACL in humans), we scheduled The Boy for surgery this morning. The diagnosis was followed by a practice session of hydrotherapy (read doggie underwater treadmill. I hope to get pics soon). So, we woke up early to see The Boy off to surgery and a hospital stay. Wait a sec -- plot twist!

The Boy went in for surgery this morning, but did not have it as radiographs indicated no tear in the ligament and that The Boy was merely suffering from a bad back. Prescription was given for anti-inflammatories, a muscle relaxer and strict instructions that The Boy not be allowed to go up/down stairs, climb onto or down from furniture and should just generally take it easy. Hopefully, The Boy will be able to go back to daycare soon (he's able to just lay around there, so it shouldn't be a problem).

I will be investigating the virtues of dog crates vs. dog play pens tonight at Petco. Any recommendations/thoughts?

Monday, March 10, 2008

No Time for Work

So, John Dear and I had our big consultation with Urologist #2. At least this time, the doc did a physical exam. But, the answers turn out basically the same. Either, John Dear has a "normal" SA done at Giant Fertility Clinic, they do a biopsy (pushing us into IVF) or they zap him. Will have to discuss these answers with our RE. I guess we'll try to have an SA done at GFC, either there or bringing in from home, with hopes to freeze.

Uro2 also referred us to a neurologist to see if there are any spinal cord issues causing JD's problems.

I wish this were all simpler.

On The Boy front, The Boy is still in a lot of pain and SIL recommended that we bring him in this afternoon to get evaluated by the Pet Physical Therapist. Yeah, that job actually exists. So, PPT will tell us whether The Boy needs surgery or is just having normal arthritis. Either way, SIL would like The Boy to be on some muscle relaxants right now.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Need to Regroup

OK, well the vet has confirmed my thoughts that this is just another bout of The Boy's arthritis. We walked out of the office with orders for rest, doggie anti-inflammatories and rugs on our "hardwood" floors.

So, The Boy has spent another non-exciting day at my office, chilling, being petted and feeding off the awesome Friday treats of scrambled egg, bagel, and meatballs. (All at different times during the day).

In appreciation, The Boy just peed on the carpet in my office. What a bum.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Does Doggie Ben-Gay Exist? *UPDATED*

Because The Boy sure needs some. Poor boy, I think that the weather has really caused his arthritis to act up. When John Dear picked The Boy up from doggie daycare last night, they mentioned that he had been lying around all day and was kind of limping. At home, The Boy would only walk on three legs and just wanted to curl up and sit down. John Dear thoughtfully set up the heating pad on the floor and The Boy just nestled up on that.

We gave him half-a-baby aspirin yesterday and once this morning. When he got up this morning, he immediately wet himself, so it was a tough morning.

I took him to work with me in the hopes that we could get him into the vet, but the vet is out of the office today and won't be able to see my boy until tomorrow. I think it's also good that he's with me so that he can just have a mellow day without the excitement of daycare.

The Boy is not really eating or drinking, but was very perky when we got up to go for a walk, drank a ton of water after the walk and scarfed down the three little meatballs I got him from the sub shop. I think he also ate some pebbles (dog food) and some water that time. I think as long as he doesn't refuse to eat at all and keeps going to the bathroom, he should be fine.

**UPDATE: In response to some worries, just wanted to let y'all know that the dosage of baby aspirin was given with the advice and consent* of SIL, who is a veterinarian. We'll be seeing The Boy's regular vet (we started seeing him before JD and I met) tomorrow morning.**

*Sheesh, could I BE more of a lawyer?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Alternate title for this post: Lessons I've Learned - Keep Taking Your Meds

One of the most frustrating aspects about myself is my fight to take my meds consistently. For the last 3 years, I have been successful in taking my meds every day, except for a few pockets here and there. I'm crawling out of one of those pockets now.

When I was young and naive, I would often rationalize not taking my meds by saying, "this is not the real me, not the authentic me. The real me is the me off the drugs." So, I'd stop taking the drugs, without medical supervision, mind you, and in a couple of days, the predictable would occur. Mood swings, crying jags, feeling alienated and in turn alienating everyone I knew, suicidal thoughts, the whole shebang.

Since I'm older and supposedly wiser, I've stopped doing that. I've realized and accepted that in order to function like a normal human being, I will likely have to be on meds for the rest of my life.

The problem for me now is any break in routine. For example, going on a business trip or vacation, breaks my routine for taking pills. But it's not the going away from home that's the problem, it's the coming back. My pills will be packed in my carry on bag and I won't unpack them. When it comes time to go to bed, my pills aren't on my nightstand, so I don't take them. Repeat until mood swings, crying jags, etc. occurs.

So, I took my pills again for the first time in a week last night. This morning, I woke with a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. Yes, it does happen that fast. The full effects, however, will probably take a week to kick in. So, I was very happy and relaxed this morning, but now my boss is being a gigantic dick so the happy has sort of gone away. I'm working to maintain balance and not just kill him.

Embroidering Syringes

Welcome to another edition of the Barren B*tches Book Club Tour!! For more information on the spinning book tour or to get in on the action yourself, please click here. To check out other bloggers' responses to the book, please visit Mel's blog here.

This “cycle” of the tour we read Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl. I loved this book!! Here, the author details her IF journey, discussing some of the major issues surrounding IF treatments and elaborating upon her and her husband’s decisions. I found this book to be "laugh out loud" funny at a lot of different points. Often, I would find myself nodding in agreement or finding a point that really hit home.

I would not recommend this book as the first book to read when trying to learn about IF or IF treatments, as it does not lay out for the reader a step-by-step process, but I would certainly add it to a good-to-read list. The author tells you what her decisions were at various points along the way, but allows for differences of opinion and decisions in treatment options.

I had a different experience from the author concerning the type of clinic she went to. She went to a big clinic where she was treated as a number, whereas I went to a smaller clinic where there was a more personal touch. What was your experience? If you went to a big clinic, was it by choice? Did you feel like you still were treated as an individual? Did you have to deal with a Carol-like person? If you went to a smaller clinic, did you feel it was adequately staffed, etc. for your needs? Did you research various facilities (or did you do like me – go with the recommendation of my personal doctor)?

I believe I may have talked about this before on my blog, but I’d like to go into more detail. My clinic is one of those really large, serves tons of patients, clinics. I have never, however, felt like a number there. Maybe this is due to the fact that I’m not at the central office, but instead at one of their satellite offices? Or it could just be the staff at my clinic. Whatever the reason, I have never felt like a number and have never had a negative experience with the staff at my clinic. All the staff seem to know my name and they’re always glad I came. OK, maybe not, but they do seem to know who I am and give me a big smile and are always willing to chat a bit. I have yet to have an unpleasant conversation with anyone associated with the clinic.

I did do some cursory research of clinics in the area; this being confined to looking up clinics on the web and seeing which ones had offices near my home and my office per many IF bloggers’ recommendations. I chose my clinic because one of their doctors is married to a woman who I know. (I don’t see this doctor, but figured it was a good enough reason to choose the clinic as any).

I haven’t had to deal with an officious, totalitarian, supervising nurse at my clinic, but I should qualify that JD and I have only just started going down this road and have not gotten to “real” treatments. We’re still in the initial phases of testing, so I’m only meeting my doctor, my nurse and a few of the technicians.

Many bits of the book hit hard for me, but none more so than what may have been intended as something that happened in passing. In Chapter 6, Gary and Beth get into an argument on their way to the clinic for an egg retrieval. The argument is courtesy of the early morning, hormones, fears, a whole blend of it all. Gary calls Beth “a bitch.” Beth then writes, “He clenches the steering wheel, steeling himself for the fight he assumes will follow his calling me this second-most-prohibited of names. I remain silent, reassessing whether I really want to have kids with this name-calling douchebag” (95). Did you/have you/can you foresee getting into such a minor situation with your partner and immediately jumping to the same conclusions as Beth, that maybe where you are isn’t where you should be?

I’m glad that this incident hit home to other people. I’ve been reciting this section of the book to almost everyone I know. For me, this has happened a lot. I think minor spats can just be that, but they can also be representatives of larger problems in the relationship. A few months ago, it seemed that all there was in our relationship were these minor spats. I really did have to reassess if John Dear and I should stay married, if we could raise the family (however it occurred) that we always dreamed of having together. I think our experience with IF has forced John Dear and I to evaluate our relationship much more deeply than we might have had to if we had been able to become pregnant and have children right when we wanted to.

I also found myself nodding at a point that Beth wrote regarding how men and women approach IF differently. She quotes Alice Domar of Boston IVF’s Mind/Body Center, “‘I’d say very few of the couples I’ve seen have been in the same place at the same time,’ she says. ‘They seem to be on different planets, with the woman often ahead by about a year. Often she’s upset that he isn’t more upset, and he’s upset that she’s so upset. She typically feels that he’s holding her back; he typically feels that she’s pushing him into decisions’” (132).

I don’t think that JD and I were that far apart in terms of wanting children, but definitely have major differences in how aggressive we are in pursuing treatment. I’m all geared up to go ahead and John Dear would rather sit back and do nothing. At times, I just want to throttle JD, because he’s a lump on a log who doesn’t do anything. (See a pattern here?)

In addition to all that, who doesn’t love the phrase “name-calling douchebag”?

Did religion shape the decisions you made about treatment? And in turn, did your infertility change the way you looked at your religion?

I don’t believe that infertility has changed the way I look at my religion, but during my IF journey, I have been reading and learning more about my faith. I felt moved to become more observant in my religious practice and have been reading as much as I can (as evidenced by many of the books on my Library Thing bookshelf on my sidebar). This learning is at the same time that we are experiencing infertility, but did not come about because of infertility, i.e., I felt this pull prior to our first trying to have children.

My religion does make a big impact on my journey through infertility. I very much enjoyed reading the author’s explanations of Jewish law, as I felt the answers but did not know their explanations. For example, in Jewish families, marriage and family are of the utmost importance, but I could not have explained as Beth wrote, “I had a mounting irrational desire to be pregnant. I had taken seriously the line spoken by the rabbi who had married us: ‘May you grow into thousands of myriads.’ Those words underscore one of the primary purposes of Jewish marriage, to have children who will have children, down through the generations, with me not only as the mother of myriads but as the child of them, too. This placed pressure on me not to be the point at which my grandparents’ lines died, a generational black hole” (61).

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Mel's blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Jesters. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes (with author participation!)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hark, the Herald iPod Sings

Saw this meme over at annacyclopedia's and wanted to do it right away. 'Course, I was at work when I first wanted to do this and my dear, sweet iPod was not. Now, after a very nice morning, JD and I just had a screaming fight, so we're not speaking right now. The best thing to do? A meme.

The rules: Put your iPod on shuffle and match each consecutive song that comes up in order to answer the following questions in order. Confession time: I've got lots of audiobooks and C-SPAN podcasts on my iPod, so I'll be skipping over those tracks, since my theme song for infertility is definitely NOT "Brian Lamb interviews Tony Snow, former press secretary for President Bush".

1. The song for you that existed before you ever thought about your fertility:
Don't Write Me Off Just Yet by Hugh Grant (Music & Lyrics soundtrack)
"For years I've been telling myself the same old story, that I'm happy to live off my so-called former glories. But you've given me a reason to take another chance. Now I need you, despite the fact that you killed all my plants."

2. Would you really want to go back and be that person again?
Never Did No Wanderin' by The Folksmen (A Mighty Wind soundtrack)
"They say the highway is just one big road and it goes from here to there. And they say you carry a heavier load when you're rolling down the line somewhere."

3. The song for when you first started fertility treatments:
Oops...I Did It Again by Britney Spears
"I think I did it again. I made you believe"

4. What did infertility do to your sex life?
Vertigo by U2
"I'm at a place called vertigo. Donde esta? It's everything I wish I didn't know. But you give me something I can feel."

5. What about superstitions and fertility rituals?
I'm Gonna Find Another You by John Mayer
"Now I'm gonna dress myself for two. Once for me and once for someone new. I'm gonna do somethings you wouldn't let me do. Oh I'm gonna find another you."

6. How about "alternative" treatments (i.e., acupuncture, yoga, etc.)?
Come Round Soon by Sara Bareilles
"He's taken and leaving. But I keep believing that he's gonna come round soon. Until I see him again, I'm staying, believing that it won't be deceiving when he's gonna come round."

7. How do you feel about coming out of the IF closet?
The Silver Swan by The Douglas Frank Chorale
"The silver swan, who living had no note, when death approached, unlocked her silent throat."

8. Your song for other people's baby showers?
Cell Block Tango by Danny Elfman (Chicago soundtrack)
"And he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times."

9. What about our scary friend, hope?
All Mixed Up by 311
"You've got to trust your instincts, and let go of regret."

10. And lastly, the theme song of your fertility journey:
Makes Me Wonder by Maroon 5
"Give me something to believe in, cause I don't believe in you anymore, anymore. I wonder if it even makes a difference to try. So this is goodbye."