Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tick Magnet

It's official....Mark is a tick magnet.

No, not a chick magnet (he'd probably like that)....a tick magnet.

This weekend we went up north to do some work on our hunting area.  We spent the day clearing brush, strategically placing salt blocks and mineral licks, and planting clover - all in the hope that this would make our hunting spots an attractive place for deer to hang out and making it easier to see and shoot them should they choose to hang out there during deer season.

The good thing was that the weather was nice - right around 70 degrees and sunny.  Not too hot, but not too cold.  Perfect weather for working outside all day.

Another good thing was that it is still spring - the mosquitoes have not yet come out.  (See my post last summer about how bad the mosquitoes are around here).

Besides the fact that this was a lot of manual labor and I generally am not a fan of manual labor, the bad thing was that spring is NOT too early for ticks and that the ticks are REALLY bad this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with ticks I have attached a link to the ultimate authority on them - wikipedia...

For those of you too lazy to read the wikipedia link - ticks are very small parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals (note that humans are mammals).  They do so by cutting a hole in their hosts skin into which they insert their head and begin feeding.  To ensure that they are feed their fill they inject an anticoagulant into their host.  Ticks can cause a variety of illnesses caused by infection from a variety of different pathogens.  In short, ticks are gross.

While I am VERY attractive to mosquitoes I don't seem to be that attractive to ticks.  THANK GOD. Did I mention that ticks are gross.  Mosquitoes are gross too but ticks are their own special breed of gross.

So far I have been very lucky to only have found a handful of ticks crawling on me life to date and thankfully none of them have been "attached".

Mark on the other hand has not been so lucky.

We literally picked over 60 ticks off of him.  I wish that I was exaggerating but I am not.  They were everywhere.  All over his clothes with a strange concentration on his underwear.  Luckily only a few had made it to this skin and luckily none were "attached".

On its face this makes no sense.  We are both living breathing mammals, we should be equally tick attractive.  I read that ticks find their host by detecting breath and body odors and/or by sensing body heat, moisture and vibrations.  I read Mark's tick attractiveness as the fact that he is a stinky, sweaty, lead-footed man with bad breath.

Tee, hee.

I am totally buying him a "tick magnet" T-shirt.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sometimes No News Is Good News

Sometimes no news really is good news.

Today our GC had her baseline ultrasound, the purpose of which is to examine the ovaries.  This procedure is used to ensure that the ovaries are not producing eggs are the time of the scan (are "suppressed").  Another purpose of this procedure is to check for cysts.  If a cyst is detected the IVF or FET cycle can be cancelled as you would need to wait to try again until the cyst is resolved.  My second IVF cycle was almost cancelled due to the fact that I had a cyst at my baseline ultrasound.  Luckily it was just under the the "no-go" size and we were able to proceed.

Our GC's baseline was textbook.  No ovarian activity detected - no eggs and no cysts.  No news.

She was cleared to start Estrace tonight which is the next step of the FET process.

Her shots have been going OK and outside of a little weight gain seems to be having no side effects from the birth control pills or the Lupron (Lupron gave me terrible headaches and fits of near rage - pretty much a very cranky person that you didn't want to be around - not completely uncommon according the infertility blogs that I have read).

It continues to fascinate me that while my process was full of false starts and pot holes, our GC's process has been flawless.  Probably why she's our GC and why we are in this mess to begin with.

No news = good news.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guess What?!

We received a bill from the new clinic that I asked Mark to look into (I am trying to keep personal business to a minimum with the new job).  When we did our consent signing last month we were asked to give the clinic a deposit.  Either the deposit was not taken into account with the amount billed....or the new clinic is WAY more expensive than the old clinic.  I am guessing that the deposit was somehow missed.

We got the deposit situation ironed out which was good news (they had somehow missed it)....but we still owed more money than we expected.  We owed $1,743 more to be exact and we owed it because we had to switch clinics.

Part of the IVF process is the "mock" embryo transfer.  The mock transfer is actually a trial run of the actual embryo transfer which allows the doctor to determine the best "route" to the ideal embryo landing place in the uterus, to measure the length from the cervix to that ideal place (this is to avoid accidentally "bumping" the uterine wall which can cause a failed transfer), and to ensure that there are no unexpected bumps along the way like an undetected fibroid, scar tissue on the cervix, or other issue that may make transfer difficult or even impossible.

Basically the embryo transfer seems like it is the simplest procedure in the IVF cycle, but if it is done wrong the entire cycle can be lost - making the "mock" transfer a crucial step in the process.

Because this is such an important process, each doctor tends to want to do it themselves and not rely on some other doctor's notes.  A mock transfer was already completed (and paid for - out of pocket I might add as insurance doesn't cover ANY fertility treatments) at the old clinic, so having to do it again at the new clinic meant that we got to pay for it twice.  Thanks old clinic.

Mark is pretty fired up about this.  He thinks that we should sue the old clinic.  As much as it pisses me off that we had to pay for an expensive procedure twice because we switched clinics, and the fact that we switched clinics was due to circumstances beyond our control, (Mark likes to say it is because our old doctor is an A-hole) it is not a good idea to try to sue the clinic for damages.

1) Get in line - there are A LOT of other couples who were affected by the clinic closing and many of     these other couples are probably out more money that we are.

2) The legal fees are more likely to be in excess of $1,743.  If we win then the clinic should cover            them as part of the settlement.  If we lose we out out the $1,743 plus the legal fees.

3) Without getting into exact dollars, we have already driven the equivalent of a pretty nice car (how        nice you ask - let's just start with the fact that it would have burl wood interior) off of a cliff               (before even taking into the costs of our most recent GC endeavor).  $1,743 is an option package.

So we agreed that our old doctor is an A-hole and decided that this is just a minor set back in the grand scheme of things.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Process Begins.....

Technically the process began a while ago, but today our GC starts Lupron which is arguably the first step of the frozen embryo transfer process (FET).  You could also argue that the process started with birth control pills....but I am going to hold the Lupron stance.

Birth control is used in infertility treatments to coordinate cycle timing as well as to help "quiet" the ovaries before treatment (both to prevent ovarian cysts and as "down-regulation".  Many women find it ironic (myself included) that something that is taken to prevent pregnancy is also used to create it.

Many of those starting fertility treatments have taken birth control or even other oral medications before, so taking them again isn't really a big deal.  Having to give yourself shots, however, is a big deal for most of us.  I had never given myself a shot before as has the vast majority of the population. It is REALLY hard to give yourself your first shot.  Self-protection is part of human nature and "harming" yourself on purpose is not self-protective.  So, having to shoot yourself up with Lupron is a big deal and to me, the start of the FET process.

Our GC has gone through injection training (as has her husband) and feels pretty comfortable with the shot prospect.  Honestly, she seems to be doing better with the whole process than we are. Maybe having children really does prepare you for almost anything.

I hope to see someday....

Today the Lupron shots start.  In a little over a week our GC will have her baseline ultrasound.  If that goes well (ie everything is "quiet") then she will start Estrace.  In about two weeks after that our GC will have her lining check.  If that goes well she will start Progesterone.  Shortly after that our embryos will be thawed.  If they grow into blastocysts we will have a transfer shortly thereafter.  Just shy of two weeks after the transfer our GC will have her first beta.  Provided that the first beta is positive our GC will have a second beta two days later.  After that we see how it goes....

The roller coaster ride has begun.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Hardest Day of the Year

For most women, Mother's Day means a special meal.  Usually brunch or lunch out with the family or maybe a surprise of breakfast in bed.  There will be a showing of gifts - perfume, flowers, jewelry or maybe something hand made just for you.  It will be a day of joy and celebration.

But for others, Mother's Day is the hardest day of the year.

Instead of a necklace made of macaroni our "gift" is yet another negative pregnancy test, or the remembrance of a child that we lost.  Our "gift" is an empty crib, unused baby clothes, and a deep feeling of sorrow....or inadequacy....or worse.

We will probably be spending the day trying to celebrate with our own mothers and families.  We will be sitting at the table staring longingly at someone else's child, wondering why that can't be us.

Some of us are better adjusted than others.  Some of us spend the day enjoying playing with children and holding babies and being hopeful that next Mother's Day will be a celebration for us too.

Some of us are not doing as well.  It is hard for us to play with children and hold babies and we have stopped being hopeful that next Mother's Day will be any different than this one.

As you sit and enjoy your brunch and notice some woman looking sadly over at your table try to be compassionate.  Try to take a moment to be thankful for the family that you have been blessed with.

We are not all so lucky.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

All Of Our Eggs Are In One Basket

We received confirmation today that our new clinic has received our embryos from our old clinic. While I like to picture a messenger running across town carrying a little cooler (like in the movies) I know that the process is a bit more complicated than that.

Embryos are frozen and stored at temperatures cooler than -150°C.  And you thought that Minnesota winters were cold....

Obviously a lunch cooler would not be able to maintain these types of conditions.

Thankfully there are a handful of companies that specialize in the frozen shipping of biologics (yay!), and will do so for a handsome fee (boo!), that our old clinic offered to pay for (yay!).

All of our eggs are safely in the "basket" of the new clinic.