Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Spa Professionals

It has been awhile since I've done a Thankful Thursday post, but as I was getting a massage earlier this week, it occurred to me that I don't know what I'd do without my spa professionals!

I'm thankful for my aestheticians - the ones that regularly wax my eyebrows, and the one that gave me my first ever facial this week! It was just a mini-facial, but it made me feel great. Thank God for the aestheticians that allow me to focus on me, and make me feel beautiful in the process.

Most of all, I'm thankful for massage therapists! They work magic with their hands and arms, kneading the stress out of my shoulders and back, soothing tired, aching arms and legs, and finding tension points I didn't know existed in my hands and feet. I have had some massage therapists that were absolutely heaven-sent. I'm thankful that these skilled people found their way to this profession, where they spend their time and energy helping the rest of us simply feel better.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Freakout: Bad Clinic Behavior

I don’t understand why IVF clinics aren’t more sensitive to what their patients are going through. I don’t understand why they aren’t more careful to ensure they don’t stress us out more than we already are, and why they don’t make the effort to provide us with more information and greater transparency, so that we can have some sense of trust and control in a situation where we are vulnerable and powerless.
Photo by takomabibelot

The Wacky Wicketeer and I have been patients at three clinics in Northern California. Here are some of the stressful mistakes we have encountered:
·        Failed to diagnose me properly
·        Failed to inform us of miscarriage risks to IUI due to our diagnosis
·        Miscalculated dates on IUI protocol calendar
·        Made us wait over an hour in the waiting room, making our appointment over an hour late (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Miscalculated prescription quantity
·        Mishandled post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Improperly tested post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Lied about limitations of genetic testing of post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Failed to return phone calls (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Failed to respond to emails (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Talked to me like I was an idiot for asking about the safety of progesterone suppositories during pregnancy, after I had already miscarried once while on them
·        Delayed submitting my prescriptions to the specialty mail-order pharmacy until the last minute (I only received them 18 hours before I had to use them because I spent two days on the phone yelling and pleading with people)
·        Failed to timely submit an insurance claim
·        Minimized & failed to warn me about potential recovery time after egg retrieval
·        Delayed my cycle start date by a week for a non-medical reason after we had already rescheduled work, work travel, and numerous other activities
·        Tried to delay my cycle start date by a week for a non-medical reason a SECOND TIME, after we had already re-rescheduled everything around the first change
·        Delayed giving me dates for an injection class until a week before, such that I couldn’t go because I already had bought plane tickets, conference passes, and made reservations for an out-of-town conference
·        Failed to give me a pre-emptive pain med prescription for the most painful experience of my life
·        Failed to provide thorough information on costs and insurance coverage for IVF
·        Failed to provide an information packet of any sort on how that clinic does IVF
·        Lack of transparency as to staffing changes that may be occurring during a cycle

I have received apologies--from a newly-hired nurse for rescheduling, and from a doctor for my painful experience. I still see that nurse and doctor. Nothing else on this list has been corrected or apologized for. For a service that we gamble tens of thousands of dollars on, and that requires us to substantially rearrange our lives for a painful, mere attempt, at having children, the very beneficiaries of our struggle, the fertility clinics, should be more conscientious of how their mistakes and behavior affect us.

The larger, immediate problem when these sorts of mistakes occur is that it strikes at the heart of an in-progress IVF cycle (or other treatment). It makes us doubt the very people that are supposed to be important members of our team. For me, the single thing that most influences my anxiety level during an IVF cycle is my faith and trust in my fertility team. That includes my clinic staff, nurses, embryologists, doctors, phlebotomists, pharmacists and geneticists, as well as my husband. While other people can be supportive and helpful during an IVF cycle, if they aren’t, I can block them out while in-cycle. I can’t block out this group. I need them, and I need them to be reliable and trustworthy.

I know we’re not the only ones, so what clinic mistakes and issues have added to your infertility stress?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BlogHer Recap Part 1: Vacation, Expo & Parties

BlogHer is basically a summer camp for grown up girls who like to be on the internet. I mean this in a very, very, good way. Don’t get me wrong, the Wacky Wicketeer had a great time too, but he is not the target demographic. This year, BlogHer was in San Diego. Just a plane-hop from home!

Since we decided to make it a vacation for him and travel as a couple, the Wacky Wicketeer and I arrived in San Diego Thursday morning. I did not register for PathfinderDay because I found out about too late, after we had already made our plans. Also because it cost more money. Fortunately, we were able to check into the hotel early, so we dropped off our luggage, and figured out how we could take public transit to the Hotel del Coronado. Our hotel room at the Marriott was awesome, and from the 22nd floor, we had a great view. But the Hotel del Coronado is a landmark that has been around since the 19th Century, and is a work of art in wood.

View from our room at the Marriott
Hotel del Coronado

We spent the rest of the day on Coronado Island, checking out the hotel, having lunch on their deck, and enjoying the beach. And that was my last meal we paid for until Sunday.
Beach on Coronado Island

Expo and Parties

That night the conference really began, with a series of three parties. I had obtained an Expo and Cocktail Pass (a.k.a. the Party Pass) for the Wacky Wicketeer so he could attend these events with me, and each night there were three more parties. All had complimentary food, and we had received drink tickets with our conference badges, so the parties alone made up for the cost of our conference admission.
The Expo was awesome. And huge. And full of giveaways. One woman’s junk was another woman’s swag, and thanks to the swag exchange room, we could take and leave accordingly! The Wacky Wicketeer (a.k.a. the Digital Emperor) was ready to pass out from the effort of trying to consume every ice cream, lasagna, sausage, and other food product being offered at the Expo. Referring to these samples, he called it “Costco on steroids!” Thank goodness there was dedicated time for it on Thursday, because otherwise I would not have had a chance to see most of it. Thanks to the Expo, we got to meet the Pine Sol Lady and the Swiffer Dust guy (on Thursday), not to mention Bob Harper and Giuliana Rancic (on Saturday).

As for the actual parties, they were pretty fun. Though I was pretty disappointed in the first night, Friday and Saturday made up for it. Thursday nights’ parties had pretty bland food. The others were an improvement. My favorite party was Sparklecorn, and you can see the awesome unicorn cake in last week’s Wordless Wednesday post. If the Expo was Costco on steroids, Sparklecorn was girl power on steroids! It was all about unicorns, sparkle, and glow-in-the-dark sticks. The DJ was the best I’ve heard in a long time, and we had a great time dancing the night away! There were also giant, soft pretzels, which I love. Saturday night’s parties were unique and fun, but by the time we got to Cheeseburgher, I was ready to pass out from exhaustion. So we gave away the rest of our drink tickets, and called it a conference.
Fireworks while at the Social Fiesta

The coolest part about the parties was that I got to meet some great bloggers and tweeps that I already knew online: Maya, Dresden, MrsLaLa, and Dead Cow Girl, to name just a few! A highlight was Dresden, upon first meeting us, saying to the Wacky Wicketeer, “wow, you’re cute!” She made him blush and me giggle!

Come back soon to read about Friday and Saturday’s conference sessions!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Freakout: IVF Meds

I’m calling this post a “Friday Freakout” as a tribute to the fact that my greatest psychological challenge is anxiety. It rots my gut on a regular basis.

So guess what? We’re there. Where? IVF number 2. I started my morning injections of Lupron on Thursday, and start stimming next Thursday night. My protocol is 10iu of Lupron daily until next Thursday, then drop it to 5iu, and add 225iu daily of Follistim. My last birth control pill is tomorrow, so CD 1 should be about next Tuesday. I’m also taking Metformin, prenatal vitamins, DHA, CoQ10, and extra calcium and vitamin D, but these are all oral pills. Only the Follistim and Lupron are injections.

On August 26th I’ll go in for a monitoring ultrasound, and my RE will decide whether to schedule me to trigger, or have me continue on Lupron and Follistim longer and return for another ultrasound before triggering. Our first IVF, we had a low percentage of the total eggs retrieved that had triggered properly. My understanding of the trigger is that it tells the eggs it’s time to go from 46 to 23 chromosomes, so they can be fertilized. My RE thinks it didn’t work on a lot of them because they had grown too fast. In other words, I was “over-stimmed”.

Even though we had a single, genetically competent, girl embryo that made it to transfer, since she didn’t implant and we didn’t have any others make it to blastocyst stage for freezing, that cycle was a total bust. The only thing it did was give us very expensive clinical data showing we end up with a lot of chromosomally abnormal sperm and eggs, thus conceiving chromosomally abnormal embryos. That is, when they are able to actually conceive.

This time, my dosage of Follistim has been decreased, and an additional stim dropped entirely, with the hope that this will allow more of my eggs to mature a little slower, and properly trigger. This is what we are now hoping and praying for virtually every day.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to learn how to give myself the injections this cycle. That does not mean I will actually be doing them all myself. Nurse Stepmom is again generously giving me my injections, but I’m going to have her teach me how. I’ll do a couple under her tutelage, on the off chance I get stuck having to do it myself. But until that happens, I’m having her do it! I haven’t had pain or a bruise from any of these injections yet, and I firmly believe I owe that to her expertise and skill! This process is stressful enough without having to stab myself every day.

And no, the Wacky Wicketeer is not allowed near my shots. You see, my big, strong husband is afraid of needles. Despite this fact, he grudgingly said to me one day, “I guess I could try giving you a shot.” I replied with a firm, “no way!” I love him for wanting to help, but what I don’t need is a husband passed out on the floor and me still standing there, having to stab myself.

Finally, I promised my tweeps (friends on Twitter, for those who aren’t) that I would share another use for the insulated bags Dove gave us at BlogHer ‘11. Here it is: Transporting our IVF meds that are supposed to be refrigerated! Hey, if it’s good enough for ice cream…

If you have any questions about anything I’ve discussed in this post, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sparklecorn

My BlogHer '11 Experience - Mere shadows
against the sparkly backdrop of woman & blogger power!

The Sparklecorn '11 cake! A variety of perspectives at BlogHer '11.
 Photo by Aurelia Cotta.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Frequent Blogging and BlogHer '11

Most of you know that I spent much of the last five days in San Diego at BlogHer '11. The Wacky Wicketeer went with me and it was awesome! It was also a lesson in sleep deprivation for me. On the other hand, the Wacky Wicketeer got to sleep all day while I was at the sessions. I'm planning additional posts on our experiences while we were down there, but I'm still waiting to get my hands on some pics that were taken.

Before heading to BlogHer, I read that it was important to identify my primary purpose for attending.  Mine was to gain knowledge and inspiration for becoming a more frequent blogger. To that end, I've learned about editorial calendars, prioritizing, memes, and all sorts of helpful tools! Today I even started my own blog editorial calendar. I'm hoping this will help me to better honor your investment in reading this blog.

One of the other things I realized along the way is that I've been making my blog design too complicated. So, you should see some changes soon that will hopefully make it a little easier to read, and give it a cleaner feel.

Before I sign off tonight, I'll leave you with a pic that was a highlight of my trip: meeting Bob Harper, the trainer from The Biggest Loser!