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Day 13 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): What To Do When You Run Out of IVF Meds

Day 13 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): What To Do When You Run Out of IVF Meds

(Entry written prior to posted date)

 

Is it just me or do these IVF meds give you crazy vivid dreams. I had a dream that I was with a tour group walking on these set of rocks that go out into the sea. Once we got to the end of the  rocks and stood looking at the water surrounding us, I saw an orca circling us. I told the tour guide and he said, “No need to worry.” But I noticed something wiggling at my feet. It was a bunch of small baby orcas that got pushed onto the the rocks by the waves. The next thing I knew the waters were rising to the point where our feet slipped out from under us. Half a dozen large orcas had their sights set on killing us. I was one of two people out of seven to survive by managing to swim to shore. When I looked back the orcas were flipping the bodies of the people into the air for fun and then catching them back in their mouths to chomp on them again. Years ago I heard killer whales kill for fun, so their name seems quite fitting. It was a pretty messed up dream. I don’t even know where to start with interpreting it, nor do I really want to. I’ve had other nightmares while going through IVF. I’m not sure if it’s the stress of the situation or if it is actually the meds contributing to this.

 

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Mom and I at the Bloedel Reserve.

 

So after my terrifying dream, we decided to check out the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge island. It was very beautiful. What I liked about the reserve is that it was created in a way to compliment the natural landscape, as opposed to ripping up the land to make an overly manicured garden. Bloedel Reserve is a rugged garden that is more true to nature, with the main exception being the Japanese garden area. I really enjoyed it. It was nice to get out and explore for a good portion of the day. I always feel so centered when I am out in nature and it’s a great way to de-stress during the IVF process.

 

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My doctors have been doing blood tests and ultrasounds on me about every other day since I’ve been here in Seattle. Because my little eggies are responding very slowly to the medicine, I am put into a difficult position. The doctors keep saying, “Okay, I think that if you do just two more days of shots you should be ready.” Yet my eggs barely grow and they don’t grow enough for acceptable size for an egg retrieval.

 

Now I’m out of my original meds and need to get them delivered. Normally, it’s no big deal for  pharmacies that specialize in IVF medication to deliver by the next day. But because I was wandering around in the garden today and being a little too carefree, I didn’t realize how late it was getting. It was four o’clock by the time I called the pharmacy for a refill, they said their delivery department was closed. I would have to wait until Monday, leaving me with without my medication for the entire weekend. Now I was in panic mode.

 

I had to figure something out. I couldn’t go the whole weekend without my shots. That could put my whole egg retrieval in jeopardy. So I decided I would call my clinic in the morning to see if they have any samples they can give me. My clinic was able to do this the last time I did an egg retrieval. They gave me one Ganirelix when I was out of it before. Some fertility clinics may give you one or two samples in emergency situations, but don’t expect a clinic to give you more than that. Hopefully when I call my clinic in the morning they can help me out with this. Other than this nerve-racking predicament, I had a really nice day getting out and exploring the Bloedel Reserve.

 

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Day 12 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Perseverance

Day 12 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Perseverance

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

One of the biggest stressors for doing IVF is the high cost. Most of us who scrape together enough money to do it need to get it from different sources. I was lucky enough to win a grant to pay for a big chunk of of the cost. I was also very thankful that my Mom could help me with the upfront costs and medicine that I am slowly paying her back with. I also have some on my credit cards only due to last minute unexpected costs. Those unexpected costs were due to me needing more medication due to my eggs not responding very well. IVF Medicine is incredibly expensive, especially when your eggs don’t cooperate and barely grow.

 

I feel like I am in a constant battle. I get angry sometimes, as anyone would when they shell out this much money with no guarantee of a baby. But still we try. We continue to see if “just this next time” it will work. I knew someone whose adoptive mother had 15 miscarriages before she finally gave birth to her one and only child. She went through those miscarriages during the 1950s and 1960s, when the topic was very taboo and treatment was not advanced like it is today. Imagine having that many miscarriages with no explanation because they didn’t have the technology to determine the cause for all her losses. This woman told me she believed her adoptive mother was the most resilient person she ever knew and she said, “there is something to be said for someone’s perseverance despite all the obstacles.” That word, perseverance, really stuck out in my mind, and it’s something I’ve been striving for ever since.

 

But in order to persevere with infertility treatment it all comes down to the fact that your perseverance will cost you. Some may say, “Just continue to try naturally and it will happen” they do not understand that this too has a cost. For those of us that have recurrent miscarriages (like I do), there is definitely a cost to this. Sometimes surgery is needed afterward to clear the uterus. If the uterus isn’t cleared completely there is a chance that this will cause even worse infertility issues due to embryos not being able to properly implant due to remaining scar tissue. This remaining scar tissue can cause embryos that do implant over it to not get sufficient nutrients, which can lead to further miscarriages. Resolving this issue includes costs for things such as ultrasounds, sonohystogram, hysteroscopy, and repeated hysteroscopy if the first one did not clear everything. All of those ‘what if’ scenarios I just described actually happened to me, and it ended up costing me more than a round of IVF. So hopefully you can see why I chose to pursue IVF. It increases the odds of success and helps you to avoid costly surgeries after miscarriages. If you have recurrent miscarriages IVF might be the best treatment option for you. Ask your doctor about treatment options and expect further testing to be done in order to narrow down the best treatment for you. I needed more testing to learn that for sure two of my losses were due to chromosomal abnormalities. Because of this testing and the results we decided the best option for success was IVF.

 

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Taking a break from shopping to enjoy the view of Seattle.

 

Despite the reality of the costs, you still need to live a little. Today Mom and I went to the Pacific Place Mall. I’ve become a master at window shopping, instead of actual shopping. Most of the time I am content with window shopping. I ended up spending right around $60, which is the highest amount I’ve spent on clothes in a while. I’ve gotten into the habit of avoiding clothes shopping for a long time. Much of my clothes I wear at home and occasionally out and about have holes in them. But If you look past my well-used clothes due to a tight budget you will see someone who is doing anything and everything to persevere.

 

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View of Downtown Seattle from skywalk at Pacific Place Mall.

 

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Day 11 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): How to Get Travel Discounts for IVF Treatment

Day 11 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): How to Get Travel Discounts for IVF Treatment

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

The irony of IVF medication is that it makes you look totally pregnant. It has all the same appearances of pregnancy but instead you become a human water balloon. I bloated so much in such a short span of time that it was painful sometimes. I’m already a big girl so imagine the discomfort I felt when there is extra water added to my belly, thighs, and even my face. My glasses were even fitting tighter on my head. No one seems to talk about how your face gets bloated too. When I looked at my pictures from the other day I thought the photo was distorted. My cheeks were noticeably bigger. I appear to be taking on the physical traits of a whale. I think whales have a majestic, serene quality to them, as they glide through the ocean waters and call out to each other. Instead here I am angrily flopping around in bed as I cuss at how uncomfortably big my stomach has become.  I sometimes grab my stomach in dismay and say “Oh my God” under my breath.

 

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The Bloat is Real. Way more bloated this second round of IVF.

 

I knew I was going to be bloated, like everyone in the online IVF boards were saying, but good lord this is too much. It was pretty shocking to look in the mirror and see my gut looking fully pregnant. One thing I didn’t even think to do was to measure before and after IVF meds, the difference would probably be quite mortifying.

 

 

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Even my face is bloated. I felt my glasses frames getting tighter by my ears. What…the…hell?

 

 

The IVF process tends to mold us into more resilient people. Look at the lengths we go to to create a family. Although I did whine throughout the process at times, I am also learning a lot about myself too. Some of the ways I’ve grown through this process include learning to find humor in hard times, being open to new experiences, prioritizing what is really important to me, and time-managing the s**t out of my day. When you have to give yourself five shots during a specific window of time each day you start to get into a perfectly sequenced routine.

 

My best advice to those of you who have to give yourself multiple shots in a day is to be prepared, and do your shots in a certain order at the same time. I always did mine in the same order each time so I would try to avoid mistakes, minus my one major mistake with the Omnitrope. Hey, nobody is perfect, but if you can find a way that helps you streamline the whole process it will be so much easier on you. I also kept all my medicine in my one suitcase, although some might find it more helpful to have everything spread out on their counter. I was traveling at the time and I didn’t feel comfortable having all of my expensive medicine spread out in my hotel. I always zipped up all my medicine in my bag if it didn’t need refrigerated. Also if you are given a window of time to take your medicine try to make a habit of doing it in the earliest part of that window. It’s better to be earlier in the window than try to make a mad dash back to your place to frantically give yourself multiple shots. You are more likely to make mistakes if you do not give yourself enough time to prepare.

 

I wanted to share a couple other things I’ve learned along the way, one of which I learned just today. Because this cycle is lasting much longer than anticipated I needed to extend my stay at the hotel. The girl at the front desk of the hotel knew that I had received several deliveries from a pharmacy because I had very specific instructions to call me immediately when they arrived because I needed to refrigerate the medicine. So when I went to pay for another week at the hotel, she offered me some advice I hadn’t even thought of.

 

She said to me, “You are here for medical reasons, correct?”

“Yes” I said. I had mentioned before I was having a procedure but didn’t go into details.

“That’s too bad that we didn’t know that for your first week you had booked. But we can apply the medical discount for you for this new week.”

“Really?” I said surprised. “How much is the medical discount?”

“Twenty percent, if you book through us directly.”

 

If you have to travel to do IVF ask if it’s possible to get a medical discount on your hotel and airfare. Just because you think you are getting a good deal on your hotel and airfare by booking through a website like Kayak, Priceline, or Travelocity does not mean you are getting the best deal possible. Call your hotel and airline directly and ask them if they do medical discounts and what the percentage discount is as well as the policies. Do the math. If the percentage you’d save is more doing a medical discount then go for it, if not then book with the cheaper option online. I managed to get both the hotel and airfare medical discount. I wish I had known about it before with my first round of IVF, but I’m thankful I learned about it by the time I had my second round.

 

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Day 10 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Growing Pains

Day 10 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Growing Pains

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

Today I woke up with a lot of pain in my left leg and hip. Most of the day I wasn’t sure what that was all about but I had an epiphany moment that I will tell you about later. But first let me tell you about the fun day we had at the Seattle Japanese Garden. Although I was in some pain when we walked around I was still able to move around okay, I just walked a little slower. There were so many beautiful picturesque parts of the garden. I took boatloads of pictures. There were unique Japanese trees, small stone bridges, and a lovely pond at the center of it all filled with Koi fish.

 

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I was kind of surprised to see these fish in the pond in November. They sluggishly floated around in the water when they weren’t coming right up to people looking down on them. They seemed to be waiting for people to toss them little bits of food. It was really nice to slowly walk around the garden and really take in all the beauty and effort that went into creating the garden. I think it would be amazing to someday own a piece of property and create a nice garden for visitors to come and see. There are other gardens in Washington I am hoping to see this week as well. Maybe the next one will be the Bloedel Reserve which I read about from a visitor brochure.

 

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While Mom and I were relaxing on a bench in the garden an adorable Asian baby girl came running up to me smiling. The baby stopped right in front of me and held it’s hand up and looked at me expectantly. I realized the baby wanted a high five. Her mom said, “High five” confirming what the baby was doing and I happily gave her a high five. The baby was ecstatic and let out a joyful giggle. She waved at me then waved at Mom and took off running on to more adventures. The young couple started to chase after her when I said to them, “She is adorable.” The man said thank you then bolted off after the baby as she was aiming for the pond. They got to her in time before their little one was going to be swimming with the Koi fish. That innocent and happy little high five I shared with this baby absolutely melted my heart. I’ve thought of adopting before but this moment really got the gears turning in my head about the love and joy I could be missing out on. Maybe if these first two rounds of IVF don’t work out I will look into adoption or fostering more seriously.

 

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Now, back to what I was talking about in the beginning with the pain in my leg and hip. Most of the day I felt this moderate achy feeling all up and down my left leg and hip. I wasn’t sure why I was feeling that way. Did I sleep wrong? Did I walk too much yesterday at the mall? It had to have been the mall, right? Mom was asking what it felt like. “Growing pains,” I said.  Then the light-bulb moment finally happened. Duh! I had just accidentally overdosed on my Human Growth Hormone last night. I laughed at myself for not making the connection sooner. It was like I was reliving those growing pains I felt from when I was a pre-teen. I called my husband up to talk about our day and I told him about the realization I had. “Well my one leg might be two inches longer tomorrow, but my eggs will probably still stay the same size.” He laughed and called me “Gimpy Julie.” I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

 

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Featured Image: Photo I took of the pond in the Seattle Japanese Garden.

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Day 9 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Major Mistake with Omnitrope

Day 9 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Major Mistake with Omnitrope

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

Today Mom and I went shopping around Pikes Place Mall. We did mostly window shopping today, scouting out which places to come to later because the shops were getting close to closing soon. I had my eye on some new jeans in Old Navy. Almost all of my pants have holes in them these days. Maybe I could get one or two pairs after my payday. I’ve been delaying buying new clothes for a while because all my money has been getting funneled toward IVF expenses. My shoes are also falling apart. My shirts and underwear are getting little holes as well. I even have a sad looking bra that my puppy got a hold of and now it holes in it too. How in the hell can almost everything I own have at least one hole? I am way overdue for getting new clothes. But new clothes are just some of the many sacrifices you have to make in order to pay for IVF. Vacations have been put off, college graduation delayed, and even paying for gas to get out of the house are just some of the many sacrifices I’ve made. So going window shopping today was kind of a reminder of all the things I can’t have right now. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to soon.

 

Don’t do what I did today! Long story short, I messed up on my Omnitrope. If you don’t know, Omnitrope is one of the Human Growth Hormones that helps with egg growth. Since I tend to be a one-step-at-a-time kind of gal when it comes IVF I didn’t look too much into the details of the Omnitrope because I thought it was already clear. I assumed there would be a video for how to do the Omnitrope, like there has been with every single other medication I’ve been taking. Instead, the video was missing from the fertility clinic’s website. I was looking at the vial itself and tried to interpret the convoluted conversions and it just didn’t make sense to me.

 

The bottle had four different measurements to describe one damn amount. It said mL, mgs, cc’s, then IUs. I decided to email them about it. I pulled out the syringe, looked at it, and asked them “what line on this syringe do I pull back to give myself?” Simple question, right? My regular nurse was out so a backup nurse replied, “For the Omnitrope your dose is 0.5mL.” Okay problem solved I thought. So they day comes when it is time to give myself the medicine. I look over the instructions and realize that there is a different syringe I should be using, one that had IUs on it. Now I’m really confused. Mind you I had a suitcase full of these medications and the bag of these extra smaller syringes are identical to my Menopur syringes, so I thought those were just for the Menopur. I read the Omnitrope instructions carefully on this one page piece of paper that came with the medicine. Makes sense now. I pulled back 0.5mL of liquid (just like the nurse said to), pushed it into the vial, then pulled back my medicine to inject it.

 

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Use the top needle to mix the liquid with the Omnitrope powder. Use the bottom smaller needle to administer the medication. The quarter is to show the size of the needles.

 

But something in the back of my head was saying, “Are you sure you did that right?” I started to really doubt myself. I went online and I began searching for video tutorials from anyone, just to make sure I did it right. Well, as it turns out I really messed up. The video I finally found showed her pulling back 1mL of liquid, not 0.5mL. I ended up accidentally double dosing myself. The 0.5mL pushed into the powder medicine only ended up yielding half the amount of liquid substance, yet double the amount of actual medicine. So the 0.5mL explanation the nurse gave me was not accurate. I was trying to ask her about the liquid amount for the first syringe, not what the tiny syringe would end of up being. I gave myself the whole vial when it should have been half. The fact that the vial had four different conversions for the prescription, combined with the email response from the backup nurse, and the fact that the clinic did not have a tutorial video for this medicine all turned out the be the perfect storm for my very expensive f**k up. How expensive? Well I had to shell out another $1200 the very next day, because that medicine was supposed to last me two days. I was pissed to say the least.

 

My advice to you if you do need to take Omnitrope for the first time is to have your doctor actually show you how to do it. Unfortunately my local doctor was unavailable when I received the medicine so I had to do email correspondence while I was out of state for my treatment. I should have actually gone in to have them show me, but I didn’t realize it was going to be incredibly confusing. If need be, bring in your syringes and have them actually mark or put a sticky not on where exactly you will pull back the liquid as well as how far back to pull back for the actual medicine. The other problem was that the nurse was describing a conversion that wasn’t even on my syringe. So get organized and plan ahead. Bring in your medicine and ask for a thorough explanation with demonstrations. If available, review any tutorial videos. I will say I am not very happy about what happened at all. But I at least know what to do differently next time.

 

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Featured Image: My Omnitrope medication with syringes and needles.

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