My doctor had me start a new frozen embryo cycle right away after my last one was cancelled at the last minute. This will make it the third time I’ve prepped for my FET for my one and only embryo. It’s incredibly exhausting physically and mentally. I would describe this process as being dragged face first through a field of mud. Occasionally someone will ask “how are you?” and you lift your muddy, weary face and say, “I’m good” then plop your face back into the muck to be dragged some more. I’m on week 21 of being dragged around in this seemingly endless field of mud, I mean, 21 weeks of prepping for my FET.
Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts
Countdown Until FET: 16 days (as of 07-15-2020)
Starting All Over
I’ve completely restarted my FET cycle. It’s a mix of emotions. On the one hand I am glad I was able to restart right away, while on the other I feel ready to completely give up on this entire process. But I cannot give up, I have an embryo waiting for me. I’m hoping my mental health will catch up to the fertility treatment process happening to my body. I feel my brain and my body are completely disconnected.
I now totally understand those women who decide that fertility treatments are just too much to deal with and they decide to stop. I also understand the women who decide that not even adoption or fostering feels right. I get it, 100%. I feel like I’ve reached a limit I’ve never reached before where I am just so over all of this.
I’ll be honest, in the past I didn’t understand how women could give up on treatments when there was a chance they could have a child. I also didn’t understand women who wanted children so badly, had failed treatments but then decided not even to adopt. The child-free lifestyle seemed to confound me. Out of curiosity, I read a couple books on the child-free lifestyle. I wanted to open my mind up to the realm of possibility that I may be living that way if my treatments don’t work out. At this point, it’s a newer option on the table I hadn’t considered before.
Scary Side Effect?
Just before bed I drank a glass of water and looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. What the hell?! I looked like a different person. My face and neck were really swollen, puffing out about 1-2 inches on all sides. I put my fingertips to my neck and felt that my neck was tender and sore. My face didn’t hurt but my throat did. Was this a side effect to my medicine? I started my new FET cycle with a prescribed double dose of Lupron, twice as much as I was on before. Could this be some weird reaction to the medicine?
Then I remembered my old blog post from my second egg retrieval where I had talked about my face swelling up on fertility treatments. This somewhat put my mind at ease. Maybe this is just par for the course? I decided to go to bed and see how I felt in the morning.
But in the morning my neck and throat were even more swollen. I was worried now. What if I am having an allergic reaction to my increased dose of Lupron? I was also feeling abnormally hot. I checked my temperature at it was 99.8°F. The increased temperature had me concerned it was possibly a mild case of COVID. But a swollen face and neck? I don’t remember that being one of the symptoms of COVID. I called my clinic and a backup doctor returned my call.
He asked me a series of questions and told me he thought my body was fighting off some sort of infection. He told me, “If you don’t feel better in the next few days we’ll need to cancel your embryo transfer.” Are you kidding me? Cancel my FET again? I decided to become the laziest of lazy people and rested that whole weekend. I drank lots of water and binge watched TV, hoping that the rest would help. My swelling went down and so did my temperature. By the time I received a followup call from my clinic on Monday I was feeling okay and they told me we could continue with the FET process.
That same Monday I had my suppression check. My ultrasound looked good and she said, “You are definitely suppressed.” This was music to my ears, the good news I needed to hear to hopefully help turn things around for me. My bloodwork was also good. My nurse called me later and told me I could start my Estrace pills three times daily and drop my Lupron dose down to 5 units twice daily. I think it was possible the Lupron may have been causing my face and neck to swell, but because my Lupron dose got lowered I don’t think we’ll ever know what was causing it. But I’m back on track and hopefully my next monitoring appointment will show my body is on track with everything.
Not Enough Syringes
Since I had to restart my FET cycle this month and I was on different doses, I thought I would double check to make sure I had enough of what I needed. I had enough medicine to last me, but after counting all of my syringes I realized they did not give me enough.
I think part of the problem was that I was on double the dose of the typical Lupron pack they give you. So even though I had enough Lupron left over from my previous cycle, I did not have enough syringes to keep up with my double dose. Not a big deal, I thought. Just call the pharmacy and ask for more, syringes should be free I thought. When I’ve ordered my medicine in the past they normally don’t charge anything for the syringes, they only charge for the medicine itself. Here is my confusing conversation with the pharmacy staff:
“You’ll need to call your doctor and ask for a new prescription,” the pharmacy staff told me.
“No, I don’t need a new prescription, I just need the syringes,” I said.
“I see here you don’t have any more refills, so you will need a prescription” she said.
“But I have enough medicine. I just need the syringes.” I could feel my hormonal anger beginning to rise.
“We need a new prescription,” she repeated.
“Does that mean I will have to pay full price for medicine I don’t need just to get the syringes?” I could hear myself trying to control the anger in tone.
“No, we just need a prescription for the syringes,” she said.
“Prescription for syringes? But aren’t they normally free?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, normally they are, but because you are out we have to have the doctor confirm that you need more. You’ll have to pay $6 for the syringes and $39 for the shipping” she explained.
“So you’re telling me, because you didn’t put the proper amount of syringes with my medicine to begin with, I now have to pay extra to have it sent to me?” I wasn’t yelling, but I was definitely not happy.
It’s at this point that my medication induced hormonal anger flared up inside of me, but I was able to tamp it down when I told myself that I needed to not get emotional and listen to what she was saying.
“We received your prescription from your doctor, including how many syringes to send. So you’ll need to contact your doctor. We are unable to send syringes without a prescription because some people use those syringes for drugs” she said.
Now I was finally starting to piece everything together. It was my clinic that did not give the right amount of syringes to my pharmacy (to account for my double dose of Lupron) so it wasn’t really the pharmacy’s fault. The pharmacy is also regulated by law to follow prescription guidelines, in order to prevent manipulation of the system by illicit drug users who are seeking free needles and syringes. I had no clue that was even a thing. I messaged my clinic and they sent out the prescription to my pharmacy. I called the pharmacy and I had to pay the stupid shipping fee of $39 plus $6 for the syringes, for a total of $45. It should be arriving soon. This is just one example of the many frustrating things that can go wrong during fertility treatment.
Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?
If you follow my blog you know that I am a planner. I always have a backup plan. I joked with my friend, “You know how people say they have a Plan B if their first plan doesn’t work. Well, I am near the end of the alphabet with the plans I’ve gone through for trying to have a baby.” It helps me to have a plan so I have something to look forward to, as opposed to not having a clue what happens next. In my recent post I talked about how Kurtis and I were on different pages with our family building plan and how this affected me. Well, he’s starting to open up to the possibility of making a plan with me.
I’ve done a lot of research, and to my understanding, the only job in Alaska that offers IVF benefits is Starbucks (they offer this voluntarily). If for some reason I can’t get a job with Starbucks, I might move out of state for fertility treatment. In the past we talked about the possibility of me temporarily living out of state for treatment. In Alaska, we are ranked one of the top three worst states to live in for fertility services. We have zero reproductive endocrinologists, no RESOLVE infertility groups, no fertility clinics, and not a single law in the books mandating fertility coverage. At this point all of my treatment is being done fully out of state. Lately, I’ve been thinking more of the possibility of relocating for treatment if this FET does not work.
Kurtis said he would most likely stay behind while I do treatment. He has a decent paying job with good benefits, we have the condo we own with a dog and cat. So it’s easier if only I leave for treatment as opposed to us uprooting everything and starting over in another state. If I got a job in another state I would need to work it long enough to get insurance benefits before I could start treatment. So I may be out of state for 3-6 months possibly.
I researched states that have mandated insurance coverage for infertility. It’s incredibly complicated and each state has different mandates. One state might include coverage until a certain age, where another state requires a proof of a certain number of years of infertility. A couple of the states I had an eye on were Connecticut and Massachusetts, because they seem to mandate for more expansive coverage. I’m also curious to learn if I could use coverage from that state and go for treatment at CNY in Syracuse, New York. CNY is one of the more affordable clinics in the US. I didn’t delve too much into researching, because I want to keep an open mind at this point.
I also did some research on affordable clinics overseas. One of the countries I’ve been hearing about over and over for affordable IVF treatment is the Czech Republic. There are a handful of clinics in and near Prague that seem to have top quality treatment. Some of the services they provide are really advanced. My clinic in Seattle doesn’t even offer some of the more advanced techniques like assisted hatching and embryo glue, to name a few. Much better price and more advanced? Where do I sign up?
I emailed a clinic in Prague to ask about pricing. They responded very quickly with a full list of prices for every one of their services. They were very upfront with their pricing, which was nice to see. Of course the main drawback to traveling abroad right now is COVID and the high prices of flights. If I chose to go this route, I will most definitely do more research and seek out other women in the infertility forums that have actually gone to Prague for treatment.
I need to sit down and do the math for both options of moving out of state temporarily for insurance coverage compared to getting treatment in another country. When I’ve run preliminary numbers it looks like traveling abroad is the more affordable option, even with the expensive plane ticket. That goes to show you how expensive treatment in the US really is.
But my future depends on what happens with this upcoming FET. I’m hoping it will work, but I’m also being realistic and considering my options if it doesn’t work. I’m happy that Kurtis is being more open about planning for the future. My next major hurdle is my monitoring appointment I have on July 24th. I’m hoping they will say everything looks good and I can book my plane ticket to Seattle for my FET.