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Surrogacy Blogs:
Part of a Miracle
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Working on it:
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Stirrup Queen's List of Blogs
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Life and Love in the Petrie Dish
Life in the Infertile Lane
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Barren
Everyone Else But Me
It Takes a Village
Stella Part 2
Music Maker Momma

On other paths:
Fertile Soul
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Out, damned egg! Out I say!
Holding Pattern
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Velvet Cage

Adventures in Baby Making
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Healing Arts
Hopeful Mother
I Can't Whistle
IF & the City
It Only Takes One Egg
Waiting for Baby Orange
Jenny From the Infertility Block
She's Back!: Manana Banana
Smarshy Boy
Stella and/or Ben
Tinkering with the Works
Twisted Ovaries
Wishing For One

Other Good Reads:
Dr. Licciardi's Infertility Blog

Mc Gill Reproductive Centre - Montreal
Georgia Reproductive Specialists
Jinemed Hospital - Turkey

Cooper Center - NJ
Conceptions - Colorado
Red Rock Fertility - Dr. Eva Littman
Pacific Fertility Center
Zouves Fertility Center"
Nova IVF

IVF Meds - UK
Free Garage Sale
Flying Pharmacy (IVIg)

Blastocyst Grading Criteria
How much hCG is Left After Trigger?
POAS Ratings
More POAS Ratings
The Beta Base

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Cold Little Busy Bee Am I


I think that today's rain makes 24 days that it's rained this month. This has got to break records. My feet and hands are so cold in this house that it's actually preferable to hop in the rover and go for a drive about town with the heater set to melt. At least I'm not served up with a whopper of a PG&E bill when I do this.

In the morning, AA, mom, and I are heading to LA for 5 days to work on the house. I'm a bit worried that I don't seem to have all of my contractors lined up just yet. Today the drywall folks are finishing up a wall and on Saturday it seems I have a plumber lined up but not totally confirmed. I just confirmed the painter for Thursday and Friday, so that leaves J to do the baseboards unless I can find someone to do that as well. In between everything I have to run to Home Depot and Lowes, buying baseboards, sinks, toilet, lights, closet doors, etcetera...pick up J from John Wayne on Thursday night, but not before stopping at Ikea in Tustin for curtain rods and panels.

Amazingly I've hired everyone off of Craigslist for this work week save for J, of course (but did meet him online, too, but that's another story for another day) and I'm hoping that they are all able to do their jobs without fucking up the house, or the newly finished wood floors. If the latter happens I will lose it. Completely.

I had a budget of $5000 for fixing up my mom's house but it's edged up to about $5800 so far (including costs for flying J down there twice, and me once) so if you think about it, we're doing an entire house clean up rather cheaply.

Hopefully we'll have the house on the market by end of the month, right about the time I'm starting my stims. Oh my god. What WAS I thinking? I think I'll have to add "find an agent to co-list property with me" to this week's list. I don't know how I could sell the house on my own without enlisting another professional to assist me.

There goes another $5000.



Sunday, March 26, 2006

CD#3 - BCPs Suck Ass

I think I like the way IVF#1 screwed up my menstrual cycle. This cycle has been, well, bordering on tolerable. Devoid of cramping, clotting, and most of the unpleasantries. It would be nice if future ones were like this. But wait, it would be nicer if they just disappeared altogether for the next nice months!

So I'm on my second day of BCPs and I already have a headache. J thinks it's weird that I'm already feeling poopy from the meds, but I can only imagine how bad it'll be once the lupron starts.

Watch out.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

CD2: IVF#2 Begins

Today's the beginning of IVF#2 and with that I popped my first BCP. Nurse Wratchet J (nurse coordinator) gave me my tentative calendar of festivities:

3/25 Start BCPs
4/17 Last BCP
4/19 Baseline U/S
4/20 Start Lupron (Let the nightsweats begin!)
4/22 Start Stims
4/26 NK Assay
4/28 First monitoring U/S
5/2 to 5/5 Retrieval
5/5 to 5/8 Transfer

Weird how it seems to be happening faster this time. Or at least it I recognize the pattern of what has to happen so I can see the end in sight more clearly that the first time.

The idea of doing this again scares the hell out of me, but what choice is there...really? I can't choose to be childless...it's just not in me. It's not something I can imagine for myself. So I'll venture on and give it my 200% again. I'll suck down my wheatgrass juice each day...eat my handful of vitamins...and even start going to yoga and acupuncture once again. Do I really need to give up my Organic Swiss Water Decaf coffee, though? That is about where I think I must draw the line ladies.

But stress...what to do about stress? Managing my stress is something that J says, over and over, that I had to get a grip on.

How can I deal with stress when I don't even know that I'm stressed out? J says "Strss is how you deal with your environment or surroundings." That's a simple enough definition, but it pisses me off. Why? It's a definition that gives people a copout for taking responsibility for how they treat people. I've nearly heard J say, on more than one occassion, "I should be able to say just about anything to you without your becoming stressed out. You should be able to control your reaction to what I say. But because you cannot, you get stressed out." By this time I'll be visibly frothing at the mouth. Then he'll say, "See, just look at you right now...you're all stressed! Look at you!"

I'd love to have my acupuncturist stick needles in my stress points and leave them in 24/7.


Friday, March 24, 2006

CD1: Thankful for Red Sheets

Woke up at 8:30am and found AF had returned with abandon. Because I had torn my pajama bottoms off in the middle of the night, sweated so much I'd soaked through them, so there was nothing to stop the flow from, well, flowing.


Thank god I had the sense to put my red sheets on the bed, and all because I had read that red sheets are good pregnancy feng shui. ;-)

So the clock is ticking...gotta start my BCPs by CD3, and that is Sunday.

Despite how much I did not appreciate the way I was treated by most of the staff at Dr. Z's (and I'll say most because there were some really good people there)...I think I am going to return to Dr. Z, because:

  1. I responded well to his protocol. 12 follicles, no OHSS.
  2. His stats aren't cherry picked (hell he treated the 62 year old mother who made news recently.
  3. He won't cancel me due to my FSH or other tests like the "lupron challenge".
  4. I won't waste $$ on said tests or time taking them and putting my cycles off to future months

Because I'm a Dr. Z vet now, I have a bit of an advantage in knowing that some of his nursing staff has major issues. If I have a repeat of any of the previous problems I probably only need to send an email to Dr. Z, CC the sucky offending person, and that will likely be enough to get Dr. Z to take action. I will be less hesitant to make sure that bossman knows when these particular people do something flagrantly incompetent.

I met with HoldingPattern and ColoraturaDreams for dinner last night and I picked their brains repeatedly over my curry vegetable dinner. It did a world of good for me. I was really on the fence with respect to each RE. I had no gut reaction to speak of between either Dr. Z or Dr. Next so there was no "gut instinct" for me to go on. We poured over their statistics, whether they "cherry pick" their patients in order to improve their stats, whether they'd cancel me due to my somewhat elevated FSH. We talked about the pros and cons of waiting or not waiting.

I think I'm left with the decision to cycle or not to cycle this month. Physically I feel that I was in better shape going into my last cycle. I was doing my daily wheatgrass, yoga a few times a week, eating oodles of my Omega 3/6/9's. I am probably a bit less stressed this time around, but I haven't been great about drinking my wheatgrass, I've missed a few days of vitamins here and there, and I think I've been to the gym once since we moved into the new house early February. So I've been a bit of a slug since the beginning of my last cycle. Will it matter? Or, I wonder, is it more important to not lose time at my age? Some women get pregnant naturally right after having done an IVF cycle...at least those who can get pregnant naturally. If I wait, do I lose a bit of an edge?

Sit back and watch Linda talk herself into doing an IVF cycle. Quick. Go make a batch of popcorn.

There is an arguement that some of the drugs are still in your system 3 months or so after a cycle, but I think that it isn't that the drugs are in your system still, but rather that the eggs that are in your body were there, as pre-follicles, during the last IVF cycle and were exposed, level unknown, to the stims. But what effect would this have, I wonder. FSH at the beginning of an IVF cycle assists in recruitment of follicles...but these pre-follicles were pretty much dormant at this time. Perhaps the FSH will help to recruit or enlist the help of other pre-follicles that might not have been called up? I wish there was data on this. But what I do know is that I took my FSH in the last two weeks of January...so counting three full months forward...this cycle and the next are the ONLY two cycles that will produce follicles that could be affected by the FSH of my first IVF, and alon this line of thinking, one might would assume, that this cycle's pre-follicles might be more affected by the dosage of FSH than the next set due to their stage of growth (bigger = absorbs more drugs...just like an ovarian cyst hogs up more of the FSH).

Shit did that make sense?

I hope so, because on some scientific level it's starting to gel for me.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Feels Like Menopause?

Today marks cycle day 31, which is the longest I think I've ever gone without a period. I guess this is what menopause feels like, albeit without the hot flashes. Those I experienced in January, courtesy of Mr. Lupron.

McGill FINALLY Calls

The folks at McGill finally called today only to tell me that I'm not a great candidate for IVM, but they'd be glad to do IVF on me. They explained that the loss rate at each step in IVM is different than it is in IVF. Take my last cycle with 12 follicles. In that cycle we had 10 eggs, all mature, 9 fertilized, 6 embryos. With IVM, we could expect 3 or 4 embies. So nearly a 50% decrease. Damn.

Their questions felt a bit odd - I felt I was interviewing for a job. "Why do you want to do IVM?" "What didn't you like about doing IVF?" When I mentioned that I didn't care for all of the drugs that I did on IVF, they said they'd be glad to make me a protocol that would have less of them. So...do I understand this right? They'll construct a protocol that isn't based on what will get me pregnant but one that is acccording to my likes or dislikes about my previous cycle? This doesn't seem like a effective method to finding an appropriate protocol.

But get this. They do have a shared risk plan that doesn't have an age cutoff. Holy smokes. I've never heard of such a thing in the US. So I can do up to 3 IVFs for $11,950CD ($10,239USD) or one for $6,000CD ($5141USD). But add into that the drugs, the airflights for two at $900+ each (at short notice...no bargain flights for us), hotel, food, etc. I think that the shared risk plan is a helluva deal, but the single one is "just okay" considering that with the added expenses, the price is right up there with what we'd pay Dr. Z.

So now the decision is the shared risk plan at McGill -OR- Dr. Next -OR- Dr. Z

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Evil Uterus

Evil uterus. My period is 2 days late. I'm at CD29 and I normally have a 26 or 27 day cycle. It comes pretty much like clockwork.

Okay. I will admit it. There are a few rogue brain cells in my head desperately hoping that I am pregnant, but they're overcome by the majority that keep first "stand-alone" period since then. All those drugs really must fuck our systems up for a while, but for how long? I wonder, how long does it take for ones cycwhispering back to them, "Hey moron. Don't you get it? Blocked tubes!! Blocked tubes!!..."

This is my second "bleed" since my 1st IVF failure, so I guess this is my le to get back "to normal" after an IVF cycle?? I don't want to drive myself batty each month thinking, "Hmmm....maybe I am pregnant" only to be met with inevitable, predictable disappointment each month.

I am betting that by the time I click "Publish Post" that AF will have arrived. That is how periods work. They are mysteriosly tied to our brains.

Wait. So does that mean I shouldn't click "Publish Post"?

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Little Bit of Closure

I'm spending this rainy Monday making homemade soup and catching up on bills and wading through my 2-inch stack of "explanation of benefits" forms from HealthNet. One bill just crossed my desk that gives cause to write.

Back on the 9th of last month I went in for a chlamydia titre test. Not that I think I might have chlamydia, but my new OB/GYN (Dr. T) thought a prior infection might have been responsible for the massive amounts of scar tissue and adhesions that cover my Fallopian tubes. A chlamydia titre test can tell if you have EVER had chlamydia in your life. The infection leaves trace antibodies in your blood that can be picked up with a simple blood test many years later. Dr. T said that he wanted me to do the test so that I would have "closure" as to whether a prior chlamydia infection was what left me in this state.

Hunter Labs has a lab in Dr. T's office...so they did the blood draw right there. Apparently the people running the office that day didn't know what number to code a chlamydia test. The found something that looked like chlamydia and ran that. Unfortunately it was for a chlamydia pneumonia test...essentially, pneumonia. Which I clearly don't have.

When I went back to see Dr. T on the 22nd for my post IVF failure antral count, they let on that the lab had screwed up, and "While you're waiting for Dr. T, why don't you run down the hall and let them draw some more blood on you so they can rerun the test today? We'll make sure you don't get billed for the first one." And, of course, I did just that, and I didn't think much about said test until today, when the bill for the erroneous pneumonia bill crossed my path.

So I telephoned Dr. T's office about the bill. Of course they promised to take care of it. "And did you get your test results ever?" No. Never saw them. Not a clue. The nurse paused for a second or two and then, "Well it's negative".

Great. Huge sigh of relief.

I thanked the gods that my "baby kitty" was never tainted with the chlamydia bug. Then what caused the scar tissue that, today, leaves me with blocked tubes. This test result gives me a smidgen of closure on my sexually active teenage years. Those were the days just before AIDS was on our horizon so we weren't too afraid of what we might get from not using condoms. Everything was curable back then, as far as we knew. I didn't think, however, that I would get pregnant. But we knew that, it too, was curable.

But this first pregnancy, at 15, ended in me having an ectopic that ruptured and hemorrhaged. I didn't even know I was pregnant before or after my surgery. We knew I had hemorrhaged, nearly died, but we didn't know why. This was in the days before "beta HCG" tests, which leaves me wondering how the hell they diagnosed pregnancy back then. Also, there didn't seem to be reliable methods of ascertaining if a pregnancy was ectopic. So, it wasn't until the pathology report came in, many weeks later, when I was fully healed, that fetal tissue had been found in the baseball-sized clot of tissue and blood that the Kaiser Doc had pulled out of me. I remember that day clearly. That phone call. I remember being a bit stupified, yes, that's the word, that I had been pregnant at all, and that it had nearly done me in. It didn't sink it, that is for sure.

The Kaiser Doc mentioned, during this call, that she noticed that my tubes seemed longer than normal and that the ends of the tubes seemed to have had extra fimbria. A congenital defect or deformity. Very easy for an egg to get lost or caught up in the wrong place. Because of this phone conversation with the Kaiser Doc, I had always believed that my ectopic was something beyond my control.

So I took the BCPs that the Kaiser Doc gave me. I was pretty good about taking them each day. But I must have missed a pill, or maybe I was just too fertile at this young age, because I wound up pregnant again the next year about the same time. This time I was panicked because I didn't want to go through the pain of another ectopic. It was a normal pregnancy, and lodged directly in my uterus, but I didn't know this until the doctor who had performed my abortion answered, "Yes, it was in the uterus."

Fast forward to today...my last OB, Dr. G, who did my lap and ovarian surgery in October 2005, was pretty convinced that my first ectopic was likely because I had contracted chlamydia prior to even my first pregnancy. When? At 13? At 14? Did I contract this the first time I had sex? My god. She seemed pretty sure about this and said that she didn't see anything abnormal about my tube lengths or fimbria. I was shocked. I wondered if the Kaiser Doc, whom I had always admired, was a closet quack. I felt sullied, dirtied in a way: I had become damaged goods even before I was 18 years old, before I left High School. Right then, I hated myself for having been sexually active at such a young age. I cried as quietly as I could in my post surgery gurney...feeling, knowing, that I had caused my own infertility. Hating myself, hating the boy I slept with. Wondering why J, who sat next to me, consoling me, bothered to be with me since I couldn't give him children. (Oh yes, I was worked up, rolling shamelessly in self pity).

So today, when Dr. T's nurse told me my chlamydia titre test was negative, that I had NEVER EVER in my entire life contracted chlamydia, it was like a gust of fresh wind blew into my heart. It suddenly felt a bit lighter. Maybe the Kaiser Doc was right. Maybe it was a congenital defect that caused the ectopic. Surely it is possible that the deformity caused the ectopic, then the ectopic caused the scaring and adhesions and that a doctor, today, can't tell much about the state of my tubes due to the scar tissue. But back in 1980-something, the Kaiser Doc saw my tubes before they have become covered with adhesions, maybe she got the best glimpse anyone would ever see of them.

Dr. T's nurse continued on. Maybe I had the scarring from endometriosis? "Nope: I've had two laps that confirm this". She said, "Then maybe another type of bacteria?" I thought, "Maybe but what sort? Bring on the test!" I really do hope that the Kaiser Doc was right, that this was all due to a congenital deformity, because if is the case, maybe, just maybe, I will be able to stop blaming myself for being sexually active at 15 and all of the infertility shit that J and I are enduring right now.

And that would be a relief.

And as an aside...my period is a day late. Probably pretty normal for coming off of an IVF cycle, and, as you know, my tubes are clogged to high hell.

But I can't help but be hopeful.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Matchmaking for Mom: An Interlude from my Incessant Obsessing about My Infertility

Tonight J and I are having dinner with the C's. The C's lived across the street from us at our previous house in Los Gatos and I also have the pleasure of working with Mr. C (heretofore referred to as "JC" and his goodwife as "MC") on a number of real estate transactions. JC has a serious thing for lemon bars so I whipped up my fav lemon bar recipe (courtesy of epicurious). I used Meyer lemons from our house in La La Land, and doubled the recipe for the lemon topping part. If you like tart lemon bars, these are FAB.

So I'm taking the lemon bars to the C's house tonight since they are so gracious as to have us over and a couple bottles of good red wine (a luxury to me as I've had so little of the nectar since October 2005). So the point of all this yammering is this:

This is our FIRST NIGHT OUT without mom!

Is everybody excited? I know that I am. I'm also hoping she doesn't burn the house down, answer the fax line, or unplug my laptop. That aside, I am really looking forward to some alone time. (Is this what it feels like to be a parent and get a night without the children?)

So yesterday, in anticipation of our night out, I warned her that we'd be having dinner with the C's. Within 5 minutes, I kid you not, she started in on how J and I didn't seem to want her to be here in Los Gatos. (OMFG. Where did that come from? Does she forget the multiple trips we've made since January just to get her here?) I assured her that we indeed wanted her here in Los Gatos with us, but that we needed to spend some evenings without her, a "date night" if you will, and that we'd probably do that once a week or so. I reiterated that it would be us (ie, a couple) and another couple, and that she would likely feel a bit awkward if she was there without a "date". She dislikes cooking for herself and so I suggested we get a couple healthy frozen meals from Whole Foods to keep handy for nights that J and I spend alone. But I am digressing a bit here....back to the C's...

Now MC has an elderly father who is about 90 years old. (Note: Mom is 89). If memory serves me right, he lost his dear wife about a year and a half ago. He took care of her, did all of the cooking and cleaning, in essence: he did everything a traditional woman tends to do for a man. Wow. Quite a capable man for being 90 years old. MC and JC relayed to me that he has a big truck with a trailer hitch, and that he likes to tow his travel trailer behind. It seems that they think he would love nothing more than to find someone to sit next to him in his truck and go travelin'. Sounds sweet. I haven't met him, but somehow I already like him. JC, MC, and I have been conspiring how to set my mom up with MC's dad for a few months now, but we're still not sure as to how to go about it.

I have not been the world's most successful matchmaker in my life, with the exception of GP and MS who met at one of my summer parties and were married within the year, and pregnant four months later (boy they moved fast!). But their meeting and connecting was more happenstance than anything else, and had little to do with anything I did. I just threw the party, and they came. But it would be nice if we could conspire, as J suggests, to "just happen to run into the C's and MC's father" at, say, the Sunday farmer's market. I am hoping a casual "run in" such as that wouldn't be threatening to either mom or to MC's father. Maybe a quick coffee at the Roasting House after that and then we could dash off and leave those golden-year hormones to fester and ripen.

It has got to be so hard to meet people at this age. My mom has outlived all of her siblings: three brothers, two sisters. She's outlived her husband (my adopted dad), her lover (Bill) of 10+ years, and many dear friends, some of whom were much younger than her. Her brother (my grandfather) lived till he was nearly 93 years old, and her eldest sister, Helen, lived tile she was just past 95 years old. Her younger sister died at 73, which we all thought was entirely premature and she pretty much drove herself to an early death by smoking, drinking, and eating poorly. So except for her, we have a "long life gene" in our family.

My mother today, at 89, is healthier than any of her siblings were in their 70's, 80's, or 90's. It is a pity that she isn't dying to get out there and meet someone because she has quite a bit of life left in her.

So I'm going to continue on with my covert matchmaking efforts because I think there is hope for her to meet someone and maybe have another "late life romance". I also think that it will keep peace in the house if she has "things to do, people to meet" that don't involve us each and every day. I really hope that she doesn't catch wind of our covert plan and resent us for trying.

Friday, March 17, 2006

To Cycle or Not to Cycle

At 11am today, we were supposed to have a phone chat with Dr. Z's people about what it's like to do a donor egg ccle, and then a second call with a financial person to discuss how fucking expensive it would be to actually do this. But as you would have it, my cell phone was dead, I couldn't find my charger, and I had a client that wanted to see a house for sale at 11:30am. I'm also not really yet to the point of a donor egg sitting well with me. So I guess the gods were trying to tell me to not bother with waiting for the call, and off I went to meet my client.

But my decision day (CD1) is fast approaching. AF is due to arrive on the 19th or 20th, and here we are on the 17th, St. Patrick's Day. I am supposed to decide whether to go with Dr. Next or stick with Dr. Z. And I've only got a few days to do it. Part of me feels that it's a case of "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." And I know that Julianna is right on target by saying that if I had gotten pregnant the first time that I'd be convinced that Dr. Z was a god.

Also I know how I responded with the MDF protocol. None of us know how I'll respond with Dr. Next's Long Protocol. Did Dr. Z nail me right the first time around with MDF? Will I be fucking with a good thing going elsewhere? I am utterly torn. I hated being ignored and patronized by Dr. Z's staff. I hated not being able to get ahold of a person on the phone when I was completely screwing up my first injections (think: half of a 75iu vial on the ceiling. Literally.) I think Dr. Z's bedside manner was okay with me...I didn't have many of the same problems that AP and S have had with him. I don't have a huge gripe there. But Dr. Next has amazing bedside manner and I am quite comfortable with him. He returns my emails with phone calls. Imagine that. The office people reply to emails promptly and courteously. I love their small office that is cozy and doesn't leave one feeling "lost in the shuffle" as one does feel at Dr. Z's. If I had to go on atmosphere and bedside manner...I think Dr. Next would win hands down. I guess that the only thing holding me to Dr. Z is that he's done a cycle with me and I produced six pretty good embryos with him. I don't know what Dr. Next's Long Protocol will do for me. Will I only get 2 embryos this time? That would be a $13000 waste and J would probably never let me do another cycle. I wonder if I am even qualified to figure out who to use, because basing who to use on gut feelings feels, well, so unscientific. I don't even know what my gut is saying to me. I have no instincts left at this point.

I do know that I feel a bit tired, I'm not sleeping good since mom came to live with us. I haven't been to the gym since January, not a single yoga class since the last injection cycle. I've been eating my vitamins but I've nearly stopped my daily wheatgrass juice. I've stopped acupuncture all together. I'm eating white sugar (gasp) here and there. I'm not sure why I've ceased my vigilance but I think I'm still mourning the fact that the first IVF didn't take and I'm acting out against myself somehow. I've caught myself thinking more than once, "You did everything under the sun to get pregnant and it didn't work. So why bother?" Pessimism has crept under my skin and it feels a bit toxic. And now that I've rattled off all of my excuses for not doing a cycle, I have to wonder if I am making up excuses for not being able to make a decision? Using my excuses to postpone this decision.

So today, rather than focusing on which doctor I should use, I should focus on whether I should be doing a cycle or not this month. I've had a month off, Dr. Z says there's no data supporting waiting or not waiting longer than two "bleeds" to increase liklihood of conception except that in my case, as he was so kind to mention, we're racing against a clock. If the Japanese study is right in that my FSH should drop as Spring and Summer arrive, maybe one more month off isn't a bad idea. Anyone have any guidance to share with me? I am all ears at this point.

While the jury's out, I'll be restarting my wheatgrass regime in the morning.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Yearning for Civilization

Writing a quick post from La La Land.

I've only been in the Bay Area for just under six years and in that time I've waffled on the issue of "Bay Area versus Southern California". I went to UC Irvine and I'm an OC person thru and thur. I dream about the beaches in Laguna, miss the restaurants, the balmy summer weather.

But I am finally convinced that the Bay Area is better despite all of that. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the Bay Area is actually civilized.

This may strike you as obvious, but hear this one out. It's a small incident really. But two weeks ago I put my real estate sign on my mom's front yard ... just to feel out "buyer's interest" in the neighborhood. LA has a HOT real estate market but oddly I didn't get a single call. I suspected my sign might have been stolen, but chalked it up to paranoia.

But noooooooooo.....

I'm not paranoid. Really.

When we arrived in La La Land yesterday afternoon, IT WAS GONE. Can you fucking believe it?

I immediately assigned blame to one of the indigenous neighborhood groups (the same ones that like to "tag" my mom's front yard palm trees with spray). You know who they are. So later that day I walked all of the placed that a kid might toss my sign. Along the flood channel, big bushes around the corner, etc. But it was nowhere to be found. But all day long I assigned the blame to them.

Later that day an investment buyer/agent stopped by to meet with me and I relayed the story to her. And get this: she said that this is something that agents do in the greater LA Area. They actually stoop so low as to steal the signs off of other agents' listings. I was stunned. I felt guilty and surprised in my private accusations or the "taggers".

This is highly unethical behaviour from ANY agent, REALTOR or not...but not only is it unethical, it's also a theft, which happens on a client's property. So two people are victims in such a petty theft. I am appalled that people in my profession have stooped so low as to do such a thing. There are jokes you've probably heard that real estate agents are on par with attorneys and used car salespeople...and shit like this just makes our image worse.

So my next sign will be cleverly designed with a hidden chunk of cement in the ground. "S" hooks that are welded shut. And a motion sensing light that will illuminate them with at least two flood lights. If I didn't have a flyer box on my signpost I would also hook up on of those devices you hook up to your hose that shoots a hard spray of water at dogs that attempt to leave turds on your front yard. That would be the ultimate. And the only thing that would top it all would be to have this entire thing recorded digitally so that I could share it with their broker, their REALTOR association, and maybe even the Channel 4 news.

I don't know how much of this I'll get to doing beyond the concrete, but I hope that these efforts stop them in their tracks, or at least leave them soaked, blinded, and feeling rather like the morons they are.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Changes on the Horizon

Mom has been living with us almost for two weeks. It's been quite an adjustment for us all. She is still not independent mostly due to the fact that she doesn't know the area well enough to drive herself anywhere. Her hearing has been getting progressively worse over the past few years and she confuses easily. Even if she did have a good grasp of Los Gatos and the immediate vicinity, for the safety of herself and the general populace, I'm not sure if she should be driving anyways.

My days, since she arrived, have been filled with shuttling her to her doctor's appointments, running errands with her (they are countless), and trying to plan more structured meals than we are used to. J and I normally eat on the fly and dinner often occurs at 9 o'clock or even as late as 10. Sometimes we're so frazzled we skip dinner entirely, or we find a late night restaurant (rare in our area) and grab a midnight dinner. We are completely used to this sort of life, but my mom is not. She's used to enjoying her meals quite literally before the sun has set, and then she settles down for a night of television ("Jeopardy", some "Raymond" show, and "Wheel of Fortune"). Remember, she's 89, so this lifestyle suits her to a "t". But just the idea of the mundaneness of her routine makes me a bit queasy and I now am happy that we put her "TV room" in the furthest corner of the house as I'm not sure if I could bear to listed to the game shows in the evening when we're trying to wind down and relax.

Today we went to another of her myriad of doctor's appointments...today it was to get her hearing checked and to consult with a new ENT. Mom becomes nearly rabid whenever I question her hearing abilities but oddly she's fine if the doctor tells her that she can't hear well. On the way to Kaiser, I suggested that maybe she didn't hear her prior ENT's instructions and she literally had a tantrum. I kid you not. She clenched her fists, wrinkled up her forehead, all the while shaking and screaming at me. In that moment I wondered if this is how parents feel when their toddler drops to the floor and kicks and screams with abandon. I was taken aback at her reaction.

The new ENT (Dr. G) was wonderful, funny, and understanding and confirmed that her hearing ability is reduced across all frequencies and let us go. Upon returning home, however, she was greeted with some rather dismal news in the form of a letter from her new primary care doctor at Kaiser: apparently she's become diabetic. Her fasting glucose was obscenely high in her most recent blood test and while they're going to retest it, this means major changes in our household.

J and I are vege-fishe-ovo-lacto-tarians. J eats dairy, I don't (I'm allergic). I eat organic meat, J gripes about it, but sometimes eats it. We both do fish and eggs. A few items that we can agree on are things like pasta and rice dishes. But with the new of mom's newfound diabetes, meal planning is going to become a lot more challenging than it already is. So now we've got to cut high glycemic carbs out of her diet and because I essentially do ALL of the cooking, dinner time has just become that more complicated.

Mom will have to do one more test to completely confirm the diabetes, but if the test yields similar results, then major changes are in order. I only hope that we can manage this with changes in her life and that I won't be required to give her insulin shots each day.

However, she'll have to get her own needlebox...mine is nearly full.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sick House or Hypochondria? Careful with that answer!

Two days after my negative beta came in I had a twinge of TMJ...and then late that night my fever kicked in. For a couple days I hovered at 101 or thereabouts, literally sweating through my pajamas every night. (Digressing: Yes, I wear pajamas. Sexy? Not. But when we first moved into this new house, it was freezing-assed cold and our mattress was on the floor - I swear that the cold from the crawl space below came up and infiltrated our bed each night - it was near to unbearable...we even put my heating pad under the covers at the foot of the bed so that our feet wouldn't freeze. My box spring was in LA awaiting transport to Los Gatos and so we lived like this for nearly a month. Ugh. And yes, all of this makes me wonder if the cold condition of our bed was a reason why our embies didn't stick...but hell, I'm sure people in upstate NY conceive, so let's banish that thought. Back to the story).

So this stupid fever was accompanied by the weirdest sinus headache - every soft spot in my skull ached, and at the same time it felt like my head was going to implode if I so much as sneezed. If you've read my previous posts, the ENT didn't find anything remarkable, put me on allegra-d and nosespray with steroids, and after about 10 days most of the symptoms passed.

Last weekend we moved my mom from LA to our house which means that she's been here maybe 9 or 10 days now. Just yesterday she complained of being conjested and asked me to run to the drug store for some decongestants. And now this morning, she tells me that she woke up with drenched pajamas just like I did. Okay, so that sounds like a fever or too many blankets. Now the most obvious explanation is that she "caught my cold", but I was no longer contagious by the time we hit LA last weekend. So scratch her catching anything from me that might have been communicable.

So I posed to "J" the possibility that we've got a "sick house". God knows we've got roof rats in this 1960's era house, the attic has rat shit all over the insulation (lovely, yes?), and we know that there was a tenant in here that let the place go. I heard from the last tenants that there was debris EVERYWHERE. Inside and out. Ick. (Digression #2: What possesses people to be such slobs, and especially with another person's house? Well the owner came in and fixed most things back up and we're the second tenant since then.)

The house doesn't look bad these days but there are vestiges of "issues" that we've had to clean/deal with. We've had our share of odd smells emanating from the heater vents, mildew and other growing things in the bathroom, a neighbor that had their gray water pipes pointed at our bedrooms, mosquitos in the house in the dead of winter (where the hell are they coming from?), etcetera. So why would "J" so easily dismiss the idea that our house might indeed have some sort of environmental issues, and why am I blogging about this?

Well J and TV both seem to enjoy pooh-poohing any complaint I might have about the condition of my health. If I make suggestions about their own health conditions, well they listen, sometimes attentively, but they don't make hypochondriac jokes about my suggestions. If I have a sniffle, TV will say something like, "Oh maybe you've got some sort of plague". And here's the thread from J and my IM conversation this morning:

Linda: my mom had a fever last night. woke up in a sweat like i was doing. i wonder if this house is toxic?
Linda: she's all congested..runny nose..
J: think hard enough and it will be

What the fuck? Think hard enough and the house will have an environmental condition? That's madness. Fucked up thinking. Sorry J, but it IS.

If I dare so much as to say I have a headache or feel a bit feverish, both are quick to point out that "it might be all in your head" or "it might be caused from stress". I'm not one to callously discard the power of the mind on the human body, but why is it that when I am feeling like shit that the "mind" is the first place that both of them look. It feels simultaneously patronizing and condescending.

I sometimes really think that because I was "this close" to actually becoming a doctor (I applied to 22 medical schools and was rejected across the board...this is a story that really pisses me off...but that is another rant for another day) that maybe it somehow makes them feel that because they can't converse as deeply about medicine that they instead have to ridicule me. It's a common psychological tactic when one feels "less than". Or maybe I'm just a frustrated doctor wanna be and they think I'm looking for a syndrome in every symptom. I'll admit that after a year of Microbiology you'd be bleaching the hell out of everything in sight, too! But for J and TV to continually mock any comment I have about my physical well being is just infuriating.

So I'll go and cough up a wad of chest mucous that derives, in their opinion, from some place "in my head". Maybe I should save it in a glass, for their professional inspection, just so they can reaffirm that it was created not by a virus or bacteria but by mere thought. Yeah, that's it. Honestly: times like this I want to go and return to my shitty paying lab job just so I can surround myself with like-minded individuals that deal with reality, not thought.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Bring on Dr. Next

I had my appointment with Dr. Next today (actually he's Dr. S but Dr. Next sounds so James Bond for some reason - maybe I'm thinking of Dr. No?). Julianna is seeing him, too, and will have to make a note to grill her on how she is liking these folks. Okay. I have an idea why we all like Dr. S. Let's face it . Dr. S is pretty damned hot, he's brilliant, articulate, makes sense, he's got great stats behind him, he's got great bedside manner. Let's leave it at that.

So...we went over the protocol that Dr. Z had used on me in my failed cycle. Some issues that he raised:

  1. Dr. Z didn't do an FSH test before my IVF cycle. They use the Lupron Challenge test at this place...essentially it tests FSH/E2 before lupron is administered and then tests them again the next day (16 hours later I think?). If I fail, we wait for another month and see if my FSH values/lupron response changes. Interesting tidbit: there's a Japanese study that shows, as I've always suspected, that women's FSH values do indeed to fluctuate seasonally. Damn, isn't it amazing that there's a study for just about everything under the sun? Thank god for overzealous graduate students. The study was pooh-poohed by some labs either here or in Canada, but hell there you have it. The crux: Spring and summer months seem to turn out lower FSH values than autumn and winter. Makes sense from a biological perspective: we, like other mammals and animals, have some sort of seasonality to our breeding. And why not? Needless to say, I am STOKED. There is hope for my quasi-shitty FSH. Last May my FSH was 6.5 and by October it had hit 10.5. Late November it dropped to 7.5 but my E2 was nearing 100 and this is probably cuz I was popping DHEA trying to improve my egg quality. So all I can say is, "Bring on Spring! WOOHOO!"
  2. The Lupron Flare Protocol is highly aggressive and doesn't seem to turn out as many pregnancies as a Long Lupron Protocol. Yep. Someone did a study on this, too. Apparently this means that egg quality suffers because of it as this isn't going to affect implantation. He's not sure why Dr. Z opted for this route but as my friend AP says, "Dr. Z only has a couple of recipes that he uses and that's it."
  3. He's glad to put in as many embryos as I want. They'll just "guide and suggest" but they'll defer to me. (Thank god. The girl at McGill told me that they really strive for singletons and that they wouldn't want to put in more than 3 or 4 AT MY AGE...omfg...is she kidding? HELLLLLO? Look at my past history for god's sake why don't you? I'm nearing 42...I don't have embies to spare or to freeze. Put them all in, dammit! Twins? Buy 1 get one free! As if we'd complain about getting two?)
  4. They like to see embryos with 6, 7 or 8 cells. That 9 cell embryo that I got all excited over? Well it was likely growing too fast and had some cell growth factors that were out of whack. So it wouldn't likely result in a pregnancy anyways. He clarified that 9 and higher celled day 3 embryos tend to NOT result in pregnancies. Hmmm.... He also agreed that Dr. Z was on target for not putting in the 3 cell embie. He said he's never seen a 3 cell embie result in a BFP. Okay, so out of our six embies that we put in, four were worthwhile (two 6's, one near perfect 7, and one 8). Hard to imagine that there was something wrong with that 7...it was beautiful.
  5. No IM progesterone. They use suppositories and say that they get 3x's the levels of progesterone in the uterus than with oral or IM progesterone. Okay. Yet another study. Somehow taking it orally and intra-muscularly just doesn't get it to the uterus as effectively as the waxy suppositories. So no more PIO for me and I think I'll have to invest in disposable underwear...washing that white waxy shit out of my thongs is just too disgusting. I swear I washed a few pairs three times and they still weren't fit to wear.
  6. Progesterone is only given up to a BFP and then "Yer cut off!" Their reasoning is that a healthy pregnancy will be making it's own by this time and to supplement a bad pregnancy only means that you prolong the time to an inevitable miscarriage. Okay. That's a bit of a reality check. Ick.

So, for the second time, "J" didn't come to my appointment as he was en route from Phoenix to SJC...but I think that I'm pretty much SOLD on trying Dr. S's protocol. Hell, I'll try anything so I'm not sure where my judgment is at. Someone could open a business, I kid you not, helping us infertiles wade through the stats and varying protocols to help us come up with the best doctor for each of our particular situations. HoldingPattern mentioned in her blog something about wanting to be a RE at some point in her life, and I think she would be awesome as she's keenly sensitive to what makes a good RE, but maybe something like this she could do immediately? Hmmm...

So right now I am sitting here wishing I had stuck with Dr. S the first time, but honestly, I was too afraid of being cancelled (ie, failing his lupron challenge). God it's terrible getting older and feeling this desperation. Maybe being cancelled in a shitty month would have been a godsend for us? Maybe waiting for Spring or Summer when my FSH is (hopefully) more in tune with making good embies would have been what we should have done. Okay that is enough...I have got to quit this line of crap or I'm going to "shoulda woulda coulda" myself into insanity.

Ah and lastly...today is CD14 - we had one go at it two days prior so maybe there's a small chance in hell. Let's be clear: the chances of my getting pregnant naturally are less than dismal. My right tube is totally blocked and the left barely passes dye. But each month I hope that a miracle would happen and that little egg will get fertilized and find it's way down my tube. I hope, but I realize that it's a one in a gazillion chance but STILL I despair at not having gotten a chance to get pregnant. It's not silly at this point. It's fucking insanity. I despair at losing a smidgen of a chance. I am desperate. That should be clear. And besides there's no logic to the mind of a woman trying to get pregnant.

So my Lupron Challenge will be about March 20th. I guess if we fail it, we can blow some cash at McGill trying our hand at a round of IVM. The nice thing about the IVM is that it won't mess with my cycle like the IVF would and we can try another challenge the following month. And in the meanwhile, I'm applying at every Sillycon Valley job I can find that covers multiple IVF cycles just as a preventive measure against bankrupting ourselves during this madness.

OMG...that's enough for one night. Off to bed for me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Coloratura Dreams: Knocked. Up.

Well it is about time. Coloratura Dreams is knocked up. And this girl has been trying for a long time. When I met her in December, she seemed like the wind had been kicked out of her sails but she salsa-ed her way through the winter and lo and behold she has a teensy little bun in the oven.

Wander on over to her space and wish her a big congrats and wishes for a healthy pregnancy!


My Diagnosis

My Infertility History

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