Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Post: Combining Western and Eastern Medicine

There's been a lot of radio silence on good ol' Tired & Stuck, so today I'm bringing in a post from a gal I met on the Internet just over a year ago. I'd been a fan of her blog for some time, without realizing she is also "fertility-challenged." Since that discovery, we've bonded over our hatred of our periods, cramps, and mysterious lady defects. She's got a much more take-charge attitude when it comes to making a baby a reality for herself; I admire that and aspire to be more like her. 

She has offered to write this anonymously, as she and her partner are not ready to make this part of their lives public. But, she promises to follow up with further posts later on so we can read about how everything worked out.

I've been a follower of Tired & Stuck since day 1 and I've always found the stories posted here to be of huge interest to me. Even though I wasn't necessarily trying to conceive at the time, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I was part of the I-want-a-baby-WHY-CAN'T-I-HAVE-A-BABY??!? club. (I'll explain that part later.)

Erin was gracious enough to let me do a guest post because, although I'm not following the Tired & Stuck methodology, I AM trying to get in on that sweet baby action. And if you readers are anything like me, you get big sighs of relief when you come across experiences similar to your own.

So before I get to the good stuff, let me lay out all the details, TTC-style.

-Early 30's.
-5th cycle TTC
-No previous pregnancies
-Left ovarian cyst
-Small uterine fibroids

So where do I start...?

I began having excruciatingly difficult periods around 3 years ago. I ended up going off the pill because I attributed my constant upset stomach and tiredness to birth control. Unfortunately, it was actually birth control that was keeping things somewhat in check. After doing tons of symptom research with my lab partner, Dr. Google, I kept ending up at the same answer: Endometriosis.

I was in my doctor's office on a regular basis for one ailment after another, all related to my period. Since most of my symptoms had to do with "the back end", my doctor scheduled me for a colonoscopy. A few days after I had the procedure done, the specialist called with my results: Endometriosis. (Yes. Endo in my colon. I get the best of both worlds.)

Up until now, I've avoided the laparoscopy route. Partly because I know there's a chance the adhesions will come back, and partly because I would have a whopper of a copay. And if I'm going to fork over that kind of money, I better be walking out of that hospital with a baby in my arms.

For the most part, I'm pretty old fashioned and "Western mediciney", and have always solved my ailments with a handful of Tylenol. And I also always assumed that my general practitioner would give me the 100% A+ right answer whenever I had a problem.

But it was when I got to a virtual dead-end (ie., surgery) that I started looking elsewhere.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

A friend referred me to a local fertility acupuncturist whom she had heard great things about. Even though I was doubtful about this "hippie" stuff, I figured it couldn't hurt.


I am not exaggerating when I say I could tell a noticeable difference after the FIRST VISIT ALONE. All of my endometriosis symptoms had significantly decreased. My upset stomach was gone. I had energy. It was GREAT.

I've been maintaining my acupuncture appointments on a weekly basis. And I also make sure to take any herbal supplements my acupuncturist gives me. Since I'm not really sure which of the two has the magic touch, I gladly do them both.

A few weeks ago, my OBGYN gave me a prescription for Clomid. And naturally, I zoomed home and read every TTC thread on the planet to see what side effects I should expect, what the success rate is, how it will effect my ovulation and hormones, etc. And of course, the internet didn't fail in presenting a myriad of horror stories related to Clomid.

Luckily, it's been a breeze for me (so far).

Within two hours of taking my very first pill, I could feel lightning bolts from my ovaries, going down my legs. However, it sounds a lot worse than it was and I fell asleep shortly after the sensation started. That night and the next night I slept like a log. Seriously. I was comatose.The following days it was like I was in a Nyquil haze.

Those were the only symptoms I had while actively taking the Clomid.

At 4 days after taking my last pill, some new symptoms kicked in. I noticed that I had been light-headed and dizzy and almost felt like I was going cross-eyed. And I had horrible indigestion on-and-off for a couple of days. Upset stomach, heavy pressure on my chest, knot in my throat, and even burps. Weird symptoms considering it's supposed to be working on my baby-maker, not my digestive system. (It sounds bad, but it was definitely manageable.) 

At my acupuncture appointment (day 7 of cycle), my ovaries were very tender when my doctor put the needles in. When I mentioned it, he said it's probably due to the Clomid and "all the action going on in there". That made me feel good, like maybe my ovaries weren't being jerks anymore. He then rigged up some Frankenstein-style machine to my ovary-area needles and ran a VERY light current through them. It was very mild and I could barely even feel it at all. However, once it had been working for a few minutes, I was getting the lightning bolt feeling again. This time, it went from my right ovary down my right leg, and from my left ovary up my torso.

This shooting pain took place every few seconds and the whole thing lasted several minutes. It was much stronger than the time before. I noticed I was tense, and as soon as I made myself relax, the pain lessened significantly. I asked my doctor what the electric stimulation is supposed to do. He responded that it brings a lot of blood to the area, which makes things nice and healthy.
I liked that answer.

On the afternoon of cycle day 12, I thought I noticed CM. -Which was unusual because I pretty much stopped noticing that stuff when I started the pill a million years ago. So I decided to do an OPK just for shits and giggles. Lo and behold - a smiley face. Looks like the CM actually increased for me (contrary to what most women experience, based on the fertility threads I've read). I tested again the following morning. And again, a smiley face. Yay! My insides are working! That second day I felt light stabbing pains near both of my ovaries all day. Mittelshmerz is not something I've experienced before. So, again - Yay!

On cycle day 16 I noticed the only annoying side effect I've experienced so far. Hot flashes. I had actually been looking forward to getting these infamous hot flashes because I'm always cold and I figured it would warm me up. Unfortunately, these hot flashes didn't warm my whole body. Instead, it just felt like I threw my cheeks on the barbecue. I even had a low temp of 99.4, which totally confirmed the burning in my face.

So here I am today. Cycle day 18. And I feel great! I'm still surprised that so far, it seems like Clomid has made my body NORMAL. My guess is that I had some kind of hormone deficiency going on and I needed this extra boost. I really feel super hopeful! And now that I have these tricks up my sleeve, I feel like I'm ready to show infertility who's boss.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 2

When I decided I wanted kids, I knew I wanted two. I'm into replacement-rate population growth and I feel like someone has to offset the number of kids being born to morons with kids born to people like me: Educated morons.

But at this point my desire is as such: I want one kid. If I can have just that one kid, I'll be happy as a clam. I won't complain if I can't have two. I'll take the one kid and do my best with her. I just want the one chance to see what happens when you combine mine and my husband's DNA.

I am having difficulty getting past the feeling that our inability to have a kid is my fault. I honestly feel like if I could just lose weight and be healthy, this wouldn't be an issue. Lots of people say Yes, but many women who are much larger than you have conceived, and I know this, but I still think what I do.

And then I think What kind of lousy person can't make weight loss happen for herself when she wants something so badly? Seriously. It makes me hate myself for being so weak. Which makes me want a cookie. It's a vicious cycle.

I am working on it, actively. Every day I think about it. I am constantly coming up with new schemes and plans, believing one has to work, eventually.