Friday, July 15, 2011

How I Got Here: Part 1, "You need surgery"

So, BJ and I had been trying to spawn, unsuccessfully for 6 months. During that time, my menstrual cycles continued to get more wonky. I had been on depo provera (the shot that lasts three months) for birth control for just over three years. My last shot was in August 2009, and my periods restarted March 1, 2010. From March to June, my cycles were 31 days apart. 'Perfect,' or so I thought...

June 2010, I noticed that I started having mid-cycle pain, known as mittelschmerz (leave it to the Germans). It wasn't terrible, just uncomfortable. Over the next few months this mitttelschmerz grew from mild crampiness to sudden stabbing pains that just kind of ripped through my torso without any warning. It seemed like I was constantly uncomfortable the majority of my cycle culminating with my menstrual cramps that were just unbearable at this point and every bit as bad as they we're in high school with cold sweats, nausea, and extreme pain. Luckily, they only lasted for 48-72 hours, which turns out to not necessarily be a good thing, either. Also my cycles had become more irregular going from 27 days to 35 and everywhere in between. This made trying to nail down when I was going to ovulate, next to impossible. To add to the fun, I was growing more and more uncomfortable during the act of trying to make this love child.

OK, so 6 months flew by (not at all, actually...) and I'm in my gyno's office with my husband. He told me I wasn't so irregular yet, that I needed Clomid. I took this kind of hard because I had it worked out in my head that Clomid was going to be my miracle cure, like it was for a friend of mine. One Clomid cycle and bam, she was prego. So then he asked about my pain. I was already starting to get embarrassed for wasting his time, (my doc didn't make me feel that way, I just am sensitive about coming off as a malingerer) and, as I mentioned before, started in with my gloss over about how I survive. The 1000mg of ibuprofen every four hours caught his attention, and BJ was able to involve himself in just how bad my periods were.

My periods had been this way all my life, so I didn't know any differently. Anytime I mentioned it to a medical type, I was dismissed. I had never considered endometriosis because I incorrectly assumed that I would have sporadic mid-cycle bleeding which I never did. I was really angry that three different doctors never took the time to find out just how much pain I was in. Take-home lesson, if you're in pain, go ahead and whine to your doctor until he listens. Oh, and extremely painful periods are not normal or "just part of being a woman." You have my permission to slap anyone who says that to you...

My doctor wanted to perform a laparoscopy. He described it as a "band-aid" surgery, and I'd have two small incisions, one in my belly button and one just over my pubic bone. The surgery is the only way to diagnose endometriosis (endo for short) as it doesn't show up on ultrasounds. I was a little shocked that exploratory surgery was necessary, especially when all I wanted was Clomid.

After taking a week to think about it (da Nile ain't just a river in Egypt), I decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery for February 8th, just after when I expected my period to end, like my doctor wanted. My doctor called me back and explained that in addition to the laparoscopy with possible endo lesion removal I was going to get the full spa treatment. He also wanted to do a hysteroscope, possibly a D&C, and the chromotubation. (I explain these in more detail in my "so you decide to get help" post.) I was kinda like, 'hmm you conveniently left all of this out.' Whatever, I want a baby...

So I sat down with my boss later that week and told him that I had to have surgery. I have found that if you have male superiors, a few tears, throwing out words like vagina and ovaries, and mentioning gynecologist pretty much will get you what you want. He, bless his heart, mentioned that between his two daughters and wife, had a lot of experience with malfunctioning female parts. I have been very blessed to have quite a number of amazing friends, co-workers and relatives who have been such great cheerleaders.

January came, and I spent my spare time charting my symptoms, still trying to procreate, and researching endo. Holy bananas! I had no idea that all this extra pain I was having was related to my possible endo. If it's not bad enough to be in terrible pain for three days out of every month, it also hurt like hell to go to the bathroom. I had found over the previous couple of months that if I did not eat or drink anything while on my period, the pain wasn't quite so bad. I wanted to take as much pressure off my lower abdomen as possible. Who knew this was yet another symptom of endo? I was constantly having what I would describe as a sinus headache of the uterus. I was getting pretty miserable and had been having a lot of trouble staying asleep. I would be woken up with random cramps and pelvic pain in the middle of the night, and not be able to go back to sleep. 'Snot fun.

I also started reading message board responses on infertility sites about endometriosis and surgery, and came out rather horrified. Things in the wrong place, glued to the wrong parts with scar tissue and never working again. Holy crapola! So then I made the mistake of asking my nursing student friend about the surgery and she spouted off facts about ectopic pregancies being more common with endo and sometimes the only thing that could be done was a hysterectomy. Now, I was certifiably scared. Then she tried to soothe me with "It's no big deal they do laps all the time. Oh, and you'd be shocked at the number of people that just walk in and out of the operating room." Oh, geez...The idea of being under anesthesia in stirrups has never exactly been on my bucket list. Now I got full body shudders every time someone mentioned my surgery...still do, ick!

February 1st came and went, and so did the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th...but my period never came. As if I needed anymore problems! My secretary told me about the old wives' tale of parsley inducing your I tried sucking on Parsley for the rest of the week (desperate and super-yuck), but I ended up having to postpone my surgery to the following week. On Friday the 11th, still nothing and I had not slept because of my cramps for two nights. I felt awful and started puking in the middle of an in-service meeting. (I'm sure the director thought I had a hangover...*sigh* if only). I called the nurse and she asked me to come in and do some labs and see my doctor. He explained that I might have to take Provera to induce a period or that I could be pregnant and it was just too early to detect with a home pregnancy test. The last thing I needed was to get my hopes up about being pregnant. He slunked back in after he got my labs back and told me it was negative and he was sorry. He was reassuring in the sense that this stuff happens a lot and I could reschedule as many times as necessary. He also gave me a prescription for Lunesta, and I slept really well for the first time in 2 months.

And lo, the next morning my period came after just 43 days... I guess I just needed to be scared into it. Surgery, then baby, here I come!


1 comment:

  1. You just needed your body to relax a bit. Stress can cause you to miss a period. I know from experience... But MK, I just wanted to tell you that I love you. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this, but I give you major kudos for sharing it with the world. I hope that you were at least able to relax a little at the beach this week, and I hope that hanging out for a few days helped you. I know it helped me. :) Call me anytime if you need someone to listen to you or if you need a distraction from all this. I hate cheerleaders, but for you, I will cheer as long and as loud as I need to. Love you, girl!