August 27, 2015

Get It Together (Repost from UII)

Today's the big day (well, the first of several big days) - tonight I start the stimulation drugs.  These injectables will hopefully encourage many follicles on my ovaries to develop mature eggs for retrieval in roughly a week and a half.

Fun Fact:
Apparently in a "normal" ovulation cycle, many follicles are ready to develop but due to the level of chemicals produced by the body, only one or two will reach maturity.  The other follicles that started to develop are 'lost' anyway.  With IVF, enough hormones are given to encourage many more of those follicles to develop - which is why IVF does not cause a woman to "use up" her eggs any faster than her body would have on it's own!  Therefore, IVF will not cause early menopause or shorten a woman's childbearing years.  Pretty cool!

But returning to the topic at hand...
My full arsenal of meds arrived the other day from the specialty pharmacy.  To be fair, some of these meds are for use when we do a transfer (more on that another day) but even so, if I'm being totally honest, getting this package was a little overwhelming even to a seasoned sickie like me.

Let me remind you that I'm only taking doses a fraction of the quantity that women usually take in IVF.  On one hand, I have a few stats actually in my favor, which indicate I should be a good responder (produce a good number of eggs).  In addition, due to my PCOS I'm actually at increased risk for OHSS - Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.  Therefore, my doctor and I decided to go with a reduced dosage protocol which is awesome because it also helps address my concerns over the physical strain IVF could place on my already over-taxed system.  Women usually take their meds twice a day, but I'm only taking once daily doses.

It's important to understand that the protocol for an IVF cycle isn't set in stone.  You're given instructions for dosing to start out, but beginning a few days in you go for daily monitoring (bloodwork and ultrasound) and they will adjust things as you go to maximize results.

To begin my cycle, I'm taking two injectable medications every evening - Follistim and low-dose HCG.  My dear, highly skilled nurse of a husband was, of course, working this evening so I had to give myself the shots right out of the gate.  First, I got my supplies together:
(See what I did there?  "Get It Together"?  Oh come on, that's clever.)
Follistim is injected using a dial-a-dose pen, which is rather convenient and didn't cause me too much stress.  You know, relatively speaking.  The low-dose HCG was another story.  This is old school stuff.  Using what I understand to be the kind of needle used for traditional insulin injections, I have to manually draw down the dose I need from a glass vial, just like every TV show I've ever seen, then stick a legit NEEDLE INTO MY FLESH, and with a "slow and steady motion" press in the plunger.  Dear Lord.

(Sorry it's blurry, my hand was shaking a bit trying to hold the camera while remember to BREATHE WITH A NEEDLE STUCK IN MY STOMACH.)
I have blood drawn all the time, no problem - I watch the blood spurt into the vial.  I've given my mother injections of her diabetes medicine, not an issue.  As you know I recently got a tattoo, didn't bat an eye.  And yet it would seem I do have a bit of a concern with needles.  At least, needles containing a liquid that I have to force into my flesh.  And these are small needles given in my abdomen.  I can't wait for the progesterone shots to start with a transfer - IM (intramuscular) injections given in the backside with 2 inch needles.

Between you and me?  I don't want to do this.  I don't want it.  I don't want to give myself injections, to worry about checking for blood in the needle in case I hit a vein, to have pinprick marks all over, to risk major complications like OHSS.  Of course, I'm going to do it anyway, because I want a child.  I said it before, "I don't like the alternative", so I'll cry and pray and probably yell a little, and I'll get myself together and continue to do it.  But I really don't want to.

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