Chicken Pox

As I mentioned previously i was given quite the list of labs to complete. Since they were sent to me by mail, no one ever explained to me what they were for either. Oh, did I also mention there were three lab sheets, for two different labs. Really? I can’t just go to one lab?? I made an appointment at the first lab which was quite the experience. I am used to going to the lab attached to my local hospital/medical center. It’s in a huge, new medical building. The same building actually where my OB/GYN office is located. They don’t take appointments, and no matter what time you get there you wait at least an hour. It’s always packed to the brim in the waiting room. Sometimes there aren’t even seats. If you don’t happen to be lucky enough to have a seat you have to stand awkwardly in the middle because they will not go outside to look for you when it’s your turn.

Well, this was NOT the experience I had at my first lab draw. First, the lab they sent me to had appointments, so I made one. I put the address of the nearest lab where I made my appointment in my GPS and I was on my way first thing in the morning (I had to fast, of course). Well it was not located where my GPS sent me. I eventually found it but it was basically in this little “shack”. I walk in, and there were three chairs against the wall, a desk, and this screen looking thing with another chair (the kind you sit in to give labs) behind the screen, and one person working both the desk and taking the labs. There was also a door, behind which I presume was a restroom for pee samples. Well thankfully I had made an appointment because there were a few other people there, and she took me first. It was crowded to say the least. The room was barely bigger than my master bathroom in my home. She took nine vials of blood. That is by far the most I have ever had taken at once. Some of them were like twice the size of the normal ones I get taken for my thyroid checks. I was light headed afterwards to say the least.

My second lab appointment was also at a rather small lab. I was also able to make an appointment. This lab had two employees. One at the desk and another drawing blood. The area where they took the labs was also separate from the waiting room. And by separate I mean there was a wall in between them, not a screen. This draw was only 4 vials of blood and a pee sample. Much easier.

So at this point I still don’t know what they tested with all that blood, except I was instructed to start taking Vitamin D3 supplements, and get a chicken pox vaccine. Again, nothing can be as simple as it should be….

So the nurse at the clinic tells me that chicken pox is lethal to you when you are pregnant and apparently even though I had chicken pox when I was a child, I am not immune to them. Given that my step-son is in kindergarten and hasn’t had them yet it’s probably pretty important for me to get vaccinated now. The nurse told me that these vaccines are widely available at most pharmacies so it should be super simple for me to get. WRONG.

So I started by doing a search online of every local pharmacy (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens). You can “make an appointment” online if they have the vaccination available. Well after over an hour of searching I finally found one Walgreens that had it available. I did not make an appointment because it was located in a really inconvenient location and I wasn’t sure when I could actually go.  About two weeks before my scheduled surgery I was able to sneak away from work and I drove to the Walgreens.

I should take this moment to also mention that the chicken pox vaccine (Varivax) is a two dose vaccine, which must be taken 28 days apart.  It’s also a live virus, so you cannot get pregnant for basically 60 days from the first shot.  So getting this first shot before my surgery was pretty important to “start the 60 day clock” as soon as possible.

I was able to sneak away from work to go to the Walgreens a few days later and when I arrived I discovered that they, in fact, did not have the vaccine in stock.  Shit.  The pharmacist did offer to order it for me, took all of my information, and said they would call me in three days or so when it came in.  GREAT.  While the pharmacy was not in a convenient location from my home, or local office, it was sort of on my way home during my Thursday commute home on travel weeks, so I could stop on Tuesday or Thursday of the next week.  Score.

Well fast forward to the next Thursday (and a few days before my surgery) still no call from the pharmacy.  I decided to just stop in on my way home completing assuming that it was there for me, and they just forgot to call.  WRONG AGAIN.

Of course the people working were not the same from the first time I had been in, and there was no record that I was ever there, and no one ever ordered my vaccine.  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME!?!?!?!  Not losing my shit on these people was a serious challenge but I kept it together.  I mean I didn’t want to be the crazy woman flipping out about her “emergency” chicken pox vaccine.  Thankfully the pharmacist working that day was actually a very nice man who literally called every Walgreens in the area in search of my vaccine.  When it seemed all hope was lost, and I would have to wait another 2 weeks plus (until after surgery/recovery), he found it….AT THE WALGREENS DOWN THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE.  What a wonderful man he was, and he was probably really perplexed as to why I was so incredibly grateful to get a chicken pox vaccine.  If there wasn’t a counter between us I would have hugged him.

The next morning on my way to work I got my first vaccine and all was right with the world.  And at the end of September I get dose #2.

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Pre-Op Day

My pre-op appointment, which was scheduled with absolutely no input from me, was supposed to be on a Wednesday. Wednesdays and Thursdays are the most inconvenient days for me work wise. I travel every week for work, Tuesday-Thursday. Tuesdays I have some flexibility on what time I leave, but Wednesday and Thursdays are not flexible. Actually not traveling those days involves me trying to find someone to cover part of my job because someone needs to be present to cover it. Thankfully I at least had some advance notice so figure things out, and literally to train someone to cover my spot (also for the time I would be gone for surgery). What a hassle.

At the last minute they changed my appointment from Wednesday to Thursday. At that point it didn’t really matter I guess, because I already planned on not traveling that week. I am more just annoyed that there seems to be very little respect for the fact that people do have jobs and lives to schedule around. I totally understand that my health is way more important, but not having things change at the last minute would be great.

Anyway enough complaining. I went to my pre-op appointment on Thursday, and it wasn’t what I expected (whatever that was). Basically I went back to Dr. M’s office and he explained to me every single thing that could go wrong. I should also mention that my husband was not there with me. His boss was in town so he couldn’t come to the appointment. So there I sat, by myself, while he told me how my cyst might be attached to my bladder or my bowels causing damage, and that the cyst may rupture while they were trying to get it out. Not to worry though. Apparently they just wash everything out. He also said “it’s much easier to remove a cyst on the ovary if you remove the ovary and tube too”. UM WHAT!?! I’m not really interested in what might be “easier”. I would like to keep my ovary if at all possible thanks. I think it was just a poor choice of wording on his part. He did follow his statement by saying “of course the goal here is to have children so we are going to try our best to keep your ovary intact”. So at this point I was officially freaked the F out. I know they have to tell you the worst that can happen, but geez. I then had to sign my life away, acknowledging that he told me the information, and of course that I wouldn’t sue him if one of those terrible things happened to me.

After our fun little chat, it was time to get dressed up in one of those oh-so-stylish hospital gowns and hop back in the stirrups for another ultra sound. If only i could have my lady parts up on the “big screen” every day. And by “big screen” I mean the wall mounted TV in the exam room. Dr. M. confirmed my left ovary was in great shape and I had an egg about to release (it was day 14 of my cycle so it was right on), and my poor little right ovary was still being overtaken by the cyst. He also said from the ultra sound picture he was pretty sure it was a dermoid cyst. Before I left he handed me copies of all of the forms I had signed, three prescriptions to fill, and an ultra sound photo of my cyst. Of course I went home and immediately hung it on the fridge. OR NOT. Do people ask for these things? What is the purpose of having an ultra sound photo of this thing? Again, awkward.

First Adventure to the Fertility Clinic

In late July we went to our first appointment at the fertility clinic. First we met with Dr. M. in his office. We talked about our test results from the tests ordered by my OB, and he recommended a fertility vitamin for my husband, and thought that IUI with clomid was a good place to start for us. Then we went on to the exam. We went into the exam room and I had an ultrasound done. Dr. M started by looking at my uterus, which looked to be normal, then my left ovary, and then…..we got to my right ovary…..and he sort of stopped speaking….for like 3 minutes. It went from being a guided tour of my lady parts to stone cold silence. He started to draw on the screen with his little pen and finally spoke. I had a cyst. Now, cysts are actually really common, but at the time I did not know this. The cyst was on my right ovary and was basically “taking over” reducing my poor little ovary to a slight crescent shape. Dr. M. also couldn’t tell what type of cyst it was, but he thought it was probably a dermoid cyst, or possibly an endometrial cyst. He flipped on the lights and basically said I needed to have it surgically removed, handed me some literature on laparoscopy and hysteroscopy and said someone from his office would call me to schedule, and that was that. Appointment over.

You never really know how you’re going to react to this kind of news, especially when you don’t fully understand it. I think its safe to say, that the first thing I experienced was shock. I will be honest, it was the LAST thing I expected to hear. It never entered my head that surgery could possibly be in my near future when I walked in that building. So my husband and I left, and headed to work. On the way I called my mom and had a very calm conversation about the news. As I parked my car in the lot at work, I think it started to sink in a little more. I got into my office and put my stuff down at my station, and walked up to my boss’s cube. Before I could get one word out something snapped and I started sobbing. SOBBING. In the middle of the office. Poor guy. I have a great relationship with my boss, thank goodness. He swiftly pulled me into a conference room and I absolutely broke down. Hysterical girl crying. How embarrassing! Really how thankful am I that he is such a good guy. Without sharing too many details I told him I had gotten some bad news and I would need to be taking some time off in the near future to have surgery.  He was very supportive, and just wanted to make sure I was okay.  He suggested I take a little time out and walk to Starbucks.  Actually he also offered to let me go home for the day and work remotely for the day.  Eventually I took him up on that after realizing I was getting absolutely no work done.

On my walk to Starbucks I finally pulled myself together. How exactly was I going to handle this workwise? Was I going to tell people details? Or just that I was going to be out for medical reasons. Really you can’t say that to someone you work with every day without them asking questions, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to bust out words like Ovary to my male coworkers. Awkward. I decided I would just say I had a cyst in my abdomen (sort of true) and leave it at that, unless i happened to be talking to a female coworker who was a friend. The response I got was interesting. Men asked no other questions. Women, however (those female coworkers who I did not consider a close friend to fully share), were more apt to ask questions. I actually had one colleague directly ask me if my cyst was ovarian and if I had gotten a second opinion because she was scared they were going to perform a full hysterectomy. She suggested I go to a famous cancer center in Boston before proceeding. The C word was never mentioned by Dr. M. so I wasn’t concerned that cancer or a hysterectomy were a possibility. But really, yikes.

The surgery scheduler was hopeful to get everything scheduled for mid-August. Unfortunately the surgery center didn’t have availability in August at all, so it was set for early September. A week later I got a letter with my scheduled time, three pages of labs to get drawn, and instructions. Part of this letter, however, said that the surgery had to be done in the 6-12 day of my cycle. Doing my cycle math, even with an irregular cycle, there is no way that the date scheduled would fall in day 6-12. Absolutely no way. I was frustrated to say the least. Obviously you have to give you cycle history when you go to the first appointment, so they must have the date of my last cycle start. So why on earth would the schedule for early September?? Well the first few conversations I had with the scheduler didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies about her to begin with, so I decided to email Dr. M. directly and copy her. He assured me with the procedure I was going to have it didn’t matter what cycle day I was on. Great news, but why did the letter make such a big deal about it then!? After that email, it was never brought up again, but just the stress of possible changes was stress enough.  UGH,

Summer of 2013

I feel like I should just start with an explanation of everything that has happened all summer…..starting with seeing my OB/GYN in May.  I have been her patient for probably 4 years, coming in as required for my yearly exam.  I have always liked her, as much as you can like someone poking around your lady parts.  She is actually really well respected in my area, and its hard to even get on her patient list.  I think I just got lucky a few years ago when I moved here.  But still, it takes months to get in to see her.  Months.  So I called in February, and finally got in in May.  During those months something went haywire. My normally dependable 28 day cycle became unpredictable and I was no longer getting positive results on my ovulation tests each month.  She and I had a nice chat, and she ordered some tests.  At this point we had been trying for a year and a half.  A year and a half of peeing on so many strips and sticks I cant even tell you.  Charting every day, keeping track of everything, doing the dance when we needed too, and nothing.  I was exausted.  All of it is exhausting.  And no one likes when Aunt Flo visits, but it becomes devestating month after month after month.  At one point I didnt even want to do the deed at all, for an entire month, just becuase at least there would be a legitimate reason why I wasn’t pregnant.  Depressing.

So my husband did his duty (into a cup) which I took to the lab to have analyzed (which btw there are a lot of rules to follow and a time limit to get the sample there).  I went to the lab, twice.  The first time they did a test to confirm if I had ovulated (on day 21 of my cycle) and they also tested my TSH level, which is a thyroid fuction test.  In my case, its actually a test to see if my medication is functioning at the proper level bc I have been on hormone replacement for an under active thyroid since I was born.  The thyroid test was normal, and the ovulation test was inconcusive.  So I went back again, in June, for a second ovulation test, which was also inconclusive.  My husband’s test came back normal except his Motility which was slightly lower than normal.  I also got the HSG done.  What a horrible and painful procedure that was to endure!  And scary.  That also came back normal with no blockage.

At the end of June I went back to see Dr. R. for my follow up.  My husband was supposed to come, but unfortunately they called me on a Friday to tell me my appointment had been moved up a week (to the coming monday) and he had a work conflict, so I went alone.   This appointment was beyond disappointing.  I had such hope that I would get some answers, a plan, or at leasts more tests.  None of that happened.  Basically she told me that I was “probably fine” but since my husband had a slightly low number on the motility level she would refer us to a local fertility clinic.  If they thought I could benefit from clomid, I could come back and she woudl prescribe it, but she wanted to see what they said first.  I was confused.  There was no evidence I was even ovulating and she thought I was fine!?!?!  What!?!?  She basically said that they may have done the test on the “wrong day” becuase my cycle was irregular they could have been to0 early or too late in my cycle.  They do the test on day 21 based on a 28 day cycle, which I no longer have a 28 day cycle.  Sometimes its 26 days, sometimes it 33 days…..and given that she knew that beforehand why even do the test?  Especially twice….on my dime!  I left the doctors office really confused and frustrated.

So that was that, now it was time to go see the fertility doctor.