Tuesday, January 31, 2012

needing an "off" switch

Remember how I wrote that I wasn't thinking much about the adoption wait? Well, then I realized that next week marks three months on the list. And, for the first time, I'm starting to get a little . . . anxious.

I feel bad writing that. Mostly because I know some people who, for one reason or another, have waited three years to bring home their child. I have several friends who are waiting now and who have been going through this longer than we have. It's almost like when you're infertile and someone joins your support group who has "only" been trying for 6 months or a year. I know I've been guilty of it - looking at them and thinking, Oh, ONLY one year.

Now, here I am, on the other side. We've been waiting (officially) for three months, and I'm already getting restless. It's beginning to feel like the eternal two week wait. Imagine waiting months for that positive pregnancy test instead of just a couple of weeks. Talk about torture.

I made a few minor changes to our profile today. I haven't touched it since we started except to add a handful of new photos, and I've still been trying not to look at it on weekly basis. Especially not with the counter there, staring me in the face at over 430 views. It brings up all sorts of questions. Like, what is she looking for? Or, what about our profile does she not like? Questions I know there are not direct answers to.

So the waiting and wondering continues. I just need to figure out a way to turn off that third "w" - worrying.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

the next step

Thank you for all the kind words about my breast lump last week. I appreciate it. I'll try not to have any more health scares for a while. I think I've had my fair share these past few years. If I can get through 2012 with no surgeries and no hospital visits, I'll consider it a win. I'm ready for boring (medically speaking), and I think I deserve that.

With all the commotion, it's been difficult to find time to think about the adoption wait. It's good in the way that it took my mind and my eyes off the clock for a little while. It's bad in the way that it made me envision some of the worst scenarios. The scariest: what if there was something wrong? What if I needed surgery and we suddenly got matched? How would I care for a baby? Or worse - what if I did have cancer? Could we even still adopt? Are there protocols for that sort of thing? The negativity clouded me for days until, finally, I managed to shove it somewhere deep and dark. It's still slowly fading away.

Then, I got to thinking about something else. Something completely different. Something that ended up being a positive. Here I was again faced with being an advocate. How often have I found myself in this role? Another personal journey out there for everyone to see. It's exhausting. Frustrating even.

Yet, even though I always complain that I'm tired of fighting for others, I keep doing it. I keep finding myself in this position: being a voice for something. This is a topic that my therapist and I have talked about in great detail over the past couple of weeks. How I tend to save all of my energy fighting for others. Sitting on her couch, I told her how - sometimes - this hurts. How there are many moments when I don't want to advocate for others anymore because no one is there to advocate for me. I'm the girl who everyone calls on for help. Only when it comes time for me to need that same help, I often feel like there is nowhere for me to turn.

At first, I couldn't figure out why it made me to feel selfish to say that. And then, it hit me: Maybe because it IS selfish. Maybe I keep doing this because, deep down, I know that it's what I'm supposed to do with my life. Maybe all of this happened to me because I'm meant to spend my life advocating. And instead of trying to fight this, maybe I need to continue channeling that energy back into advocacy for others.

I'm not sure how exactly I'm supposed to do this, but I have a general idea now of the direction I'm supposed to go in. I've always thought that I would graduate from my master's program and become a librarian. But there is part of me who knows that I can do more. Is there a way that I can use my passion for helping women, especially in the area of infertility, and use my skills as an information professional alongside that passion? I don't know. I am still working through this. I feel like it's going to take some time on my part to sort through these feelings.

Would I be happy with working as a librarian for the rest of my life? I think so. Is that dream below my potential? I'm starting to think it might be. I feel like it IS realistic for me to say, "Yes, I eventually want to be a part of something bigger. Yes, I do want to use my passion for helping people through this journey and do good with it." I've been so hesitant to say this to myself and to others because I didn't know if I wanted to make my passion my work, but in essence, I've already done that. I help run our local RESOLVE support group. I've spoken at conferences. I won the Hope Award for best blog. I guess maybe now it's time for me to stop ignoring all of these things. It's been smacking me in the face all along, and I didn't want to look at it.

Well, no more ignoring it. I have to realize that there might more out there for me - for my future - and I need to have the confidence in myself to pursue that. I haven't had the confidence to believe that I can do bigger and better. And now is the time for me to start believing in something I haven't for so long: me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

where vaginas and politics collide

Leave it to me to create a mess.

I don't typically like getting too political, whether it's here or on my Twitter and Facebook pages. I do like an occasional joke, and have told them at the expense at both political parties, but I also understand and respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

However, I do like to post articles that affect women's health - particularly in the areas of reproductive medicine and reproductive choice. Earlier in the week, I put up an article on my Facebook page that I couldn't NOT share. It was a story about Rick Santorum's stance on abortion in the case of rape.

The result of positing the article was initially what I expected - a bunch of women pissed off that yet more leaders in government are trying to make uninformed decisions about their bodies. Then came the posts from non-followers. Mostly men, I have no clue what lead them to my Facebook page in the first place. But there they were, getting into a full-fledged political argument all over my vagina monologues.

Was there ever a time when the line was clear? Was there ever a time when politics were only used to ensure equal and fair access to healthcare and did not cross over into personal reproductive choice? If there was, it certainly doesn't exist anymore. If it's not a debate about abortion, it's one about birth control. There is never shortage of debate about how and what women should do with their bodies. Yet, the argument for equality in women's healthcare compared to men, or in women's healthcare compared to other women (e.g. infertility coverage) is minimal. Politicians would rather tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body than give me equal access to medical services.

How did this happen? How did we, or politicians, mistake equality with ownership? And better yet, how do we draw the line in the sand?

Santorum believes that women who are raped should accept the hand they've been dealt and "make the best out of a bad situation." He says nothing about the psychological damage one can endure when carrying a child conceived by rape. There is no mention of how difficult it is to carry a child and then place him or her for adoption, regardless of how that conception occurred. And I am guessing he didn't take into consideration how difficult it can be for adoptive parents to raise a child who is the product of rape. It requires so much extra care that many adoption agencies classify these children as special needs.

I'm not pro-abortion. My view - perhaps enhanced by my experience with infertility - is that politics and vaginas don't mesh well together. We don't have the audacity to walk around telling men what to do with their penises. Or is it peni? At any rate, I don't feel as though they should do the same with my lady bits. Politicians don't belong in my panties. Not when it comes to personal choice, at least.

If I was the victim of the violent crime of rape, I would not want to hear from my husband or father, "accept this horribly created" child. Instead, I would expect to hear, "I will support you in whatever choice you make." I would expect no judgement. I would expect the freedom to make my own decisions based on my physical and mental well-being.

Too bad our lawmakers can't follow that lead.

Monday, January 23, 2012

all clear

This afternoon, the director of the women's center where I had both my mammogram and my MRI called me. She wanted to give me the news herself: my MRI came back normal.

They want me to keep an eye on the area. They also recommend a follow-up in six months and yearly mammograms from this point forward. But right now, I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief. No cancer. No surgery.

Thank you to those who supported me through yet another health scare. I'm sure everyone is sick of them at this point.

Now excuse me while I got celebrate the good news with a beer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

radio silence

My apologies for the radio silence this week on the blog and for not being very active with commenting right now. It's been a busy week. I had my MRI yesterday, but the radiologist who was there to give me the results of the mammogram was not there yesterday - which means I have to wait until sometime next week to get more information.

I wish I had more news for you. I'm sorry I don't. So, while I wait, is there anything in particular YOU would like me to write about? My energy is too spend to devise blog topics right now, and I could use your help. Meanwhile, I'll get started catching up on some reading. I hope I haven't missed anything too big in the blogosphere.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the one where i'm glad i pushed for a mammogram

I arrived at the Women's Center for Radiology on Friday not really knowing what to expect. As I was signing in at the front desk, one of the women behind the counter was talked about what would happen "if no one showed up and we all got dressed up for nothing." I resisted the urge to say something until one of the other women asked for my name, which lead to an "oh" response. As in, oh shit... this girl did show up. I may have been a nervous wreck, but there was no way I would back out of having this test done.

After I filled out all the necessary forms at the front desk, I was escorted to the back by the founder of Libby's Legacy, the organization who arranged for my mammogram. I gave her and the center's director a brief rundown of my history, and then did it again when the radiologist came in. Meanwhile, the news crew arrived and worked on the logistics of how to film everything. Basically, I had to decide whether to have them film the actual mammogram or if we would reenact it. You might call me crazy, but I agreed to have the entire procedure filmed so long as the center could ensure that no men saw my upper lady parts (which we succeeded in doing - hooray!).

So, why am I happy we pushed for this mammogram? Turns out I needed it. The location of the lump is just under my left nipple, which is apparently difficult to see in an ultrasound. The 3D mammogram showed a difference in tissue there - a thickening compared to the rest of my breast and my right breast. They still did another ultrasound, which again came back normal, but the result of the mammogram was enough to warrant a breast MRI. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I'm disappointed and worried. But I need to look at the positives: not only was this worth all of the trouble, but I don't have to fight for it anymore. Libby's Legacy is going to arrange anything I need from here on out. They will pick up my MRI prescription and work with the Women's Center to book it sometime in the next week. And if I need surgery again, they'll be there for that, too.

I spent a lot of time these past few weeks wondering if I did the right thing by emailing the news station, and now I'm glad I did. I had major fears to overcome in doing this, but if I hadn't pushed through, I may have never received the care that I needed and deserved. I truly appreciate Mike Holfeld of Local 6, Robin Maynard of Libby's Legacy, and Vicki, Dr. Miller, and Cindy at Women's Center for Radiology in Orlando for all of their great care and support. I'm not sure I could ever thank them enough for what they've done for me so far.

I'll keep everyone posted on what happens after this. In the meantime, I can say this: take what you've learned about being your own advocate with infertility and make sure you are applying it to other areas of your health. We have all learned one way or another that REs don't always know best when it comes to our reproductive health, but this can happen with other medical professionals, too. Be vigilant, ask questions, and always stick up for yourself. No one else can do it for you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

five for friday

1. I received an email on Wednesday from the news reporter who is working on the story about my mammogram. Apparently, he reached out to a local awareness group for quotes about this story, and they offered me one sooner than February 1. I'm scheduled for a state-of-the-art, 3D mammogram this afternoon.

2. Emotionally I'm doing much better than I was earlier in the week. I actually decided to contact a therapist and met with her for the first time on Tuesday. She was incredibly understanding and helpful, and I am going to see her again next week.

3. If you haven't done so already, please like and share our adoption Facebook page. The more we can spread the word about our adoption, the better. Sunday marked two months on the waiting list with no phone calls since the first week with the agency.

4. We are saving more money. Not only did our mortgage payments go down, but we are also switching our car insurance company after our current rates went up twice over the past year (for no reason). Joey shopped around and managed to get us a much lower monthly payment. Overall, we should be able to save about $200 more per month. Woo!

5. Here's a random video for your Friday enjoyment. I hope it brings you as many smiles and laughs as it brought me!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

keep calm and go on birth control

Yesterday, we went back to the RE to talk about my latest round of blood work and how I'm doing post medically-induced menopause.

My prolactin levels are still too low. There is no evidence that having extremely low prolactin is dangerous, but he still wants to bring it back up to a reasonable level. This meant another dosage change. I'm now taking half a pill every other week, and he wants me retested in two months. Hopefully this is the last time we need to make an adjustment.

Since stopping my hormone suppression, I've had three periods: November 15, December 11, and January 5. My cycles are shorter than they used to be, but he seems happy that I'm at least cycling on my own. I go in this month for a progesterone check to see if I'm ovulating, then he wants me to have two more normal periods before we talk about going back on medication (though this time it would be regular birth control; no more forced menopause).

He's still not 100% sure what's wrong with me. He just describes it as some kind of miscommunication between my pituitary gland and my ovaries. But as of yesterday, I've been cyst free for 8 months. So the combination of being on medication for my pituitary and shutting down ovulation is working, and that's what we'll continue to do moving forward.

Before I was hesitant to go back on hormones right away. Now that I've had time to sit back and reflect, I think it's the smartest decision. Being off of them for an extended period of time could give the cysts a chance to come back, and I'm not sure I want to take that risk - especially knowing that any more large cysts on my left ovary means surgery and, most likely, losing that ovary. Birth control seems like the best option. I've gone from "I don't want anything to do with birth control" to "I can't get on the pill fast enough."

It's funny how things have changed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

mammogram #2: denied

As mentioned in my previous post, I attempted to have a mammogram done (again) and this time I was outright denied.

I scheduled the second mammogram at a different facility, a hospital instead of an imaging center. This is because I've been to this hospital several times, and I've never once had a bad experience there. When I called to make the appointment for the mammogram, I even stated that I was coming to the hospital to have the mammogram done with them because I was denied the service at the imaging center. I explicitly stated that I'd already had a breast ultrasound done and ONLY needed the mammogram.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at the radiology desk to check in last Wednesday morning and find myself scheduled for an ultrasound. Why? Because I'm again listed as "too young" to have a mammogram. I spent about five minutes arguing with the lady at the desk, who was relaying messages from the radiology team. Bottom line? They weren't going to give a 26-year-old a mammogram.

The difference between this attempt and attempt #1 is that, this time, I didn't walk away quietly. I instead headed downstairs to the concierge desk and asked to speak with someone higher up in radiology. They sent down the lead technician, who explained for what felt like the millionth time that they wouldn't do a mammogram on someone under the age of 30 unless they did an ultrasound first. But I HAD an ultrasound done. What if I went and got those images? Didn't matter, she said. They would still want to do an ultrasound there.

So I said I would have an ultrasound there, even if my insurance didn't cover it (since I'd already had one done once earlier in the month), if they would do a mammogram. She went back to the radiologist, who gave his final word on the matter: NO. They would not do a mammogram on me. When I asked, "So are you now denying me a mammogram all together?" (Something they argued they weren't doing this entire point up until now.) She finally admitted, Yes.

The drive home was miserable. I called my doctor in tears. Then I called Joey in tears. Then I called my mom in tears. Finally, I calmed down enough to call the American Cancer Society's local office - a suggestion from several of my awesome IF friends on Twitter. They gave me the name of another imaging center that might be able to help. Meanwhile, they told me they would investigate these so-called age policies further.

The third facility initially said no, that they would not do a mammogram, but they changed their mind when I told them I had a family history and a personal history with breast lumps. I have one scheduled there in a couple of weeks. Yet I can't help feel hesitant that it still may not happen, or that I may have to put up another fight about it. I felt so hesitant and so disgusted by my experience, that I also contacted another local resource - the news. A producer called me 30 minutes after I sent them an email, and about 24 hours later, they sent an investigative reporter to my house to talk to me about my experience. To be honest, I regretted sending the email the moment I got the call. I've fought for so long against my infertility that I'm not sure I have another health related fight in me. But it's over and done with. What I want is for my mammogram to be over and done with, too.

So there you have it: the soap opera continues. Let's hope it ends on February 1 with my next appointment, or I'll be changing the name of my blog to General Hospital.