pain management for arthritis

Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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The Eve

G has been in speech therapy for almost a year. His progress has been steady and sometimes fast to the point where he is now caught up in all areas and ahead in some. He speaks in sentences, sometimes words not fully recognizable to those outside our family, and is a parrot, repeating back almost everything that is said to him. His little voice, with its affectations, completely melt me.

A few months ago his speech therapist recommended preschool, even on a part-time basis, as a way to support and further develop his speech. As it is, he spends almost all of his time around fluent talkers and it would be beneficial for him to be around children his age at the same level of speech development. We looked at several preschools, but were so late in touring/applying that there were no spots available this summer, let alone in the fall. I’d forgotten that admissions starts in January for the following year. We got on the wait-list at two preschools and I’ve kept in touch with the directors at both for months.

I got THE call a week ago that there was a space at one of the two schools we liked in their summer program. He will be starting tomorrow. As in TOMORROW, 18 hours from now! Just typing that and sharing that here makes me nauseous. He and I have been together every day of his life. And, while his older brother started preschool 4 mos earlier than G is starting, I was already back at work and my older son was such a handful that, as hard as it was, it was better for all of us that he get the structure of being at school.

With G, it is an entirely different situation. I’m not working. We spend almost every hour of every day together. And, whether that is playing at home, having a play date, going to the park, going to the Discovery Cube, going to the zoo, or running errands, he is with me, tethered by an invisible umbilical cord. Even though I don’t baby him, he IS my baby, my last child. This milestone, this rite of passage, seems the biggest and insurmountable of all other milestones combined.

Whereas our older son showed no real preference as a toddler to me or my husband, G’s preference has always been me. This is no fault of my husband who is the only other person that loves and cherishes him as much as me, it’s just that we are each others constant companion. Other than being in the care of occasional sitters, or being at home with my husband, he is always near me. I am the one to get him in the morning, I am the one he snuggles with while eating his banana, I am the one he snuggles with before nap, I am the one to get him from his nap, and I am the one he snuggles with before bed even though his daddy actually puts him down. The question my husband asks repeatedly is, ‘is he on you?’ and the answer is always yes.

And so it is with a proud yet heavy heart that we prepare to drop him for his first day of preschool tomorrow. We visited the school a few times last week, so he already knows the drill, walking through the gate, across the bike playground, up the ramp, through the second gate and across the yard to his room. He is a Bear (the theme of the summer program is Happy Trails and everything has something to do with nature). He already knows where the toys he likes to play with are.

I never thought it was possible to be joyful and sad at the same time, but it is. I love this little boy, my love for him expanding my love for my husband and older son. I am grateful to the depths of my soul for him, that he picked us as his parents and family, that he was our hail Mary pass, our last and final effort, our only remaining hope for having a second child, for completing our family.

My desire is to shelter him, keep him close and safe under my watchful eye, to have him always with me. But this is not about me; this is about him and allowing him to do something that is not only going to be fun, but so enriching for him. I love this school, the director, his teachers, the campus. He is going to get to do things we don’t often do at home. He is going to make his first friends. He is going to learn so many things from someone other than me, his daddy, or his brother. We are fortunate to be able to send him.

But, my heart. For all I went through to find my way to him, for all his being here did to heal my wounds from failure and heartache, can this time have really come? So soon? I know there is no way to stop time, there is no way to roll back the clock, there is no way to forever freeze every moment in the recesses of my mind. I also know that my love for him, my wanting the best for him requires me to do this for him. It feels so profound, so deep, causing such a cosmic shift in my psyche. Joy and sadness, sadness and joy.

G, my darling, amiable, sweet, good-natured, funny, charming, happy-go-lucky, trusting, adventuresome, smart little red-head, I love you as if you are my heart beating inside my chest. You did hang the moon my little one. I will miss you and count the hours until I pick you up, dusty and grimy and pink-faced from a morning hard at play. Yes, my little Mushy, you are going to have so much fun. For my part, I promise not to let you see me cry.

Joined

Joined

Negative and 49

The results of my MRI were negative, meaning no tumor, no mass, no growth. This, of course, is good news, although it has made a treatment approach more difficult. I am into my second week of oral hydrocortisone which is supposed to counteract my low cortisol and make me feel better. A standard dose would be 15mg in the morning and 5mg in the evening but in an attempt to avoid the weight gain associated with taking hydrocortisone, I’m taking 5mg in the morning and 2.5mg in the afternoon. Honestly, I can’t feel any effect.

Because the Prozac I’ve been taking to control my hot flashes is also associated with weight gain, we decided I’d wean off it and see how I did. Within a day of cutting my dose in half, my hot flashes returned with a vengeance. So, I am trying Effexor which is a different form of anti-depressant also approved for hot flash management. My doctor started me on the lowest dose which did nothing to reduce or alleviate them. Yesterday, we doubled the dose and I need to give it a full seven days to see if this dose is effective. If not, we’ll either increase it again or I’ll go back to Prozac. I have been looking forward to the switch, though, not just because Effexor might aid in weight loss but because it doesn’t have the sexual side effects that Prozac does. And, truth, in just the 9 days I’ve been on it, I can feel my long dormant libido returning. Yay for that!

Generally, I feel thick headed, worse in the afternoons/evenings than in the mornings. I’m not really sure which medication is causing it and it probably wasn’t a good idea to add two new meds at the same time, but it is what it is. The hot flashes are merciless, so bad that I will sacrifice my libido and figure to get some relief.

In other and happier news, last week I celebrated my 49th birthday. I had a lovely sushi dinner out with my husband, and brunch the following morning with some close girlfriends. We’d gone to Palm Springs for Mother’s Day weekend, and it felt like a lot of celebrating but the right amount for a non-milestone birthday. Even though I am dealing with this new health issue, I feel good I am able to work-out regularly and hard, and continue to be fueled by gratitude for the life that I have. My older son will complete 2nd grade next week and G was 2y5m yesterday. Time is marching on despite my best attempts to freeze it.

I have officially begun my journey to 50, something I am looking forward to with gleeful anticipation. The two biggest hurdles I need to cross are to find day care for G and a paying job for me, neither of which are going to be easy (we are on wait lists at two preschools for any openings they may have and have nixed a handful of others for one reason or another. I have a few more to contact, but am late to the game for fall, 2015. Worst case he won’t be able to start until next summer and that is going to put us in a financial bind). I can’t diligently look for employment until we find consistent care for him.

I am going to start daily meditation. At the root of most of what ails me is too much stress, or an unsuitable reaction to how I manage stress. Another thing to add to the list of self-improvement :)

Pituitary MRI

Except for a complete inability to lose weight no matter what I do, I mostly feel good physically. I am working out 5 times a week for an hour each time and am sore in one place or another all the time. Well, except also for the afternoon fatigue. It used to be that I’d take an occasional 12 minute power nap a couple of times a week. Then, I started napping for a half an hour. Then, an hour. Then, I’d wake up after an hour and if G was still asleep, I’d go back to sleep, too, sometimes for another 30 mins. And then there is the forgetfulness. Not the kind that comes with age where you walk in a room and forget why. Or even the kind that has me hunting for my keys. This is literally not remembering what I’m talking about mid-sentence. This is asking myself a dozen times a day, “what did I just say?” or “what was I just going to do?” or “what’s the word that means…?”.

It was a combination of the above but mostly the frustrating inability to lose weight that had me reach out to my endocrinologist (who has been treating me off/on for the last 25 yrs) to inquire about running some tests. I wanted to check my cortisol. That required a 24 hr urine capture test, where I had to collect my urine for 24 hrs, refrigerate it, and take it to the lab. The results came back that my cortisol was indeed, low. She then ordered a blood test to test both my cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (acth). Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands and acth is produced by the pituitary gland and signals the adrenals to produce more cortisol when it is low. Both levels were low, which is odd, as acth should have been high. As a result, she ordered a stimulation test, which meant an IV was placed, synthetic cortisol was injected, and my blood was drawn in specific intervals to check both cortisol and acth. There is a normal starting point for cortisol and a normal rise over the length of the test. Not only was my starting cortisol half of what it should be, the rise, which should have been 12, was less than half that, too. Acth was on the low end of normal.

Cue orders for a pituitary MRI. The pituitary, a pea sized gland, is part of the endocrine system and considered a master gland as it secretes hormones that balance almost all of the body’s systems, is located behind the eyes:

2010 Terese Winslow

2010 Terese Winslow

It is possible that one of it’s two lobes is enlarged but more probable that there is a tumor, most likely benign (hopefully) causing the problems I’m having.

I had the MRI today. I’ve had two MRIs before so knew what to expect. I also had the chance to meet with my endocrinologist face to face for an hour, something I haven’t done since 2010. We reviewed my symptoms, test results, and possible outcomes of the MRI. Unfortunately, the most straightforward treatment will be if there is a tumor. If not, there is going to be some trial and error to figure out the underlying cause of my pituitary problem. I made the request of the tech that the images be expedited to the radiologist so that my doctor could call me by Friday. I want to go into the weekend knowing what there is to know and, hopefully, be able to celebrate my birthday.

My doctor reiterated that nothing is straightforward with me, something I have heard all my life and recounted on this blog more than once. She did validate that I know my body better than most and that when I say something is wrong, something is. It’s a matter of what that something is, in this case. Oh, and I’m at my highest post-pregnancy weight as of today (I could not, for the life of me remember that the word is “highest” and continued to spell it ‘heighest’ and couldn’t figure why it was underlined in red. That kind of memory problem).

Tattoo Tuesday

Crossing #1 off my 50 before 50:

Tat

She Responded

I posted recently that my mom sent a letter to my birth mother. Since my last few attempts at corresponding with my birth mother (including the floral arrangement I sent her for her birthday in April) have gotten nary a response, I wasn’t sure if she would respond to my mom. But, she did:

Thwarted again!

Thwarted again!


The IRL friends I’ve shared this with have been mostly interested in how I feel about it and to that I would say this: it is not at all surprising to me and it only emboldens me to find my birth father. If other opportunities arise to work on my birth mother, I will, but she is a dead end and I need to pursue other avenues.

To that end, I submitted my DNA for analysis to ancestry.com and have gotten the results back. My ethnicity shook out thusly:
Europe 85%
Italy/Greece 24%
Ireland 19%
Europe West 18%
Great Britain 11%
Iberian Peninsula 9%
Trace Regions 4%
West Asia 13%

The closest DNA relative matches I got was two third cousins which means that we shared great-great grandparents (and both cousins are of Italian descent (which my birth mother is not) so I’m fairly certain they are on my birth father’s side). One of them has his profile administered by a 3rd party (possibly another family member) and the other hasn’t logged into the website in over a year. I have a slew of 4th-6th cousins, but the one 3rd cousin that’s active on the site seems the most promising. Oh, and the person who is administering his profile lives in MA, hometown of both my birth parents. I haven’t figured out what to say in making contact, yet.

My mom offered to fly me out to MA so that I could either show up on my birth mother’s doorstep and/or find out what church she attends and get a meeting with her priest to see if he’d be of any help. I’m not likely to do either.

For those who are wondering why I don’t just let it go, the simple answer is that I can’t, not yet, anyway, not as long as she is alive and is the only living person to know his name or until I exhaust other avenues. My birth father makes up half of who I am and unless you know how it feels to not know about half of yourself, I can’t explain it.

If you have any suggestions about finding my birth father, please leave a comment.

Next up: I was right, there is something wrong with my health and after three rounds of tests confirmed it’s with my pituitary, I’m scheduled for an MRI.

TBT: An Abundance of Threes

Three years ago, on 4/14/12, I transferred three, Day 3 embryos, none of which seemed particularly promising but one of which would go on to become Baby G. I could not be more grateful.
Thawed Vitrified Embryos

Back Story

Not fair to leave you hanging but the back story to my re-involvement with my parents isn’t all that grand. My mother was in the hospital a couple of months ago to treat a recurrence of diverticulitus. She was very sick and in a lot of pain. I believe that this particular bout was severe enough that she faced her own mortality in a real way for possibly the first time in her life. We were all sick at our house so were unable to visit her, but I did call her while she was there and brought her a gift when she got home. She was frail and for a long time after.

The incident shocked her into some sort of mind shift. She talks a lot about wanting to “make amends” and to wanting to “set things right”. I am not sure the depth of change she is capable of but, at least superficially, she has been easier to be around. What is different about this attempt is that she has not wanted to re-hash the past, hasn’t wanted to play the blame game, hasn’t been hypercritical of me, and hasn’t overestimated her relationship with me and us. What the latter means is that she isn’t calling me, isn’t sending me emails, isn’t showing up on our doorstep at all, isn’t expecting us to have them over for Sunday dinner or vice versa. This has all translated into a willingness on my part to engage in a cursory relationship. For me, that means that I can call over there if/when I want to, will allow the kids to see them if/when I want to, will oblige the occasional family event if/when I want to, without expectation that the dam has been busted open.

It also means that I am able to be nice and not be on guard all the time. This is going to prove to be critical as I am battling an issue with my adrenals and their relay with my pituitary. That is something I will write about at another time as it is still unfolding (I’ve had two types of tests and need one more to diagnose the cause). In short, my cortisol is low and another hormone, adrenocorticopic hormone (acth) which should be high as a result of cortisol being low, is also low. Whatever is going on is contributing to my inability to lose weight. I won’t be surprised if I have adrenal fatigue and, frankly, as bad as that is, I hope it is nothing worse.

If you are a long time reader you know that I’ve never mentioned to my mom that I have been in touch with my birth mother. Given our estrangement over the last four years, it just hasn’t come up. I happened to be over at my parents house with the boys and my mom commented that it was a shame that my birth mother didn’t know that she has these grandchildren. In a nanosecond I made the decision to tell her that she did know and that her knowing has meant nothing to her. I could see the wheels turning as my mom tried to determine if this was information she somehow already knew. I continued to take the assumptive approach, letting her think she must have known that I’d been in touch with her and went on to recount the various notes I’d gotten from her.

At any rate, my mom asked if I’d be OK with her writing a letter to my birth mother, allowing me to preview it, first. At this point, given that my birth mother has been unresponsive to my last two letters, I figured there was nothing to lose. My mom drafted what is likely the most thoughtful, heartfelt thing I’ve ever seen her write. In deference to her (shocking, I know!) I won’t post it here, but if you’d like to read it, shoot me an email and I will share it with you. The gist was that my mother did as my birth mother requested (raised me catholic, gave me piano lessons), that I’d grown up into an accomplished woman, that I lost my brother at a young age and that providing the name of my birth father would go a long way toward healing any void I may feel.

Time only permits me to write this much. Oh, my birth mother’s birthday was yesterday. I decided to send her flowers. They’ll be delivered tomorrow.

Remiss

I finally took the time to catch up on the over 100 blog posts in my reader, comment on a few, and feel slightly reconnected to the blogosphere. So remiss am I at writing (and failing at #30 on my 50 before 50), that my 5 year blogoversary came and went back in January with nary a celebratory word from me. Regardless, five years! Happy to still be here.

Part of what has distracted me is the addition, two months ago, of a second dog, a one year old puppy that we rescued. She is a 10# terrier mix, not at all the kind of dog I would have gotten had I been intending to get a dog (I would have gotten an American Fox Hound mix). After a couple of friends added a second dog to their families, I got the bug up my butt to do the same. Wouldn’t it be great?, I thought. Aside from being more work than I recall which includes once weekly hour long training sessions, she has been a great addition to our family. She is smart and easily trainable, has been a good match for our aging Italian Greyhound, and is the perfect dog to have with young children. She is rambunctious but sweet as all get out. We named her Bowie and those of a particular age will know why:
20150318_160342

I haven’t been resting on my laurels as I march toward 50, though (and my 49th birthday is next month). My life and energies are focused, first on the boys and our family, and second on myself. The highlights in terms of self-care are: having regular facials (I have not partaken in any medical treatments, yet); finding a new work-out to add to the mix (in the form of hard-core group circuit training which I now do 4 times a week while only doing my beloved Cardio Barre once/wk). This has been VERY good for my body and energy. It is a hard work-out, ever changing, ever challenging. But, just in the two months I’ve been doing it, I can manage more reps of whatever we are doing and at higher weights. I held a plank for over 2 minutes last month and have set my sights on getting to a 5 min hold. I am stronger even if I don’t weigh less.

Which brings me to some not so great medical news. I have been STRUGGLING to lose even a pound and have even gained a few over the last several months. I have made many positive lifestyle changes none of which has amounted to a decrease in my weight or body fat or measurements. I’ve pushed my doctors (my primary care physician and my endocrinologist for answers, not at all being satisfied that my inability to lose is tied to peri-menopause, aging, being on anti-depressants (which I’ve weaned to the lowest effective dose to keep my hot flashes away) and being hypothyroid. I requested to have my cortisol levels checked. When the urine test (a 24 hr urine capture test, fun times) showed lower than normal levels, I had a fasting blood test. The results of that were slightly worse: not only was cortisol low but another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (acth) which should have been high as a result of cortisol being low, was also low. This requires further testing that I am not looking forward to, but must be done. Getting at the cause is important because how we treat this is dependent on it. I hope it is nothing worse than adrenal fatigue (which on its own is bad enough and hard to heal from).

I made an appointment on my 49th birthday to finally get the tattoo that I planned to get on my 45th birthday and then had to cancel getting on my 46th birthday when I was pregnant with Baby G. I decided to go with a back piece, up my spine and across my low back in both directions, two hummingbirds, both boys names, and a stalk of kangaroo paw. I can’t wait!

I have also been touring day care/preschools for G as I prepare to, hopefully, return to work. We are on the wait list for one in particular. And, on the work front, I’ve reached out to former colleagues, been looking for opportunities regularly, reached out to a friend to, perhaps, speak to my RE on my behalf to test, again, if there is an opportunity there, and have been toying with the idea of opening my own infertility concierge business.

Those are the highlights from a busy time in my life. By and large, I am fit, happy, and deeply grateful. Oh, and did I mention that we’ve been seeing my family fairly regularly and that my mom sent a letter to my birth mother? Oh, yes, there’s that.

I Cry…

…for that brave eleven yr old girl and how upside down her life was
…for the loss of innocence, that little girl grew up over night
…for the myriad ways she would always miss her brother
…for the memories of that fateful day that she would relive over and over and over and over
…for the physical pain she endured but never let on to anyone
…for the way worse emotional pain she endured and never let on to anyone
…for the happiness that she exuded, the mask she wore, so that no one would cry
…for the nine long months she was bedridden, flat on her back
…for the indignities she had to face, using a bed pan and being entirely dependent on everyone for everything
…for the leg that would atrophy to the point that she would be unable to stand, let alone walk
…for the scars that would never let her forget
…for the insecurity that being in a wheelchair caused, the stares, the pointing, the whispers
…for how alone she was with her grief, the stuffed animals that surrounding her becoming her therapists and friends
…for the fear instilled when her orthopedist told her she’d never walk again
…for how she wished it’d been her instead of him
…for the way she blamed herself, replaying what happened and what she could have done to prevent it
…for the fractured and broken family that was left behind to care for her
…for how terrified she was of what would become of her
…with pride for just how much she overcame
…with relief and joy because she survived

TBT

Me, in my 2nd of two body casts, 1978.  The cast came under my boobs and down to the toes of my left leg.

Me, in my 2nd of two body casts, 1978. The cast came under my boobs and down to the toes of my left leg.