July 2009


Today was the big day!  Tyler and I hit the road at 5:30 a.m. (>_O).  Honestly, I was starting to get bored with the drive down there and back, so I was glad that Tyler was there to do the driving.  I napped on and off and did my best to calm my nerves.  I’ve only been put under once before, and I’ve been well trained by the women on my mother’s side of the family to worry about every potential hazardous outcome in nearly every situation.  I tried to stay calm, but a little anxiety was inevitable.  On a more annoying note, I wasn’t allowed to have any water after midnight last night, so I was parched and had a nasty taste in my mouth the whole way down.  They don’t even allow you to chew gum or suck on mints.

Since there wasn’t any traffic that early in the morning, we arrived about a half-hour early and had to wait in the parking lot for a while.  It was then that I started feeling not-so-hot.  I don’t know if the Lupron trigger shot I took Monday night is something that slowly kicks in over a 36 hour period or if does nothing and then hits you all at once at the 36-hour mark, but it definitely felt like the latter.  I felt extremely bloated and nauseous.  Then what felt like menstrual cramps kicked in.  Throw my nervousness and dehydration on top of all of that and I was a little bit of a wreck.  I curled up in the car seat and tried not to lose it.

The clinic opened up a little bit later, and I promptly went in and tried to stretch out on the couch and not puke.  I was called in about a minute later and led to a new, previously  unexplored portion of the clinic.  After Tyler and I were bootied up, I changed into a hospital gown and followed the nurse into a pre-op room that had a few hospital beds and some equipment in it.  I crawled into one of the beds, and the nurse put a heating pad on my stomach.  I could have cried with relief–as soon as she put it on me and tucked me in, I felt ten times better.  She said that usually people with 30 follicles can barely walk upright, so I guess I was actually doing pretty well.

My nurse was incredibly nice and very charismatic, which helped make me a lot more comfortable.  She went over some consent forms and took my vitals, and we talked about my moving to Hollywood and other exciting things.  I met the embryologist and the anesthesiologist, whose daughter, turns out, goes to the same school that I just graduated from.  He hooked me up to an IV with just water in it.  Not as good as taking some big gulps of water, but it made my mouth feel a lot less gross.

Then I had about 15-20 minutes of just waiting for everyone else to get ready, so I whipped out my DS and played some Electroplankton.  If you ever need something to calm you down, I’d highly recommend the Hanenbow one:

Soon my doctor came and checked in with me, and then I was whisked away to the operating room, IV pole in tow and goofy hat on my head.  Walking into the OR was intimidating.  Everything was so stark and sterile and rather unfriendly-looking.  The anesthesiologist helped me onto the table and I put my knees up while the nurse set up the stirrups.  As the anesthesiologist readied the medication, the nurse simply put her hands on top of my knees.  The gesture was simple, but it made me feel so much more at ease.

As he notified me that he was about to start the medication, the nurse looked at me and said, “Those lights above you are going to start dancing in a minute.”

I examined the ceiling.  On either side of me there were two nondescript florescent banks and a big, black sliding track along which the main operating lamp ran.  I didn’t notice anything odd.  Then the sliding track suddenly turned into a treadmill belt that was spinning at a very high speed and kind of wobbling back and forth.

“Oh.  There they go,” I said.

And then I woke up in recovery.

Yeah, pretty anti-climactic, right?  I read that other clinics give egg donors a local anesthetic but still keep them semi-conscious, and I just assumed it would be the same with me.  But not so!  Tyler was in the little cubicle with me, and I think I said something like, “That’s it?!”  I felt an incredible elation that after worrying about it so much, it had all turned out fine.  That, and I was still really happy from the drugs.  Exuberant, even.  The embryologist (or at least I think it was her…I can’t quite remember) came in and told me they had retrieved 18 eggs!  The average for them is 11, so that made me even more disgustingly happy.  The whole process had taken maybe 20 minutes to a half hour, tops.  The heating pad was back on my stomach, but I felt hardly any pain.  I think I actually felt a whole lot worse when I first came in than after the procedure!

Tyler and I stayed in recovery for about an hour.  The happy drugs slowly wore off and I drank cup after cup of gatorade, because I was mega-thirsty and only allowed to leave once I’d  urinated.  I was able to stand up and walk just fine, but a little shaky from the drugs.  They wheeled me out to the car and sent us on our way home.

The anesthesiologist had given me some anti-nausea medication after the procedure was done, so I was feeling just fine in that regard.  On the way back home we stopped at a Thai place, and I was able to get down delicious green curry with brown rice with no trouble.  The funny thing is that the Thai restaurant had a lotus plant outside that had a few seed pods on it, which were empty.

So that was it!  All in all, everything turned out way better than I was expecting it to.  I have a tiny bit of tenderness and pain. I’m not sure how that will develop in the next few days, but right now, I’m lookin’ good and feelin’ great!  My post-op appointment is on Friday, which is also when I get my compensation.  Expect another blog post then.  In the meantime, Happy Egg Harvest Day!harvest

I went in for another appointment yesterday morning.  As my ovaries came into view on the ultrasound, I once again shuddered.  Not only because they were still quite lotus breast-like, but because they’ve become monsters.  I half expect them to pop out of my stomach and head for Japan for some karaoke and then mass destruction.  I’m trying to pack up my entire life right now, so I don’t have time to draw a picture of my raging ovaries razing Tokyo.   Unfortunately, putting “ovary attacks Tokyo” into Google image search yields disappointing results.

I have 20 follicles on my right side and 10-12 on my left side (that slacker).  The doctor was once again very pleased and declared me to be ready.  My retrieval appointment has been set for this Wednesday, the 29th, at 7:30 in the morning.  I get a lot of questions about how they get the eggs out, so I’ll explain: basically, after knocking you out and strapping you down so you don’t twitch at all, they insert an ultrasound-guided needle into the wall of the vagina and into the ovary.  Gentle suction is used to retrieve the eggs.  On my schedule, it says it should go from 8:30 am to 9:00 am, so as you can see, it’s a pretty quick procedure.  I’ll stay in recovery for about a half hour and then go home.  I should be up and about by the next day.

As my nurse coordinator was going over my pre-op instructions, she rather ominously said, ” ‘Abdominal tenderness is not uncommon.’ And you will have abdominal tenderness.  You’re going to want to start on extra strength Tylenol right away.”  Apparently, I have a bumper crop of eggs and my body is going to miss them once they’re retrieved, then react by causing me pain.

With that short update, I have to fly.  I have to get the majority of my packing done now since after the procedure I won’t be able to lift anything.  I was trying to think of more egg recipes that I like and failed, but I’ll leave you with this.  It’s my favorite alfredo sauce recipe and it does include an egg yolk.  You won’t want to go back to alfredo from a jar again.

alfredo_man

I am delicious.

Today was another fun day at the fertility clinic!  Requisite joke about them taking my bodily fluids.

During the ultrasound, we found that my largest follicle is still only 12mm.  Too early to start the Ganirelix, but I will probably start it in the morning on Friday.  As the doctor sat and counted how many I had on each side, I relaxed and just watched the ultrasound screen.  But there was something odd…seeing my ovaries full of steadily growing eggs looked vaguely disturbing this time around.  It didn’t bother me so much last time…why was it sending a chill down my spine this time?

And then I realized: my egg-filled ovaries looked exactly like Lotus Breast.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lotus Breast, I feel sorry for you, because you are about to find out.

There was a mass-forwarded email that used to circulate containing the story (or some variant on the story) of a woman who went to a third-world country and came back having developed a weird sort of rash on one of her breasts.  Either upon doctor’s request or via home remedy, she simply bandages the rash and leaves it alone.  Her pain continues to intensify over the next few weeks, and when she removes the bandages she finds THIS!!!! (Warning: don’t look at it if you can’t handle looking at boobs and/or disgustingness)(Edit: Photobucket, which I was using to host the image, couldn’t even handle it and have since removed it.  So go do a google image search for “lotus breast” if you are still curious.)

That’s right.  According to the story, some sort of third-world country bug had somehow laid its eggs in or on her breast.  The eggs hatched and the larvae burrowed in and fed off of her delicious breast tissue.

Now then, this whole thing is a big, fat crock if you hadn’t figured already.  The picture is actually a lotus seed pod that has been photoshopped onto somebody’s breast.  However, the fact that the story is fake doesn’t make up for the fact that THAT’S WHAT MY FRIGGIN’ OVARY LOOKS LIKE.  On the upside, it’s definitely helped me lose any shred of attachment I may have had to my eggs.

Okay, sorry that you all had to live through that.  To make up for it, I’ll link you to a totally delicious huevos rancheros recipe.  If you get a chance, poke around some of the other recipes on her website as well.    I can guarantee that at least 90% of them are sinful and oh-so-good.  If you want someone to fall in love with you, try making the steak sandwiches.  Worked for Tyler and me. ^_^

This morning I woke up bright and early for yet another drive down to the clinic.  After once again checking a requisite amount of bodily fluids at the door, it was time for my ultrasound.  And for the first time since I started this whole process, the ultrasound of my ovaries looked different!  The doctor counted about a dozen eggs in each ovary.  My largest follicle was near 10 mm, and they don’t start the Ganirelix until 14 mm.  She said that I was progressing along perfectly.

So then, I’ve got two saddlebags, each carrying a dozen-crate of fresh eggs.  Surprisingly, I can kind of tell, too.  I’ve been feeling a little more bloated and kind of tender in my general ovarian region.  The only way I can describe the feeling is…”eggy.”  That being said, welcome to…

EGG EXTRACTION EXTRAVAGANZA WEEK!

That’s right.  I’m bringing you the best in egg-related entertainment with free PMS symptoms to boot.  I hope you are pleased that I did not go the “eggs-stravaganza” route.

First of all, watch this little music video.  I think I stumbled onto this a few years ago, but completely forgot about it until recently.  Be warned that you may be singing it the rest of the day.

If you’re like me, you are asking yourself at this moment, “Who created this?  Why would they do such a thing?  Can I buy an egg motorcycle?

Answers
Who: the Koreans
Why: No freaking clue
Motorcycle: Yes.c_01

The origin of this egg propaganda song is the Korean website www.iloveegg.com.  Why is there a Korean website devoted to eggs?  I don’t know.  I can’t find any kind of endorsement on the site from the Korean egg council or anything like that.  However, you CAN buy adorable egg-related products, such as planners, t-shirts, and…motorcycles, naturally.

The site also has little animated cartoons and comic strips surrounding a cast of characters who are all little eggs, just dressed differently.  The comic strip seems to be about the eggs going to school, with such titles as “New Student,”  “School Hours,” and “Lunch Time.”  Then there’s one called “Sausage Store Aunty.”

There’s also a section that introduces all of the main eggy characters, complete with confusing Engrish.  Everybody’s pretty darn cute though.

Aw!  An egg posing as another type of food!  Adorable!

Aw! An egg posing as another type of food! Adorable!

How precious!  It's...a sad bear egg?  Crying bitterly?  What??

How precious! It's...a sad bear egg? Crying bitterly? What??

Now that's more like it!  That black censor bar is so unflattering.

Now that's more like it! That black censor bar is so unflattering.

Anyhow, that’s about all I have for you today.  My next appointment is on Thursday, so until then, go have fun with Sausage Store Aunty.

On Wednesday I once again trucked down to the clinic for another ultrasound and to have more blood drawn.  Seriously, these people love my blood, just like Blood Source does.   Blood Source is always calling me and putting me on the spot and guilting me into blood donations, as well as sending me about 2 post cards a week, each one with some different miserable child in need of my life-juice:deelishAnyway, they took my blood, checked out my ovaries (all clear), and sent me back home.  It wasn’t until two hours later that I got another call from them saying that they had forgotten to get another vial of blood from me and that I had to jet to the nearest lab to get it done NOW.  I don’t remember the reason for it being so urgent–something about them having to test in 24 hours.  So I’m rushing around, trying to get the lab slip faxed and trying to move my break at work up an hour so that I can hustle my ass down to the nearest lab.  I’m in the middle of all of these preparations when they call me again to basically say, “Just kidding!”  Turns out with the cycle I’m on, they didn’t need that last vial of blood, so I was off the hook.

Today I got the go ahead to start the injections (dun dun dun!).  I was given the choice of taking them every morning or every evening.  Night owl that I am, I chose evening.  For the next ten days or so, I’ve got to inject both the Follistim and the Menopur.  So when 10 o’clock rolled around, I began to set out my arcane instruments.  The packet of medicine and syringes they gave me did not include chalk, so I had to dig around in my desk for 20 minutes to find some chalk so I could draw the alchemical circles.

And then began the 200-step process of unscrewing needles, swabbing with alcohol, loading of medicine cartridges, swabbing with alcohol, sneezing, swabbing with alcohol, screwing another needle on, swabbing with alcohol, setting the syringe down, swabbing with alcohol, putting on some calming music, swabbing with alcohol…You get the picture.  I had an prodigious pile of used alcohol wipes and their packaging by the time I was done.  And then came the moment of truth.

I approached this whole process pretty casually, my rationale being that if I acted like it was no big deal, it wouldn’t be.  And then I started swabbing left and right and that sterile hospital smell hit me and I started getting tense in response.  But I still tried to play it cool.

Then I found that it’s a lot harder to play it cool when you’re at the business end of a syringe.  I went into nervous laughter mode.  I just sat there giggling away with the needle about an inch away from my stomach, when all of a sudden it was actually in my stomach.  You know when you’re a kid and you’re getting a shot and the nurse says she’ll count to three but then actually stabs you once she gets to “two”?  I somehow pulled the equivalent of that on myself.  I sat there stupefied for a while, just staring at it before I realized that I had to actually push down on the plunger.  I hardly felt it.  After I pulled out the needle, the area sort of burned, but I think that’s because I didn’t let the medicine fully come to room temperature.  One down, one to go.

The Menopur was more complicated.  And there was even more swabbing!  You have to withdraw saline solution from one vial and mix a particular amount into a powder solution and then draw the mixed solution back in.  Everything went pretty smoothly until I got to the injecting part.  I went too slowly and ended up only half stabbing myself, which hurt like a bitch.  I tried again without any hesitation and everything went fine.

If people are interested, I may post a video once I get more settled into a routine.  That seems to be the “in” thing to do.  And in the words of Brad Neely, “Because it’s nice….to be interested…in other people’s….things.”

I don’t have another appointment until next Tuesday, so until then I’ll be stabbing myself nightly and loving it.

(Oh, and for those of you who were wondering…as of the second drug test I am drug free, proud to be!)

Yesterday I went in to re-take my drug test.  I was fortunately spared the awkwardness.  The nurse handed me the cup and directed me to the bathroom, saying “I’m supposed to go in there with you, but I don’t really want to.  I think it’s kind of stupid.  I’ll be right outside when you’re done.”  I’m sure this was totally against protocol, but whatever.  Now I have to wait a few more weeks for those results.  I’m hoping I didn’t accidentally ingest anything else that might cause a false positive.  I don’t want to be barred from donating my eggs because it turns out that anything from Taco Bell will show up positive for amphetamines or something.

That was the first part of my appointment.  The second part involved receiving all of my medication and also learning how to use all of it.  I was sent home with a paper grocery bag stuffed with all this:

Fertility Medicine Wall -- Neutral Creature. ST=0 HP=50 Defense.  ST+30 and Penetration in combat.

Fertility Medicine Wall -- Neutral Creature. ST=0 HP=50 Defense. ST+30 in combat.

Injections galore!!
I don’t know if anyone’s interested in hearing about all this stuff, but here goes.

The first medication I’m on is called Follistim.  This is supposed to give my ovaries a good kick in the tuckus so that they’ll start producing more eggs.  The Follistim website promises that it “provides women with a discreet, convenient method to self-administer fertility treatment with ease and confidence using the unique dial-a-dose feature.”  It’s also the most fashionable, in my opinion.  It comes with a neat little pen and a rather fetching carrying case.

Shoot up in style.

Shoot up in style.

Next is Menopur.  Or as I call it, Menopurrrrrrr.  Makes me think of a menopausal cat.  Do cats even get menopause?  Do I even want to find out?

Anyway, Menopur will also stimulate my ovaries and promote egg maturation.  This one is a little more complicated, as it involves some alchemical mixing of the partial contents of some vials into others and particular means of shaking and so on.

Later on, I’ll be taking Ganirelix, which I just love saying.  It’s meant to prevent ovulation from happening too soon.  Lastly, about a day before they actually extract the eggs, I take a dose of Lupron to make doubly sure that none of them get ovulated and lost.

Now then, did I mention that all of the above are injections?  Every single one of them.  I’m pretty comfortable with needles, but I’ve never given myself a shot.  However, there are scores of videos on YouTube of people injecting the aforementioned fertility drugs, with quite a spectrum of reactions.  Some say they don’t feel it, some just kind of wince, and some flat-out scream.  All of the injections are done into your lower belly, and you’re supposed to “dart” it in at a 90-degree angle.  The nurse coordinator demonstrated for me on a cube of what looked like some sort of stress-ball, foamy material.  I have a feeling it will turn out a little different when it’s human flesh.  Fortunately, I don’t need to start sticking myself with any of these until after my next appointment.  I’ll have another update then.