Saturday, November 22, 2014

Box o'IVF meds.

Tower picked up a huge box, containing my medication today.

The box.

Stimulation Medication - these medications work to directly stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles.  I was prescribed both Follistim and Menopur.  For approximately 10 days, I will inject the Follistim in the morning and Menopur in the evenings into my belly.

Holding Drug - this will prevent ovulation while continuing to stimulate my ovaries with the stimulation medication.  I was prescribed Ganirelex, another injectable, and this will start around day 5 of my cycle.

HCG - this medication is known as the "trigger shot", meaning it induces ovulation within 35 hours.  It was was prescribed Ovidrel and you guessed it - it's another injectable.

Progesterone - this medication is used with a treatment cycle to support the endometrial lining.  There are actually several different types but for the sake of no more needles I selected Endometrin which is a vaginal suppository.  This is used after the embryo transfer.  If the transfer is successful, use will continue until week 12 of the pregnancy. 

Our out-of-pocket grand total for this was $5,183!  It's shockingly expensive and you better believe they make sure it's paid in full before they give you the goods.  This is after assistance from our insurance company, which after a $3,000 deductible pitches in and cover a percentage of the cost.   Fuck, that's a lot of money.  When I whined to the pharmacist she reminded me of how lucky we are because people that pay completely out-of-pocket are slapped with a bill in the range of $6,000 to $7,000.  And let me remind you this, is just for the cost of the medication.  The IVF procedure is whole other bill.

We were also lucky enough to have $450 to apply towards the $5,183 in meds from a health savings account, Tower's company provides.  If you are looking into fertility treatments do your due diligence and look into starting a health savings account or a flexible spending account beforehand.

The hugely frustrating thing about the meds is that the Fertility Center gave me a list of medication options under each one of those categories.  It was incumbent upon me to do the research on each of them and chose which ones I wanted to use.  Additionally, I was provided with a list of specialty pharmacy to call and price out the said drugs.  Unfortunately, you can't just go to the Walgreens down the street.  This is so dumb - the process is so confusing and stressful as it is.  I would be so much more comfortable if they selected the medications.  Especially if the recommendations were based on success rates.

I took the easy way out and called just one pharmacy on the list, I selected them because they were local and we could pick up the medications.  Believe or not, said pharmacy has a dedicated line to a fertility department and those people know their stuff.  They were able to quote me the prices off the top of their head and because they were local were familiar with what most people who go to my doctor select.  They also were able to explain which ones were easiest to administer.

The other thing that I am shocked about is that the Fertility Center does not give you any instruction as to how to administer the drugs.  Instead they directed me to this website to watch freaking videos.  Dumb.  And I am scared.

- nineteen eighty

Friday, November 21, 2014

IVF & Me.

It has taken me exactly one year to get this point.  Tower and I just celebrated our one year anniversary, which means we've officially been trying to start a family for 12 months.  I'm 34 and he's 37 so given our age we decided to hit the ground running. 

The first couple of months of trying consisted of monitoring my cycle with the p tracker and clue iphone apps.  After that didn't work, I graduated to the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs).  According to the smiling pee sticks, I was ovulating and my cycle was on point.  Yet, still no success.  A few months later, I met with my gynecologist and she ordered the typical protocol for someone who is trying to conceive.  This included blood work to test my follicle stimulating hormone and progesterone level,  and a hysterolsalpingogram (a test to determine if both Fallopian tubes are wide open for business).  Tower was also summoned to get his swimmers tested.  Everything for both of us was normal.  I was then referred to a Fertility Center in Pittsburgh.  More testing ensued; more normal results.  The only exception was that from my hysterosalpingogram, my doctor could not say with 100% certainty that both of my tubes were open.  I found this super annoying because the doctor who conducted the test, said they both looked good.  GAH!!!!!!  

Another one of the factors my doctor looked at was my ovarian reserve which measures your antral follicle count.  My understanding of this is that it's a measure of the quantity and quality eggs you have left.  My count was 12 and they really want you to have at least 9.  I passed and am in a normal range for my age, but did not achieve rock star status. 

So based on a possible clogged tube and not achieving rock star status my doctor recommended IVF.   I'd rather be able to do this naturally but on the other hand I feel blessed that it's an option for us.  It is SO expensive but with the resources and insurance available to us, we are going to be able to finagle it.  I could wait and continue to try naturally, but I ain't getting any younger and I also have Ulcerative Colitis, an auto-immune disease.  While the auto-immune disease shouldn't impact my fertility - you just never know.  

I wish I would have started documenting this process earlier because there has been a lot of other steps to get us to this point.  But in summary, by now I should basically have a reserved parking spot at the hospital.  I highly recommend when selecting a fertility center you really consider the convenience of their location.  You will be there ALOT!  Especially, when you really get into a treatment cycle. 

I will try to go back in fill in some of the pre-treatment cycle blanks as I continue down this path.  I wanted to share this story because we are part of a generation in which women are waiting to start families and I want to share the possible side effects of postponing motherhood.   It is nothing to be ashamed of as so many amazing people of all ages struggle with infertility.  Additionally, when I looked for blogs on the subject - I didn't find any that were frank nor candid about the cost or injection process.  All of which has stunned me. 

At this point, we just wait for my cycle to begin so we can start.

- nineteen eighty

I've decided to use nineteen eighty, my birth year, as my pen name because during this whole process I have recited my birth date countless times.  Anytime I call anyone about anything related to this, I must state my first and last name and birth date before they will give me any information.

Monday, August 26, 2013

365 days later..... // Nikki P.

July 31, 2012. I let a co-worker talk me into joining a weight loss challenge full of strangers. I hesitated each time she mentioned it because 1) I have a huge fear of failure and 2) I didn’t want a bunch of strangers knowing how much I weighed.
I had been attempting to lose weight since the birth of my child 18months prior without huge success.  I had gone 8 months losing and gaining the same 5lbs. This meant I was still 18-23lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight. June 2012, I made up in my mind I was going to lose 10lbs before my July 1st vacation. I failed. But that failure was private. Now, I was being asked to publicly declare my weight and my intention to do something about it. The only thing that pushed me to try was anonymity.  I didn’t have to use my real name. So, right before the clock struck 12 on the last night to register, I joined the FitCamp and put my name on the spreadsheet.
That decision was the best decision I have made in a long time. I am sitting here tearing up as I type. I am so incredibly thankful for this group. I am positive, I would not have made it this far without these ladies.
Camp Counselor asked us once to use 3 words to describe our experience in the group. My words were desire, drive and determination. I have the desire to reach goal, the drive to do what it takes and the determination to push through the “finish.”
You ladies have given me a desire to discover new strengths. I read and think, “hmmm, I should try that.”  You have given me the desire to reach and maintain a healthy weight. You have given me the desire to be stronger and faster.  I would have easily settled for walking at 4.0 on the treadmill. But I read your workouts and challenge myself to push a little more, increase the incline, increase the speed. You have given me drive to push a little harder and a little longer. Heck, I don’t want to get up at 4:30. I don’t want to always go to the baseball game in workout clothes. But I squeeze it in, when I can. You have given me the determination to keep going when success seems impossible. You have given me the determination to focus on the positive and to keep moving forward.  I may not have the desire, drive or determination every day, but one is enough to get me through. So thank you for your gift.
With your help, I have lost 70lbs in 365days. I have gone from a XXL to a medium and from a 18w/20 to a 10. It makes me proud and it makes me scared. I am not safe. Every day poses challenges. I must continue to make good choices and sacrifices.  The sacrifices of sleep, indulgences and even my lunch break are the things that have helped. I would love to lose another 15-30lbs. But the pressure is off. I am smaller than I thought was possible. I weigh 10lbs less than I thought I would actually achieve. 

Small changes, big results, trust the process.
Nikki P.

Friday, May 3, 2013

REALLY?? It STILL hasn’t clicked yet?!? // Andrea H.

Hi! My name is Andrea and I’ve been a part of MLFC since August of last year (I think). I’m 27 and single, live in Kansas (until Memorial Day, then moving to Colorado to be near my family and friends), and teach for a living. For a long time, I have been thinking about my weight and WHY I am the way I am. I know that it is my fault and I blame no one else for the choices I have made my entire life. It has been an interesting learning experience for me to think about the “Why?” Let me start from the beginning.
Family History: My mom and dad have been married for almost 35 years and when I was little my dad traveled for work and being the youngest in my family I think my mom was a little overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are AWESOME. They give me love in the best way they know how. I have two older sisters who have always been close and most of the time I felt like the outsider.
Now onto me. For as long as I remember, I have always been plump. I was the cute little girl who was chunky and sweet and knew how to throw tantrums to get my mom’s attention. My sisters and I always played outside or make-believe inside so I didn’t have a serious problem with weight, but I definitely was never skinny. I always have had an intense love for sweets and could smell chips from a mile away. When Halloween came around, I would collect my candy, give the stuff I didn’t like to my dad, eat my candy, and then start eating my sister’s candy before they could get to it. I would sneak into my oldest sister’s room, find her candy and eat a few pieces at a time so she wouldn’t “notice”. HA! I wasn’t fooling anyone. But this is just the START of my long journey with weight.
When I was ten, my parents decided to move to Colorado from Wisconsin. We left all of our extended family behind and moved to the land of the unknown. I had a VERY hard time with the move and struggled in 5th grade. I’m not sure how I passed because I never did anything. I was withdrawn, uninterested, and unfocused. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep. Yes, now I know that I was depressed. My teacher never did anything and my mom never did anything. I think my mom was having the same feelings though. She started eating chips all the time and was gaining weight as well. Within a year, I had gained 30 pounds. 30 POUNDS! I remember the doctor telling me that and my mom saying “That’s a lot of weight in 1 year, Andrea.” But that was the end of it.
When I would sleep over at friend’s houses I would sneak upstairs and get more snacks out of their cupboards and hope no one would catch me. I was out of control. In middle school, I remember getting laughed at because I wore the same pants two days in a row. For a girl who already is depressed, that was something I never forgot. I played basketball and volleyball on teams for a long time and when I started getting older I tried out for a traveling basketball team. The coach said I was too fat. I couldn’t make the high school volleyball team because I was too fat, even though I was SO MUCH better than several other girls. During volleyball tryouts, I got laughed at when I was serving the ball because my armpits were sweaty. Again, will I ever forget that? No. I was made fun of and avoided by a lot of people in school.
When I started college I weighed 220 pounds. After my second year of college, I lost 30 pounds doing Weight Watchers with my mom during the summer and working at a daycare. I was active and eating less. Back at school, I gained about 10 pounds back but not horrible. After my junior year was over, I joined Weight Watchers again during the summer and again lost 30 pounds, so I was down a total of 50 pounds. I weighed 170ish and felt great! However at the beginning of my senior year my “friends” and I were at a party and a guy thought I was cute. I wasn’t interested but they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I didn’t talk to him that night but I sent him a message on Facebook to say hi and he asked me out. I said “sure” even though I wasn’t really interested, it was nice having attention. After I replied that I would go out with him, he stopped talking to me. I was devastated. I assumed there was a big joke about me and how stupid I was, especially since he was back with his girlfriend. I gained weight.
Now a lot has happened since then, but basically I feel like I’ve been on a diet since. I fail and try again. I’m always thinking of the next quick fix. I have been sneaking food from friends, hiding food from my neighbors when I get home with fast food and they are outside, hide food from my parents and sisters, and eat way too much. I know what I need to do, but I get hungry on Day 1 of any diet and give up. I know that I still suffer from depression and that when I get home from work I’m bored and tired so I eat. Food is my friend, my energy, my anti-depressant. I workout consistently for a long time and then see no results because I have no control in the kitchen, so I give up.
Basically my point is this. I still don’t get it. Nothing ‘works’ for me because I’m not working for it. I know what to do, but I don’t do it. BUT... I’m proud of myself for not ever giving up. I will keep trying, and trying, and trying until I get it. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but I know that I have the support system I need and if I keep pushing eventually I WILL get it and it will be a sweet, sweet victory.
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