We are but poor, lost circus performers.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

First there was the immense Awkward of trying to explain to several different people (boss, HR representative, one-man time-table organizational mishap who is nevertheless in charge of the time-table) that as much as I appreciated the appointment with the Occupational Health consultancy, I may not be able to attend, and could not tell them yay or nay on that for another couple of days, and I am aware this sounds bat-shit but it would sound less bat-shit if I were allowed to say ‘ovulation’ and ‘fairly predictable luteal phase’ and ‘basal body temperature idiosyncrases’ – and I promise I draw the line at saying ‘EWCM’ – without everyone wandering what in the name of wonder I am talking about.

I am talking about Shark Week, goddamnit.

The Awkward did not in any way get resolved. I am just hoping I am correct in assuming that the appointment will fall on 12dpo and Satsuma won’t decide to jettison the corpus luteum early as a surprise treat and that therefore I will not be prevented from using public transport by a total inability to stand for more than a minute or so without vomiting or bleeding all over my trousers or getting cramp in the thigh so vicious I fold in the middle like a deck-chair and clatter gracelessly to the ground.

To those of you, bless you, who suggested I go to the appointment anyway, even if it is on Day Two/Three: The Sharks Are Eating Each Other, I can only shrug helplessly. I can’t. That’s the point. I can’t journey for an hour, either by taxi or public transport, while puking, fainting, stoned out of my gourd on diclofenac and tramadol, and literally hamstrung and crippled by cramp, and then actually hold anything approximating a conversation, and then journey back home for another hour. That’s the POINT. I CAN’T DO IT. That’s why I don’t go to work on those days. Not because it hurts and I don’t like it, but because I BLOODY CAN’T. If I stayed home every day it hurt and I didn’t like it, I’d only leave the house ten days a month.

On which snivelling note of self-pity, I will only add that if Shark Week commences on the date more convenient for the Occupational Health thingy, it will be full-on Everything In Reach Is Chum mode on the very days H and I got Paralympics tickets for. Which is… annoying.

I fucking hate living my life in four-to-five-week increments, with no forward planning possible. I really, really fucking hate it.

Anyway! Onwards! We have the whole ‘Better Living By Expensive Chemistry’ to discuss!

Augmentin – The high vaginal swab perpetrated on me by Dr Expensive at the beginning of July showed that I am one of the 20% to 40% of women who carry Group B Streptococcus in their, well, bits. And to most adults, it’s harmless. It just… sits there. About a third of men have it too. I had no symptoms, and indeed most women don’t. However, it can – rarely but who fucks with statistics when they’re already on the wrong side of them? – infect babies during birth and make them very bloody ill indeed, and there’s a risk of it being forced into my uterus (which is otherwise infection-free, according to the menstrual sample) during my upcoming endometrial biopsy. So I am taking Augmentin for ten days each, and so is H, because if he is a) having quite a lot of unprotected sex with me (and, well, of course he is) and b) a carrier himself, we could just pass it back and forth between ourselves in a years-long game of Creepy Bacterial Tennis.

(Side note – on discovering I was a GBS carrier, that evening I turned to H and said ‘You know my boss is a bit of a germophobe? Well now I have the perfect excuse for skiving off! I shall just call her up and tell her I have Strep cunt!’ And then I laughed immoderately for quite some minutes. Reviewing the incident now, I realise I am becoming Frankie Boyle of infertility. Send help).

Metformin – Dr Expensive, H and I had an Awkward of our own, in which he suggested if I was worried about timed sex, I could take Clomid, and I pointed out I’d done six rounds of Clomid and it made me anovulatory the last three, and he said if I was anovulatory I could take Clomid, and I said, no, the Clomid made me anovulatory, and he said Clomid would help, and I said no it wouldn’t, I’d taken Clomid, and it made me stop ovulating and he said, oh, why did I take Clomid, and I said because of the PCOS and he said what PCOS and I said what do you mean, what PCOS and he leafed frantically back through his notes from July and this is the sort of shit that happens if everything is wrong with you. Anyway, he thinks I should be on Metformin. Many years ago, when I was first Being Infertile, my GP suggested Metformin, but my infertility consultant vetoed it, on the grounds that I should control my weight by diet and exercise and if I took Metformin I’d never be able to stop (apparently this is bollocks). So I did it her way and lost 20 lbs or so and regained a regular cycle (when we stopped pissing Satsuma off with Clomid) and then had a squadrillion miscarriages and Miss Consultant has been as much help as a soap herring with the treatment suggestions since, so fuck it. I’ll try the Metformin.

The thing is, Dr Expensive has not ONCE suggested I lose weight. Not even so much as HINTED it. He just wants my blood-sugar and insulin as level and healthily low as possible.

I went to my own GP, anyway, and got him to prescribe the Metformin for me on the NHS, which he was totally happy and fine with. So there’s one expense spared. He also prescribed me an anti-spasmodic for the bowel, to help deal with the what we’re all reconning is Distressed-Uterus-induced diarrhoea and gut-cramp.

My own GP also agreed with me that it was a good idea to redo my thyroid panel, as the last one I had done turns out to have been in 2007. Which, incidentally, was normal. TSH<2, so REALLY normal, not just NHS-can’t-be-arsed-to-treat normal. On the other hand, 2007. Next trick, finding another free morning to present self to phlebotomist. GAH.

Intralipids, before ovulation, after ovulation, on becoming pregnant, and again before the end of week twelve. Hands up who saw that one coming. (Me! Me! I did! Me me me me me!).

Progesterone support – One of the test results indicated a type of autoimmune problem that leads to one’s progesterone production being screwed with. I have a shortish luteal phase, anything from 11 to 13 days, but usually 11 or 12. Yeah, I’m really not that good at making progesterone. Bring it on.

Clexane, also known as heparin. Fuck that aspirin nonsense! Stab yourself daily for, if you’re really lucky, 36 weeks! Yay! Also, heparin is anti-inflammatory. If it’s anti-inflammatory, May is going to be taking it.

Hence Prednisolone from before ovulation too. I am so not going to be competing in track and field any time soon.

Timed intercourse – just not this cycle, as I’m having a biopsy on Thursday (have I mentioned that?), and possibly not next cycle either as we’d booked a holiday in a fit of spontaneos optimisim.

LIT – Jesus. We’re basically throwing everything at this. EVERYTHING. With the option of IUI, IVF, seriously batshit experimental protocols involving drugs like Neupogen next. I said ‘NO FUCKING THANK YOU’ to the Neupogen, by the way. I like my spleen unexploded. But then I said NO FUCKING THANK YOU to LIT and got talked down in seventeen minutes by an H who wanted to give it a go and a Dr Expensive who just assumed we would do LIT, or why else had we come to him? Why indeed. At least LIT doesn’t have horrible side-effects beyond, hopefully, itchy welts. It’s supposed to leave itchy welts. It’s not working if it doesn’t.

This is all like standing on a very high diving-platform, waiting for the whistle (also the nerve) to jump. It makes me feel sick. If I don’t talk/think/write about it, perhaps I won’t have to deal with it. Or at least, I won’t have to notice the fact I’m dealing with it.

And that was the summed-up version.

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22 responses to “We are but poor, lost circus performers.

  • Dr Spouse

    I am… in awe, I think.
    Fingers crossed you get to your Paralympics events we’ll wave if we see you (horse dancing!)

  • Amy P

    Princess Bride. I think your theory of long-lostedness gained even more credence ;-)

    As you know (due to the one thing that makes us not long-lost… Unless opposites bolster the theory…) the only things I know about this stuff are what you’ve had to research. But I do know that spleens, while important, can be lived without–Tom’s dad has been spleenless for longer than he’s had a son (car accident) and in fact, not having a spleen saved his life a decade ago–he was shot through where it would’ve been, and, had it been there, he would’ve bled out before the ambulance arrived (middle of nowhere, no phone, so roughly an hour…) But still, exploding? Eep.

    I had a point, but I seem to have lost it…

  • a

    FUCKING WORDPRESS ATE MY COMMENT!!!!!

    Let me sum up: Princess Bride reference – Hurray! Pop culture references are much easier than literary references. I have read a lot of books, but few of them were good ones. If you can, get Lovenox instead of Clexane – once a day shots instead of twice daily. Both of them give me welts. Steroids help with the welts. I hope they help you. Having H drag/wheel your limp/bloody/vomity carcass into your Occupational Health meeting would strongly suggest that they stop bothering you…it’s a nice thought, but not very practical.

    Let’s try it again…

  • QoB

    I am cheerleading for you and the augmention and the metformin etcetera etcetera etcetera. Take ALL THE MEDICATION!

    Re: the diving analogy, I’ve always found the waiting the worst part.

    Of course, I don’t usually develop welts having taken the plunge, but analogies only stretch so far, after all:)

  • Sheila

    Clexane is fine when you get used to the bruising….. did he put you on 40mg or 60mg? By the way, he usually recommends staying on it to 6 weeks post delivery (fingers crossed)….. the problem can be getting it on the NHS, as it gets expensive when you’re paying for it yourself for 46 weeks.

    The side effect of prednisolone is your eczema and hay fever disappear after a couple of days. There are days when I wish I could stay on the stuff forever because the side effects are (mostly) so good!

    Sounds like a good treatment plan – for how many months do you think you will try naturally using this protocol?

    Really hope this works for you.

  • Emily Erin

    Yay Princess Bride! And whew on the laundry list of interventions. I know that you’ll make it, but it makes *me* tired just reading it. You’re a hero May, and I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that going to the occupational health meeting was impossible. I’ll just hope that you’re able to make it and explain without to much of the awkward.

  • Womb For Improvement

    Hand held high! I saw the intralipids coming too. It sounds like the mother of all plans, which is apt because … well you can finish that sentence.

  • JaneB

    “one-man time-table organizational mishap who is nevertheless in charge of the time-table” – we have one of those where I work! :-)

    Crossing everything for successful outcomes…

  • kylie

    hmm, wonder if dr expensive spent any time with my specialist (lets just call him the singing doctor). I have raised (tenatively) both my weight and my amazing iron deficiency. Apparently neither is a factor. Apparently the only lifestyle factor that is seriously negative is smoking!
    Good luck with the occu health people

  • May ProblemUterus

    Mwa ha ha ha! You killed my father, prepare to die! I lived in the same dormitory as the actor that played the grandson my first year of college.

    Metformin, baby. I wonder if that in combo with the anti-spasmodic for the bowel will spare you the Metformin swamp butt?

  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    I never commented about Metformin before, because you were all like “my doctor said no metformin, everyone stop talking about metformin already”, but there are a number of good studies showing it reduces miscarriage risk by 50-70% in persons with PCOS. I know there may be complicating factors but hey! Here’s hoping!

  • Hat

    SKYPE! why not see if they would allow skype appt if it falls on this week. Of i you miss… make a video of why … as horrible as that sounds.

    Its rediculous that you have to endure Shark week. :-( My Mom had similar between the “im not going to the specialist hospital for a good scheduled Hysterectomy because of SARS” and her emergency one in the local mediocre hospital that almost let her bleed out before calling the Surgeon (yes the Doc yelled at the nurses after that move). She couldnt take NSAIDS or GRAVOL or St Johns wort during that week as it would thin her blood, Which gave her few options for pain control.

  • Korechronicles

    Good thing you don’t drive…I’ve been on prednisolone since last Thursday and refused to let rude driver cut me off in heavy traffic on the way to work this morning while screaming my favourite Mayism “Don’t you dare, you effin’ twat weasel!!!” Small blessings. We must look and be grateful for them.

    Because, by Zeus, that is one Abbreviated Protocol with not many blessings to be seen unless it is spectacularly successful. Which I am praying to sundry deities and threatening expanding Universe left, right and centre on your behalf, that it will be.

  • m

    Meds upon meds! A little scary, and hopefully helpful. I agree that excusing yourself from the meeting with HR consultant during shark week is the only practical solution, and showing up despite the pain and misery could cause people to wonder, ‘well if she could make it in today, why not all those other shark week days?’ It is worrisome that your boss made the comment about your not usually being off on Mondays, what with the cyclical, lunar nature of your problem and all. Who called for this meeting, exactly? I imagine you have a diagnosis of dysmenorrhea for the pain meds and that should work in your favor, as is the fact that your condition is still under investigation, as another reader commented. I have wondered why your docs haven’t been more aggressive about investigating the causes of the severe pain rather than managing the symptoms. What about that twisted ovarian stalk resting on another bit of your anatomy, for example? This seems an especially important issue to address as you commence fertility treatments. Might a viable pregnancy, with all of those hormones coursing through your system, cause a 40-week version of this condition? I do recall one 40-ish colleague of mine casually tell me in the elevator that she was going to her doc to schedule a hysterectomy that day because her dysmennhorea was now unbearable and lasting longer and longer. Our small nonprofit women’s organization workplace had accommodated her need to be off approximately a week per month for years (she worked several evening hours at home to make up the time). As it turns out, said colleague was in fact pregnant at the time so the hysterectomy was never scheduled — her son is now 12.

    I do wonder if the severity of your problem might warrant a partial disability diagnosis. I suppose asking your workplace to wait for more than 10 or 15 years for this problem to naturally resolve itself is probably not something that would be palatable to anyone, particularly you, and I do hope your pain is brought under control for the sake of your quality of life. About the missed PCOS diagnosis — I hope it is because the thorough, new round of tests Dr. Expensive ordered and analyzed did not warrant that diagnosis. Huzzah for fewer chronic problems. And WOW on that absolutely perfect TSH reading. An auger of good things to come, I hope.

  • MFA Mama

    Strep. Cunt.

    OMG.

    I…STREP. CUNT. HAAAAAA!

  • Twangy

    I am similarly dumbstruck. That is a vast amount of information to get your head around. Did I just state the obvious? :-/

    I remember from my own Shark Days (Teenage Version) the utter impossibility of doing anything other than lying on the nice cool tiles wanting to die. And yours is far more lengthy, YOU POOR WOMAN, I feel for you so much. [Unprintable adverb][unprintable verb] those [unprintable adjective][unprintable adjective] sharks. Gahh.

  • manapan

    1. I really hope Shark Week can avoid both your meeting and your Paralympics tickets. Impossible, maybe. But I dare to dream nonetheless.
    2. Strep cunt! Best. Description. Ever!
    3. Damn but that is a lot of information and medication.

  • HairyFarmerWifey

    I get absolutely all of this, with one stonking great exception. I do not understand, even a little bit, why Dr Expensive, who is all about the The Expensive Chemistry, does not want to pursue these treatments as part of an IVF cycle. It’s all very well him turning you loose to do your Own Thang, but I’m unsure quite what makes him expect that this timed intercourse business will suddenly result in pregnancy: you & H have already been having timed intercourse for many months without a pregnancy, and the protocol Dr E has laid out is, as I understand it, primarily aimed at preventing miscarriage as opposed to significantly increasing your odds of conceiving in the first place. It seems an helluva lot of money and hope to invest in a protocol that, if a treatment round/s fails, you will have garnered no fresh information from – and might also feel obliged to repeat N times: in order to achieve the pregnancy: in order to find out if the protocol works.

    Whereas, if you were using Dr E’s protocol alongside an IVF cycle, surely you would have a significantly increased chance of conception, using a graded embryo – and possibly a spare on ice, too. (Possibly several, if you freeze at cleavage stage.) And if it DID fail, you would know more precisely what stage it failed, and maybe gain information about why, what with lab rats peering intently at everything that twitches. IVF is invasive, yes, but not particularly when so laid alongside this protocol for comparison, I assume? IVF is expensive, yes, but not particularly so laid alongside etcetc.

    Or… have I missed something here? It sounds like such an extremely elaborate and belt&braces medical protocol Cart, but I have this nagging feeling (no pun intended) that Dr E may be putting it before the pregnancy Horse. And the only reason I have the temerity to wave a paw like this and say, without too much blushing, Are You Sure This Dr E Bloke Has The Right End Of Your Stick (or… summat. Fnarrr.) is that I have had enough well-thought-of Doctors crash in flames in front of me to know that they are all, basically, _guessing_. I don’t care how many fancy, eye-wateringly pricey clinics they run: if their results aren’t on the front pages of the broadsheets, they’re not achieving miracles in them. Plus, it seems they are unlikely to remember the beginning of your medical file by the time they’ve read through to the end. I cordially distrust all the buggers now, can you tell?!

    I trust your gut instincts, though; if it doesn’t feel right: it isn’t right, so don’t do it. Have the treatment you want, or the treatment you think you need. But please don’t have the treatment just because it’s being advised or urged.

    I can’t get off my soapbox: I’ve been up here so long I appear to be welded in place. Anyone got a lever?

    • May

      I know. It… bothers me too. I need to nail H to the fridge by his ear so he’ll stay still long enough for me to discuss it with him.

      I have a screw-driver somewhere we use for wedging lids off tins…

      • Hairy Farmer Family

        I can Very Much Recommend a rusty nail through the foot for achieving immobility…! Only to be used to smite one’s enemies though, not one’s nearest and dearest. Perhaps a breeze block quietly laid across his shirt-tails?

    • wombattwo

      Have got to say, I agree with HFF.

      Trust your gut instincts, definitely. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Don’t let yourself be railroaded into something you don’t really want to do, especially by a doctor whose motives may not be as pure as the driven snow, (H being another matter) when you’re the one that has to suffer the side effects etc.

      Doctors *are* basically guessing, a lot of the time. There, I’ve said it. That’s what medicine often is, guesswork. Admittedly informed guesswork, a lot of the time, and often the guesses are right, but they’re still a guess.

      While I’m at it, I might as well say a few things that are on my mind: why isn’t this guy (assuming he’s the one I’m fairly sure he is) on the GMC specialist register? Also, I’m wondering why the research he’s done doesn’t appear to be on this particular topic. I may not have found it, and if so I apologise, but I wonder why not, if this is in fact his “specialist subject.” I also find it a bit weird that he doesn’t publish his figures.

      Sorry, I just have a bit of an uneasy feeling about this.

      (Also, why, why, why would you need neupogen??? Don’t get this at all).

      I suppose I just wonder what someone else would say. A different clinic, a different doctor.

  • Opinions are like glands. I’ve got lots of both. « Nuts in May

    [...] my thyroid. Back at the end of last summer, among the bazillion tests Dr Expensive was gleefully ordering, my GP and I decided to recheck my [...]

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