So, there has been minimal progress with the Lupron shots. I do find that it works best when Bri and I are engaged in conversation. However, come shot time, we can’t find a thing to talk about and so it is just random babbling. It seems that we have to figure out our game plan because this is just the beginning and apparently, the hard part is yet to come!
We had a very long afternoon of appointments at Reproductive Associates last Thursday. Keep in mind that we’re doing everything backwards. So, we had three appointments that day: an orientation, a consultation with a doctor, and a consent/consent to pay with an IVF coordinator.
First we met with a nurse practitioner, Nancy, who reviewed a whole Powerpoint slideshow with us about IFV and the process they follow. It was actually quite interesting and we learned a lot. There is no way I can try to write all about it here, so long story short: they suppress my system with drugs, then they stimulate my system with drugs to ensure maximum egg formation on my follicles, monitor me everyday with an ultrasound and bloodwork, and finally they retrieve my eggs to fertilize and freeze. I was disappointed when I found out that starting soon I will have endure 3 shots a night plus have my blood drawn each day. Yikes, this is going to be extremely hard for me. My bruise is still quite noticable from the blood I had drawn on Janaury 28th! Wearing short sleeved shirts puts me in fear that people will think I’m a druggie. I was even more disappointed by the length of time that I will have to restrict my activities. No excercising or lifting objects heavier than 15 lbs (sorry Jessie) for 2 weeks prior to retrieval. Plus I should limit stair climbing. Since my body is being stimulated way more than a natural process, I will be bloated and my ovaries will become enlarged. The rationale for limiting activities is to prevent my ovaries from getting twisted or tied up – ouch! Then I have similiar limitations for about 2 weeks after the retrieval since everything will still be enlarged. I am allowed to walk the dog (yeah Jessie). So I’m already plotting out and looking forward to my daily walks – even if I have to take the pace down a notch or two.
Anyway, Nancy continued by explaining that my daily monitoring will go on for about 10 – 12 days. Each day they’ll take measurements of the follicles via the lovely ultrasound and eventually we’ll get a call telling us its time for the big shot. The big shot is ab hCG shot (and a really big needle) which will trigger the oocytes to go through the last stage of maturation. It is important that the shot is timed right so they’ll give me a specific time and 36 hours later I’ll be in the office for the egg retrieval procedure. Retrieval day is estimated to be anytime between February 22 – 26. It is kind of crazy how they know all this. Since I am healthy and am not their typical patient being treated for infertility, they are hoping to retrieve about 13 – 15 eggs, but given different factors it is likely that we’re looking at about 5 or less being fertilized and frozen. Then, we come back in about 5 years or so when I’m done all my treatments! Ok, still thinking about all of this, I am amazed.
We finished up with Nancy and then it was on to meet with Dr. Neithardt. Our initial appointment back in December was with Dr. Kovalevsky, but he was unavailable and all the doctors seem to do the same thing and rotate anyway. Thank God! Dr. Neithardt (aka Tina Fey look-a-like) had more personality than Dr. K. Despite her really sore throat, I could actually hear fluctations in the tone of her voice (no such luck with Dr. K). So, from here to the end, my hope is that Dr. Neithardt is the doc on call for retrieval day! She was very professional and went over a lot of the same stuff that Nancy did. She also introduced to us the notion of having our embryos tested for possible links to developmental disorders (preimplementation genetic diagnosis). What an option to have presented to you. In the end, we opted not to go this route.
We finished up with Dr. Neithardt and we were off to meet with the IVF coordinator. There was not much new information presented here. We had to sign a million consent forms and then we discussed costs. The coordinator is still waiting to hear back from my insurance company so for now, we are just working with estimates. Most insurance companies want women to undergo insemination before IVF. However, given this whole cancer thing, we cannot follow their rules and my case was supposed to be presented to a review board. Hopefully we’ll have more information soon. She did know the yearly rental fee for storing our embryos. Insurance definitely does not cover freezing and storage, but the coordinator is going to see if she can work us out a deal since our lil guys will staying put for a long time. Thanks! During this part of the conversation, Bri brought up a very good question: does our rental fee cover any sort of insurance for stolen or destroyed embryos via fire? Great question Bri – why don’t I think of these things? Turns out the embryos are frozen in these fire proof canisters and everything is tightly secured and monitored.
Tuesday, February 8 is the next big appointment day for us. First we meet with Dr. Biggs and a chemo nurse. I am hoping that they give me specific dates for treatments so I can just start scheduling fun stuff around all of the not so fun stuff. After that, we’re back at Reproductive Associates for a baseline ultrasound and our medicine training. Check back for updates.