Down the ‘Rabbit Hole’

IMG_3740

Tired eyes, worn out demeanor, exhausted shell of a person. Felt like I needed to share this picture taken during a ‘Rabbit Hole’ moment. Not glamorous but truth telling.

I’m not going to lie and say that I sail through everyday with my head held high and positive thoughts wafting around in my head, all the while smiling and dealing with the shit hand I have been dealt. That would simply be untrue and I would not be human if I could. I was due to hit the wall and reach the end of my positive thoughts bank soon and at exactly 3 weeks after the diagnosis, the reality of the situation came crashing down around me.

The weight of the decision, the lack of sleep, the isolation from family and friends, the overwhelming amount of information I needed to wade through, the actual emotions of receiving this news at my age, the time crunch, the logistics, contacting people, learning about something I knew nothing about and didn’t particularly want to know about, processing what had, would and might happen, taking on board and seeking others opinions and experiences and holding down a full time job all the while smiling at small children, speaking politely to friends, unknowing colleagues and parents on a daily basis finally won over and pulled me down that ‘Rabbit Hole’.

In total I spent 2 days down that ‘Rabbit Hole’, submerged completely. I was unable to be around anyone, speak to anyone and could not function. I knew the best place for me would be locked up at home sorting through things and distressing myself by having the time to wade through….well….everything.

The first day I couldn’t do a thing. Every time I tried to even attack anything fertility related I shut down. At this point tears had not come although I sat there and tried, I wanted to get it all out, get it over and done with. Instead I turned to housework. If you know me, you know this is weird, super weird! I sorted out clothes, washing, rearranged some furniture, measured things, hung pictures and did a lot of things that had been on my to do list for a while. I did not feel better per say but I felt slightly lighter. At the end of day 1 the thought of going back to work was panic inducing. I haven’t had 2 days off in a row for, I can’t even remember how long. I swallowed that bitter pill and called in sick for the second day in a row.

Day 2 and still far, far down that hole, it was all about the research, contacting people and wading through that information. By days end I felt incredibly relieved that I had taken the day and tears flowed freely. I was able to better function, could reply to messages from friends and was slowly clawing my way out of the dingy, dark hole and back into the light.

Of course there are other times when I am caught in that hole again however it may just be for a few hours or a day but I am able manage it – well, so far so good.

Music is a strong emotive force for me and I can’t live without music around me. At the moment you’ll find me ruining Jess Glynne’s empowerment song with terribly applicable lyrics to help bring me up and keep me balanced:

“Don’t be so hard on yourself girl, learn to forgive, learn to let go. Everyone trips, everyone falls, so don’t be so hard on yourself girl” screeches out from my mouth down the hallways at work, at the same time as whip lash inducing moves are being done. Not a pretty sight but it makes me laugh. I truly pity my poor colleagues.

In all truth, it is incredibly difficult not to be hard on yourself. Most of us want to be tough and brave and being brought up in a household of strong, independent minded people, emotions weren’t necessarily at the forefront of things. You learned to be strong and get on with life, which can actually be a great quality.

Sometimes though, I have to give myself a break and realize “It’s not an easy road and I’m not alone, so I won’t be so hard on myself no more” all the while doing over enthusiastic and exaggerated moves to accompany these words down the hallway of an International School in Beijing.

What ever gets you through!

Advertisements

Looking for normal

IMG_3517

The day of my #escapism while #lookingfornormal. Lunch at the Brown Door opposite the Pearl Market with a dear friend.

Killing 3 months until the next set of tests was no picnic. I needed to slow the tornado of words, questions and thoughts in my brain and occupy it with something else in order to deplete the feelings and control my emotions during this period (which is still not quite over yet).

A friend suggested that I track my cycle via temperature using a thermometer to understand how my body works and incase I need to know more information e.g. when I ovulate, IF I decide to go down the pregnancy route. Although this suggestion did not excite me in the least I decided that every option is worth exploring and went ahead with it. Knowledge is power right? I had nothing to lose.

This turned out to be a bit of a mission.

My first problem was making sure I got the correct kind. Who knew, but apparently there are a variety of thermometers and they are all used for different reasons and some are more accurate than others. Awesome. After figuring out which one I needed (a basal one), by consulting the ever faithful internet and my new trusty fertility forum I was off to find it.

After venturing around Beijing that weekend and visiting 4 different stores which I was reassured would have thermometers, I finally stumbled into a tiny local pharmacy, Google translated my way through a conversation (for some reason ‘thermometer’ is not on my repertoire of Chinese words), and came out with a thermometer that had kindly been dusted off by the lady at the pharmacy.

I went home, lay on my bed and proceeded to try to work out this contraption.

Of course all of the instructions were in Chinese and when I tried to figure it out, by trying it out, not much happened. It only had one button, so seriously how hard could it be to work out? I pushed the button, put it under my tongue and waited, nothing happened. At this point I had worked out from the pictures that it needed to beep at some stage. I put it under my tongue and then pushed the button, still nothing. Again, I used Google and still that particular make’s instructions were only in Chinese. Finally I went down the route of Googling the same make but a slightly different number and it turns out that my particular brand of thermometer, the one that had been collecting dust on a shelf in a tiny pharmacy in Beijing was a top notch ovulation thermometer!! I hadn’t even mentioned ‘ovulation’ to the pharmacist, AS if I knew THAT word in Chinese!

It was great news that I had nailed finding the perfect thermometer however that is where the not so fun part comes in. This now means that every morning the first thing I do when I wake up is to not move and lay in bed, with a thermometer shoved right up, extremely uncomfortably under my tounge for a full 5 minutes, while it takes an incredibly accurate temperature reading of my body. And at this point I say to the woman on ‘FertilityFriends’ that said that she thinks it is super relaxing and drifts back off to sleep until it beeps at her to wake up, “Yeah right! How in gods name is a sharp metal implement poking you inside your mouth, in a sensitive part of your tongue, as soon as you wake up for 5 minutes all the while laying still and holding it in place so it gets that accurate reading relaxing? You are insane lady!” You can see how much I love this whole experience, sarcasm central. I then record the number on my phone and at a later time transfer it to a super geeky excel spreadsheet so I can track my cycle. Super fun.

This is when I knew my life had changed.

At this point I have 2 months of data and I have to admit my friend was right, after I got over the annoying aspect of how my days start everyday (that took about a month), it is interesting to have a small insight to how my body works. Patterns are starting to emerge as my body is weaned off ‘The Pill’ and hopefully this will be an asset later on in whatever process I decide to proceed with.

Now I have never used a hashtag in my life but as I was writing this I felt like I could have written this entire post using them. So, I will finish with this:

After this #biglifechange I counteracted all of this boringness, frustration and #fullonness with a #slightlyinsane handbag, Lululemon and headphone #buyingspree at the market #escapism #lookingfornormal #procrastination #denial.

Stuff dealing with real life when it gets a bit too full on – a shopping spree cures all!

The power of second opinions

IMG_5168

After receiving my results and diagnosis one friend in particular mentioned getting a second opinion.  She had told me about her experience previously where 2 doctors had told her that she would never have kids, they got another opinion, did IUI and ended up with 3! I was a little apprehensive, as I had been told by my specialist that the results were pretty final but took on her advice anyway, wondering how I would go about it.

With her voice in mind and other friends pumping me with their incredible wealth of knowledge, I fully disclosed all of my doctors notes and results to the clinic in Greece (Serum), when filling out their online form.

Incredibly and much to my surprise, as mentioned in a previous post, I was greeted with realms of facts and knowledge.

The one piece of information that seemed key was the fact that my specialist had told me (and then a fertility nurse), that ‘The pill’ does not effect the outcome of AMH.  So, trusting in the experts I took their word as gold.

Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you choose to look at it, I was given different information from Serum.  They stated:

“Your doctor’s letter states that AMH isn’t affected by being on the pill, but the evidence isn’t totally clearcut for this always being true.  Several studies have shown falls in AMH among women who go onto the pill.  It’s just possible that your low AMH was caused by being on the pill and you would want to be sure before taking any big decisions.”

So, there was hope!

Then after another email with me asking a few questions they mentioned this:

“Just to mention that the studies that show AMH not being affected by the pill will have been based on women with perfect ovarian reserve and it’s not so clear how the pill affects AMH for women with more sensitive ovaries.”

Or maybe not so much hope!

They then went on to say in following emails, in round about speak, that they wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot barge pole until I had gone off the pill for at least 2 months and then got retested for my AMH and FSH levels and that I also needed to have a Baseline Ultrasound.  Well, ok then.  I was floored.

I was a little premature in my thinking that ‘The wait’ was over.  As I found out later, at least 2 months off the pill to allow my body to return to it’s normal state, means testing done at the 3 month mark, as it has to be specifically timed for FSH and the ultrasound.

Roll on the end of May when I am finally able to receive more accurate tests and I am crossing fingers and remaining positive for a more favourable result, while still being realistic and researching into all my options to make an informed decision when the time comes.

Believe me, there have been many more adventures on the journey between the results, questioning of the results and now.  And I am in no way blind to the fact that there will be many more before the end of May.

Some adventures have been depressing, some hilarious, some confusing, some hopeful but all of them have been a part of the journey.  My journey.

I am not one to wish my life away but…..bring on May!

The Mask

IMG_3691

Robotic – a visual representation. At a friends place (after a few drinks and messing around with Venetian masks, 2 weeks after the results), truly mimicked how robotic I feel when talking to people about what is happening.

It will not come as news to you that finding out my results and what they meant was, of course, a big shock.

Aside form dealing with it emotionally and mentally I also had to think about how I would get through the days after, while still processing and operating in life as normal.  I still had a job to do and a life to lead and as I soon abruptly realized that this is no one else’s battle but mine, I had to get on with it.

Unfortunately the job I am in is not one where I can get through the day on fumes of sleep or where I can take myself off to a hidey-hole, to be a recluse.  Nor is it one where I can throw myself into work and that will help.  I have to be 100% most of the time with 21 excited little people to teach and take care of, needing my constant attention and me needing my wits about me 99%of the time, especially with my special ‘clientele’ in the classroom.  Lets not even mention the leadership role that sucks my time and energy on a daily basis.

Truthfully, I had no idea how I was going to deal with this all and function.  Remarkably, going through something like this, something thats means you are in it for the long game with not an easy end in sight, really is a test of who you are.  It was amazing to me how I dealt with it all and I truly surprised myself.

I had no idea how I would be when I talked to someone about what I was going through and unfortunately an unsuspecting good male friend was the first person I encountered who asked me the ‘wrong/right’ question and, me being me, was forced to answer honestly.

Immediately, and I mean immediately it was like I was having an outer body experience.  I felt drunk.  Not plastered, falling over, slurring my words drunk but tiddly drunk.  Glazed over and hazy brained with a slightly removed sense of self, tiddly drunk.  As soon as I started talking about what had happened and what I am going through, I went into completely robotic mode.  I was talking matter of factly, in sentences that included ‘It’s a bit shit but I am being super positive’ and ‘It’s not so cool but what are you going to do?’ all sans tears.  It was like I was projecting from a place next to, and slightly above my own body.  It felt like I was talking about someone else’s story.  To this day, it still feels this way, every time I talk about it. And I am not so sure that it is going to change anytime soon either.

 It’s slightly insane but it’s like a veil comes across me and I go into robotic/ shut down mode, without truly shutting down.  My inner robot comes out, regurgitates the specific information that is needed, matter of factly deals with the conversation and then moves on to the next topic.  And when that next topic arises I miraculously morph back into normal Amy and I am back, in my body and experiencing the conversation in a non tiddly/ robotic/ shut down state.

It truly is amazing what the body does when faced with true stress.

I surprised myself. Reacting this way has truly helped me survive.  My body and brain totally went into survival mode.  I was taken aback at how well I could rely on my body to help me when it really counted.

I am so proud of how I have handled myself when approached, sharing my story or when caught in a conversation about it.  And I am still proud about how I am continuing to handle myself.  Being proud of myself does not come easy and lightly and this is probably the only time you will catch me talking about me being proud of me.  And, I am not ashamed to admit it.

The choices you make shape who you are, especially the choices you make when faced with something overwhelming, tough and life altering.

I am incredibly proud of the choices I have made so far in dealing with this situation and I hope that from here on out I can be proud of the choices that I make in the future.

Elizabeth Taylor….wise words and I am trying, everyday.

c85e5137c9b949645ac234c039fe579b.jpg