The vanishing act

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Water seems to be one of the only things that can calm me – swimming, boating, kayaking and even just being near it.  Thank goodness for the gorgeous Aegean sea.

After an incredible night and 2 days away on Agistri (an insanely gorgeous island 45 minutes by fast ferry aptly named the ‘Flying Dolphin’), doing nothing but tanning myself, reading, eating, walking and swimming (all my favourite things), I was incredible well rested (8 hours sleep! 8 hours sleep!  Straight through….can you believe it!?!?!  First time since the summer!!! That Melatonin is gold!) and mission accomplished…relaxed and distracted.

Then Thursday was here.

The good news – the cyst has done a Houdini act and disappeared.  Vanished.  Vamoosed. Gone.  Apparently the medical term or phrase is ‘it has been absorbed’.  However this did not mean that I could now have stimulants, as the follicles in the left ovary (where the cyst had been residing were way too small…no doubt quashed by  what I came to call the ‘cyst of doom’).

The concerning thing…or maybe upsetting thing…I can’t quite decide (as I try to uphold my serene composure), was the amount of arguments that went on in Greek between the cute doctor (a different one but none the less….super cute….British…what is it with this clinic and cute male doctors?!?!).  Luckily I was used to this one from the summer and he was not my be all and end all perfect specimen…however to use my Nana’s words….I wouldn’t mind having his slippers at the end of my bed…sorry, as I write this I have consumed a few Greek wines!).  Anyway….back to the arguing in Greek…..

They could not decide how to proceed with me as the cyst has caused some delays.  Penny was not present in the clinic that day and the cute doctor was arguing with the experienced mid wife, Sonia, someone I was used to dealing with and who I respected a lot (and probably trusted more, as I had dealt with her a lot more…let’s be real here….more like, she had dealt with me and my needle melt downs)

‘Cute doctor’ had stated that they thought that they could remove the ‘lone ranger’ egg on Saturday and give me stimulants to help the follicle/ egg along but after more heated discussion in Greek, they decided that probably Monday was best in order to let the follicle/egg grow more and the lining thicken without stimulants.  I think all the heated discussion was about the fact that they wanted to do what was best for me, as they know it is only a small chance with this egg and don’t want to take any chances.

I had my first needles since being here – a double whammy – damn it, and I thought that I would escape.  I had to have a blood test for my estrogen levels and a shot of Cetrotide in my belly to help delay ovulation.  There was no tears! Yay me!  However, the Cetrotide made my belly super itchy and red…I googled it…apparently that is normal.

I am back again tomorrow at 10.30am (practically a sleep in) – I am back to daily scans and injections…I have not missed them at all.

I still can’t get over how different this round is from last time.  I am trying to take it day by day and find the hilarity in every day – go the cute (but embarrassing doctors).

The accommodation I moved to, that is closer to the clinic, is awesome – super retro and funky and close to lots of cafes, hidden restaurants and the metro.  Close enough to be convenient but far enough away to give me space which is great.

Now, off to dream of Agisitri and hope my scan tomorrow goes well.

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Best day ever: Sarcasm at its finest

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The ‘Trigger Shot’ – my hands were shaking even walking with it back to my apartment – icepack and all

8.30am and I was at Serum to get a scan to see how the stimulants had gone with the second egg – not so well and it was another round of stimulants (a shot of Merinol and one of Cetrotide), scheduled for between 3 and 4 pm that day.

Next it was on to the run down of how the egg retrieval would go as that was the next step in 2 days time…

And this is where it all fell apart….

The trigger shot (which helps induce ovulation), needs to be timed so that the eggs can be harvested at optimum time – (36 hours later) and namely be collected in the morning. So that meant that I needed I had to have the shot at 10pm at night and had to do it into the top, right hand side of my butt muscle. Ouch!!!

The mid wife knowing me by now, sensed my panic and her initial thought was to tell me to find a pharmacy that was open until late and have them do it.  Geez – another thing to try and suss out in limited time.  I of course asked her if she knew any nearby – she didn’t as most people come here either with a partner or friend to help them OR do not have an avid fear of needles!  So, I gave in and convinced myself “Amy you can do this”.

Turns out I was wrong and that needle phobia is a thing.

I was completely fine as she told me how to break the viles, draw up the liquid from one vial and then deposit it into the powder vial and then repeat with another 2 vials and then change needle points (to a smaller needle – for my benefit apparently), I even got through the what quadrant of my butt to put it in talk….then as soon as she started talking about putting it all the way into the muscle and then drawing back to check for blood incase it was in a vein….I completely lost it.  I felt like a child having a massive crying/ hyperventilation meltdown.  It came out of nowhere and poor Leah.  I felt incredibly awful.  Straight away she said, “Right, no, I’m going to stop explaining now, you can’t be stressed doing this and someone else needs to do this for you”.

I feel super embarrassed even writing this but I promised myself I would tell the whole story, exactly like it is.  I have convinced myself if someone else was doing it for me or if it was preloaded needles then I would have no issue but I have not had preloaded needles at all so I’m not sure how true that part is until faced with it (I have since been faced with preloaded needles and I am now able to self inject so pretty proud of myself that I called it when I wrote this post awhile back).

So armed with the letter for both the ECG and the trigger shot in Greek I was off (for all I know it read – ‘This great big wimp cannot do this so please give this to her at 10pm exactly!’ lol – but not really laughing so much! haha!)

Leaving the clinic, with poor Leah getting the blame from the receptionist that I was a mess once again – is it fair to blame the hormones at this point?  Are they effective right away? – I was off to suss out where Leto Hospital was.  I was told it was a taxi ride and that maybe I should ring them in advance to see if they could do my ECG before my shot.

Upon getting back to my apartment, super emotional, I called 6 times via Skype on both my phone and laptop with a crappy connection (apparently that is not just limited to China), was hung up on and if I got through no one understood what it was I wanted (there is not many ways to explain ECG apparently). I was again in tears.  I was incredibly frustrated and all alone trying to figure all this out and sick of all the unfairness of this situation and doing it by myself in a foreign country….yes, I still lay blame at NZ’s health system with this one and it definitely came out then.

I decided I need some distraction to calm myself down before I set off to walk to this hospital to sort it out in person, so engaged in some mindless TV show watching.

Luckily, my parents rang at that time – sarcasm at it’s greatest. I was a mess.

Finally I felt calm enough to make the trek to the hospital – a 30 minute walk, so not too bad, unfortunately on arrival the street it was on was full of shops with ‘Congrutaltions its a ___”, bouquets  and baby and maternity shops….turns out it was a maternity hospital.  Just great.

They were fab and right to the point, no appointment needed, I showed them the forms in Greek and the ECG could be done at 9pm and shot at 10pm.  Relief flooded me and joyously I walked back (well joyously is definitely a gross exaggeration…let’s just say I was much happier than when walking there).

Next, it was the wait for my 3pm appointment for my shots (unfortunately 1 actually hurt this time, same spot or increased dose…one or the other.  Once again I am thankful for not having 2 weeks of these), and to pick up ‘the’ shot, which I filled in with grocery shopping – another frustrating feat in itself (turns out I was at a dinky little market and the main one was only one street over! Found it the next day)

Shots went without a hitch – Leah pleaded with me for no tears and preceded to teach another staff member how to prepare shots, which made me feel better that it wasn’t just me that was learning today!  I was given a plastic bag with the needles, vials and ice pack and headed straight home.

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The quickest part of this process so far – my ECG with Greek results – all good!

I cooked to relax (yes, I know that is strange for some) and due to my exhausted and emotional state I set an alarm for 8.30pm.  Another 30 minutes walk to hospital. The ECG was extremely quick and easy, in and out within, I swear, 2 minutes and the results were all good – a super positive as this means I can go under the aesthetic for the egg retrieval. Because that was over so quickly I had a wee wait to dwell on the shot so read my book – clever plan Amy! – and then 10pm came around.  The shot in the upper left quadrant of my left buttock  was quick but oh, so OUCH!!!!! Muscle is not  a fun place to have a shot, bring on the spongy European paunch of a stomach.  Being able to walk it off really helped and it was straight into bed ready for my ‘drug free day’ the next day.

My drug free day literally meant no injections (whoop whoop) but all of the other pills that I had been taking.  Little was I to know that the pill taking would increase by ten fold.  I was just so thankful that my day of being examined, poked, prodded, pinched, injected and inspected in all parts of my body was over.  Next stop – egg retrieval.

My own devastation

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I always remember when the Christchurch earthquake hit, people calling it ‘The devastation’.  I thought I knew what that meant, as I had lost people close to me and also people my own age in devastating ways.  However you really truly do not know the meaning of devastating until you get hit with a full dose of the truth head on.  NO matter how much you think you have prepared for it, it hits you full force leaving you winded and laid flat out on the ground.

That is how I felt at 1.58pm on Friday the 13th….unlucky for some…and that ‘some’ would be me.

2 minutes before my students were back from their PE lesson I was replying to an email from a parent when I noticed my gmail account flip to a higher number.  Knowing this was day 3 after my tests and that some of my test results would be back today, I quickly fired off the email and opened up the email from my doctor.

It started with:

“I tried to call you but there was no answer on your phone.  Unfortunately, I have bad news…”

My heart sank, I read it through, stated “Ok” to myself and afterwards remained eerily calm for the next hour and 20 minutes as I greeted my children, had 7 Middle School teachers (including the Principals), come into my room to observe myself and my students doing ‘Student Directed Learning’ and then played games outside with my kids until I got them safely out the door and on their way home.

Straight away I shut the door, turned off the lights, re-read the email, tried to ring the doctor, it wouldn’t go through, I then tried both my parents and realized that their phones were off as they were on a plane on their way to Wellington, I tried the doctor again, got nothing and then proceeded to have the most adverse reaction that I have had on this whole journey…I burst into tears.  Not the leak out and run prettily down your face kind of tears nor the well up slowly kind….the heavy, can’t breathe, OH MY GOD kind.

I’m an emotional person, I feel other peoples pain easily and process mine calmly (and then sometimes not so calmly…usually that is when tequila is involved), however I am not a huge full on crier, so this caught me by surprise.  Months of uncertainty and waiting and I finally had my answer and unfortunately it was one I did not like very much.  I was truly devastated.

I should have been more prepared and I would like to think that I would have been if it hadn’t been for the doctor telling me that it wasn’t anything to worry about.  I had really tried not to get my hopes up but unfortunately that was easier said than done.  Thoughts had crept in about maybe my next move being to Europe to live for a few years and then going home to NZ or stepping down from my crazy busy role at work and just being in the classroom with the kids 100% and even down to simple things like…this has given me the kick up the arse to try harder with dating and get the confidence up to get out there again.  I had fooled myself and to be honest I really thought I was going to get these results, have a bit of ‘egg on my face’ and actually be ok and have the ‘happily ever after’.

Do not get me wrong, I do not blame the doctor here at all, that is not who I am.  Even when it comes down to the ‘why has this happened?’ question, I am not even interested in finding out the answer to that because what is the point?  All I need to worry about is what I can do now and be thankful that I found out when I have.

Luckily I had plans with a friend to go and celebrate a long awaited win at work straight after school.  I quickly cancelled plans to go a farewell party, all the while landing a friend with a sobbing mess called Amy, until I had collected myself.  I then went and sat next to a lake in serenity while drinking copious glasses of Prosecco and talking about life with my amazing friend.  We talked about everything under the sun except my news until after the doctor had rung, apologizing profusely, and then my parents had rung, and I could tell them.  There were more tears as I explained my situation and how the doctor had told me that they use a different scale of measuring to NZ and that is why she had said what she said.  She also was devastated that she had got my hopes up and even gone back again to check the results that had been sent through from my specialist.  They had no reference to what scale they used so of course she made that assumption and I don’t blame her.

I made it home in one piece watching hilarious Facebook videos – thank you to the people who post those – they really got me through.  As soon as I shut my apartment door, I lost it again, grabbed some wine and then decided to rip off the bandage and send messages to all of the people closest to me who I knew would want to know as soon as I did.

I then sat there, stared at the wall and tried to let it all settle in, while trying to come out of the feeing of numbness that had settled in when I was all cried out.

The AMH level 2.2 on her scale that was “close to 3” turned out to be a 0.37 on her scale….not so close to 3 and well under 1.  Things now have to progress quickly.  My FSH is elevated and my estradiol low both signs of low ovarian reserve.  Thankfully my TSH and LH were normal, which was something less to worry about, so I am grateful for that.  Unfortunately I have since found out that 8 follicles (from my baseline ultrasound), is borderline meaning that it is likely my eggs will not be of good quality, making my prospects worse than initially thought.

Devastating in those initial hours…yes…however there still is hope….it could be WAY worse and all I do is remain positive and extremely hopeful.

In true Amy fashion, I did laugh – A LOT  – when I realized that I had got this news on Friday the 13th.  I mean seriously!!!  Cue the Alanis Morreiste music….’Isn’t it ironic?’.

Don’t you think?