Saturday, October 31, 2009

BabyGate 2009 - Part 2

I had been suffering through my sugar-free diet (or, as I call it, my meat and fat diet) for 3 weeks. David drove me to the HCG test; a quick procedure at an outpatient surgery center. Our insurance company agreed to pay for part of this $800 day, and we were ever so grateful to them for finding it in their hearts to do THEIR JOBS.
I asked a few times if the test hurt, and everyone assured me it wasn't so bad. Just a little cramping, sometimes. So while I sat in the little waiting room area, wearing an open-back gown, I texted David out in the lobby and read trashy websites about addicted celebrities and their pets. Feeling no pressure. The curtain separating my room from the next room was camouflaged and had a picture of a deer. I love Florida.
They called me into the "surgery" room, the brightest room in the WORLD. I laid down on the table and the nurse came in to do the procedure.
"Hey girl!" she said. "She" is Winnie. I like her. She is very funny and makes many uncomfortable processes bearable and almost fun. Like the time she had to give me an internal ultrasound so she could confirm I had PCOS. She announced I had the cutest little uterus in town, and then remarked that my cervix looked like a smiley face. She then offered to let Dave see my smiling cervix. He looked at me like a child who stares at his mom after his best friend asks him if he can sleep over. "Can I mom? Can I?"
Winnie chatted and giggled with me as she set up her tools for the HCG. "...and they forgot the cheese! After all that, they forgot the cheese!" The other nurses were laughing at Winnie's story, too. Then, I got hot. I got hot, and started sweating. The procedure began and holy shit, EVERYONE LIED. No big deal my ASS. My entire stomach clamped down and my insides felt like they were going to explode. The whole thing lasted only 3 minutes, and in that 3 minutes I re-thought my entire life, including all forms of hair waxing as well as high heels. Nothing else ever has the right to cause me pain again.
As soon as it was over, I sat straight up to look at the X-Ray screen to see if everything was OK. Part of the pain was the panic that my tubes were broken. And before I could express my relief and joy to see that everything was fine, I decided to try and schedule an epidural in advance in case I ever actually experience labor.
Days later, my doctor was glad to see my XRays and scheduled my first fertility cycle. Fertility cycle. It was so weird to say that. It was so weird to live it. I was NOT a girl who drank excessively, smoked, or lived an unhealthy lifestyle. I wasn't sick or overweight. I was just a normal girl. And here, I'm dealing with a fertility cycle.
It included an oral drug and a big, fat, shot. I had to order all my own medicine from a crazy pharmacy far, far away and it came WITH THE NEEDLE!! AHH!!! I peeked at the needle and it was nearly 4 feet long. My first reaction was to go eat a candy bar, but damnit if I couldn't even do that. So I put it in the cabinet and ignored it, even though it whispered my name and taunted me everytime I walked by ("Errriiin! I'm goonnna stick yooou!"). I took the pills and went to the doctor about once a week after that to get ultasounds. During these ultrasounds, the nurses measured the size of my follicles.
What's a follicle, you ask? (Oh come on, you know you're curious.)
Follicles are the little bags of cells that keep the eggs all warm and comfy inside the ovary. When you have PCOS, cysts replace the follicles and they call the eggs names and spread rumors about them on Facebook. It's very hurtful to the eggs.
So as the day approached for my first ultrasound, I hoped and prayed that I would be one of the girls Pam the nurse told me about. The girls who responded to the first round of fertility drugs and got pregnant right away. I hoped...

Friday, October 30, 2009

BabyGate 2009 - Part I

It was after I was recommended to a reproductive endocrinologist by a perfectly pregnant doctor that I began to feel depressed. There was something wrong with me.
It was after I learned our insurance didn't cover any part of pregnancy that I began to feel panicked. There is something wrong with Florida.

It took David and I about 2 months to get an insurance plan that would help with ANY part of this journey we were about to embark upon. And when we finally learned our insurance would go into effect, I got an appointment with the new doctor 5 days later! I trotted in, all prepared with my calendars, my lists, and my research. We sat down in a beautiful little room called "Teluride". Pictures lines the walls of the doctor and his family vacationing in Colorado. Beautiful books sat on the table. David chose the "Basics to a Woman's Uterus" book and I chose "Good Calories, Bad Calories". We sat reading and nervously awaiting the doctor when a jolly, middle-aged woman flounced in.
I looked around, wondering if someone else in the room might have my name.
"Erin? You're Erin, right?!"
"Um, yes ma'am?"
"OH GREAT! HI! I'm Pam!"
It turns out Pam didn't know me. She was just really energetic and had discovered we live 2 blocks apart when she read my chart. We talked about that for fifteen minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES. HELLO, PAM?! CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?
"So, anyway, you probably want to know what's going on."
"Yeah, Pam, that'd be great."
"Ok, well, let's just get to it. You're pre-diabetic."

Yeah. Let's pause. Let's take that in. Let's just taaaake thaaaat in. A woman who was just giving me times and dates for the next German-American Club get-together announced I was pre-diabetic in the next breath. First of all, we're Jewish, and second of all, I'm what?!
"I'm what?"
I started crying. It wasn't a hysterical cry. It was the cry you cry when your dog starts pooping out string or stuffing and you start to panic, wondering if the dog is OK, and which stuffed animal has been destroyed in the house.
"Pre-diabetic. I know. Crazy right?"
"Yeah, Pam. That's pretty crazy."
"Well, it's get's crazier. You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome."

No pause after that one. Just a scream. I was so relieved but so freaked out at the same time. Here's the answer to my question on a silver platter, and I kind of wanted to send it back and order the soup.
David and I spent 2 hours in that room with the doctor and Pam, learning about PCOS and the hormones related to sugar in the blood (glucose) that cause it. (Ironrically, Pam let me keep "Good Calories, Bad Calories", since it was all about sugar. David had to leave "Basics to a Woman's Uterus" behind.) In essence, we were told that potato chips and fruity drinks made me infertile and I would have to cut it ALL out if I wanted to have a family. I'm not going to lie: I considered sticking with adopting Boxers when given that ultimatum. But eventually, David convinced me that we should give the sugar-free thing a shot.
Alongside cutting out all sugar, I began taking a medicine that made me feel like puking for most of the day, which was awesome. That side effect subsided after about 3 weeks, but let me tell you how pleasant I was to be around...
I went on the suffocatingly restrictive diet and adjusted to my medicine for about a month before my next appointment. In that time, I earned my PhD in Google Doctor School and learned, ultimately, that there is very little information available about PCOS and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes).
At my next appointment, I came prepared with a lot of questions. How did I get this syndrome? How long have I had it? Do women ever have children with PCOS? My doctor knew more than Google, which was reassuring. He told me we could begin treatment very soon, but first I would need to have an hysterosalpingogram test (HSG). Basically, they look to see if your all your tubes are open and everything works properly. No sense spending a bunch of money to get the eggs crackin' if the plumbing's all blocked up (I think that's a line in one of Aesop's Fables). So, I made the next appointment at an outpatient surgery center. HSG, here I come. If only someone had warned me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BabyGate - To Be Honest

I have been trying to decide how personal this blog should be. I really enjoy sharing in life's little sillies. And I truly love making those around me smile; it's my favorite thing to do.
But since a few people actually read this, it seems silly not to share some more personal stories, in the hopes that not only smiles ensue, but information is shared with those who need it.
So this will be a series.
Here goes:

When we moved to Florida, David and I decided to stop counting pills and buying protection. No, we didn't abandon vitamins and give up our gas masks. We decided to not not try to get pregnant. That's right. We were not not trying. Totally different from actively trying.
"Are you guys trying to get pregnant?"
"Nope." But we're not, not trying.
A few months after we didn't not try, I realized that something wasn't right. It didn't seem like my body was working properly, and before we continued not not trying, I decided to see a doctor.
Lady Doctor told me it was nothing to worry about. "Lots of girls don't start a regular cycle after they're on birth control pills for months and months." I appreciated her comparing me to "lots of girls", but I still felt like something wasn't right. I asked if we could investigate. She told me she didn't think it was necessary. And being that she was 6 months pregnant, she happily waddled her big round belly into the next waiting room. Bitch. I thought about leaving an anonymous threatening note using letters cut from the 5-year-old magazines in the exam room basket, but I decided it was probably time to start a phone call parade instead.
I began calling the office incessantly, reporting every symptom I had in hopes that they would take me seriously, or, like an episode of House, someone would suddenly stumble upon a diagnosis. (I've got it! She's got a carburetor in her uterus!)
I found one nurse in the office that consistently called me back. I inundated that poor woman with messages. I knew the automated voice system straight to her inbox better than my debit card code. My strategy was to be sickeningly nice. I was so nice, I had to curse at kittens when I hung up just to even out the universe. She pretended to care about my concerns, and finally decided to do something so that "Cohen" didn't pop up on her caller-id anymore. She ordered blood work and sent me off to Quest.
What she didn't mention was that I would be having 10 vials of blood taken in one morning. She also didn't mention that the glucose test I would take could cause me to feel like I had been the boy in that balloon after it landed in a corn field. It was like being beaten up. At about 2pm that afternoon, it became crystal clear that Nurse-Who-Returns-Phone-Calls was punishing me.

A few weeks later, I arrived back at the office to see the stupid, cute little pregnant doctor again. She told me my hair looked cute and that my levels were only one or two points off and that she really didn't see any major problems (in one breath). She recommended I see a reproductive endocrinologist and get a "professional opinion". (So, I'm not really sure what that makes Fertile Myrtle over here, but whatever.)

And so...BabyGate 2009 began.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Waiting Room of Life

I've found myself in waiting rooms a lot lately. I usually bring a book or just check mail on my phone while I wait. If David is with me, he is typically doing the same.
It's an odd atmosphere, the waiting room. We all know why we're there. But no one speaks. If we were in line at the supermarket or waiting for our food in a restaurant lobby, we would probably chat with each other and discuss our purchases or other pleasantries. But it's rude to talk to someone else about their diagnosis or the reason for their visit. So no one says anything, to ensure the conversation doesn't accidentally bring up something too personal.
The exception to this rule is when you overhear a conversation between two people in the waiting room, simply because it's such a quiet environment. Occasionally, other patients won't adjust their volume according to the silence in the room, which gives you two options: engross yourself in reading, or act like you're engrossed in reading and listen to what they're talking about. I typically choose the latter. As I did last week.
Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Shirley: I just think you should consider it.
Pam: I considered it plenty. I don't have a problem with it if the guy isn't BIASED.
Shirley: Well, he's not going to be biased.
Pam: They all are. They all tell me that I'M the one that has to do the changing and he doesn't have to change ANYTHING.
Shirley: Well, have you mentioned it to him?
Pam: No! I just walked out. I'm not going back there. I'm not the one who needs to change.
Shirley: Yeah, I know, it's both of you.
Pam: But it's mostly him and I'm not going to another one until we can be SURE that he's not BIASED.
Shirley: I don't think this one is.
Pam: In fact, I don't want to go if it's a man. I'd rather a woman at this point.
Shirley: Well, I only know the one and he's a man.
Pam: Then he's BIASED.
Shirley: I don't think he is. I think he points out things to both of you.
Pam: I'll go. I will go see him. If he's not BIASED.
Shirley: I think I already know what he's going to tell you, though.
Pam: What? That it's my problem?
Shirley: No, no. Not at all.
Pam: Oh, oh I know.
Shirley: Yeah?
Pam: Is it the medicine thing?
Shirley: You just need to take it regularly.
Pam: Mmmhm, I know.
Shirley: If you had diabetes, you would take your medication everyday.
Pam: Oh. Wait, you're talking about the bi-polar thing?
Shirley: Yes.
Pam: Oh. Yeah. I know.
Shirley: That is what he's going to tell you first.
Pam: Just as long as he's not BIASED.
Shirley: And the kids need to take the medicine, too.
Pam: They DO. Tyler's ADHD hasn't been so bad this year. Speaking of which I need to call to make sure they're up.
Shirley: Oh me too.
Pam: (on phone) Tyler? You up?
Shirley: (on phone) Lemme talk to Hunter.
Pam: Tyler get your butt out of bed.
Shirley: Hunter, don't make me come home and show you how to get ready like a baby.
Pam: You are gonna be LATE. Now MOVE.
Shirley: Put your dad on the phone. Where? Then get out of bed. NOW.
Pam: Bye.
Shirley: Bye.
Pam: Ridiculous.
Shirley: I can't wait for our vacation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Flash

Lights go out in our house around 10pm. Sometimes we watch TV or read our books before actually going to sleep, but last night we were both exhausted. Lights out meant lights out.

I was moments from drifting off into a beautiful slumber when I thought I saw something from behind my heavy lids.
I peered open through a tiny crack to see if I could figure out what piece of electronic equipment I forgot to turn off. I didn't see anything so I shut my eyes.
Again? This time I opened my eyes for a few seconds and rolled over to see if my alarm clock was malfunctioning or if my computer was trying to communicate with me. Nothing. So tired, I closed my eyes again.
At this point I heard a siren in the distance. I opened my eyes and propped myself up on my arms. Obviously, I now assumed a murderer was positioned outside our bedroom window flashing a light at his partner hiding in the next yard. I waited and watched the window to see if he would be caught or if he would flash again. Maybe I could break his code.
That one was longer. He's probably getting ready to break in or run. That's the only thing a long flash could mean. I decided it was time to wake Dave.
"Babe?" I whispered.
"Yeah?" he moaned.
"Babe, do you see that flashing light?"
"Where?" he asked.
"Outside. Watch the window."
We sat in silence for several seconds. I started to get nervous that the murderer had already moved to the front of the house to gain entry and trap us inside. Finally...
"Yeah, babe. I saw it."
"What is it?!?!"
"You don't think it's a killer outside our window giving the high sign?"
Dave turned on the television, making my eyes scream and run back into my skull. As I peered at the screen, he pulled up the weather channel and showed me the lightening strikes all over the map. Then he muted the television.
"Listen. You hear that?"
I listened.
"Thunder babe. It's thunder and lightening, that's all," he said heavily.
He turned off the television and rolled over to go back to sleep. I still sat up, eyes wide open, watching the flashing. I guess he's right. Lightening. Still...
"I hope you don't get murdered tonight, babe. You would feel super bad if you did."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tying it All Together

Picture this: He's Italian, 35, a little gut, nice polo, and this look on his face ALL THE TIME:

And he's sitting at our table in Jew Class.

He's my favorite new character.

With every remark he makes, he either hits the table or moves his hands back and forth in front of him as if he's jiggling an imaginary Jello platter in typical Italian communication-style.

Now read this accordingly.

Rabbi: There are very specific rules regarding the first born male. This male is immediately given to God as a sacrifice. However, when it became less popular to sacrifice your first born, a redemption became an option. It is up to the family to offer 5 sheckles to the Temple. Now if you do not, you must dedicate your son to the Temple. Even if you have 7 girls and then have a boy, he is still considered the first born. Now when the boy is born and is sick...

Tony: Dis is easy ta reMEMbuh. It's like FOOTball rools. It's jus FOOTbaaaaaaall.

Rabbi: Prior to the groom getting married, he typically fasts. During the fast, he gathers his closest friends and family and gives his Jewish educational perspective on a portion of the Torah. During this time, his friends attempt to interrupt him and recount stories of his youth. If they are able to complete the story, the groom must drink, usually Chivas Regal....

Tony: Dis is easy ta reMEmbuh. It's like AAASShole. Dat game at my cuzin's apatment when we got wasted. Huhuhuhuhuh.

Rabbi: There are many ways in which a couple can be considered married in the Jewish religion. The ceremony including a ring is one of the ways. However, many centuries ago, three figs had to be given to the woman prior to the marriage. The three figs had to be given to the bride all at once. You could not deliver one fig, then two figs...

Tony: Dis is easy ta reMEmbuh. Layaway. The Jews don't like da layaway. Dats too baaad.

(It was difficult to contain myself, as you can imagine.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Unfortunate Traditions - Showers

Showers have always been a strange phenomenon to me. Wedding showers. Baby showers. Bridal showers (which I learned when I got married are irretrievably different from wedding showers). Someone volunteers to throw it for you, and if no one does then you get very upset until someone volunteers. They compose a list of people, supplied by you, and a list of food, supplied by you. They contact tons of people they don't know and invite them to your shower. They usually tell these people where you have "registered". (Don't get me started on registering. You go to a store and pick out everything you want within that store. You shoot everything you want with a laser gun. Then, people from around the country go to the nearest chain of that store and buy you presents from a list, which turns out to be comprised of all the things you shot with your laser gun. After they buy these things, they wrap them and add a "to, from" sticker. Then they bring it to your shower and you open it and you act SURPRISED that they got you the item you shot with a laser gun just a month prior. See? I told you not to get me started.)
After they tell the people you know where to buy you a present and which presents you want, they then start planning the activities. How do they plan the activities? They gather up as many ridiculous, humiliating, and uncomfortable situations as they can think of and rename them "games". They buy several gifts that only a few of the participants will win, though none of them will want. They buy copious amounts of finger food. And then, they wait for the RSVPs.
If it's your shower, you arrive early. You oo and ahh over all the decorations. When people begin arriving, they all look at you. They hand a gift to you, and someone else quickly takes it to the correct place to join all the other gifts. No one knows each other so they sit around trying to find something they have in common besides knowing you. You are led around from chair to chair, depending on the activity, never actually getting comfortable in any of them. You watch as the "games" begin. For example: People who you consider friends are given clothespins and are told to avoid saying a word like "cute" or "wedding" in order to win a "game". The competition usually gets fierce among two or three of the guests, who begin making announcements: "WEDDING! SHE SAID WEDDING! GIVE ME YOUR CLOTHESPIN! I HAVE 7!!" Meanwhile, the rest of the guests stop talking altogether to avoid saying any word that could result in public declaration of their failures.
My favorite part is next: the gifts. When I was a kid and had a birthday party, I would open my presents at the dinner table and immediately begin to play with the best ones. I was 9, so this was acceptable. However, at a shower, the guest of honor must open every last present in front of the entire party. This is strictly for the guests, not the guest of honor. He or she must announce each gift ("Ooh, diaper rash cream") as though it was a surprise to be receiving it. One person is in charge of writing down everything the guest of honor receives so he/she may accurately write thank you notes because saying "thank you" directly to the person at the shower is not thankful enough. This person is sometimes the shower's organizer. If the shower organizer doesn't volunteer, there is often a race to see who can nab this coveted position. It sometimes gets ugly and results in more than one person writing everything down, remarking, "Oh you're writing? I'll just do it too."
Then everyone is forced to watch everyone else's gifts being opened, often times creating animosity between guests who purchased the same gift (which is not at all uncommon when they all purchase from a LIST). Occasionally, gifts are not from the registry list. This is frowned upon, as it draws unequal attention to the guest who got "creative", and frustration from the guest of honor who sees no point in registering if people are just going to "buy whatever the hell they feel like."
Finally, the shower is over and everyone gets a "favor". This is a tradition in which one person spends an inordinate amount of money on a useless object (which the guests take home and throw away) as a "thank you for coming." At this point, there are 3 lingering guests who did not feel they got ample time to chat with the guest of honor during the shower. These guests often gossip about guests who have left, especially those who deviated from the list. They usually take home the leftover food and some of the extra leftover favors before leaving an hour after the end-time on the invitation.
Showers are a strange tradition always thrown with the best of intentions. However, it is my belief that these traditions should be updated. All guests should arrive whenever they feel like it with a friend or significant other. They should bring a gift card to an appropriate store and dish they would like to share. The guests should mingle and congratulate the guest of honor before leaving with the innate understanding that the guest of honor is thankful for them being there. Then everyone should move on with their lives.
Showers: an unfortunate tradition.