Monday, May 23, 2016

Final Preparations

I get the best fortune cookies.

Telling the story of this cycle seems to be dragging along.  I apologize for that.  It's nearing an end...I promise.

Somewhere between administering *Devil Lupron* shots, electromagnetic acupuncture, and ordering FET meds, Dr. Schoolcraft’s office called to say he would not be in the office on Monday, May 9, to perform my embryo transfer.  Huh?!

They said we could move our transfer to Wednesday, May 11, or we could have another physician perform the procedure.  Considering we came to Colorado for Dr. Schoolcraft, we opted to wait.  However, since our flight, rental car, and condo were already booked for Saturday to Saturday, we decided to leave those details alone.

On April 18, the frozen embryo transfer (FET) meds began.  I always assumed that there would be fewer meds for an FET.  That’s not necessarily true.  Keeping on schedule with meds for any part of an IVF cycle can be confusing.  I had to convert the “calendar” that their office gave to me into my own to make sure that I didn’t miss any dosages.  I was taking meds three times a day at one point during the cycle, so it’s just a lot to remember.

Many cycles ago, Todd organized all of our meds onto a single shelf in our pantry to make it easy to find everything.  It was a very romantic gesture.  Then, our girls made me a cute sign that said “Preggo Central.”  We have used that sign for every single cycle since.  This time, though, we moved the meds into the closet for easier access.  In another romantic gesture, Todd cleared off one of his shelves in the closet for the entirety of the cycle.
All of the meds & supplies I need for my FET, plus my red notebook containing my calendar.
For those like me that enjoy *geeking-out* on IVF med protocols, this is what I was taking:

  • Vivelle 0.1mg patches – started with 1 and quickly escalated to 4 patches every other day
  • Lupron 5 units daily – NOT *Devil Lupron* – This shot is much smaller with much easier side effects.
  • Aspirin 81-83mg daily
  • Medrol 16 mg daily
  • Endometrin 100mg twice daily
  • Doxycycline 100mg twice daily
  • Progesterone in Oil 0.5ml every other day – Um, it makes a world of difference when this shot is not daily.

These were the starter meds for the FET:  Vivelle, Lupron, and Aspirin.
I do want to mention two more things about this med protocol. 

I have been known to state this cycle that Prometrium is one of my all-time least favorite drugs.  It’s just gross.  Well, Endometrin is the exact same thing except that it costs more and comes with applicators.  Totally. Worth. It.  I would not go back and do this any differently.

Also, thanks to the Progesterone in Oil (PIO) not being daily, I have been taking the shot without any pain relief.  If you have ever taken PIO, you know that most people use ice or Lidocaine or something to help numb the shot area.  Well, in past cycles, PIO was always administered in the evening, so I was able to do that.  However, this time, we are doing it in the mornings.  (“We” because it’s in the rear, so Todd has to administer it.)  Anyway, because I forgot to get up an hour before the shot to start the numbing process the first few times, I just decided to see how it was without.  Not as bad as you would think.  Honestly, I think I’m just getting used to it.  It still stings like crazy, but it’s worth it to get my beauty rest.

The only real side effects I had during this preparation were weepiness (you’re welcome, Todd) and sleepiness (you’re welcome, boss).

For the final 4 weeks of FET preparation, we both participated in relaxation therapy because we can and we should.  In addition to the electromagnetic acupuncture I was doing twice a week, Todd also went with me for weekly massages or float therapy sessions.  If you haven’t heard of float therapy, you should look it up.  Basically, you float in an 80% salt water mix for 40 minutes.  It’s incredibly relaxing.

This is what the pods look like.

It’s bitter sweet that all of this is finally coming to an end.  We have been saying that God was giving us our final embaby as a Mother’s Day gift.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Shocking Treatments

I briefly mentioned before that we took the girls to Copper Mountain to ski for Spring Break.  Well, this was a strategic decision on our part.  After the one day work-up at CCRM in October, we were informed that my uterine blood flow was low.  This was the first time it had been tested on me, so we weren’t really sure what that meant.  I had sipped on a Pepsi roughly 65 hours prior to the test, so they said that may have caused the issue.  Basically, I was going to have it retested when we were there for retrieval.  However, I forgot, and they forgot.  Humans.  When I called to ask about it, they said I had 3 options:
  1. Have it retested at home for $270.
  2. Complete the treatment for $380.
  3. Have it retested at CCRM for free.  Well, that sounded absurd because it would cost more than $270 plus $380 to travel out there for the test.
So what did we do?  We traveled to CCRM for the test, of course.  We were going to take the girls on a trip anyway, so it made the decision easy for us.  This way, we knew the test would be accurate.

My ultrasound was set for Friday of Spring Break, so we had time for 3 days of skiing before we had to report for another transvaginal ultrasound.  I was very careful not to drink any caffeine the week of the trip.  Let me rephrase.  I was very careful not to drink any Pepsi or coffee the week of the trip.  However, I did drink about 4 cups of hot chocolate, eat a couple of Snicker’s ice cream bars, and gobble up some chocolate birthday cake.
We walked into the ultrasound room at CCRM with our chests held high, knowing we were about to pass this “ultrasound with dopplers” test.  And then she dropped the bomb.  The nurse asked if I had any caffeine or chocolate in the last 72 hours.


How did we forget that chocolate had caffeine?!  They had never emphasized that before.  I swear.  Educated people here.  We just don’t always show it.

She performed the test, and I failed.

Within a few days, the nurse had called to say that Dr. Schoolcraft was recommending I go ahead and complete the treatment to be extra careful, but it was ultimately up to us.  She said it was a possibility that my test failed because of my indulgence in chocolate.  Ha!  If she wants to see an indulgence….

The unfortunate part was that treatment consisted of 8 rounds of electromagnetic acupuncture over the next 4 weeks.  I did my due diligence to get recommendations and call each of them for pricing and scheduling.  Finally, I settled on Brandy Valentine Davis at Cancer Treatment Centers of America because she would only charge $380 for the 8 treatments (a steal) and could take me with minimal time away from work.

Electromagnetic acupuncture is simply described as normal acupuncture with jumper cables clipped to the needles…if you ask Todd.  J

The next two pictures are actually my back and legs with several acupuncture needles.  Only some of them are hooked up to the leads.  If needles make you woozy...well, this is your warning.

The treatments were mostly enjoyable.  There was the one time that she accidentally turned one of the leads up high very quickly when she meant to turn it off.  It felt like I was being electrocuted through a needle because I was basically being electrocuted through a needle.  She never made that mistake, again.
For the most part, I had some of the deepest naps of my life during those sessions.  It was invigorating.

Our fingers are crossed that it worked.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

*Devil Lupron*

Thank you for the love and support during National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW).  It was a great week!

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming…

So, after we found out on February 25 that we had one remaining embryo that was chromosomally normal, we waited patiently for our regroup with Dr. Schoolcraft on March 17!  Talk about torture. 

March 17 finally arrived, Dr. Schoolcraft called, and Todd and I were physically in the same place to take the call.  (Remember last time when we mixed up the time zones?  I swear we are educated people.)  During the call, Dr. Schoolcraft informed us that he thought we had about a 50% chance of this cycle working with our little embaby on ice.  We chose not to let that get us down.  After all, we know our God can work miracles.  Then, he confirmed that I would need to take Depot Lupron for two months before we started the frozen embryo transfer (FET) stimulation (stim) meds.  We couldn’t help but to let that get us down.

Flash back to 2012.  I took Depot Lupron for 4 months after my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy to allow my uterus to heal more quickly.  If you’re thinking, “Oh, I’ve taken Lupron to suppress my ovaries before a cycle,” you are thinking of the wrong Lupron.  This is the Lupron that Todd so cleverly coined *Devil Lupron.*  I don’t take offense because it’s true.  This Lupron rocked our world that winter.  It sends you into a state of menopause.  Hot flashes, night sweats, joint pain, mood swings…the whole gamut.

We were not quite prepared for the mood swings in 2012.  I would like to say we were better prepared for them in 2016.  However, recently I said that prometrium was my least favorite drug of all of the drugs in the world.  I’m starting to think I should retract that statement.  Maybe.  It’s amazing what you can forget over time.  I had a few bouts of unexplainable cries during this most recent two month stint, and one of them brought me to my knees in our closet searching for comfort from God.  Honestly, I can’t really think of a better place to be.

Anyhow, the hot flashes were worse this time.  They made me angry.  Looking back, it’s pretty funny, but at the time, I thought I might stab someone…preferably Dr. Schoolcraft.

Actually getting the Devil Lupron in our hands was a chore.  We priced it at two different pharmacies.  When our favorite, Walgreens Specialty, said they would have to ship it directly to the doctor for them to administer, we chose Accredo.  At first, we were told these two shots would cost a total of $2,000.  That is not a typo.  Luckily, Dr. Schoolcraft redeemed himself (from the decision to make me take this drug) by coding this as medically necessary to treat my endometriosis.  Score one for CCRM.  We were able to purchase both shots for a total of $150.  <Speechless>

The first shot came.  It was intimidating, to say the least.  Todd administered it into my rear flawlessly.  His years of practice giving me progesterone shots had paid off.  All of the symptoms began.  We survived.

See?  Intimidating.

The second shot arrived.  Todd had to give it to me while we were “Spring Breaking” in Copper Mountain with our girls.  Still a flawless administration.  The symptoms got worse.  He didn’t kill me.  Life moved on.  Simple as that.

We did run into two minor kinks after the fact.

  1. I called Accredo to pay for the second shot.  The man that answered informed me I didn’t owe the full $75.  Without questioning and getting it raised, I paid and moved on.  When I called later to pay for a drug they shipped me without my prior authorization (it was easier to keep and use than to return it), I was informed I owed $75 for the second Lupron shot.  After many, many, many calls, I realized that although my credit card statement showed a payment to Accredo for the amount he said, they had zero, nada, zilch record of me making the payment.  Shockingly, no one at Accredo wanted me to send them a copy of my statement.  I’m still bumfuzzled as to how that happened!
  2. Walgreens Specialty never canceled the order for the shot.  Now, remember that they said they wouldn’t ship it to us.  Well, when we ordered the remaining FET meds from them, we told them not to send the Lupron shot, too.  They didn’t listen.  They shipped it.  To our house.  Again, bumfuzzled. 

It has taken us three weeks to get both of these ironed out.  I’m not even sure why I’m documenting these problems except to prove that pharmacies are human.  In case you thought they were perfect, they are not.  This is proof that you should check your meds when they arrive and make sure you know what you have and the dosages.

Next time on Making Baby Provence, the downhill slope to the FET!