IVF Consultation

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I was actually looking forward to our IVF consultation appointment.  I already knew we were obviously going to be talking about the IVF procedure.  I learned a lot in that brief meeting.  We met for about half an hour.

My husband and I both had questions about the procedure and other questions related to my endometriosis.  So, at the time we were looking at doing IVF in March or April 2012 at the earliest.  That actually got pushed back because of the timing of my menses.  I inquired about surgery to remove the endometriosis.  I wondered if that would be a good option for me and help increase our success, I thought it would.  The doctor did not recommend surgery.  He shared that surgery didn’t equate to success afterwards.  In other words, if I had surgery it didn’t guarantee our chances would increase.

Another item up for discussion was my thyroid.  The doctor emphasized the importance of the thyroid in the process and that problems with the thyroid can be related to developmental issues and possibly delays.  I learned something new!  My thyroid was doing good so I wasn’t worried.

Also in our meeting we discussed the IVF process and how the injections were like a mini IVF cycle.  That was kind of a relief because I knew how to do the shots.  I knew the process would be more invasive but I imagined it to be more than what we discussed.  The doctor recommended that I take birth control for 6-8 weeks, which confused me.  He explained that I would be taking it continuously and not have a period.  I thought, “This should be interesting!  I’ve never taken birth control before, well not the pill.”  When my husband & I were first married, I took birth control in the form of a shot…depo-provera, which lasts 3 months.  I only took it a couple of times.  A day or 2 after getting the shot I would vomit.  I don’t know why, but that’s what happened.  So, when the doctor informed me about the birth control (pill form) I was not familiar with that method.  I knew what it looked like and that there were 3 weeks of medication and 1 week of placebo pills.  I would be taking ONLY the medication continuously for 6-8 weeks.  When I mention IVF and birth control, it doesn’t seem to jive.  But birth control was and is prescribed to help regulate the menses and prevent my cysts from growing.  The doctor wants the best environment to work with and in order to get that, I needed to take birth control.  So, then it makes sense, right?  Well, it did to me.

In the state of Hawaii, IVF is only covered once by insurance.  But, if you switch insurance companies, you can get another try.  Without insurance, the doctor explained that IVF can cost in the range of $18-$20K.  I KNOW!  It’s expensive!  I believe most of the cost comes from the cost of the medication.  I didn’t understand that at the time but I definitely do now!  I’ll write about the cost of the medications in a later post. We also talked about freezing embryos and how much that would cost.  If you did IVF and wanted to have more children, you could have the embryos implanted and pay for that cost rather than the entire IVF process. That would cost around $4,500.  This process would also be available if IVF was not successful and you wanted to try again.  It would definitely be cheaper than doing the IVF cycle again.  But it also depends on how many eggs are retrieved, how many are fertilized, how many meet the criteria and standards for freezing and implanting, etc.  I hope that makes sense!  Just know that there are a lot of factors to consider.

Well, I was asked to call my OB/GYN and let him know the plan was to do IVF.  In the meantime, the fertility doctor would also be in contact with my OB/GYN to share information and recommendations.  I called my OB/GYN and left a message for him.  He did not return my call but I knew that he was informed about the plan because exactly a week later, I got my approval letter for IVF.  I was VERY surprised at how quickly that went because previous letters seemed to take much longer.  Nevertheless, I was happy! 🙂

I was assigned an IVF Coordinator.  This person would be there to explain things, keep track of things, and be there for me the entire IVF process.  She was not there that day, but the doctor gave me her name and contact information.

I left the consultation with much more than I bargained for.  I felt better informed and ready for whatever IVF entailed.  I had an appointment scheduled for the following week to start preparing for IVF.

Next post: IVF Preparation

Our Last Cycle

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Since we chose the next cycle to be our last cycle, that opportunity came in December 2011.

Ooh, before I talk about that cycle, I want to let you know about a different decision.  In September 2011, after much thought and consideration I requested to work less hours.  Reducing my work hours would help ease some of the stress and burden I felt.  That decision was met with some friction and uneasiness, no, not from my husband, but at work.  In the end, my request was granted and in October 2011, my work hours changed.  I was little hesitant as to how I would adjust.  I had more work to do in a shorter time, which may seem like it would cause more stress, but it’s interestingly been the opposite for me.  I had more work at the time because a colleague left, leaving just 2 of us to cover the island (of Oahu).  My part time status has required me to be more efficient in my use of time at work, which I find to be right up my alley.  I don’t like to waste time, I like being efficient.  I have adjusted well, despite other challenges that have come up.  I will go more into detail about this when I get to February/March of the timeline.

Going back to our last cycle, starting with the day 3 scan everything went smoothly.  I got the injectable medication and made it through the 10 days of shots.  The shots are usually for about 10 days.  From what I remember, there was at least one good egg.  Of course, I was reminded of the multiple birth discussion.  We did an IUI a couple of days before Christmas.  Since it was the end of December, we wouldn’t find out until January whether we were pregnant or not.  We met the New Year full of hope and possibilites.

A couple weeks into the New Year it became apparent that we were not pregnant.  It was downer, but just temporarily.  I already knew that depending on the outcome of the last cycle, we still had a plan and things didn’t end there…and it was ok.

I remember when I was so against IVF because I thought it was very invasive and unnatural.  I wasn’t ready to accept that method because I wanted to exhaust all other options first.  Of course, that takes a lot of time but I think I needed to take those small steps to realize and understand the whole picture.  I had the opportunity to experience what many others go through, without saying anything.  I can now relate to so many women who experience infertility, at any given time.  I find it so interesting that I have learned new things and gained new perspectives based on my experiences with infertility.  Things are not always black or white or crystal clear.

There have been numerous occasions when people have given me advice about how to get pregnant.  One of the most common suggestions I’ve received is this: You just need to relax, take a vacation, then you’ll get pregnant.  LOL!  Relax?  Hello, I think endometriosis is past relaxation.  It cracks me up!  It makes me laugh because I know they’re just trying to help and comfort without knowing what’s really going on.  Of course I can’t get mad at people for trying to relate or help.

I have learned so much about myself and reproduction…probably more than I ever wanted to know.  I have gained such love and understanding of the power to procreate.  Not that I didn’t know this before, it’s just been manifested more throughout this experience.  It is so complex and extremely sacred.  I don’t need to be pregnant to know that.  This experience has without question, instilled in me, a deeper gratitude for my husband, my parents and procreation (among many other things).

Went off on a little tangent there!  Well, after having 2 cycles of injections in a 6 month period, we were ready to move on.  That meant IVF.  I needed a separate approval for IVF consultation and received that a couple of weeks later.  I didn’t really look too closely at my letter.  I assumed that because we decided to pursue IVF, the next step was IVF.  My approval letter was only for IVF consultation.  I think it was a process thing where my medical insurance and fertility specialist had to communicate.  Anyways!  Once I got my letter I scheduled my consultation.  I had at least a week to formulate some questions and be prepared to meet.  When the day of the consultation arrived, I was ready!  It was now February 2012.

Next post: IVF Consultation

Carrying On…

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I have to apologize for not writing anything for you to read!!  I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and Etsy!! 🙂  I still have lots to catch you up on!

Ok!  In my last post I talked about the hope and possibilities with 4 eggs.  When that was not successful, don’t get me wrong, I was definitely disappointed.  As I think about it now, I am so thankful for that experience AND that the Lord didn’t answer my prayers in the way I desired.  So many times I hear people blame God when things go wrong in their life or when they are not given what they desire.  In my experience, I know the Lord knows and loves me because none of the 4 eggs resulted in pregnancy.  You may think I sound crazy because the goal was and is to become pregnant, but I know that there is NO way I would be able to handle that…physically and mentally.  As earnest and sincere as my prayers were, they did not override the Lord’s knowledge and understanding of what I need.  I’m not going to lie, it took time to come to that understanding.  For me it was an important lesson to learn.  I feel extremely blessed that I didn’t have to choose embryos to abort.

Ooh, I don’t think I explained the HCG injection in the last post.  I told you about it but not the purpose of it!  The HCG injection is given to make you ovulate.  Ok, now back to the journey!

After feeling devastated that none of the eggs were successful, I went in for my day 3 scan.  By this time it was August 2011.  The doctor started me on the injections again…I was happy.  Happy for another opportunity to try to become pregnant, not happy about the actual injections.  Lol.  When I went in for my next scan, after doing the injections for about 5 days, I was puzzled when the doctor told me to stop the injections and wait for the next cycle.  I was like, what?  I believe the lining of my uterus had grown too thick in a short amount of time, which was not good.  So, we stopped the injections for that cycle and waited for the next cycle.  Of course, I was bummed.  I also thought about the timing of my approval and how much time I had remaining on my referral.  We were half way through my 6 month approval.  I wondered if I would get another chance to do the shots before the 6 months was over.

Since we waited out the cycle, I went back to the doctor in September 2011 for my day 3 scan.  I was hopeful about the opportunity but unsure what the doctor would say.  When I heard “provera” again, my heart sank.  I knew why…it was the lining of my uterus and the endometriosis.  In my head I knew that would set us back at least another month.  Ugh.  I wasn’t looking forward to it but what was I gonna do, complain?  Complaining or getting mad wasn’t going to change the facts of the scan.  Who would I complain to, my body?  Would I get angry at my uterus?  That would be just be lame and absurd!  Lol!  So, I took the same amount of provera as the first time, for 10 days and I got my menses in October.

October 2011 was the next time I went in for a day 3 scan.  I periodically got blood work done at the office and this was one of those times.  I soon found out that my thyroid needed attention.  I took a deep breath and sighed.  I really felt like things weren’t going very well.  So, we took a little pause from the shots to address my thyroid.  In the meantime, I was nearing the expiration date of my approval.  My husband and I thought we might be able to have one more chance with the injections before we ran out of time.  Well, that didn’t happen.

I was curious about what would happen when November came.  I made some calls to my OB/GYN’s nurse and talked with the PA and doctor.  They all agreed that it would be ok to continue and an extension would filed.  I would then have to wait for another approval letter which would indicate how much more time we would have.  I don’t think there was ever a doubt or question that I wouldn’t be approved.  I didn’t know for how long.  Also during this time, I felt we didn’t have much success or opportunity with the injections because of the endometriosis, thyroid and other stuff.  We had done 1 cycle of injections in a 5 month period.  That didn’t seem like very good odds to me.  I was ready to move on to IVF.

My husband and I met with the PA and we discussed our options.  We decided to do one more cycle of the injections and if that was not successful, we would pursue IVF.  I received a letter in November 2011 that we were approved for one more cycle and we had until May 2012 to complete this one cycle.  We opted for the next cycle to do the injections, if the uterus and lining looked good.

Next post: Our Last Cycle

More Shots

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Well, after the first night of shots, I thought, “This is going to be interesting.”  I knew I would get through it, ok.  It wasn’t a preferred thing to do, at all.  Lol!

One thing to keep in mind and remember when doing the shots is that appointments are scheduled the day of your appointment.  So, for example, I had my day 3 scan and then after getting my tutorial about the injectable medicine, I scheduled my next appointment.  Well, I was kind of told when my next appointment was going to be, I just had to schedule the time.  Because the shots require a lot of monitoring, I would go in for an appointment every 4-5 days or less.  Also, since these appointments were a priority for me, as I think it would be for anyone in a similar situation, I didn’t mind taking time off of work.  I would receive the exact amount of medicine until my next appointment.

Ok, back to the shots.  The second night, as I agreed, I prepared the shot and let my husband inject it.  I cleaned the area and then pinched it so all he had to do was inject the shot.  My husband quickly injected the needle and pushed the syringe without hesitation, like he was giving me a flu shot.  Ouch!  It happened SO fast, my abdomen hurt.  I felt a pressure that was similar to a sting, but the pain was stronger.  As he pulled the needle out at an angle, he scratched the surface of my skin causing it to bleed (a little).  I was in such pain, I told him he was fired!  Lol!  I wasn’t going to give him another chance.  He asked for the opportunity to try again because it was his first time.  I understood that, so I agreed.  I explained how I felt and shared some things I thought would have to change in future injections.  It was a new experience for both of us, we were quite clueless.  We had a good laugh about the experience as we reflected on in it retrospect that night.  By the next morning, I had a bruise in my abdomen area from that injection.  It didn’t change my decision to give my husband another chance.

The follow night, night 3 of shots, went much smoother!  It actually turned out to be helpful for me to have my husband do the shots.  We communicated about the best way to do the injections and that made it much more bearable for me.  My husband got better and we had a system going.

I went in for my next appointment & scan.   It was close to the weekend and everything looked good.  I had at least one good egg, since the start of the injections.  I went home with more injections, except this time, my dosage increased.  I was instructed to use 2 vials of medicine in the same 1 cc of water.  So, my dosage doubled.  The injections went well.

Oh ya, before I forget, when Dr. Frattarelli was not available, I would see a Physician’s Assistant (PA).  She was very nice and knowledgable.  Ok, back to the scan.

The scan showed 4 eggs!  I was stoked to hear that information!  I thought we were close to achieving our goal of becoming pregnant.  I didn’t realize that 4 eggs meant I would be required to have the “multiple births” discussion.  I was required to give verbal consent to abort more than 2 embryos.  What that means is…if I became pregnant with more than 2 embryos, I would have to abort the rest of the embryos leaving a maximum of 2.  So, since I had 4 eggs, it was possible that all 4 could be fertilized.  That’s why I had to have a discussion.  I hope that what I’ve explained so far makes sense.  Basically I could have twins, at the most.  Through further discussion with the PA, I was informed that triplets (or more) were a (very) high risk to the babies as well as the mother.  I was also reminded of the many possible complications associated with multiple births and that the babies are at greater risk for developmental delays and other things.  Having the multiple births conversation was very hard for me, morally.  I completely understood the objective and reason for the discussion but it was still hard.  There was much more to contemplate than just yea or nay to the multiple births.  If I said no and didn’t consent, we would have to have protected intercourse for at least a week so I would not become pregnant.  I would pretty much just wait for the next cycle.  But I didn’t want to do that!  I had 4 eggs, 4 possibilities.  It didn’t mean that they would all be fertilized, but I still wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.  It was so difficult for me.  The idea that I may have to agree to abort an embryo did not sit well with me.

Before I left the office, I was asked to give my verbal consent.  I couldn’t give an answer.  I requested to talk it over with my husband and then call the office with my answer.  The PA agreed to give me the HCG injection just in case I decided to consent and continue with the cycle.  But, I was only to use it if I consented.  The HCG shot looks very similar to the Bravelle, it just comes in bigger vials and with a bigger needle (I’ll explain).  Anyways!  I left the office and called my husband immediately.  As I drove home, I explained my appointment to him and asked for his advice…I really depended on it!

Without hesitation, my husband said I should consent.  He then explained that it’s better to have the opportunity than nothing at all.  He calmly assured me that everything was going to be ok.  I respected his thoughts, even though it was still hard for me.  We agreed to consent and then I called the PA to let her know. I left a message for her to call me and she did a little while later.  I believe she was with a patient.  She returned my call and I happened to be running an errand.  We scheduled an IUI, which meant that I had to do the HCG injection, right then.  Good thing I was close to home!  I hurried home, quickly prepared the shot, and nervously injected it.  I got accustomed to my husband doing the shots that doing it myself made me feel anxious again.  I anticipated that I would be tense and was not looking forward to it.  But I didn’t have time to worry!  I had to do the shot, and fast!  The HCG shot came in a glass vial in a powder form.  A separate water vial was also included.  Since the Q-cap did not fit the vial, I was provided with a needle, much like the ones used to draw blood.  I attached the needle to the syringe and used the needle to draw up the water and medication.  I unscrewed the needle and used the same sized needle for the injection.  I prayed that I would be able to do the injection with minimal pain.  My prayer was answered!  I didn’t feel a thing!  The HCG injection went well!  I was VERY relieved.  That night I still had a hard time with the consent and abortion thing.  I did not sleep well.  I tossed and turned about the decision and still felt uneasy.

A couple of days later, we went in for the IUI.  We were given the option, prior to this, of whether we wanted to have timed intercourse or IUI.  We decided to do the IUI.  I wanted the best chances, every time and I knew IUI would give us that.  The IUI went smoothly and then it was time to wait.

Two weeks is a long time to wait…something I was and still am very familiar with.  When my menses came, I was SO devastated, emotionally.  I couldn’t fathom the idea that none of the 4 eggs were fertilized!  It boggled my mind because it didn’t make sense.  At the time I thought my life sucked and things couldn’t get any worse!  Plus, my menses was painful.  It was not a good month for me.  What was I to do?  Carry on.

Next post:  Carrying On…

Ovulation Induction with Injectable Gonadotrophins

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The title sounds so serious and technical but the process is quite simple (& easy to do).

So, where was I?  Provera, that’s right.  Just to review, the provera was prescribed to help regulate my cycles and the endometriosis.  I thought a few days after I finished the pills, I’d get my menses.  But that wasn’t the case.  It took about 3 weeks for me to get my menses.  I began to worry, because I knew that I only had 6 months and 1 month was already taken due to provera.  Of course, it was for a good purpose, but I was a little worried I may run out of time.

My menses came and I went in for a day 3 scan.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but when I talk about a scan, that means I had a vaginal ultrasound.  Before I start talking about my appointment, I want to describe the bleeding.  My menses was exceptionally heavy and lasted at least 3-4 days longer than usual.  See, when I took the provera my bleeding stopped, but my cycle continued and the lining of my uterus continued to grow and thicken.  This made my menstrual cycle the heaviest, I think it’s ever been.  Taking the medicine didn’t lessen any of the cramps, not that I expected it to.  Although, it really, I think, cleared out my uterus.  Mmm, not completely, but a lot and enough to start the injections.  This may sound gross and possibly weird, but I took a picture of one of the many clots that discharged.  It was a big one and I wanted evidence!  Lol.  You can kind of tell what the clots look like because they’re really dark compared to the rest of the blood, and they can be in different sizes.  If I remember, I’ll post it and you can tell me what you think! 🙂

Ok, getting back to my appointment.  The day 3 scan still showed that the lining of my uterus was a little thick but I got the ok to start the injections or shots.  I was surprised, happy, and apprehensive!  I got dressed and met a medical assistant in a office type setting.  She gave me a bag of stuff.  Stuff I wasn’t familiar with, yet.  In the bag included the following: (Each item is individually packaged so you do end up with a lot of little pieces of rubbish.)

  • Syringes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Q-caps:  A Q-cap is like an adapter.  It attaches to the vial by snapping around the top, which locks it in place.
  • Needles:  small sized
  • Injectable medicine:  I took a medication called Bravelle.  One box contained 5 vials of the medicine and 5 vials of water.  Each vial of medicine was 75 IU.
  • Sharps container:  to dispose of the needles.

I was given a tutorial from the medical assistant explaining how to prepare and inject the medicine.  I also received written instructions to assist me at home.  I was now burdened with the task of injecting myself with medication.  Oh dear!  I created events in my calendar and then set it to remind me.  I did this to assure that I was taking the injection at the same time each night.  For me, it was important to follow all the instructions with exactness, thus minimizing or eliminating any other factors on my part.  I was determined to do my part.

That night, after my day 3 scan, I did my first injection.  Before injecting the medication, I had to prepare it.  Here are the steps…

1.  I gathered one vial of each (water and medicine), 1 syringe, 1 needle, 2 alcohol wipes, and a Q-cap.

2.  I washed and dried my hands.  I took the caps off the vials which revealed a gray rubbery covering and cleaned them with one alcohol wipe.

3.  I put the Q-cap on the vial of water and then twisted the syringe on the top.  I drew up 1 cc of water and removed the entire Q-cap, with the syringe and put it on the vial of medicine.  I pushed the syringe down to release the water into the vial of medicine.  Bravelle is a powder, which explains the need for the vial of water.  Once the water and powder are combined, I swirled the vial around until the powder dissolved and the mixture was clear.  I put it down and let it rest for a minute or 2, while I prepared everything else.

4.  I drew up the medicine with a little air and untwisted the syringe until it was separated from the Q-cap.  I attached the needle, which was covered with a cap (for safety, I’m sure) and opened the 2nd alcohol wipe.

5.  I flicked the syringe and pushed the air out so only the medicine remained.  I took the alcohol wipe out and pulled the cap off the needle.  I didn’t know HOW I was going to do this!

6.  I took a few deep breaths and cleaned a small area in the abdomen area.  Where am I injecting this thing?  2 inches left or right of the naval.  I pinched the skin with one hand and inserted the needle with the other hand.  I was SUPER nervous!  I slowly pushed the syringe because I could feel the medicine going in.  It didn’t help that I was so tense, I was squeezing my abdomen hard.  (I think that’s why it was sore.)  It seemed like the LONGEST 20 seconds ever!  I did a lot of self talk and released the strong grip I had on my abdomen.  That helped.  All the medicine was in…I slowly released my grip and pulled the needle straight out.

7.  I removed the needle from the syringe and put it in the sharps container.  Everything, except the water vial, went in the trash. (I could use 1 vial of water for more than 1 dose.)

Phew, I was done!  And it was only the first night, I still at least 4 more nights to go before my next appointment!  Right after I finished, my husband came in the room.  I didn’t tell him when I was going to do the shot…I wanted to do it by myself, without an audience.  He wasn’t offended at all and requested the opportunity to give me a shot the following evening.  I agreed.

It’s one thing to see the phlebotomist have blood drawn.  It is a COMPLETELY different experience to give yourself a shot. (When I get to the IVF, I hope to make a video so you can SEE, rather than read what happens.)

Next post: More shots

My Angry Letter

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I’m thinking about the best way to approach this and how to adequately explain myself.

The first ultrasound was not the last, but I was close to the top of my anger thermometer with my insurance company.  I was extremely happy that the Fertility Specialist saw what I had been feeling and offered a recommendation.  But I was very dissatisfied that I had to see someone outside my insurance, to get an answer.  I couldn’t believe it took one ultrasound, one ultrasound!  I honestly felt cheated, that I hadn’t received individualized care.  I don’t like to complain but in this case, I truly felt it was necessary.  It took me a day or 2 before I decided to write my angry letter.  The reason it took 1-2 days was because I needed to process my thoughts.  I didn’t think that my letter would change anything but I also didn’t want my concerns to be left unsaid.  I wasn’t frustrated with any of the physicians (& I saw a bunch), I was furious at the process…and I’m sure you can see why in some of my previous posts.

My letter was a page, nothing longer…I don’t think anyone reads complaints that are longer than a page.  It’s like a resume…it’s supposed to be to the point.  So, in 1 page, I definitely got to the point.  I addressed it generally because that was the process outlined for grievances or complaints.  In my letter I explained the steps I went through to get a referral.  I included all the steps in the process…tracking my menses, the 4 cycles of clomid, 2 with IUI, lack of ultrasound, etc.  What was fueling my anger?  Well, let me tell you.  When the Fertility Specialist told me about the endometriosis, I felt that my OB/GYNs could have looked in my uterus themselves before ever prescribing clomid to me.  Plus, in my research, and in many books I’ve read, endometriosis is one of the most common barriers to pregnancy.  I also thought and knew that my medical insurance company has access to ultrasound equipment in their clinics.  I didn’t see how cost effective it was for them to refer me rather than check it out.  What it boiled down to was this…I could have avoided a lot of steps in the process and gone straight to the point….they wasted my time.  Along with my thoughts, feelings, and experiences, I shared some suggestions.  I recommended that they change their process because I felt I was going through a checklist of things and didn’t really get the care I needed.  My letter was sent!

At the end of June 2011, I received a generic letter in the mail that thanked me for sharing my concerns.  The letter noted that my concerns were forward to the appropriate person and I would be contacted.  I kind of brushed it off because I was relieved I sent the letter.  I didn’t think much of it.

About 2-3 weeks after that, I received a phone call…from the supervisor of the OB/GYN department.  She had received my letter and called to follow up on my concerns.  By that time, I was over it.  I didn’t forget about my letter, but I wasn’t angry anymore.  I was thinking…companies probably wait to call people on purpose, hoping they’ll either forget or be nice on the phone.  Lol!  The conversation was very cordial and the woman I spoke with felt the frustration I expressed in my letter.  She was apologetic and explained that endometriosis was very hard to detect.  I did not believe or agree with what she said.  I thought she was back pedaling because of the glitch (I felt there was a glitch) in the system.  I stopped listening & let her talk.  It was then that I realized, I’m not going to continue to fight this.  When the conversation was over, I felt good that I made my concern known.  I don’t know what, if anything has changed since our conversation.

A week or 2 later, I got another generic letter in the mail.  If I was still unsatisfied with the way my concern was handled I was given the option to take it further.  The letter also stated that if I wanted to pursue my claim or concern, I had a time frame to complete this, 60 days.  I didn’t bother pursuing this…like I said, I was over it.

In the meantime, I was receiving services from the Fertility Specialist.  I was (& still am) very pleased with Dr. Frattarelli and his staff at Fertility Institute of Hawaii in town.  There is also an office in Kailua and on a couple of the outer islands.

Next post: Ovulation Induction with Injectable Gonadotrophins

The Wait is Over!

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As I wrote about my hyperthyroidism, I think you got the very abbreviated version.  I kept all my papers, consents, and information…I think it’s hiding from me!  Lol!  I may go into more detail about that later.

Anyways!  It’s been over a month since I started my blog.  I can’t believe I’ve made it this far and that people are still reading (& following along).  I feel the need to THANK YOU for your encouragement, love, and support.  When I thought about starting this blog, I contemplated whether or not anyone would be able to relate to me or understand the things I experienced.  I was very surprised and overwhelmed by the MANY responses and feedback I received.  I didn’t expect that at all.  Many friends and family emailed, messaged me on Facebook, and chatted with me in person to share their knowledge.  I just wanted people to know.  I felt like I was taking a gigantic step way out of my comfort zone, but it was necessary in order to let others know.  THANK YOU to all who have offered support in any way!  You have both strengthened and humbled me.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m trying to catch everyone up before I actually go through the IVF process.  I want people to know what IVF really entails.  So, I have less than 2 weeks to catch you up!!  Yikes!  I hope I can make the deadline I created for myself! Lol! 🙂

Alright, back to Step 4 – My referral.  In May of 2011, I received my letter of approval!  I was so elated and yet apprehensive.  Even though I knew the plan included injectable medication, I was unsure of the details, like how many cycles we were going to do.  I also knew that if the shots were not successful, we would be on our way to IVF.  As I reviewed my letter, I noticed that I was approved specifically for IVF.  “Wait a minute,” I thought.  “This is not what we agreed on.”  A couple of days after receiving my letter, I was contacted by my Fertility Specialist’s office.  They received their copy of the letter and called to schedule an IVF cycle with me.  I notified them of the error in my letter and that the plan was to do the shots.  I also notified my OB/GYN of the error and almost a week later, I got a 2nd letter, corrected.  Basically it said that I was approved for ovulation induction with gonadotrophin injections (the shots) and then for IVF if the shots were unsuccessful.  The referral was approved for 6 months, which meant that I would need to request an extension if more time was necessary.

I was instructed to call the Fertility Specialist’s office on day 1 for a day 3 scan.  Due to the timing of my cycle,  my first appointment with the Fertility Specialist was in June 2011.  This was nerve-racking AND a bit relieving at the same time.  Nerve-racking because I was stepping into new territory.  I was also relieved because I felt like I would finally be able to get some answers and assistance.  I hoped the Fertility Specialist would be able to tell me what was up with my body, and do something about it.

It was time for my first appointment…I asked my husband to join me because 1, I was nervous and 2, I wanted a witness.  I wanted us to both hear what the doctor had to say.  This way we would all have the same understanding and know how things were going to play out.  I felt that the first appointment would set the tone for us and give us an idea of what to expect, how we would be treated, and the level of expertise available to us.  In other words, my first appointment was crucial in many ways.

My husband and I went in for my day 3 scan.  I went to the town office, located in Hale Pawa’a, which is near Ala Moana shopping center.  When we entered, I notified the receptionist and waited to be called.  We waited about 5-10 minutes and then were walked to an exam room.  It was the size of other OB/GYN exam rooms I’ve been in.  There was a large framed art piece on the wall.  It looked like local hand painted art work.  It was beautiful.  I was able to look at the details of the art as I laid on the exam table awaiting the doctor.  I had been instructed to remove my clothing from the waist down.  I also noticed that the monitor in the room was set up with my name on the screen.  Since it was day 3, I was still bleeding and that combined with laying on the exam table was not the most comfortable thing.  The doctor knocked, came in, and greeted us, along with an assistant (the same one that walked us to the exam room).  He explained what he was going to do and then had the assistant turn off the light.  A small mobile lamp was turned on.  It reminds me of a night light.  You can’t see everything but you can see what you need to.  Having the lamp helped me see the screen of the ultrasound machine.  The doctor did a vaginal ultrasound, which looked like a long plastic penis-shaped probe.  At the top of the probe was a rectangular semi-transparent piece, which used sound waves to display the uterus and ovaries.  That would be why it has it’s name.  Anyways!  The probe was covered with what looked like a condom that fit loosely around it, and a little gel was squeezed on the top to help it glide through the vagina and uterus.  Hope that creates a visual that makes sense!

So, the doctor talked me through this and had the assistant take notes.  This was my first ever, ultrasound.  Yup, you read that right!  My first ultrasound.  As I looked at the monitor, I had no idea what to look for.  He took measurements and the assistant recorded them.  I watched in awe.  I was so glad the doctor knew what he was doing and I was amazed at the multitasking that took place.  In one hand he had the probe and moved it around to get different views and with the other hand he pressed buttons and keys on the machine to record what he saw.  When he was done looking at my uterus and ovaries he removed the probe and had the assistant turn the light on.  He explained what he saw and gave his recommendation.  The doctor confirmed that I had endometriosis and ovarian cysts.  I wanted to scream, “I knew it!”  But I kept my composure.  Lol!  I listened attentively as he recommended and prescribed Provera.  The order was placed by the Fertility Specialist’s office, but fulfilled my pharmacy.  I picked it up after work that day and was given the generic form, which is called Medroxyprogesterone.  It is a small white pill you take around the same time everyday for the duration of the prescription.  I took 10mg of this medication for 10 days.  You’ll notice that most of the pills and shots are taken or injected at the same time each day for a specific number of days.  Well, the purpose of the provera was to regulate my menses, help with the endometriosis, and help with the lining of my uterus, which was too thick for a day 3 scan.

I was somewhat disappointed I wasn’t starting the shots but I knew that the endometriosis needed to be addressed.  I took the Provera, which stopped my bleeding immediately, and waited for my menses…it took at least 3-4 weeks.

In the meantime, I had a LOT of thoughts to ponder.  I had a bunch of questions and suggestions for my medical insurance company.  In the time I had to wait for my menses, I wrote what I refer to as my “angry letter”.

Next post: My Angry Letter

My Thyroid – The Beginning

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Soon after deciding and trying to have a baby, I got sick…like common cold sick.  I went to my PCP (Primary Care Physician) to get checked out and to clarify the types of medicines to take that would not interfere with our plans.  I shared our plans to start a family and wanted medicine that was safe for pregnancy.  I was being cautious and taking preventative measures.  My appointment, however, took quite a turn…for the worst, I thought.  My PCP didn’t even really address my concerns because he had different concerns.  He thought my thyroid was the top priority, above our desires and plans to have a family.  Oh boy!

The doctor took one look at me and had me do a few tests, including blood tests.  I remember doing this one test in particular.  I don’t know what it’s called, if there’s an official name for it.  I stood up and put both arms straight out with my palms facing the floor.  My fingers were spread out and a piece of paper, like from a printer, was draped over them, one at a time.  My doctor noted that the paper fluttered a lot, which concerned him.  He asked me a bunch of questions and I answered them, unaware of his overall plan.  I agreed to take some blood tests and we’d be in contact again in a few days.  A few days later, I was prescribed Propranolol because my heart rate was very high, too high, it was affecting my sleeping and energy levels, among other things.

I left the doctor’s office, SO discouraged about our plans and now overwhelmed with what would happen next.  Our plans were officially, changed…and it’s like they hadn’t even started!  It was crazy!

My PCP concluded and confirmed that I had Hyperthyroid, which was caused by Graves Disease.  He gave me some literature to read, which included some of the symptoms and treatment options.  I borrowed a few books from the library and looked up a few things online to get familiarized with the condition.  So, basically hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland is over active, which can cause a fast heart rate, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, bulging eyes, etc.  The thyroid produces hormones and regulates the metabolism.  I wasn’t in denial about it but I wasn’t sure (yet) how this would affect us trying to have a baby.  The more I learned, the more I agreed with the doctor…that this needed to be foremost not pregnancy.  It was not difficult to accept because I knew it was necessary and if I didn’t receive treatment, there could be more detrimental results.

In the coming weeks after my appointment, I completed more tests including blood work, x-rays, and radioactive iodine uptake test.  The blood work completed confused me at first, because I didn’t know what to look for.  The thyroid hormones include: T3 (Triiodothyronine), T4 (Thyroxine), and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).  I soon learned that the blood test results confirmed the doctor’s thoughts.  I also did an x-ray.  My appointment took at least an hour.  I laid on a long metal table, complete with a pillow and blanket.  Since the thyroid is located in the neck area, that is where the concentration of x-rays were.  I had to move my head in awkward angles so the overhead camera could take pictures of specific parts of my thyroid.  The third test I did, I think was a radioactive iodine uptake test.  I don’t remember the exact procedure for the test but I do remember taking something (I think a pill) and the top of my leg was scanned by an ultrasound machine.  It showed what the thyroid activity looked like in my body and how much of the iodine was being absorbed by my body.  It was a pretty neat test, I thought, although my results showed that my thyroid was hyperactive.  I thought it was cool that I could see what was happening in my body at that exact time.  In the end, all the tests revealed that my thyroid was in fact hyper and overactive.  What now?

After all the tests were complete I was given 3 options for treatment.  I needed to make a decision quickly because the doctor felt that this condition needed immediate attention.  Here were my options:

1.  Antithyroid medication

2.  Radioactive Iodine Treatment

3.  Surgical removal of the thyroid

Antithyroid medication are pills meant to suppress the production of the thyroid hormone.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment is a pill that contains a small amount of radiation and iodine.  It’s purpose is to slowly decrease the production of the thyroid hormone.  I was under the impression that eventually the thyroid was not going to work and I would have to take a daily supplement.

Surgical removal of the thyroid is exactly what it says.  The skin is cut near the collarbone and the thyroid is removed.  A daily supplement is also needed after this treatment is done…since there is no thyroid to produce any hormones.

So, my decision…the endocrinologist recommended I do radioactive iodine treatment.  He discussed the option of antithyroid drugs and did not encourage surgery.  After much thought, prayer, fasting, and discussion with my husband, I decided to follow the recommendation of the endocrinologist and do the radioactive iodine treatment.  This also meant that we had to postpone our plans to conceive, for 6 months to a year.

Two months after I first went to the doctor, I had a scheduled appointment for radioactive iodine treatment.  The process went fast.  I stopped taking the Propranolol.  I had all the instructions, food restrictions, and I knew exactly what to expect.  A week before my appointment I started a low-iodine diet.  Luckily, I found a recipe booklet online.  I also purchased non-iodized salt.  My low-iodine diet continued for 3 days after the treatment as well.  So I was on the diet for a total of 10 days.  Ok, on the day of my treatment, I basically went in to take a pill and leave.  I was instructed not to eat until an hour after I took the pill.  When I was called into the room, I followed the tech and waited.  It seemed like everyone was clearing out.  Eventually, I was the only patient in a huge room.  It was awkward but I knew why…hello, I was going be taking a pill that was radioactive!  I walked into a little room (located within the huge room), and watched the tech use gloves (I think goggles too) and carefully place the pill into a skinny glass vial.  It was placed on a counter along with a small cup of water.  I was instructed to use the vial to drop the pill in my mouth, without it touching my lips.  So, I leaned my head back, opened my mouth wide, and got the pill on my tongue.  I swallowed the pill with water and then was lead out the back door.  Yup, I went out an alternate exit because of the risks to others.  Got in my car and drove home.

Taking the pill was the easy part.  I didn’t feel different at all.  The dosage of the pill was based on my height and weight, as well as the severity of the hyperthyroidism.  The dose was very small but there were still rules to follow and precautions to take.  These are some of things I had to do:

  • Flush the toilet twice.
  • Rinse the tub after taking a shower.
  • Sleep in a separate room.
  • Stay away from pregnant women & children under the age of 2.
  • Continue my low-iodine diet for 3 days.

So, I pretty much had to stay home for a few days.  During the next few months, I took periodic blood tests to check the progress of my thyroid.  I don’t know if it’s progress as much as it was, looking for a reduction in my thyroid function.  It took a few months until my thyroid was low and I needed the supplement.  I started a supplement and 4-6 weeks later, I took a blood test.  I thought things were going as planned and that in a few more months, we’d be back to our original plan…trying to have a baby.  Man, was I wrong!!

My blood test result showed the thyroid function was back to being overactive.  I was stunned and speechless!  I absolutely could not believe it!  I don’t know what happened exactly but I knew my hyperthyroidism was back.  I suspected that my dose for the supplement was too high, but I haven’t confirmed that.  I had a lot of other thoughts as well but I was extremely surprised.  I felt like the radioactive iodine treatment didn’t work.  I thought the treatment was a one time treatment guarantee, but it wasn’t.  I’ll probably never know.  By this time, it had been almost 6 months since my treatment.  I wondered what the next steps would be and what I would be recommended to do.

Well, I did more research and in the meantime, decided to take the antithyroid medicine.  I carried the antithyroid medicines in my purse & set my alarm because I had to take them at least 3 times a day.  The antithyroid medications worked temporary.  I took them and then in 4 weeks after a blood test, I would have to decrease the dosage.  This continued until I was eventually taken off the medicine.  This was very frustrating for me…why wasn’t anything working?  (Little did I know that I would have those same feelings in my journey to try to conceive.)

By then I didn’t have any other options besides doing to radioactive iodine treatment…again!  The endocrinologist recommended that I do the radioactive iodine treatment.  I was torn, which may sound weird because I exhausted the other option (antithyroid drugs) and was not going to have surgery.  But, I still had to ponder the decision to do the radioactive iodine treatment again.  I knew that this would only prolong and continue to postpone our family.  Another 6 months to a year?  Really?  I was also worried about the long term effects of the treatment and how it would affect my ability to have children.  I didn’t know then, that my journey would be extended.  A year after my first treatment, I went ahead and did the radioactive iodine treatment again.  I went through the same process and fulfilled all the same requirements.  The second time worked!  Everything went as planned and a few months later, I was prescribed levothroid.  This medication, which is a supplement, has kept my thyroid levels stable since then.  That has been a blessing.

Prior to all of this, I had no idea this was genetic.  It wasn’t until I was going to do the first radio active iodine treatment that my dad shared his experience with me.  A lightbulb totally went off in my head.  I soon made the connection to my grandma.  The funny thing was no one ever asked me about my family history regarding this issue.  As time passed, I also learned of other family members that received treatment for their thyroid.  Education is important.  Having it would have been helpful in recognizing my symptoms, but it’s ok.  I think this experience was something I needed to learn.  It has also allowed me the opportunity to get to know and understand my family better because I can relate to what they’ve experienced.  It was a blessing in disguise.

Next post: The Wait is Over!

Step 4 – Referral, finally

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After the 4 cycle of clomid was not successful, I awaited feedback from the OB/GYN.  What was I waiting for?  An appointment with the Fertility Specialist.

Step 4 in my journey afforded me the opportunity to receive consultation from a Fertility Specialist, contracted through my medical insurance.  I didn’t however, plan for it to take 3 months to see the Fertility Specialist.  When my OB/GYN confirmed and planned for me to see the Fertility Specialist, I thought I’d have an appointment in a month or so.  That was not the case.  Apparently the Fertility Specialist was very busy.  I received an appointment reminder in the mail saying that I was scheduled to meet with the Fertility Specialist in March.  So, it had been 3 months since the last clomid cycle.  The process took much longer than I expected.  For someone, me, looking for answers and reasons for the infertility, 3 months is a long time to wait.  I called and attempted to get an earlier appointment, without success.  The appointment date I was given was the earliest one available.  I couldn’t do anything about it, except wait.

Since I had a lot of time before my appointment with the Fertility Specialist, I decided to write out questions in preparation.  I honestly thought the only option I had at that point, was IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).  It was not my preferred choice but I was willing to do it if that was the recommendation.

The day of my appointment arrived, with a bunch of nerves and butterflies in my stomach!  My husband accompanied me to the appointment.  The Fertility Specialist met with us at my medical provider’s clinic.  I heard that the Fertility Specialist came on certain days to the office to meet with couples.  Our meeting with the Fertility Specialist was actually just consultation, which included recommendations.  I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that there were other options besides IVF, like I first thought.  Based on the information the Fertility Specialist was provided at that time, he recommended that we start with injectable gonadotrophins, otherwise known as hormonal shots.  If the shots were not successful after a certain amount of time, we would move toward IVF.  You can’t imagine how relieved I was…extremely!  I thought it was a great plan and we were looking forward to working with the Fertility Specialist.

Before I could receive services from the Fertility Specialist, my OB/GYN had to submit all the necessary information to the referral department, which would then determine if I was eligible or not.  But, before the OB/GYN could submit anything, I needed to see the phlebotomist again and have a pap smear.  It’s definitely something I was not ecstatic about doing, but it was a must…in order to move forward.

I went in to complete the blood work.  The list seemed endless.  It was at least a few tubes…I think 2-3, I can’t remember the exact amount.  Here is a list of some of the blood tests that were performed.  I say some, because I don’t remember ALL the tests.  The list below are the ones that I kept, in no particular order.  Here we go:

  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Prolactin
  • LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
  • FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
  • Estradiol
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)
  • Blood Type
  • Gonorrhea
  • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
I also remember taking an HIV test and chlamydia test.  It’s not as bad as it may appear.  I just had to go to the lab once.  I was actually happy about the blood type test because I previously did not know that information.  In addition to the tests that I took, my husband did another semen analysis and some blood tests.

I’m not sure if the TSH test is given to all that are seeking a referral.  But I know that I took this blood test because that’s where it all started for me.  In my first post I mentioned that after being married for a year, my husband and I decided to try to have a baby.  Infertility was not the first issue that we encountered in our journey, it was my thyroid. (Next post…for sure!)

Ok, back to the referral.  We signed separate consents and all the information was submitted.  I was in contact with a nurse that assisted with IVF referrals.  She called and kept me abreast on the status of my referral.  I also called her when I had questions.  So from there, I waited again…this time for a letter in the mail to tell me if I was approved for services provided by the Fertility Specialist.  I anticipated the arrival of my letter…wondering if it was possible to be denied.  I couldn’t imagine how that would happen, but it did cross my mind.  I continued to wait…

Just to recap, Step 4 came in 2 parts.  A referral for consultation and then a referral for services.  First, I got an appointment for consultation with the Fertility Specialist.  Based on the Fertility Specialist’s recommendations, my OB/GYN submitted paperwork as well as blood work to my medical insurance’s referral department.  The referral department was responsible for reviewing all the information, making the decision whether to approve or deny the case, and then notify the appropriate parties of the decision (My OB/GYN, Fertility Specialist, & me).  From the time the 4th clomid cycle was complete and my consultation with the Fertility Specialist, was 3 months.  Then, from the consultation to receiving my letter was 2 months…by then, it was May!  It felt like FOREVER!!

FYI: I’m working on a timeline!! 🙂

Next post: My Thyroid – The Beginning

More Acupuncture

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I apologize for taking a while to post!  Thank you for reading and continuing to follow along!  I appreciate it! 🙂

Going to acupuncture was quite a change for me.  I just kind of went with it because like I said, nothing else seemed to be working.

Anyhow!  I went to acupuncture once a week for treatment.  By treatment, I’m referring to the cupping, massage, and acupuncture.  Before going to each appointment it’s important that you’re not hungry or starving, because you’re going to be laying on the massage table for a while…and not get up until after it’s all done.  Equally important is using the bathroom prior to the treatment…for the same reason.  Now you’re ready for treatment! 🙂

I received possibly an overload of information at the end of my first treatment.  I was still kind of skeptical about whether this type of treatment would be helpful for me.  Nevertheless, I was committed and determined to give it a chance.  I was recommended to read a book and an article to broaden my view of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

 I read a book by Angela C. Wu, entitled “Fertility Wisdom,” which helped me understand the meaning and perpectives of TCM.

I was given information about herbs, moxibustion, and supplements.  Suggestions for herbs were very dependent on the week and my body’s weather.  Herbs were given in the form of powder, capsules or tablets, or as loose herbs.  The powder and loose forms were to be made up as a tea.  So basically, you boil the loose herbs with water and drink it as a tea.  With the powder, you boil water, mix the powder in and then drink it.  The capsules and tablets are pretty much like swallowing pills.  Ok…I remember having a sinus infection and being on amoxicillin, which made my stomach sore.  At the beginning of my treatment I was often asked how I was doing, how my body was doing, and so on.  I told the acupuncturist I was taking medication for my infection.  I didn’t tell her, however, that the medication was hurting my stomach.  But, she knew!  I was amazed!  Each time before the acupuncture, the acupuncturist would check my pulse and use that information to help determine the best places to put the needles.  Checking my pulse consisted of pressing on a couple of areas near my wrist.  The acupuncturist checked my pulse and asked me something like this, “Is the medication upsetting your stomach?”  I confirmed that it was and got herbs in the form of capsules to calm my stomach.  They looked like little black pearls.  Do you know, IT WORKED?  I followed the instructions, which consisted of the dosage and frequency.  I didn’t have any stomach pain after I started taking the herbs.  It was great and I was so happy!

Alright, moxibustion.  Moxa, as it is commonly referred to, looks like a jumbo pencil and acts like the green coiled mosquito punk.  It’s about 8 inches long and when lit, it creates smoke.  So, make sure you have sufficient ventilation.  Not sure how that is as a visual.  Lol!  Moxibustion is something that is usually done during day 1-14 of your cycle.  It depends on your needs.  I previously read about moxa being placed on the skin, burning it.  I thought…I don’t think so, I’m not burning myself!  As I got more familiar with the acupuncture treatments, I was introduced to moxibustion and the process was explained.  I was relieved when I didn’t have to burn myself!  Phew!  Instead, I held the moxa an inch or two away from my skin and made small circular motions near the acupuncture point.  I hope this makes sense! I did that for about 3-5 minutes at each point.  There were 3 points.  One on the crown of the head, one by the knee, and one by the big toe.  The one on the crown of the head was the most nerve-racking.  I didn’t want my husband to burn my hair.  Lol!  For the other 2 points, it was important to do both knees and both big toes…just in case you were wondering.  The smell of the moxa while it burnt, was very strong.  My clothes absorbed the smell so I had to do laundry the next day.

At times I was recommended to take supplements.  These were just capsules, which are similar to pills.  The supplements were very purposeful, much like the herbs, which I already explained.

This may sound crazy, but I changed my diet (everyday meals) to the exact requests of the acupuncturist.  This meant that I didn’t consume foods such as processed sugar, tofu, and wheat.  I ate very little dairy products, among other things.  For me it was a big change and I complied because I felt it was important.  The first couple of weeks were difficult…I thought, “What can I eat?”  I felt like I couldn’t eat the things I preferred or wanted.  It required a conscious effort of change.  I ate nuts, brussel sprouts, fruits and veggies.  I drank warm or at room temperature water to keep my reproductive area and ovaries warm.  On page 79-80 in the book, “Fertility Wisdom” it explains the reasoning for drinking warm drinks.  It states, “Cold foods and drinks: Can you hear the voice of your Chinese grandmother?  She’s reminding you that chilled foods and drinks chill your body, causing your body temperature to drop and your circulation to slow.  To boost circulation and maintain optimal body temperature, your heart must work harder – consuming the vital energy that you need for conception.  So, for general good health – and particularly if you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant – do not consume any foods or beverages cooler than room temperature.  That means nothing frozen (especially ice cream), nothing right out of the refrigerator, nothing with ice in it, and no water right from the “cold” tap.  Whatever it is, heat it up or let it sit outside the fridge for an hour or so until it comes to room temperature (better yet, body temperature) – but please don’t consume it cold.”  Made sense to me!  It’s a good book.  The book elaborates more on other food items.  Well, I slowly got use to the change as I read articles and books about fertility according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

One of the best things I was introduced to was White Flower Oil.  The acupuncturist originally suggested I use it for my sinuses.  I was given the information about where to purchase it from…and I did.  You can buy it from Pacific Supermarket in Waipahu Shopping Plaza, near Waipahu Savers.  I believe there are 2 bottle sizes.  I bought the small one, of course.  Anyways!  I soon discovered that it not only worked for my sinuses, but it also worked for my pain.  I was so excited!  It’s not the greatest smelling oil, but it’s temporary.  It smells like a mentol, eucalyptus & menthol type of product.  The oil is clear, just in case you were wondering.  I’ve used it on a number of occasions.  White Flour Oil also serves as a pain reliever for minor aches and pains.  The box says, “For the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with *simple backache *arthritis * sprains * bruises * strains”.  Besides using it for my sinuses, I’ve used it for menstrual cramps, stomach cramps, bruises, and pretty much any other minor pain.  Most recently I used it on my heel.  I’m not sure what happened, but my left foot hurt when I came home from work and it seemed to be worsening as the evening progressed.  It looked like a bruise formed and it felt like it was spreading to the top of my foot. Before bed I rubbed a few drops of the white flower oil on the affected area.  In the morning my foot felt much better.  White flower oil has become by all-purpose oil.  Lol.  Oh yes, it’s for external use only.

As I continued to go to acupuncture, my perspective changed.  At first I thought going would help me to become pregnant, which was one of main purposes.  But that changed because I recognized the difference in my body.  I saw and felt the changes in my body.  My perspective broadened and I no longer expected to become pregnant.  My focus was on being healthy, not that was I wasn’t healthy before, but my overall health was prioritized and.  I now understand that acupuncture was in fact an eye opening experience.

I wish I was still going!  After a year, I decided to take a break from it.  I was paying out of pocket for weekly treatment, about $80 a week.  The herbs and oils were additional costs, pretty reasonable.  I didn’t go through my insurance because I read the fine print and did not think they would pay for it.  I’m sure it’s possible for medical insurance companies to pay part of it but I didn’t want to get into it with them.  There are acupuncturists that focus specifically on fertility, just FYI.  I realized that I didn’t mention where I went for acupuncture!  I went to Life Centered Acupuncture Care.  CHECK IT OUT!  There is a section on the website that has the benefits of acupuncture.  If you live in the area or know of anyone who may be looking, direct them to the website!

Next post: Step 4 – Referral, finally