June 25, 2014

The Road to Infertility

     I've always had this feeling that having a family one day was going to be difficult for me. I started my period at 15 as a Sophomore in high school and it has always been irregular since. Being young, I didn't think much of it or was I really concerned that it was coming whenever. I wasn't sexually active, so I had nothing to worry about. I stared taking birth control for acne when I was 18 and then all the troubles seemed to head my way.

     In March of 2010, I had went to grab a bite to eat at Burger King (horrible choice). After eating I started to get horrible stomach pains, severe cramping, hot and clod flashes and some nausea. I figured it was probably food poisoning and just went to bed. A few days had passed and I was still having the same symptoms and nothing was helping to get rid of them. I talked to my mom about it and decided we would give it a few more days and if nothing had changed that I'd go into the doctor.

     April 1st, my mom and I flew out to Maine because my great grandpa was really sick and they didn't think he was going to make it. We spent all day at the hospital for a good week. One day while sitting there, the pains in my stomach started to come back. I told my mom and grandma and they both said that I needed to be seen.  I met with the doctor and explained that this had been going on for a few weeks and no matter what I did they just wouldn't go away. He felt around on my stomach and told me that it was just a bad stomach ache and gave me an 800mg ibuprofen. I probably could have hit him because everyone knows that stomach aches do not last three weeks. After we got home from our trip I was at work one day and started to have another spasm. I was hunched into a ball and in tears because it hurt so bad. They let me leave work early and insisted that I go to the hospital.  I went to the emergency room (it was late at night) and told them what had been going on for the last month. They did some blood work, pushed on my stomach and told me it was a UTI and sent me home with antibiotics. At this point I was pretty sure a monkey could be a better doctor then the ones I had been seeing.

     In the beginning of May, I went to see my moms doctor. She had delivered my brother and did a couple surgeries on my mom,  so she was pretty well trusted. I explained to her all the problems I had been having over the last two months and what the other doctors had said the problem was. Right away she said that we needed to switch my birth control and that I needed to take it consistently and skip the sugar pills so I would not get my period. She also ordered for me to get a ultrasound done to check things out. A few days after getting the ultrasound done I had a follow up appointment with the doctor. She informed me that I had five cysts between both ovaries and that there was fluid in my right fallopian tube. She said that we could give it about a month to see if the cysts went away on their own and to see if the new birth control helped. I refused to continue on with this pain for another month when I had already been dealing with it for two months. We talked about the risk of surgery and how it would be my first one but decided it was the best choice.

     So on May 11, 2010 I went under the knife to have two cysts removed which were the size of a golf ball and the other a size of a softball. She also took a sample of the fluid that was in my Fallopian tube to do some testing.  A week after surgery I had a post op appointment with the doctor to how over what she saw in surgery and to see how I was feeling. I told her that I was still having the same pains I was having before surgery and I was really uncomfortable. She told me that she still did not know was wrong and wanted to refer me to a specialist at the Mayo Clinic. I agreed to be seen because at this point all I wanted was answers and to be pain free.

     In the beginning of June I met with Dr. Jenson who is a fertility and reproductive specialist. She went over my previous surgery notes and wanted me to get an ultrasound done to check for cysts again. I had no signs of cysts but it showed that my fallopian tubes were dilated (damaged). Over the next six months she put me on multiple antibiotics to try and help get rid of pain, suggested I try a high fiber diet, keep a pain journal and had multiple the stings done to see what was going on. After doing all that and still not seeing any results, surgery was brought up once again. As much as she didn't want to put me through surgery, there really was no choice because she had to physically see inside to see what the problem was.

     September 12, 2010 I went under for my second surgery. Both of my fallopian tubes were closed and my left fallopian tube and intestine were twisted and attached to my bowel. Dr. Jenson had to cut incisions into my fallopian tubes to open them back up and also untwisted my left one. I was finally no longer in pain! I learned to deal with pain everyday that it was weird to live without it, but I was thrilled. I continued to take my birth control consistently in hopes to skip my period like the doctor requested.

     Over the next couple years I would get occasional cysts on my ovaries that would pop but I just dealt with the pain for a few days because there was really nothing the doctors could do. I stopped taking my birth control in November of 2012 because it was just messing with my body so much and I was still getting my period like crazy when I wasn't supposed to. Plus my husband (boyfriend at the time) was stationed in California and was getting ready to deploy, so I didn't have to worry about any babies. Even though my biggest fear from having surgeries was not being able to get pregnant.

     One day towards the end of January of this year, I started to have really really bad pains in my stomach, hot and cold flashes, nausea and my whole body was shaking. I had no idea what was going on and I could barely get up to walk. My husband insisted that he take me in to see what was wrong. After a long 8 hours in the emergency room, they determined it was yet another cyst. The naval hospital out here is stupid and wouldn't let me see a doctor, so I went to the hospital in the next town over and I'm so glad I did. I had my records from back home sent out here for the doctor and right away he wanted my fallopian tubes to be looked at. He talked to us about having to possibly remove my tubes and how that would lead us to only being able to have children through IVF. It was really hard to wrap my mind around, that this is what my life had lead to at such a young age but I knew I had a big decision to make.

     On April 9, 2014 I went under for my third surgery. We had decided that if my tubes were closed once again, that we would remove them for my health and to prevent any ectopic pregnancies. Well just my luck, they were closed and had to be removed. My left fallopian tube was also twisted with my intestine and the cyst and had attached itself to my bowel. Knowing that I no longer had my fallopian tubes at just 22 years old was difficult to accept. I didn't understand why this had to happen to me and the intimacy of making our children with my husband was gone. I just continued to remind myself that God obviously had a plan for us and we just needed to continue to put all of our faith into him.

     Just a couple weeks ago I was having sharp pains on my left side and had mentioned to my husband that I was almost positive that it was a cyst again. I'm pretty sure he thought I was crazy seeing that I had just had one removed two months ago but we decided that I should make an appointment to be seen. Low and behold it was another cyst on my left ovary measuring at 6cm. The doctor tried to pop it with his hand and had no such luck. Which I'm glad, because that hurt so so bad. He said the cyst needed to be removed right away and admitted me for emergency surgery. Yay me! The next morning I went in for surgery and they removed the cyst and had to remove part of my ovary as well because the cyst had taken over. He also said that my intestine had attached itself to my abdominal wall and that it would cause problems with my colon if I didn't have it looked at soon.

     So as of now I am missing both my fallopian tubes and part of my left ovary. It's so crazy where all this has lead to in the last four years. I am thankful that as of now I am still able to carry our own children through IVF but that could change at any moment seeing that I still have some health issues that need to be taken care of. I've been blessed with wonderful friends, family and of course my husband who have been the absolute best support system through everything.

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