The Lupron Diaries: Shot #3 and Weekend Happenings

I won’t bore you with the details from Shot #2, as it was pretty much the same story as Shot #1…quick and painless.

Shot #3, however, hurt like HELL.  Ginger felt terrible about it, but it wasn’t her fault.  I think it was a combination of my laying the wrong way and my tensing up (maybe because I wasn’t positioned right), but I felt every second of it, including the gross sensation of thick liquid going into my muscle.  I even got lightheaded for a couple of seconds, but it wasn’t unbearable.  She laughed and said, “it’ll probably hurt more taking the band-aid off than the shot did.”  I chuckled, but thought she was out of her mind; after a quick hug, we were on the way out.

She was RIGHT, though.  I don’t know what kind of industrial-strength band-aids they use, but I thought I was going to find all of my skin on it when I took it off the next morning.

On another unpleasant note, I think I’m shedding more hair than normal.  It could just be my imagination, but it seems like I’m throwing away more loose hair than I usually do.  We’ll see how that plays out.  Hair loss is a possible Lupron side-effect, albeit an uncommon one, so perhaps I’m just shedding my winter coat like the pets are.

We went to South Carolina this weekend to visit my grandmothers (we go once a month).  I snapped this pic of a derelict house on the way down; they’d cleared out some trees over the last couple of months, which left it exposed, and my mom wanted a picture of it, so I took one for the team and hung out the window at 70 mph to get her a picture.  You’re welcome, Mom;).

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One of my grandmothers is suffering from dementia.  Usually, it only seems to affect her short-term memory (although I’m sure that those who see her on a regular basis notice it in other ways), but this time, she didn’t remember that I’d come to spend a week with them during the summer a few times when I was a kid.  That hurt; she usually regales me with the tale of her and Papa walking in on me calling my parents because I was homesick and picks on me about it. This time, however, I regaled her with the tale of the only fish I ever caught (that couldn’t have been more than three inches long) and how I made Papa take it off the hook because I didn’t want to touch it.  She asked me if I ever got homesick, and I told her I did and we moved on to other things.  Dementia really sucks.

Sundays are always a bit stressful for me; although I love church, it involves a lot of interpersonal activity (and sometimes singing in front of a big crowd), which wears out this introvert.  Joey and I have enjoyed the last two weeks of going and doing something active on Sundays, so we continued that by heading out to Morrow Mountain to hike.

We did the Fall Mountain trail, which is listed at four miles, but after the re-routes they had to do for some fallen trees, ended up being about 4.2.  It’s listed as a moderate hike, and I’d agree with that assessment.  However, it required some log-hopping and balancing to cross a couple of streams, which was pretty harrowing for someone struggling with Lupron clumsiness.

Joey and Indy on the trail:

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We stopped at a rock outcropping about halfway through and something intrigued Indy greatly.  I couldn’t tell what, but snapped a pic of her.

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I didn’t wash off my makeup before heading out to the trail, so I was ultra-fabulous for the hike.

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I think we’re going to keep up this trend of doing a long walk/hike on Sundays.  It’s a great way to decompress and a fantastic way to rack up some miles right at the beginning of the week.   Mitchell will be 12 miles, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.  It’s also nice not to be sitting in front of the tv, which traditionally has been the way we’ve spent our Sunday afternoons/evenings.

We’re also toying with the idea of a day-trip to the mountains to hike on Mother’s Day.  The last couple of years, I’ve skipped church because it sucks too much not to be able to stand up with the rest of the moms.  We’ll see.

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The Lupron Diaries: Side Effects that Suck

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Today is my third shot; halfway there! And while this hasn’t been nearly the horror story that I’d read about, I don’t want to give you the impression that the entire experience is sunshine and rainbows, because it’s certainly not.  Here’s the rundown of the side effects I’ve dealt with  over the last two months.  I’ll focus in on each one in future posts to discuss how I’m dealing with them.

  1. Joint Pain: for the first few days after the shot, my hips and knees hurt pretty badly.  I first noticed it when I was in the bed and Shelli (my kitty) hopped up on my hip to curl up and sleep.  She does this every night (which makes sleeping an adventure since she’s balanced so precariously…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently launched her across the room), so it’s not all that unusual, but I saw STARS the first night.  It typically goes away after about three days, so I just make use of the ibuprofen for those days and wait it out.
  2. HOT FLASHES:  man, that first flash was ROUGH.  I was on a conference call that was particularly aggravating, and I felt myself go nuclear.  I got so hot that I started to feel cold, which actually wasn’t all that unpleasant, so I felt pretty successful for having made it through.  This side effect was one of my greater anxieties, because I’m already hot-natured.  I will say, though, that the add-back medication has helped immensely.  I think I’ve only had a handful of genuine “flashes” over the last two months, and they’ve been bearable.
  3. Weepiness:  I won’t call this “depression.”  I’ve been depressed before, and this is nowhere near that bad.  I’d liken it to typical PMS-type sadness; news stories make me want to cry (especially ones about animals) and I’ve found myself reading too many sad stories for the catharsis of “crying it out.”  While it sucks, it’s definitely not that soul-crushing type of hopelessness that comes along with clinical depression.
  4. Irritability/Grumpiness: I’m already a pretty grumpy person, so I’m not sure how much different I am, but I can definitely feel myself get frustrated more easily and there’s been a time or two where I’ve said something snippy that I may not have said if I hadn’t been on Lupron.  Thankfully, for the most part my friends have found my grumpiness to be entertaining, so I don’t think anyone is ready to cut me out of their life just yet.   I’ve not experienced the “Lupron Rage” that I read about; I’ll take some minor irritability over rage any day.
  5. Hungriness:  Holy crap this has sucked.  I went from not wanting to eat anything for two months after surgery to wanting to eat ALL. THE. DAMN.TIME.  I can see how people gain excessive amounts of weight if they’re not paying attention to what’s going on with their body.  I’ve had to make a concerted effort not to eat everything I see and to offset the overeating I do with a healthy amount of exercise.  I’ve lost about four pounds over the last two months; I’d like it to be more, but I’m not going to beat myself up too much about it.
  6. Clumsiness/Lightheadedness: I put these together since most of my clumsiness is a result of feeling a bit lightheaded when I stand up.  There was one incident at work where I barely made it into the bathroom stall before falling down and I ended up cracking my head against the side of the stall when I sat down.  That was a little frightening.  In fact, this one has probably been the most frightening of the side effects, since the possibility of my falling down in front of people is high, and making a spectacle of myself is one of my phobias.  Joey has mentioned a couple of times that he’s a little nervous about my falling off Mt. Mitchell. I just told him that I’d tie myself to him so we’d both go together if I fall.  On a positive note, though, this side effect has improved over the last two months; I haven’t had it nearly as bad the second month as I did the first.

That’s it, guys.  While this clearly isn’t a walk in the park (more like a “stagger through the park while it’s 100 degrees”), it absolutely hasn’t been the horrific experience I read about online.  I know that there are women out there who’ve had a genuinely terrible time with Lupron; I’m not trying to diminish that.  However, if you’re out there and your doctor recommends it as a treatment for your endometriosis/infertility, I don’t want you to feel hopeless and terrified.  It’s possible not only to survive, but THRIVE while you’re on this drug.

The Lupron Diaries: Some Days Are Failures

In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that, although there are days that are six miles walks with hiking boots on:

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There are also days where I don’t leave the recliner, eat an entire box of Hot Tamales, skip my planned three mile workout, and then read sad things until I cry myself to sleep.

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Some days are “Lupron Fails,” as Joey and I call them.  But it doesn’t happen every day.  It doesn’t even happen most days.  In fact, most days are okay, and some are even great!
 

But failures happen.

Yesterday was a failure, but today will be better.
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My Endo Story: The Lupron Diaries

Catch up with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I’d made peace with the fact that we were going to have to put off trying for a kid for six months; in fact, I’d decided that I was going to make the most of the delay and complete my weight loss journey.  It would take some serious work, but surely I could get fifty pounds or so off in six months.  That way, I’d be in the best possible shape to carry a child when (hopefully) it happened, so I wouldn’t feel like I was doing nothing at all during the delay.

Then, I began reading accounts of women who’d taken Lupron.  And they scared the hell out of me.  Massive weight gain, crippling depression, dizziness, clumsiness, joint pain, forgetfulness, diminished mental capacity, bone thinning…no one seemed to have had a good experience on the drug, and more often than not, their accounts were something out of a horror movie; it seemed that no one made it all the way through the treatment before quitting.

Joey asked me over and over if I wanted to go through with it, and he assured me that he was okay if I didn’t…that he was more concerned about my well-being than the possibility of a hypothetical future child.  Conversely, though, he reminded me that it’s rare for someone to take to the internet with an account of a positive experience with a drug, and that I shouldn’t make a decision based solely on the mostly one-sided world of the interwebs.  I’m very thankful to have a husband who’s the voice of reason when I need it most.

Despite the fear, I knew it was our last non-invasive chance for a child, and at this point, we’re not willing to take more invasive measures, so there was no question that I was going to go through with the shots.  Weight gain, though?  I’d lost 44 pounds over the last 1.5 years, and I was scared to death of gaining it back.  Bone thinning?  That doesn’t go away or get better.  Forgetfulness?  I have an insanely stressful job that requires every bit of my brain function most of the time. How was I going to make it through this?

Between the time the Lupron arrived at my doctor’s office on Tuesday and my appointment for my first injection on Thursday, I agonized over my decision to go through with it.  All of these other women suffered, seemingly horribly, and here I was willingly walking into the fiery furnace.  But I also did something else, something extremely uncharacteristic of me: I decided that I was not just going to survive this Lupron treatment; I was going to thrive during it, and I was going to share my experience.  I knew that there would be negative side effects, but I wanted to prove that they were endurable and could be mitigated (maybe even overcome) with focus and diligence (and lots of prayer).  I wanted some poor, scared, woman, searching for answers about her upcoming treatment, to find my story and perhaps some hope that she wasn’t going to end up fat, senile, and riddled with broken bones.

So we got some calcium chews and threw out the junk food, and I registered for a 5K on 4/23 and committed to myself that I would run at least part of it.

And I tried not to think about the fact that I was going to be jabbed in the ass with a giant needle in a couple of days.

My Endo Story: Part 1

Well, it’s been another long season of silence on the ol’ blog.  I look back at years past and regret that I haven’t kept up with things more than I have, but I also struggle with feeling like I’m navel-gazing too much and not wanting to annoy people with constant talk about myself.

I’m breaking that silence, though, and am committing to regular blogging, at least for the rest of the year, to chronicle a very important journey and hopefully help some other women along the way.

Two years ago (this coming May), Joey and I decided that we were going to start trying for a kid.  I’d never had even a hint of a maternal instinct, and for almost twelve years, we’d been perfectly happy being childless and parents only to our kitty, Shelli.  In fact, we weren’t even sure if we were ever going to want kids at all.  I dealt with the “when are you going to have babies?? Don’t you even want children??” questions with an eye roll and a proper sense of sarcasm, but didn’t think of it much otherwise.

Until one of my closest friends had her first son.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I wanted a child.  Joey and I spent a few months talking it over and decided that the timing was right to start trying.

I thought it would be pretty simple (which, in retrospect, was stupid since I already knew I had PCOS and other health factors working against me), but month after month after month went by with no luck.  During the process, I worked on losing weight and getting my health in order, and I tried to keep a positive attitude despite feeling like I was constantly taking my temperature or peeing on something either to tell me if I was ovulating (usually not) or if I was pregnant (definitely not).  For the record, if there’s ever an Olympic category for peeing in a tiny cup, I’m taking home the Gold.

By the end of the year (2014), I’d gone to see my OBGYN and she suggested that we try a round of fertility meds.  I thought that would be it; everyone I’d talked to who had done them ended up pregnant after one or two rounds, so I was gearing myself up for this to work and to have a child by the end of 2015.

Except it didn’t work.  For those of you unfamiliar with fertility drugs, they usually ask you to come in during the middle of your cycle (a few days after you’ve finished the round of meds) so they can do an ultrasound and see if you have an egg that’s ready to go.  And I did not.  I did, however, have a cyst that was larger than the usual PCOS-type cysts. After another two or three ultrasounds (that’s a lot of getting a giant wand shoved up your wazoo, FYI), they determined that it was an endometrioma and wasn’t going to go away.  In June of 2015, my doctor recommended that I have surgery to get it removed, but I was reticent to do something that invasive when I “wasn’t having any problems” (or so I thought).  She was amenable to doing another couple of rounds of the fertility meds, just to see if we could “get lucky” (hehehe), but it was all for naught.

After reading scores of natural-living blogs, I tried what seemed like everything to “cure” myself of this endometrioma: diet changes, supplements, essential oils…nothing worked.  And I got pissed. I ready story after story of some “natural mama” who’d had problems conceiving, and after some coconut oil, castor oil packs, and a few essential oil blends, started popping kids out like a factory.  And here was me, oily, unsuccessful, and irritated, with this ambivalent cyst that seemed to be mocking me from inside my body.

I gave in to the idea of surgery in November of 2015, and scheduled it for the following January 6th.  I felt like that would allow me two more months to try and maybe get lucky and not have to get cut on.  I prayed fervently, and felt hopeful that God would rescue me and keep me from the knife.  I mean, we all read about miracles, right?  Surely He would make me one of those stories, and I’d be able to help other infertile ladies with an account of being rescued just in time.

No dice.

–to be continued–