And now, poppets, we come to the part of the show where I grow weary of needles.
It happens every time. Around the second or third day of taking follicle stimulating hormone, I start getting a bit weepy at the prospect of taking my needles. I start feeling the hormones, so of course I’m starting to get a bit overly sensitive. It doesn’t mean I stop, of course. It used to be that I gave myself my needles, and at this point, BDH took over and gave them to me. But now, he does it full time, so I just get the emotional bit. I have had so many needles throughout my life, and generally needles don’t bother me (except dental needles, which are Instruments of the Devil). And this is not like the old days, when these drugs used to be injected into your bum with huge intramuscular needles; they are just small-barrel subcutaneous needles. But combined with hormones, I lose a bit of my nerve and patience some days.
I have been taking Lupron since Wednesday. Lupron is taken twice daily, so we set our alarms for 8 and 8. It’s not a bad drug to take; by that I mean, there don’t seem to be any outstanding negative side effects for me. My heart was racing a couple of times, but that’s normal, and seems to have stopped. What I don’t like about it is the needle itself. I still take it in my leg (although I could take it in my stomach, but PLEASE, does that sound like any fun for ANYONE? I think NOT.) But unlike some of the other drugs, where you get a pen or a pre-loaded syringe, this one comes as a bag full of generic syringes from the pharmacy and a vial of stuff. So we have to load up the syringe ourselves, which is not a bad thing. On a morning when you’re sleepy, it can be tricky, but it’s not a big deal. The needles themselves are the pain in the ass — or more specifically, the leg — with this particular drug. The needle itself seems to be bigger, which so far has posed 2 problems for us: adjusting to the amount of force required to poke it in, and the tendency to hit more stuff when it goes in. The tiny needles of the pens barely make a mark, and are certainly the closest thing to painless you can find. But these ones are bigger, and so they can sometimes hit capillaries, which is a bit painful, and can also make you bleed a fair bit. (Take note: Pooh bandaids can be wonderfully soothing in these situations.) As well, if you don’t inject them in a spot with enough padding, you’ll feel it (as BDH can attest when I hollered the other morning). Add to that, the drug itself stings a bit at the injection location, both going in and afterwards. But another complication we have found with this one is that the generic pharmacy needles have had noticeably BENT needles; that is, they’re not attached entirely straight to the syringe. THAT HURTS. Going in, yes, but when coming out… let’s just say that with all needles, you are supposed to pull them out directly perpendicular to the skin, as they were supposed to have gone in that way. So coming out drags the point of the needle ALL THE WAY ALONG the hole it went into as it comes out if it is not straight. That? Hurts like a bugger.
On Friday, we added in Gonal-F, the follicle stimulating hormone. I have a love/hate relationship with follicle stimulating hormones. Things I love: it gives my body a lovely dose of hormones, which have been clearly lacking over the last two years, and so for a time, I feel normal; it seems to work well for me, and my body responds well to it, unlike most other drugs, which prove me to be a medical case study; and it comes in a pre-loaded pen with tiny little thin needles, which make it very easy and painless to inject. Things I hate: it costs a ton of money, $450 per injection, so if the cycle goes badly I am just flushing money down the drain; and it makes my ovaries swell to the size of oranges. Okay, this is not entirely a bad thing, but it can be uncomfortable. Have you ever FELT your ovaries, ladies? (And don’t tell me about being able to feel the little twinge of pain when you ovulate, because that is just a well-bandied-about medical myth. There are no pain receptors in ovaries.) No? Not terribly conscious of your ovaries, are you? I thought not. Well, imagine then that you begin to actually FEEL them getting all big and squishy and stretching everything around (THAT you CAN feel). Imagine the feeling that you’ve got two small water balloons right where you bend to sit. It’s not painful. It’s odd. It’s a bit disconcerting. The pushing and stretching is a bit… strange and uncomfortable sometimes. And so, as they get bigger, you get squishier. And the joke “I am going to need a bra for these puppies” starts to come up a little more.
However, if they’re getting bigger and squishier, the hope is that they are developing more and more follicles for retrieval for IVF. Most women naturally produce 1 or 2 follicles that are viable (containing an egg) each month, as well as some small ones. The ideal, the “glory number”, is that you produce 10-15 viable follicles with all these drugs. Of those, some will just contain fluid, but you hope most will contain eggs. You won’t know exactly how many until after the retrieval procedure when they get the fluid under a microscope. But to have the best shot at this, you want as many as possible. If you get fertilized eggs out of this, and they do a transfer of 3 embryos at a time, there’s no guarantee they will stay, so I’d like to have some backups. I’m not looking for a whole passel of kids here; I just want the best shot I can get at one or two kids. So, with all that in mind, I will not complain about the Ovaries of Doom. I’ll get my little C-cup Ovary BraÂ® and go on my merry way, thankyouverymuch.
But, like I said, the hormones have started. And so, by the second or third day of hormones, I begin to get a little bit weepy. BDH is good at giving needles; it’s me who is bad at receiving needles when I am flush with hormones. I can’t give them to myself, and I cry and get frustrated. Or, BDH is giving them to me, and I sometimes get tired and don’t want to feel the needles anymore, and I cry and get frustrated. It always happens. Not with every injection, just from time to time, but it happens every cycle. It is just the way it is. BDH doesn’t even worry about it any more. He’s used to it. At first it freaked him out, but now he’s come to understand that it’s just a side effect of the process. But the thing is, this protocol is the “pincushion protocol”, and there are many, many more needles in my immediate future.
I think it’s a safe bet to just make sure I have lots of Kleenex and Pooh bandaids handy for the next few weeks. Just in case.