THANK YOU to everyone who has left a note of support, encouragement, and a bridge back to her online home on my last two entries about DOR/POF. I really appreciate that you reach out and I've discovered more great blogs and gutsy women in the process. For more on the DOR/POF, see this entry for the rundown of the medical tests, and this entry for my emotional response. And yes, that is the order in which I processed it.
Incidentally, I think the most uncomfortable moments of the whole IF-journey so far happened while I was receiving the tests results that point to a DOR/POF diagnosis. Not only because it was bad news, but because I was really baffled as to how I should react. Mr. Turtle kept looking at me as if he expected the top of my head to blow off any moment. He's a counsellor and I could just feel him shift into "crisis intervention mode" when we got the drift of Dr. Cotter's message. And meanwhile I'm sitting there, thinking: "Would you stop staring at me! I'm so confused and now I'm embarrassed too!" Ha. The truth is, I was struggling just to process what Dr. Cotter was saying, and as the shock set in it was harder to concentrate. I had no energy available for a dramatic meltdown. Also my mouth and throat was really dry making it difficult to talk properly. Things you learn on your trying to conceive journey, number 13.4556: Bring a bottle of water to uncomfortable fertility-related appointments.
I've also realized it's important write down what all the tests are about before I hand in the requisition forms, otherwise I have a hard time remembering what they are and what is the significance. While they explain all that at the follow up appointment, I find things move very fast at appointments and it doesn't help to be mentally behind.
Today I gave up 8(!) vials of blood for the following:
-Anti thyroid ab
-Anti adrenal antibodies
-Karotype testing for Fragile X
-HIV / Hepatitis testing (standard before proceeding with fertility treatments)
I was rather anxious about this bloodwork. Not because I am scared of needles (I just drink a lot of water and point them to the big fat juicy vein in my left arm - the needle hurts more going in than it does in the right arm, but the blood comes easier). No, I was scared because now I am expecting more bad news. The rational part of my brain knows it's silly to worry about that, but the irrational side worries anyway. However, it's all done now, follow up is on August 8th - I know, a long time - and in the meantime I can focus on other things.
The laboratory happens to be near a large shopping mall, so I did some errands after giving it up for Science. Among them was to pick up a book my MIL recommended: The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis, Ph.D. My MIL is a Chinese Medicine Practitioner and does acupuncture treatments in her own highly successful clinic, as well as working with hospital patients at times. She is a highly informed, sensitive, calm, kind, all-round amazing human being. The catch: she lives on the other end of the continent, so I see her at most twice a year. However, she is fully up to date on the fertility situation, and we had a chance to chat a bit on the phone this weekend. Because I do respect her greatly and we could use all the help we can get, I picked up the book.
Now, other than a few complimentary treatments from MIL for motion sickness and relaxation (the normal extent of my health concerns prior to infertility) I don't have much experience with acupuncture or Chinese medicine. I've had it flagged as something to look into, for quite a while...but I tend not to be proactive about health matters, if only because I'm usually healthy. So, this book is taking me a bit out of my comfort zone.
I found a cool spot in the house (not easy; it's the first really hot day of summer) and read a bit of the first few chapters and the chapter on POF. It's definitely thought-provoking. The idea of treating the body has a whole system, rather than focusing on one organ (e.g. ovaries) that is not working is intriguing. So is the idea of encouraging the body to correct its own hormonal imbalances rather than flooding it with outside hormones. There are paragraphs about supplements that are supposed to help balance the body, and dietary recommendations. The chapter on POF ends with the story of Dannette, age 33, who had POF and had stopped menstruating. (She also had had an earlier pregnancy that ended in miscarriage.) Dannette had given up on having children (though she still wanted them) but was seeking some relief of the nasty POF-symptoms. After acupuncture and herbal supplements, Dannette's menses restart and she eventually conceives.
There's still a lot in the book for me to read through, but I found even as I read this chapter I was feeling both some interest and excitement but also fear and even anger and frustration, especially when reading Dr. Lewis's happy anecdotal examples. Why? I think it is because "trying naturally" became so frustrating that I really want to put all that behind me. We tried with timed intercourse for a year and a half, and I think we actually were very good at it. However, after receiving the diagnosis of "primary infertility" from our doctor last summer, I think I have labeled the year and a half of trying unassisted as a failure and a waste of time. The later diagnoses of male factor infertility and especially DOR/POF have just underlined all that as pointless. I'm goal oriented, and once I identify a path as not profitable, I just don't want to go there anymore. It's onto the next thing.
Even the title of the book bothered me: The Infertility Cure. Are you kidding me? Somebody thinks they can just CURE INFERTILITY? Yeah I don't think so! Let me give you a big fat list of things you can't cure with some stupid herbs.
One the other hand, ART and traditional medicine don't have all the answers either, and I'm intrigued by what I've read in The Infertility Cure. Considering DOR/POF has underlined to me that IVF alone may well not be the resolution to our infertility, either. IVF is probably still the best way to go; after all we have the male factor diagnosis on top of the DOR/POF. No reason Mr. Turtle can't try some Eastern medications as well, but since we suspect his infertility is related to his Crohn's, which isn't going to go away, there's no quick fix there. Still, some of the Eastern medical techniques coupled with IVF might lead to results; in the meantime, I can contemplate a diet without dairy (oh no, say it ain't so.)
I know lots of people try acupuncture; has anyone tried a holistic "cure" for infertility?