Thursday, 3 December 2009

IVF, weeks 1-3

So. I started Synarel nasal spray on Sunday November 8, after a training appointment during which we were taken through the whole process in blow-by-blow detail. I've taken it every day, twice a day, since then.

I thought I'd have blogged more during the first weeks of IVF but it's surprised me how tired I've been and how little I've had to say.

I think one reason I haven't written anything is that there's not an awful lot you can say about taking a nasal spray. The bad things are, in no particular order:

1) remembering to take it at 9am and 9pm every day. This is inconvenient because I leave for work at 8 so most days I need to take it in the office toilet. There are days when I've been busy, distracted or just forgotten and then been stricken with panic at 11ish and forced to hare along the corridor to do my sniffling.

Taking the evening dose isn't much better. So far I have inhaled it during a ghost hunt at a castle in a rainstorm, sitting in the cinema during a film, at a salsa class, and round the side of a theatre ahead of meeting a moderately famous comedian.

2) sometimes when you snort in the wrong way, it goes into your sinuses and stings like when you were a kid at swimming class and inhaled chlorinated water. It also tastes bitter and unpleasant when it trickles down your throat, a bit like chewing aspirin without water.

3) the side effects haven't been too bad for me, limited chiefly to the odd hot flush in bed at night, several medium-strength headaches and one fainting episode (but that was when I was poorly anyway with a virus, and I'd just stepped out of a hot bath). One odd thing is that I seem to have low-level heartburn all the time in that when I eat or drink I feel a slight burning sensation in my throat and chest. But, like I said, no side effect so bad that I can't cope with it.

The good things are - well, there aren't any, unless you count the fact that I've responded to it. I had a scan on Tuesday which revealed two very subdued, deflated ovaries - and so they bloody should be, for what they're putting me through - and an empty womb with minimal lining. Everything as it should be after nearly three weeks on the spray. I now need to keep taking it up until the egg collection at which point I can replace this daily activity with the delightful alternative of ramming a pessary up myself.

So I was given the go-ahead to start the injections. I had a training appointment with my favourite nurse after my scan. To say it went badly would be to do injustice to the word 'bad'. I am completely ham-fisted and clumsy at the best of times. Dealing with tiny, fiddly-as-fuck vials and needles while under a reasonable amount of strain and immediately following a vaginal probe did not improve my dexterity.

For my first trick, I shattered the tiny glass vial which contained the dilutant solution. WHY do these need to be so small? I get that there's not a huge volume of liquid and we are living in an age when minimal packaging is considered environmentally sound, but for fuck's sake, I'm not a member of the Sylvanian Family.

And another thing. Why do they have to be glass? It's not like they can be recycled - they get thrown in a sharps box and incinerated as clinical waste, so make them plastic and easier to handle! I cut my hand in four places trying to snap one open in front of my initially amused and then anxious nurse. I left the clinic with four elastoplasts on one hand and another on my arm where I'd had my blood test. I looked like I'd made an extremely bungled suicide attempt.

I'm on four amps of Menopur because of my higher than average FSH levels, so having eventually opened a dilutant vial and sucked its contents into a syringe, I had to be shown how to pierce and dissolve four separate (glass) vials of powder. Each time, you have to squirt the contents of the syringe into the vial, dissolve the powder, and suck everything back up again. Fiddly doesn't begin to cover it.

After that you detach the big fuckoff needle and reattach a smaller injecting needle before easing the plunger up to 1ml, getting rid of the air and then doing the jab. For this you need six hands because you have to pinch your skin, insert the needle, depress the plunger and withdraw it all at virtually the same time. All I can say is thank fuck it's women who do the injections during IVF, as we all know men can't multitask.

At the clinic, I injected myself with a bit of saline solution to prove I could do it, then my first real jab was yesterday morning. I had set everything out the night before, like a cook before a big dinner party, and barely slept because I was so nervous about being able to manage without the nurse. But it went surprisingly smoothly - which, as I discovered this morning, was beginner's luck. It reminded me of the first time I parallel-parked my car after my driving test: it went in first time and I sat stupefied by how this could possibly have occurred. The next time, it took 40 minutes and involved tears, howls and a prang on the bumper.

Perhaps this morning's disaster was because I hadn't slept a wink, having spent the entire night convinced a demon was hiding in the wardrobe after watching Paranormal Activity at the flicks. I knew things weren't going to go well when I immediately sliced my forefinger opening the glass vial. I bleed a lot even from small cuts so was seeping all over the assembled sterile apparatus, but feared I'd be even more bumbling wearing a plaster so I left it.

The next problem was that I couldn't get the frigging syringe to suck up the fluid from the first vial of powder. I kept pulling it up too far and running out of syringe and then leaving a load of liquid in the bottom. If you're not superhumanly quick it seeps out the end of the needle anyway, and for a while I was making absolutely no progress. Time was ticking towards when I needed to leave for work, despite me allowing 20 extra minutes for the injection, and I began to get flustered.

Chanting "fuck, fuck, fuck" in a low but urgent voice, I eventually got all four vials of powder sucked up through a manoeuvre that combined the speed of a panther with the cunning of a fox (essentially, just tilting the vial, ramming the needle in the corner of it and twirling it quickly to attract all the liquid).

However, I had created loads of air with my epic syringe endeavours so the resulting mess looked a bit like a bubble bath by the time I was ready. I started remembering all the films where a murderer injects air into a person and causes a clot that kills them. So I had to tap the syringe for ages to get the bubbles to clear.

After all that, it seemed cruel that I still had to get through the painful bit. I was on my right leg today, which means as a righty that the angle and needle trajectory is more complex, so it hurt more than it did yesterday and I've developed a bruise for my trouble.

All this snorting spray and stabbing needles would be a lot easier if only I were a crack and heroin user. But what am I saying - if I were, I wouldn't need IVF since drug addicts get pregnant at the drop of a hat.

I needed comforting after all that and since hubby had fucked off to work long before I even began my endeavours, I decided waffles, maple syrup and blueberries were the way to go. They were good. But then my car wouldn't start. It has been making a low but insistent beeping noise for a bit now and I've been studiously and foolishly ignoring it. Having consulted the manual and talked to my stepdad, I knew all that was needed was some water in the radiator, but rather than sorting this out at the weekend when I had bags of time, I'd left it till a few minutes before my weekly 50-mile drive to the office I work out of on Thursdays.

I'd never topped up my radiator before but figured if I could inject myself with hormones then surely this couldn't be beyond me. So rather than driving to a garage where I'd be mocked for female incompetence and probably charged for the privilege, I decided, unwisely, to tackle it myself.

Well, I couldn't get the cap off, could I? I tried everything - pulling, twisting, tearing, even prising with my key - but it was all to no avail since my car was manufactured by safety-conscious, obsessive-compulsive Volkswagen. (I believe I howled "Come on, you German bastard" at one point.) Eventually, defeated, hormonal and weeping hysterically, I phoned my mum and yodelled for help which was provided - bless him - within ten minutes by my stepfather.

It remains to be seen what tomorrow will bring. I guess there's a knack to it and that you get better every day. I also think a good night's sleep will help. But the trauma has stayed with me today and I've felt extremely weepy. I suppose it's only natural, given I'm suddenly flooding my system with hormones after suppressing it for nearly a month, that I should feel odd.

I think, though, that being reasonably au fait, if a tad incompetent, with the concept of sticking a needle into my thigh after two days is testament to the fact that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, and want it enough. I think I'll leave it on that reasonably positive note.


MK said...

You have GOT to update more often - I adore your posts! You should consider writing a book on infertility and/or IVF after all is said and done. I'll buy the first copy. ;)

tishi said...

So happy to read your blog again, I have been waiting to see how things are going with the IVF. Sounds like it started off a bit clumsy but I am sure it will get better and easier soon. Nothing makes a day feel worse then a car breakdown. A car breakdown combined with hormones and fertility issues is more then most could bare......I think you did pretty good considering :)
look forward to hearing more!!

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine is having a teleclass on infertility Thursday Dec. 10th. Maybe it can be helpful

Jo said...

I am so sorry that you had such a rough time with your meds -- but so glad you decided to write about it! I needed a smile today. Hoping things are getting better and that you are moving along with the IVF nicely.


donna bean said...

Many many thanks for writing this blog. I am about to start down the IVF road and it's really great to read someone's true experience of things like the injections. I wish you all the best and really hope that your recent IVF was a success. x

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