Time for the biannual blog post

Tombstone: "I toldl you I was sick"
I’m seriously considering this for my epitaph…

So I’m awake at 2AM for the second night in a row. It’s not due to insomnia, but kidney stones.

Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer over seven years ago, I’ve become quite the hypochondriac. I am acutely aware of everything that goes on in my body, and anything out of the ordinary immediately sends up the metaphorical red flag in my mind.

So about a month ago, I was having odd discomfort in my abdominal area. I knew I had a very small kidney stone due to a CT scan a couple of years back. But what I was experiencing wasn’t the searing, I-wish-I-could-die pain that I’ve always heard associated with kidney stones. I went to my doctor, and he couldn’t find anything wrong. In fact, my health is the best it’s been in a while thanks to losing 20 pounds over the past six months.

I thought I was in the clear, and any discomfort was due to my active imagination. Last Sunday I was proven oh so wrong. We were over at Mom’s for dinner, when I suddenly got very ill. It was certainly painful, but the worst part was the fear – I have never felt anything like that in my life, and it wasn’t anything I could isolate – it hurt all over.

So Mom took me to the ER, and sure enough it was a kidney stone – a large one. They doped me up and sent me home after several hours. A follow-up urologist visit showed that the stone probably wouldn’t pass on it’s own, so I was scheduled for a lithotripsy (shockwave) procedure the following Monday.

The last week passed uneventfully. I was on Percoset for two days, but eventually stopped taking anything due to minimal pain. Monday I went in to have the stone blasted, and from all accounts it was successful. But I have been in fairly significant pain since then, mostly at night. The on-call doctor suggested that the stone wasn’t completely obliterated, and I’m still passing some larger fragments. It’s certainly not unbearable, just annoying, as I’m in more pain now than before I had the procedure! Percoset doesn’t seem to help, but it does make for some crazy dreams. The heating pad seems to be the best source of relief at the moment.

Speaking of which, I need to go pass some more bits and pieces of that stone now…

In other medical-related news, Emily had quite a time with our last round of in-vitro.  We had to stop the initial series of injections due to it being too effective.  We started again in late September, and once we got to the progesterone shots, it was miserable for her.  The last two times were not exactly walks in the park, but this time was worse.  Emily herself is in fantastic shape after nearly a year of exercising daily to get rid of the baby fat.  Unfortunately the progesterone has to be injected directly into the muscle, and this time there was much more muscle to deal with, and made her that much more sore.

To top things off, one night I managed to hit her sciatic nerve, which was unbearably painful for 48-72 hours.  Thankfully, she got better after a few days.  But even after all that –  we transferred three embryos and none of them worked.  We still have two left, and we’re praying for the best, but it has been rather discouraging.

But even if the remaining two embryos do not work, Colleen continues to be the light of our lives – she is walking, talking, and learning more and more every day.  I can’t imagine my life without her now.  This Christmas in particular will be so much fun – she already oohs and ahhs at all the Christmas decorations in the store. Though it remains to be seen if she’ll deal well with Santa this year!

"...and a dolly, and some blocks, and another teddy bear..."
“…and a dolly, and some blocks, and another teddy bear…”

In-Vitro: Lucky 21

In early 2007, Emily and I were thrilled to discover that she was pregnant.  It was particularly unexpected, because although we had been trying for a few months, the odds of it happening naturally were slim due to my chemo in 2003.

Sadly our little “Peppercorn” didn’t make it past the eighth week in the womb.  So after a few more months, we decided to start fertility treatments.  A year’s worth of IUIs were unsuccessful, so at the beginning of the summer we started IVF – In-Vitro Fertilization – and the real fun began.

Six years ago I was needle-phobic like you wouldn’t believe.  I had often thought to myself that given the choice between dying from cancer and going through chemotherapy, I would pick the former option.  Little did I know that would be stuck dozens of times myself, and that I would actually end up giving shots to my wife.  But here we are, some 40+ injections later.  At the beginning of July Emily started on Lupron (which halts the ovulation process), and a week later Follistim (which hyper-stimulates the ovaries),  all in an attempt to create as many eggs as possible for fertilization. With regular blood tests, she was getting stuck 3 and 4 times a day.  Even with my newly-developed tolerance of needles, if the roles were reversed, we would be adopting 🙂  She’s a stud.

Anyway, yesterday was retrieval day – we went to the fertility center and they removed all the developing eggs – all 21 of them!  The average number is between 12 and 15, so to have that many was a big relief.  A call this morning revealed that 19 eggs matured, and of those, 13 were successfully fertilized.  Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll have 13 embryos to transplant, as some will not survive.  But on Tuesday we will implant two or three strong ones and hopefully there will be a few more that we can put in cryo-storage for implantation at a later date.

At which point will begin the longest two weeks of our lives as we wait to see if Emily is pregnant again…