I want to apologize for the absence of my journal over the last few months. Back in April, it was my intention to use my next entry from June to share my IUI experience. Brad and I had every plan to launch a full-scale, medicated and assisted cycle to make our dreams come true. Unfortunately, those plans got sidetracked.
As I went to bed on June 10, I noticed a distinct tingling in my left foot. Within a few hours it had spread to both hands and both feet. I hardly slept a wink thinking that something was wrong with me. My friends thought that I had a pinched nerve or something and recommend a chiropractor. Let me preface the rest of this story by saying that I have had hand tremors for at least 3 years. I had been encouraged to get it checked out, but after tests and such for our fertility specialist were fine, I just didn't think it was worth a fuss. The chiropractor told me to give it a few days but he didn't think it was anything he could fix. He recommended a neurology evaluation. I had to take some time to think about that one. He threw around some pretty big words like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
On June 12, AF showed. We were ready to start our IUI cycle. I called the RE and we scheduled a baseline ultrasound for Monday, June 16. I was ready to roll! But after I woke up Friday, June 13, I knew I probably wouldn't make that appointment. The tingling was pretty strong and I my nose felt funny, too. I drove myself to the ER and met Brad there.
I had blood tests, an ekg and a CT scan. They said everything looked fine. Their best guess was that maybe it was a viral infection in my spinal fluid. They admitted me with intentions of a spinal tap. After meeting with a few different neurologists, they recommended a MRI first. Definitely sounded better than a spinal tap. They completed the MRI by noon Saturday, but I waited in anguish until Sunday morning to get results.
It was then that they told me about the abnormal results of the MRI of my brain. I was diagnosed with a Chiari Type I Malformation. Basically the cerebellum (the back part of my brain) has overgrown and is crowding the spinal chord as it funnels into the neck. It's a congenital defect but people may not have symptoms until adulthood. The only real treatment is surgery. Obviously brain surgery sounded really scary, but I feel very blessed that one of the country's best experts is right here in my town! He's done more surgeries for Chiari than most neurosurgeons around the country and this is his specialty. They released me from the hospital with orders to follow up with the neurosurgeon. I am anxiously awaiting my appointment with him on August 19. I don't know if he'll want to move to surgery quickly or if he'll take a "wait and see" attitude. What I do know is that I'm looking forward to this appointment and hopefully receiving some concrete answers about my condition.
In the meantime, the anxiety almost became too much to bear. I went to see a counselor I knew, but I wondered if I needed medical intervention. My neurology clinic recommended an internal medicine doctor for me to see since I didn't have my own primary care physician. I met with the internist at the very end of June and he had more interesting news for me. My thyroid numbers were very skewed and indicated hyperactivity. He scheduled me for a thyroid scan to determine the reason for the hyperactivity.
On July 16 I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease. The scan showed that my entire thyroid is being affected and it's extremely overactive. The doctors were quite surprised that I hadn't been sicker. I then followed up with my internist and saw an endocrinologist for treatment options. For my particular case, they recommended a medication regimen that I just started. I'm taking a thyroid suppressant 6 times a day and another medication twice a day to help with the increased heart rate and blood pressure due to my thyroid. My Graves Disease had also caused me to have a bit of a heart murmur, but they believe that will resolve itself after I'm treated.
After a myriad of other tests and a few more MRIs, they also informed me that I have a herniated disc in my upper back that might need surgery at some point. Again, they were surprised that I wasn't feeling worse. However, my back problem will have to wait until after I meet with the neurosurgeon. Apparently he will be very interested in my back condition.
Well, that's about enough for one person for a matter of 6 weeks, right? Well, that's just the physical stuff. Let's talk about the emotional impact of all this news.
First and foremost, I am sharing this with all of you because it has a drastic impact on my journey to conceive. While I'm on thyroid medication I cannot get pregnant. The medication has been shown to cause birth defects in utero and they don't recommend that anyone take that risk. In fact, I was told to use birth control while on the medication. I was also told that the course of medication could take 18 to 24 months. That could put ttc on hold for almost 2 more years. Obviously not what we had imagined at all considering we were preparing for our IUI just a few short weeks ago. Now are dreams seemed to have vanished. We don't even have it in us to look ahead that far with the curveball we've been thrown. When I come out on the other side of this valley, I can't guarantee I'll still want to ttc. I may simply appreciate my health and my life and not dare to ask for more than that. But we've discussed such possibilities and have agreed to keep our options open when I do receive a clean bill of health some day.
Brad has been my rock. He continues to amaze me with his strength and he has held my hand every step of the way. You can't convince him that something could go wrong. He is completely convinced that I'll do better and be better than anyone else with these conditions. I thought I knew how blessed I was, but such feelings have continued to grow over the last few weeks.
I'm also being reminded that the faith that carried me through days of joy will also sustain me through days of pain. If I claim the Lord and His blessings when things are easy, I can't forget his promises when they are hard. I believe that God has entrusted these things with me for a reason. Perhaps I haven't been pregnant yet because my body was obviously not prepared to carry a child. Perhaps my body has been giving me clues for years and I ignored them. Ultimately, I cling to my faith and thank the Lord for carrying me through. When I emerge from the other side of the valley, what a wonderful testament I will be to God's grace.
Physically, I have been feeling good. I'm taking care of my diet and I'm exercising. I've lost 15 pounds over the last month and it's starting to show. I've had some headaches, fatigue, and stomach pains that I plan to discuss with my doctor, but overall I've felt wonderful. Emotionally, I backslide every now and then. I can go several days without negative thoughts, but then my fears get the best of me for a bit. If they can find these things wrong with me, then anything seems possible. I'm afraid that they aren't done with the list yet! But I have to believe that my doctors are doing the best that they can with what they know.
I write this today as a farewell. My journey toward parenthood has had a major roadblock thrown in the way. I understand now that I have to take care of my body and my health for the day that it might carry a child. Perhaps I'll be able to return to this journal some day. Perhaps the healing of these health issues will enable me to conceive with ease and my pregnancy journal will be added to the list. Since I'm currently a bit overwhelmed with unknowns, I try to focus on the ones that could be positive! But if it doesn't, please know that it's been a pleasure and a privilege to share my journey with you. It was a wonderful experience to pour myself into these entries and chronicle a chapter in my life I won't forget. The love and support I have received from so many of you has been such a blessing. I like to think I fought a good fight against infertility, but I don't think I've lost the war. This battle, however, belongs to my body and the journey of ttc is replaced by my need for T.L.C. Time to just be Brenda and Brad again.
God bless you all!