The List

Oooh, I do like it when the ultrasound lady tells me “Well Done!” in an excited voice while looking at my follicles.

Yes, I’ve been back in to IVFland – otherwise known as the Monash IVF clinic, for me – for more ultrasounds and blood tests. And all is progressing well – everybody cheer now! – with lots of follicles this time, all of them a good size. The hormones are doing their job and I’ve not been injecting myself twice daily for nothing. Excellente.

So I say we cross of at least three things off The List today. Always a good feeling.

I have told you about The List, haven’t I?

The List of All The Things That Can Go Wrong?

Ah… let me explain…

First up, before you even get to IVF, there’s months of tests. Months and months of them. Aeons of them. And they take forever. They prod you. They poke you. They stick things inside of you. Things which can hurt, sometimes with insane pain-making intensity. (One day I’ll tell you about the Levovist test. One day, when the emotional scars have healed enough for me to face it.) And they keep on doing it, time and time again.

That’s all if you’re the woman, of course. If you’re the chap, they just send you into a small room with a television set playing some badly-acted movie about a guy with a shocking moustache dropping past to the clean the pool, and ask you to have some fun, then catch it all in a little cup. Yeah, sux to be a man, hey.

Anyway. Point is, by the time you actually get to IVF, you’re well used to intimate moments with strangers in lab-coats, it’s just all part of the fun. It’s not even the stressful bit. The stressful bit is the paperwork. Arranging police checks. Child protection order checks. Health insurance checks. Consent forms, advanced consent forms, doctor’s signatures, registration forms, open-ended referrals. It does tend to drag on a bit, as in, never-bloody-ending.

But when you finally do get through the gauntlet of tests and more tests and paperwork that seems to drag out forever, suddenly it all ramps up into activity central.

It gets complicated and it gets fast, all of a sudden. With lots of things you need to be doing right exactly on time or else it can’t be done at all. So the lovely, lovely people down there in IVFland – and they are seriously just wonderful – take the time to explain, often and in detail, with care and understanding and always with a smile, all the information you need to know.

They don’t just explain it once. They explain it ten times. At least. Which is a great thing, because you need to hear it that many times, because with injections and ultrasounds and paperwork and blood tests and surgeries and counselling and paying thousands of dollars and figuring out what the leeches at the private health insurance fund will cover and arranging time off work and everything, it’s kind of easy to forget things. And you can’t forget anything, or else none of it will work.

First you hear it from the doctor, the gynaecologist, the counsellor (IVF counselling is mandatory in Victoria, which totally thrilled The Partner, heh), and the nurse, not to mention anyone else down at the clinic along the way, from the receptionist to the accountant to the guy who sweeps the floors. And it goes something like this:

The Process of IVF (for me, it can differ): inject hormones every evening at the same time to make the follicles grow big. Inject different hormones every morning at the same time to stop ovulation. After about a week of this, go for an ultrasound to see what’s working and what isn’t.

At this point, we could end up at any one of several scenarios:

1. You could not have any follicles/not be responding at all. Stop the process, go back to your doctor, do not pass Go.

2. You could not be responding well enough yet. So just keep on injecting and come back again another day.

3. You could be responding too well. Hyper-stimulation. The follicles are growing like mad, kind of like internal triffids. Very important to stop the process here, go back to your doctor, and not pass Go. Or, alternatively, end up for a week in hospital trying to recover.

4. You could have ovulated anyway. In which case stop the process, go back to your doctor, do not pass Go.

5. You could be doing OK and they book you in for harvesting.

Last Wednesday, I clocked in with #2. This morning I seem to be on track for #5. Yay hormones.

But from here it gets more complicated. Just because there are follicles doesn’t mean they have eggs. And just because there are eggs, doesn’t mean they are viable eggs. And just because there are viable eggs, doesn’t meant they’ll fertilise when the scientists inject them with The Partner’s little wrigglers. And just because they fertilise, doesn’t mean they’ll grow into viable embryos. And just because there is at least one viable embryo and it gets implanted back into it’s natural environment – i.e. inside me – doesn’t mean it will stick.

See, once you’re in on the IVF Information Loop, you start to notice it’s not just information. It’s a list. The List.

The List of All The Things That Can Go Wrong.

And the IVF process is simply a matter of slowly crossing things off that list, bit by bit.

So it seems The Partner and I can cross of problematic scenarios 1, 3 and 4 and go straight to Egg Collection, by way of more injections to kick-start ovulation beforehand. Collection will probably be Monday, when I get to find out what a general aesthetic tastes like (I’ve never been under a general before; indeed, I’ve never been in hospital before, even for a day procedure), and while I’m under, they go in with their harvesting equipment to get my eggs.

We’re up to the next step on The List. And you can be sure I’ll keep you all updated when it happens.

Kind Regards,
The Patient.

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Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm  Comments (1)  

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