Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reproductive EndoWhat?

I'd like to say that I'm new to all of this. It'd be nice to sit back and watch this all unfold with innocent wonder. But instead I've been planning the journey we're about to undergo for years. Unbeknown to anyone else, of course. But I had to be ready myself.

Infertility. What exactly does that mean?

not fertile; unproductive; sterile; barren: infertile soil. "

They compared me to bad soil. The kind that ruins farmers' lives I'm guessing. I don't know a thing about soil. But I do know what unproductive means. I've done that before. Kind of like procrastinating without actually finishing the ultimate goal. Or laziness. So is that what I am? Biologically or reproductively lazy?

When I was 18, off in college, I started birth control pills. I was a virgin. Had no plans of changing that anytime soon. I started these little 'fix-its' because of pain. Since about 14 I had a serious pain problem every month or so. Luckily (?) my dear Mom had some experience with similar symptoms. She had a hysterectomy at 29...

I was unofficially "diagnosed" with endometriosis around that sweet age of 18. By 19 doctors started telling me that I should try to have kids as soon as possible. I switched birth control every 6 months trying to find one that would work. I was, let's say, "moody" at this time.

I swam in college. I was good at it. No seriously, I was pretty good at it. I even had a future in it if you can have a future in swimming. At 19 I found myself being carried by my coaches to the hospital due to ovarian cyst ruptures on two separate occasions. I was a freshman on the swim team- not the low maintenance freshman that you want to be on any college team. I had to be "special" in a very bad way.

This went on for a few years, my entire college swimming career really. I found a couple of different pills that worked for me for a little while. Surgery was talked about frequently- to officially "diagnose" me (you can't diagnose endometriosis without going in and actually looking). But I was swimming. Surgery was reserved for athletic injuries only (which I had a couple). Finally, after my senior year, we went in for the real thing.

Stage 4 endometriosis.

"The Stage or Severity of Endometriosis

Doctors commonly diagnose endometriosis in stages. Here are the common stages of endometriosis:
Stage 1: Endometriosis in stage one is classified as minimal. Most patients will get a score of 1 to 5 points, meaning there are isolated incidents of endometrial tissue growth outside the uterus.
Stage 2: Endometriosis in stage two is considered mild. A patient having a score of 6 to 15 points has mild endometriosis. A doctor makes this diagnosis when there are several small implants and a few small areas of scar tissue or adhesions.
Stage 3: Stage the endometriosis is moderate. Patients with 16 to 40 points have moderate endometriosis. The implants in stage three must be superficial and deep. There must also be several prominent areas of scar tissue or adhesions. Typically the symptoms of endometriosis are common in patients with moderate Stage III endometriosis.
Stage 4: This is the most severe stage of endometriosis, with over 40 points needed for diagnosis. Patients with stage IV endometriosis will have many superficial and deep implants as well as large adhesions. Endometriosis symptoms including infertility are common in patients with stage IV endometriosis. "

So we knew that it would be a long road from there. Shocker. But my surgeon was optimistic that he'd removed almost all of it. That he could perform another surgery before I wanted to get pregnant one day. That I'd be ok.

I kept living. After a long recovery, things were good. Stable-ish. Then I met B. After all of the "frogs" out there, he was a breath of fresh air. My prince. I fell in love and started thinking about that pesky "future". A few months into our relationship, I went back in for a second surgery. Stage 4 endo again- it had all grown back in about three years.

This is where the tricky part begins. Read on friends...

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