Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beginning again... No, continuing my journey...

          My husband didn't know I was on Weight Watchers again for over a month.  I hid my books and supplies from him and just told him I was watching what I ate (which explained not going out as much and tons more veggies in the fridge).  The reason I was so secretive was that when I mentioned going back to WW to him before, he'd blown up about how we are so bad about seeing things through and he didn't want to waste the money on Weight Watchers because we weren't really going to do it.  We hadn't done it last time, so why believe that this time was any different? 
          That was honestly his thinking on the issue, and so when I signed up online the night of my 34th birthday, I said nothing.  I said nothing as I slipped out to the meeting the next day and the next few weeks.  When the monthly pass card showed up in the mail, I was gone somewhere.  I came home and it was sitting quietly on the island in the kitchen, and he didn't say a word for a few days after.  He broached the subject pretty sneakily, asking how many Points Plus the sandwich I was eating had.  I told him and continued eating, but didn't dignify his pointed question with a longer response.  It's probably childish, but since he'd made it clear he wasn't going to be encouraging from the beginning, I wasn't going to allow him to take part in the process at all this time.  He eats what I prepare, and is happy we're eating at home more, but he doesn't ask many questions and I don't offer much information.  I have people I can go to who encourage me and cheer me on for the little successes - and I can tell he's happy that I'm taking care of myself.  He's made comments about my pants falling off and stuff like that, but he doesn't ask how my weigh-in went or what topics we've discussed at the meetings.
          I know he loves me... and I know him well enough to know that I don't need the negativity and pessimism that talking to him about fitness and weight loss brings.  I have realized that I don't have to be perfect to do this.  Finally!  I can't live as a perfectionist anymore when it comes to my health, and so I continue my journey, stumbling here and there.  I ask myself (and you) these questions:  If you have returned to a weight loss program (like Weight Watchers) over and over, losing and gaining the same 20, 30, 40 pounds again and again - Do you feel like a failure?  Where would you have been if you HADN'T kept coming back?  How many times did it take for you to realize that you didn't have to be perfect to succeed, and how did you come to that realization?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Posting a quick update, since it's been months since I posted, literally!  This summer has been both busy and seemed to take forever to go by...

My surgery went well.  The doctor found several endometrial polyps while he was in there and removed them all.  The largest wasn't coming from the top of my uterus like we'd thought, but the left side, and was almost completely blocking my left fallopian tube!  Recovery was fairly uneventful, and I had almost no bleeding at all - though I made more use of the pain meds than I expected, due to cramping.

Because of timing of recovery and my cycle afterward, we did not do an IUI during the month of July.  We did one in August, to no result... but, to be honest, I wasn't really keen on our chances, as I only had one follicle at my mid-cycle ultrasound.  This month we do our IUI on the coming Saturday.  At my ultrasound Tuesday I had three follicles that looked primed to trigger on my left ovary.  Here's hoping that this is our month!  Fx (fingers crossed)! 

The house is coming along and I'm nearly done getting my craft room all organized and settled - just a few more things left to get set up and moved around.   :)  I can't wait to take pictures and show everyone, 'cause it's gorgeous!! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Silver lining

My first cycle doing an IUI was a learning experience.  I really didn't know what to expect, aside from the science parts.  My doctor wasn't particularly forthcoming with information regarding when things would happen, aside from "we'll keep track of your cycle closely with ultrasound."  Therefore, I was a little stressed about timing.  When would Michael NEED to be here for his part?  He was working with some contractors to finish up the house in Iowa for renting, but he needed to go up and do the last little bit himself.  Should I worry about the size of my follicles after my first ultrasound?  They seemed kind of small and a 3-day wait didn't seem long enough to grow big enough for ovulation.  Now, in his defense, my actual doctor was out of town until my final ultrasound - so really it was the other doctors and his staff that were unintentionally keeping me in the dark.  When I asked about timing, all they would tell me is: "It'll happen when your body is ready."  I wanted to beat someone for a few days there (might have been hormone-related, but I doubt it). 

Notes for the future - the IUI is going to occur most likely around day 13 or 14 when using Femara.  Michael only needs to be involved on the morning of the procedure itself, as the sample must be fresh.  Go into the office needing to pee, as it apparently helps with the ultrasound during the procedure and nobody told me about it.  Wear socks - while the office is not cold, laying on the table for 10 minutes causes your toes to feel like they're freezing off.

I had a little cramping after the procedure, and I tried to take it easy the day of, but I couldn't exactly put my life on hold for the next two weeks.  I had to do some cleaning around the house (the kitchen is DONE, I'm so happy), I had a class for three days down at Ginger's, I was co-autocrat for Namron Games... life must go on.  Over the following 2ww (two week wait), I analyzed my body for any symptoms of pregnancy.  Were my feet swollen because I was working hard, or because I was pregnant?  Was that pain in my lower abdomen indigestion, or was it because of implantation?  Was I so tired because I could only catch sleep in small increments, or because my body was using the energy for other reasons?  And toward the end of the wait: Are my breasts sore because I'm about to start my period, or because I'm pregnant?  Anything my body did that seemed even remotely unusual, from digestive issues to headaches to mood swings...

And when I started spotting on Sunday and then bleeding on Monday, I was sad, but not devastated.  See, even while I was doing this analyzing and observing, I really didn't think that I was pregnant.  Somehow I knew going into this cycle that I shouldn't get too excited or hopeful, even though I was going to go through with the treatment.  Then the doctor doing the first mid-cycle ultrasound to determine if I should trigger ovulation noticed a really bright spot on my uterus, with dark points at the ends.  She told me she thought it was an endometrial polyp, but that she wanted Dr. Hansen to verify that when he got back.  Polyps don't prevent pregnancy, but they DO dramatically increase the risk of miscarriage.  After a consultation with my doctor, he recommended I go ahead with the IUI anyway, as the polyp is relatively small and he believed it wouldn't cause a problem.  I really spent my 2ww hoping I wasn't pregnant so I didn't have to live in fear for the next 9 months (hopefully)  that I would spontaneously miscarry due to this polyp in my uterus. 

Tuesday I go in for a definitive test, where they will fill my uterus with saline to verify that it really is a polyp - and then I will have it surgically removed before the end of the month.  This is a silver lining, really.  Once the polyp is gone, I will know for a fact that my uterus is a safe place for my baby to grow when the time comes.  Which will hopefully be after the IUI in July.  ;)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Trying again...

As most of you know, I had a busy April!  From working on the house, my SCA duties, going to doctors and going on a cruise, I spent so little time at home I didn't get much of a chance to sit down at my computer to blog or even check Facebook much.  I apologize for the lack of posts the last couple months, but getting my life in order has to come first.

I will post a rundown of my cruise, complete with pictures at some point in the coming week.  For now, I wanted to share news on the PCOS front, since that's what I left everyone hanging with back in March.  I cannot find the words to express how much I appreciate the comments and emails I received.  Your love and support mean so much to me!  But I also wanted to reassure everyone that I no longer feel the way I did before... I am able to look at the situation with a lot more clarity and understanding.  The overwhelming flood of emotions slowed up a bit when I stopped trying to get pregnant every month, and over time I have dealt with the issues that came up one at a time. 

So, with the house getting more like a home and my head as clear as it will ever be... we went to the fertility doctor on April 9th to talk about options.  When we were trying to get pregnant before I was on a regime of Clomid or Femara to force ovulation, using Ovulation Predictor kits (OPK) to test for the right days, and then the usual means of getting pregnant ;).  6 cycles of actual ovulation resulted in no pregnancy (obviously).  Since as you age your reproductive situation rarely improves, and it's been another two years, he's decided that our best course of action would be to attempt a few cycles of artificial insemination.  Basically, I'll be given medication (Femara again) and an injection of hCG (which I self-administer later in my cycle) and the doctor's office will track my cycle very closely using blood tests and ultrasounds.  There's a narrow window when the actual procedure has to take place, and they will introduce the sperm directly into my uterus via a small tube.  This whole thing is called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and the likelihood of conception using this method is significantly higher in a given cycle.  There's a much more scientific and informative article on Wikipedia if you're interested in learning more.

I know that's a lot of information to take in, and I hope it's not too much to share here.  I'm just so excited to be trying again!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Whatever's in the fridge... aka: Jambalaya

Usually when I'm sick, I just don't want to cook.  Tonight was totally different... I couldn't think of a single prepared food in our house that sounded good, fast food is off the diet entirely right now, I didn't want to ask Michael to go get something, and pizza didn't sound good at all.  So as I stood staring into the fridge trying to decide what dinner would be, I started really craving something spicy and flavorful.  Gumbo sprang into my mind, but since we have no okra at the moment, I dismissed the idea.  However, we did have everything necessary for Jambalaya except the andouille sausage, but we had two Earl Campbell's Red Hot Links leftover from early this week... and since I'm incapable of making anything without adding additional veggies, I threw in a few that were on the verge of going bad in the fridge.

What happened in that pot was pure magic (strange substitutions and additional veggies and all)...  spicy and flavorful, warm and filling - absolutely perfect for a cool day and a sick girl.  This makes a HUGE batch, so there's plenty to freeze for meals in the future.  I didn't take a picture, but I promise to upload one tomorrow when I have some of this for lunch.

I know, no posts in weeks and then two in one day.  I'm sporadic, what can I say?  Enjoy the recipe!

Heather's Jambalaya
Serves 9 (one cup servings)

2 hot links, 1/2" slices
1 pound chicken (two medium sized breasts), cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound peeled shrimp without tails
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups green beans (thin style)
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilis
2 Tbsp Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning**
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups white rice, uncooked

**Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (adapted from a recipe found on foodtv.com)
2 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly - makes 2/3 cup

Heat large pot or dutch oven with olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute until onion is translucent (3 min).  Add mushrooms and sausage and cook until heated (3 min).  Add chicken and cook until mostly done (about 5 min).  Add remaining ingredients and seasonings, stirring to combine thoroughly.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Stir and then recover, allowing to cook another 10 minutes, or until rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

According to the Recipe Builder on Weight Watchers, this works out to about 8 Points Plus per serving.  Not bad at all for a full meal!

Spring Fever

It was a balmy 79 degrees yesterday for a high.  I could NOT sleep Wednesday night, so I slept in before heading up to get my eyes checked.  Have I mentioned on the blog that I got LASIK last month?  I've had an absolutely wonderful experience going through Clearsight Center in Oklahoma City.  All of the doctors I've seen have been friendly and professional, their assistants were fantastic, and the surgery itself went pretty much seamlessly.  They assigned a "coach" to me, who helped me through the procedure and even held my hand when I was nervous... which was a lot!  The first few days my vision was really hazy, but it's clearing up really well, and as of yesterday I'm healing pretty much perfectly.  There's still a little trouble with dry eyes (yay eyedrops!), haloing at night, and my eyes get tired fairly quickly.  These are all things they warned me I might experience, and I am assured will pass over the next few months.  Compared with having to wear glasses every day, this is an absolute joy!  I wake up and can see my beside clock clearly for the first time in my memory... and I can already tell I'm going to have a small wardrobe of sunglasses.  :)  They're so fun! After my eye doc appointment, I made a trip to Whole Foods to grab bulk grains and lunch.  Then I walked around outside in a park for awhile to enjoy the day.  I grabbed a coffee and read for awhile, basking in the sunshine.

Today is significantly cooler, but the sun is still shining and it smells like spring out there.  The birds are singing in the budding (and blossoming) trees... and while I feel a bit out of sorts physically, this kind of day really makes my heart happy.  But I want to be outside!

Oh, appointment scheduled with the fertility doc on April 9, just before we leave for our cruise.  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dealing with PCOS

If you Google "PCOS" or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a significant number of very good information sources come back.  Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia, PubMed Health, WebMD, Women's Health.gov, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association, and on and on.  Most of the results are fantastic sources for scientific causes and symptoms of the "disease" that effects up to 18% of women of child-bearing age.  You might see a similarity in how PCOS is treated by doctors and what a woman can do on her own to help make the symptoms less troublesome.  What you DON'T see is the effect that having this extremely common syndrome has on the women that deal with PCOS every day.

If you continue down your list of Google results, you'll see websites such as Soulcysters and other websites that offer women with PCOS somewhere to go to vent about troubles and get support from other women who are in the same situation.  These message boards and mailing lists are invaluable to  those of us who struggle every day with the often embarrassing symptoms of PCOS.  There is a bias in general society that if you have trouble with weight gain (or weight loss), or excess hair, or any of the other very visible symptoms of PCOS that it is entirely within your control to change them.  While there are things that we can do that will help keep symptoms in check, if the hormones in our bodies cause strange things to happen, there's little we can do about it. 

I was almost entirely asymptomatic until I was in my 20s, when hair on my face started darkening and growing thicker.  I started struggling with breakouts and dandruff, which was a new thing for me, as I'd had clear skin through most of my teen years.  I'd always had irregular periods, but birth control pills helped even things out there.  In school, I had always been a little overweight, but in my 20s I started to put on weight that no amount of dieting or exercise could keep off.  I believed that all this was caused by something I had full control over and I started to hate myself for not being strong enough to combat these changes in my body.  I thought that if I worked out harder or ate less, I could lose that extra weight.  I tried bleaching and even shaving the hair on my upper lip... it was mortifying.

When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, it actually came as a relief at first.  My body was working against me.  There wasn't anything that I had done to cause these embarrassing things, they were symptoms!  Then the reality hit me.  I was almost 30 and married to a wonderful man with whom I wanted to have children.  All of a sudden my fantasy of two kids and a white picket fence came crashing down around my ears.  I may never have children.  Rather than saying "Hey, there are fertility treatments, and women with PCOS get pregnant all the time using them," I spiraled into a pit of despair.  I was a failure as a woman.  My body was built to do one thing, if you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, and I couldn't even get that right.  Suddenly, every pregnant woman I encountered (and they were EVERYWHERE) was a vivid reminder of the life I would never have.  I cried watching Huggies commercials and tried not to be bitter when my friends and family announced pregnancy after pregnancy.

Hubby and I subjected ourselves to the rather humiliating poking and prodding required by fertility docs, and started treatment while I was still in college.  After 8 months of hormone treatments and a monthly roller coaster of emotions: "Am I?  Oh, I hope!" followed quickly by "Not again," and a deluge of tears every time my period started, we decided to take a break from trying to conceive (ttc).  It was just too hard.  I was already under a ton of stress with school, the hormones had caused me to gain about 30 pounds in 8 months, and my head was still in the dark place where all I could think about was my failure on a basic primal level.  It wasn't always overt and conscious thought, but it colored everything I did.

It's been about 2 years now since we stopped trying.  We didn't intend to take such a long break, but one thing after another seemed to trump our desire to get pregnant.  I think that ultimately, this time is what has allowed me to get my head around the diagnosis and really understand that it's not my failure.  It's not failure at all - 18% of women struggle with this same issue, and even more yet are faced with infertility.  I'm doing what I can to make my body healthy and get my world ready for the child I WILL have someday... and I'm ready to start trying again. 

If you've made it this far, I want to thank you for reading my story.  It's personal and it's not necessarily pleasant to read - but I think it's important for women who are suffering to understand that they're not alone.  And having PCOS is nothing to be ashamed of.  If you have any questions or just want to chat, please don't hesitate to email me or leave a comment.