Thursday, May 30, 2013

From Left to Write: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Due to my Mother's Day induced depression I'm about 10 days late getting this up. Because of some of the themes in the book I could not use it to escape my own situation like you can in other books. But now I'm feeling better about that, and I'm glad I picked it back up.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena takes place in the war torn land of Chechnya from 1994-2004. Being a social sciences major I took a few classes on 20th Century Russia but we never learned much about Chechnya or the other former members of the Soviet Union. After reading this book I have to wonder, why not? Of course this seemed very timely having received this book so soon after the Boston Bombings.  If you enjoy historical fiction I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy.

Although the book takes place during the First and Second Chechen Wars, it does not do so chronologically. The book uses a series of flashbacks to slowly reveal information about the characters and setting. It also commonly gives little snippets about what happens to minor characters in the future.  I really enjoyed learning what happened to people you would normally never hear from again.

Three of the characters in the book are infertile. This would seem like the perfect inspiration for a post, but there was something else I felt more drawn to. One of them is infertile due to a condition I can't relate to, the others are never given a reason for their infertility. It is mostly mentioned to let the reader know they don't have children because they can't rather than don't want any. One of the infertiles in particular definitely mourns the loss of his potential children, which is one of the reasons I found it hard to read around Mother's Day.

One of the main characters is Akhmed, the doctor of a small remote village who would much rather be a portraitist. His wife Ula is bedridden due to an unspecified chronic illness. He thinks perhaps it is "lupus coupled with early-onset dementia", but he's not a very good doctor and doesn't have many resources so he can't be sure. He has to do everything for her, and while he still loves her he sees her as more a patient or a ward than a wife. Minor spoiler warning: He eventually cheats on her because she is incapable of fulfilling his needs.

This I could relate to far more than I would like. I have never been as bad off as Ula, but there have been times I've been on bed rest. I might could feed myself, but I couldn't get my own food from the kitchen. I could bathe myself, but occasionally the pain would get so bad I could do nothing but sit on the tub floor hoping Josh would eventually come check on me and help me out. When the pain is at it's worst I might wake up sobbing, unable to muster the strength to get up and get my pain meds for a half an hour or more if he is not there to help me.

More than the physical symptoms of my condition, my decreased mental ability is what scares me the most. I used to be smart. In (I think?) seventh grade I took the SATs and almost passed. I was only a few points away from getting a full ride to Duke University. In 10th grade I was taking classes full time at the local college. When I first met my husband we used to spend hours debating and having intellectual conversations. We don't do that anymore. I am hopeful that when I am able to go off the medication completely the fog will lift and my mental acuity will return. That smart person still has to be in here somewhere. However I know the medication has changed my brain. After my first prolonged period on it I developed motion sickness that has never gone away. I have lost countless memories that I will never get back. One of my worst fears is that my husband will think I can't meet his needs for intellectual stimulation, and start to look for someone else to do so.

As a member of From Left to Write I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. Check out more posts inspired by A Constellation of Vital Phenomena here

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Darn my pale Irish skin!

Buy the t-shirt here.
Every year on May 25th we celebrate Towel Day in honor of Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy among other things. From the Hitchhiker's Guide:
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value -- you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you -- daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
 This year in honor of Towel Day my mother, sisters, brother-in-law, and I spent the day at the local water park. DH didn't go because he doesn't swim.

Look at us hoopy froods. 
As you can see from the picture, all three of us sisters are pretty pale but me exceptionally so. I put sunscreen on my whole body twice, the top of my arms/shoulders three time, and my face four times. Yet where did I get sunburned? The top of my arms and face (and boobs)! This is why I don't go outside. The sunburn is still there so I can't say if those parts will tan or not, but the rest of me is just as pale as always. Not even a hint of color. My mother said if we had fun maybe we can get season passes, but I told her there was no way unless I can wear a wetsuit. =D

Besides having glow-under-black-light skin I also have a generally sucky immune system. I took a bunch of extra Vitamin C before going, but still ended up getting sick. For the past few days I've felt like I have food poisoning. I suppose it could be sun poisoning but I don't think the sunburn is quite that bad. I never heard back from Nan (FIRM's embryo donation coordinator), and after speaking to some other people who have used them that's not unheard of. Once you're a patient she's good about calling you back but not so much before then. I've just felt too sick to keep calling and hoping I get her this week so still no news on that front.

Even if the sun did try to kill me and I ended up sick, I still had a lot of fun hanging out with my family. I've had so many problems with my endo I haven't gone to the waterpark with them in several years. For once it was nice not to worry about it so much. I did start hurting at lunch but I had my pain medication with me and was fine by the time we were done eating. I call it a successful weekend. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Waiting For Baby June Blog Challenge

Waiting For Baby is having a June Blog Challenge! I tried to do 30 Days of Thanks last November and kind of sucked at it, but I'm going to attempt this anyway. Here are the daily prompts:
1.Family story - how did your parents meet, how many brothers/sisters, tell us what you want. 
2. What do you drive? What is your dream car?
3. Biggest indulgence
4. Favorite snack?
5. Do you have any pets?
6. Name you picked out for your kids when you were younger. Bonus: share any name ideas you have now
7. You're in labor: drugs or no drugs. Why?
8. If you had a choice - SAHM?
9. How supportive is your SO in your TTC journey?
10. How do you help get yourself (and or SO) get in the mood to DTD during the fertile period?
11. Describe your wedding.
12. Perfect anniversary - describe it.
13. What's the most interesting vacation you have been on?
14. First job
15. First love
16. What did you have for breakfast today? What do you normally have?
17. Do you drink coffee? Cream/sugar/how do you drink your coffee?
18. If your insurance covered infertility treatments at 100%, unlimited attempts - what would you try and for how long?
19. What's your advice for parenting an adopted child?
20. What sounds reasonable in an open adoption - I.e. how much contact is do-able?
21. Tell me about a TTC blog I don't have on my blog roll - why should I go visit? (No preggos please)
22. What's your favorite children's book?
23. If you had 100,000 that had to be donated to charity what would you do with it?
24. What's your biggest fear about becoming a mom?
25. Describe the contents of your purse. What kind of purse do you have?
26. If you could give advice to a newbie infertile, what would it be?
27. When you were younger, what job(s) did you want to have?
28. Do you speak any other languages? When do you think a child should learn a new language?
29. Tell me the highlights of your college years.
30. What's one thing in your closet you wear when you have a nice occasion? Interpret that as a date night or important job event.
 If you would like to participate hop on over to her blog and let her know!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Punday 5/27

I looked for some memorial day/military themed puns, but they were hard to find! Saying "Happy Memorial Day" seems a bit uncouth, so umm... I wish you all a Peaceful Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Infertility Dreams

This post is not about the "I have a dream" kind of dreams, but the kind that sneak up on you in the middle of the night. Why dream about puppies or rainbows when you can dream about injections? We're not even in treatment right now!

If you can't tell, last night I had a dream (or probably nightmare) about infertility. One of you lovely ladies got her BFP and offered to give me the rest of her stims so I wouldn't have to pay for them. So I went and got this little mostly full bottle of something, the dream wasn't specific. And then everyone started getting on my case about that being illegal. I was going to go to jail because someone was nice to me. Apparently in Dream Land it's illegal to give someone your fertility drugs, but only if you used some of them. The person who gave me the vial had used some, but only a teeny tiny amount. I had to try and convince everyone it was still full and she hadn't used any, otherwise they were going to call the police on me. Both dream me and real me are terrible liars so this didn't go well. It was so frustrating because things were finally going well and instead of having our baby I had to try and keep from being arrested. When I woke up I was so relieved. Not because if someone gave me their drugs I wouldn't actually go to jail (I know others have had stims donated to them without a problem), but because we won't need stims for our donor embryo cycle. Infertility really does seep into every aspect of your life.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy May ICLW!

Welcome ICLW'ers! No idea what ICLW is? Learn all about it here! I normally would start my post out with a welcoming picture or gif but I'm a bit rushed today so you'll have to forgive me.

For those who are visiting for the first time, my name is Tasha but I pretty much exclusively go by the name FrozenOJ or Frozenorangejuice online (unless I'm gaming, where I use the character name Jaliyah). Why? Because I needed a screen name for something and it's the first thing that popped into my mind. It's been working for me for probably 15 years so no point in changing it now. I am a stay at home wife as my endometriosis is too bad for me to work. Josh, my DH, is a graphic designer who is currently going to and working at the local branch of FSU. He also did some work for a movie and he's supposed to be included in the credits when it comes out which is really cool! We don't have any live children, but we do have an adorable Yorkie.
Everybody say, "Awww!"
I have PCOS and Endo, and after my laparoscopy in 2011 was cautioned to try now if we wanted kids before it was too late. So we started trying in October, and by February I was on Clomid. I did not respond well. Finally in October 2012 after ovulating just three times we got our BFP only to miscarry three days later. I was on either Clomid or Femara until March of 2013 when we stopped trying to focus on my endo. Things had been getting worse and finally it got to the point I was in pain all the time and on too much pain medication for TTC to be safe.

Shortly before this we found out we were dealing with MFI as well due to low testosterone. We made the decision to go on testosterone therapy even though it would make Josh at least temporarily sterile as having bio kids doesn't seem to be in the cards for us anyway.

Now we are looking forward to trying out embryo donation/adoption. We are waiting until I can come off the pain medication, but are hopeful we can start that process in the next few months. I called the clinic today to find out some information and see what we needed to do when we are ready to get things started, but unfortunately the person who deals with that was off. So I'm waiting to hear back. People I've talked to who have used this clinic said you can start cycling within a month or two of contacting them, but I've also heard there's been a run on embryos lately so the wait time might be longer.

I have recently started selling 550 paracord awareness bracelets to fundraise for the embryo donation. I'm normally not a very crafty person but I've enjoyed making these. I'd love to eventually be able to turn it into a source of income and not just a fundraiser. Right now I'm selling them in colors representing infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, PCOS, and endo. The pink could also be potentially used for breast cancer and the yellow for the armed forces. I'm thinking of branching out into things other than bracelets, like ribbon shaped keychains or dog collars or something. If you like one you can go through Etsy (linked above) or just email me what you want since they do charge a transaction fee.

My endo is doing some better, but there hasn't been as much improvement as I'd like. I started out taking a tramadol about every four hours and now I'm down to about two a day. When I put it that way it seems like things are going quite well, but it doesn't feel like things have improved that much. I'm tired of being in pain. I have a little over a month before I'm estimated to be relatively pain free and that cannot come soon enough.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Taking my head out of the sand

For the past few weeks I've in kind of a mental lock down mode. I haven't posted here since last Monday, even though I should have four additional posts by now (well, this one is really only a day late). I haven't been using my G+ or Facebook. My Twitter apparently got hacked and I didn't even notice. I got the stuff to make the paracord awareness bracelets (more on that later) but wouldn't make them because the tutorial was online. I have 157 posts of yours waiting to be read in my reader. I've just been in total avoidance mode. My attitude was kind of like Sheldon's above, if Amy was replaced by every single person on the internet.

It wasn't until Saturday that it dawned on me what part of the problem was: Mother's Day. My first Mother's Day after my loss. I didn't want to see or hear anyone talk about it so I just stuck my fingers in my ears and ignored everything. Did that make things better? I don't know. Sunday I had a couple of minor breakdowns, mostly just in my head, but overall it was a good day. My mom, my older sister, her DH, my younger sister, my DH, and I all went out to eat at a nontraditional location - a sports bar/pub. Thankfully there weren't too many happy smiling pregnant women or families with small children so it wasn't too bad. Then we went to see Iron Man 3 and Oblivion, and there weren't any noisy children in attendance. My older sister posted something on her Facebook for me which I really appreciated. Overall I think it turned out as best as it could have. I hope by next May we have something to really celebrate.

My little sister, me, older sister, and mom.
It wasn't just that though, I've felt like I've been at a standstill regarding my recovery. I feel better than I did before starting the new treatment, but I don't think I feel better than I did around the one month mark. I'm nervous things won't get much better than they are now. I was going to call the clinic we would like to go through for the embryo adoption to find out some more information, but I'm scared we won't be able to do it. So that's been something I've been avoiding as well. Sigh.

I've heard from several people that exercise and smiling release endorphins that make you happy. I very much want to be happy. I've started a new exercise regimen where every other day I work out (well, at least do yoga) with my PS3 game Fit in Six as much as I can without hurting myself, and go for a walk on the other days. So far it's going well but I'm only on day four so we'll see where I am in a couple of weeks lol. Unfortunately my Appalachian Trail Virtual Walk app is stuck at 8.3 miles and I can't get it to register more than that no matter how long I walk, so those updates on Fridays are cancelled. I might find another app for walking but it won't be as cool as that one. I've tried to remind myself to smile anytime I notice I'm frowning even if I don't feel like it.

I think these new changes must be helping some, as here I am writing this instead of watching TV. Yesterday I finally finished my sample bracelets and set up my Etsy shop. They are $5 each plus $1 for shipping. I've already sold 5 and have a couple more people interested! Right now I only have pink, blue, black, and teal cord to make them with but I've ordered some yellow and hope that will be here next week. I need to sell at least 15 to make up what I've spent on materials, but I think that's doable. I have enough cord to make 40 or 50 of them. If you'd like one you can order through Etsy or just send me an email with what colors you want, your wrist size, and address and pay through the paypal button here on the blog. The money will of course be saved up to pay for whatever it takes to make us parents. My mom is trying to set up a local fundraiser for us as well to help sell some. I really like making them even if no one else buys them and I have to give them away for Christmas haha!

Well I think that's all the news here for the moment. I'm sure I'm forgetting something but I just can't be bothered to figure it out. Obviously I'm still dealing with some of the apathy that's plagued me recently. I hope by next week I'm feeling much closer to myself again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Punday 5/6

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A huge thank you!

One week after adding the Paypal donate button to my blog and we've already raised $80! Honestly this is more than I ever thought would be given to us, especially this early! So thank you, thank you, thank you to those who have felt it in their hearts to help us along this journey.

As you may have noticed, I've added one of those fundraiser thermometers to my sidebar. It says "we need your support" but I'd much rather have it say "thank you for your support". Unfortunately I wasn't able to change it. I'd hate for anyone to think I was demanding help or anything, so please don't take it that way!

For those who can't donate financially but would still like to help, keep in mind each time you visit my blog with ad blockers disabled (and especially when you click on my ads, which are worth far more than views) you are contributing to our Embryo Donation fund.

As a side note, I noticed someone else raising money for adoption started selling jewelry on Etsy and had some success that way. I was thinking I could start making 550 paracord bracelets with an awareness ribbon in them like the one below. Paracord bracelets are a great thing to have because they not only look nice (imo) but you can unravel them in a survival situation and get 7-10 feet of cord to use for whatever you need. One thing I learned playing RPGs is rope is incredibly useful for a ton of things. I was thinking of making some for PCOS (teal), Endo (yellow), and infertility (pink and blue, which is also the color for pregnancy/infant loss). What do you think? Would anyone be interested in those? I imagine they'd go for $5-10 each.

Again. thank you to everyone who has supported us and continues to support us through financial donations, visits to my blog, comments, hugs, etc. You are all appreciated immensely. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Meet the Parents

I was looking for this scene from The Shining and found this instead, so you're welcome.
DH's dad and step mom were here over the weekend, which was both good and bad. We haven't seen his dad for years and have never met his step mom in person so that was nice. Unfortunately I learned that it's very easy to over exert myself right now and regret it later. My pain was much, much worse the last couple of days than before they came to visit. I also remember that it was worse after my friend's wedding too. On Saturday we are going to a water park and I'm already mentally preparing myself to be in a lot of pain after.

Their visit also meant taking a detour from low carb land to Olive Garden which was delicious. I almost always get the five cheese ziti, but I was a good girl and got the moscato peach chicken instead. It was supposed to be 30 something less grams of carbs, plus I didn't even eat all the pasta! And I didn't eat a single bread stick, if you can believe it! I did get the gnocchi soup instead of salad but over all I call it a win.

Saturday night I started spotting unexpectedly. After looking on Fertility Friend it happened right at the time I was supposed to get AF. By Sunday it was fairly heavy for spotting, almost enough to be a light flow. I was expecting it to get worse (the inspiration for today's gif) but it never did. By Tuesday it had basically stopped. I was going to call Dr. E about it but decided not to. I think the timing was really a coincidence since FF is basing that on cycles I ovulate. I missed a dose of the Aygestin a day or two before it started so I think that's why. If it happens again I'll definitely call about it but I'd rather not have to increase my dose if I don't have to. If we double it I'll be paying $70-100 dollars a month for this stuff. No thank you.

Speaking of which, I transferred my prescription to Walgreens as it's cheaper there and they give you a $25 gift card for transferring. The woman who checked me out looked at her computer, then to me, then back to the computer, then back to me and asked, "Are you pregnant?" I had to say no, I wasn't anymore. She said "okay good, because you can't take this while pregnant." I just smiled back and checked out. Of course I was thinking no, it's not good. I would much rather still be pregnant and have no need for this stuff. I don't even know how they knew about the pregnancy. I had a little mini breakdown then went and got a Tropical Smoothie and felt better. I just can't let that kind of stuff bother me. Of course I've had a migraine of varying intensity for who knows how many days and that's not helping.

A blog post that's less than 500 words! I think that's a record for my long winded self. I guess I'll stop here before I ruin it haha.

ETA: Eek! I forgot to remind everyone that my giveaway ends tonight! So go enter if you haven't already!