Tuesday, March 16, 2010

menstrual suspense thriller

Almost every cycle lately I've had a little bit of slippery CM a day or two before I was suspecting any. I always get very excited about this and assume that my normal, healthy CM - it was textbook! - which left the scene a year ago after my HSG and never returned, has at last come back. Sometimes I happen to write a blog post on the day this happens, and I usually say something celebratory. It has to be the day of, though, because by the next day, I realize that the same thing is happening again: I'll have a little bit of slippery, that I really have to search for, once or maybe twice every day or every other day for several days. But I know what a normal fertile pattern looks like and that ain't it.

Nevertheless, I pretend those are "fertile" days (my husband, worn out after years of IF and unwilling to have sex on command on my schizophrenic theory that we should still be using "fertile" days though I am demonstrably infertile, has required that I refer to the entire business as my "sexy phase" and refuses to hear anything about a "fertile phase." If I use his preferred terminology, he is willing to have sex with me on the days I recommend).

So anyway. I am about to share with you a charting suspense thriller that ought to make your blood run cold. But everyone has been around this defectiveness block so many times that I think everyone will know exactly what door the killer is hiding behind. I am chagrined to say that this time, I, the stupid heroine (and not even blond), feverishly bolted the wrong door and then leaned heavily upon it, breathing a sigh of relief, moments before my cycle once again lowered the axe.

But this metaphor is getting a little heavy. To the facts.

Nobody (including me - I had to go through blog posts to get all the numbers right) is really paying close attention to my menstrual cycle, so I'll start with a quick recap.

October 12: surgery to remove cysts, adhesions, abnormal cervical tissue, and a uterine polyp - so my reproductive health would improve.
Rest of October: recovery, return to work, ignore seriously messed-up cycle. The next one will be normal.
November 5: new cycle. Lasts 22 days. Crap.
November 27: start another cycle. Lasts seventeen days.
December 14: New cycle. Post about how at the going rate, my cycles will soon have negative length. Call Dr. L/C and she tells me to take the tamoxifen I still have. 27-day cycle! (Normal for me.)
January: start new cycle. My tamoxifen bottle had ten pills so I take the other five this cycle and then plan to swear off them for life. 23-day cycle...given the apparent "peak day," medically impossible. I am a miracle menstruater!
February: 24-day cycle. Off the tamoxifen, so this almost seems like good news.

We now resume our story in present time. I started my cycle on February 26. My husband, by the way, got back from a long trip abroad on February 20th, so we had no shot during any of my fertile phase (or whatever it should be called) during my previous cycle. In other words - and I'm not sure it's ever really necessary for me to say this - I could not possibly be pregnant. Of course, I decided to pay careful attention to when any fertile signs occurred during this cycle. It's hard to tell in my case (see HSG knocking out my CM, above), especially since I'm bad and still not taking my temps. But I did notice some stretchy at the end of my period (CD6 and 7), which, per Sew, I am ignoring. Then stretchy CD10 and CD12 (we used some of these days). Then CD15 I had serious breast tenderness. What the heck is that a sign of? Doesn't matter, I'm not pregnant. Next day, a tiny bit of stretchy. Planned to use that day but we were super-busy with planning the St. Patrick's Day party we were co-hosting that night. So we agreed we would use the next day (this past Sunday).

CUE SCARY MUSIC.

We left the party early (seriously) and arrived home just a bit before 4AM. I went to the bathroom before collapsing in bed and saw bright red spotting. I knew I was at about the end of my "fertile" phase - we were planning to use the next day, right? And I had seen a tiny bit of stretchy that very morning. And it was CD16 - so before I collapsed from exhaustion, I read up on midcycle spotting on Dr. Google. It said that this was a sign of ovulation and a "very favorable" sign of fertility. I had never had this sign before, so (this should clearly indicate how tired I was; can't blame alcohol but I sort of wish I could) I realized something must be improving after the surgery after all. A clear sign of ovulation! And the internet (an actual medical site) said "very favorable!" I've never had a very favorable anything. As I fell asleep, I did the math and realized that having sex the next day if I was ovulating that day should still be a good plan. I went to bed with a smile on my face. Gotta be the first time I've been happy about something fertility-related in years. And it will be the last...

As the heroine collapses with relief against the back door she just bolted, she hears a slight noise. Down the hallway, she can see the front door, which she had just run through. She slammed it behind her, but it's hanging open...a few feet away, she suddenly hears a loud footstep, and then -

The next morning when I went to the bathroom I realized I had started my period. I had a sixteen-day cycle. I also started my period during the middle of my fertile phase. WTF?!

This time, when I opened TCYOF, I looked for "perimenopause." (It's not listed separately; you have to look under "menopause." Even better.) Early symptoms of impending menopause include shortening, heavier cycles. This cycle certainly isn't "heavier," and I haven't had a heavy day yet (I certainly did last cycle). In fact - and this is extremely odd - I haven't taken a single Al.eve, which I usually live on. I generally take my first when I feel abdominal tightness and I haven't yet. But I've had NO cramps. That hasn't happened to me in almost fifteen years. I think there's something in TCYOF about "why are my cycles alternately heavy and light," which I can't seem to find, but I think it was "the light ones are probably ovulation spotting." But that can't be so in my case - I'm on CD3, and all three days have been bleeding, not spotting.

Anyway, I'm due for my annual exam. I can't get my p7 bloodwork done since peak day has been shrouded in mystery since surgery (well, it was clear in December. It was Christmas. p7 was New Year's Day), but CD3 is still pretty clear. I'm going to ask for a requisition to get my FSH retested. I can open a lottery, but I am personally guessing that my level (which was 10 and 9.8 in 2004, and 9.0 in 2009) is over 20 and climbing.

If my dh hadn't been out of the country in February, I'd already have bought an HPT, not because I believe I'm pregnant, but because I always want to rule that out as a reason for serious cycle oddity, so I don't wonder about early miscarriage later. (Hasn't happened yet.) But I'm not wasting $8 to rule out a miraculous conception. I believe I'm starting the journey toward menopause. I'm 28 years old. God works in mysterious ways, and I become more hardened and listen less with every passing month. Maybe this is His way of getting through to me that I don't need to go through the expense, or heartache, or pain, of a hysterectomy to avoid my endo getting worse again. Thanks for that...

14 comments:

  1. I had a high FSH reading this past November (14.5) and I'm 25 years old. Awesome, right? Have they done an antral follicle count on you? It can help gauge DOR.

    I'm sorry you're dealing with this.

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  2. Feeling like a jackass for mentioning that last time. But I stopped trying to interpret my cycle two years ago and have nothing of practical import to say. thinking of you

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  3. Wow, that is short. And you had a full bleed last AF? Hmmm...I would love to see you do one of those full saliva hormone panels to see what your hormones are doing all month long.
    How confusing!

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  4. I was on the edge of my seat for that one.

    argg about the 16 day weird cycle.

    Praying for you.

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  5. Wow, that is a lot of information! I remember charting my temp and I think that was always the best indicator for me. I couldn't really ever tell from my CM, since I am a mucus-y type of girl most of the time. The temp was the best way, although I have to say, in seven cycles of charting with clomid plus two years of natural trying, I never conceived.

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  6. I'm so sorry. If I lived closer (and knew you irl), I'd bring you tea and warm banana bread. As it is, I'll just say a few prayers.

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  7. Holy crapola!

    I wish that I had some advice for you, or at least a glass of wine!

    Sending you prayers and hugs!

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  8. Prayers for you. I know how frustrating wierd charting can be. It's maddening.

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  9. I'm sorry that your cycles just continue to get weirder. I think that you might need to do a cycle long hormone panel to see what in the world is causing that craziness.

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  10. Hmmm...something is going on there. THat is a short cycel...sounds like hormones. I would get them checked out and your thyroid. I have my levels checked about every 3 months since I'm on the T.3.

    I learned something new with your post too...bleeding during O c/m is good? I've never had that or heard of that. If it happens to me...I'll be okay with it...I guess. Thanks for that tidbit of info..even if it's from dr. goog.le. :)

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  11. To be honest, I am not sure what to say. I hope you find some answers soon. I hope you get some sort of resolution so you don't go crazy. I wish I had a magic wand to fix all the infertility issues of my internet friends unfortunately I don't and for that I am sorry. I am wishing you all the best and am thinking about you.

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  12. That is crazy short. I have extremely long cycles and will have “breakthrough bleeding” in between which is very light without a true ovulation, but that doesn’t sound like your situation at all.

    I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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  13. Nooooo! I do not like the end of this suspense thriller! Booooo!

    Is this a "choose your own adventure" book? Can I flip back and go to a different ending?

    I am so sorry. Those are some weirdo cycles. I just don't get it WHAT is going on?!! Why are things getting weirder?

    I know how much you love testing and such, but I think the other posters' recommendations for a full hormone panel are good. I would personally recommend doing bloodwork, rather than the saliva. My experience was that my saliva test misdiagnosed me with weird stuff ... apparently different than the weirdness I am actually experiencing. The saliva test costs less overall, but the blood test costs less to you bc insurance will pay for it.

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  14. Argh! Sounds like more data will help you interpret all this stuff. Bloodwork, a full panel, and have you had a saline sonogram? Different than the HSG... Just to cover all bases. It wasn't until I got a saline that they FINALLY found out what the frak was up with my bizarre, constant, heartbreaking bleeding. Insurance (my crap insurance, no less) paid, as long as it was coded correctly (i.e. no mention of the "i" word).

    Thanks for your kindness, Misfit, and your suggestion. Academia is weird, and two years off is more or less the mark of doom on a CV, which is why so many women struggle in the field to maintain their sanity. And I feel like I need to launch my boat, now that I'm in my mid-30s.

    It's a happy thing, the clarity, without bitterness. In fact, I'm feeling really good about my life at the moment.

    Maybe it's the spring sunshine. Which I hope you get a great dose of soon.

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