Saturday, May 28, 2011

oh, hello there

I am annoyed about many things. The sellers' stupid bank still has not gotten back to us about our offer, which was good for a whopping 90 days and has now expired. We have signed a 30-day extension (until June 26), because a few days before the original 90 days ran out, the sellers' realtor transferred the matter over to someone in her office who has done a lot of short sales and is a bit more aggressive (we hope).

The evil, hateful, inefficient, not-even-capable-of-pursuing-its-own-self-interest-competently bank in question is none other than Bank of America. Do not ever buy a home from Bank of America.

Also, do not ever bank with Bank of America. That is currently the personal bank of Mr. & Mrs. Misfit, but not for long. Yesterday, I went to the bank to order more checks (I didn't realize I was on my last book). And they charge $12 for checks, which I think is ridiculous. The teller had a look of anxiety as if I had just asked to close out all of my accounts so I could buy a boat, cash, in small, unmarked bills. Then he proceeded to tell me that I could either pay $10 apiece for cashier's checks (postal money orders cost, what, two dollars? And I don't have money on deposit with the post office), or I can get them for free if I join the BoA "Advantage" customers, which merely requires me to have a minimum bank balance that I already have - and sit down with a customer service twit to listen to an explanation of the exact same terms the Terrified Teller had just explained to me. But first, I would have to wait in line for half an hour for the privilege. And no, you can't do this online or over the phone. I was in a huge hurry, so I said no to the explanation/signup process, and so of course the fellow realized that I easily qualify and $10 apiece for cashier's checks is extortionate and especially in this time of reduced availability of credit, they want to keep the business of someone who has a lot of money on deposit with the bank (still not as much as the student loan debt, though), and that not yet having signed up was just a technicality, so he gave me the Advantage customer discount on the cashier's checks anyway.

Wait, no, that's what happens in the alternate reality in which BoA is a competent institution that trains its employees in good business practices. In actual life, the Terrified Teller, looking even more terrified, pawned me off to one of his colleagues (he was emotionally incapable of providing the cashier's checks), who told me that I would still have to pay the $10. After I waited another ten minutes to find this out. I should clarify here that at no point during this circus was I brandishing, or in possession of, any weapon or anything that resembled a weapon.

So, who has a bank they actually like, with offices in a lot of locations (including DC and VA), tellers who are both efficient and helpful, no foreign-ATM fees, and free checks? Maybe even some percentage of interest available on savings accounts?

Also yesterday, I had my RE appointment. In summary: femara doesn't really seem to be helping, so I will be doing HCG shots starting next cycle. Okey-dokey.

Things in the misfit household otherwise continue to be difficult. Some things are better and some things are worse. I finally got an appointment with the counselor who works with Father, for two weeks from yesterday (i.e., on my day off). Sooner would have been better. Mr. Misfit has gone from generally not well to generally not well plus, specifically, very very depressed. While I have to give him credit for doing a lot of constructive things - trying to eat a bit healthier, working hard at his job, getting a lot more exercise - it is very hard to live full-time with a really depressed person.

I also know that the fact that I am now totally tapped out is not helping. I am worn out by all the negativity. After being the chipper princess (so not my personality) and uttering "but on the bright side" statements in the face of everything for days, I lose it completely, and scream and swear at him for being a horrible person. I have cause, but I am not helping the situation, and that is no way to talk to someone I love.

Finally, though I am frustrated over (STILL) not knowing whether the house will go through, I continue to decorate in my head. Here is today's inspiration photo:

I just love the feel of this outdoor space. I have to have it - or at least my version of it. Here's what I'm planning to do. I'm not going to use a deck (partly because the house doesn't have one). But in the backyard there is an ancient tree so enormous I couldn't possibly get my arms around it. Sadly, it's just outside this picture, off the lower right corner:


The giant tree will form one corner of my little area. The other three corners will be made by these arches:


Then I'll use some of that inexpensive tension curtain-hanging wire between the arches (and tree), and hang painter's drop cloths from them as inexpensive, rustic curtains, tied back with some fabric.

Since I don't have a deck to serve as a floor, I'll need an indoor/outdoor rug. Now, while I love the inspiration photo, I don't want to go too literally Moroccan, as that's not consistent with my personal history or the rest of my style. So I'm going to stay away from a really Eastern textile palette, and stick with something simpler - maybe sort of nautical colors. Something like this might work:


I just found these chairs on craigslist for just $50 (for both!), and I'm hoping they're still available. They can go on the glassed-in porch during the winter and rainstorms, but for hanging out outside, they are going under my tree.


I think I'd also like a pair of these ($70 from ikea):


And I have one of these chairs (though this is not my photo), and I am on the lookout for another:


That makes six chairs, which seems like plenty. Maybe a little weathered wooden bench would be a good idea to expand the seating in a pinch.

I would be happy to find a heavy wood vintage dining table that's seen better days (as in the inspiration photo) and varnish it to give it some protection from the elements. I also like the idea of a zinc-topped table, which has a similar rustic feel and is also somewhat weather-resistant:


And finally, I think a smattering of pillows could bring in some more intense color.


And finally, the crowning touch. The minute I saw this rustic sort of outdoor chandelier (on Design Sponge), made out of Mason jars and tea lights, I knew I was eventually going to copy it. I'll hang it low enough to pose no threat to the tree, of course, but still overhead.


There. I think I can be patient for a few more days, at least.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

it would be funny, if...

So you all are bored stiff of me whining about how difficult it is to make an appointment with a therapist. Last week, I suddenly had not one but two specific referrals (one from the non-fertility-doctor, which has yet to arrive in the mail; one from Father, my spiritual director).

So I called the counselor Father recommended on Sunday and left a voicemail; his suggestion was that when I drive out to see him I could see her back-t0-back. She called back on Monday when I was in the airport about to board the plane and I didn't have time to have a (first) conversation with her, so I let it go to voicemail. That evening (after the airline lost my luggage and it took forever to get to my hotel) I listened to the message, in which she let me know she had an opening at 8:00 Wednesday if I was interested. I meant to call her back Tuesday but completely forgot. (No need to call her back immediately anyway - I was in Texas all week, right?)

She called again on Wednesday when I was standing in a crowd of coworkers about to head out to dinner. Definitely not a time to take that call! I listened to the voicemail message today over the lunch break, and she said, "hello, [misfit], it's 8:05PM Wednesday evening. We had an appointment for 8:00PM...I don't know whether you forgot, or maybe you're lost - please give me a call and let me know where you are."

No, I haven't left out any phone calls, emails, or events in this sequence. I have to say there's just a teeny bit of amusement value in the fact that after I've spent four months trying to get a therapist to just offer me an appointment, a therapist with whom I've never spoken gives me an appointment I never scheduled. A few years ago I would probably have left a sincerely and profusely apologetic message in response; several years and a significant number of anger issues later, I had to discipline myself to say, "I'm so sorry I missed you last night - I didn't realize we had an appointment," etc.

The work conference has actually not been bad. I appear to have started my fertile phase this week (typical), and this cycle I didn't take femara CD3-7 as I did the previous two cycles. The femara appeared to have reduced the ovarian pain I'd been having approximately CD7-10 pretty substantially, but it also made it look much less definite that I ovulated - my temperature spiked high but very briefly, and well before p+7 it was as low as my pre-peak temperatures. I suppose it's possible that it somehow prevented me ovulating, and that (as the radiologist speculated) I have scarring around one ovary (the right one, I suspect) and it tightens when my ovary swells prior to ovulation. (Of course, that wouldn't explain why I had really bad ovarian pain every month.)

Anyway - I was too dumb to see it coming, but off the femara, I've been in an awful lot of pain for the last two days, and I'm really hoping I don't wake up in pain again tomorrow. My next plan is to start HCG (this cycle, if I get the prescription filled fast enough), and I wonder whether, if my theory about the femara preventing me from ovulating is correct, the HCG will increase the ovarian pain. Because in that case, I might spend my fertile phase every month at home on narcotics. At least, until I figure out what I can take to prevent me ovulating so I don't have to be in pain every month or have another surgery (ad infinitum until the endometriosis decides that it would prefer to be in remission).

The principle of double effect has never been so fascinating...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Texas, ho!

So this next week I will be in San Antonio for work. I know there are lots of Southern belles among our reproductively defective ranks, but I'm not sure any are actually in Texas (and I hear tell Texas is on the large side, in any case). Just in case, though, I thought I'd see whether anyone will be in the area. I believe I am free Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Drop me an email if you'll be around and would like to meet up!

In other news, apparently today is CD1. It appears that the femara has, on the whole, increased my early-luteal-phase temps, but decreased the temps in the second week to basically the same as my pre-peak temps. (Of course, this implies that there quite likely was no "peak," which is interesting, because usually my charts are reasonably indicative of ovulation. Yes, I know, charts are not conclusive in this respect.)

Anyway, the first appointment I could manage with Tep.eyac to go over my HSG results and my blood draw results will actually be around CD15 of this cycle (when I made the appointment, I thought it would be around CD13). I consider that a stroke of luck - it should be p+2 or p+3, which sounds like a good time for an ultrasound to look for a ruptured follicle. (Yes, I know, I could have other ovulation defects, but it would be handy to rule out LUFS, at any rate.) Also interesting is that because peak day this past cycle was on a weekend, it looked like I was going too have a p+8 (or p+9?) blood draw this past Monday. But I wasn't able to get to the lab Monday, and I didn't want to wait another cycle (I was supposed to do the draw the cycle before), so I went in Tuesday - p+9 (or p+10?). I would generally consider that a waste of time, but since my temperatures have been dropping too early since I started the femara, this might actually have been the ideal time to see whether it's working right. We shall see what the doctor says.

I also realized that while I was surprised that CD1 wasn't a day or two later, I was not one iota surprised that it happened. This is my second femara cycle (and we definitely gave this one a good shot, unlike the previous one - though that couldn't be helped), so you'd think I'd have been really hopeful that this was the miracle drug and worked out for us. I admit, the day or two after my HSG, I was more optimistic than usual - I thought maybe the HSG would clear a nice easy path for the sperm! But when I realized yesterday I was spotting and that today was CD1, I entertained not one second of denial, or of hope that the spotting would never progress into anything else and would simply be one of those confusing early pregnancy signs that fertile women get. I took it as a matter of course and popped some naproxen sodium and thought happily that it would be basically over by the time I left for Texas on Monday and I might even drop a pound or two in water weight and fit into a pair of pants I like.

I know the hope will rear its ugly head again; I haven't won for good yet. But if I can have even one cycle - a medicated cycle - when I don't even delude myself that I might not start a new cycle, I'm gaining ground. Someday, I will conquer it for good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

too much rage?

OK, saner infertiles. (In other words: all of you.) I need a sanity-check here. Well...I already know the "sanity or no sanity?" answer, more like where I go from there.

Many of you have encouraged me to get a second opinion, as my regular (Catholic) RE has a few practical deficiencies, such as the odd failure to answer phone calls or emails for two months. And in November or December, I contacted a doctor near my work to get an appointment for an initial consultation. She's not Catholic, and she was actually recommended by a coworker who has no fertility issues (AFAIK) and saw this doctor as an obstetrician. (The doctor delivers babies and deals with the infertile - no regular GYN work. Interesting.)

Anyway, the doctor requires both "partners" to show up at the first appointment, and each to fill out a voluminous medical survey. So far, I'm a fan. She takes forever to get to see, as evidenced by the fact that their first opening (and thus, our initial appointment) is tomorrow. So last night I broke out the survey and hammered it out.

Filling out a detailed survey about my infertility (and my life - more on that later) is quite upsetting all by itself, as I realized on later reflection. So I was already provoked. But I found the survey itself enraging, which is blindingly clear in my answers. I don't have it in front of me now, but I remember most of it quite distinctly. A few of my major complaints:

The heading says that the survey is for an infertility consultation, but the first page asks for the condition I would like to address. (This makes sense if the doctor is a generalist, or it's your first non-annual visit to an OB/GYN who doesn't know why you're there, but in this case, the condition would be...infertility.) And then the outcome I'm interested in. For all doctors, all appointments, any specialty, the answer is, "Remediation of condition above." Just asking the question is insultingly stupid, giving the impression the person who wrote the form (who I assume, in the absence of contrary information, is the doctor) is not paying attention and doesn't care. In answer to the first question, I wrote, "Infertility. (Do you get a lot of, 'I'll give you three guesses'?)" For the second, I wrote, "Finish all reasonably non-invasive treatment by my 30th birthday and resign myself to dying childless." Ask a stupid question...

Then the next page was two giant fields of boxes to check for all sorts of symptoms. The first one was moderately useful (included depression, fatigue, sleep issues), the second one not even remotely useful. It looked like it had been lifted straight from the sports medicine department's intake form, and included a great variety of items about joint pain and bone and muscle injury (not including the reproductive organs). Some hint of its profound irrelevance is provided by the fact that, with my dozen infertility-related diagnoses, I could check not a single box in the section. I wrote a note next to it: "Is this for the right specialty?"

Then there was a page asking about family history of potentially genetic illnesses. Definitely relevant, I would say. But still problematic. For example, one question asked me to check whether any relatives had had cancer. (1/4 of American women and 1/3 of American men die of cancer. The answer, for every patient, is definitely yes.) It then provided a two-inch line to specify the types of cancer (I wrote "various - breast, skin, lung") and then what relative had the cancers (also a two-inch line). I wrote "aunts, grandparents," which is accurate, but a sensible doctor would ask whether any maternal relatives had breast, ovarian, uterine, or cervical cancer, and how closely related they were - and request no information about sun-related skin cancer or smoking-related lung cancer.

Same problem with the mental illness question - I check yes, and now I have a two-inch line to state all the mental disorders in my family and another to explain who has them. Maybe this wouldn't be a problem for most of the population, but for anyone with a substantive answer, you'll never get any useful information out of that format. Again, gives a distinct impression that the doctor doesn't understand the matter at hand, is not paying attention, and doesn't care.

Also, delightfully, in the family history section, the survey asked whether the patient's children had any of several disorders. I get that there are people who are secondarily infertile and they need treatment too. Of course. (The survey asked about secondary infertility elsewhere.) But first of all, it strikes me that the portion of the infertile population that has multiple biological children is vanishingly small. The question seems to be taken from a generic family history chart, rather than tailored for this survey particularly. What would it hurt to have an early question about primary versus secondary infertility, and then a page for only the secondarily infertile to fill out, which has all the questions about children? That would be better organized and clearer, and also demonstrate some level of sensitivity to the fact that the doctor is earning her fees from the fact that I can't have children. This seems like a small thing to ask. (I circled the word "children," and in the "Explain" field below, I wrote, "This is an infertility consultation.")

Also on the "clueless and don't care" list is a question about prior surgeries. Not about prior surgeries related to infertility - all prior surgeries. And there are two full lines to provide all these details. I put that I had two laparotomies and the dates, and noted that the first had a bonus appendectomy, but if I had had room, I could have explained that both had companion laparoscopies, the second was accompanied by an HSG, how many cysts I had, on which sides, what type, and how large, and how extensive the endometriosis damage was and from where it was removed. If I were the doctor, I would want to know that. Why not offer a place for me to explain it? And what if I had had more surgery in my life than relates to infertility? Completely thoughtless.

There was also an area that asked about "menstrual irregularities," and it asked some specific questions, but not about estrogen and progesterone levels, nor about luteal phase length, nor anything about CM or temperature change. No questions about whether I'm demonstrably ovulating. Didn't even ask my FSH level! How basic can you get? Obviously, some patients have never been treated before, and they wouldn't know these things, but some of the questions are super-specific (the sports injury ones, for example), and others are so vague as to appear clearly disinterested. Why not a whole page for "veteran" patients with all their test results? And why no HIPAA consent form to obtain all records from prior doctors?

The whole thing gives the impression of being compiled by a bored 11th-grader serving as an unpaid summer intern who was only told halfway through that the survey was for infertility, and didn't know what the term meant.

My answers pretty clearly reflect this impression on my part. They're handwritten, and I only have one copy of the form. I'm still seething because I think the whole thing is so needlessly insulting, but I am thinking I have time to consider the best way to present myself at this appointment. I could turn in the form as-is; or add a cover letter explaining my tone and what about the form upset me (perhaps phrased more palatably than this post); or retype the form and type my answers, explaining that I did not have room to answer many questions in full; or I could retype the form in the format in which I think it should be presented, and either tell the truth ("I think your form is frankly offensive, and it should have looked like this") or be more subtle ("I put it in a format that helped me organize my information better"). I'm not sure I have time for the last option, but I wish I had done this a week ago so I would have.

Anyway, would be interested in your thoughts.

Monday, May 9, 2011

weekend: survived

Both summer weddings now done - wa-hoo! Both were really beautiful and the bride and groom are, in both cases, just fantastically awesome people. This one was in Gettysburg, so the DH and I decided to make a weekend of it. We came up Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel, went to the rehearsal dinner (the bride and groom generously invited us because - I think - I was asked to bring up the gifts, but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, it was a lovely dinner, in the historic Dobbin House).

We got to bed at a decent hour, and the next morning we got up, went swimming, met friends for lunch (scored the lunch table with the super-awesome Franciscan friar: WINNING!), and headed to the wedding. Despite the fact that my hips have been, ahem, expanding, I was very happy with my dress, a cute little springy black cotton number with lovely embroidery that I picked up for $10 with the tags still on at a thrift store. Luckily it was only snug around the rib cage, giving me the illusion of a trim figure with no giant tummy (at least until I at my body weight in Skittles later in the evening...don't ask). I even danced (rare for me) but I do not want anybody to see those pictures (very enthusiastic photographer, who estimated she got 4000 shots), because I always look so darn awkward. I can feel myself looking awkward. I'm a terrible dancer. Ah, well. The lovely girlfriend of mine who most vastly outshone me is single, so that's for the best.

Sunday we got up at a decent hour, had brunch at the Lincoln Diner, and then headed to the Lourdes shrine at Emmitsburg, where we said a prayer in front of the blessed sacrament in the tiny chapel, doused ourselves with some non-miraculous-but-still-grace-bestowing water, and lit votive candles. Then we headed to Mass at the shrine, which is gorgeous. Before we left Emmitsburg, I made my husband stop at the antique mall with me. It was a well-priced antique mall (puts the ones in the DC area and even Charlottesville totally to shame in that respect), but was heavier on trinkets (as opposed to furniture) than I would've liked. I didn't find any furniture I couldn't live without, but I did find a full-length fur coat. I generally don't like furs - the Michelin Man proportions, the sometimes garish colors, the occasionally icky texture - but this is an even brownish black, has a trench coat silhouette, and is the softest thing ever. And in perfect condition, with a Saks tag. (It's not an antique - it looks pretty new.) My internet research indicates that it is probably a sheared mink, and would be worth north of $4000 new. I paid $35. I hope I find an opportunity to wear it.

After the antique mall, we hit the Candyland roadside ice cream shop and managed to catch our buddies (who had skipped the antique mall and driven on ahead). Our traveling companions for the day were the other infertile couple we hang out with, and the couple married a year ago who are due in July. She (that is, the gal who's expecting) has been more gracious about the situation than I could have imagined possible - though that doesn't make it easy for me (or our other friend) to see her walking easily through the firsts of marriage and motherhood that we should have had, to have the innocence and lightheartedness that I know now I'll never have.

Today I got this email from her:
I believe my mom recently mailed out invites for a Baby Shower that she is throwing for me. I definitely didn't want to leave you out since you are a dear friend, but I wanted to let you know that I would never be offended or anything if you chose not to attend (and please don't feel like you need to send a gift). I don't know what it's like to carry your cross, but I imagine that attending this type of event would not be a favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Your friendship means a lot to me, and I don't desire to put friend in a situation that would be uncomfortable. Of course, if you'd like to attend, I'd love to see you...but I just wanted to let you know that I would more than understand if you chose to opt out. I pray for you and [my DH] often.
I almost (almost) wish that she were really rotten so I could feel justified in wishing her ill - it's too much that she's so blessed and also so gracious, right? But what an extraordinary friend. How could she know what it's like to be here? I don't know that I would think of it, if I hadn't been through it. I didn't even wish her a happy Mother's Day, and I spent the day with her - I wasn't trying to be mean, I just didn't have the strength to deal with the inevitable hideously awkward conversation. I wasn't planning to attend the shower (and still don't intend to) - she may be gracious, but at least a significant minority of her other guests are guaranteed to be clueless. But I think it's only fair I get her a nice present. On one of the days when walking through the baby section of Target does not fill my mind with tempting thoughts of arson. (It really does depend on the day.) And find some way to tell her how much I appreciate her thoughtfulness, without sounding like a melodramatic loon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

howwsssssss??

Our realtor predicted that we would hear something from the bank approving the short sale this week. "This week" does not mean Monday and of course it wouldn't, anyway, because businesses, especially inefficient ones, are shaking themselves out of a weekend stupor on Mondays. I know this perfectly well.

Nevertheless I have become unexpectedly antsy.

Now I am suddenly concerned that the bank may refuse our offer. Previously, I figured there was no serious possibility of this (though I always understood that it was possible that the bank would ignore our offer, in which case we would also not get the house). I have also been thinking about the possibility that the bank will ask us to "improve" our offer. My first answer to this is "No," followed by, "Are you kidding me?" I plan to get copies of charts to indicate that in the two months the bank has sat on our offer, interest rates have gone up, and housing prices have gone down (while our offer has stayed the same).

But most of all I realize that I am not entirely emotionally ready to move.

Yes, I have bought Rubbermaid storage containers (and filled a few of them). Yes, we have weeded through all of our collections of things and thrown out or donated substantial amounts. Yes, I have begun obtaining cardboard boxes (and I have an appointment to get more - precious liquor boxes this time, the very best boxes for packing books - on Friday). Yes, I have repaired all the things in our little rental that needed repairing (cabinet door: CONQUERED!). I'm even partway to having the place clean. And yes, I've been working (slowly) toward finding a replacement tenant. But I will be sad to leave.

We inadvertently stumbled on a rental property (the only one we looked at) that was an easy commute to both our jobs and centrally located for all our friends - with the bonus of free street parking and a church parking lot down the street that is empty on weekends (in this area, that is a serious coup - invaluable for parties). And it's over a century old, with original hardwood floors throughout, a working woodburning fireplace, a laundry room with a huge closet area, and an absolutely enormous yard that grows blackberries and daffodils all by itself. It doesn't have a guest room and it isn't really ours, but I will still miss this dear little house. We really made it a home.

Most of all, I will miss the people. We have done very little entertaining in the last six months - before my DH started his job that sent him all over the world, we threw big parties on a frequent basis. Now that he's not traveling any more, we don't really do anything. I appreciate getting a little bit more sleep, but I miss having people to fuss over and feed. And even though we're not doing that here now, this house is still impregnated with the memories of a lot of joy and laughter, and I am afraid that our new house won't see any of that. I will make a genuine effort to be welcoming and fun, but I won't try to force the issue. If people don't want to come visit, I will just let it go.

I realized when my sister was here in the fall for a few weeks that to feel happy and lighthearted and as though my life is full, I don't need babies after all. I want there to be family to come home to, and for some reason just my DH doesn't cut it (I don't know why not) - but it doesn't have to be small children. If I had roommates...or adult family around...or very close friends as close neighbors...something like community, I think, then I would be happy. If I had people with whom to share, not an evening in a bar on Friday night (I spend a lot of time in bars for someone who hates them so), but a normal dinner on a normal Tuesday, like it was just normal to do so, then I would have a family.

This might be even more difficult than procuring a baby, but I am going to keep searching.