Sunday, February 26, 2012

"The" Post Part I - The Diagnosis

So, it's been awhile.  I was chugging merrily along and enjoying this whole blogging thing.  Then, I started on one of the main reasons I started this blog and it died.  When I say I was recommended to do this by a therapist, it's really not a joke no matter how much I wish it was.  So here it goes.

Like most couples, Hubby and I had discussed children before we married.  We had decided two children, two years apart and that we would start trying after our first wedding anniversary.  Three weeks after our wedding anniversary, we had a positive test!  We were shocked, completely and utterly shocked.  Most couples we know struggled with infertility.  And, most couples we knew were in far better health than we were.  We high fived each other and congratulated each other on our amazing reproductive skills.  We didn't understand, but we felt truly blessed.

The pregnancy went along nicely.  A few oddities here and there, but nothing outside the realm of a normal pregnancy.  Setting the tone for the rest of his life, the boy came on his own terms.  He was 10 days late.  The first year was figuring out what worked and what didn't work for our family.  We hit our stride right about the time I had to go back to work.  Things were good.

About six months later, the boy was 18 months and we were ready to try for number two. This time it didn't happen so easily.  After months of trying, we finally resorted to the dreaded charting.  Finally, in early March we got a positive test!  But, I can't say I felt very pregnant.  I just figured each pregnancy would be different and I was worrying too much.  In mid April, that little Angel decided that they weren't ready to leave Heaven just yet.  We lost the baby.  There was some worry that it had been a tubal pregnancy and I was advised to wait three months to try again.  My HCG levels were followed until they reached under 5.

It was a tough blow.  But all things considered, this was more what we had prepped ourselves for when we first started trying.  We were older.  We weren't in the best physical health.  We had no reason to believe that this was going to be easy. We took a couple of months off and the release from all the pressure was nice.  We were able to focus on our family that we already had and our marriage.  It was time that we desperately needed, but didn't know it.

July came around and we started trying again.  In late July, another positive test!  Boy did I feel pregnant.  I was more nauseous than I had ever been.  My tummy was getting hard and my clothes didn't fit quite right pretty quickly.  I had always heard that you showed faster with subsequent pregnancies, so I figured everything was going great!  We told family and some close friends.  We were happy.

Then it started happening again.  I was bleeding a lot.  I went to our family doctor.  He gave me a pregnancy test that came back positive within seconds.  He felt that I needed more attention quickly and called ahead to have me admitted to emergency due to the previous tubal pregnancy.  I went to the hospital and was given another blood test.  My HCG levels were quite high, but all other evidence pointed to me losing the pregnancy.  The ER OB was amazingly sweet.  She remembered me from my pregnancy with the boy as well as when I had miscarried earlier in the year.  It's funny how those things work.  When I was pregnant with the boy, she was one of the OBs in the practice where I went.  I remember saying that I didn't care who was on duty when I delivered as long as it wasn't her.  It turned out she wasn't the one, but now I could not have liked her more.  She did ask me to come back to emergency in three days to get another blood test to make sure my HCG levels were dropping.

I continued to bleed over the weekend and was quite sure my body was taking care of the pregnancy.  I went to get my blood test done the following week.  I was called at home within hours by the doctor.  She told me that she wanted me to get an ultrasound done the following morning.  My HCG levels had tripled over the weekend.  Being a member of the computer generation, this immediately sent me to Google.  I found article after article that talked about reasons your HCG would go up so high after seeming to miscarry.  They all headlined that the main reason would be if you were pregnant with fraternal twins and one wasn't viable but the other was. Could this be?  Could I still be pregnant?  I mean, my Aunt had fraternal twins.  It's not completely crazy.  I was kind of excited to go to the ultrasound after that.  Maybe this wasn't going to be another heart break after all.

I went the next morning to have the ultrasound.  The technician was really quiet through the whole thing.  She left a couple of times to get someone else to look at her pictures and make sure they were right.  It all seemed kind of weird to me.  I thought maybe she was new.  At the end of the session, she asked me to get cleaned up and wait in the room to talk to the Radiologist.  This was the time that my spidey senses really went off.  I had many ultrasounds with the boy.  I had a few with the previous miscarriage.  Not once did I talk to a Radiologist.  I waited for about 15 minutes feeling like I was going to throw up at any given moment.

The Radiologist finally came into the room and told me that I needed to talk to my OB today.  As soon as possible.  It needed to be today.  Did I understand?  Today.  If I wasn't mostly numb at this point, I probably would have been completely freaking out.  I called the OB office and made an appointment for one hour later.  I then called Hubby and told him that he needed to come.  He needed to come now.  I wasn't really in a place where I could listen and retain anything anyone was saying to me.

We met with the OB and she had grim news for us.  It turned out what I had was a molar pregnancy.  It seems the egg should never have been fertilized.  It was completely lacking any chromosomes.  In the absence of these chromosomes, the fertilized egg duplicated the paternal chromosomes creating an abnormal "grape like" growth that grows very fast.  It was never a embryo, it was always a growth.  These pregnancies happen to less than 1 in 1000 women who ever get pregnant.  Very rare.  But you know, life persists.  Well, honestly, I think these are all the things she said.  These are the things I know now like the back of my hand.  I was in a complete state of numbness at the time.  Hubby says that these are the things we were told.  I do remember her saying that a D&C clears up 99% of the cases and I needed to have one as soon as possible.  As in tomorrow, the day Hubby was flying out for his boys trip to Vegas.

Hubby wanted to cancel his trip.  I insisted that he go.  We had a very stressful year and he needed this.  It was a simple out patient surgery that hundreds if not thousands of women had done every day.  The next morning, with mixed emotions, Hubby headed out to Vegas.  I took the boy to daycare.  I had planned on driving myself to the hospital.  But a very wonderful Angel of a friend whose husband was also on the boys trip insisted there was no way that was going to happen.  She arranged for her sister to watch her boys so she could take me.  The surgery went off without a hitch.  My girlfriend could not believe how quickly I shook off the anesthesia and she took me where any respectable girlfriend would take you, Baskin Robbins.  I picked up the boy from Daycare and went over to her house to have dinner so I could relax and the boys could play together.

Hubby and I talked that night and he was very relieved to hear I was fine and that everything went well.   To this day, I'm not sure how much fun he had on that trip.  I hope he had a blast because our lives were about to change forever.  I don't think either of us have been the happy-go-lucky people we were before this happened ever again.  There are days I really miss those people.

I'm a stats person.  I love stats.  It seems stats hate me.   This will be prevalent theme throughout these posts.  So, you look at less than 1 in 1000 women who ever get pregnant has a molar pregnancy.  Of those, 99% have a D&C, wait six months and then get to start trying again.  In this case, I am truly the 1%.

I went for a blood test a week after my D&C.  My HCG levels had dropped to 45,000 the day after the surgery.  A week later, they were 198,000.  It seems my particular "pregnancy" had taken root in my uterus.  A meeting with my now very favorite doctor was called.  Hubby and I went not knowing what to expect.  Google was no longer my friend.  Google had told me I was pregnant with twins and that was a big, fat lie!  I hadn't Googled very much on molar pregnancies and what I had went along with the D&C will cure it.  So yeah Google, you and I have some serious issues with your continual lying.

Hubby and I started learning a whole new vocabulary in that meeting.  I no longer had a molar pregnancy.  I now had gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.  All the hip kids just call it GTN.  She had already consulted with the foremost Canadian specialist on this who happened to work at Princess Margaret in Toronto (one of the very best cancer hospitals in all of North America) and I had an appointment with him the next day.  I can't say Hubby or I have very clear memories of what was said in that meeting.  I remember words like "chemo" and "cancer but not like normal cancer".  I'm still not sure what that exactly means.  Is cancer ever normal?

The call to my parents took every bit of courage I had.  Hubby offered to do it for me, but it was something I needed to do.  I'm a parent now.  I get it.  I can't imagine getting the call that my child 2000 miles away was going to talk to a specialist to begin chemo treatments.  Mom, of course, wanted to get on the next plane.  I asked her to wait.  That we didn't know where this was going to take us and I would rather wait until we really needed her.  Best. Decision. EVER!  She reluctantly agreed.  I'm sure my family and Google spent a lot of time together over the next couple of months.

With that behind me, I did what any good stats person would do.  I sat down at a computer and started researching this 1% club of which I was now a member.  I needed to be prepared.  And, quite honestly, it was much easier to do this than try to identify anything I was feeling.  One thing I knew for sure at the end of the night, my life and my family were about to be completely turned upside down.  I just had no concept of what that term meant at that time.

(to be continued on "The" Post Part II - Sometimes the treatment is as scary as the disease)