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Category archive for: Social Life

Reading, Riding and Magic

I’ve been reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, and it’s wonderful. I am having trouble putting it down and find myself weeping through parts of it. I’ve also read the part about the IVF treatment, and I loved her for sharing that she went through it. I also read that she had a heartbeat eight weeks after the injections, and I wanted to call my doctor and say something to the effect of “Doc, you got some ‘splainin to do!*” Eight weeks is only 56 days, and I am well past that!

In other news, we were in Las Vegas this past weekend. When we were in the elevator at the hotel, a couple asked us: “Are you in town for the rodeo?” And I thought, “Do David and I ….look like we would be in town for a rodeo?” We were the only people not wearing boots and a cowboy hat. David was wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater, and I was in all black and heels. When we shared that we were not in town for the rodeo, they told us about it! We ended up seeing some of the World Series of Team Roping, which is where cowboys rope a steer in less than five seconds. It was impressive. I found myself cheering for the steers, but I was sincerely impressed by all the people on horseback swinging ropes around. As someone who’s not always secure on a stationary bike, watching roping blew my mind.

We also saw a magic show in Las Vegas: Piff the Magic Dragon. It was very entertaining and I especially appreciated the comedy portion. Now, I don’t know how good the magic was. Not because I wasn’t impressed by it, but because I am just now learning about how there are different types of magicians. I learned a little about it through this incredible profile on Ricky Jay:
Secrets of the Magus
Ricky Jay does closeup magic that flouts reality. But, rather than headline in Las Vegas, Jay prefers to live in the mysterious world of ancient mountebanks, eccentric entertainers, and sleight-of-hand artists, whose secrets he preserves with a scholarly passion, and who are his true peers in the realm of illusion.

For Piff the Magic Dragon I was seated next to someone who was somehow affiliated with the show. She was on her mobile phone the whole time, texting with her friend, presumably because she had seen the show several times before or because she did not care for magic. I wanted to tell her she was ruining EVERYTHING for me with her bright screen, but I felt like that was dramatic, and I had to sit next to her, and she was bigger than me. I don’t think she had more muscle than me, but she seemed like she had seen more things than I had and would be willing to use unconventional means to fight, for example pulling out my hair or commenting on my small chest and suggesting I had not hit puberty yet – both hurtful actions in their own way. So I just sat there and enjoyed the show and wondered whether she was part of the show and the art of misdirection, convincing myself not to let her mobile phone distract me, but to also to keep an eye on it at all times as well, in case it was part of the show.
However at the end I saw her boyfriend/friend/whatever-I-do-not-care-he-is-garbage-because-he-didn’t-tell-her-to-put-away-her-phone get up and go backstage, so clearly he was some kind of assistant.

I also gambled. Specifically, I played Blackjack. And by “I played Blackjack,” I mean I used an app to memorize the highest-odd plays, practiced, and when I finally got to a live table, I was so nervous about losing money that I could not add, so David told me what to do. It was exhilarating and disappointing. So many emotions! So much sweat! I also felt bad for other people at the table for losing! Gambling (via cards) is not for me.

*On an unrelated but also very related note: apparently Ricky never says “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do!” in the show. This person has gone to great lengths to explain this on reddit and on youtube. That is the extent of the research I’m willing to do on whether or not this is true. But if it is, that is amazing, because I used to watch I Love Lucy, and in my head I can hear him saying this phrase!

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Day 1 – Let’s start fresh!

My period began its tour de force* on Sunday, and so today I had the bloodwork and ultrasound to provide a baseline for the uterine lining and make sure I was not actually pregnant. I just got the call to begin the estrace medication again after a glorious drug and needle free month.

As you might have picked up, I was a bit nervous about the Saturday performance. On Saturday (during the day) I rode a “pick-me-up” ride on the Peloton where the instructor said you should use how much fun you are having as a gauge for success. As a performer and writer, I don’t love this advice because it has to be about the audience. But I believe it is very important as a performer and writer to have fun. Well, the show on Saturday night went quite well by all those standards! We made some improvements to the Friday show, so the transitions went more smoothly and the edits helped tighten the performance. There were less people in the audience, and the audience laughed less, but they seemed to enjoy the show, and my friends shared that they genuinely liked all the sketches. Most importantly, the performers had a great time. They were laughing all night and seemed elated after the show!

I messed up one transition: I forgot I was in the next sketch and was taking my time just drinking water and chilling backstage, wondering why we hadn’t started the next sketch. Luckily Jess came and grabbed me. Ooops! The audience didn’t seem to mind because Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” was playing while they waited for me. That song is magic.

Sunday was the first night of Hanukkah, so after a holiday party we had some Peruvian chicken and watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Netflix, which is just exhilarating. One of my friends summoned the strength to leave a job which made her deeply unhappy. I was really happy for her.

Well that’s all for now! I have a goal to write more in December, so talk to you soon!

*Actually it feels like less blood than usual.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We just got back from a trip to London, England! Well we got back on Tuesday. The trip was great because I was not on any medication and had no dietary restrictions, and the food and drink in London is top notch. But we did hit a snag at the beginning of the trip.

Here’s what happened: there’s a train called the Heathrow Express that takes you from the airport to London. You have to buy tickets for the Heathrow Express. When we were in the tunnel walking toward the Heathrow Express, we bought round trip tickets for a discount price.

We arrived at the entrance to the Heathrow Express, and next to the entrance there is a station to buy Oyster cards. Oyster cards allow you to ride the Tube (London’s subway) and use the bus transportation system. We bought two Oyster cards and put 20 pounds on them, thinking that would get us through the week.

Then we exited to get to the Heathrow Express, but instead of using my Express voucher, I used my Oyster card! Since there were Oyster signs all over the machine, I thought it was an Oyster machine! It deducted 9 pounds and let me through. David said, “No! You were supposed to use the Express ticket!” I was beside myself, because I had just wasted 9 pounds. We found a station attendant who told us this amount would not really be deducted. (He was incorrect.) I felt like I had wasted money the entire ride from the Express to Paddington Station.

At Paddington Station we carted our luggage down to a transfer line on the Tube. Mobile phones don’t work in the tunnel, so I pulled out a Tube map. “Put away that map please,” David said, because he was worried it made us look like tourists. We had luggage with us and David was wearing sweatpants, so I thought we looked like tourists anyway, and we were tourists, so I thought playing the part would be fine. One of the people in the rush hour commute asked where we were looking for, and he told us, so we thanked him and headed in that direction. We boarded our train which was packed to the brim. I had to climb up on a ledge at one point to make space. I couldn’t believe how packed every train car was.

When we exited our Tube train car, David patted his pockets and said, “I don’t have my wallet.” We had been pick-pocketed! The thief made off with 180 pounds, a 20 pound Oyster card, and a lot of credit cards and license information. Unbelievable! We found a station attendant and shared we had been pick pocketed. “Well you’re in a big city, this happens, they work in teams,” he said.
“We’ve never been pick-pocketed in New York,” I replied, to signal we’re not country bumpkins.
“Well you’re not tourists in New York, are you? I bet your tourists get pick-pocketed.”
He had a point I couldn’t refute on the spot. And I couldn’t very well tell him we are tourists in New York too, lest I lose the city credentials I had just established.

Then he told us, “Okay, here is the number for the police department. The chances you get your wallet back are 0.” He made an “O” shape with his fingers for emphasis. “But you can report it for statistics.” We said thank you, and we asked how to exit the station without an Oyster card, and he said to just tell them what happened, and they would let us exit. He was right; people were sympathetic and quick to open the gate.

When we got to the hotel, David cancelled all his cards and got a new license. I learned a valuable lesson about not fretting about small mistakes (the Express/Oyster mishap) because it can decrease your mental acuity and open you up to bigger mistakes! David learned a valuable lesson about not storing his wallet in his sweatpants pocket, which we realized is rife for pick-pocketing.

David was annoyed and very thoughtful about the whole thing. Later in the day he said, “Better us than some kid where 180 pounds would have been their hostel fee or destroyed their month.”

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I don’t know what day it is

I know what day today is, it’s October 30, 2018, and it was the day to go in for the biopsy, or as we like to refer to it, the bibiop-sy.

But I didn’t look at the calendar to do an official day count. It has been a while!

When last we left, we waited to hear back on whether we have any viable embryos. We do! So that’s good! This month we did a “practice” cycle, also known as an ERA Biopsy Cycle in our case. I was taking estrace after my period, and then on 10/24 had a bloodwork and ultrasound appointment to make sure my uterine lining was more than 8mm. It was 12 or so mm, and I was cleared to start taking Progesterone in Oil every morning. The progesterone shot is the one that is inserted on your bum. David got up at 6:45am every morning to give me the shot. Then today was the bibiopsy, which was more painful than I thought it would be. They prep you for it and share that it’s as bad as a very strong period cramp. Since I’m lucky enough to not have period cramps, I found the one minute the doctor was in there quite painful. “I tried to warn you!” she said. Then she reassured me that was the most painful thing they would have to do moving forward. Relief!

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Day 42, Also considered day 7 – Some thoughts

Before the egg retrieval, the anesthesiologist needed to hook me up to an IV. They started with my left hand, my skin swelled, blood came out, and she said, “Oops.” Then she used my right hand, my skin swelled, blood came out, and she asked me if I bruise easily. Based on the way she asked it, I could tell she thought the answer was going to be yes. I told her I did not bruise easily. She put a gauze on my swollen right hand to stop the bleeding, told me the swelling would go down, and quickly left the room.

The pain from the retrieval subsided this week, and I was able to do some light exercise Thursday, and today I feel back to 100%. I also got my period today. But the bruises on my hands stuck around. So, when I lie down and prop my head on the back of one of my hands, I feel a sharp pain that serves as a reminder of the process so far.

We have also been watching the Kavanaugh confirmation process, and in the midst of the allegations, women have come forward and shared their personal stories online. These women undoubtedly have suffered sleepless nights trying to forget their pain, and then probably recently endured more sleepless nights wrestling with the decision to share something they have been trying to forget. My heart goes out to each one. I feel fortunate that my bruises are temporary, because you can’t sleep on bruises.

In other news, we lost 11 embryos. This is common, but it was still disappointing. The doctor said the 11 embryos have between 4-7 cells and they would monitor them for change or growth, but either was unlikely. The other cells have between 100 and 200 cells. When the embryos make it to the blastocyst phase, they biopsy them.

So now we just wait.

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Day 35, Sort of, also considered Day 0

This morning we had the retrieval. Here’s how it went:

6:30am – Woke up, stomach hurt, went to the bathroom.
7:00am – David work up, worked his magic
7:30am – We left late! We were supposed to leave at 7:15am.
7:55am – David made it there 10 minutes faster than it takes me.
8:15am – Or thereabouts, we are taken back, I put on the gown and we sign some forms.
8:30am – Someone comes by and reviews our IDs to confirm the sample is ours and we are who we say we are. He is the person who will review the sperm and do the ICSI!
8:35am – Someone from anesthesia comes by and tries to put stuff into veins in my left hand, that doesn’t work, then my right hand, that doesn’t work, so she bandages me up and leaves the room.
8:40am – Someone else comes by and says, “They missed twice,” inspiring great confidence in me, but we laugh it off.
8:45am – Someone else comes by and puts the IV drip in my left arm, in a spot close to where they’ve been pulling blood. Blood did not squirt everywhere, so that went smoothly.
9:00am – The person in charge of explaining the clinical trial we are doing comes by. The trial requires an extra month of drugs that we did not realize. David asks when we can declare we don’t want to do the trial anymore, because we are thinking the same thing.
9:20am – I’m in the operating room! They declare it is 9:20am, I don’t remember anything here.
9:47am – They ask David back to the room I’m in. And I am there. I asked David what I said to him. He says I said, “David, it hurts.”
9:48am – I tell David I am thirsty and he holds up water for me. There are also saltines, and he asks if I want one. I say a small piece. In my head I want him to eat the other half, because I don’t want it. He asks me if he can have the other half. I love him for this – his love of saltines. The Doctor tells us they retrieved 20 eggs, and I will likely feel some pain these next few days. I was planning to play tennis on Tuesday, but this is not happening.
11:35 – We are home. We fall asleep immediately.
12:55 – I am awake and working on a project for a client who called us Friday. He was crying because instead of three weeks from now, his client is going live Monday and wants to know what we can do. I have been working on this all weekend, and I deeply resent my inability to say “No,” to people.

I ate a banana, and in the afternoon David picked up a salad for us to eat this afternoon, and we ate it. My ovaries/stomach still hurt, a lot. They gave us pain killers, but it’s just Tylenol. So I haven’t taken any. I’m going to go lie down now.

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Day 32, Sort of

Today is Thursday. It’s a pretty big day, because Dr. Ford is going to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Panel. It’s a “she said, he said, only witness says he didn’t, but witness refuses to actually testify” situation, so I don’t know what is going to happen! All I know is that most companies would not hire someone with these many allegations, and this is a lifetime appointment to one of the highest positions in the country.

Last week my dad said that the public is not interested in sexual transgressions, and really Americans are worried about the multiple wars we are in and the death and poverty around the world.

Today is also another day of blood work and ultrasound. On Tuesday, a friend of mine asked if I wanted a recommendation for a good acupuncturist, and I shared I was not interested in more needles. It officially took 7 days for me to really become wary of needles. The nurse today missed the vein on the first try and starting moving the needle around inside my right arm looking for the vein, and I started to panic in my head. I asked her to switch to my left arm, where there were more bruises from other pulls that made the target easier to find. I even drank quite a bit of water this morning hoping that would help with the blood. Last night when David extracted the needles it nicked my skin both times and I squirted some blood. “David! Be careful!” I whined, and he said he was being careful. Then I kissed him on the forehead (he sits and I stand for the injections) and realized he was sweating. So neither of us are enjoying the needles.

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Day 31, Sort of

This morning I drove to my bloodwork and ultrasound appointment. I was planning to walk after David administered the morning shot, but I didn’t feel comfortable, so one minute into the walk I turned around and got into my car.

Last night I also felt uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure if it was the ovaries or the tights I was wearing. I had to stand up throughout the night and sit awkwardly during D&D. I don’t think anyone noticed.

Yesterday I had five eggs in my left ovary and five eggs in my right ovary. Based on the preliminary analysis from this morning, I’m at eight eggs in my left ovary and eleven eggs in my right ovary! “You were busy last night,” she said. I sure was! I asked if I could take a picture of the ultrasound, and she printed one for me. So here you go! A picture of ovaries chock full of follicles that might have eggs in them. The follicles are the black spots. My estrogen was 1977 when this photo was taken.

I did become concerned that I have too many follicles and started researching OHSS, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. I compared the photo to pictures online, and I read different accounts. When my nurse called me, she shared that that happens after the egg retrieval. So nothing to worry about for now! For the bloating she recommended drinking Gatorade for the electrolytes. I don’t care for Gatorade, so I squeezed some lemon into water instead, because according to the internet lemon has electrolytes too.

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Day 30, Sort of

I walked to my bloodwork and ultrasound appointment this morning, after David gave me the Cetrotide shot. The forecast said it was not going to rain, so I wore a city slicker jacket which looks like a raincoat and costs like a raincoat, but it’s maybe just a windbreaker or a layer of clothing. It’s definitely NOT water proof. It looks cool and has a flattering cut, so I like wearing it.

Anyway it was sprinkling when I stepped outside, and I rationalized a little sprinkle would be lovely on the walk, perhaps it would feel invigorating. I welcomed it.

After three blocks it started pouring. This turn of events was less welcome, but I kept going because turning back would make me late(r).

3/4 of the way there, the sidewalk was closed! It was closed for just two blocks. I didn’t even know they were planning construction there.

I arrived at the office 8 minutes late, which was fine, there were several people ahead of me. One woman was lifting an 8lb weight with her left hand in the waiting room. “That’s a great idea!” I said to her, thinking she was trying to get in a little exercise. “It’s the only way they can see the vein,” she replied sheepishly, lifting more.

I felt bloated this morning, but I pretty much always feel bloated, so I could not tell if the medication is causing it or it’s just Tuesday.

The Doctor did my ultrasound, and she said things were moving along and it looks like we have another week before the removal. This was upsetting because I was hoping we could wrap this up this week! She shared I have some little follicles they are interested in seeing progress, so they can retrieve as many potential eggs as possible. The smaller follicles might not have eggs, she shared, but they want to optimize the retrieval.

I walked back home in the rain.

When I got home, I saw the Washington Post had a digital clip of a young woman deciding whether or not to freeze her eggs. A therapist asked her how she would feel if she froze the eggs and found out that they did not work. She thoughtfully responded, “I’d be upset about all the money wasted.” I thought that was a super honest answer, no matter what stage you are in in the process. It’s all so expensive.

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Day 28, Sort Of

I’ve been just terrible at updating – I’m sorry about that. However counting days has been a helpful reminder of how quickly time flies!

I took my last birth control pill on the 16th. I do believe the pills made me irritable, because on September 7th (day 12) I saw a sketch I had written performed. It had been edited, and I wanted to slap the person or people who had edited the sketch. It’s possible this dismay had nothing to do with the pills, because I’m still angry about it. Either way, I tried to limit my social interactions these past few weeks, lest my rage manifest itself through scathing, clever jabs that I could not take back.

On Day 22, the day after my last birth control pill, I had my check-in. They took blood and did an ultrasound to make sure everything looked good. On Day 24 I got my period, which is a good thing, because if I had started bleeding when they need to extract the eggs, that would have been a problem.

Day 25 was the first day we administered shots. We decided 11pm would be our recurring time. David was a champ: we watched the videos again, he mixed the Menapur, and he applied the shots. The first night the shots didn’t hurt, but the second night the shots did hurt. And last night the Menapur hurt.

Day 28, today, was the day to go in for bloodwork and ultrasound. Based on the results, they would let me know whether to change dosage and whether to take additional medicine. David woke up early to come with me to the appointment, but then I told him he didn’t have to come because he had already done so much. He accepted my empty offer to stay home – which is on me, I should have been more clear about my real needs – I drove to the facility in the rain, and I took the wrong exit, because I did not see the sign correctly and I generally have a terrible sense of direction.

When the nurse took blood, I winced. “I take it you don’t like needles,” she quipped, and I shared I was fine with them before, but given the general increase of needles over the past few days I’ve become more wary of them. Then in the ultrasound room I put the paper cover on the way I normally do, wrapping it all the way around me. Apparently this is incorrect. You are just supposed to use the paper to cover on top of you. You don’t sit on the paper. The ultrasound tech pointed the error out to me. Then I fixed it and asked how I should sit on the chair. The ultrasound tech asked if it was my first ultrasound and shared that she didn’t see a note in my chart about it being my first ultrasound, and had she known, she would have given me more guidance up front. This was closer to my 20th ultrasound, so I shared it wasn’t my first but that the chair was a little different. It was different. The back of the chair was flat, and normally the back of the chair is at an angle. In she went with the probe, and I have 16 follicles on the left ovary and 20 follicles on the right ovary. I asked her about the pain I felt around the medication, and she shared I would have to speak to a nurse and that she was only the technician and not qualified to dispense medical advice.

I shared the irritation in my stomach area with the nurse. “Do you have a lot of muscle in your abdominal area?” she asked.
“I…like to think so, yes,” I replied. (I don’t have the six-pack I aspired to a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not so shabby.)
“The more muscle you have there, the more it’s going to hurt,” she said. “Well that makes me feel better,” I replied.
“You can apply it to other parts of your body, like your thighs,” she advised.

I don’t mean to brag, dear blog, but there’s muscle there too!

Anyway, then I got back in the car, in the rain, and took the wrong exit coming home. But I made it home! I stopped on the way to go grocery shopping with my brother, and I might have bought some Nutella.

And then I might have eaten that Nutella.

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