Mega Communication FAIL

I am upset at myself….Chris told me it doesn’t matter, but I can’t help but feel like an idiot about it.

2 months ago I went to my normal physician and had my annual workplace medical (a requirement from my work).  Usually my physician calls when she gets my results and says everything looks good!!  This year she didn’t call me…but I could see my test results online and everything looked OK to me so I just forgot about it.

Roll forward to this evening and I log into my health portal to check some test results after a fellow blogger asked me about my AMH levels.  As I was looking I noticed that my physician had added a note to my most recent work place medical test results that said: “Your labs look good.  You are only slightly anemic.  Just take an over the counter iron supplement if you can.  Good luck!”  (She added good luck because I told her about our upcoming IVF cycle).  So all this time….I could have been taking an iron supplement and I haven’t.  I already take prenatals that has extra iron in it so what would my results have been if I hadn’t been taking this? Ugghhhhh.  I’m annoyed because I wonder if this could have made a difference to our embryos?

My doctor in the UK prescribed me folic acid supplements.  A quick google search and all of this and being slightly anemic is likely to be related to my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  I wonder….is it about time I go and get all things associated with my bowels checked out again after the IVF?

I can’t help but feel frustrated that I didn’t see this message from my physician earlier!  But at least I have seen it now and that is the important thing (thank you Leslie for prompting me to log into my account!!! I’d never have seen the message for probably another 10 months!!).

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IVF Diary Vol III 15-20 Mar 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Ovulation Control Pill (OCP) Reclipsen 0.15MG-30MCG x 1 per day, Lupron 0.5mg (10 units) injection AM.

I started the Lupron injections on Thursday morning.  Although the amount of liquid is tiny and the needle is small, I still freaked out about giving myself the injection.  I tried to do it, but the needle bounced off my skin, so I asked Chris to do it so I could feel how hard it needs to e to pierce the skin. But on Friday, I did the injection myself! It didn’t hurt, I was just slightly hesitant and the needle went in slower than I expected.  Saturday, the needle bumped off my skin again!  I’m sure I will figure it out.  Also, there is barely any blood after these injections so I don’t really need gauze and I can’t tell where I just did the injection which means I am finding it difficult to figure out where to put a plaster over it!  I discovered putting a plaster over the injection site means that I don’t have to remember the next day where I just did my previous injection.

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil.  But – I did have a post op follow up appointment with my Doctor to go over my results from the hysteroscopy.  I knew the biopsy results were good because they come through on my clinic’s app and I am sure she wouldn’t have had told me to start the Birth control pills if there was anything wrong.  However, on the day of the appointment I started to get a bit nervous because I thought if everything was OK, why did she still need to see me?  When I arrived the nurse asked where my husband was?  At first I just joked with her “He’s working – I hope!!!”, but then it dawned on me….should he be here with me because it’s going to be bad news?  I didn’t even think about bringing Chris along.  The nurse did the usual vitals check and took me to the Doctor’s office to wait.  As I was sitting in her office there was one pamphlet on her desk that stuck out – it was about uterine cancer.  My heart started to beat faster!! My head was  racing.  Fortunately the doctor arrived quickly after I sat down.  She cut straight to the chase and said everything looked just fine! Phew.  She took a look at her computer and said that there was just one area of redness of my uterus she had seen on the camera that she thought might be inflammation, but the biopsy did not show any signs of inflammation. So all good!  A very quick appointment, I was in and out in 5 minutes…it was just like being at a doctor’s office in the UK!!!!

What are my symptoms?  I have two symptoms I want to talk about – my upset tummy and my hormones!

At my post op appointment I asked my doctor about my upset tummy.  I told her my diarrhea has been playing up, maybe it’s just my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) being bad or, is there any chance it could be something related to the hysteroscopy?  The only thing that could cause diarrhea is the cytotec pills I took that ‘softens the cervix’ prior to the surgery.  Maybe it caused a mis-balance of bacteria in my tummy, but it should go away soon.  It wasn’t the most helpful advice I’ve received from a doctor…but as usual not knowing what causes my poorly tummy I am used to.  So I decided to put into practice my knowledge of things to make diarreah go away.  The first is to take some probiotics.  After my appointment I went straight to the shops and looked for a probiotic yoghurt drink.  Now in the UK, there are these little drinks that you can take daily – there are different brands like yakult and actimel, they are very common in the supermarket.  But here in the US, I haven’t ever noticed before until now, they are not common!  I tried looking for a US store that sells Yakult and it’s typical!  The only place nearby is the Commissary!  As a civilian, I am not allowed to shop at the Commissary!! (The Commissary is where the military can buy their groceries at a discount).  Anyway…I did discover something similar in the organic section – Kefir.  Kefir is a fermented milk drink with kefir grains in it.  I wasn’t sure if this would aggravate my upset tummy or the probiotics would do its thing.  There were also some juices with probiotics added, this to my mind didn’t seem the best for my tummy because real fruit juice can make things worse for me.  Anyway either the Kefir has had a positive effect or my tummy is getting better on its own.  The past few days I have returned to normal upset tummy (where I experience diarrhea about once a day rather than 4-6 times a day for the past two weeks!)

My hormones.  I am going to do a separate post on this, but in a nutshell, the Lupron and Birth Control Pills are doing weird things to me.  On Friday evening as I was getting ready to go to the ball (!!!) I was curling my hair and tried to pin it up how I like to.  But for some reason it wasn’t working.  My hair looked awful, I was getting frustrated at it…then I flipped out at my inability to make my hair look half decent.  Like seriously got mad and threw stuff across the room.  I looked in the mirror and I felt nothing, I looked back at myself and felt nothing.  I didn’t feel sexy, I thought I looked hideous.  Chris kept telling me my hair looked lovely down and I should leave it, but I just kept looking at myself and I felt like I was out of my body – I was in somebody else’s body. I felt…..nothing.  It was weird.  I didn’t like it!  Could it be the Lupron doing this to me?

How do I feel today? Chris and I had an evening of sharing our feelings about this IVF cycle.  It got emotional.  We realised we have both been bad at not sharing our feelings, we both made assumptions about things and came to wrong conclusions.  We just didn’t talk enough about what was going to happen this cycle – the changes in my protocol and the uncertainty around dates of key things happening in the cycle like when the Egg Retrieval and transfer might be.  Particularly with the transfer (Day 3 v Day 5).  The difference being that this cycle came around quickly (we both felt unprepared for it), and my period started much earlier than I anticipated.  Because I had been so busy with work, we just hadn’t been keeping the communication lines open…but we re-opened them – that’s good, but it took us a while to figure that out!

Any results?  Other than my post op results being clear!

What’s next? I stop the Birth Control Pills next week and keep the Lupron injections going.  I am off on travels to Europe next week so I have the added issue of figuring out what times to take my pills and injections!  I made a mistake of taking my Birth Control Pills after my dinner, so now in Europe with them being 6 hours ahead at the moment, it means I would need to be taking them at 2AM! Doh!  The Lupron injections won’t be so bad – I can take them at 1PM at lunch time.  I may also have to give myself an injection on the plane as I fly transatlantic!!!! Double doh!

Weight. I still haven’t got on the scales yet!

Waist. NSTR.

Boobs. NSTR.

The Final Countdown!!!

160320_IVF3_Calendar_Countdown.jpg

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal), 5mg Melatonin at bed time and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF Diary Vol III: 10-15 Mar 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Ovulation Control Pill (OCP) Reclipsen 0.15MG-30MCG x 1 per day

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil

What are my symptoms?  I have had a really bad upset tummy since the weekend.  I have no clue what is causing it…it could just be a really bad case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Usually stress makes my tummy worse, but actually, I have just stopped being stressed!  So maybe my body is coming down from stress and is having a big WAH at me.  Or I got the bug that everyone else seems to be coming down with. Or. it is the melatonin…because there is definitely a correlation with tummy upset and starting the melatonin.  A quick search indicates that melatonin could actually be a treatment for IBS!  But mostly for those who suffer with IBS-C (Constipation) not IBS-D (Me – Diarrhea) .  I will have to do a bit more digging and see how it goes over the next few days.

How do I feel today? Work stress is mostly over!  I have a lot of travelling to be doing, but it’s not stressful travel!  I have cancelled a work trip to Germnay in anticipation that I will be having my egg retrieval surgery that week!  And now I can schedule in some of that leave I am owed from the leave I cancelled from cycle 2! Woohooo!  This is good news.

My medications have yet to arrive, there was a slight mix up with the nurse ordering the wrong drugs.  So they are supposed to be arriving tomorrow by FedEx….the only problem is I am currently in DC and am driving the 4 hours back first thing, so I hope the meds dont arrive in the morning because I won’t be there to sign for them!  That wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t need my Lupron on Thursday morning!! And the pharmacy called this afternoon (when my order is supposed to be on the way!) to tell me my co-pay was high.  Well DUH…no higher than usual. Fortunately I caught the phone before I headed into work without my phone for the day, I may never have spoken to them until it was too late!!!! They have never checked with me before, but I think it hit the over $500 mark this time because I am getting more of the expensive gonal-f 😦 The old newbie infertile me would be stressed about it.  But I am not, I am a seasoned veteran about these things now, so I am pretty chilled out about it.  I can’t control it, so what ever happens, happens.  (Please Please Please FedEx arrive in the afternoon!!!)

Any results?  Not yet….my follow up appointment from my hysteroscopy surgery is on Thursday afternoon.  But I am anticipating the all clear.

What’s next? Lupron injections start Thursday morning.

Weight. I am terrified to get on the scales:-(

Waist. Shrinking a bit after all the diarrhea 😦

Boobs. NSTR.

The Final Countdown!!!  I decided to add in a calendar countdown so if people read just one entry they know what stage I am at in the whole cycle! Plus I love crossing things off.

160315_IVF3_Calendar_Countdown.jpg

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal), 5mg Melatonin at bed time and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

Avoiding the Mirror

I have been avoiding the mirror a lot lately.  I look at my face in the mirror, but not my body.  I can’t even look down, when I shave my legs I avoid looking at the area between my legs and boobs.  It’s the part of my body that feels disgusting to me (apart from feet – feet are pretty disgusting to me too).  I don’t necessarily mean that I am disgusted with the way my physical body looks, but I have some strange issues with my stomach in particular.  Both in the physical and emotional sense.  I am slim build, lucky to have a fast metabolism, I don’t have any eating disorders, I love food and we have a good relationship (except for the sugar, sugar and I are always going at it head to head!!).  So this doesn’t have anything to do with me thinking I am fat.

I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and this means that I suffer from random stomach pains and I get terrible bouts of diarrhea.  Certain food and stress triggers my IBS.  My relationship with my stomach has never really been a good one.

The worst issue I have are things touching my stomach – whether that is me, my clothes, the cats or even Chris.  There are times in the day where I cannot bear for things to touch my stomach – even my stomach touching the stomach (i.e. when bending over).  I hate the way it feels.  I have tried to explain it to Chris many times and even to myself, but I just can’t put words to how it makes me feel.  Disgusted is probably not really the right word, but it’s pretty close to how I feel.  But then there will be occasions when I am absolutely OK with my stomach being touched – I am unpredictable, there is no way of knowing if it is OK or not.  It is worse after I have just eaten, but I can often mitigate this by having a hot water bottle on my stomach, this helps for some reason.

The weirdness of not touching my stomach also extends to not looking at my stomach.  I don’t know why, but may be I have so much hate for the pain and grief it has caused me over the years.

Add in the bloatedness from the stimulation drugs from this IVF cycle and the problem perpetuates.  I hate squeezing my tummy ready for the needles, I hate touching it and I hate looking at it.

What will I be like when I am pregnant?  Well from the short period of time I have been pregnant I think this weirdness will still prevail, will it get worse?  I hope not!  For Chris’s sake at least because I know he will be wanting to feel close to the little one growing inside of me!

dani in the mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall…..

 

I said NO…am I crazy?

The on-call doctor called me first thing this morning and apologised she had not called yesterday with my results (she did have them yesterday after all and gave no reason).  She said my beta hCG levels have risen again and she wanted me to come in today to take the methotrexate shot.  I asked her if she had spoken to my doctor (- no she hadn’t) because my doctor had said she would keep monitoring me up to 7 weeks for a visible confirmation of ectopic before administering the methotrexate.  7 weeks was her cut off point.  The on-call doctor said it was ultimately my decision, but it would be against their recommendation not to take the methotrexate today.  She also checked with the other senior doctor who was there with her, and he said it was OK for me to wait – despite it being against their recommendation.  I said OK and asked when can I come in for another ultrasound, she said it was up to me.  My doctor isn’t back in the office until after the holiday weekend, Tuesday.  This is when my doctor said her cut off point was.  So I told the on-call doctor that I will wait for my doctor to come back.  I also asked what was my actual hCG level because she hadn’t told me up to then – it was 1300 (up from 1066 48 hours ago).  That was a lot less than I expected.  I have a feeling it’s tailing off.  Here is my chart:

Normal hCG levels compared to my hCG levels

Normal hCG levels compared to my hCG levels (Note this is on a Log scale)

The on-call doctor told me to call her anytime I wanted to change my mind, and please look out for any pain.  After I got off the phone, I panicked.  Chris was still asleep in bed at the time of the phone call so I woke him and basically cried at him.  He says he supports my decision, but wants me to take the methotrexate.  Ultimately I feel like crap right now.  I have had SO MANY unknowns from encounters with doctors and I am sick and tired of it:

  • When I was 18 I went to ER because I had a random massive vaginal bleed.  They couldn’t tell me why.
  • When I was 19 I spent a year in and out of doctors trying to diagnose my abdominal pains.  I was eventually diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but there is no test to confirm this, it was their last thing in the box (I know I do have IBS, but really we don’t know why – and no one really knows what causes IBS).  I could have endometriosis too, but IBS explains the pains too.  They couldn’t tell me why.
  • When I was 20 I ended up in an ambulance being taken to ER because I passed out from abdominal pains.  I freaked out a lot of people.  They suspected that it was IBS related after eating 3 days of ration pack food in the field whilst on Army Exercise.  But really – they couldn’t tell me why.
  • We can’t have a baby without medical intervention.  We have unexplained infertility.  They can’t tell me why.
  • I’m pregnant, but they can’t see anything on the ultrasound at 6W4D and hCG level of 1300.  THEY CAN’T TELL ME WHY.

What is wrong with my body?  It’s like I have a black box body of unknown-ness.  Am I actually an alien??!

Honestly, I think I might be going crazy for not taking the methotrexate, but there is something that just doesn’t feel quite right about it.  Why don’t I want to take this drug? Because I’m very afraid of the side effects and being put through this unnecessarily if the abnormal pregnancy is in fact just growing slowly in my uterus and not one of my tubes.  Methotrexate can really mess with your gut, and my gut really is bad enough as it is.  I am not even bothered by the fact that we have to wait 3 months before trying again – I will WELCOME this after everything we have experienced the last 2 weeks.  Chris thinks I should take the shot so we can end this right now, mostly for the psychological pain, plus of course he is worried I will end up in hospital. Aghhh.  This truly sucks.

Sad, but starting to feel mad

This afternoon I had my mobile (cell) phone with me on loud so I could hear the doctor ring with my results.  I get a lot of notifications and pings every 5 minutes so I am sure my colleagues were getting annoyed with me.  But anyway, I received three pings all at once, which I thought was odd, so I checked my email to find a notification from my clinic for a new appointment, with my doctor tomorrow morning (The three pings were from my email and app that tracks my appointments).  Well isn’t that just nice?  My eyes started to well up because I knew this had to be bad news – what a crappy way to find out?  After 20 minutes of consoling myself, I finally received the call from my doctor.  My hCG levels have continued to rise again to 686 (Tues) from 345 (Fri).  Not good news.  So my doctor starts talking more about this potentially being a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy…she didn’t really tell me anything new from yesterday, she stressed again that there is zero chance that I have a viable pregnancy (OK so I got that from yesterday when there was nothing on the ultrasound).

Tomorrow morning I will have another ultrasound to double check my uterus for a (non-viable) pregnancy and some blood tests to see if I am suitable candidate for the drug methotrexate.  I have done a bit more research into this drug, and I really want the doctor to explain all tomorrow – I will be using my 3 point guide to help me feel better informed!  The best guide I found is from the NHS:

“The use of methotrexate to treat pregnancy of unknown location and ectopic pregnancy” available here.

I have been having some random (but not sharp) short pains today, including pain on the left side.  I have also not passed any blood today.  The problem is with Irritable Bowel Syndrome for me is that stress causes pain, so I am having a hard time distinguishing between the two – I don’t feel stressed per se, but this rollercoaster surely can’t be good for my gut.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s appointment as I move from feeling sad to feeling mad – mad that this feels really unfair and crappy.  I’m taking bets on how many med students/doctors/fellows/nurses they can squeeze this time in the room for my ultrasound tomorrow…..I have a feeling there will be some interest 😐

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Trying to Conceive

I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  It is a relatively common disorder of the gut.  The weird thing about IBS is that no one really quite knows what causes it exactly.  Symptoms are variable depending on the nature of the IBS.  For me, I suffer from abdominal pain and diarrheoa.  I’ve had it since I was a late teen.  But I don’t really remember when it truly started, but it got worse at university.  There is no cure for IBS, only treatment of the symptoms.  Approximately 1 in 5 people will suffer from IBS in their lives, some may never realise they have it.  Symptoms vary on scale and nature and is slightly more common in women than men.

I am writing about IBS because last night as I boarded the plane for my transatlantic flight and experienced an awkward situation.  As I sat down the family next to me asked if I could switch seats with their son (about 13yrs old) so they could all sit next to each other.  Sure I said, no problem, I don’t mind moving a row back!  But then they pointed to the dreaded in centre seat.  I had specifically booked an aisle seat because I go to the toilet a lot.  And as this was a red eye flight I would not do well sitting here, I would have asked the person next to me to move at least 10 times so I could go to the toilet.  I looked at the boy, realised he was 13 and thought he would be perfectly fine there, plus one of his parents could always sit on their own if they were worried about him.  So I politely declined to switch seats and told them of my predicament to be near the toilet.  But then the mother told me she couldn’t swap because she had a fear of flying.  Yes I felt guilty, but I was very willing to swap with anyone in an aisle seat.  Eventually a nice lady the other side of the plane volunteered to sit in the boys seat so I could sit in her aisle seat.  But it just reminded me of the hidden side of IBS, even though I told the family my reasoning, they seemed pretty pissed at me.  They didn’t understand.  I know of people with IBS who have disabled toilet keys because when it is bad, it is very bad!!  I don’t have this extreme requirement, but IBS is a hidden disability.

I self manage my symptoms.  I know that stress makes it worse, and eating certain foods such as potatoes and pineapple can give me killer cramps and half a night on the toilet.  I have simply learned to avoid certain foods or when I have a craving, give in and just expect it and manage it when it happens,  I prefer it that way rather than take drugs.  I tried a lot of things at university to relieve the symptoms, but ultimately cutting out the stress seemed to work the best.

In order to diagnose IBS the doctor will put you through a series of tests to rule out something more serious, like Chron’s disease, cancer of the ovaries or coeliac disease.  These are tested usually with blood and stool tests.  For me, the doctor said that there was a possibility of having endometriosis, which can only be detected through a laporoscopy.  But before doing this invasive procedure she wanted me to try an exclusion diet to see if there were certain foods that increased the symptoms.  After several weeks of hunger, cravings and a very large shopping bill, we figured that IBS was likely.  So I never had a laporoscopy to rule out endometriosis.  My current Reproductive Endocrinologist has suggested there is a chance I do have endo, but a laporoscopy can do more harm than good to my fertility if it is just a little bit of endo.  I find it strange that I have no definite diagnosis whether I have one, the other or both conditions.

As I get further into my two week wait and I get pains even a couple of days after IUI, I wonder are they IBS pains?  Or are they related to the IUI and the progesterone? What has IBS got to do with infertility?  Well I didn’t think there was much of a linkage, but as always google shows you something interesting.  There were two interesting conclusions that came out of my, albeit brief, search, in general the research is pretty thin on the ground.

There is no evidence to suggest IBS causes infertility.  A couple of sites discuss this and conclude that there is no evidence of a linkage.

IBS increases risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.  A research study* looked at 100 000 women who became pregnant during the period 1990 to 2008.  Of these 100 000 women 6% suffered a miscarriage, which is considered to be the ‘normal’ statistic.  Of these 100 000 women, 26 000 women were diagnosed with IBS.  Of these women diagnosed with IBS, 7.5% lost their babies.  That is a significant difference, increasing the risk of miscarriage for women with IBS by 30%.  It should be noted that IBS is linked with other disorders which are also potentially linked to miscarriage, for example chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, therefore it is not wholly conclusive evidence.  The authors wanted to stress that the chance of miscarriage was still small, and that they wanted to highlight the need for more research into IBS and fertility.  I have not been able to find anything more up to date than this report from 2012.  Maybe they are still researching it…maybe no one carried it forward. But I think it definitely deserves some more attention.

*Increased Risk of Miscarriage and Ectopic Pregnancy Among Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Khashan, Ali S. et al. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology , Volume 10 , Issue 8 , 902 – 909

On being pregnant in a war zone Pt 1

Spring 2007

I winced as the doctor examined my stomach.  The pain was excruciating.  As he prodded, he said “feel here…see?”  I felt my own stomach where he indicated – it was hard, not squishy like normal.  I continued to wince as he poked around my tummy.  “This is your poo.  You are constipated.  We will get you some laxatives and you should be better in a few……”.  The piercing alarm sounded.  We both looked at each other and quickly dived on to the floor.  My body armour and helmet were in the waiting room, no chance of me grabbing hold of it in time.  I leopard crawled under the table, it probably wouldn’t offer me much protection. The doctor grabbed his own body armour and helmet just as there was a loud thud and the ground shaked.  As he put his body armour on and quickly threw on his helmet, he mumbled “Here we go again!”  I wasn’t sure if he was trying to make conversation or if he had genuine grievance by the incoming rockets.  The way I was feeling about these rockets I felt it was probably the latter.  After a few minutes of what was probably the last rocket (usually 2-3 at a time), the doctor quickly stood up and said, “I’ve got to go, I’m on call for the crash emergency team.  Wait here until the all clear, someone will be with you soon.”  And he ran out of his office.

As I lay there on the dusty floor waiting for the all clear siren to sound, I felt stupid.  I felt stupid and embarrassed that all I had was constipation. I wondered how it had happened.  For the last 8 days I had hardly eaten a thing, I felt nauseous and I had horrific stomach pains.  These pains were sharp and short, sort of like my IBS pains, but twice as painful as usual. But this didn’t seem like IBS.  I promised myself I would go to the doctor after 7 days of feeling like this.

The all clear siren sounded. I got up and left the office to speak to the corporal at the reception desk. I explained what had happened, she told me to take a seat in the waiting room and another Doctor would see me shortly. I waited for half an hour. All I could think about was that someone must have been injured by the rocket attack, otherwise my doctor would be back by now. This made me very sad.

I was called into the very same office I had been in just 30 minutes ago, but this doctor was different. I explained that the previous doctor was just about to prescribe me something for constipation. He asked me to tell him from the beginning what the problem was and the symptoms I was suffering. He wasn’t going to sign anything until he made his own diagnosis.

He asked me all sorts of questions about my IBS, what I had been eating, how often etc…it all made sense to me. New environment, crappy food, stress from rockets. Usually my IBS presents with horrific diarrhea, but now my IBS was giving me constipation. Not uncommon, right? But this doctor asked me (like the other doctor) “Is there a chance you could be pregnant?” I laughed and said “No, very unlikely!”, he said, “Well let’s be sure, I want you to take a pregnancy test before I prescribe you anything”. “Sure….” I said, but muttered to myself “…if you want to waste our time”. The doctor called in the nurse and explained I was to take a pregnancy test. I dutifully peed in the cup and together we sat down and waited for the results. The nurse tried to make small talk about the recent rocket attack. She proceeded to tell me that a lot of girls try to get pregnant on purpose to avoid deploying or wanting to be sent home. But then her words slowly slurred to a halt, she paused and exclaimed with a look of unexpected shock “errrr you are………pregnant! Ummm, congratulations?!?”.

I could feel the blood drain from my face in disbelief. I haven’t had a period in years after my depo provera issues, how was this possible? What is going to happen now? I’m not ready for this. I’m not one of these girls who purposefully gets pregnant just to be sent home. I volunteered to deploy to Iraq! I volunteered to be with the rest of my unit. Despite the shit getting real with the rockets, I wanted to be there, to do my job, to serve my country.

I could hear in the distant background, the nurse asking me all sorts of questions about if this is what I wanted? Was I excited? Did I need anything? But I was in too much shock to answer her questions other than mumble a no.

The doctor who made me take the test called me back into his office and said “Well, now we can explain the constipation and nausea. But this doesn’t explain your pain. We need to make sure you are not having an ectopic pregnancy. Let’s get you to the Emergency Hospital for a checkup by the specialist. I was hurried out of the doctor’s office, into the back of an ambulance to drive the half mile to the emergency hospital. This was the most embarrassing thing of it all. Being driven into the ER entrance. Pregnant. Not shot, wounded or even sick. Just pregnant.

I had no idea what an ectopic pregnancy really meant. I was prodded and poked all over again by several nurses and doctors. They even checked my constipation and try to help it along, but there was nothing in there. There was no poo. After all, I had barely eaten for the last 7 days. I hadn’t pooed in 4 days.

Finally, my boyfriend arrived at the hospital (yes we were deployed together, we got it together during pre-deployment training). He had no idea why I was in the hospital, he had left me at the doctors only 2 hours ago! He looked panicked. I looked at him and tried to get the words out, but I just started crying. It was the first time I cried since finding out my news. Eventually he got it out of me, and we both cried. We cried conspicuously together as we were not really sure how else to do it, this crying thing.

The hospital facilities on our camp did not have a vaginal ultrasound machine. The closest one was in another country – Kuwait at a US Airforce base. They wanted to check if the pregnancy was ectopic as the symptoms matched. I was put on the medevac waiting list and told to go back to my room and rest until I was called to fly.

I went back to my room, cried a lot, read up on ectopic pregnancy, and asked myself a lot of questions. How will I explain this to my unit, to my boss? Will my boss know already? What are the rules on medical confidentiality? Will they send me home? Will I be discharged from the Army? What if I have an ectopic pregnancy? Should I tell my family? When will I be able to eat again? When will this pain go away? So many questions as I lay in my room, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the floor under my bed as the rockets kept coming throughout the day and night. Get some rest? Ha. No rest for me….

TBC.