Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Thanks for the comments yesterday...I can only say how sorry I am to have two commenters who have actually experienced both cancer and infertility. That is too much misfortune for any one human being to bear, and yet they have/do with grace. Amazing.

I guess I thought it was obvious my intent in the post--to say that in the midst of my darkest days I never woke up fearing I might not live. I never worried that I wouldn't grow old. I certainly worried about the quality of my life, and whether there would be grandchildren around when I grew old, and things like that...but to see the fear in my patient's eyes yesterday...the fear of imminent death when she's in the prime of her life...that touched my heart.

And made me profoundly grateful.

She doesn't know whether she will be alive next year.

True, I guess no one does. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. I could get diagnosed with cancer myself next week. But I won't die from infertility, that much I can hang my hat on.

At any rate, we leave on Friday for our major getaway! Hooray! The mister has two shows in the NYC metro over the weekend and then we'll be there for the whole week after. And I'm seeing my boys, OKGo on Friday night in Brooklyn. And my NJ sister Gail.

I have needed this trip for a long time. My dreadful exam is over. My Dad's health is stable. Mr. LC and I are making plans.

There is so much life to live...and I just can't miss a minute of it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I hurt.

I hurt for the young woman I just saw as a patient.
Her wisps of blonde hair so baby fine and short trying to grow back in after the ravages of chemotherapy, a pink, nubbly scar from her port-a-cath peeking out from her shirt. Status post double masectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer. A rare complication of deep vein thrombosis in her internal jugular vein that nearly killed her during treatment. Just finishing her radiation treatment--exhausted beyond my comprehension--and gearing up for a total hysterectomy.

And my job was to tell her that "Oh yeah, your arteries are pretty horrible, too."

She has four young children.

So it's Infertility Awareness Week.

And I'm aware of my infertility, but it is not cancer.

It may break my heart into a million pieces but it will not kill me.

It may have taken me into dark places that I never wish to go to again but it will not kill me.

It may have robbed me of hopes, of dreams, of idealized visions of how I thought my life would be but it will not kill me.

It has not killed me.

I'm aware of it. I hope others are aware of the ravages of infertility as well.

But I wanted to scoop that woman into my arms and hug her tight and tell her everything was going to be ok, that she would be a mother to her four children long enough to see them grow big and strong and to an age where they don't need her so desperately but I couldn't.

Infertility sucks, but I have to say that cancer sucks worse.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happpiness, baking, and tiny dogs

Thank you for your kind words on my last post.

I know grief is a process and it's certainly not always linear no matter how hard we wish it were. I often find myself telling others to just let feelings happen and go with them because they need to happen but sometimes it's hard to follow that advice.


I am doing much better. So much better, than instead of stress baking I did a little 'just for fun baking.' Not a new recipe, but a new, arrangement, for lack of a better word.

Today we also participated in World Malaria Day on our state Capitol lawn as part of a launch for the broader Imagine.No.Malaria Campaign from the United Methodist Church ( if you're so inclined). DH performed his song "One of These Tomorrows" with a youth band as part of the celebration. I teared up just listening.

One Of These Tomorrows...

We'll be ok.

Click here if you want to listen to it again :)

There's very little space to feel sorry for your infertility woes when you're thinking about the fact that in Africa, a child dies from malaria every thirty seconds. It's preventable and treatable and it shouldn't be this way.

On a happier note I'll leave you with two things:
A pic of Penelope, our tiny little rescue dog, who came to us in such bad shape they had named her "Hope" because they just hoped she'd live a few more months. We were told she was 12.


That was five years ago and ain't no way Penelope was any 12 years old when we got her.

And thank God for that, because when I got her, I needed something small to distract me from my fertility woes (you know, we'd been trying three months and it hadn't happened so I was experiencing woes). She is small, that's for sure (see pic below). But she's also a great comfort, in a way only a dog can be (I feel like Mickey Rourke here, egads). And I do love her and I still need her.

Isn't she tiny but also adorable?

And now, for my baking adventure. I give you: cake ball banana split. The 'container' is white chocolate, and yes that's a tiny banana slice in there. It's hard to see the 'vanilla ice cream ball' but it's there behind the banana... and a red M&M makes the 'cherry' (to give you perspective). It was fun to make, but I didn't eat it....

Also--we're on the countdown to NYC so I'm getting in my uber happy place!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One step forward, two steps back.

I'm doing ok.

Most of the time.

Sometimes I'm living the phrase "fake it til you make it" to keep a good perspective on life and infertility. And what it has done to me.

Believe me, it has done a number on me.

And I don' t always have to fake it. Most of the time I am genuinely happy. And genuinely happy for others as they attain what I cannot. That's a switch, as I must confess there was a time, when I was deep in the trenches of IVF, that seeing someone else succeed grabbed me around the heart and squeezed hard as I would have that desperate sense that "there's another BFP gone and it wasn't mine." I know you understand.

Recently I was on an IF blog and saw a link to a whole lotta CCRM blogs, all grouped together. And you know they were nearly all successes.

Maybe I should stop reading IF blogs? I try to keep supporting those who are in the trenches, sometimes I get support back, but sometimes not. I know there's not as much to say when someone's not actively in the process.

Seeing that dedicated CCRM blog roll just reminded me that I'm in such an isolated club. Yes, I know there are other members and man am I glad to have found them, though sorry they're in it with me. And I know there are so many 'clubs' of IF that are horrible and awful and dreadful but why do there have to be any at all? Why did this have to happen this way?

I love to read Lis's blog because she is so raw and honest. I hate with all my heart what has happened to her but I'm honored to know her and to support her on her journey. She wrote a post recently entitled "Still." She wrote this: "it still hits me about three minutes after i wake up" and she is referring to the loss of her beautiful twin girls.

While I have not suffered a physical loss such as she has, it still sometimes hits me that I'm infertile. That we're at the end of the road. We're done with massive amounts of treatment and it


It didn't work? How's that again?

How is it that we poured every ounce of our being into making a baby and couldn't? How is it that the top clinic in the country couldn't help us, not once, but twice? How is it that we went through five in vitro cycles and still are only attending birthday parties and baby showers as outside guests and never holding our own?


So yeah, I know I wrote my last post about not being paralyzed.

I'm not.

But I still hurt.

Somedays more than others. Somedays not much at all. Somedays so much I think all the healing has been for nothing because I'll never be healed.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

I've been away...

I'm sorry I've been away from commenting. I was out of town for a couple of days visiting my parents where the internet connection is slow, on a good day. It just makes blogging/reading/writing/commenting painful. So forgive me as I try to catch up!

I feel like I have so much to tell you but it just seems like I am on repeat sometimes. But here goes:

If your parents, or anyone you love but don't tell often enough, are alive and well please go--don't delay--and spend some time with them. I never, ever thought I could be so grateful to sit next to my father and watch a baseball game with him for two hours but I did and I am--so grateful, that is. He was watching and I was in the kitchen baking and he kept calling for me to join him so he could "teach me a few things about baseball!" and so I went, sat down next to him, and watched.

We talked. He commented. We laughed (as much as he can physically, but the emotion was there and real). It felt as much like 'old times' as it possibly could, my Dad watching sports and me, the daughter always wanting him to adore me, sitting next to him, except this time, I wasn't feigning interest. If he had wanted to watch C-SPAN I would have because you see, to just sit and be with him, and spend time with him, and not have him in pain, and not have me in pain because of his pain, was a glorious, glorious thing. It felt so normal, and so nice especially since my last visit home my Dad just laid in the bed the whole time, buried under a fog of depression so heavy threatened to steal him completely from us.

Who would ever have imagined that watching a baseball game could feel so meaningful?

It's so cliche and I recognize that, but I'm going to say it anyway: it's the simple stuff that matters. One year ago I would have never in a million years thought I would have yearned for two hours of simple TV watching and conversation with my Dad, but here I am.

And there we were.

And yes, I watched him walk with his physical therapist. It is painful for him and hard in a way that I cannot even being to imagine.

Or maybe I can.

My body betrayed me, too Dad. Despite years of treating it well.

And he could lay in the bed, paralyzed both literally and figuratively. He could lay in the bed and stare up and the ceiling and waste away while the world keeps on turning.

But he's not.

And neither will I.

I am moving on.

When my Dad walks it is beyond difficult. It takes two people and a walker to help him--one person to get him to standing and then to stay close by in case he falters and another person to help propel the paralyzed leg forward...but he's trying. By God he's trying.

And I am too.

It may take a lot of support and work and effort to help us but I will not remain paralyzed by infertility.

The Mister and I went on a couple of amazing trail runs while home. My parents live on acreage surrounded by the National Forest, where the trees tower over you at 100-150 feet. It was just us and the sounds of our shoes hitting the dirt trail and our labored breathing. Complete and amazing peacefulness. No talks of infertility dominated like the old days where we couldn't get a mile in and the topic would come up as we went round and round about our fate.

This time is was quiet.

As I was getting ready to go on said run I was helping my Dad do leg exercises.

I stood at the foot of my Dad's recliner as he tirelessly worked his right leg. Then it was time to do the left, the paralyzed one.

"But that one's so weak, Pumpkin. So weak."

"I know Dad, but I'm going to help you."

I started to help him bend his leg toward his body and then push it back out against the weight of my body. I was doing the work but it was the action that was important, to stretch his muscles that can so easily become contorted and tight and drawn up and resistant to movement.

I decided to stop helping, just to see.

"Am I doing it Pumpkin?" he asked.

And my God, he was. It was small but it was movement. We all cheered and counted out his repetitions.

"I'm going to go run now Dad." I paused. I didn't want to hurt him. He was the runner in the family, after all. "And I'm going to run a mile for you Dad. Because you taught me how to be a runner."

I will not be paralyzed by this body that on some levels has betrayed me, and on so many others serves me perfectly well. I am taking steps--small, painful, but powerfully significant steps.

Am I doing it?

I think I am.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Encounters of the work kind...

I guess like all of you who blog, there are always posts swirling around in my mind. Then I come here and nothing comes out (surprised?). But I'm going to make an attempt to write about a few things that I have learned on the job that have nothing to do with lipids and heart disease.

In the type of work I do I come into contact with a variety of people all day long. And maybe because we're talking about their health, and I'm their health care provider, they feel like they can open up to me...sometimes divulging things I don't want/need to know, sometimes just sharing, sometimes crying. Sometimes the moments are intense.

Some of my patients I have been seeing for nearly four years. I help manage the complex dyslipidemias at my practice, which means I see the folks who had their first heart attack as a supposedly healthy 35 year old, or the person who has an LDL cholesterol level of 300+ despite being on six different medications. You get to know these people over time, over the years. But patients always seem to want to know a little bit about me and, well, I'm guilty of oversharing (I know--shocker.)

So you know where this is going.

As unprofessional as it may have been in the past, I've told some of my patients that we were trying to start a family.

Usually it would just be in casual way--they would see my pictures of my dogs and ask if we had any children. Four and three and two and hell--even one year ago I might have responded with "Not yet, but we're working on it!"

Obviously they've seen me every six months for four years they're going to notice I've never been pregnant. Some of them gently ask "How is that going?"

I no longer say "we're working on it." I'm getting comfortable with the truth. With hearing the words "We cannot have children" come out of my mouth, spoken by my voice, spoken about me.

I say it, I don't tear up, the words are out there, and saying it every time makes it more real, more concrete, more fact.

Because 81 eggs retrieved, eleven embryos transferred, five IVFs and still no baby had not quite made it real enough as just saying those words out loud.

"We cannot have children."

My patients--God love them--they pat me on the arm and give me a sympathetic look. Some of them hug me and say "I'm sorry." Some of them say stupid things but that's ok too. I'm learning to be more forgiving, to just roll with it.

"We cannot have children." It's a hard thing for people to hear. But it's getting easier to say.

On a different but related note, I also gingerly ask people about their family histories, which has led to me to hear some delightful, some sad, and some just plain heartbreaking accounts of adoption.

"I do not know my family history. And I have hurt my whole life for not knowing anyone who was genetically connected to me--I have felt so alone in this world"--this a response I got early on that left me tearing up as my patient--a middle aged man--teared up, too, the pain in his eyes so deep and raw I could barely keep it together.

Or this:

"I finally connected with my twelve brothers and sisters. I was the baby, the one they couldn't afford to raise." I remained quiet to see if he would continue. "But it was nice to finally meet someone who looked like me, to get a sense of where I came from, to get a small sense of who I am."

Or this:

"My parents are absolutely the people who raised and loved me, no ifs ands or buts. I adore them and they are wonderful people." And then laughing, continuing "But they both have heart disease so I'm glad they didn't give me any genes!"

Of course I also come across cases of infertility. From the patients who tell me that "they had to do infertility to get pregnant" which I then find out means they took one round of Clomid (!) to reading in someone's history of about the loss of triplets at 21 weeks I realize there are a lot of us out there and there are myriad painful ways to experience infertility.

But yet I haven't met myself yet. I haven't had a mid-30s vegetarian with high cholesterol, a thyroid disorder, a wicked family history of heart disease come in, sit down in my office and tell me she can go on medication without also having to take birth control because, come on, she's NOT going to get pregnant. She did, after all, fail five in vitro cycles with nary more than a chemical pregnancy.

If I did meet myself, I guess I'd be gentle with me. I'd probably want to hug me.

Thanks for hanging in for the mindless ramble.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words...

So that is a photo of the most bestest awesomest card EVER received from an equally awesome friend, S, as a good luck for my lipid board exam, which was yesterday. We covered up my last name but it basically depicts ME as the Robot kicking the other Robot's behind.


Now that I've taken the exam it seems the labels need to be reversed.

Because that test kicked my behind. And hard.

I'm still sore and probably will be for a while.

It was four hours of grueling blech. Well, I take that back, the first 44 questions were a cinch and I had the cocky thought of "Well I've got this in the bag. Not only will I pass, but I will make an A."

Famous last words.

You guys--I went into that test as prepared as I have ever been for anything ever. I have studied for months, literally. Mr. LC has quizzed me on my stack of 200 index cards countless times--I could recall the facts in my sleep. I took prep tests of 800+ questions and then studied them endlessly.

But yet still, STILL, there were items on that test that I had never even heard of. WTF? There is no way to memorize everything but apparently, that's what was expected.

If I fail, I will have to retake the test, which will consist of another random assortment of details and minutiae that actually don't influence how I practice at all. That's the rub. All day long I see patients and I make treatment decisions and hey--people live!--and I am not recalling facts from my index cards.

OK, enough griping.

It's done. I don't have to study anymore until I get the results (6 weeks and thank GOD not before our NYC trip because nothing nothing nothing can ruin that trip for me!). I am rejoining the living again as fully as possible and have cleverly hidden away my stack of books and notes and practice tests and all that crap.

Today we ran under a beautiful blue sky next to a beautiful blue lake with beautiful blue bluebonnets everywhere. And I did not feel blue.

But I did have a sore behind.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some moments.

Easter is usually a hard time for me. The church services are all about new life and new beginnings and frankly, over the past five years of failed infertility treatments it has been hard to embrace the excitement over new life--I mean, the entire plant and animal kingdom bursts forth in a frenzy of procreation and then there was Mr. LC and I.

Devoid of spring.

I have to say yesterday I did not feel this way about myself specifically. Maybe I'm getting over myself, I don't know.

I did cry, though, during the service. When I looked at the bulletin and saw that our choir was singing a song called "Arise" with a male soloist I grabbed Mr. LC's hand and said "Can you go get me some tissues? I'll never make it through that song."

You see, a long time ago I had a spectacular cousin named Jim. He was my only cousin on my Dad's side of the family. He was a teenager when I was born and I idolized him. He was hip and smart and knew all about fashion and took my sister and I shopping and played with us and taught us cool things and when we were little he spent Christmas morning with us just so he could experience seeing the magic of Santa Claus through our eyes.

He was perfect.

He was also a beautiful singer, with a voice that was damned near angelic.

I dreamed of the day he would sing at my wedding.

His life was cut tragically short at the age of 31. I will never forget waking up one morning as an awkward, hopelessly uncool 13 year old to find my mother standing at the foot of my bed.

"Jim died."

Her words left me stunned and reeling and confused and hurt and I felt like the wind had been knocked right out of me for months.

My sweet cousin--one of the only people who had the ability to make me feel beautiful and special and cherished--gone. Gone too soon.

The last song I ever heard him sing "Arise."

On Sunday I closed my eyes and listened as an angelic male voice sang that song and it nearly took my breath away.

The tears, they just fell.

It's been over twenty years, but when you lose someone tragically and early and they mean so much to you, time is sometimes meaningless.

"You were supposed to grow old

You were supposed to grow old

Reckless, unfrightened, and old

You were supposed to grow old"

And yet, emotions are complicated things.

Despite this immense sadness I felt for the loss of my cousin, after church I laid my head on the mister's chest, while we stretched out on the grass in the park as a family of two, while much larger, louder families all around us celebrated Easter with picnics and pinatas and barbecues and I said "I am happy."

I am happy because I have known love that is deep and wide, and I have felt cherished, and I am lucky to have known my cousin for the thirteen years that I did.

I am happy because I can, in an instant, recall his beautiful voice and hear him sing to me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

I'm unoriginal in my post title, sorry about that.

In the midst of mad studying, and trail running, mountain biking, and church service attending, there had to be baking.

I give you: Easter egg cake balls.

Up tomorrow: more church service attending (sunrise service--a true favorite), more traill running, more studying (but at the park in the glorious spring weather with Mr. LC right by my side) and some yoga-ing.

Life is good.

I hope yours is too.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Four steps

Four steps.

Four steps may not seem like much.

True, they will not get me very far.

In my office, four steps will not get me from my chair to my office door.

Four steps during a run do not count for much.

But four steps taken by my Dad, now that's something.

Yes, he had help.

Yes, he was using a hemi-walker.

Yes, yes, yes.

But four steps.

Taken by a man who survived a devastating non-surviveable stroke.

Taken by a man who had been so depressed lately he would barely speak.

Taken by a man who was told he would never walk again.

Four giant significant monumental steps.