I’m Hoping for Parasites

If I google “eosinophilia” one more time–I think I might break the internet.  For weeks I have been ill with a mysterious illness that has sent me to the ER, three doctors, and one CAT Scan technician.  The medical terms probably won’t mean much to you, but here is what my google search history reads:

“femara side-effects”, “colestid side-effects”, “severe stomach cramping”, “gall bladder symptoms”, “GI cocktail”, “acid reflux and stomach pressure”, “gallstones”, “biliary colic”, “paleo and gallbladder disease”, “acute cholecystitis”, “epigastric pain”, “dicyclomine”, “high fat diet”, “giardia symptoms”, “celiac disease”, “hiatal hernia”, “IBS diagnosis”, “gastritis”, “bacteria in urine”, “squamous epi cells”, “creatinine”, “alkaline phosphotase”, “urine ph levels”, “bladder cancer”, “autoimmune disorders”, “polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms”, “ankylosing spondylitis”, “cushing’s syndrome”, “adrenal fatigue”, “hashimoto’s syndrome”, “helminths”, “hepatitis C”, “esophageal varices”, “kidney disease”, “low osmolality”, “liver disease, “eosinophilia”, “GGT test”, “ascites”, “liver damage and dietary supplements”, “autoimmune hepatitis”, and on and on and on…

I hope you didn’t read all those terms…to put it succinctly I’ve given myself a mini-medical education while laying in bed for the past 9 days.  Too fatigued to do anything other than watch about 20 Bollywood musicals and google test results on my phone, It has been hard to think of much else.  The abdominal pain never really goes away, and sometimes I wake in the night in terrible pain.  Almost none of my 15 or so tests thus far has given any useful data.  All I know is that my BUN/Creatinine Ratio is a bit low, I briefly had an elevated Alkaline Phosphatase test that went back down to the very tip of the regular range, and a sky-high Eosinophil count (1785 absolute count per microliter) that is impossible to ignore and must be the clue to my illness.  The CAT scan without contrast showed nothing.

So–here are the diagnoses that seem most probable to me after my monumentally inadequate medical self-education:  I have PARASITES or…I have some kind of autoimmune disease.  I’m not terribly happy about either diagnosis–although presumably I could be rid of parasites and not an autoimmune disease, so I guess I’m hoping for PARASITES.

There’s a sentence I’d never thought I would hear myself say.  I’M HOPING FOR PARASITES.  The sad thing is that an autoimmune disease would actually explain my diminished ovarian reserve–and maybe if treated I could slow down the decline of my ovarian reserve?  Or maybe it will just make my RE say that I can only become pregnant through IVF.  Or worse–surrogacy.  I don’t know what I would do.

Originally I thought the symptoms were pregnancy symptoms–in my first two week wait of my first IUI cycle, pregnancy symptoms were something I welcomed:  nausea, diarrhea, insomnia…it turns out that those things can be progesterone side effects.  And supposedly I had loads of progesterone from multiple follicles, so yay!  But now I’m beginning to wonder…am I actually allergic to progesterone?  If I’m allergic to progesterone, my own self-made progesterone, how could I ever hope to be pregnant?

I’m trying not to think about it too much.  After about a dozen tests my GP gave up on me and said I had to talk to a specialist, who I won’t see until Tuesday.  I’m praying for answers.  I just need to know what’s wrong so I can start to fix it…however I can.

“And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.  And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.  He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified.  But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I.  Do not be afraid.”  And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded”  Mark 6:48-51

God, I don’t know what time it is, but I really hope it’s the fourth watch by now.  I need you in this boat with me.  Jesus, please come sit in my boat.  I’m tired.  I’m sick.  I’m losing hope.  Thank you for taking care of me.  Thank you for my multiplicity of great test results that prove that there are at least some things that aren’t wrong with me.  Please give me the energy to resume my life with this pain–or without pain if it pleases you.  Whatever you do, just please come and sit in my boat.

A Tiny Little Seed

How I learned about my infertility.

I have a tiny seed.  A few tiny seeds left to me.  That’s what the doctor said.

My first response was confusion.  What does it mean that my AMH level is .92?

I listened to the voicemail from the doctor again.  It’s time to pursue aggressive treatment.  It’s time to do IUI.  It’s time for drugs.  But why?  What’s wrong with me?

At this date, I still haven’t spoken to the doctor about it.  I still don’t understand all the ramifications.  All I know is what hours of scouring the internet, podcasts, youtube, even peer-reviewed medical journals, has told me:

  1. My ovaries are aging prematurely and I will probably go into menopause very early.
  2. Modern medicine knows no cure.
  3. Some people, however, have turned it around.
  4. IUI might work or it might not.  IVF might work, or it might not.
  5. It could be caused by an autoimmune disease, or it might be caused by genetic factors, or the cause might still be unknown to science.
  6. The people who have turned their fertility around did it through diet, supplements, acupuncture, and persistent pursuit of answers through their medical professionals.

But what’s really troubling me?  Why do I spend hours scouring the internet?  Because I don’t want to stop and face reality–I’m in denial.  The truth is that my body decided to skip the most fruitful time of my life.  My body decided:  no children, no vivacious youthful womanhood, no entrance into the sisterhood of mothers–instead I am going to skip all that and go through menopause at the same time as my mother.

It feels like I lost two decades of my life.  I have no friends going through menopause–all my friends are becoming mothers.  I am losing part of myself that I will never get back.  Who will I be on the other side of menopause in my early 30s?  Who could I possibly be?

All I know is that I’m not ready to lie down and die yet.  I’m not ready.  I’ve already spent two years hiding from this diagnosis of infertility in a pit of depression and self-destruction that drowned out my despair.  But I’m not done.  I will not go silent into that good night.  I’m going to fight, I’m going to struggle, I’m going to persevere.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5

I don’t know if I’m ready to rejoice yet, but I’m ready to claim that promise of hope.  The hope that does not put me to shame.  And that means no more despair.  No more sitting around thinking that God left me here to struggle on my own.  The truth I know is that I have to plant the seed, I have to water it…but only God can make it grow.

So God, I’m going to be planting a lot of seeds.  I’m going to plant every seed I can find, and I’m going to water them faithfully.  Not because I have faith in my watering abilities, or in the seed’s ability to grow–because both are marred by sin.  God, I don’t know how you will do it, but please don’t let my hope put me to shame.  I’m waiting for you God.  In the meantime I’ll be watering.  You know where to find me.