Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breast Cancer...Really...

I know I left everyone who still has this blog in their RSS feed hanging after my last post, but most of my close blog relationships have become more real through Facebook and personal e-mail, so a lot of you tracking this blog already know what happened next.

Breast Cancer. I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Getting a huge binder marked "Patient Guide" and a stack of referrals to surgeons and oncologists was just as big a shock and whirlwind as those first few weeks of IF diagnosis and treatment. Like dealing with IF, dealing with breast cancer has been a roller coaster. Lost of tests, lost of needles, lots of highs and lows that switch in a second by a phone call. I had multiple biopsies. I had an initial surgery to remove the lump I found. I ultimately had a bilateral mastectomy a few weeks ago. The good news is that I now appear cancer free and will not require further treatment through chemo or radiation. The surgery was still a high price to pay, and I do not rest assured at night given my background. Still, I have come out of my other medical challenges kicking, so my outlook on a daily basis is good and I remain a good-humored person. You have to be good humored. Because you meet the weirdest people in the doctor's offices.

After my surgery, one friendly nurse oddly announced that I now have a summer of pain ahead of me. That's because I'm going through the long process of having "breasts" reconstructed with implants. Alas, I was too skinny to use my own flesh for reconstruction and now face the trifecta of things I said I never wanted--plastic surgery, silicone breast implants, and tattoos (that's how they give you new nipples--something I wish I never knew!). I'm starting to think I could live without nipples, but that skeeves out the hubby.

Can we pause just a second? I've already done a few "summers of pain." How is it I'm here again, unable to drive, unable to lift more than 10 pounds, etc., ect...

You just have to laugh at it all.

I'm doing okay, but reconstruction is no easy process to go through. The nurse wasn't lying--I'm in a fair amount of daily pain that will continue until I have a second surgery in a few months to place the implants. Not enough pain to stop me from working and going about my day, but enough to wake me at night and not let me forget what's been going on. And just as with injections and embryo transfers, you may forget in a few years, but it still is a gruesome experience.

I filled my quota for cruel and unusual things to be done to my body a few medical adventures ago. But alas, as my husband dearly reminds me, at least I still have a body to torture. :)

I'll try to stop by here every now again to let you all know how it's going. I miss my blog friends and am always glad to hear how their post-IF lives are going. Always feel free to send me a personal comment with your contact info and we can connect elsewhere on the Web.


Monday, January 09, 2012

A New Chapter

Boy, that new blog sure didn't take off! Talk about a crash landing!

Well friends, I'm sorry to report I have a new medical drama unfolding bfore me, and I'm debating on whether or not to use blogging as an outlet for it.

Right before Thanksgiving I found a small lump in my right breast. I'm only 35 and I had just had a clean mammogram 2 months before, but I knew something just was not right. Gut instincts were correct as usual. I was diagnosed with breast cancer right before Christmas.

C'mon now. Can this really be happening? I dealt with infertility. I barely survived severe pregnancy complications. I struggled through reconstructive abdominoplasty. Now breast cancer at a young age??? And all within 4 years? Talks about WTF!!! I can't seem to catch a break, friends.

I'm still in the diagnostic phase. As of this writing, I am sitting on pins and needles to learn the results of a more extensive biopsy I just had, which will determine my treatment going forward. Initially based on what was found my prognosis is very good--it's what they haven't identified yet that is scaring the pants off of me.

My little boys are so wonderful. They give me the courage to keep going with my chin up. But it is so hard to accept this. Getting the doctor appointment registration papers in the mail labeling me as a cancer patient are jarring. I thought infertility was going to be my one big health crisis. Then the HELLP syndrome. Now this?

Positive thoughts requested!

Emmie, the health lemon

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Blog

Hello out there!

I know some of you still have this blog set up on your RSS feeds and what not, so I'm hoping my old readership will get word that I'm starting a new blog, The Family That Flies Together, to talk about our travels with twins. I've really been wanting to come back to blogging for awhile now--I really miss my blog friends and the comraderie--so I thought I'd combine it with my obsession with travel. I'd like to share my travel stories--the things that work and the things that haven't--with small kids and maybe learn a few things myself along the way.

I hope everyone is doing well out there, and I hope to find you all on your blogs again soon.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Tomorrow, May 8, is a bitter sweet day. My little boys turn two, and I mark the second anniverary of the most nightmarish experience I hope I'll ever have. What was supposed to be one of the best days of my life was one of my worst, and almost my last. The dual nature of the day is something I have to live with--but at least I'm here to live it. Two years ago tomorrow I should have been dead by all my doctors' accounts due to the severe complications I endured during my labor.

This year my journey to recovery has continued with a significant milestone. I had my abdominoplasty surgery on September 22. I am so happy to tell you all that it went wonderfully and that I am healing well. No, insurance never paid a dime. But not being able to see my intestines moving beneath my skin anymore--priceless. :)

The weekend leading up to the surgery I had a unique oppotunity to be interviewed for an informational video on women's pregancy disorders. They wanted me to share my story. The woman doing the video and interviewing me had had a similar experience to mine. It was healing emotionally to meet someone else who had been such a medical mystery to her doctors and had lived to talk about it. Our husbands also bonded.

The day of the surgery I was beyond terrified. It was a horrible thing to walk into the same hospital were I had spent several weeks in the ICU, leaving my boys at home and not knowing when I'd get to hold them again. As I was wheeled into the operating room, I caught a glimpse of a familliar face--the mother of my boys' Godmother is a nurse and she had randomly been assigned to my floor that day. If that's not a blessing I don't know what is. She was with me when I woke up.

H stayed with me overnight in the hospital and I felt so much better than I thought I would that I couldn't believe it. I was able to get up to go to the bathroom on my own and eat dinner. We watched TV. I slept through the night. It just showed me how very, very ill I had been the last time I had stayed in that hospital.

I went home from the hospital the next day, and my parents stayed with us for a few weeks while I was recovery. It took me 3 months before I could pick up the boys again, but I was downstairs watching them play a few days after the surgery. I feel so much better now that I've had the surgery that it is amazing. So far I have had no complications other than the usual swelling, which will take about a year to go away completely.

The boys are great. They say a lot of words now, and they can count to ten very clearly. They don't speak in many sentences yet (mainly "more food, "need help"), but the one sentence they do say on a regular basis is "I love (ove) you, Momma." Now how great is that?

May was once my favorite time of year, but now as the flowers bloom and the weather starts to warm up, I get a sort of feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. The last remains of post traumatic stress bouncing around my psyche I suppose. I gave up therapy more than a year ago and have overall been doing just fine. I just need to beat these anniversary blues. I'm sure as more years pass I will. My doctors still remind me how surprised they are that I'm here--maybe I should get new doctors? But, being reminded that you shouldn't even be here right now certainly puts things into perspective when you're having a bad day.

Going through infertility has given me an appreciation for my kids that I think some may never understand. Likewise, my near-death experience has given me an appreciation for my life that I didn't have. It's easy to say "don't take things for granted," but once you really get close to losing them it opens up a whole new level of understanding. Not that other people don't love and value their lives and their kids lives. It's just an extra awareness that you have.

I can't expect that I have any readers left, but if you are out there--thank you for supporting me and being my friend. It's been quite an adventure. I'm glad that it has ended well and I wish you the best of luck on your journeys. I'm still out there lurking, but my other blog friends say things much better than I do so I'll leave the blogging to them. It's time for me to get on with things...

Happy May!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hello Again!

Hey everybody!

So the last time I posted, WAAAAY back in February, I said I was going to try to renew the blog. Ha...instead everybody got colds, one at a time, and we were a mess for about 3 weeks. After that, time just kept slipping away and I never got around to posting, though I still visit the blogs of my closest blog friends. I haven't forgotten the people who were with me during my darkest times!!!

So, an update is in order. Well, insurance never reversed its decision about my surgery, and to top it off my insurance changed to a new company last month that won't cover any plastic srugery under any circumstances, medically necessary or not, so I'm left footing the bill. I finally gave in and scheduled the full abdominoplasty for late September, and I am absoultely dreading it. Not only am I out of a considerable chunck of change, I just can't bear the thought of going back to the hospital and having such a major surgery. I dread the long recovery and not being able to pick up my boys or rough house with them. I feel like I finally have a life again, but that I'll have to put it on hold once again. Still, every time I look at my stomach and see or feel my intestines move just beneath the surface, I know that my abdominal wall must be repaired, whether insurance thinks so or not. So, let's just hope this procedure is a lot less complicated that my delivery of the boys...

And on to the boys, the best part of my life...
They are awesome. So worth everything we went through to have them. I am so happy to have survived to be able to raise them. They started walking on their 14 month birthday, and now they are practically running at 15 months. I call--Come to Mommy--and they run over, tackling me with hugs and kisses. It is just awesome. They give these huge open-mouthed kisses that crack me up. When they come toddling towards me and actually do things to make me laugh, I can't get over how lucky I am.

I feel insanely busy every day and I lead a way over-scheduled life, with every hour planned, but my playtime with the boys is true bliss. The schedule and routine is essential to our sanity though, so I'll live with the fact that every moment of my day is accounted for right now.

Our first year with our au pair already concluded, and we now have a new au pair who is equally great with the boys. It's hard getting someone new acclimated to our home, our family, and the culture while sharing our focus with the boys and full time jobs, but H and I are managing. Some days I'm so stressed I think I'm just going to keel over, but other days I feel very competent and in control. I probably need to give up some of my control issues. :)

I hope you all are well and I'll try to update a little more frequently.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Nothing Better

Thanks for all of your encouragement after my last post. I'm going to wait until I know my insurance appeals definitely won't work before I turn to the media, but if the appeal fails I'm ready to get the word out for help.

In the meantime, let's talk good things...twins!!!

I think their progress has been really great. They are both really happy almost all of the time now (such a relief from the first 3 to 4 months when they cried so much and little would comfort them.) They babble like crazy and are quite good at getting what they want. They both do some super cute yoga moves in addition to crawling (hands and tiptoes on the floor with their heads down and butts high in the air.) The youngest hasn't shown any signs of a tooth yet but I think it should be any day now with all the drool. The oldest played with a rubber ducky in the tub last night for the first time. He likes to give big, open mouth kisses to the side of my face, which is kinda scary as he has two very sharp teeth. I'm not sure if he's really kissing me or trying to suck my face like a vampire, but he and I both find it hilarious. The youngest is fascinated with sticking out his tongue. If you get too close, he will lick you and then smile the sweetest smile you have ever seen.

Both sit up pretty well now and for long periods of time, but when they do fall over it causes quite a few tears. Oldest now shows off by pulling up to a standing position and then letting go with one hand. I feel like this is very advanced for 8 months, but I have other mothers asking me if they're walking yet. (huh???) Littlest shows no interest in pulling up yet. It's amazing how the milestones just suddenly happen though. One day they're happy just to hang out on the floor, the next day the Big'un is waving at me from his crib while I change his brother.

Of course, having twins means that people will make comparisons and try to worry you. MIL has expressed concerns that Littlest is not as advanced in mobility/standing as Biggest. Ugh. Forget trying to explain that they are individuals and will do things at different speeds. I try to just ease her worries and forget about it, but sometimes it gets to me.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let's Get This Party Started

For those of you who have been long-time readers of Fertility Lost, you may have noticed that I'm trying to update the look of the blog and add a few new elements. (Please take my survey in the side bar!)I totally screwed up my blogroll and still have to redo it, so please bare with me. I'll never have a fancy site. Knowing this, I realized I need to get off my butt and write or give this up all together. No one likes a stale blog, right?

So here it is, folks. My attempt to renew my blog. I hope I still have some readers left out there and I hope maybe I'll pick up some new ones. My focus: parenting twins after infertility, with a few diatribes about post-partum depression, post tramautic stress, HE.LLP syndrome, having an au pair, and other things that go bump in the night. Throw in a few photos of some deliciously adorable twin babies, a documentary about my efforts to get my much-needed abdominal surgery covered by insurance, and some bad in-law stories, and I think we'll have a blog worth visiting again.

So, what's new, you ask? Here it is in a nutshell:

My therpaist has pronounced me over my post traumatic stress syndrome and post-partum depression. Hooray! Life is good, no? Well, my big lesson in therapy is that life is still going to be pretty crappy sometimes and that's okay. What matters is how I handle it. And indeed, life is still crappy a lot of the time, as you will see in Exhibit B...

My battle with my health insurance rages on, as three separate doctors have written strongly worded letters expressing the medical necessity of my abdominoplasty. So far, these letters have done nothing but produce more denial letters from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. That's right, I'm calling you out by name, BCBSIL! As I continue to walk around each day with my intestines and internal organs unprotected by any muscle tissue, I get angrier and angrier. Look soon for a You Tube video showing the world how I can watch my intestines moving right beneath my skin. I'm hoping some word of mouth about my condition will get me some much needed attention. My docs have suggested I take my story to the media. So blogger friends, I may be enlisting your help to spread my story and outrage over this lack of attention to what is a very serious medical condition. I'm awaiting word on my appeal right now. If it's unfavorable, I'm taking the next step to get some help.

My babies are fabulous. I am absolutely in love with them. They make the health insurance battle and the abdominal pain I'm experiencing bearable. Baby A pulls up now and has two teeth. Baby B has a passion for solid food and is crawling on his knees. They are truly the light of my life and have made this whole experience worth all the pain and misery. I couldn't have said that a few months ago. I'm finally seeing the light after a very difficult recovery. Much more on the babies in posts to come. I just don't know where to start.