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So, here's a brief recap of yesterday's appointment with Dr. Owlish / Einstein / Penmanship (those are the nicknames in the running, because he's kind and smart, wears glasses, attended Albert Einstein University, and has remarkably good handwriting; I'll use all three intermittently in this post, and you can vote in the sidebar poll if you'd like). We suggested the idea of IVF/ICSI with fertilizing 6-8 eggs; Dr. Owlish agreed that it was a reasonable compromise, but he said the success rates that way would be no better than IUI with injectables. He suggested we do a few IUIs before we use up the last two IVF cycles covered by our insurance. We asked about donor embryos; Dr. Einstein said their clinic does do that and it could be a good option for us down the road. I asked about having my progesterone re-tested; Dr. Penmanship offered to just give me a prescription for suppositories just in case we did actually conceive this pre-treatment cycle. We determined to go ahead with an injectable IUI, which meant I would need an HSG.

And that brings us to today. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. The HSG that I assumed would be routine was anything but. First, Dr. Owlish was running about an hour late - no big deal, I had brought a book, and I have a flexible schedule since I work from home. Then, the procedure hurt. A lot. I think I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but these cramps took my breath away. (I had taken Advil, but I had done so an hour before my scheduled appointment time.) Worst, the HSG showed blockage in my right tube. Dr. Einstein injected the fluid medium three times (triple the cramping!) and had me shift around a lot
(tilting from side to side with a speculum and catheter inside you is far from pleasant) to get a clear view of the obstruction. After it was all done, Dr. Penmanship explained all the X-ray images and laid out the implications of the blocked tube. It certainly explains our infertility and lack of success at treatments; according to Dr. Owlish, the tube has probably filled with toxic fluid that leaks into my uterus and poisons any embryos that make it there. The cause of the blockage is unclear (Dr. Einstein suggested pelvic infection due to STDs, but I explained how that was impossible as I wasn't sexually active until marriage). I will need to have a laparoscopy to determine the extent of the damage; they may just need to remove some scar tissue, but it's possible that the whole tube will have to be taken out. For now, we have instructions to avoid conceiving this cycle, and then when my next cycle begins I'll go on birth control to keep everything quiet for the surgery. IUIs are no longer a viable option for us, but we'll have to wait for the laparoscopy results in order to know what comes next.

Yesterday, I felt so happy with our plan. Today, that plan became untenable. I have been in tears off and on ever since the HSG finished. I am frightened of surgery (and of infection - Dr. Penmanship prescribed antibiotics saying that the fluid from the HSG could cause a "life-threatening" infection in the blocked tube!). I'm tempted to be angry at my previous clinic, that didn't do this test and sent us through a course of wasted treatments as a result. I grieve for the embryos we created that, little did we know, faced a certain death sentence in my toxic womb. I feel a sense of injustice - if, as Dr. Owlish implied, STDs are the main cause of blocked tubes, why do I have a blockage when I abstained until marriage? I'm worried that it will be necessary to remove my tube, thus dooming any future reproductive efforts. I am full of doubt that God could heal me; healing of a hormonal problem seemed so much more realistic that healing of a structural problem. I feel weary; our hope of having children has been deferred AGAIN, and my heart is sick of it.


Jon said...

I'm really sorry to hear your news. I'm sure there will be a way forward.


Lauren said...

I'm so sorry about your day yesterday and the news you received. I was hoping the HSG wouldn't be too painful and that there would be good news, as I'm sure you were too.

Just a couple of things: I have a friend who recently had an ectopic pregnancy, and the doctors had to remove one of her tubes. They told her that did not mean she would have double the difficulty of getting pregnant. Before you worry too much about all future reproductive efforts being doomed, I'd ask more info about tube removal and what that means for the future. It may not be as "dooming" as it sounds. And you may not even have to have the tube removed! Try not to worry about things that haven't happened yet--take each thing one step at a time. (I know, much easier said than done. Trust me, I have to remind myself of this advice several times each day. I'm a worrier.)

Lastly, and this is also much easier said than done, and it can come across as trite and not helpful at all, but try to keep in mind that God has a purpose for everything he does and allows. (I know you know this already.) Sometimes he allows people to deal with difficulties that seem too much to bear, but he is GOOD, and somehow that means that his purposes are good too. Even if it's years before we find out what the purpose was and what the good was (if we ever find out), there is good.

I know I'm babbling. Your posts are just very encouraging to me and I'd like to give you some encouragement too. While I do believe that God has a specific reason for all he allows, sometimes it's hard to talk about it when all you can see is the hurt and "badness" of it all.

Amy said...

Oh, Andrea, I'm so sorry. What frustrating news. I, too, want to offer encouragement and don't know how. The one thing I thought while reading about your grief over your embryos that you didn't know couldn't survive in your womb--God knew. And while that doesn't ease the grief, you can know that you have been faithful to honor God.

Sister, I pray comfort for you today, and in the coming days.

Hope said...

Lauren said it all so beautifully! You are a source of inspiration even when in a valley. John 14:14 - If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].

You are in my prayers, hopefully they can fix the tube and 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes are in your near future.

Sarah K said...

My dear friend--I am so sorry to hear this. I will be praying that the Lord's comfort will surround you today, that he will bear your griefs and carry these sorrows, and that he will soon show a way where there now seems to be no way. May God pour out his grace...

with love, Sarah

Jen said...

I'm so sorry Andrea. I have a blocked tube, too, and we too abstained til marriage. So I know the depth of your frustration and sense of injustice. The blockage is also why your HSG was so painful. For me, I was glad to at least know WHY it was so miserable, when for other people it was so painless. Don't know if that knowledge helps you or not. My friend had an ectopic pregnancy and she lost that whole tube. They did eventually conceive so it IS possible, though I know that's hard for your heart to understand right now. Big hugs for you. Our stories are so similar so I can really empathize with the depths of your hurt. Know that I'm thinking of you and praying for you.

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

I am so very sorry to hear this, Andrea. I can't imaigne the frustration you must feel for going into a "routine" procedure only to be told this. I am frustrated with you at the past clinic never doing an HSG! Saline Sono's are not enough... I'm so sorry... I don't know how that must feel to feel you guys tried to hard to honor God with your ART choices, and here something could have been dooming them that you never got a chance to know. It doesn't make sense!

But, IF and losses don't make much sense either. I don't understand it, but I'll definintely, definitely be praying for a GOOD outcome (unblocking the tube) and a successful pregnancy before you even have to do IVF again. I'll pray for peace throughout such a t tumultuous time..

Know that I'll be checking in on your often. I'm so very sorry for this time.

MLO said...

Endometriosis, streptococcus, pneumonia can all be causative of a blocked tube - even hydrosalpinxes. I did a Medline search that went back to Pre-WWI studies and saw the sudden focus of all gyn research shift. It all became obsessed with STD caused damage due to "returning soldiers and their new friends." You can guess what the new friends are.

I was a good girl too, my tubes are so destroyed by endo, strep, pneumonia, or something other than an STD that left them so deformed they were useless - utterly useless - and had to be cauterized instead of removedto prevent that lovely fluid from entering my uterus and killing any transferred embryos.

Am I a wee bit angry about this? Yes. Bewildered? Not really. Medical science is a little patchy in its understanding of a lot of things and this is one of them. They are quick to say STD when it could be any number of other things.



The Durbin Family said...

Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry. What a hard, hard day that must have been. You will be in my prayers today and this next week, especially. In addition to comfort and peace I will pray, as you wrote a few days ago, for more faith for both you and Aaron--to be sustained by that faith and trust in God's goodness (something we all need to be praying for ourselves!). I wish I could come over today and give you a big hug. We'll see you guys soon.

Heather said...

my heart hurts for you in your pain...

Glenna Marshall said...

I am so very sorry. My heart is well acquainted with your grief. We received similar news this week. With us, there IS an ART that we can use, but we feel it's not for us. As a result...I feel we've doomed our chances of conceiving a child, unless the Lord performs a miracle.

It has been such a hard pill to swallow. So many mixed emotions, which I'm sure you understand. What I am clinging to is that His "no" for now is His most excellent way, because He does all things well. That's hard to believe sometimes, and when I can't see it in my own circumstances I simply believe it because the Word says it.
I'm rambling here, but I wanted you to know I understand how you feel, truly. I will pray for you when I pray for my own heart.

Mrs. Mom said...

Oh Andrea! My heart aches for you! How dreadful indeed this must have been, must be! We will petition the Father on your behalf, for help and comfort and peace of heart and mind.
It was good even for me to read the comments posted already--information really is powerful in helping us think, and thus feel, rightly. I hope the experience shared by others who have gone before you encourages your heart and helps you to know which way to turn.
May God Himself be your strength and hope and help today!
Lots of love,

Katie said...

Praying for you, friend. God is being glorified in your "looking up" and not just "looking in." I pray especially that God would comfort your heart with His Word.

Elaine said...

I wanted to share a story of hope with you. I personally know someone who lost a tube due to an ectopic pregnancy. Where medical professionals will tell you "it's impossible," I am here to say "it's not." She recently gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl...and she only had one good tube!

Don't give up your faith! I hope and pray that your laparoscopy will be able to repair this tube for you. However, God still preforms miracles everyday. And if God will do that for my friend,I know he loves and cares about you just as much--and he can do that for you too!


Ohmay said...

Delurking to say, I am so very sorry but I thank God for you that now you know and don't keep throwing good money after bad and can make informed decisions. I also have been diagnosed with a blocked tube but am 7 weeks along in a pregnancy that only God could have made happen. That same God is alive and well and can do it for you too. . .
God be with you,

Trish said...

Hi, I've just ventured over here from Jon's blog. Let me reassure you that the very same thing happened to me, and I was also a "good girl". Fortunately, my dr didn't try to convince me that I had mysteriously messed around without realizing it, and reassured me that there are many reasons, including just any stray bacterium that wanders up that way, that can cause a blocked tube. The "fingers" on the end of the tube are very fragile, and it doesn't take much to complicate them.

I also ended up having my blocked tube removed, but it hasn't resolved my infertility. Nothing really will, so now I'm trying to learn what to do with all this.


Anonymous said...


I know sometimes the wallow-in-your-own-pity approach is much more appealing than proactivity...but in this case, I think considering legal action (possibly not in the traditional sense...perhaps you could sue for procedural changes rather than money) against Dr. Peppy & co may be a very prudent option. And NOT so you can say "look how MAD I am!", it's to save other mothers-without-children from this heartache. It's a very simple, straightforward procedure that Dr. P & Co should have done in the very beginning. As yo can see from your new clinic, it's par for the course to have this done in the very beginning of fertility testing.

I hope I'm not speaking out of line; I just thought it might be something you'd want to be aware of. It's unfair that other couples are probably going through the exact same thing- capping insurance policies and going into massive debt for treatments that have no prayer of working- only because a simple procedure was overlooked.

I cannot help but believe they skipped the several-hundred-dollars tubal diagnosis which is ALWAYS done in favor of the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars IVF procedures so they could bilk the insurance companies. I truly hate to say that...but bearing in mind the statistical data you posted about all three certainly seems like *something* is keeping their ratios much lower...and I think it is the fact that many IVFs never even had a chance of bring viable.

They may have SAID they were "with you" in your pursuit to honor life and God's creation, but their lack of care in the treatment of these embryos shows otherwise.

Anyway, you are certainly in my prayers...


GLouise said...

HI sweetie, I am so sorry to hear this update. All is not lost.

But, do I understand you correctly, your previous clinic never ordered an HSG? And your regular OBGYN had never ordered one? I may have misunderstood, but if that is the case, then I feel there has been some serious negligence in your situation....

Praying for you!!