Keto Progress

Four weeks ago, I took the leap to try the Keto diet.  I did research for about 2 months in advance to try to understand how it worked, why it worked, and what I could do to best succeed.  I was nervous.  It didn’t make sense to me how a diet high in fat would actually make me LOSE fat.  But I kept seeing friends succeeding, and I figured if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t know.  Four weeks later, there is 16 pounds less of me.  That included a birthday week (and yes, I celebrate all week!) small gain, but my losses far exceeded my gain to show for some major progress in this first month!

I’ve been able to lose weight time and time again in the past, but then I gain it back.  Typically the reason for gaining it back is using food to cope with uncomfortable times or emotions.  I recognize this, but despite recognizing it, I’ve never been able to stick to healthy coping mechanisms in tough times.  I’m trying to do some work on my personal mental health now too, in preparation for being mentally strong if hard times come (because they will, that’s just life!).  I’m also recognizing that there are going to be special occasions where I decide to have a special meal or drink, and that is also part of life.  It doesn’t mean that I need to do that daily or weekly, or that just because I do it once it means that I’m “off the wagon”.  I just have to keep trucking.

The only exercise I’ve ever enjoyed was Zumba.  Otherwise, I freaking HATE exercise.  So maybe I need to get back into doing some Zumba, at least at home for the time being.  I guess I do also like riding my pink beach cruiser.  I suppose I could bundle up now that it’s colder and ride that big beast around the neighborhood.  Plus I’m sure the dogs would appreciate being walked more often, so that’s an idea for exercise too.

For now though, my eating changes have proven successful on their own, so I know if I add in exercise I will only see even more progress!  I’m looking forward to seeing what the next month brings!

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Plugging along

Pretty much because that’s all you can ever really do.  2016 was a pretty good year.  We know that.  We were thankful for that.  But we knew it wasn’t the norm.  It was the exception.  Life tends to think the LaRosa family is tough (and we are) and we can handle gobs and gobs of shit.  And then more shit.  And we do, because that’s what you have to do.

2016 was the year of no surgeries.  For the first time since Eddie and I met.  2017 seems to be making up for lost time.  We started the year with the unexpected blood clot (3 surgeries there).  Then we had our failed IVF, which included lots of debt that we will be paying on for the next 15 years.  Then my poor mister blew his knee out.  So there will be another surgery to come this year, I imagine.  MRI in two weeks to tell us the extent of the damage.

I don’t feel sorry for myself.  I would choose this life with Eddie a million times over, even if it meant we had to do all the crappy stuff ten-fold.  I feel sorry for him though.  I ask myself why does one person have to deal with so much shit?  Why does one person, who is kind, generous, sweet, giving, loving (the list goes on) keep getting the short end of the stick.  Why do shitty people who are horrible human beings seem to have better luck and have less struggles in life.  But then I stop.  Because life isn’t fucking fair, and it never will be, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so suck it up buttercup and make the best of it.

There is a lot of good in our lives.  We have a wonderful, beautiful, happy marriage.  We have a home.  We have food on the table.  We have cars to get us to the million doctor appointments and jobs.  We have a great life together.  We are lucky.  Things could always be worse.

So for now, we just do what we always do.  We lean on each other.  We laugh and cry in equal amounts when needed.  We keep on keeping on.  Because that’s what you have to do.

Share Your Joy

*Please keep in mind that not everyone struggling with infertility shares my same opinions, but these are mine.*

We had hoped by this Mother’s Day I would be carrying a baby.  Things didn’t work out with that timeline.

But It’s Okay.

We may not ever end up getting pregnant.  There may never be a child that calls me “Mom” or calls Eddie “Dad”.

But It’s Okay.

There are many of you in my life who have beautiful children, beautiful families–some which came easily to you and others who had to wait many months–sometimes years–to have that beautiful family.

And It’s Okay.

I think sometimes when you share about infertility, people worry that if they talk about their child, their pregnancy, their JOY, that it will somehow be hurtful to you.  I want you to share your joy.  Don’t let someone else’s heartache diminish the joy YOU feel.  Celebrate what you have, be grateful for what you have, and share it with others.  Because joy deserves to be shared!

It’s Okay.

So for my friends and family who are pregnant–keep sharing those sonogram and baby shower pictures.  I want to see your excitement.  Those celebrating their first Mother’s Day this weekend, I want to share in your happiness!  Those who also are struggling with infertility and finally get that positive pregnancy test, I want to celebrate right along side you!

Share Your Joy.

It’s Okay.

Infertility Awareness Week

This week is Infertility Awareness Week.  I feel like I’ve been making all of my readers aware of infertility for quite some time now.  I try to be honest, open, and transparent about our infertility struggles, because I know we are not alone.  This week, however, you may see more people sharing about their struggles because of the awareness week.

Last Tuesday we received word that none of our embryos survived to our planned Day 5 Transfer.  We were sitting in our hotel room, waiting to head the 3 miles to the clinic for transfer when we got the call that there was no need to come in.  I had worried that this would happen, heck, I had even suspected it.  When you’re used to the only kind of luck you have being bad luck, you learn to anticipate the worst, but hope for the best.

It’s a very weird feeling to grieve for something you never had.  To grieve for potential little lives that could have been your babies.  It somehow seems different than the grief you feel when you get your period each month after hoping that your efforts were fruitful a couple weeks prior.  You’ve put so much time, effort, energy, and money into the pills, injections, invasive tests, travel expenses, and then in one phone call, it was all for nothing.  You feel somehow like your grief shouldn’t be as bad, because at least you didn’t get pregnant and then miscarry, and you don’t want people to think you’re being unreasonable for the sadness you feel in your heart when it doesn’t work out.  Not just sadness for yourself, but also your spouse, who is also grieving and feeling the same sense of loss you do.

So I took a few days to grieve.  To just be sad, to cry, to feel sorry for myself and my husband.  And then you have to figure out if it’s worth doing it all over again and maybe not having any different result.  For some people, that answer would be a definite yes.  Some people feel the pull to be a parent at all costs–emotionally and financially.  Some people would feel incomplete without a child in their life.  But then there are some people, like Eddie and I who are also content as just a couple.  We would love a child, we would welcome a child, we would kick ass at parenthood, but we don’t necessarily feel deeply empty inside because we haven’t reproduced.  So we will take the time to decide what is best for our family, whatever answer that may be.

But for now, being a family of two is pretty great, and I wouldn’t trade my mister for the world.  He’s been an amazing sidekick, not just through this journey, but through our entire life together.  I definitely got the best.

We’re getting there!

I went this morning for my follow-up ultrasound after being on Estrogen for about 12 days.  They want to see an endometrial lining of at least 8 and I was at 10.4mm, so that is excellent news!  They also drew blood, so as long as my progesterone level is good (they want to see it low to know I haven’t ovulated on my own this month already) then we are a go for a transfer in the next week!

As long as the labs are good, fertilization will happen in the lab on Thursday and I will begin my progesterone injections, then we will watch our little embryos for a couple days to see what they are up to.  Depending on their progress, we will either transfer on day 3 (Sunday) or day 5 (Tuesday).  We may have ourselves a little Easter Egg Embryo!  After the transfer, we will have a waiting period where we hope and pray that our embryo implants and then we hope to hear the positive news that we are pregnant!

I truly never thought I would actually have a baby.  I mean, I wanted one, and I hoped it would happen for us, but I had accepted that I would just be the kick ass aunt rather than the kick ass mom.  And I realize nothing is a sure thing.  There are a million things that have to line up for us to actually get our baby in our arms… but this is the closest we have ever been to actually making that happen.  It seems totally unbelievable!

Please continue to think happy thoughts for us, and we are hoping that our 2017 luck is changing for the better!

We have a timeline!

(I started this before the zombie finger situation arose, so I’m just now getting around to finishing and updating at the end!)

Eddie and I went to MFS on Wednesday to have some testing done.  I had to get infectious disease labs (Eddie will have his done at our home clinic because his insurance doesn’t cover MFS for anything) and also had my uterine cavity study.  As it turns out, I have a cervix that doesn’t like to cooperate, so Dr. Reuter had a challenge getting the catheter through.  The test took about twice as long as it normally would have because she had to try several different styles of catheter.  She said this is one of the reasons they do this study, so that when they go in for the real thing, they know what they are working with!  The test wasn’t too bad, a little uncomfortable and crampy, but as it turns out, my uterus is in good shape for growing a baby!  No surprises, no cysts, nothing out of the ordinary!

While I was having that, Eddie got to do his part down the hall.  We had to pay out of pocket for that, which was $115, but that should be the only thing he will have to pay for at MFS–the rest will fall under my case.  We will get the results of his analysis within a week, but we don’t anticipate any surprises there either, since he had this done a couple years ago and was A-OK.

After our testing, we met with the nurse to discuss what happens from here.  They were very pleased with my weight loss, and I am now less than 15 pounds away from where I need to be for the IVF transfer.  Eddie and I were amazed to hear that within 6 weeks or so, we could potentially be transferring our embryo!  In about 3 weeks, once my next cycle starts, I will start on 2 weeks of oral estrogen.  From there I will get an ultrasound to see how my lining looks.  If it looks good, they will fertilize in the lab and let it grow for 5 days.  Then they will pick the healthiest embryo and we will transfer it into me!  From there I will have to be on intramuscular injections of progesterone oil (this is the part I am looking forward to the least), and then our two week wait begins.  After two weeks we have a blood test to check for pregnancy, and our hope is that the stars will align and we will be expecting!!!  Nothing is a sure thing, of course, but we have hope!

Edit: So this week is the week my cycle should be beginning.  I heard from MFS today that on day 1 I call them to schedule a day 2 ultrasound/blood work.  It’s a bit inconvenient to travel 4 hours round trip to get a quickie ultrasound and lab draw, but we will do what we have to do!  On day 2 is also when I will begin my oral Estrace (estrogen).  I’m expecting a call from the pharmacy that provides the fertility meds sometime today or tomorrow, so that we can get them shipped out and paid for.  I have no idea what the cost is going to be, which makes me a little nervous, but we will do what we have to do!  If you feel compelled to help us out with any part of our journey, there is a link to our fundraiser in the top right corner of the blog!

I’ve got about 10 pounds to go before I’m at my goal weight for transfer, and now that the stressful times have hopefully leveled off, I’m hopeful that I can get that taken care of in the next few weeks!  I’ve joined a weight loss support group that meets weekly, and having the accountability and support has been great!  Plus their scale is more friendly than mine at home is, so that’s a plus too:)  Anyway, that’s the update for now, more to come!

Expect the Unexpected

If there’s one thing my mister and I have learned in our 7.5 years of marriage, it’s that very thing: Expect the Unexpected.  Life in the LaRosa household is rarely predictable, and when it becomes calm and smooth sailing, we normally know that is the calm before a very large storm.  This time was no different.

Things have been going pretty smoothly for Eddie and myself.  We are both working, bills are paid and we still have money to have fun, we are planning to start a family in the very near future… this calm never lasts for long.  On Friday March 10, I stopped by Eddie’s work to see him, and he asked if I thought he should go to the hospital, as he shoved his finger in my face.  Now one thing you need to know about my mister is that he never EVER suggests going to the hospital, unless it’s serious.  The only other time, in fact, that he’s suggested going, he ended up having a life threatening condition called Necrotizing Fasciitis.  He could have died had he not gone.  He knows his body.

So as I’m looking at his finger, I’m seeing that it’s discolored and looking bluish/purple, and when I very lightly touched it, he nearly screamed in pain.  He had complained about a week prior that his last two fingers were kind of cold and tingly, but that’s not honestly out of the ordinary, considering he has some neuropathy issues from his cervical fusion a few years back.  But when it started changing color, he knew it wasn’t just normal.  So out to the local ER we went.  As we waited to be examined and see the doctor, the color began to get darker and more “dusky” as they called it.  They ran labs and a few other tests, listened to his pulse on a doppler, and determined he likely needed someone more specialized in hand surgery.  They weren’t sure, but believed he had a blockage of some sort.  The nearest hand surgery team was in Springfield, about 80 miles away, and we were given permission to drive ourselves there and had already been accepted by the plastic surgery/hand team, led by Dr. Nada Berry.  surgery 05  Once we got to the ER at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, we were examined by a regular physician and his residents, and then someone from Dr. Berry’s team came to do an examination.  Her preliminary assessment was that he had all the symptoms of something called Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome.  It occurs sometimes in people who do a lot of work with their hands, such as mechanics, construction workers, etc.  and can be caused by excessive banging with the hand, that then leads to a blockage.  The only catch is that typically this happens to someone in their 40s-50s, and even then, only rarely.  In fact, this was such a rare thing that pretty much every resident in the ER was coming in to his room to learn about him.  In fact, he even was asked by the head resident if he could present a case study about him for teaching purposes.  Kinda cool… I guess!

So the plastics physician was pretty confident that he had a blockage due to what his symptoms were, but they were unsure if it was due to an aneurysm or a clot, but at any rate, surgery was in his future and we were being admitted.  Ironically, we were admitted to the Ortho floor, because that is where they had an available bed, which is normally why Eddie is in the hospital in the first place!  Once settled in his room, we met with the vascular team, who would be doing an angiogram later that evening to get a clear picture of the blockage and see if there were any others.  For this, they go in through the groin and send a little catheter/wire up through the body, through the heart, and then down his arm… and they found exactly what they expected: a blockage.  Basically, you have an ulnar and a radial artery that sends blood down your arms and to your hand.  His ulnar artery was completely blocked and no blood flow was getting through.  He also had a couple small clots by his fingers in his hand, all of which would need to be removed.  They likely would need to use part of an artery from his leg to graft into the affected area of the hand/wrist.  Surgery was scheduled for Sunday March 12.

surgery03

After about 6 hours, start to finish, Eddie was out of surgery!  Dr. Berry met with me and shared that he had a huge blockage in his ulnar artery, around 3″ in length, total, was pulled from the wrist.  Additionally, he had two smaller clots by the fingers that they removed too.  As planned, they did the graft from the leg.  Her main concern right now was making sure he didn’t have vascular disease elsewhere in his body, since he is so young for the hammer syndrome to happen.  She would be ordering tests to look at his legs and heart for additional blockages.

surgery06

Thankfully, all testing for clots elsewhere came back negative, but meanwhile, Eddie’s leg began to hurt quite a bit where they took the graft.  It became super swollen, so much so that his wound began opening because of the pressure.  It was determined that he had developed a hematoma (collection of fluid/blood under the surface) and the only way to get rid of one that large would be to go in for another surgery.  Eddie didn’t mind though, as he was in so much pain because of it, that he wanted that thing out of there!  It likely developed because he was on blood thinners for his wrist problem, but then they allowed that other gunk to pool and collect under the skin from the other wound.  So, on Thursday March 16, Eddie went in for his second surgery this hospital stay (Surgery 17 total!).  Thankfully this surgery was much quicker and they placed two drains to hopefully help with the fluid.

Our remaining days in the hospital were spent simply waiting.  Eddie had to have frequent checks of his hand right after that surgery, to be sure the blood flow was restored and continued to be, and all was well there.  Before he could go home, they wanted his INR (how thick/thin his blood is) to be between 2-3.  This can be a lengthy process to bridge from IV blood thinner to oral blood thinner, and it was taking forEVER.  We also found out that his hemoglobin was low, so over the weekend of the 18-19 (can’t remember which day!), he had to get two units of blood.  Because of this, it made his INR drop lower than it had been, and we were getting frustrated!  I had to return to work on Monday March 20, and I hated to leave Springfield without Eddie (I had stayed there since he was admitted).

surgery 01

Ultimately, I headed home alone on Sunday March 19, but thankfully not for long!  On Tuesday March 21, Eddie was able to discharge!  His INR didn’t quite get to the level they wanted it to, but they were willing to send him home on injection thinners and the oral thinners until he was bridged over and at the therapeutic level for his INR.

Recovery for him has been rough this go-round though.  Having a bum hand on one side and a bum leg on the other makes caring for yourself a little difficult!  He’s also been in a lot of pain, which obviously makes things worse.  But there is certainly no place like home!  On Thursday March 23, we had a little scare though, as Eddie was feeling lightheaded, dizzy, off-balance, double vision, and pounding headache.  His mom took him to the ER just in case, to make sure nothing was wrong.  Being on the blood thinner and with his symptoms, of course they want to rule out a brain bleed.  But happily, everything was totally normal–even the INR finally!

It will be a slow road to recovery, and we will be following up with Anticoagulation Management Services (AMS) for at least a year, as they monitor his progress with the blood thinners and check him out to see if he has any kind of clotting disorder that we don’t know about.  But we will get there… we always do!

Many people have asked if they can do anything to help.  And I know a lot of times people say “let me know if I can help” but then so often, you never ask them for help because you don’t want to be burden on other people.  But the best thing that can be done to help us is one of three things (because Eddie will have missed a full month of work without pay): Food (meals or gift cards for groceries would be the most helpful.  Eddie’s not able to lift anything with his hand, so he’s stuck with only using his non-dominant hand.  Finger foods/snacks are easiest for him, as he’s not super coordinated with his right hand!); Gas (in the form of cards or PayPal would be super helpful.  He will have to travel back and forth from Springfield for several months as he heals, in addition to the transportation to Urbana to see the blood doctor for at least a year); Donations (I realize I just recently was posting about wanting to raise money for our IVF journey.  That can wait if we need it to–right now we need to just meet our basic needs financially, until Eddie is able to go back to work and we have steady income rolling in again.  The easiest way to donate would be to send through paypal to teale.larosa@gmail.com I realize some may think it’s tacky to ask for these things, but as I mentioned, so many have asked how they could help; Honestly THIS is how you can help).

Thank you to everyone for all your love and prayers of the past couple of weeks.  It’s been a roller coaster of a ride, but as long as my mister is next to me, the ride is always a little more bearable.