PCOS: The Beast I know

On Monday I called the fertility clinic, my body had actually done what it was supposed to, and Aunt Flo came for a visit. That was what we needed to be able to move forward. I went in on Tuesday for blood work and ultrasounds and to discuss next steps with Doctor H. Ideally she had wanted to run a couple of tests that are time sensitive with regards to my cycle and because of the timing of this cycle, both my vacation plans and those of the clinic cover the window of opportunity for the tests. They will run those tests next cycle (if I’m not pregnant then).

Because my body is so irregular, and because the ultrasounds and the blood didn’t show any red flags, Doctor H decided that it was okay to go ahead and start taking fertility meds again. This way we won’t have to wait an undeterminable amount of time for my next cycle to begin, and we can start moving forward. As we had discussed at our previous appointment, we decided to put me back on Serophene. I could have taken another oral drug called letrosol, but I don’t know much about that drug and because we had success with Serophene before I decided to go back to the beast that I know.

Serophene is one of two trade names given to the generic drug clomephene citrate. The other trade name for this drug is Clomid. It works by blocking the brain’s ability to detect estrogen in the body. In reaction, the brain tells the body to produce more estrogen, this signals to the ovaries to start ovulation. If it’s successful, a follicle will become dominant, that dominant follicle will reach maturation, becoming nearly 2cm in diameter. The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is released, often but not always coinciding with a drop in basal body temperature (BBT), and after ovulating the BBT spikes and stays elevated, dropping again around the start of the next period. Science.

I experienced two big side effects the last time I was on Serophene. The first was hot flashes. I used to say that I was looking forward to hot flashes because I would finally be warm. But hot flashes are different. They radiate from the inside out and are so not wonderful! I had to keep telling myself “this is temporary”. The other side effect was what i referred to as a rage monster in my chest. At the time I thought I was pretty good at controlling this, but David told me later that at times I was hard to handle. I know that everything annoyed me. If something wasn’t “my way” it pissed me off! I tried to stay positive, but I think I wasn’t always fully aware of what I was saying or how I was acting because the monster was always there.

Tuesday night I read over the info about the drug before taking it because it has been almost a year since the last time I took it. I made note of the side effects, especially the ones that would require hospitalization, and I reminded myself that last time I didn’t experience any of those and that I’m not likely to this time. I re-read the warning about multiples, and again I reminded myself that last time I had only one baby. I put the pills in my hand. We are starting at the highest dose this time because less than that last time did nothing to signal ovulation (but it did give me hot flashes and mood swings). I picked up my water, took a deep breath and knocked back the pills, thinking to myself “there’s no turning back now”. That night I barely slept. My mind was reeling. My mind bombarded me with a constant stream of what if’s. This was only made worse by my knowledge that I wouldn’t have access to the clinic for a week and a half. I worried about having multiple mature follicles and not knowing it, having them all ovulate and then ending up pregnant with 2,3,4,5… babies with my incompetent cervix. I worried about having complications to the med, and needing to go to the hospital. I worried about getting pregnant again only to lose the baby, I worried about going through this all again and it not working at all! I worried about whether or not David and I could handle being the parents of a teenager when we’re 50. Are we already to old for this? What about the hot flashes? what about the mood swings? What are we even doing? Shouldn’t we just accept that my body just ain’t made for babies, and move on? Nothing, not even The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross could lull me out of my worry.

The next day I put the worries aside. Driving to David’s home town in the rain and fog, with gusting wind and lightning the whole way, I had a lot to distract my mind. I had my first hot flash in nine months in the car while driving on the highway, while wearing a sweater. It was not comfortable, but David helped me out by turning the vents on to full and turning the temperature almost as low as it could go. That night I took my second dose of five.

Yesterday I was accutely aware of my emotions, looking for signs of the Rage Monster in order to reign it in if needed. I had a couple small annoyances, but nothing out of the ordinary. I even checked in with David about my mood and he said that from the outside I seemed fine and we agreed that I’m probably just paranoid and extra sensitive to it right now. That evening my right eye was bugging me, it felt like there was something in it, and then hours later my vision in that eye suddenly got blurry after I blinked, but after blinking a couple more times, it cleared. It did it again, a couple hours later. Normally this wouldn’t concern me, but one of the “stop taking this medication immediately” side effects is blured vision.

When I got up this morning, my throat was sore, and I had a sinus headache. David is getting over a cold, and I guess I caught it. My eye was still bugging me, so I called the clinic and talked to the nurse. She said she’d talk to Doctor H, and get back to me but that my blurry eye is probably unrelated. She said that the blurred vision they refer to in the side effects is usually both eyes and can’t be blinked away. After conferring with Doctor H, the nurse called me back to tell me that to be on the safe side, even though they are probably not related, I shouldn’t take the last two doses, but I should still stick to the timeline she laid out for me, and be aware of fertility signs and go back to the clinic on the 29th.

I am aware right now of every little twinge in my body, every emotion, my sensitivity to temperature… I am not quite as excited about this process right now as I thought I’d be. I keep waiting for something else to go wrong.

Please know that I appreciate that I should be looking at the positive, finding the good, and remembering that this is only temporary. Focusing on a positive outcome, and saying “when” we have another baby, instead of “if”. I get that. I really really do. But right now, after everything we have been through the reality that I am in is fear. You can tell me to turn to my faith, but honestly right now I find that quite hard. Please don’t preach to me.

My fear is valid. It is just as real an emotion as hope. And I feel it for very valid reasons. I am not letting this fear hold me back from trying. I do still want to be a mom and I do still want David to be a dad. I still think this process is worth it. I need to know that I tried. We have names picked for our kids, and I need to give them a chance to be realized. But I also appreciate how much I love my husband and how much he loves me and how complete our family is with no living kids.

I’m allowed to feel the full range of human emotions, I just can’t let any one of them control me. Not rage, not fear, not even hope. I need them all.

3 thoughts on “PCOS: The Beast I know

  1. You are so brave and full of spirit. You inspire me to be better, work harder, and give myself more breaks. Love you!

  2. I found your last 2 paragraphs especially moving. Too many times people try to convince us that we should stay positive, but the truth of the matter is, this is scary stuff. There’s a huge range of emotions, and you’re right, they’re all valid, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling them. All of them. I’m so proud of you, and thankful that you continue to share your story.

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