Thursday, September 4, 2008

::demon of infertility, thy name is endometriosis!::

I had my post-op appointment today. I wondered what all my options would be considering that I wasn't conscious the last time I saw my doctor and my husband couldn't remember all the details. He was understandably focused on me and whether or not any cancer was present (thank the Lord, it wasn't!). One thing he DID tell me (& that I remembered from my pre-op appointment) was that medically induced menopause was a treatment option. Lupron (which many of you are familiar with). But....I just wasn't real excited about that being my option for the next 6 months. Understandably so since common side effects are mood swings, hot flashes, and weight gain. Bleh.

My doctor did an exam and checked all my incisions. Everything looks to be healing correctly and I was given the go-ahead to resume normal activities, minus any heavy weightlifting at the gym (because we all know there was a huge danger of that happening!!). No problem. Before I get to our options, I'll share about my pictures. I have two pages of pictures (in color!!) of my insides. It's a little gross, but kinda cool. What's weird about it is that the right ovary (which is no longer in my body, thanks to the surgery) was more than three times the size of the left ovary. I thought there had been a tumor growing like on the outside of the ovary, but actually the endometrioma had sort of "taken over" the ovary and had filled it with this nasty liquid (think melted chocolate; yes I know that's gross) that is endometriosis. For this reason, the ovary is gone. No saving it. The other ovary was a little enlarged, but was nothing compared to the right one which was almost the size of my entire uterus.

But let's not forget to mention that my entire reproductive area was a "mess," to quote my doctor. Endometriosis everywhere. Some adhesions in my uterus as well, but the D&C took care of that. My doc burned off nearly all of the endometriosis (which, by the way, is uterine lining that is growing outside the uterus. Right tissue, wrong location, in other words.) except for the little bit that was growing on the wall of my bladder, which I greatly appreciated. No holes in my bladder, please.

Now. Options.
  • A. Birth Control pills for six months or so to stop the growth of the endometriosis and to alleviate pain. Obviously, no trying to conceive.
  • B. Lupron for 6 months to essentially shut down the production of estrogen (which causes the endo to grow and spread), and to "kill off" the endometriosis. Also, no trying to conceive because I will not be ovulating.
  • C. Do nothing. Try to conceive "on our own" since we're not pursuing IVF or ICSI (if we were pursuing those things, now would be the prime time since I've been "cleaned out."). Re-evaluate in six months.
After talking with my doctor, we have decided to C. Do nothing. Why? Well, pain has never been a real issue with me. My endometriosis was not causing a lot of pain, which is the tricky thing about endometriosis. Some people have a tiny bit of endo, but major amounts of pain. Others, like me, have a lot of endo and no pain. Some have lots of endo and lots of pain. It's different for each person. My main problems were from the uncomfortable bloating that was a result of the endometrioma which was removed from my body. So, I don't need to take option A or B for pain management since I haven't had much pain. I REALLY want to avoid the drugs if I can. My doctor was okay with that, but I have to call her if I do have pain. So, for the next six months, we'll just give it the "old college try", as my doctor likes to call it. ;) And we'll pray and fast and hope that the Lord will bless us with pregnancy. Because, not only do we want biological children, pregnancy stops the growth of endometriosis.

It's strange timing of course since we have this precious little one at home, our miracle through adoption. And we haven't been focused on trying to conceive since we have him in our lives. He, in every way, is our beautiful child. We are already parents. And frankly, I'm a little overwhelmed at the thought of having another baby so soon, but, because of the diagnosis of endometriosis, we feel that it's a good time to really pray for a child through pregnancy. And pray we must since we already have male factor infertility throwing a mean left hook at us.
If, in 6 months, we have not gotten pregnant, we'll re-evaluate our options. If pain becomes an issue, we'll re-evaluate our options sooner.

But...for the record, that's what's going on. Endometriosis. We would not have known about it if I hadn't had all the bloating from the endometrioma. No wonder we haven't gotten pregnant. I mean, even with serious male factor infertility, there is still always a chance we could conceive "on our own", but with the mess that I saw on the wonder we haven't. I'm thankful it was discovered, that my doctor took my complaints seriously, that I took my discomfort seriously, and that much of the disease has been removed from my body.

All we do now......try and pray.


**disclaimer: yes I know that I don't have all the terminology correct, but I am trying to explain this in a way that is not too full of medical jargon, that the average IF sufferer can understand, that makes sense to me. comments about my kindergarten explanations, please. ;)

P.S. I am not opposed to posting the pictures of my insanely large tumor/ovary and the endometriosis that has taken over my insides. All you have to do is ask. ;)


Aaron and Angie said...

Glenna, You are too funny! I wanted to let you know that your description was GREAT and NOT kindergarden at all... I'm a nurse, I would definately let you know if it was! Haha. I'm so glad that you're healing well and looking forward now. My sister had endo grow on her colon and had to have a resection about 2 summers ago. Scary but such a blessing the way that these things are found so that they don't make matters worse. Good luck with old fashion TTC!! Glad you're doing well. Hugs, Angie

Alex and Jill said...

Coming from one endo girl to explained it perfectly!

I'm going to be praying you guys conceive naturally. Right after a surgery like that is a great time to get preggers actually, everything is nice and cleaned out! :)


Hope said...

I loved the description too! I am glad that you are healing well and am excited about the C choice :)

Praying for you!

Jen said...

I think your plan sounds like a good one! I'm sorry you lost your ovary but it sounds like they removed a significant problem, which is good! We'll be praying!

andrea_jennine said...

Thanks for the update. Praying for you!

Joannah said...

It sounds like you've made a thoughtful choice. I hope you will experience another miracle soon. I think your adoption is miraculous, and so is being cancer free.

I'm supposed to have a laprascopy sometime next week. My doctor wants to see if I have endometriosis. I have no pain, so I thought he was a crazy to suggest I do. But the more I'm learning, I guess I'm wrong. It will be interesting to find out - that's for sure. I just want to get it over with.

Rebekah said...

Post the pictures!!! I was hoping you'd have them posted at the end of your blog. I eat that stuff up! It's fascinating! I am so thankful that you caught your problem, a tumor in the ovary...ouch! No wonder it was painful! Does it feel good that there is a concrete answer as to why you weren't getting pregnant? Does it help knowing the "why?" For me the unknown was always so frustrating!

melanie said...

i too was a little disappointed about no pictures--like chocolate? really?

we're praying for God to do just the right thing during these months. and for no pain. love you.

the williams said...

glenna, there is some pill that i took after my surgery that i can't remember the name of. i'm so stupid. anyway, if you go to your local herbal remedies store and ask for the pill that helps endometriosis, tell them it's "nutritional value" is worth about 2 pounds of broccoli, they should know what you're talking about. take it everyday. it will help in your fertility. i love you!

the williams said...

oh, and i want pics ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenna, I'm a young Christian woman married to a pastor too :) and I came across your blog a while ago from another blog.
I read your story and would like to suggest something that might be worthwhile investigating. My mom had quite a few problems with diff types of uterine growths. So she did alot of her own research and discovered that MOST female problems are caused by hormonal imbalance (partly because of environmental factors in our modern world). Well anyway I think it's great you decided not to go with the doctor's hormonal treatments but I think it definately wouldn't hurt to try something natural which could help your body.(Unless you don't change the conditions that caused your endo in the first place there is a chance it will come back) I'm not one of those people that rejects modern medicine but I think there is room for more natural/herbal therapies which are sometimes overlooked. I don't think it's a good idea just to buy random rememdies online without a proper consultation as just one approach might not be enough.
You can check out these websites:
If you're not comfortable visiting a herbalist/naturopath there are actually medical doctors who have studied both and offer natural solutions too. You might be able to find one in your area.
I know there definately are some "new agey" type doctors out there too whose philosophy isn't Christian but there are good ones too.
Hope you will give this some thought and prayer :) Praying for you too and sending blessings your way!!!

Anonymous said...

Oops I see that that first web link didn't show up properly I'll split it up: